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Sijo Poems

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


Slow Burn

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


Candy Girl

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.




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.


Green Burn

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