In Celebration of Joy Harjo

In June, Joy Harjo was chosen as the new U.S. poet laureate. I’ve spent the month getting acquainted with her poems, which are unlike any others I’ve read.

This poem was written after reading and journaling through her poem “She Had Some Horses.”

The Horse

He got some disease but before we could figure out what

it was he ran off, at the solstice. If he could’ve talked, he

might’ve said he’d had enough of us, was joining the wild

mustangs. But he was no mustang, and the mustangs knew

it.

He didn’t know how to find shelter, didn’t realize horses

don’t kill to eat, like raptors, or scavenge, like coyotes.

Found no pillows in the wild, no blankets either. Never

patient, always a runner, he ran on, through the sepia

landscape, learning absolutely nothing as his tail swished

behind him.

Back at home we debate: What could we have done?

What should we not have done? Each bit of news of him

pierces us. Not in the heart (it is long grown cold) but in the

retina, retelling ever thing we see and have seen of him.

‘Anniversary’

We never talk

We talk all the time.

No, I mean talk, talk

Well what do you want to talk about?

I don’t know, just talk to me

I been talking to you for forty years.

You don’t concentrate when you talk to me

How much do you have to concentrate to talk?

That’s generic talk. It don’t count.

You want name-brand talk?

No, just talk, health talk, horse talk, I don’t care.

You want to talk about the horse?

If the horse is important to you, then yes, I want you to talk about it.

Not really. S’just a horse. I could talk about my guns.

God no. No gun talk.

Well I give up then. I never talked so much at breakfast in all my life.

You been talking so much you’ve hardly eaten a thing. Want more coffee?

Sure, ‘m all talked out.

Fine..

‘Clean Up Good’

It’s competitive shower season

Now is the time for serious shower-ers only

Those who enjoy languorous strokes beneath the Whirlpool

waterfall need not apply

Contestants toil all year, alternating cool

with heat, daylight with moonlight

There are categories for outdoor bucket showers

shaving in the shower (men’s and women’s levels)

Extra points awarded for the dexterity needed to operate

a hotel shower

The forecast favors the adventurous. Leave behind

your lucky body wash, your ducky towel

Apply your industry to becoming the cleanest, speediest you

you can be

Tickets on sale now

Film at 11

The Cardinals

For the second time since we’ve lived in this house, cardinals made a nest in the mountain laurel.

Inspired by Kristine O’Connell George’s book of poems titled Hummingbird Nest, I’ve written a few of my own haiku about our cardinals. I didn’t notice every detail, so it’s an incomplete narrative.

April 22

cardinal in the nest

safe in the mountain laurel—

plans for motherhood

April 24

Mama cardinal sits

on her nest in pouring rain

all day—never blinks

April 28

“Some birds are people

watchers,” says Tony Hoagland.

Mama Cardinal is.

May 1

Male cardinal busy

back and forth—female sits tight

unmoving, umoved

May 4

three baby bird mouths

open, parents flit for food —

We watch from inside

May 5

Papa Cardinal feeds

gaping baby mouths and Mama,

who feeds chicks also

May 7

baby cardinal pokes

out his fuzzy head—does not

see the nesting snail

May 8

quietly, oh so

quietly, pull up the blinds—

Mama Cardinal’s there

Almost Mother’s Day

through thunderstorms, winds

(damaging), hail, tornado—

Mama Cardinal sits

May 10

baby cardinal stands

gray and fluffy in the nest—

“I’m self-sufficient!”

May 12

Cardinal family pecks

the grass and then flies away—

the nets is empty

June 23

When the cardinals left

I threw out their nest. They’re back.

Rebuilt in one day.

June 28

Mama Cardinal eyes

me from her new-built nest: You

can never stop me

‘Ode to this Body’

you walk upright

walk right through water

turn upside down

inside out

savor and digest living things, even carrots

tackle hills

ignore wind

stand when assaulted

curl into a ball and chase dreams, like a sleeping puppy chasing birds

oh the weights you’ve shouldered

the fine motor skills mastered

the coordination to drive a stick shift

shift thoughts into words

convert diaphragm’s breath into song

you are older today, still older next week

take your rest

sip your soup

breathe normally as long as normality is possible

remember every place you’ve been

every mile you would take back

Don’t

trace the scars on your skin, not lovely

but oh

every exposed nerve loved

The black hole

at the center of the galaxy consumed

my husband’s sock, stole

the name of the book—you know, the one

that changed my life, took the maple

in the backyard, the house on the corner

It appears to be eating our grass. I blame

the black hole for absconding with his memory,

with her brilliant idea when she sneezed.

The pages of my journal creak as I search

for the poem about the daisy

(or was it amaryllis), words drawn

from ordinary dust

star dust left

over from the supernova

that started it all

Linked haiku for season 8, GoT

To-Do List for Season 8

Now that destiny

has taken a hand—a throne—

a kingdom for three

dragons, let us not

smirk and swill wine—Stop

annoying theories—

The Troubles have

come to stay—For all there will

be consequences—

Leave nothing dangling—

Use dragonglass as needed—

Journal the game—Break

the wheel and make peace

with every slaying—Let the

evidence decay

the ice and fire

turn lukewarm—Let the map be

redrawn with a song

I Spy Yellow

I Spy Yellow

all colors and descriptions from A Is for Azure by L.L. Barkat, illustrated by Donna Z. Falcone

you are a Brass-petaled field

a Jasmine coil

a Xanthic mix

sometimes I hear your Yellow hello

you are tucked in a Red bed for gold

you hide in plain sight in Kiwi 

and Vermillion 

and Umber

and Silver

even White 

in the corners of Purple

along a Navy trail

on the far edge of an Iceberg stream

you are nowhere to be found in Fuchsia

I spy you

in a Cranberry twirl

and a Denim blue sea

perhaps that is you on the margins of an Orange flame

in the back of a Midnight terrain — a bulb blooming bright

until morning’s Tangerine sun

a rule poem

RULES

fear history
fear boats
fear tribes
fear isolated roads

fear freckles
fear sun
fear floppy hats
fear the battle won

fear infrastructure
fear trucks
fear robots
fear the machine that mucks

everything up. Fear stars
Fear light
Fear dark
Fear bumps in the night

Fear assurance
Fear calm
Fear fearlessness
Fear too much balm

Of dishwashers and water nymphs

Warranty

There are gremlins in the dishwasher
(or elves, possibly grumpkins)—
regardless

They are aggrieved
apparently they prefer Cascade Platinum
disdain Finish Orange so

they withheld heat
mucked up the circuitry
punched holes in the filter

The Sears guy says, “No, ma’am.
those Samsungs—read the reviews.”
“Or maybe gnomes,” I insist.

“Do you want the extended home plan or not,
ma’am? It would cover everything in your house
and drop your cost today to 80 bucks.”

“Does it cover Pixies? Fairies? Sprites?
Hobs and Gobs?
“Ma’am, I gotta truck fulla parts.

I don’t know nothin about no supernatural creatures.”
“Oh, sir! Thank you, yes. It could be a minor goddess,
a wicked water nymph.”

The repairman with his belt of tools and wifi-enabled tablet
looked into my soul, then glanced left, then right
and whispered, “My money’s on Aphrodite.”