One Square Mile

We’d been in Prescott several months

before I felt quite brave enough

to wander a mile of state trust land

neighboring our windy, new hillside home.

Raised in the Midwest, it was like another world

harsh and barren – and continuously warned

of giant spiders and big mountain cats,

poisonous snakes and thieving rats.

Instead, I learned of high dessert ways,

where life and death are on display.

In each cow for slaughter in the shade of a pine;

in the shy, white blossoms of the desert moon vine;

which shun the sun all summer long,

closing their beauty to everyone.

Then as the gentle night unfolds,

so does each petal, bright and bold.

And fleeting.

In every piece of a recent kill,

neatly picked clean from above and below,

until nothing remains but an armful of bones

to bleach and decay in the perennial sun.

Each time I’ve wandered this rolling terrain,

it has begged more questions and felt more sane;

and given me moments I’ll relive again

with a broad, happy smile for all that’s been.

Of days making circles within this wild square,

with the weight of the world or nary a care;

the moment the dogs and I walked up a hill,

where a herd of pronghorn stood scattered and still.

Two dozen, or so, at rest and at play.

Not bothered enough to run away.

Even as the dogs whined and pulled at their leashes,

they just raised their heads, and I stood speechless.

With earthy colors of white, black and wheat,

small groups spread out, but young close to teat.

Watching us.

Watching them.

Feeling the ache of the dogs in my arms,

and wanting to keep all present from harm,

I called for calm and aimed for home,

turning my pack from the wondrous tableau.

We hadn’t gone far when I felt the ground shake.

The once placid herd was now wide awake.

The dogs were frantic. Nearly pulled off my feet.

I turned to see the herd and me just about to meet.

Digging in heels and holding on tight,

I stared to the eyes of the leader in sight.

With the herd right behind, and us just ahead,

it was up to this doe as to how this would end.

At the very last moment, the doe darted right,

followed close by her clan, who were now in full flight.

The spray from her hooves shot into my gape,

as we watched the herd and our narrow escape.

Just the other side of a short, fat tree

the pronghorn passed just feet away.

Turning with the herd, thus turning their keeper,

the dogs spun me round, so I dug my heels deeper.

But instead of the group going forward and gone,

the leader turned back from where they had come!

A dust cloud of pronghorns surrounded all sides.

Dogs yanking and whining and losing their minds.

All I can think is, “Keep anchored! Hang tight!”

And that no one was going to concede this wild sight.

For how could I make someone truly believe

that I was in the middle of a pronghorn stampede?

When the final white butt disappeared in the dust,

leaving us trembling, I laughed – as you must.

“Holy shit!”, I screamed out, again and again,

as I looked for my breath and steadied my friends.

We climbed the last hills of this special square mile,

to our tame, little world, where we’d rest a while

and dream of dust clouds.

the anne show

Welcome to the anne show

Welcome one and all

come and watch her rise,

or come to watch her fall?

No matter what your reason

come see the greatest show

that anyone who knows our Anne

will ever surely know.

She spins just like a moving top

round and round and round

but never does this spinning mass

seem to leave the ground.

No matter what your reason

come see the greatest show

that anyone who knows our Anne

will ever surely know.

The other tops beneath the tent

try hard to follow her spin

never quite understanding

the spin that Anne is in.

No matter what your reason

come see the greatest show

that anyone who knows our Anne

will ever surely know.

Watch her twist and bounce about

within the center ring

ricocheting off the foot high walls

again and again and again.

No matter what your reason

come see the greatest show

that anyone who knows our Anne

will ever surely know.

The thrills and chills aren’t present

but she’ll take you on a ride

dizzy from all that spinning in place

you’ll laugh until she’s cried.

No matter what your reason

come see the greatest show

that anyone who knows our Anne

will ever surely know.

The tickets are cheap but not easy

the seats are always front row

but know that when Anne starts spinning

there’ll be no place to go.

No matter what your reason

come see the greatest show

that anyone who knows our Anne

will ever surely know.

Building up momentum

for nearly sixty years

this spinning top wants no more hands

to keep it spinning here.

No matter what your reason

come see the greatest show

that anyone who knows our Anne

will ever surely know.

But folks just keep her turning

even though the act is done

‘cause that’s the show they paid to see

until it’s time to move on.

No matter what your reason

come see the greatest show

that anyone who knows our Anne

will ever surely know.

So get your tickets while you can

all eyes on Anne at center ring

the greatest show’s about to start

don’t mind the state you see her in.

Have a seat!

Sit right down!

Anne’s about to spin right round

here she comes and there she goes

spotlight racing to and fro

almost breaching the wall ahead

stopped by the Circus Ringleader instead.

Toppled and tired Anne sits in the dark

refusing to spin one more spin

this stage is far too small she cries

I feel so trapped within.

She begs to the leader open the ring

and let this old top go

together she vows as she takes his hand

we’ll put on the greatest of shows.

No matter what your reason

come join the greatest show

that anyone who knows our Anne

will ever surely know.

remember the good times

remember the good times

is all that you wrote

the words i read got stuck in my throat

remember the good times?

when were those?

for I’ve looked as far as my memory goes.

i’ve tried and i’ve tried to find these grand days

but i’m coming up empty

‘cause you’re just one-act plays

of selfish, greedy, immoral plots

never getting what you want

and that’s a lot

remember the good times?

i wish i could

i wish there was something in you I find good

but you’ve lived your life of self-serving deeds

of stealing what you want,

but never need,

of talents gone wasted

cause you’re a damn fool

disappointed the world

hasn’t fawned and drooled

that they haven’t come knocking

to give you the key

that won’t ever come

and won’t set you free

disappointment feeds on asking so much

when you’ve done so little to earn life’s trust

here’s what i’ll remember

and i beg you to, as well

i love you and I truly hope

you give life better stories to tell.

not dead yet

each morning i cry til there’s nothing left

mourning a life that’s not yet dead

heaving up tears til my body shakes

empty of giving and desperate to take

time with my love and time with myself

time in the world and time on the shelf

time to write and time to sleep

with long, sweet dreams I wake to seek

with quiet days and peaceful nights

and ever some adventure in our sights

but death so often takes its time

so i must stop this silly crying

and keep my focus on what’s ahead

and live each day the best i can

for even on empty, my heart remains full

for I know as one fades, the other will fill.

My Friend

My beautiful friend,

with the beautiful smile.


Weighted by fear.


Flattened with worry.


Seeking happiness,

without finding your own.


Keep it simple.


Keep it clear.


Take a long, deep breath.


Then another and another.


Take hold of that which gives you power.


That powers your passion.


That fills you with fire.


Be fearless.


You’ll soon find the you

that smiles more than once in a while,


and made you my beautiful friend,

with the beautiful smile.

Float

Let me float

in the warmth

and the dark

and the quiet.

Let my weariness subside.

Let me float

away the aches

away the worry

away the want.

Let weightless be my guide.

Let me sink

in the drink

of nothing to do but float.

Let me breathe

long and deep

gotta hold that strong, clear note.

Just keep still

feel the pain

release its grip

on aging limbs.

Fill my chest

with long, slow breaths

letting go and letting in.

Watch the sun

begin to rise

casting red upon the skies.

And as the red seeps into orange

find peace and calm

in the water’s warmth.

From orange to yellow

paler than butter

let myself BE in the pillowy color.

And as the yellow lightens to blue

and the plug is pulled

and the gravity, new.

Take the weight.

Feel the cold.

Face the day.

Be brave.

Be bold.

And keep afloat.

I’m fine.

I’m fine.

That’s what you want to hear.

I’m fine.

I’ll say it loud and clear.

I’m fine.

It’s easier this way.

I’m fine.

Pretending everyday.

I’m fine.

It’s normal to wake in tears.

I’m fine.

Haven’t had a break in years.

I’m fine.

Trying to find that level ground.

I’m fine.

Wondering who I hope will stick around.

I’m fine.

Cause that’s the me you want to see.

I’m fine.

But she’s the she I no longer care to be.

I’m fine.

Losing something which never was.

I’m fine.

Just keep going, cause that’s what one does.

I’m fine.

Trying each day to set things right.

I’m fine.

But waking most days too tired to fight.

I’m fine.

Wondering if death came before dawn.

I’m fine.

And if Mom is alive, how to stay kind.

I’m fine.

Cause every day it’s just the same.

I’m fine.

The same recording on endless play.

I’m fine.

While the rest of the world gets on with its day.

I’m fine.

As hair by hair, my years now show.

As lines overtake my burrowed brow.

As my strength builds, then suddenly goes.

As the walls of my home begin to close.

As each day’s remnants turns to dust.

As I do each day what I know I must.

I’m fine.

I’m fine.

I’m fine.

too bad

you wouldn’t lift my broken heart above your selfish wants

so sad

my anguished words swatted at like tiny, pesky gnats

so sad

the years i gave my all to thee

so glad

extending branches of our tree

so glad

but when my give had given up

so bad

broken and tired i sought your love

so sad

each member of my precious clan

too bad

took the next exit out of town

too sad

leaving this trio to figure it out

not mad

not sad

some times still bad

but glad of the love that’s stuck around

an ode to jim

raise that crucifix nice and high

plant it in your neighbor’s eye

hold that bible in both hands

smack with it your fellow man

twist each word to stoke your fears

of Muslims, Blacks, Liberals, Queers

live your life a real shit

a few short prayers and that is it.

forgiven for your evil thoughts

forgiven for your selfish wants

forgiven for the love you scorned

forgiven for the pain you’ve born

surround yourself with frightened sheep

you are who you are by the company you keep

say your prayers each day and night

your dark deeds still won’t find the light

by sitting in pews and mumbling prayers

searching for peace through all the thick layers

of wrongful acts and shallow words

of broken promises at each turn

sanctimonious and self-loathing

in your dark yet depthless world.

Flies

down in the lean-to,

swatting at flies.

annoying little fuckers,

always at my horses’ eyes.

but that’s flies.

in nothing but shit

they feed and they breed.

pesky and pitiless

and bulging with greed.

never enough

is just one pile of shit,

of biting at ankles

and doing their bit.

they eat at the skin

of the gentle and strong,

who stand there and stomp

and never do harm.

but that’s flies.

appearing in swarms.

one purpose in mind:

feed and breed

off the peaceful and kind.

make wounds fester.

make eyes ooze.

plant eggs in more shit

til the air is abuzz.

such nasty little insects

i relish in killing,

and sending them on

to find light – for those willing.

but my hope is not great

for the pests just keep coming

with their selfish, rotting deeds

and their ceaseless biting and buzzing.

but that’s flies.

so the horses will stomp.

the pests will keep biting.

and i’ll do my best to protect

and keep fighting,

those nasty

fucking

flies.

Death, the Kingbird, and I

Death rapped on our window at dawn

so I leapt from bed and out the door

to shoo it away.

But there, below the window,

in the morning shade of the Mulberry tree

a Western Kingbird lay.

Damn it, I cried aloud to death,

I’ve tried to keep you at bay.

How many window decals do I need

to keep them all away?

You silly thing, I said to the bird,

and scooped to pick her up.

Stunned and afraid

she fluttered her wings,

flipping helplessly in the dust.

With soothing words, i tried again.

cupping hands around my little friend.

Who showed little life.

Who looked near the end.

But I was not interested in welcoming death,

so finding a box and trying my best,

I set the bird down in a soft, cotton nest.

A gentle stroke upon her head

and down her narrow bill.

Her wide, black eyes, now closed.

Her gray and yellow feathers, still.

Death, I see, is stopping by.

So I leave the Kingbird,

– and this mourning scene –

to have a good, long cry.

For the bird,

For the world.

For me.

For death hovers over this house.

It simply can’t be helped

with a 90 year old mother about.

Although uninvited, it came for a visit.

Not much to be done

except to face it.

I returned to the box

with the poor, little bird.

And, once again, I cursed aloud.

Reaching down for one final stroke,

suddenly the Kingbird woke,

and flew in a flash

to a neighboring tree,

leaving me

and death

behind today.

The Eyes

You won’t see my eyes

across this divide

that widens

and deepens

each day.

My gaze is turned

downward

into the rift

where much that was

has slipped away.

Into the dark 

of misaimed deeds

selfish wants

always needs.

Not convenient

if I bleed.

So pardon me 

if our eyes don’t meet

the steps are precarious

below these feet.

I need my focus

on footing strong

on solid ground,

and grounded ones.

I know what lurks

behind those eyes

who make believe

with all those lies

that everything will be okay

and once again I’ll

look your way.

But keep your eyes

upon your path

of weblike turns

and sticky tracks.

And let me keep 

my tired eyes

focused ahead

where my truth lies.

Done is Done

Away they go,

one by one.

Change is change.

Done is done.

Years go by.

Wrinkles arrive.

Needs and wants

don’t always jibe.

Some folk never get enough.

Give too little.

Troubled trust.

Throw that bond

right under the bus.

Time no longer shelters “us”.

Those who once

were all as one.

Away they go.

And done

is done.