Mugshot of Grandma by Kristene Brown


If this photo could speak
    it would
slur, it would spit. Framed
in hard edges,
black and white, her face
a fight,
a riot
     of broken lines
in dirt worn cheeks.
Taken, the night she charged
into every rowdydow honky-tonk
west of Warsaw,
     looking
for that mean old mister
Pop-Pop. Her hair fist-knotted
     into the bog-slosh
     of tears and mud
tangled into some long night,
last call,
     whiskey, beer,
        fuck it all.
Her mouth a slow drawl
     yodel-ladee
song and dance
of handcuffed backtalk
in that cattle-dusted
back lot where she found him
     with her,
the other woman.
In the photo her eyes are closed
as if she's crying
or is about to.
     Captured
in a quick white flash—
     shot
when she wasn't even looking.

 

 

 


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Six Apologies, Lord by Olena Kalytiak Davis

I Have Loved My Horrible Self, Lord.
I Rose, Lord, and I Rose, Lord, And I,
Dropt. Your Requirements, Lord. ‘Spite Your Requirements, Lord,
I have Loved The Low Voltage Of The Moon, Lord,
Until There Was No Moon Intensity Left, Lord, No Moon Intensity Left
For You, Lord. I Have Loved The Frivolous, The Fleeting, The Frightful
Clouds. Lord, I Have Loved The Clouds! Do Not Forgive Me, Do Not
Forgive Me LordandLover, HarborandMaster, GuardianandBread, Do Not.
Hold Me, Lord, O, Hold Me

Accountable, Lord. I Am
Accountable. Lord.

Lord It Over Me,
Lord It Over Me, Lord. Feed Me

Hope, Lord. Feed Me
Hope, Lord, Or Break My Teeth.

Break My Teeth, Sir,

In This My Mouth.

Concerning Birds along a Hillside by Jeff Hardin

                to Jan LaPerle


You wouldn't believe the birds here, wild spinnings
after so many months of cold—I can scarcely think
for all the noise they make, but maybe that's
a blessing since I'm never sure what thoughts
have brought me anyway. Strange companions.
Broken things, really. I try to give a few to you
in hope our worlds might overlap or be more
clearly understood. I learned from Dickinson
that thoughts remain unfinished—from where
or why they come no one can say. Just up the hill
an ash tree leans away from where the others reach.
I've studied it a decade now. I, too, lean away
from where the day is heading. From the one,
most likely, I'll become. From every understanding
I have found and entertained. And not because
I am dissatisfied and not because the thoughts I know
are weary, small, or lacking purpose. I guess
because they feel like guesses in the end. I guess
because they're trapped by what they can't imagine,
trapped by what's in front of them, trapped by words,
the only form they take. What if we, in holding
who we think we are, completely miss the self
we might have come to be? What other questions
might have framed our joys and fears? I'm not asking
for an answer, nor am I asking to be mended by
a moment's trace of what our being here will mean.
I guess I'm asking if the noise we make will fill the sky.
Is thought the closest we can get to being other
than the self that has the thought? Is ever you?


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Maya Angelou’s Birthday

Maya Angelou's book of PoemsGoogle, today, honored Maya Angelou on what would be her 90th b-day. They did this with a Google Doodle of one of her famous poems: “Still I Rise” https://g.co/doodle/hqbawy?ds=em I like this poem well enough but wish they wouldn’t have chopped it up with guest readers. Too sappy for my taste. Safe. Accessible. Vanilla for the masses.

Reaching for a collection of her poems on my shelf and thumbing through it one is reminded of so many less safe (for children) challenging, Rocky-Road with Tabasco on top… pieces; poems that I wouldn’t consider reprinting here. She was brave, raw, and real much of the time. She’s not my favorite poet but she could really “bring it” sometimes and I am so grateful she wrote and grateful I’ve had a chance to read some of her books and much of her poetry.

Here’s a poem I came across while flipping through her book just now: (still safe for young readers)

Africa

Thus she had lain
sugar cane sweet
deserts her hair
golden her feet
mountains her breasts
two Niles her tears
Thus she has lain
Black through the years.

Over the white seas
rime white and cold
brigands ungentled
icicle bold
took her young daughters
sold her strong sons
churched her with Jesus
bled her with guns.
Thus she has lain.

Now she is rising
remember her pain
remember the losses
her screams loud and vain
remember her riches
her history slain
now she is striding
although she had lain.


Google. Thank you for reminding me of Maya Angelou today.

Perhaps the World Ends Here

Perhaps the World Ends Here
by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Minnesota Thanksgiving

 

For that free Grace bringing us past great risks
& thro’ great griefs surviving to this feast
sober & still, with the children unborn and born,
among brave friends, Lord, we stand again in debt
and find ourselves in the glad position: Gratitude.

We praise our ancestors who delivered us here
within warm walls all safe, aware of music,
likely toward ample & attractive meat
with whatever accompaniment
Kate in her kind ingenuity has seen fit to devise,

and we hope—across the most strange year to come—
continually to do them and You not sufficient honour
but such as we become able to devise
out of decent or joyful conscience & thanksgiving.
Yippee!
Bless then, as Thou wilt, this wilderness board.

Covalent Bonds

Covalent Bonds
by Sunbry Fieldhat

Zane Grey slipped near the drain
losing his never to be forever balance

He was often careless like this
lost in the milieu of millennial-like
reflections on self, and life, and the careless
way he stepped, reflected the careless way he
lived

Losing touch with the ground was simply
body following mind

Inevitably and quickly
his brain case,
filled with brief wonder,
closed the gap
met the ledge

A robust stream
of blood
slipped warmly down
his neck

His girl, exasperated,
having made allowances
for his flitting mind and
inattentive hands heard the
thud but didn’t move

better to let hope rub a rush to heat
than call 911 right away