the perseids fall

the perseids fall.
the weather breaks,
sharp heat turning to sudden wind
and sometime rain.
i stand at the kitchen sink,
scrubbing what remains of your life.
a photo of the most beautiful work
your hands ever made.
the thing itself long since rotted
by mountain rains and sometime sun.
a license plate with your radio call sign,
the name you kept even after moving
to a place ham radio could not reach;
the plate you kept long after
you stopped driving.
eleven years of cigarette
smoke and winter gloom
scrubbed off the glass.
sent down the drain.
i cannot love only
the beautiful, only the proud, only
the moments of shining redemption.
i can only love you whole.
i wrap myself in the last coat
that comforted you in life,
curl up in the brief, welcome coolness
of a rainy desert night,
and miss,
without complexity,
your voice.

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the heat of this night

i stand in a twilit field
watching the water ease in,
watching flickering bats hunt mosquitoes,
watching you prepare to leave again.
the water seeps over dry soil,
finds every fissure, pours in.
the bat careens in circles,
appearing and disappearing against a darkening sky,
feasting and frantic.
you load the last boxes into your truck,
shut the tailgate, and meet my eyes.
it will be half a year
before you return.
the last light slips from the sky.
at least, this time, it is summer.
the heat of this night must hold me
until you return.

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maybe this is all you get

a clip of one of the two poems I performed at this past weekend’s Albuquerque Aerialist Collective show, A Curated Exhibition of the Lost & Found. this video was taken at rehearsal the night before the show. by opening night, i had actually managed to memorize that line at the end.

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my dad, and the girl scouts, taught me how to read a map.
to interpret topography, climb a mountain, return home.
to carry a compass at all times, and to use it.
if you have this, you can never get lost.
for years i kept one in my purse.
now i remember your crooked brown finger,
tracing the line, then pointing out the ridge.
now i map my past, trace roads and ridges
on satellite maps, hunt out your old campsites,
feel the curve of the land and the road in
the shape of my childhood,
to find my way back to you.
to bring what is left of your body
and what is left of my childhood,
back to one place,
and feel that long sunlight,
and the ash in my hands.

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Metamorphosis & Mayhem video

Metamorphosis & Mayhem

poetry performance
Lisa Gill, Erin Daughtrey & Tani Arness

January 24th, 2016
at Tortuga Gallery

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like the light

i am almost twilight
i am almost home
i am cracked by a thousand birds
crossing the darkening sky.
you are a silhouette
you are a stormcloud
you are half of every strand
of DNA in my body.
the storm strains inside my skin.
the storm is breaking.
you will never be
merely memory.
you are a kind hand resting
on my shoulder.
you are a wild anger
against the world’s injustice.
you are survived
by two daughters, two
brothers, one sister,
and the work of your hands.
your memory moves
in this cracking twilight.
like the light,
you have gone home.

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poetry reading this sunday!

Join us for a poetry reading featuring new and collaborative work by

Tani Arness
Erin Daughtrey
Lisa Gill
Kat Heatherington

4pm at Tortuga Gallery
901 Edith SE

We have a collaborative poem in four voices for the finale — this will be a one-of-a-kind experience!

A limited-edition chapbook including work by each of the four of us will be available at this event. The door-price gets you a copy of the chapbook! Chapbooks will also be available for purchase from the poets after the reading.

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what to remember

remember not that you argued
with your sister, but that you sang
in the kitchen alone,
and the house remembered
a sound it had not heard in years.
remember fireflies blinking
slowly in the roadside dark
and a night sky as open
as the Arizona night sky –
remember, on the last night, every star
in the heavens shone on that place.
a comet streaked to the east
bright as a firecracker, potent, silent.
remember the vine that entered the door
and the softness of your father’s voice
and the way his eyes lit up
every time he looked up and saw you there.
remember his pleasure, and his pride.
the way the creek sank when the rain stopped,
the six-part insect harmony every night,
and his hand on your shoulder,
blessing you. remember
his hands when he talks,
his big, precise gestures,
his carefully kept and yellowing fingernails.
the black trees in silhouette
against a star-strewn horizon.
his voice, retelling
the story of your birth – when the nurse
handed you to me, i felt a love
i had never known before.
and it has never stopped.

the scent of honeysuckle,
a redolent night,
that infinite sky.
it has never stopped.

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all night my sleep is troubled by bells.
outside, the bronze bell from my wedding,
the arcosanti bell, three leaping fish on the clapper,
plays in the wind of a passing storm.
your love enfolds me from afar, a molecular cloak.
it is in your sweatshirt that i will not take off.
it is in your text messages and phone calls,
and the stray black hair i find on my pillow.
in your absence, i breathe you in
and the wind all night leaps like a fish,
and rings bells upon bells upon bells.

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winter can wake me when you return

the dawn sky cracks with birdsong.
wild geese fly over in a noisy mass,
autumn spilling from their wingbeats.
you leave my side, your silhouette
disappears through the doorway
into a grey morning, one shadow
vanishing into another.
weeks will pass before i see you again.
i do the only thing i can, and go back to sleep.
winter can wake me when you return.

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