Spring Cleaning

Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
Kobayashi Issa

My housekeeping philosophy until the imminent arrival of company. Time to get out the dust mop—all spiders have got to go!


An Alternate Route

An Alternate Route

Nature (unlike some
huge metropolis)
treats us like adults:
we must discover all
its glory by ourselves.
Imagine how disheartening
if wandering inside this
intricate wood we came upon
small placards reading—
TURN LEFT for Quaking Aspen.
SLOW DOWN: Strawberries.
—Miles Merritt

I found this poem in the Poetry Issue of our local weekly, The Santa Fe Reporter.  It was my favorite of the bunch and makes me feel like I need to get outside, see what’s new.


a big-nosed roan gelding, calm as a president’s portrait
lives in the rectangle that leads to the stalls.  We call it
the motel lobby. Wise old campaigner, he dunks his

hay in the water bucket to soften it, then visits the others
who hang their heads over their dutch doors. Sometimes
he sprawls out flat to nap in his commodious quarters.
Maxine Cumin

One of my favorites—a poem about a horse named Jack and so much more.




Little Goats

The little goats like my mouth and fingers,
and one stands up against the wire fence, and taps on the fence board
a hoof made blacker by the dirt of the field.
Mark Doty

I discovered Pescadero and Mark Doty in The New Yorker.  The magazine recently launched a new feature on Twitter, a poem a day from their archives.  Check it out at @tnypoetry.

Yes.  I know my formatting was messed up on yesterday’s poem-—the trials of trying to post from a smart phone.  It’s fixed now.



“Why don’t you turn at the next corner,”
she said, “and take another road home.
Let’s go past that farm with all the
different colored lilacs.”
Leo Dangel

Did I mention I was going to take a break from poetry or at least blogging about poetry for the weekend?  I needed time to gather the books of poems strewn around the house–on the kitchen table, under the bed, buried in stacks of newspapers–and to think about where I was after seven days of verse.

Four Kinds of Lilacs seems like a good place to pick it up again.  I’ve been in Santa Fe for almost twenty years, but I’m always surprised when the purple clusters begin to show themselves in April.   In western Kansas where I grew up they lag by several weeks (or at least they used to), making them the perfect May Day flower.  As a kid, I filled baskets made of colored construction paper with lilacs and candy, dropped them on neighbors’ porches, rang the bell, and ran.

Friday night I stepped off the sidewalk and into a flowerbed downtown to catch a whiff of a just-opened blossom.  It smelled like spring.


Coyote, with Mange

Why have you chosen to punish the coyote
rummaging for chicken bones in the dung heap,
shucked the fur from his tail
and fashioned it into a scabby cane?
Mark Wunderlich

Photo By: Paula Nixon

I said no photos but couldn’t resist posting this one again.  It goes so well with today’s poem, Coyote, with Mange.

My little corner of New Mexico would not be the same without our native canid.  This year our state legislature came close to banning coyote killing contests, but it didn’t happen.  The bill passed three committees and the Senate, but died at the end of the  session before it made it to a vote on the floor of the House.

Maybe next year.


Breakfast with Mary

a fainting, ghostly presence
with a tail so naked it was
embarrassed to drag behind him.
Faith Shearin

My mother-in-law and I sat at the kitchen table.  She was eating oatmeal while I read Possum in the Garbage aloud.  Mary doesn’t say much, so I wasn’t sure if she liked the poem or not.  She has her favorites, many memorized in grammar school back in New Jersey.  Somewhere, I have a recording of her reciting Wordsworth’s I wandered lonely as a cloud.

The Moose

A moose has come out of
the impenetrable wood
and stands there, looms, rather,
in the middle of the road.
It approaches; it sniffs at
the bus’s hot hood.
Elizabeth Bishop

Looking back, I can’t remember how I got into a conversation about a moose with a complete stranger at my local grocery store.  We were both juggling an armful of stuff in the 15-items-or-less line and found ourselves comparing notes on the animals we had seen on trips to Yellowstone.  Elk, coyote, buffalo.  But it was the moose, she told me, that made her cry.

The Moose is a long poem, like the bus trip it describes, but it’s worth the journey through the stanzas for the reward at the end.

Flying at Night

Above us, stars. Beneath us, constellations.
Five billion miles away, a galaxy dies
like a snowflake falling on water.
Ted Kooser

Nebraska is Ted Kooser’s home and his poems take me back to the plains where I grew up—dark skies and the never-ending horizon.  He was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2004-2006 and these days edits the column American Life in Poetry.

Here is the link to the full text of his poem Flying at Night.


No one would take her when Ruth passed,
As the survivors assessed some antiques,
I kept hearing, “She’s old. Somebody
should put her down.”
Ron Koertge

Mondays have improved greatly since I discovered American Life in Poetry.  Ted Kooser’s weekly column slips into my email inbox when I’m not looking, distracted by my to-do list for the week.  He rarely prints a poem that I don’t enjoy.

This recent one about an old cat named Lily is one of my favorites.

Note: Future poetry posts may appear solely on the Facebook page associated with Black Raven Red Sneakers.