Shall I Tell You? (on Ravel’s Tzigane)

is a desert
dust storm
And then,
and then

the salted scent
of wet caliche blows
down the city street,

and children
step out in rainbow shoes
running to catch rain
on open hands
on arcing tongues
faces, spinning, lifted in glee

but the dissonances,
too much:
too much water,
too much lightning,
flowering thunder,

children fleeing
squealing home,
to tell the adventure
all over again.
beneath raven braided


*regaño = a scolding

My thanks to my musician friend who pointed out the  possible poetry in a stray comment on Ravel. ~LD


Open Highway Summer

sticky asphalt steams
against the blue scent of velvet sky —
decadent rich —
my eyes reach out to stroke
the fine curve of sunshine mountains

We roll, top down,
along the glistening ribbon
of black with white
rhythms keep time with a dream
and city lights blink
in a distant valley
to the back beat,
“you got a fast car…”

the ebony wake of your
hair disappears in silvery waves
into the highway


In Bloom, Romas

the bitter, poisonous scent
of his bristles
sticks to her hands
vapors up from
her clothes
and burns away
There is only this
Flesh that grows flesh
full, warm, red, round
palm-sized sweetness


Sowing in the City —

you can tell I took this, right?

you can tell I took this, right?

Fields of concrete and asphalt
Stretch into the horizon
Glistening silvery blue
Under flickering rays

Today, I think I’ll be a farmer,
walking my rows of pots
three tomato plants
crowded together
bravely blooming

one tiny green
finger tip
plump and round
disintegrates smog
and traffic

turns concrete and asphalt
into reaches of heaven
the warm, sweet, sour flesh
of Roma summer.


NaPoWriMo ended without me. Alas. Still, I’m out here. Doing the thing. Waiting for tomatoes.

Urban Pasture — NaPoWriMo #22 — Earth Day!


I borrowed this from Green Thumb: Adventures in Southern California because there is exactly zero chance I could have ever gotten this shot. Gorgeous. Could have been my very own Chenchito. Click on the photo to see more great shots like this one.

After a time wandering
the asphalt labyrinth
songs of the pastures
call seductively
promising peace and quiet
simplicity and beauty — a melody
inducing amnesia, erasing
mosquitos, ticks, thorns, flies,
snakes, fleas, burrs, chiggers
and stickers.

But one desert moonless morn’,
a breeze slides across my skin.
As the sun flirts with the night sky,
I recognize a certain flick
on a wire overhead.
His notes dance around the pole,
slide down among the pebbles
and over the driveway
into my feet and hands

before he stretches his wings —
streaked with concrete white —
into the eastern sky.


True story. Obviously, I’ve messed with the “pastoral” concept quite a bit here, but as my students might say, “it’s valid.”

The prompt: “Today is Earth Day, so I would like to challenge you to write a “pastoral” poem. Traditionally, pastoral poems involved various shepherdesses and shepherds talking about love and fields, but yours can really just be a poem that engages with nature. One great way of going about this is simply to take a look outside your window, or take a walk around a local park. What’s happening in the yard and the trees? What’s blooming and what’s taking flight?”

And Echo (plus) It ended — NaPoWriMo2015 #21





I had no idea how these would look once posted, but in the preview at least they are legible and nearly as cool as they look on my work table. I couldn’t choose, so I’m including both. Now I’m only short 3 in 30 days.

“And Echo” is taken from an unknown page in Khaled Hosseini’s _And the Mountains Echoed_ and “It ended” is taken from Martin Zusak’s _The Book Thief_ (which my sophomores and I are reading). I always love erasure / blackout poetry. I’m fascinated by the way ideas entirely unrelated to the original text jump out. ~LD

Socrates’ Daughter — NaPoWriMo #20

I started out with so many questions
that my defensive answer to every comment,
every query, every concern and every puzzle
was, “I know.”

I went along inventing truths,
axioms and freedoms
and innocences
to pull out of my locker,
my book bag,
my computer,
my shoe,

Until I figured out
the one thing
I know…


The Prompt: “write a poem that states the things you know. For example, “The sky is blue” or “Pizza is my favorite food” or “The world’s smallest squid is Parateuthis tunicata. Each line can be a separate statement, or you can run them together. The things you “know” of course, might be facts, or they might be a little bit more like beliefs. Hopefully, this prompt will let your poem be grounded in specific facts, while also providing room for more abstract themes and ideas.”

Surely someone has already written this? Or maybe I was the only brown-haired, blue-eyed know-it-all who got a clue really late in life? Fun idea. ~LD

half centuries — NaPoWriMo2015 #19

[a small series of landays]

Do you think I have forgotten how
sunglasses can be given, and taken, just for fun?

menudo’s chile steam won’t disguise
the traveller I am, and nomad you’d like to be

we are no Frida and Diego
throwing knives and punches under Aztec moonlit stars

nevertheless our poetry shines
intimately stitching verse quilts, against winter cold.

Do you think I have forgotten how
mangoes feel when ripe? Flesh and bone, bitter and sweetness.


The Prompt: “write a landay. Landays are 22-syllable couplets, generally rhyming. The form comes from Afghanistan, where women often use it in verses that range from the sly and humorous to the deeply sardonic and melancholy. Check out this long investigative article on landays for a fascinating look into a form of poetry often composed in secret, and rarely written down. You could try to write a single landay – a hard-hitting couplet that shares some secret (or unspoken) truth, or you could try to write a poem that strings multiple landays together like stanzas (maybe something akin to a syllabic ghazal?)”

I urge you to take the time to read the long investigative article mentioned above. Accompanied by many photos and verbal vignettes, it is an unmissable piece of literary journalism.

I write today in honor of a fellow writer and friend with whom I share a fascination for Mexican culture and cuisine, as well as language in general and poetics in particular. ~LD

Colegio — NaPoWriMo2015 #18

borrowed from

borrowed from

Each day you have looked down
at the toes of your shiny black shoes –
each year a bit longer –
against the barro tiles
of the hallway floor.

Moving from one end of the building
to the other, year after year,
step after step,
black against red terra cotta;
Eight million steps and fourteen years.

Side by side and face to face
with old acquaintances and new.
Upstairs and down, in doors and out
with “Hurry! Hurry!
I can’t wait” in your voice,
all over your skin.

Rung after rung climbing over
holding hands, clumsy
first kisses, lasting loves, and sudden ruptures.
The glisten on those shoes has protected
and walked with you on the path
of this opening gambit

Leading to a portal inscribed
in elegant bold font:
Go Forth, now, without trepidation
and create excellence.


The Prompt: “write a poem that involves an urgent journey and an important message.”

A kind of cheesy one for “my” kids (h.s. seniors) who are all suffering with the impending changes in their lives. NOT the official letter of farewell. ~LD