April, 2018

Wolf at Beowowe Rest Area

The almost life within me stretches out

a cairn atop my tender pubic bones 

that burn and part, anticipating birth

as I speed through alkaline painted land

homeward bound, eager to shed the lonely 

void of starlit sagebrush pocking the land 

connecting Elko and Battle Mountain.

Until my bladder clenches and demands

diversion into the rest area

perched dim upon desolate camouflage 

skirted in asphalt and sequined with a

flash of luminescence flickering like

aluminized vapor in my headlights

where I see her perched upon rangy-legs,

motley colored head turning toward me

as if aware of my hesitation.

I sit five thousand years seeking sanction

in her stare and soothing the raised flesh

peppering my neck and arms. In due course

I edge from the coupé with riotous pulse

a curious advance on liquid legs

and nearing her I can map each fine hair

illuminated by hovering light

I see her breath rise opaque in crisp air.

Fixed regal and undaunted this totem

inspects me through eyes like ancient mirrors 

flecked and cracked pale behind inky iris,

nostrils splaying open as her head lifts.

Crablike I sidle into the doorway

and to the last stall where I cry soft tears 

then fish-gasp for air. I exit because

we had no cell phones then, only moxie.

I place one foot in front of the other

with measured care. The heat from her body

warms my back as she follows me, clicking

syncopated to my breathing 

At the car I think to inhale deeply

then whooshing whispers of the opened door

surge forth and batter the hushed evening

while I slide my extended body in.

Near the hood she tilts her head, curious

the crickets take up their chirping tempo

and the scent of sage and cedar wafts in.

I close the door with intentional care.

She strolls on delicate paws that lift then set

sinuously causing her entire length

to ripple with controlled power until

she is standing tall enough to meet me 

face to face magnificent wolf, mother-in-making.

     Published, thread Literary Inquiry Vol. 12

In Celebration of Survival

My childhood chicken-legs filled out: copper

freckles endure, reminders of summers

ridden wild, barefoot. Toes gripping knobby

bike pedals, pumping fast to avoid a

fall. Gravel roads, jagged and sharp, threatened

to catch me, care for me, to leave their scars.

Then, I left riding behind and dreamed of

escape, careful to stuff esteem next to my 

socks and fear of being stuck in Blackfoot.

Locked away but coiled, poised to spring open

with keys made of streamers—white and streaking

my stomach with medals of honor pinned

in a Gaia battle, and in the wide

startled stare of newborn eyes connecting

with something instinctive within. For years

I crept out of Blackfoot and into authenticity.

Sweeping all roads of gravel for my sons,

watching for scars, before patriarchy

aimed its fist at my face and missed, hitting

the wall instead--leaving a hole that I

refused to patch. Reaching into a drawer

I found what I needed coiled and poised

between lace ankle socks and old photos.

And now. Oh! Now, I Am.

Mother, lover, gypsy, writer.

No longer feral—or maybe just enough

to shake things up at cocktail parties.


    Published, thread, Literary Inquiry Vol. 12

Hurricanes and Mortality

Storm shutters are hung, so I wait.

Vulnerability is mustard gas 

rolling in as I hunker where hours ago

geckos ran and squirrels flicked their tails 

chattering under brochure-perfect sky 

now gray as shadow’s fringe.

There is time to call my son, time to gauge

how deep his anger--how fast

maternalistic guilt will choke us. 

Voicemail rescues me.

I light a cigarette, the one hidden

in the rusty tin behind the sugar,

then place heirloom Staffordshire dogs in the 

dishwasher for safekeeping and exhale.

   Revised October, 2019.  Originally Published as "On Surviving Hurricanes and Mortality" in thread, Literary Inquiry Vol. 12




An American Tradition

Pocatello guards the gateway

to verdant plains

tight between mountains’ shadow 

where frothing waters snake 

through purple camas blanket.

Did this chief stand proud upon the bluff

scrying futures?

Headdress connecting cloud to earth

in premonition

of loathsome deeds, of invasion.

Shoshone herded, stripped of home,

valley laid open, branded with iron tracks,

vulnerable to those who devour

language and culture, stealing 

regalia. A headdress

for the Chamber of Commerce to don 

parade each Fourth of July, 

down Main, throwing 

smiles and candy

to children lining the street

waving their fathers’ lessons.

Revised October, 2019. Originally published in Outrageous Fortune.