This winter

is snow on ice on ice on snow
and we know this is metaphor
also, this floundering through drifts
and bleak shivering, a slip and a fall

juncos flit and chickadees
never give up their song, the warning note
for all these branches bent under
their own frozen weight, summer’s broken stems
brittle and glazed

how far down do we hold our love’s roots, the seeds
and is this the winter
that kills them

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I envy the squirrels, who need no good government

snow clouds re-gather,
cardinals chirp, crabapples
bright against full gray
and seed feeder full—how else?
some give; others only take

clearing the field

Hafiz says I must clear the rocks
if I am to have any good of this field
so I begin—to be ready
for some future sun-flushed spring

rocks of resentment and guilt
at feeling resentment and some pebbles
words to fling about because—
I think you should understand—
a bowl full of pebbles to explain
why I feel and all of the above

(tell me if there is a place to stack them all
a monument to self-help and decluttering)

here is the rock I have been curled under, closed
and we might someday have it for a signpost
to carve the hard harvest or what should we give
to forget this bitter year?

the rock where the top is not so big yet one digs
and digs and two strong arms and intent
are not enough to heave it out
don’t say God must think it’s good for you
for what shape was the rock that left this gaping hole

and the last black rock, glittering with something I should be
doing differently

Reading Hafiz, “So You Can Plant More Wheat,” translated by Daniel Ladinsky.

on having to give up cheese

and butter, of course, though
our great society has long figured out
how to do fake butter

so now I’m left with these questions—
what about goat? how do I mourn
the loss of ice cream and every breakfast casserole

should I go to the garden walk with wine and ____ ?
I suppose there might be crackers

and how could a Texas girl with even great imagination
(I’ve hardly that) fathom these long remaining years
without a single enchilada?

and certainly, why now?
when so much of the joy has already slipped

my hermit days march forward
with stiff arms and fists

Moldy

Maybe you shouldn’t have looked in here, after so many weeks

or months? to find your friends talking about God knows and eight or nine expired poetry challenges, that feeling

like skipping church for a year, then sitting in the town chapel singing Christmas carols with strangers—

didn’t you want to cry? and didn’t you stop yourself, a disciplined no? but listen, I’m telling you

yes: find what’s worth saving, a fresh heart beneath all that must

 

A long-lined acrostic dedicated to the long-neglected crew at Yeah Write.

managing

we whiz along, or grind
jaws tight with effort
to be good and right and
happy

until we explode—
all the mess to clear up
exhausted

screaming and crying and chaos and blood
nearly always
the loom of news vans

we are no more than animals
we fear

while juncos hop along the brick
cat-scattered
squirrel descends fence
walnut bigger than its head
tight in its teeth