Monday, September 18, 2017

Tuesday Poem: Announcement

I am pleased to post about my second book here. 
The Girls In Their Iron Shoes was published in 2016 
by Finishing Line Press. 

It's available at their website and on

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Witch Series

Witch’s Prayer

To wear a hat made of rain
to float like a little skiff
into the enveloping mist.

To be naked and fogbound,
to be cloud caressed
and chilled to the marrow.

To be invisible, wild
as a neutrino bouncing
across the emptiness,
blissfully small, to be
a blip, a phoneme,
O no, no O, O no name .

To see nothing, to take
nothing in for a change,
to move through
the blessing of blankness
all your cells drunk
on the smell of earth,
water, and air.

To feel yourself dissolving
into something vast
and sentient. Smoke
from a slow burning fire.
To let go of the world, this life,
for a few free moments,
face the clean white page,
and begin the story anew

So mote it, for me
so mote it be.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Witch Series

The Night Witches - 1941

Flew over the Soviet Union,
bombing the Nazis
in wooden planes
no one else wanted to fly.

They wore saggy
ill-fitting men’s
uniforms, flew
without parachutes,
got frostbite on their faces
in open cockpits,
and cut their engines
to glide in over their targets.

Russian women who didn’t
care whether they lived
or died, flying so low
you could see their faces
glowing against the sky.

The Germans said they took
magic pills that gave them
night vision. They laughed
and painted their lips with
navigational pencils, drew
flowers all over their planes.

The Witch Series

Witch’s Test

She has been put into the furnace
and reborn again. She has held
the orange coals like bright candy
up to her lips, as Isaiah once did,
to purify them for speaking the truth.
She has nursed the sick and dying, in
rooms filled with the smell of nightsoil
and decay. She has kept several drunken
men at bay with her words, and if words
failed her, she didn’t hesitate to pick up
a knife. She has been a faithful wife,
opening herself to affection and eros,
giving him the gift of her keen sight,
her humor inciting and sharing his
laughter. She has felt both new life
and small death sliding from her
in a rush of waters and pain, she has
taken long walks in the rain to keep
from weeping overmuch in front
of the children, she has taken flight
without so much as a broom or wing,
taking everything in going on below,
tried to use her knowings wisely.
She vowed to do only good with
whatever amplitude of spirit she’d
been given, always aspired toward
Heaven, though she suspects its
less of a place and more like a
pleasant disbursement, the milk-
weed pod of her soul puffing
apart to mingle with all the other
invisibles. For all this, she must
endure a witch’s test. Here she sits
naked and shaven from head to toe,
being poked by little men, as
they look for the Devil’s mark.
She prays when they prick
her, her body will bleed.

Friday, August 5, 2016

The Witch Series

Crone Song

My face is a hex                     
made of clouds                       
rapidly passing.

These hands betray,               
and always pay                      
what the cards tell them.

Where is the beak that can peck away at sorrow?

My knees are a jinx
crusted and frozen
over, leaving me
rooted and tree slow.

These feet search
floor after floor          
for the path
that will lead me
to what must be said.

What chain opens up grief’s damper,
so its terrible vapors can fly?

A vestigial tail
at the base of my spine,
wags at the prospect of relief.

My mouth unlocks
in harmony.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Witch Series

Bridget Bishop’s Accusers
            hanged in Salem in 1692

Workers repairing her tavern in Salem Town
who found two poppets full of pins
in the old plaster walls.

A scragged* woman who had
accused her of stealing a spoon years ago, 
and of constantly plotting retaliation.

A field hand who blamed her
for eating three eggs, gone missing,
and then turning into a cat to get away.

A man with a child who wouldn’t look
at him, nor say his name.

A disgruntled employee, who said
she paid him, but the money disappeared,
as he rode off, and then his axle broke
as he hit a brand new hole in the road.

The parents of a child who drowned
because of her evil eye beams.

Two guards who said, as they
led her in, she looked at the church,
and they heard something fall inside.

A nextdoor neighbor who swore
he was attacked by a monstrous beast
that tried to kill him, as Bridget was walking
out from her house to the orchard.

The visionary girls who were
the main accusers, predicting fits, pin sticks,
bites, and all things spectral, a few moments
before they befell the entire assemblage.  

*broken of mind

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Witch Series

Sue Cross

took herself out one day,
to the woods she’d been foraging in
for years, went out among the may-apples,
colts foot, burdock, lamb’s quarter,
plants she read , nature’s literature,
expanding her life beyond itself,
nurturing woods, medicinal woods –
learning all its secrets, riding the steady
wheel of the seasons, its comings and goings,
the small predictable bounties.

Woods she’d come to, after quitting nursing,
collecting for teas, elixirs, and tinctures,
taking other peoples’ children
on wild foods walks, collecting
watercress, nettles, ramps,
and in the spring, morels, their tiny
convoluted skulls peeping out among the roots.

I can hear her low voice, its sibilant consonants
and vowel melodies filling the afternoon shade
with the riches all around us, opening our eyes.

Herbalist, house wren,
small, watchful, and full of knowledge,
went out to the woods alone
one day, not long after her divorce,
stood at the edge of the deepest
rock ravine, and threw herself down.

Who knows how long she lay there,
awake and aware, as the raptors
went sliding overhead, how many
nights she watched them turn into stars?

Those of us who saw her
for the hero she was trying so hard to be,
hope new shoots feathered up
around her, unfurling a green caress,
that little birds gathered above her,
to sing her their sweetest songs.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Witch Series

Book of Shadows

Her book. This book,
spanning all the time she’s been allotted.
All of them neatly folded and tucked
between two of its pages –

Father, so long Dad,
so long, his legs, his darkness,
hang(s) out bookmarking gloom.
All of it yellowed by beer,
river water running under the bridge
as he hurled himself down and slipped under.

Mother, hello Mother, saying goodbye,
her phantom breast, its tumor shadowing
a line across her chest. Her kitchen simmering
with delicious mystery, kindnesses from
strange men, her wild waitress friends.

Their separation, the chasms it multiplied --
his family’s disapproval, their withdrawal,
the brittle crackling facts of abandonment.

Catholic school, Sister This, Father That,
their stories about martyrs 
bloodying page after page,
the few teachers who took 
an interest in her, the poetry
she wrote, a string of A pluses 
strung up like prayer flags.

Witches she knew and admired.
Witches she loved and feared.
Animal familiars. Animal tutors and chaperones.
Dogs and cats, foxes, hares, elks, bears, elephants,
her fear of mice. Crows, always crows 
disposing of carrion, gathering 
shiny things, squawking at the moon.

Then the rituals, her intentions
floating away from her,
seeding the future, her hands tying knots
for stability, a candle burning against
the wall, the flash of residual ashes
that let her let go, Loved ones on
moonlit nights, as they hung
from high branches,
twisting on the breeze,
tiny outlines of dollies
bearing messages
to the underworld,
litanies of hope, yearning,
praise and blessed be.
Little parcels weighed down
by rocks underground,
what needed or wanted burying.

Spells for babies wanted by friends, for babies
who had to be given back before birth,
love spells, sweet mingling of cells 
as they decompose, healing 
tokens of friendship and admiration, 
talismans for courage or protection,
planted in tree trunks around her house,
spells chanted over water, over food to
enhance its nourishment, over little heads
while they’re fast asleep, spells to ease the body,
lift it away from pain.

All her optimism and acceptance tucked into
this book’s many leaves, her life a wheel
turned by the earth’s steady compass.

She can feel herself growing lighter,
as the shadows take on weight.
The wildness, the weediness in her,
the roots reaching out from between
its pages, all of it flimsy and fleeting.
The sun moves across each day
in a woman’s life, leaving behind
this dance of dark upon light.
It feels to her like enough.


Friday, February 26, 2016

The Witch Series

History: The Immolations

Imagine fifty thousand
women on fire at once,
illuminating the shifty
landscapes of time.

Fifty thousand queens
on thrones of cord wood
drenched in oil, then set ablaze,
as they gaze at the men who despise them.

Watch their feet blacken, then their legs,
pudenda, bellies, wombs, their breasts
and hearts, their mouths agape, screaming
into silence, arms with match head hands alight,
hands adept at catching babies, making balms,
tinctures, poultices, offering small comforts, spells
for rekindling hope, draughts of blessed forgetting.

Smell their hair burning. Know them
for what they were, and still are: grandmothers,
mothers, wives, daughters, spinsters, lesbians,
midwives, nuns, saints, wise women, healers,
inventors, women who speak up for others,
who have little care for obedience any more.

Take the ash of their sacrifice into yourself.
Understand it as the benediction,
you need right now, to carry on.
Imagine them strung across the horizon, 
brighter than all the stars.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Witch Series

               Collage by Romare Bearden
Conjure Woman

She’s got them all teetering on
the tips of her fingers, tiny as mice.
One flip of the wrist and all the men,
who ever tasted her; then turned 
their faces away, and all the men,
who drove them to ruination, 
go flying to who knows 
where, and who cares?

She holds them up in yellow
curtain light, watches them shift
their weight to keep from falling.
Each one of them knows what he’s
done or not done. It’s chilling them
to the bone to see she’s wearing her
haint blue dress. No more feathers,
no Adam and Eve root. That’s how
very much danger they’re in.

Outside, her bottle tree glistens,
as she squeezes them for good measure,
rolls them between her palms, before
laying them out like sardines
in the bottom of her reddest meanest box.