Living in a big city is not who I am
but life doesn’t always
give us what we want
I remember Grandma’s Montana farm
and I go there in my mind when things are rough
Grandma was a little thing, not five feet tall,
but she had the courage of a lion all her years
We went there to live when I was five years old
I was dying from the coastal air and was very frail
My brother was a baby and the apple of my eye
We rode there in a chartreuse Ford, bundled
into blankets…there were no seatbelts back then
The wonder of all that 100 acres to roam and play
Chickens so sweet clucked round my little feet
The geese, Candy and Dandy, were terrorists,
hiding behind the root cellar and darting out
to chase me to the outhouse beyond the shed
Rosie the runaway horse chased cars
Grandpa made flapjacks and those not eaten
were put on the cupboard and I ate them cold…
Maybe heaven will be my Grandma’s farm…
An Old Woman Contemplates War
I was born as World War Two ended.
No memories of course, but my grandmother had a picture of my
Uncle David, draped in black ribbon, handsome in his uniform.
When I was a little over two there was a flag and plaque laid in
cement in his honor, I remember Taps crying through the cold,
chill coastal air and weeping to it for the first time.
But not the last. Not the last.
My Uncle Charlie went to Korea, and came home, so there was
no picture draped in black and Uncle Charlie had a good life.
When I was ending my teens I met the man I was going to marry.
He was a med student and we planned on doing service in
Not even a bag came back; he is one of those MIA’s they say
do not exist.
During my nursing career one of my favorite nurses went to
Desert Storm and came home with a strange disease the
powers that be deny could have been war-related.
Now I am an old woman and still war tears out my heart.
Little children of every color deserve to live and be educated.
Deserve to live without the expectation of imminent death.
Deserve to be hugged without the fear of being blown to bits.
This self that I must show the world is weak and trembles in the darkness. . . I have secrets that would haunt you; I am forbidden , my secrets, to confess.
Loathing for my timid being burns, and how I long to be set free to run. Who wants this daylight life of pain, pierced and scorched by the sun.
Come with me to the midnight hours where I become a thing of such beauty. But I must warn you of my other half, such is a lycanthrope’s solemn duty.
When my bones break and reform to show a creature beyond the divine, when I am covered in my warm fur, there is no end or beginning to time.
If you are my enemy, and pray you’re not, I can rend your flesh and crush your bones. My power is invincible, untamable, not bent by guns or rocks or thrown stones.
If you hear me howling my joy one night, be very careful what you do if you find me. I will give you pretty kisses of bright red, I will listen not to your begging entreaty.
For I am beautiful and a goddess reigning over the night that transforms who I am. How I love me when I am wild and free. How I hate me when daytime makes me a lamb
When I was five we lived on the Oregon coast
We were coming back from Tillamook to Bay City
My aunt and uncle lived up on a hillside
We all were poor, their house nothing but a shack
I loved to go there, the chickens roamed on the table
a dog was on a chain, a chicken tied around is neck
I cried, but he had killed that chicken, this his punishment
As our car rounded a curve I heard my mother scream,
“Bill’s house is on fire!”
Rising through the night flames rose to the sky!
Black smoke billowed in a thick, stinking fog
Chickens scurried, hurried, clucking up a storm
Dog got loose and seized the opportunity
grabbing a rooster and then cowering for a kick
No firemen came, it was unincorporated and after all
it was only a pathetic little shack where no one cared
I cried and sobbed and for that I got a heavy slap
I can still see those yellow flames and chickens running
My Grammy was a little bit
of flesh squeezed into a
housedress and a colorful apron.
I didn’t know about rich or poor.
Grammy didn’t give a fig about rich or poor.
She used to say,
Sherry, darlin’ just do what it takes.
For some pin money
Grammy mended books
for the Kalispell School District.
Oh, the days we spent together.
A big, yellow truck would deliver
the schoolbooks on a hot summer day.
We had brushes and pots of glue,
scotch tape and erasers
pink as cat’s tongues.
I was only five, but Grammy treated
me like a workmate, not a child.
She taught me to repair books – and to love them.
I learned where Ireland sat – and Wales.
There were hungry bumblebees that
buzzed over the glue pots, and I learned
that day about Kazakamis and war.
To this day I cherish books.