June 29

My mother has two infant pictures of me.
She tells me I didn’t smile much
but that I had bright eyes and strong fingers.

I remember that first picture.
The one where I sat
on my own, outside, for the first time.
Rough hand woven wool rug
beneath me and the grass surrounding.

But at college, my roommate informed me
that infants never remember.
They are incapable of processing images,
that long term memory lies dormant.
Then, my first would happen as follows:

When I am four,
at school for the first of many first days,
we are all brown, and anxious and excited.

Or so I seemed to think.
True, I was nervous
and true, I was excited.
But I wasn’t brown.

Not in the way they wanted me to be.
Not in the prided native way.
Pure, lean and rugged:
persons with blood deep in the stones
that survived the fires and the sickness.

I was tainted.
Brown by father
but white by my mother,
whose people brought
fire and brimstone,
beer and broken homes.
Snakes with white hot venom.

So, now I close my eyes
and choose to remember:

The rug beneath my thighs
the sun though the trees,
the air as clear as spring rain;
the joy of sitting alone,
strong enough for the first time.

And the flash of a camera,
and the open happy faces of my parents
because I’d smiled for the first time.


June 28

My dad’s father stepped in front of a train 31 years before I was born. 
I can imagine he had brown eyes and black hair.
Short, Mexican, maybe a swagger in his shoulders.
But mostly, I’m sure of his smile.
It’s mirrored by my father.

My Grandmother had long hair and a stern jaw, 
four not husbands and seven children. 
Of the sons, father is the youngest, the softest
and the most mostly sober.

He stopped before I was born
and down the road from my house
red eyed men with knarled, crooked steps
and stale dragon breath,
dare me to imagine my father in their shoes.
He is a kind, amusing man and I almost can’t believe.
But his front teeth are cut straight across
ground down by snapping the caps off bottles,
and he has a little box of coins on his dresser.

But today, they are all gone.

I believed in his strength
and his smile and his humor.

Now, I believe in his sickness,
and fear the reflection of his father in his smile.

Memior, Poetry

June 27

Specters follow behind
who seek to prove we are villains.
And while he is gone
I contemplate many things.

But mostly the specters
because each face favors a different feature:
friends before they were lovers
father before his drowning
and mother before she drew back her raft.

From sisters
who like me, slither between spaces
with electric eyes and shorted circuits
so similar we spark rebellion against one another

And sometimes
we prefer an empty road
broad in the horizon before us
and guiltless because no one follows
to remember who we left behind.

Amber Effect

June 26

Amber Effect 


I wasn’t a lonely child, even if I should have been.
I was never bored and I think that helped elevate being alone.
My mother says I was an early talker,
but I can’t imagine to whom, as my parents never had another child.

She says I had a language of my own,
a serious sort of babbling I would do to myself.
Chiding and contemplating in a language no one had taught me.
Adults found it cute, then annoying, then,
when I was too old to still be speaking a non-language,
It was worrying.

My mom told me she wouldn’t answer if I didn’t speak English,
So, I stopped talking.


As a child, I’d seen it once on television,
a school caught on fire.
My parents and I had watched passively,
my mother caressing my hand and playing with my hair.
The school was empty,
the children all vacated from the building and huddled off to the side,
it was late in the day
and only the students held back for bad behavior were still there.

But somehow, a little boy had slipped past the teachers.
And I watched as he, in his panic to get a pet hamster,
rushed to open the school doors.

It was a lion’s roar of flame as the oxygen rushed into the building.
The boy in a flash was a scream, then meat, then bone, then nothing.

My father’d blacked the screen and I’d shut me eyes,
but, the boy’s shadow stained the back of my eye lids.


I remember,
in the moments after the broadcast,
we were still.

Then my father spoke my mother’s name
softly, searching, comforting.
She shook her head, stiff and enclosed.
I’d started crying;
her fingernails were digging crescent moons into the back of my hand.
My father separated us and took me up by the shoulders,
“Jackie-bear, come on honey, let’s go to bed.”

I tried to sleep and when I gave up I crawled out of bed.
My mother was still in the living room.
She jumped when I touched her forearm;
I don’t think she had stopped staring at the TV.
But she was soft, warm and alive
and I slept on her lap that night.


June 25



Nes should start with retelling
the events of the day when she left home.
Seven years is not a long stretch for a competent memory.
At least perhaps explicit memory:
where the sun was in the sky,
(it’s always hot on the Reservation),
who was with you,
(family, perhaps, but when did blood truly define family)
why you left.

That last one is the easiest:

For Nes the sun was an old star.
Far too close,
setting too near the horizon.

That is what Nes remembers.
What drove her away.
The systemic degradation of imagined identity.
The future played out across the sand,
imagining the people around her,
old and baked brown, wrinkled around the eyes
from smiles that were plucked out from between the rocks
and the dirt.

But this place has beauty.
An expanse that extends far beyond any forest
(with their lush leaves and cool shade)
to the sky and the clear path the sun travels.

Nes could out stretch her arms,
look down her fingers
and touch the horizon,
unobstructed from east to west.

But, she left on a day when the sun was shining.
Because Nes was sure that being able to touch the horizon
was like seeing the end of your life.
Seeing the finish line before you even started.
Guessing the punch line before the joke was over.

We can’t say Nes found a better life,
because she would have to confess to have stopped looking.

But we can say she left,
seven years ago.


Prompt 1- Choose Your Adventure

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Choose Your Adventure.”

Dust the road with fairy powder before you wander too far from home. And the longer you meander the more you will see. But the mind is a space with walls and we hope to choose the information that lives with us. What is important, useful, what helps you claw your way out of the darkness. Faces of people who make us and break us. Sometimes they meet us with a smile but most often they too are moving down the road. Faster then you perhaps because they are searching where you are only wandering.