Janet’s Poetry

Janet’s 2018 book – Feathered Dreams: celebrating birds in poems, stories & images 

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Boiling Point front cover pic

2019 self-published chapbook –
What is the Boiling Point of Clouds?
Poems of the Southwest
by Faith Kaltenbach, Andi Penner, and Janet Ruth


Ocotillo Review cover    Nicolaes_Maes_-_Old_Woman_Saying_Grace_-_WGA13820

What I Remember,” an ekphrastic poem after “Old Woman Saying Grace” by Nicolaes Maes (above, right) was published in The Ocotillo Review’s Summer 2020 issue.


“Metamorphosis: A Little Death”was published in Tiny Seed Journal in August 2020 as part of their theme on pollinators.


This video of Janet reading her poem “Gold” is posted on the Adventure Poetry Channel, 2 June 2020.  It was created by Seadog Studios and Steve Sanders; they added the images and music to a recording of me reading my poem at the National Federation of State Poetry Societies annual convention in Santa Fe in June 2019.  “Gold” was initially published in my book — Feathered Dreams: celebrating birds in poems, stories & images (2018, Mercury HeartLink).


“Third Heart” and “Desert Poet Invocation” were published in Offerings for the Journey: Poems for Stewart S. Warren (Poetry Playhouse Publications, 2020).


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“The Door to Night is Ajar” was published in Sin Fronteras Volume 24, 2020.


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“Boneyard Rising” was published in 22 Poems & a Prayer for El Paso (Dos Gatos Press, 2020)


“Dream of Trees” was published in Tiny Seed Literary Journal on 16 March 2020.


Collage Merwin Glosa for Unlost

“Homage to W. S. Merwin: Glosa in Six Voices Based on “The Solstice” , a collaborative poem with Janet’s Albuquerque Prompt Group, was published in Unlost: Journal of Found Poetry & Art Issue #20 in February 2020.  It also includes a collage (at left) that Janet created with images and lines from the poem.


Butcher Bird” was published in fall 2019 in Spiral Orb, Volume 15 Literary Inventory of Organ Mountains/Desert Peaks


“My Mother’s Garden” was published in Fall 2019 in Santa Fe Literary Review, Vol. 14.


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The Plunge” was published in Loon Magic and Other Night Sounds anthology (Outrider Press, 2019).


2019 Poets Picnic 2 2019 Poets Picnic 1

“extra words” haiku published in 2019 Poets’ Picnic: a celebration of Nature, Calligraphy, Music & Poetry, Open Space Visitor Center.

extra words drift
away like autumn leaves —
writing haiku


Various Forms of Happiness” (an erasure poem using lines from Annie Dillard’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek) was published in May in Unlost: Journal of Found Poetry & Art, Vol. #17.


Telepoem Booth logo

In May 2019, recordings of Janet reading four of her poems — “Moving,” “On a Rio Grande Oxbow in Autumn,” “Shimmer,” and “The Universe is Expanding” — were included in the new Telepoem Booth at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center in Santa Fe, NM.


Flying” was published in February 2019 in The Ekphrastic Review.


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Caregiver” and “Lights Out” published in Missing Persons: reflections on dementia, edited by Deb Coy (Beatlick Press, 2019).

“The Flower of Her Amazement” (a cento in homage to Mary Oliver) first published in Unlost:  Journal of Found Poetry & Art, 2 December 2018.  Posted on the NaturePoem list-serve on 23 January 2019.

“This Season and What is Alive” published in Manzano Mountain Review, Winter 2018

Fixed & Free Anthology 2018 front cover

Out of the Park,” “Beachhead,” and “The List
published in Fixed and Free Poetry Anthology 2018
edited by Billy Brown

“first coyote” published in The Heron’s Nest, September 2018.

first coyote’s
wild ululation
then there were ten

What Lies Beneath” published in The Ekphrastic Review, 29 June 2018.

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“raven” and “yellow petals” published in 2018 Poets’ Picnic

raven shouts coal-black thoughts
can’t get no satisfaction

yellow petals fly
goldfinch reaps sunflower’s
black heart

“Blue River (Rio Chama) – a Word Painting” published in The Ekphrastic Review, 27 February 2018.

“Arson” published in bird’s thumb, June 2017 issue


Las Desaparecidas en Albuquerque” published in Santa Fe Literary Review, 2017

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Canticle to Change,” “Metamorphoses,” and “Safety” published in VALUE: Essays, Stories & Poems by Women of a Certain Age, Beatlick Press 2017

[NOTE: artwork in “Metamorphoses” is by Janet Ruth]


“marigolds” and “night fills” published in A Poets Picnic 2017

pungent in my thoughts
do not forget us

night fills with
spadefoot toad syncopation
monsoon hip-hop


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“autumn” published in Earthsigns, 2017.

autumn beneath sycamores
fallen stars litter the ground



Waiting” and “Like a Prayer” published in WATER: a Poets Speak Anthology, 2017, Beatlick Press, and Jules’ Poetry Playhouse Publications.


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“wilderness” published in Wilderness: land untrammeled, 2017.

windswept spaces
with feral dreams


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Owl Dreams” published jointly online in Grey Sparrow Journal, and hardcopy Snow Jewel, Winter 2016-2017, both Grey Sparrow Press.


“Swift Angels” published in HERS: a Poets Speak Anthology, 2017.

HERS cover pic

Swift Angels

Mom was the unstated backbone of the family.

             I meant to write about the bobolink,
            but chimney swifts hijacked my thoughts.

Unlike Dad, a Gilgamesh-type,
Mom never thought of herself as the heroine
of her own story, let alone anyone else’s.

            No elaborate plumage,
            just a sooty brown to match roosting sites that
            gave them their name.

Yet as a young woman from a Nebraska farm
in the 1950s, she accepted a call
to give her secretarial skills to the church,
first half-way across the country in Pennsylvania,
then half-way across the world in Europe, where
Dorothy Gale met Gilgamesh.

             They chirp and twitter madly overhead,
             little feathered cigars with wings.

As a child, I heard her rise before winter dawn,
tiptoe downstairs to turn up the thermostat,
then the “ping-pong-ball-bouncing” sound as
heated water rose into the radiator in my room.

             Twisting and turning through the heavens,
             aerial acrobats capture insects to feed chicks
             in nests plastered to the inside of chimneys.

A mean word never passed her lips.
Mom lived a frugal life—recycled plastic bags,
sewed her own clothes.  She taught me to sew,
no easy task since I did not inherit her patience.
After retiring she learned to quilt and blessed us all.

            Avian scythes slice the sky above my head
             into twisting ribbons of cerulean.

A slip of a woman under the best of circumstances,
the surgery and the cancer reduced her to a
featherweight of her former self.

             From high in the sky
             a coffee-colored feather
             drifts on the wind,
             floats into my trembling hand.

I sit at her bedside with my brothers and sister,
stand watch beside her.  The well-loved life force
contracts within her body’s barely recognizable shell,
concentrates for one last brave act.

             The evening is drawing close like a blanket.
             I look up into the heavens—
             filled with a host of circling, fluttering swifts.

Then the labored breathing ceases.
There is silence.
This tiny, unassuming woman—
iron bond with our past,
gentle arms that cradled us all,
who sent us into the world
on our own adventures—
has escaped.
She marshaled the strength for one final leap
into what was, for her, not unknown.

I don’t know how to balance
celebration of her life
with the grieving.

             The setting sun illuminates
             their brown-feathered heads,
             transformed with golden halos.