A rumble summoned my husband last spring
to rescue a beehive; he found it
hung like a tongue abuzz with hunger,
urgent hooligans hunkering around
a honeyed crux. He clipped the bunched
cluster, curried the tree branch, and dumped
it into a hovel.
He had three hives at the beginning
of winter, but only the mined line
survived this time. He thinks
there’s something in being wild
that keeps things alive.
*published in Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Fall 2018, Issue 21,
“Appalachia Acting Up.”
Sliver of Power
We sheltered from August steam under fluttering oak leaves,
crescent moon shadows multiplying at our feet.
As moon began to overtake sun, we
stepped beyond shade to stand
where we were scorched
just moments before—
it was as if we stood
the same ground
on a different day,
twenty degrees cooler,
the sun’s light filtered
to a temperature more akin
to an autumn afternoon. Light
slipped from summer’s buttery yellow
to silvery sheen, the supernatural glow before
violent thunderstorms; birdsong silenced and crickets
soon filled the void with nighttime chirping. We hushed
as moon slid across sun, yet marveled at the power of sun,
who gave so much light with the smallest fraction of herself.
*published in The Amethyst Review, Nov.9,2018.
“This sense of clean and beautiful newness within and without is one
of the commonest entries in conversion records… And that such
a glorious transformation as this ought of necessity
to be preceded by despair …”
-William James in The Varieties of Religious Experience
Without ghost lines of turned-down pages,
I pulled the unread book from its wedged perch,
opened to a tale written by a drunk sage.
Without ghost lines, no turned-down pages,
I unlocked the door of my cage—
from weathered story sprung the answer to my search.
Without ghost lines of turned-down pages,
I awakened in this printed church.
*published in The Amethyst Review, Oct. 24, 2018
Last night a firefly was trapped
inside my bedroom, frantic
fluorescence, neon green
darting, looking for escape;
moments of illumination
were dashes across a black page.
I opened the screen door,
tried to show her the way
to freedom, how easy it would be
to regain her life,
but the firefly flew
deeper into a trap,
her dark prison.
*published in an earlier version in Artemis, Spring 2018
Thirteen Ways of Looking at Cowboy Boots
(Hat Tipped to Wallace Stevens)
Among the crowd of footwear
standing in her closet,
she chooses the androgynous black cowboy boots.
She was of two minds,
like her stylish yet functional
leather cowboy boots.
Despite their advancing age, the cowboy boots emitted
the musky aroma of a new buck.
A woman and a pair of shoes
A woman and her pair of cowboy boots
are at least two.
She doesn’t know which she prefers,
the seductress in high-heeled boots,
or the shit-kicking, tough-talking cowgirl
ruling in her cowboy boots,
Fine lines etched her mirrored reflection
with unforgiving age.
The polished gleam of the cowboy boots
passed her eye, caught her attention.
She hesitated at the shine of the easily-renewed boots,
an indescribable sadness weighed her down.
O Cowboys of the Wild West,
could you have imagined over a hundred years hence a gentlewoman
wearing your boots, prancing around, shopping, dancing, loving
in the boots you rode brokeback saddle in?
She knows a virile Western twang and the Southern drawl
of a charmer, the rugged outdoorsy cadences of some men;
but she knows, too, the lilting feminine voice of a Northern girl,
and she is definitely wearing cowboy boots.
When the cowboy boots are put away,
the imprint of their power remains
on her choices.
At the sight of her pulling-on her black or tan cowboy boots,
even the critics of haute couture
applaud her versatile fashion sense.
She drove all over the Midwest
in a black minivan.
Once, she cried she was lost,
alone in this stampede.
The cut of her boot reminded her
to start walking.
The river is moving.
Her cowboy boots must be mud-streaked by now.
Her whole, tired life was a new frontier.
She was breathing,
and she willed to keep breathing.
Her cowboy boots kicked-up the dust under her feet
as she walked into the sunset.
*published on “The Poet’s Craft,” the website of Pauletta Hansel, during her tenure as Cincinnati’s 1st poet laureate.
By the bottle or by the pill,
fueled for isolation;
brick and mortar added to the wall
growing stronger every day.
webs inside skulls.
Gold and paper
pad the nest
of voices too bright
for our nighttime eyes.
as desiccated wings
and hardened bodies
*Published in L.A. Writers Tribe Review
This evening a full moon,
hung low in the inky sky,
as if too heavy to rise
above the torches of industry
burning just below.
An inescapable chill
inhabited me today;
scapular muscles contracted
in aching protest, as if
my wings were paralyzed
by the cold.
I sink into the warmth
of minerals suspended.
Am I, too, destined
to remain tethered low,
like the moon?
My icy body thaws
as the bath water cools;
I replenish the heat
in a protracted reverie,
in the solace of water.
I return to the moon,
now bright white
and risen high in its inevitable arc.
I walk briskly in the blue light,
exhaling puffs of clouds, my body
holding warmth despite the winter air,
again hopeful for the possibility
*Published on the Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County’s website. A winner of the 2016 “Through the Garden” poetry contest co-sponsored by the Greater Cincinnati Writers League.