This Land is Our Land

fullsizeoutput_209How many watches had it been,
when I first caught sight of Paradise?

Seven – or is that the first digit
to come to mind?

Regardless, I would have kept kissing the dry land,
until it soaked in my sins,
had you not been
standing at my bower,
with tape
and parrot flowers.

The ship was splintered,
worse that any storm
or winter could do;
my lips, too.

Yet, I was fixed

on the mountains in the distance,
skirted in Doug Fir forest,
and decked with heavy fruits
(pear, apple, persimmon,
perpetually in season),
suspended in mist.

Never had I encountered a landscape,
as hard as it was soft,
particularly at the edges,
where rocky bluffs
terminate to sand,
and primrose grows
in mats that prick,
rather than provide respite
for the sick.

Yet, I was fixed

of the pain I had long-held,
from believing myself unhomeable
outside of childhood.

Or, perhaps, restored

to original condition:
an only daughter of an only parent,
(for which the treatment is
undivided affection
and absolute understanding).

How many men had it been,
when I first washed up on Paradise?

Seven – or is that the first digit
to come to mind?

Regardless, I would have kept gripping the shore,
until I was born into safety,
and then trained out of it again,
had you not offered more:

Your hand, a surrogate for my father.
Your land, for my Paradise, my Fatherland.


Walking in the Rain


On a persistent basis,
it will penetrate
your psychology,
making water come
up from the ground,
down from the sky,
and side to side,
at the same time.

As if shaken,
by an unseen hand,
your eyes will twinkle,
and then fade to coal,
your arms will swing out,
into larger and larger circles,
and then snap, as if twigs.

Hello, snowwoman.
You are hotter
than you are meant to be.

Are you sweating
out a fever
or succumbing
to Spring?

Either way,
take care
to know
you are no more
contained to land.

When a mind becomes
flooded with thoughts
outside the body,
the ground beneath
your feet, themselves,
their wet shoes and socks,
their toes united
in commiseration;
they all fall down.

Once all ice is melted,
and run off to the seas,
take pride
to know
you helped reshape
the continents.

as round as your face,
as square as your elbow,
as it hailed a bus
some million years ago.

Answer “Yes,”
to one or more of the following questions,
and you may be a martyr:

Do you feel overburdened, overwhelmed, and physically exhausted, most of the time?
Do you feel underappreciated for all that you do?
Is your baggage heavier than everyone else?

You may be a martyr
or, otherwise, one
who has had enough
of walking for today,
and needs to collect
her thoughts,
lest she forget
that no one has yet
drowned by sweat
or a walk in the rain.





When the pencil skirt fits,
but doesn’t sit
at the hips,
as does the cyclist,
who would rather
be caught dead
than with a bulge,
even if it’s just
an extra bunch
of fabric;
and so she walks,
in measured steps,
passing where
the sidewalk ends,
and then, drops off
into dirt,
until the final block,
where precision goes
to posture,
and so go the toes
– over the lip –
and then,
the heals,
and then,
one palm,
one knee,
and the
stack of crepes
planned to be
for everyone.

When the rice is simmering,
and asks for stirring,
just occasionally,
and so she drops
the wooden spoon,
takes up the sword,
and decides,
right then,
and there,
to prepare
for winter,
which is yet
months away,
unlike the hand
on the timer,
which begets
a ten-second
“Oh shit,”
and the other
on the blade,
“Oh shit,”
there is
in a wound,
and it is time to move
back to the pot,
with rice searing
to its bottom.

When the appetite,
stirs the night,
she slips
to the cupboard,
looks in,
up, top,
but sees nothing
with nearsighted eyes,
which is why,
her past self
put out
the one-half
energy bar,
on the counter,
where apparently
it is heir apparent
for ants play,
because something
tastes like
plus two grams
of protein,
and feels like
on her tongue.

When she arrives, at last,
not merely late
but also hungry,
and asking
for further
like a band aid,
a courtesy call,
a chance to sit,
it might be
a sign of immaturity,
or being irresponsible,
or at the end
of a misguided hike,
but more likely,
of the universal struggle,
of learning to live
outside the bubble,
where there
are new types
of pressure,
on the air,
to focus
on marks
in the floor,
to tune out
the sink of dirty dishes,
empty the mind,
and then,
get back to work.

Natural Interruptions



When the Old Man fell,
it interrupted all scheduled programs,

including Britney’s 10th birthday party,
where I was one minute feeling,

to pin the tail on a donkey,

and then waiting,

to hear the sound

of a pin

like ashes,
from the sky
in Oregon.

Fifteen years later,

children circle around me,
as if I were campfire,

to tell stories of their favorite hikes,
as if they happened yesterday.


I circle around what happened yesterday.


“Climate-Change-Fueled Wildfires

Pollute the Air, Make People Sick.

74 Acres, and Counting, Burning.”

The air thickens.


Upwards, the sky is gone.

We, too, are clouded

by emotion – Pride

in place, Resolve.


Quietly, I close my eyes.

I try to access

My Place,

My Trail,

My Childhood

interrupted, as they may be

by nature,

(the freeze and thaw)

and by choices
(to leave,

to have adventure,
to participate in activities
that exacerbate
the change).

These may have occurred
several times per year,
until the breaking point,
or in one dramatic season;
but, what difference does it make?


I have stopped trying,
to look through smoke,
to find the answer to:

“What is really happening?”

or even forecast

through the weekend.

Instead, I navigate

with the nose,

toward a little bit of sense,  

for what the present
has to offer,
by way of remembrance.

When the Old Man fell,
it fell on our plates,

of pizza and cake.

It stopped Britney’s mom

from slicing.
Leaving just enough

for one slice per child

– no seconds for anyone –

except I,

who grabbed two slices of pizza,

and two slices of cake,
because I was afraid.



The sequoia stands so stately
that all humans ooh and ahh.

They have not seen the sun lately.
Above, birds hoot and caw,

knowing not where to find water.
Creatures cradled in her crown

can attest the climate hotter.
In ashes, most fall down.

Except she, who is too thick
to catch colds – let alone fire.

Her hardy bark, red as brick,
seems to announce something dire,

like: “If you don’t see me soon,
better send a search party,

or a rocket to the moon.”
Now, Sequoia, don’t have me croon.

When Men See a Face

When men see a face tear up,
their hands curl in,
the way one might ball
a tissue, glut with gum,
or something else soft.
They have nothing
to cry on
or hide.

When men see a face get small,
their hands get big,
as if to swat a fly,
if not block the sun
that attracts it.
They are repellant
and attractive.

When men see a face flood,
their hands open,
like floodgates, so calm,
in the palms, yet furious,
in the fingers,
where it counts,
five times
as much.

When men see a face speaking,
they go silent,
as if to say:
“Talk to the hand,
or just shut up,
if you know better.”

When men see a face sighing,
their hands do nothing,
so she sings to herself:
When the moon hits your eye,
like a big pizza pie,
that’s amore.

When men see a face
turn blue,
on the other hand,
their hands turn yellow,
imbued with the energy
of the sun; at last,



written by Eva, Romeo and Ollie in Michael’s 4th & 5th grade classroom
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

Red is the color of
a ripe cherry,
from a tree;

cinnamon candy,
on your tongue;

a lobster,
in the ocean.

Red is the color of
a red panda,
a bamboo tree;

an apple
on a branch;

pepperoni pizza,
in your mouth.

Red is the color of
engulfing homes


written by Eleanor, Santi and Beka in Michael’s 4th & 5th grade classroom
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

Orange is the color of
in the deep,

hot coals,
in a campfire;

a pumpkin,
from the garden;

A sweet,

a beautiful bird,
swooping low,
over the trees.

Orange is the color of
sunrise —

a clownfish,
through seaweed;

from the comics;

the tangerine,
in your lunchbox.

Orange is the color of
a tiger,
deep in the jungle.


written by Michael’s 4th & 5th grade classroom at Trillium Charter School
edited and illustrated by Kayla Kennett

Yellow is the color of the sun’s rays,
reflecting off the ocean,
after its nighttime slumber;

a solo goldfish,
in the midst,
of other kinds of fish,
in a faroff pond,
away from all human settlements;

Homer’s head —

the warmth of your heart,
when you eat

Yellow is the color of
a pufferfish,
expressing its emotion,
in the fresh,

A bumblebee,
in a field
of bright,

cheddar cheese,
from your sandwich,
its potential,

Draco Malfoy’s hair,
turned bright,
by a horrible childhood.

Yellow is the color of
the first leaf
the first sign
Autumn has arrived.