Four Sijo Poems
Future Secretaries of America
In typing class they sat in rows
fingers floating above cold keys
Every girl’s head bent to the right
waiting to be told when to start
No quick brown foxes sly enough
to see the lazy dogs ahead
We lay on blankets at the lake
tanning until the sun went down
Shaking and baking in a smear
of baby oil and iodine
The smell of hot dogs filled the air
sizzling and crackling in their skins
A Star Fell on Alabama
Sylacauga Meteorite: 1954
A small white house just down the block
from Comet Drive-in Restaurant
Ann Hodges resting on a couch
wanting a break from her dull life
She wished she might, she wished she may
She got the wish she wished that day
We’re all singing in harmony
dancing in step to the cha-cha
our skirts are hiked up to minis
streaked hair ratted to the rafters
we’re tuff girls, smelling of stale smoke
Pep-O-Mint, and sweet backseat sex
I Fall to Pieces
March 5, 1963
You fell among us like a meteor
a sweet dreamer with crimson lips
Your velvet voice, singed with sorrow
like a lovely flame going out
At the crash site, a final song
your red slip hanging in a tree
The valley is a mile wide here
where glacier melt coursed through this plain—
now waters trace a narrow mouth
and part like lips the yielding earth.
My finger where your rings once clung—
what must have been to leave such marks?
At Grandmother’s Funeral
She was ancient and demented:
hallucinating fire and snakes.
At four years I did not fear her—
her long gray hair, her yellow nails.
I’d never seen the placid dead.
I hid from her dreadful beauty.
From WHAT WE BURNED FOR WARMTH, FLP 2006
The white house cat has run away
to a neighbor’s barn, three doors down.
There among the toms she holds court,
her lustrous ermine coat soiled gray.
I see her at the hayloft door –
abdicant queen looking towards home.
Tinder dry, grass will rise to fire
at the slightest provocation.
Stacked tightly, green hay too will burn
from spontaneous combustion.
Don’t stand too close—you just might lose
your barn and everything in it.
from LITTLE FIRES, Finishing Line Press 2008