Three Poems

Chorus Frog

The season of cracking open, bloodroot, 
egg strings. My grandmother chops the cloddy 
ground. Many years without him. Onion sets, 
new moon peas. Frogs in the pond they sank in, 
shearing cattails below the waterline. Frogs 
an inch long, a blue-ash color, dark stripes,
sunning on sunken logs, on tussocks, swimming 
among floating debris. Pour out, swell up,
jewelweed and monkey flower. She hears frogs
calling, a rattle that rises, recedes, a scraping
coarse-toothed comb. Waiting to follow him.
How many. She lists, snags, thins. All the time
she tries to catch a ballad, plaint, what he sings
from the next, the after.

American Taliban: Two Photographs

 This photo is official, surveillant, the A-team’s 
routine effort, taken after he was seized with 
a bullet in his thigh, hooded, stripped naked,
duct-taped to a gurney, sealed inside a metal
shipping box, let out when the team pressed
him for truth: he’d renounced San Anselmo,
the redwoods, his hiphop CDs, he’d taken in
like food the surah, the rhythmic prose, gone
to a language madrasa, a training camp, 
hidden in a basement that the Alliance flooded
with a diverted irrigation ditch. Another photo,
printed out, pinned to my wall, his fervent eyes
on me as I sit on the floor, his robes the bright
of bleached sand. I try to pray with my pulse,
my guts stirring, not the same old speech. 
The distance between us shifts. I listen for 
his breaths, ragged and uneven.

Sunday Morning at Grassy Beach

after "Sunday Morning, 1950" by Irene McKinney

And now, tongue and groove, the lifting up, 
yield, heads back, those who holler, let go. 
Lard in the half-moon pies, two cups of flour,

self-rising. Sandals, steel-toes, crickets 
under joists, ivy linoleum, Deward kneels,
swelling from the heat, wallboards shaven, 

beaded joinings, curly maple, knotted pine.
Irish potatoes in the ridged-up earth, 
eyes moving through the dark. The amen 
caught in Hazel’s throat, prayer language,
blood of the lamb, spirit touching spirit, 
gush of vowels. Sweat inside a shirtsleeve, 

an itch, tears blinked back, bearded iris bulbs
by the slab steps, greening the stony earth.

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