(from Prairie Midden)

Dear Prairie Daughters

 

How do we miss

what we’ve never had?

 

How can we carry

ourselves as pilgrims,

thinking we’ve arrived

 

at the holy place

where fire christened grass

and bison knelt in wind and snow

and the ancestors of others

cursed and loved?

 

I know a nursery woman

who walks railroad berms

in search of native seeds.

 

Those seeds hold prairie’s

fierce and lusty story.

 

How do we miss what we’ve never had?

Follow where she puts her hands.

(from Course)

Mornings Before the Texas High-Noon Heat 


My mother hauled the white plastic basket to the yard,

an apron with pockets full of wooden pins

tied around her post-partum waist. She set the basket

down in yellow mortal grass, the smell of bleach

stirring up from hard-wrung cloth. But first

she had to move along the lines plucking

slugs from their precarious perches, shiny

acrobats stretched out in slender viscous arcs

high and clean in the dry morning air.

Each one she plucked, dozens of them some days,

she threw down, smashed with her shoe,

one silken body at a time, pressing each

into the red dirt. And when she'd cleared

the slugs she stroked a cloth along the lines

before shaking out panties, handkerchiefs,

white shirts, pillowcases, her Sunday dress,

washcloths and teatowels, diapers, draping their corners

lightly, pinning them fast, and then going

back into the house to wash her hands, to start

another load, sit before a fan, her skirt

pulled up above her knees, and cool down

enough to move to the piano where she

practiced Chopin while the washer spun and

the sun cast human shadows across the silver smudges.

Poems

a safe, well-defined acceptable unknown 

A fantastic exploration of Athena’s poem “a safe, well-defined acceptable unknown” by Rebecca Foust. Be sure to click through to her mini-essay.

here

Consider the Onion

and

Barbarity

Thank you to Robert Nazarene and James Wilson

here

beauty 

Thank you to the editors of SWWIM

here

song 

A poem in Course, and also one of the poems in the song cycle “I Give Voice to My Mother,” composed by Linda Kachelmeier

here

Love Like Horses 

Thanks to the editors of RHINO, where this poem first appeared

here

Several poems with thanks to Carolyn Zukowski

here

(from Ventriloquy)

The Barbed Wire Saint 

 

saint of vagabonds, trespassers, bumpkins,

met herself coming and going.

 

After that jaunt around the place

you'd think she would have picked up some gossip.

 

Held her tongue though,

tightened her belt.

 

She'd skinny past any obstacle.

 

You could get hung up on her,

a prickly priestly love,

closer to s & m

than to a pedestal.

 

The barbed wire saint

wore her medals and milagros

wherever she went,

little bows little kisses little tinsel smooches.

 

When the authorities had had enough—

and admittedly it took them awhile—

the saint was old as the hills.

They put a question or two,

pulled out a few nails.

She took her secrets to the grave.

Background Painting  (detail)  by Dusty Griffith