Self-portrait of a Flower

(Flavescens augustus)

Description: A course, branching herb with an arching main stem and bright yellow flowers in broad, branched terminal clusters.
Flowers: quick-lipped with sharply bristle-tipped lobes.
Leaves: dark green, ovate to lanceolate with smooth edges.
Fruit: Sometimes indiscernible, with numerous seeds
Height: 64″
Flowering: April-June
Habitat: Meadows, thickets and roadsides, flourishes near clear water.
Range: North to Joy; south to Sorrow; east to Energetic Positivity; west to Impatient Melancholy.
Comments: Though native to New England, this perennial prefers warm climates with mild winters. The main arching stem seeks support from other similar, flowering herbs which grow around it. This species transplants well, rejecting stagnant, toxic soil. Requires plentiful sunshine.


The Starling in Between

There was the mourning dove when we lived in our old house.
I don’t recall where we found her, but she had an injured leg.
We took her in, feeding her mush of ground seeds until she recovered enough to limp around the concrete floor in the big mudroom, pecking seeds on her own.
She would wait by the door to get out and follow me to the small yard with its lattice fence.
Peering out the gap, one day she hopped through as I hung clothes on the line.
Once on the other side she looked back and thanked me, then flew off.

There was the robin not long after we moved to this house,
Found while taking a walk, not quite a fledgling yet.
Perhaps he had fallen or been pushed from the nest.
We carried him home and made him a comfortable box, feeding him cat food from tweezers.
As his feathers filled in, his cute homeliness evolved into rust-throated grace.
He first flew from his box to the dining room bench to look out the window.
Later we brought him outside where he adeptly found treasures of worms underground, flying to the low branches, but always returning to us.
He learned to fly to your finger when you whistled and we even brought him on our summer camping trip.
By that time he could fly to the utmost branches at the campsite but always returned at your whistle.
Not too long after, back home from our trip, he flew away.
You whistled but he didn’t return.

There was also the starling, sometime between the dove and the robin
He was dull with emerging hints of radiance in his feathers.
He was recovering well but then we left his box in the room with the air conditioner.
The coldness did him in.
Why did we leave him in there?
Maybe we could have successfully rehabilitated him if we didn’t leave him alone in that cold room.
I just remember him gasping for breath in my palm,
By then it was too late.

Painting Rocks

Bristling against the cold
No golden hues to be found
The pigments have mixed to grey
The brush too short it seems
And only fit for painting rocks
With jagged lines and rough edges
I commit to their craggy surfaces
Uncovering their light and darkness with each stroke
Fitting them one on top of the other, how they pile up,
up, up
I climb
Until the yellow gold of sunset at last I can see

waffles for lunch

Mama, I thought you were sharing with me.
Oh thanks, thank you for sharing.
Eats while humming.
I take a bite
Brother comes in: Hey whatchyou doin’ big girl!
me: Are you coming to Easter tomorrow?
Swallows bite, stops humming
Yells brother’s name 5 times in a row until he laughs and answers what?
I got a splinter in my finger
Outside – Yesterday!
I got a splinter outside (repeats 2 more times)
I got the splinter outside
Yes, I know
Was it yesterday or the day before?
Continues audibly munching waffles while singing the word “hi” at different pitches, descending gradually into lower range.
Continues contently humming.

in response to Glo/NaPoWriMo Day Twenty prompt to write a poem grounded in language as it is spoken.


Always bubbling
Childhood dreams emerge
Floating gently
Iridescent jewel-knitted
Luminous memories now offer
Prayerful quiet repose
Subtly tingling
Under vernally woven xyloid yearnings.

*Ziphozonke is sometimes used as a Zulu name. It literally means “all the gifts”. I also like this definition of the term from the Urban Dictionary.

In response to Glo/NaPoWriMo Day Nineteen prompt to write an abecedarian poem – a poem using words in alphabetical order.

I have 5 “Ziphozonke” in my life who are truly the fulfillment of my vernally woven xyloid yearnings. The youngest, pictured above, commands her presence as vibrantly in my photo stream as she does in the real world. The other four, now grown, command a deep hidden presence in my heart. I’ll have to dig a little further back to find some pictures that capture those luminous memories of childhood for these 4. They are all the gifts!!

forgetting/not forgetting

I rode home in an airplane next to death one night.
I sat on the window seat and he on the aisle – an empty seat between us
I was flying from Tampa, from a hospital room where my cousin lay dying,
cancer cells eating her.
his hair was dark and greasy and I can’t remember his face.
I think he ordered a
drink. I try to forget.
All I recall is how cold
I felt, how, bent drawn
spine so cold
(I try to forget – I practice forgetting daily)

In response to Na/GloPoWriMo Day Eighteen prompt, which gave examples of poems that “take elusive, overwhelming feelings, and place them into the physical world, in part through their focus on things we can see and hear and touch.” and challenged us to “write an elegy of your own, one in which the abstraction of sadness is communicated not through abstract words, but physical detail. ”  This song from Rising Appalachia is so worth listening through – the words of the poetic elegy in the middle of the track are haunting and hit my core.