photograph of flood waters and trees in Blanchard, Washington
High Tide in Blanchard

Welcome to my poetry page. Here you’ll find selected poems from my books. Enjoy!

Living on the Flood Plain

Here, the mud—

	primordial stuff,
black as molten lava
that breaks through the thunderous surf,
insistent and boundless
as if a visitant power had charged our canvas
with brine-bitter darkness, 

	could at any moment 
in a lashing storm
spill over thick earthen walls, wales
made to save us, 
and cover the valley with sludge.

        Each winter, 
in the deafening absence, the sound
of my own blood pounding, I pray
I’ll never see the hundred-year flood.
Then, a heron arrives
and, with the faith of a priest, 
watches the bay with a glimmering eye. 

Because winter claims more than a season from us
we decided as we watched the geese depart
to be like them, which meant
migrating as they must do every winter
along flyways to regions in the south
where they find release from the cold.

But the whole way we were lashed by storms,
split by the chill, blinded
by the smear of rain or snow
in Tucson, Silver City, Santa Fe.
Even Death Valley turned us back,
river black spilling over the flooded gutter
of land, roads closed, rain still falling.

Day after day we woke to cold damp, water pooled
in quaggy campgrounds, the few still open.
It’s a record season, we read, for precipitation.
The worst weather in 140 recorded years.
We cursed the news and abandoned our journey.

How different it would have been
if our bones were light enough,
if we had sufficient stamina for trouble, wings 
to lift us above the surfaces of the earth,
if we had known how to take advantage of the wind.

In Want of Wings

The trumpeter swans are standing in the field
alongside the road. White, outsized, magnificent. 	
Suddenly, agitated by something, these birds take off
running, their bodies remembering the risk to living 
in the open. The mass as it moves for flight stops all song. 
The swans face the wind with wide-stretched wings,
arcs of luminosity, lifting their heavy bodies skyward.
Filled with awe, I watch them 
until I am looking only at the distance.
And I think of things that make us disappear,
what harm the fowlers do. When I have wanted
wings. A child launched into darkness dreams 
of human flight not forbidden, being borne 
swiftly on a rush of wind, those miraculous pinions 
in perfect rhythm of progression, blood feeding feathers, 
wings pumping, breastbone heaving, breathing 
easier when she comes to a sweet end, 
having brought herself from the brink of extinction.
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