Janet’s Poetry

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

Feathered Dreams front cover final-lg

 

“The Flower of Her Amazement” (a cento in homage to Mary Oliver) published in Unlost:  Journal of Found Poetry & Art, 2 December 2018

“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.

2018 Poets Picnic IMG_5143

 

“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

SFLR IMG_5141

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Value IMG_4998

 

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]

 

 

 

 

 

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

marigolds
pungent in my thoughts
do not forget us

 

night fills with
spadefoot toad syncopation
monsoon hip-hop

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Earthsigns IMG_5001

 

 

“autumn” published in Earthsigns, 2017.

autumn beneath sycamores
fallen stars litter the ground

 

 

 

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WATER IMG_5003

 

 

 

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 IMG_4995

 

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

wilderness
windswept spaces
with feral dreams

 

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Snow Jewel IMG_4997

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

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“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.

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