Sunday, April 17, 2016

"Slaughters and Shifts and Migrations—Arizona"


My poem, "Slaughters and Shifts and Migrations—Arizona," was included in the anthology Poetry of Resistance, voices for social justice, published by University of Arizona Press, 2016.

in response to SB 1070
I spent the day skirting the Mojave in nearly 100 degrees, 
no air conditioning in the car, wondering how people can make it
in such heat, crossing the Sonoran Desert by foot to get to this side.


Past nightfall I catch 66 through Slegman wrecked and in need of a bed.
How do they sleep with pillows of cactus and scorpions under their heads?

I pull in after a neon motel sign: SUPAI.
I receive the last available room from the affable owner. 
She inquires about my profession and her face brightens at my reply. 
"When we first moved to America from India,” she tells me, 
"my son he made the Taj Mahal from clay in school. He painted it, too. 
Teaching art to children,” she assures me, “this is very, very important.” 
She hands me my key with a sudden melancholy gesture. 
“But in this small town,” she shakes her head and glances outside,
“they have no art.” She sighs, “so my children, they do sports 
and computers instead.”

My room, recently remodeled is uninspiring but clean. 
What can you expect for 40 bucks? 
But why am I complaining—an entire family could live in here
if they managed to make it over the border safely.
Los coyotes ahora cobran $4,000.

Supai—from Havasupai, the indigenous language of this land.
Slaughters and shifts and migrations;
greed and dreams and people searching to survive. 

This morning, on the road again and already hot, grasshoppers perish 
on my windshield as a bolt of lightning over the mountain I’m driving toward
momentarily steals my eye.
The news says: “some support the installation of a minefield 
 to keep illegal immigrants out.
  Arizonahow many need to die?

Moving over the land can push us into the heart of our existence,
beating and aching and keeping us alive.

What agony over killing these insects!
What exhilaration driving toward the rain!

Only Earth holds the right to tell any of us where we belong.

Some recent literary news . . .

My poem "Village Sketch," has been published by the online journal "Apple Valley Review."

The poem was based on memories I had of the small village I grew up in Vermont. 

Read the poem here:


I recently learned my chapbook "Paint Yourself as a Saint," was a semi-finalist for this year's Center for Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Poetry Competition (New York City). According to the editors my manuscript stood out among over 300 entries. Maybe next year . . . I do love letterpress books!


My poem, "Black," was recently published by the online journal Riverbabble. The poem was inspired by a five-day silent meditation retreat I did at the Vedanta Society of Northern California's Olema retreat.


I have dwelt in the blackbird                                       

in the lowering light I watch a lone deer
cross the dry grass, tail

the same black as the crows which keep
calling from far-off trees, columns 

of black 
last night, no stars, 
another bad dream
my pupil in the mirror, the bull in the field

the quail’s single black head-feather
bobbing near the bush with the black-
striped bees

this poem—black cursive in a black journal

beside me, blackberries

picked along the path