“Writing poetry, you have to skip light-footed just ahead of logical thought.”
This month, I am writing a poem for each day –responding to poem prompts from The Two Syvias Press Advent Calendar challenge. I also took a terrific poetry class over two weekends with Irene Cooper. Grateful always for new explorations, and for the inspirations of the kingfisher–bird of the winter solstice and subject of my May 2022 book, Halcyon Journey in Search of the Belted Kingfisher.
WHY IS THERE A KANGAROO IN THE KITCHEN?
Because she rings
the timer bell,
Bounces up high to
pull down the dusty
cobalt fondue pot
her furry paws.
Each time her great
tail thuds upon
the avocado green
cup, bowl, and plate
trembles while Joey peeks
out of her pocket as
a cloud of flour mists
over grated swiss cheese
flakes piled high
on a cutting board,
and Joey’s mama uncorks
the chardonnay wine
Kangaroo is cooking up
a Kanga-too feast
for the holidays,
juggling French bread
loaves spinning laughter,
a topsy-turvy culinary
fiasco or fantastic fiesta?
SENYRU POEMS (a humorous form of Haiku)
Never throw away
unfinished New Yorkers
stacking ever higher
Playing guitar at dawn
his gift she remembers when
he skips the chores again
yogurt containers fill
pantry shelves with guilt
Tripping and falling
when looking up at a robin
she wished for wings
SNOWFLOWER FIELDS (responding to a prompt to write down seven words of spring and put them in another season)
In the time when snow
as if butterflies cast
a ghost blizzard,
When a muffled world
invites a hundred finches
to flood bird feeders like
When a raven cracks
gray frozen sky in a black
flapped chase after another
muddy words potent
with sage predictions
secreted away in buds
On this day the dawn
chorus comes in soft
snapping of tiny beaks
I chafed to return to my mossy home
like a captive animal
fuming the day I missed recess
to stare at a bowl of green pea soup
I refused to eat.
We threw boys down, kissed them,
ran away laughing.
Double trouble with my friend Debbie.
At school, I was not
a good girl.
At home, playing “King of the Mountain”
by the tumbled boulders
with Mount Rainier doming over us,
or hiding within the Hemlock Room
parting the drooping, long, and soft
I once bloodied my nose
blackened both eyes,
fell face first, and chipped
a front tooth when leaping
from fallen fir to leaning cedar
playing “Never Touch the Ground”
when I was a child
of the forest.
BIRDING IN MOTION
(Revised from spoken words recorded in Voice Memo while driving California’s Highway One, and in response to an exercise from poet Irene Cooper)
How to see a bird when navigating a very winding road
by the Pacific Ocean with two hands on the wheel?
Lift a left eyebrow for the fleeting glimpse
that is enough to name the hunched flight of Great Blue Heron,
noting how the sinuous neck pulls in tight, the long
wading legs trail behind, and each ponderous
flap announces the pterodactyl bird.
Hands cross over while swooping around too many hairpin
turns as if piloting a boat in a windstorm
while singing Auld Lang Syne along with John McDermott’s brogue,
crying because this was my mother’s CD
and this is the first time
I’ve sung my sorrow since her Memorial on Zoom during Covid.
And now I’m turning away from the California coast
into the deep dark redwoods cast in moss green glades,
away from the moody blues of misty seas where white gulls
lift from black rocks and each breaker is a broken beauty.
Away from the ravens of Mendocino where I stop for a latte,
converse with one especially ravishing charcoal bird whose
bright, smart, and polished eye almost convinces me to share
my cranberry oat cookie. When I step too close, he flaps
away to a white clapboard fence with a raven huff of croak,
black feathers iridescent like the one abalone shell
I found on Stillwater Cove, except that kind of shine was silvery,
shimmery, and rainbow-hued, a Gift from the Sea for all women
who embrace the alacrities of solo travel.
Away from the sea-facing bluffs where I stop for the pink
flowers that hold one black-and-yellow bumblebee clinging
to a blossom like a December lifeboat
in a single shaft of light.
Navigating the precipitous romp of topsy-turvy road
even as a driver I feel a little seasick
I come to the lost town of Leggett
where a billboard reads “The Drive Thru Tree”
and this is all wrong.
There should only be a “Walk Thru Tree”
to be entered barefoot or in moccasins.
But it’s not over yet
this Disney tumult where a few scraggly
yet still valiant old redwoods stand tall after the logging.
The sign commands to stop at “The Tree House,” to brake
for “Confusion Hill.” I cannot speed away fast enough
as if I were the red-tailed hawk I spotted and tracked
a little too long as the Prius hit the rumble strip.
I pull over and enter The Founder’s Grove to breathe in the Mother Trees.
Here, I listen to the millennial forest. Here, I take off my shoes and walk
where a Varied Thrush flits from shadow into the sword fern scent
FOR JYL ON HER BIRTHDAY
“Fabulous” you sigh with eyes luminous
Your voice so mellifluous
Each interview seemingly effortless
Every “Off the Trail” episode shimmers
As if lit by a million monarch butterflies
Sparking desire for all that’s glorious
GOING TO CHURCH
Overnight this transformation
waking to snow-bent trees
bearing ice-laden loads.
White piles of beauty
almost too much
Shaking lilac limbs bowing down
to the ground, snow anoints
my bare head. I join Pine
LETTING GO (Prompt–begin a poem with I held X in my hand…choose the X noun by opening a book at random and then fill in with that word, and write a poem in tercets).
I held the Autumn in my hand, closed
each finger around the leaving times
as if to forestall every advancing wrinkle.
Watching a gleaming tapestry of light–
russets, golds, and even roguish orange–
escape like wafting maple wood smoke.
A zephyr wind sighs the song ruffling each
silver strand of October’s once burnished
coppery curls tumbling in youth.
Holding Autumn like a warbler
feathery and afraid, I feel pattering
heartbeats as insistent raindrops.
Releasing the fall songbird into flight
only then do winter’s snowflakes float down
cloaking, covering, and soothing.
Opening two hands wide to the rhythm of
seasons returning, renewing, and spinning
I find my way from sunrise to sunset.
When ice lines your knitting
needles of green and
sunshine sparkles upon bundles
When your puzzle bark blazes
amber as if your mighty trunk,
wide as centuries, wore
a plated coat
On this Solstice Day
I press my shoulder in close,
then turn toward you—
the full embrace
Lean my cheek upon
your vanilla-scented self,
Let all thoughts drift like
until I am left only
with your wise counsel
Tree of Ponder
How might I design this day
of travel in wind and snow?
How to conjure your centered
Listen. Silence. At last
I hear your word unspoken,
Exhaled through bark crevices: