Category Archives: and other winged things

30/30 Project: The Poison Control Issue


woodpecker eating poison ivy

It’s poem #18 in my March Poetry Marathon!  Today the Pileated Woodpecker is back in my neighborhood.  Whenever I hear him, I feel like he is trying to tell me something.  I feel lucky.  I also feel similarly blessed when a cardinal flies in front of me, or I see a hawk several days in a row.  I’ve read that it’s just our human ego acting up when we feel important in the face of animal activity.  I’m also familiar with Native American beliefs about spirit animals and such.  I think I lean toward the latter.  We’re all in this together, the birds and us.  At any rate, my red-headed pal never fails to inspire a poem.  See?  Lucky!

Remember, if you like what you’re reading, be sure to hop (fly?) on over to the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project site and read all of the awesome marathon-poetry being written.  And donate.  Do it!  Please.

Mary Kneels in the Garden

She is prepared for plants out of place,
weeds to follow.
Lady of the Dandelion. Mother of the Lion’s Teeth.

The other women cultivate
neat bushes,
grow showy cacti on their perfect lawns.

To eat what is not meant to be eaten.
To swallow
the hairy stem, the jagged leaf.

Ask the woodpecker why she leaves
her nest,
why she gorges on the ivy. She will tell you

about the beauty of the berry, the joy
of running a tongue
over a living thing, thick and white and round.

Toxicodendron radicans.
the hairy arms, the hands with narrow fingers,

the fine golden hair. Poison as seasonal,
poison as lover vining your trunk,
creeping toward your throat. Your obituary

a record of children hidden in the heart
in a dying tree,
an urge to devour, a case of mistaken identity.

You will never be the loud bird, the thrumming bird.
Make love to the worms,
the larvae and harmless seeds. From your waste, beauty.


napowrimo #2


Icarus Takes Off the Wings, Puts on a Skirt

You tell me I am flying too close to the sun.
I shake my feathers,
remind you
I am not flying
but fleeing
the burning house.

Embers cling to my toes,
men with rubber boots and hoses aim,
but no hero’s blast can reach me.
Someone puts out nets,

but I rise
like chimney smoke
and disappear.

Even without binoculars,
flocks of displaced songbirds can be spotted
racing from forests on fire
nests left behind,
and a clear pair of eyes
their only baggage.

Too late,
I realize you did not say
flying too close.

You said I am the sun.
You said Beware.

I watch wax drip from my bare shoulders,
prepare for a painful landing.

napowrimo day four


The Princess Loses Her Pea

That woman tied to a chair
cannot see her wings.
She was once her own king
and queen, until the ruler’s ruler
ruled she was no longer a subject
but the still-life. Punishment—
the paint brushes with bristles severed
easels with screws loosened
canvases shorn in jigsaw pieces.
Even the windows mock her,
their black mold forming messages
in a foreign tongue. This kingdom
once a utopia of free kisses, roofs
of mouths wide like caves
open for exploring.
What unusual luck, the blacksmith come
to shoe her horse: the mare dead,
his sharpened awl sliding perfectly inside
the heart of her throbbing knot.

napowrimo #4 (and i owe you one)


Be the Air You Want to Breathe, and Other Foolish Holidays (working title)


Sitting on the side of your bed, trying to breathe
you say, “It’s good to see you.” I see your chest
shudder (trapped moths) beneath your white undershirt.
I breathe
for both of us. I see your hair is not combed (spider webs).
I breathe
tendrils of smoke from a neighbor’s chimney.
I see your empty water bottle, tissues like white mice on the floor.
Each time they ask, I breathe
for your lungs–twin beggars.

I see a host of gold ladybugs flank your watery blue
eyes, or is that the patina of lived long enough?
having looked into them or not quite at the pair
for so many years it is hard to see what is new

what is old. Only the painter hired to rip cabbage
roses from the front bedroom sees the peeling paper,

only the roofer shimmying past flaking slate sees the holes
beneath the tar paper—the rest of us too busy mopping
rainwater, trying to remember which one tried to fly
from the second story pitch with an umbrella in one hand.

I open the door as the stretcher breezes in and I see blue sky,
the tips of forsythia trying to take in enough resurrection
enough of what this day has to offer, to push their yellow
eyes past shelter’s thin shell
into oxygen’s invisible embrace.

Halloween Skeleton (Poem)


Today is a shred of fallen bark. The birds today are slow winged and thick-boned, prone to worm wringing on lawns or stealing seed pods to pad infested nests. For this reason, after rising take a feather pillow to offer the roosting pigeons who will want to harmonize in their thanks. This way you will be able to hollow a bone with precision. Feathers have little reason to do good deeds. Pinfeathers may need to sharpen dull edges with knife blades. This afternoon there is migration of exotics to observe record or join with wings of fallen travelers. Enjoy carving the hollows you could have in all the chasms you think must be filled to love. Use an awl and channel an owl of the type barns might have. This is a spell to cast and change lives.


This is a skeleton poem* (see skeleton below), a poem created mad-libs style from a horoscope with its meatiest words chopped out. I saw this on Mutating the Signature. Nathan had pasted a link on his facebook page and I borrowed it! Since I’ve been fighting the valient flu fight (my poor children!) all week, I haven’t written a thing! Nothing! This sparked something, and for that I am grateful!

Today is a ____ of ______ _______. The ________ today are _____ _____ and ___ __ __________ to ___ _______ on _________ or _____ __ ___________ to _______ ____ ______. For this reason, ____ _____ take a ______ ____ to ______ the ____ ____ ___ will want to ____ in ____ ______. This way ___ will be able to ______ a _______ with __________. ____ have __ ___________ to do ____ ___. ___ may need to ___________ ____ ____ ____ ________ _______. This afternoon there is ____ of ___________ to _______ _______ or _______ _______ ____ of ____ _______. Enjoy _______ the ___________ ___ could have in all the _______ ___ think ___ _____ ____ to _____. Use a(n) _____ and ____ ____ ____ of the _____ ___ might have. This is a ____ to _____ and ____ ________.

In Line at the Drive-Thru Pharmacy


We never pay attention to the sparrows
drab brown tiny wing blurs
and maybe this is our problem.

We walk across the hard-packed ground
every day every step and only notice
when rain splits earth open.

When your surface surrenders
to a force almost invisible–
never having held a storm in your hand—

when your feet, twin soldiers
full of bones, fly without wings
you should know you’re not really flying.

Lucky sparrow, waiting out the downpour
beneath the drive-thru pharmacy’s
covered ledge. Shelter with no prescription.

June Cleaver, Now Separated, Has a Date With Buddha


After my reincarnation
I went to the cemetery to brag

laughter doesn’t go over
well at the burial site

I move on, head to the local gin joint
slow dance with a stiff
whisper in his moldy ear
you can’t believe the freedom

my arms melt when I ask them
I order my dreams sunny
-side up, the monsters come alive
in shades of cream and sugar
(think coffee poured into a clear glass mug)
I am no longer afraid.

Well, the man I chose to dance with
that old stiff, he gets a little jealous
smashes my dream with the rubber mallet
he keeps in his pick-up truck.

It was just a dream.

Mother always told me just turn
your pillow over
to the good dream side.
There was this one night when I turned my face
to the good side. That was the night I felt
the air leave my lungs in one slow swell.

Here I am today,
come back as a dragonfly
or is it a moth?
Either way, please don’t touch my wings.