Poetry of Kansas Here & Now, There & Then

Posts tagged ‘Denise Low’

Report on the House at Cripple Creek by Denise Low

The mined-out mountain shifts against gravity. Denise.Col.web

Blasted rock terraces sprout scrubby grass.

A large raven sidles by, tail feathers down, submissive.

We are sorry to make it nervous.

 

Hummingbirds dive at my orange blouse, veer away,

buzzing pizzicato.

 

Amaranth is seeded already. Geraniums sprinkle lavender stars .

At night their flames rise in constellations.

 

Foxes burrow in granite catacombs under us.

At night soft weight shifts on the porch.

 

A spider lives in the sink.

Husks of brown moths litter the porcelain.

 

Out the window, hundreds of peaks intersect—

asteroids, mica sheets, bolts of blue silk.

~ Denise Low

Denise Low, 2nd Kansas Poet Laureate, has published 25 books, including Ghost Stories (The Circle -Best Native American Books of 2010; Ks. Notable Book). She edited a special issue on Leslie Marmon Silko for American Indian Culture and Research Journal. She is a former board member and past president of AWP. Her writings appear in Yellow Medicine Rev., Virginia Q. Rev. Coal City Rev., New Letters, Future Earth MagazineYukhika-latuhse, Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time (rENEGADE pLANET), I Was Indian (Foot Hills), I-70. Her blog and website are: http://deniselow.blogspot.comwww.deniselow.com.

149. To the Stars Through Difficulties: Denise Low

If I could touch the Milky Way
my hands could learn how sparks ignite.
I could learn the language of darkness.

If I could touch the sound of crickets
history of autumn would resound.

If I could touch November moonlight
I could prophesize the winter’s course.
I could stack woodpiles under the eaves.

If I could touch my distant lover
our breath would be the river’s mist.

– Denise Low

40. To the Stars Through Difficulty: Denise Low

Lost? Yes again the stars fall
on 13th Street where a house, now demolished,
was my home. I was young.

Funeral dirges sound from the new building
and hearses ferry the dead to and fro.m I was young

and swung on the backyard tire swing
one late October afternoon under red leaves

drifting like red stars to my feet.
I was young and then I was gone like the house.
An old woman remains in my place.

– Denise Low

103. A Skulk of Foxes

Like the cherm or charm of finches, so the skulk of foxes

confounds the twilight. Step-sidling, their auburn pelts shift

into shadows. Cat-like, they stalk mice. Shanks turn black.

Slit eyes catch last yellow sunlight and hold it steady.

They den down the block, under the neighbor’s tool shed. (stanza break)

Tomorrow they might turn into fancy stoles or tricksters.

They might turn into ragged coyotes and grin at gardeners.

They could be a skulk of thieves, crouched. Or malingerers.

Under mulberry shrubs they sense human presence. Pause.

Flicker in peripheral vision, softly scatter. But never vacate.

– Denise Low

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is a national board member of the Associated Writing Programs and has awards from the NEH, Lannan, Ks. Arts Commission, and Ks. Center for the Book. She has taught at Haskell Indian Nations Univ., Univ. of Ks. and Univ. of Richmond. Her publications include 20 books of poetry and prose. Low grew up in Emporia and is of British, German, Delaware and Cherokee heritage. She is 5th generation Kansan.

55. Columbarium Garden

Winner of the Kansas Poetry Month contest: bright skies or blossom (professional category)

Cold sun brings this mourning season to an end

one year since my mother’s death. Last winter thaw

my brother shoveled clay-dirt, she called it gumbo,

over powdery substance the crematorium sent us

not her, but fine, lightened granules—all else

rendered into invisible elements. That handful

from the pouch, un-boxed, was tucked into plotted soil,

the churchyard columbarium, under a brass plaque

and brick retaining wall, scant semblance of permanence.

Now my mother is a garden—lilies and chrysanthemums

feeding from that slight, dampened, decomposing ash.

Her voice stilled. One ruddy robin in the grass, dipping.

– Denise Low

12. Kansas Day, January 25

Long winter nights turtles burrow in mud beds

while we drive blotted icy roads. They rest heavy shells

and sleep. Above them, beavers chink domed lodges

and patrol the waterways. Fishing boats hear their slaps.

 

And in this season of hard weather we gather,

sheltered by timbers and masonry walls.

We repaint ceilings with star animals and hunters.

We remember “Ad astra per aspera” as sun tilts south

– Denise Low

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is a national board member of the Associated Writing Programs and has awards from the NEH, Lannan, Ks. Arts Commission, and Ks. Center for the Book. She has taught at Haskell Indian Nations Univ., Univ. of Ks. and Univ. of Richmond. Her publications include 20 books of poetry and prose. Low grew up in Emporia and is of British, German, Delaware and Cherokee heritage. She is 5th generation Kansan. www.DeniseLow.com

1. Cherokee Lessons

I learn the word for bullfrog, kanuna,

and remember when we ate frog legs—

kanuna gvtsatlvnv: white meat tender

in batter. Kanuna a-gwa-du-li.

Godvnv, crawdads, creep edges

of river shallows, skittering deeper

as I reach. Godvnv a-na-i.

Opossums are smiling pigs

under the porch, siqua utsetsas’di.

Fairy tales omit these snouted beasts

yet here they lumber through the yard

startling the dogs, teeth protruding.

Sali, persimmons, grow nearby.

I learn how siqua utsetsas’di climb

their branches to feast. Hunters shake

them to the ground and kick them.

I watch saloli, squirrels. Saloli a-na-i.

They chatter and quarrel all day.

My mother hates the mulberry tree,

guwa, because grackles gorge

and drop purple smears on laundry.

I eat its seeded sweetness and know

this summer cosmos has words.

– Denise Low

Denise Low, Kansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is a national board member of the Associated Writing Programs and has awards from the NEH, Lannan, Ks. Arts Commission, and Ks. Center for the Book. She has taught at Haskell Indian Nations Univ., Univ. of Ks. and Univ. of Richmond. Her publications include 20 books of poetry and prose. Low grew up in Emporia and is of British, German, Delaware and Cherokee heritage. She is 5th generation Kansan. www.DeniseLow.com

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