I don’t usually explain poems, but I like readers to know that I wanted to write a poem to a heavily tattooed woman but also to address a poem to the whole Earth, and this is the result. It was published in Willow Springs (No. 37, Jan. 1996). The quoted poem at the top is copied exactly as found.
Binoculars on a Tattooed Lady
I’m Jane or
I’m not sure if I’m
Jane or not.
I feel like Jimmie
but I could feel like
Marlena. I’m green
I could be a leaf. If
I were blue I could
poem by a homeless woman
I want to worship at the fins
of those procephalic dolphins caught
at the top of their arc out of the Sea of Cortez
garrisoned in your temple.
I want to smear
on your forehead ashes
from the collection of burned lovers
in the urn on your hip.
an elbow becomes a category,
your ass a pasquinade.
Who says you don’t shoulder your burden
who burden your shoulder with that
I want to soak you like an avocado pit,
pierce your clean body
and see what grows.
This poem was published in Denver Quarterly (Vol. 29, No. 01, Summer 1994).
My Father at Ninety
sees with a permanent
sort of déjà vu.
We ate here yesterday,
he growls, or,
you already carried that box in here.
The fool as always,
I continue to bring in the box
containing a book he has already read.
Remembering the future
as readily as the past,
he perches, mantislike,
on the fragile leaves of now.
In case time is linear,
the fool plants flowers.
Fools will, he says.
This poem was published in Writ, 20th Anniversary Issue (No. 21, 1989).
Song of the Mystagogue
You with your announcement of injustice
and you with the names of your friends–
You running sideways from the rules of priests
and you wrapped in the love of your mother–
You with your scarred hammer
and you with your thin line of words–
You with your insider’s wind
and you obsessed with entrapment–
You peering longingly at death
and you with your ancestor’s pictures–
Like those armless ducks standing
on top of the frozen river
Imagine owning nothing
and sing to me.
This poem was published in Writ, 20th Anniversary Issue (Number 21, 1989).
The slightest tug on the left rein will do.
And you must look left.
suspended like a speedboat under you
skimming over the fence
will land on the correct hoof
allowing all the other hooves
the legs and their great body
to follow the head like a plant trailing a tossed pot.
For your part
to look like the spider
blameless in the flying ficus
perfect in landing, speedy in beginning anew
you must let all your many hinges
–ankle, knee, hip, elbow, finger, eyelid–
close and open like the doors of heaven
wholly unconscious of anyone’s effort.