BROWN ANOLES

BROWN ANOLES

1.

Everglades in the dry season. 

Alligator tracks in mudflats, 

mangroves reaching for wet. 

A turtle with a red head, 

one swallowtail kite, 

a brown canal of white birds. 

So much itself, so damaged, 

but when we are gone 

and the river of grass 

overtakes the canals, and the sea 

takes the highrises and malls 

our bones will join the shells

on the shores.

 

2.

Beside a turquoise pool, 

lizards appear and vanish 

on the edges of sight, 

discrete motions, 

particles, not waves. 

Brown anoles, delicate 

and charming wisps of life, 

invasive killers, displacers—

so lovely, so terrible.

 

3.

What could they give me to get me to stay? 

No money, surely, no luxurious house. 

Not here, this land of traffic and noise 

where people live by selling things 

and fixing things and cleaning things—

streets and pools and lawns 

and the tops of the walls built 

to keep out people like themselves 

unless they’re cleaning or fixing.

 

4.

The plastic dinosaurs in the botanical garden 

roar above the calling birds. 

The screen house is filled with butterflies. 

Brown anoles eat them. 

Anoles eat everything—their own babies, 

their own molted skins, their broken tails. 

Anoles everywhere. 

One climbs an orchid stem, 

puffs out his orange throat in threat.

One of the dinosaurs looks like a chicken. 

T. rex’s tiny forelimbs are disturbing. 

It’s hot, too hot even for Florida in May. 

March Prompt #11: Is that Mt. Marcy?

IS THAT MT. MARCY?

March Prompt #11

 

. . . or Manford? Or Mohegan? I think it

starts with M. One of those old volcanoes,

or maybe a whatchamacallit like

in earth science. Block fault? Strip fault? Or wait—

folded up? Like something pushed it. Like a

layer cake. Anyway, it’s a mountain,

and a tall one by the looks of it, but

it’s hard to tell here, with all the mountains

everywhere and the hills leading up. Not

like at home where they just come up—POW!—out

of the flat. You can tell. You can see one

a long ways off and just look at it. For

miles. And it gets bigger the closer you

get. It doesn’t come and go like these, these—

what? Ozarks? Pocos? Andirons? One of

those, maybe, or Blue, or something like that.

Winter Prompt #25: Sand

SAND

Winter Prompt # 25

Holiday Point, South Hero,

that summer between houses.

 

Popham Beach in the fog,

the first time I met the sea.

 

Fred’s Beach, Fourth of July,

hotdogs. Fireworks over the water.

 

White Strand of the Blasket, inviting,

dangerous, like its mothering land.

 

Kitty Hawk, where the first flight paths

are measured by stones.

HOTEL POEM, 5:30 A.M.

HOTEL POEM, 5:30 A.M.

Terrible coffee from the machine in the bathroom—

it’s too early for terrible coffee from the lobby.

I can write by the bathroom light

if I sit in this chair by the door.

John still sleeps.

All night I kept waking

and drifting off again trying to remember

the words to “The Highwayman,”

who kept morphing into Paul Revere.

Romantic figures on horseback—

one all fiction, one nearly so.

Revere did not ride into Concord, for example,

and he already knew they were coming by sea.

And there were two men in the North Church tower

sending the signal in case the riders didn’t make it.

But “The Somerset, British man of war” was real,

and when they rowed across the bay, they—

he was not alone in that boat— were afraid

they would be seen “just as the moon rose.”

Who cares?

The nameless  highwayman, on the other hand—

well, the musket drives me crazy.

How could Bess reach the trigger if the musket

was beside her and her hands were behind her?

And wouldn’t the trigger be too close to the floor

for a woman “tied up to attention” to reach?

Maybe someone on some online forum

could explain, but I’d rather

think about that than a few other things

I can name, but won’t. In the meantime,

Will “the people” waken in this “hour

of darkness and peril and need”?

Or stand around “dumb as a dog”?

Except dogs are hardly ever dumb.

WHAT I DID AFTER YOU LEFT HOME

WHAT I DID AFTER YOU LEFT HOME

Went to New Orleans,

walked alone in the early morning.

They were opening windows,

washing down the streets.

Are you ready, M’am?

An old man stood on the cobblestones,

beaming in the steaming light.

He held reins in one crinkled hand,

extended the other to me.

His brown horse shook its head, bells rang.

Ready?  For what?

 

Are you ready for a buggy ride?

I had not planned to act like a tourist,

but how could I do otherwise

in this unexpected land, this place I’ve never seen?

The people sitting above the tall red wheels

were talking and laughing together

like people in a painting, or a play.

The driver cocked his head, waiting for my answer.

I asked the cost.

There was no reason to refuse.

 

I placed my damp white hand in his,

my hand with the split lifeline,

the single crack foretelling a single child.

Twenty years ago a sibyl read my palm:

You’ll live long, but two lives, different.

You’re a musician.  And try not to be so stingy.

Yes of course I’m ready, I told him.

Boost me up.

 

You, I’m afraid, would have been

disdainful, cool.  You would not

have approved of me,

sweating in my purple dress,

gawking, singing along,

leaning out behind the horse’s bobbing feathered head

above the spinning wheels

in that impressionistic light.

 

I felt a city dawn that day,

saw men in stiletto heels and black stockings 

prancing down the shining sidewalks,

artists reaching for long moist shadows,

women like statues, painted gold.

The city smelled like fresh coffee,

sour beer, things frying in lard.

On every bright wet corner

were little children, dancing.

 

 

I wrote this a long time ago, in response to the Empty Nest. It ended up being a performance piece.

 

March 24–November 16, 1999;  Jan. 30–April 20, 2001

Quatrain Chapbook:   Sing in me, Muse, Feb. 2005

NOTES FROM A ROAD TRIP: found, mostly, in my notebook

NOTES FROM A ROAD TRIP, August 19-23, 2017

1.

Nomads: I’ve seen them in a movie,

taking down their ger.

Everything goes with them:

the stove, the rugs and beds,

the painted chests. Maybe

if we took it all, too,

like those people with bus-sized RVs do.

But home would still be home.

 

2.

The sun comes up later in the south

and it’s hotter. Every time we take

a long car trip we say,

“Next time, let’s stay home.”

(Is this a poem?)

 

The world’s worst coffee—is it

even coffee?—from the weird

machine in the hotel room.

Must constipation—or worse—

go with travel?

Why in the world did I sit

cross-legged for three hours

in the backseat of the car?

At least I got some knitting done.

 

3.

Crepe myrtle is in bloom, and cotton.

This is the farthest south I’ve been in a car.

Today is the eeclipse, 96 percent

here. The place we were headed

will be 100% clouds so here we stay.

I’m just as glad. Who needs

another six hours in the car?

 

4.

And now we’re home.

I lost two days of daily poems,

and gained a fearsome sciatica,

richly deserved. I reduced

the eeclipse to prose.

I’m still too close to write a poem.

Home is still here, with its overgrown

garden, and dog happy to see us

and cats as happy as cats ever are.

The moon, still dark,

still orbits us, and we still

turn around the sun,

and turn around again.

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE HOUSESITTER

INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE HOUSESITTER

If the door has blown closed, open it.

You do not need a key.

Feed the birds.

There is seed in the blue jar.

 

Pick the apples, eat the cherries.

Make wine from the grapes.

Do not eat the yellow pears

for they are bitter.

 

The garden is full

of deep green weeds.

Cook them in oil.

They will make you strong.

 

When dew shines on the leaves

go out and wet your feet.

The copper basin holds rainwater

to wash your hair.

 

Milk the goats

at sunrise and sunset.

Drink what you like

and make the cheese.

 

The dogs will kiss

you awake.

The cats will sing

you to sleep.

 

They will tell you

what they wish to eat.

They will tell you

what to dream.

 

At midnight,

the owls will come.

The great gray owl

will speak. Listen.