Remembering Maya and Sylvana


My granddaughter, Maya is

Named for this woman, poet of the people

She carried herself with such dignity

And my son Peter, who moved a chair for her

Watching out for her frailty when he was doing

His stint working the sound system for Black TV

In Nashville, was so impressed with her kindness

That he named his first child for Maya Angelou


My sculptor friend who died soon after my Maya’s

Birth gave me a book of the other Maya’s for my Maya

In it a leaf pressed and dried when I gave it to Maya

On her tenth birthday, reminded me that these giant

Women, are preserved in the books that we make of our lives.

Sylvana and Maya, you are sorely missed and yet we hear you songs

In the voices of our children and our children’s children.


What Kind of Field Is This?

I open Word
place black letters
on this white scroll
know you hide behind
every dot and line wielding
nothing but a tutu dancing, inviting
opening blind eyes I see that I have so long
mistaken this playing field for a required field
thinking to earn a wrung on the ladder to heaven
pretending paradise was a gulag of ego driven tyranny
laughing now I taste this carnival of delight and slip on my dancing shoes.

Road Trip


San Diego in the rearview

We shadow the border past

Congregations of patrol and prey

Stories of sorrow and desperation spin down

The black-top…changes we hope for traveling way

Below the speed limit singing softly, dancing to flashing lights.


We turn north into Hopi and Navajo territory at the gas

Station the swarm of red mountain colored skin, night black straight hair

Looks like a chant to me speaking of time before the conquest whispering

Messages from the ancestors mixed with my own native blood and Irish freckles

I carry the double curse of alcohol intolerance like a bloody mary in my veins

But my escape from the reservation makes me feel like running back out onto Highway 160


Back window mirrors signs for Kayenta, Shiprock, Black Canyon of the Gunnison

On to Telluride over Lizard Pass where the tears of life gather beside the red road

In ripples of rivers and creeks feeding herds of elk bugling their love of Creator

My heartbeat a drum teaching me to pray The One Prayer of hey girl, who do

You think you are? An Irish, Indian, Lesbian Mother or an exquisite piece of that One.