I flew into Denver April.
Rock salt and sand peppered the asphalt
reflecting myself on a downtown street
where I’ d paused on my route to smell lilacs.
The wanton winds chortled wickedly
over remnant snows in gray clumps of doom
and my heart soared gladly at winter’ s death
but an hour later I had whiskey breath
at a dead end bar full of Indians.
A Winnebago woman waltzed with me
and told me how handsome I truly was
so I bought her drinks and felt her hips
and somewhere between the grinds
Travels & Journeys
I flew into Denver April.
You plan an uncomplicated path
through Colorado’ s red dust,
around the caustic edge of Utah’ s salt flats
a single night at a hotel
in the Idaho panhandle. Our plans change.
It’ s spring, we are two Indian women along
together and the days open:
sunrise on a fine long road,
antelope against dry hills,
heron emerging from dim fields.
You tell me this is a journey
you’ ve always wanted to take.
You ask me to tell you what I want.
I like to travel to L. A. by myself
My trips to the crowded smoggy polluted by brown
indigenous and immigrant haze are healing.
I travel from one pollution to another.
Being urban I return to where I came from
survives in L. A.
Now for over forty years.
I drive to L. A. in the darkness of the day
on the road before CHP
one with the dark
driving my black truck
invisible on my journey home.
Once there were coyotes, cardinals
in the cedar. You could cure amnesia
with the trees of our back-forty. Once
I drowned in a monsoon of frogs —
Grandma said it was a good thing, a promise
for a good crop. Grandma’ s perfect tomatoes.
Squash. She taught us to shuck corn, laughing,
never spoke about her childhood
or the faces in gingerbread tins
stacked in the closet.
the tips of each pine
the spikes of telephone poles
hold gathering crows
may’ s errant mustard
spreads wild across paved road
look both ways
roadside treble cleft
feeding gopher, paws to mouth
cheeks puffed with music
yesterday’ s spring wind
ruffling the grey tips of fur
turkey vulture feeds
mechanical as a red oil rig
head rocks down up down
“It isn’ t a game for girls,”
he said, grabbing a fifth
with his right hand,
the wind with his left.
“For six days
I raced Jack Daniels.
He cheated, told jokes.
Some weren’ t even funny.
That’ s how come he won.
It took a long time
to reach this Yellow River.
I’ m not yet thirty,
Today in Rome, heading down
Michelangelo’s Spanish Steps,
under an unchanging moon,
I held on to the balustrade,
grateful for his giving me a hand.
All for love, I stumbled over the past
as if it were my own feet. Here, in my twenties,
I was lost in love and poetry. Along the Tiber,
I made up Cubist Shakespearean games.
(In writing, even in those days,