Imperfect Produce

Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, it is the moldy strawberry
At the bottom of the basket. Full of beans,
I pick a peck more, and jump. Inside,
There is a moth developing, a roly poly
Now, and brown, but aspiring to gray,
If only for a few days, at summer’s
End, when the first cool, but frostless
Night ushers in the red and purple
And blackened fruit, which one (?)
Should not eat. I am not one.

They tell me to be she, who sheds
Her coat, and waits for the foliage
to turn yellow; I wait outside —
A balding hill of potatoes, turned
Green, through osmosis (?)
Of the clippings on this murder
Of crows. Interrogate them
Regarding the spots and rot, beg:
“What is going on with my garden?”
Roots and shoots and leaves, but
No children, excepting/accepting
Those born still or imperfect.
“Am I too old?”

At twenty-five, one should be quiet
About her fears of impotence and death.
I feel that I am not one, but two times,
And change. I change the way my hands
Look: she has become unstuck in time is
Of the essence: a term used in Business,
Real Estate, and Agriculture, namely
In the period between IUD removal
And the encroachment of invasives.
Is seven years enough to determine
how many rows : how many roses
will produce the best returns?

Return me to childhood, in early September
When the next season was growing season,
And, so too, the next and next;
When my one-track mind could focus
On the present, and the presents
That I might open on my birthday;
🎶 Happy Last Day of Summer 🎶
When I could tune out their cracking
Corn, and care for nothing, but
Shortcake, with strawberries and
Cream. It would seem so strange,
Life, but a dream.

Mother Goose

There was an old woman,
Lived beyond the field,
And if she’s not gone,
The pears still yield.

Aplenty for cobbler,
For custard and pie,
Plus some for the earth;
Live and let die.

She, too, will return,
From whence we all came,
Lay down as dropped fruit,
One and the same.

This Land is Our Land

How 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 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.

Shorelines
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.

 

 

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
falling.

Falling,
like ashes,
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,

smelling
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.

Sequoia

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.

Pink

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

Pink is the color of
cotton candy
at the fair;

tulips,
basking in sun;

and new erasers.

Pink is the color of
a beautiful,
flowing
dress;

flowers,
on a peach tree;

hearts,
on a Valentine’s card,
for your best friend;

and bubblegum.

Pink is the color
of a piglet,
before it rolls
in the mud;

a hummingbird,
whizzing,

or a crocus,
peeping,

all signs
Spring has arrived.

 

 

 

 

Crossed Trees, Dotted Skies

Out of fear of jeopardizing a nascent acquaintance, with someone who understood “small talk” as being the conversations we have on the subject of our size relative to Earth, and its size relative to the universe, I agreed — to hop through puddles, and over the tracks; to lower my defenses against soiling my new Oxford flats.

Running, we hit a wall of brambles that fell open, and swallowed us whole, when my leader uttered the magic words: this way. On the other side, a cemetery, a grove of blighted poles–uncut. “This wood is still good,” they said, “but timberers know that the humankind are superstitious of catching diseases (that do not spread) and living in haunted houses (where none but trees have bled).”

I associate this adventure, from which I am now six months removed, with the feeling of fullness — a mind full of metaphysical questions, stockings full of stinging nettles, and the potential for a future full of invitations to eat ice cream with a friend. Stepping out of my comfort zone, and into the footprints of that nomad/nymph, was the first move of many that led to the making of this hole that I am now using to scratch my toe without removing my shoes. In retrospect, it was worth it.


The Oxbow Nature Study Area, chartered for the animals, by the people, is a watering hole for creatures who enjoy watching and being watched, while pretending to be thoroughly invested in some thing or another — often taking field notes in their Moleskine notebooks or surveying the range of edibles within walking distance.

It is public land, one of the few remaining places where we can play for free. I know a guy — I’ve lived here long enough to know a guy — who practices flute under those minimizing cottonwood spires, making music for an audience of his peers: the growlers, the quackers, the imagined masters, of cloud castles in the sky.

Despite being too frugal to buy toilet tissue, when it’s easy enough to swipe a roll from the diner over the hill, I ritually sacrifice $2.29 for one 10 oz. mug of coffee. I treat the cafe counter as rented studio space. Consumer etiquette tells me that I can loiter for two hours before purchasing a refill becomes obligatory.

But…there is a place for people like me, a preserve for poets who’d rather perch on the periphery of society than participate in basic exchanges of cash for caffeine. A place closer to home. A place that my memory recalls as the most romantic / Romantic setting in all of Reno, Nevada. Oxbow is convenient and cost-effective and cast in natural light, but I do not go there.


Now, sitting on the dock that leans out against muddy waters, into the marsh, a tributary of the Truckee River, I listen for the question that belongs to this place, on that day, when they asked it. Then, my answer was a snake in the reeds, meandering, a thing that made us wonder which end to be afraid of.
“What is home, Kayla?” A “w” question, but not the one I expected.
I said, “Home is a social convention — more dated than dating — four
walls make a box, two adults and two children in a box make four people.”

There’s some pleasure in being (or performing as) the type of person to intellectualize a concept that others know intuitively for fact, i.e., red means stops, green means living, but more in having a queue of single words answers to fill all the blank, uninterested faces at any given gathering of acquaintances.
Now, I am wanting to say “here” or “you” or some other small but mighty thing. I am wanting to express my truth, which is love, which is gratitude, which is healing, but they are not asking. Out of respect, let no mean no; let silence mean no; let me listen. Let an other have their turn in the sun, their pirouette on the big, flattop of a rotted-out stump.

This time, let me ask the questions.

Six Haikus

Wash for two minutes,
all employees, you must
save some for the fishes.

Salt and pepper dash
to and fro, with purpose;
make seasoned, not spiced.

gunpowder and lead
steep fully or not at all
poison in a cup

follow the reader
who knows no poets
Great American

What formula
solves for both—?
greatness and impatience

frost on the grass
so beautiful
thank God for mittens

what is home

if not
the shadow
of a round rock
in the desert

where lizards
wade in
mottled shade
as secure in
tribulations

as one fleeing
some storm
imagined
out of the dust
who finds himself

a safe place
to hide
and calls it
home