slow dance

slow dance—
beats pass through
the d.j.’s hands

—Melanie Alberts

dress rehearsal

dress rehearsal
for dying leaves—
Monarch butterfly

—Melanie Alberts

To our Cat Mika

I'm sorry you had to leave, Mika,
I think you were ready, stumbling splay-legged, 
no place soft enough to rest your bony body,
though we fought hard to keep you,
to say no to the shot that set you still at last.

Set you still and set you free.

Just days before you died
we took you to the trees beside the lake.
Waves splashed the rocks below, 
amber-clear and full of light, 
the air, too, full of light
slanting from the rise and fall of the water,
a shimmer of possibility
that jostled into being and subsided.
The leaves glistened, rich,
each acorn cap, cactus nub, full of meaning.

You lay on the leaf drift
above a ledge of red grit sandstone
in the sound of the waves and the wind off the water,
and I thought this is what heaven is like,
thought this is what my father's death was like that day, 
why I knew before I climbed the stair that he had gone.

Thank you for that, that glimpse.
We can call it heaven or the primal void
or the vast bright water that brings forth cats and men and stars.
All I know is that it shines.

Beyond Pickleweed, with appreciation to Peter Coyote


words between
just beyond
other words
words words words
all the way down
a name of a thing
we take as a
bona fide
a characterization
we take for 
but beyond
the mouth feel
and mind grab
there is 
no thing
no name
no form
no sight, no sight consciousness
no sound, no sound consciousness
no suffering, no ending of suffering
no birth, no death
no being, no non-being
            and abused
            and harsh
transported on a 
magical carpet
of words
gone now
to the other shore
fat crows
in the picklewood

—Nandiya Nyx


So very long ago
there were bumblebees here
slow and ponderous
like old World War II cargo aircraft
buzzing through the skies.

They loved the asters and the frostweed
the goldeneye and palafoxia.
In the prairies
the bluestem rose tall,
turning terra cotta in the cold.
The switchgrass massive and light,
interwoven with the fall air.
The Indiangrass bringing its yellow flames 
to the darkening colors of the autumn.

The big bumbly bumblebees
flew slow from blossom to blossom
slurping up nectar,
muddling in the pollen with their big bumbly feet, 
tracking it everywhere they flew,
to the joy and delight of the flowers.

They were here with their cousins, 
the solitary bees.
Ascetic, tiny, sipping like anorexics.
But still the pollen grains on their feet,
transferring them to new flowers 
to cycle life into the next season.

So very long ago
there weren’t any honeybees.
Those upstart European imports, soft,
needing amenities and care.
There were just the wild prairies
grown over ancient seas,
the savannah trees intermittent and burn-hardened.

Then the honeybees came
and elbowed their way into the frostweed and goldeneye
but still there was enough
and all lived together.

Then we came, European, soft, needing amenities.
And, too smart for our own good, we discovered too much
in the name of science and progress and commerce.
How to clear the land with the napalm of the bulldozers and shredders.
How to kill the weeds with carcinogens
that seeped their dark death to the innocent grasses.
How to kill the bees with neonicotinoids
and find their little bodies, stiff and dead, by the water.

The bumblebees grew fewer and fewer,
and as I tended my land, I found less and less of them,
buzzily muddling their way into the flowers.
But I gardened organic, banned the potent ugly toxins
on my little piece of land, and hoped.

In the last year or two, they have started to return.
All sizes: huge snuffling hogs of bumblebees
Medium moderate bumblebees
and even diminutive daintyish ones, though still
unmistakably squarish and bumbly.

The honeybees live here too, in their hive by the edge of the woods,
underneath the spinning fan sculptures.
But they do not fight the bumblebees 
or harass the little solitary ones.
There is goldeneye and aster enough for all, 
and frostweed enough even for the monarchs and emperors
when they migrate through.

It won’t be so significant when I am gone
but I love to think of the bumblebees
and hope I played a tiny part
in their going on.

—Elayne Lansford

I Want

I don't want to be afraid.
I don't want resentment.
I don't want anger.
I don't want to feel helpless.
And yet when you stop me,
that is all I can feel.

I don't want to pray.
“Please keep me alive.
Let me survive
Please lord!
Let me go back home
to my own.”

I want to feel safe,
like you, and him, and her.
I want to be me
and still be safe.
I want you to see me.
I want you to accept me
With all my differences.

I don't want you to be my predator.
I want you to be my protector.
I want you,
yes, you.
You in blue.
I want you to see me
as one of your own.
I want you to let me breathe.

—S. Swan