Poems of the Week


How I Became an Aircraft Carrier

When I first met this canoe,
I thought it wanted to be a truck
(it had let water ram it up a rocky slope).

What good is a boat that prefers shore?

When I first put this boat on my back,
I knew then it wanted to be a plane –
not a fighter jet just a simple prop.

What good is a boat that prefers air waves?

When I feel the weight of the word
canoe (so heavy I could not think truck
or plane), I dread the heft of transport.

What good is a poem that breaks a back?

A river cannot flow how a crow flies.
Boats bob with or without human cargo.
This poet is one landing for words in transit.

On Ice

We’re anchovies above water moving in prescribed directions.
No, we’re not the same, that’s how we shimmer. We got little
ones who zip, we got a tag game going double time.
We got the hip swaying. We’re orienting ourselves to oldies,
reinventing Sunday – schooling on ice. No longer in the hull
on a transatlantic haul. We’re self-propelled – flow
that has changed its state. Take a fish knife from your hand,
make it a blade for your foot. Adapt. Prayer shawls and veils,
fleece caps and woolens: old world ways weave
awareness. The give in our knees not weakness
but an attention that cushions what careens our way.

In the Way a Cow’s Grazing Is

Not indiscriminant

               (in poor pasture Bessy eats bones for phosphorus)

a hungry priestess

                (like a barrel racer in a calculated turn) cuts

the boldest girl

               from the herd (roped, dragged, branded) this stray

ran ragged

               to deaden (her appetite, her agency swallowed)

                                  stampedes, then, are sweeter churches

                                                                                                    the spooked

                                  collective in their turning (fences far gone

                                                                                             earth their echo)

*all from Persona, Swank Books, 2003.

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