Sunday, October 14, 2007


smartly feathered, friendly,
first in the morning.
Following these early risers
house finch, nuthatch,
cardinal, mourning dove.
About eleven a gang of grackles
show up.
Iridescent green, gold helmets
black feathers tailored as a tuxedo.
They gorge taking turns,
nine, ten swinging on the feeder.
Meanwhile,in neighboring trees
earlier guests perch.
Georgia Cook, 10/07

Monday, August 27, 2007

Three Poems About Divorce

Mapping the Interior
The flat outline of ourselves
in biology texts:
male, female, we study carefully
the lines of difference,
our irrigation system in red and blue,
a front and center cut
of the faithful pumping station,
bordered duchies of the brain
labeled with industries of control.
There is more:
places of play in old neighborhoods
leading to names of first loves
embroidered into the evening
chatter of robins,
firefly sparks,
the cloth of being.
Intimately we learn storm paths,
how to graph loss,
read the legends of hope.
We have secret routes:
explored sporadically,
not open for survey,
and closed like all others
by time.

Boiling the Bones
Early month extravagances are:
a movie, grocery checkout magazines,
lottery ticket, fast food meal.
Freeze the bones
of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
On Saturday take a bus to the Goodwill,
find nice gabardine suit,
wool sweater acceptable
to thirteen-year-old who says
she knows they're poor
because they've never
had cable, a car or more than
one telephone.

"The lights," her mother adds
"haven't been turned off and
neither the heat.
We have our own bath,
freedom of being left alone,
bus fare and ability to walk."
Toward the end of the month
she cracks those frozen bones
into boiling water,
adds one-fourth cup
leaching vinegar,
later vegetables,
kneads up a loaf of bread.

Fear walks on my right,
anger on my left.
I've been embarrassed,
ashamed of these companions.
Older now, I know
they frequent a worldwide sisterhood.
I've learned not to hide but
embrace my familiars.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

In Love With This PLace

Beyond the starched tract homes
where I live,
fields shake out in quilts
of corn and soybeans
and on summer nights,
after the sun's red thumb snaps shut,
there begins, in that first curl of dark,
a sweet surge, a ballooning upward
of all the sweat and sediment
of the city's concrete day
and flowing in around the edges
the beginnings of an invisible tide
smelling of deep fields, flat ponds.
It swells through the streets,
flowing over lawns,
seeping through door and window screens,
gently raising the city
upward like a gigantic lily
opening on a wave of glowing coolness
until steel-anchored buildings pop
free and float. So by four A.M.
even dust sparrows and gutter pigeons
are celebrating the resurrection.

For My Grown Daughters

I am the one
who ran along beside
to be a steadying hand
when you learned to ride a bicycle.
It's a big job
supporting the weight.
In the beginning it doesn't work,
as if trying so hard lost the balance.
Then, all of a sudden
natural laws take over,
I feel the change,
speed increases and
you break away.

I'll remember how this goes
if sometime you call for help.
I'll be here
ready to run along beside
panting encouragement,
until at the good moment
you can go it alone.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Immigrants and Natives

Once scarce, they are adapting.
Canada geese homesteading
from Arctic tundra to Florida Keys.
There are inconveniences:
they eat grass to the quick,
feces litter walkways.
Uniformed, traveling in groups,
flying a formation powerful enough
to beg envy from the military,
they call radar through foggy snow of February
and in spring the goslings
walk out of scrub, across city space,
to ponds where flotillas glide.

Living on the edge
of reforested parks and refuges,
finely tuned to weather patterns,
deer stand like ghosts whittled
from a thin branch.
They browse the low limbs, leaves, grasses,
disappear when no ones watching.

Out early
its walkers bring the news.
A long term city dweller
might mistake one for wolf or feral dog.
Signs go up on mailbox stands, newsletters:
"Keep the cat inside, don't tether your dog."
Coyotes, with their quick, small secrets,
determined, maligned.

And the black bears are losing
their habitat. Lumbering through
suburbs, they forage garbage,
sleep in backyard hammocks,
successfully make the evening news
to create their personal statement
about our invasions.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Pearl and the Bomb

Summer of "95 men who fought
World War II tell how it was,
"On land, in the air, on the seas."
I was nine playing paper dolls;
my family returned from a Sunday matinee.
No TV then and the neighbors
were at the door soon as they saw
our lights. Children sent into the kitchen
while the news of Pearl Harbor
was told in hushed tones.

Mother joined Red Cross classes,
taught us kids how to make our beds
with square corners, squash tin cans,
roll foil and string into balls,
save fat for the butcher.
On Thursdays we bought Defense Stamps
in the principal's office,
pasted them into a paper book
worth twenty-five dollars someday.

Meat, sugar, gas were rationed.
At our house cow tongue simmered
on the back burner curled up
with celery and onions.
Bogart's car in "The Big Sleep"
has a "B" gas ration sticker
on his front windshield.
My dad had an "A".
He was too old for the Army but
they paid him to test recruits at Fort Snelling.
An experience which inspired him
with serious doubts about intelligence tests
as a measue of the human race.

The army designed a new way
to discover officers and
dad disappeared two summers.
Mom took us kids on the Zephyr
back to her family farm in Illinois.
Canned Victory Garden
tomatoes, beets, beans, squash,
sent home in brown boxes.

People snicker when I tell them
about my dad as if he had an affair.
I knew everyone's son, husband, dad
were off somewhere and ours
brought back Navajo pottery, rugs, jewelry.
So when the bomb was dropped
and Los Alamos was on the radio,
he knew,"that must be what they were doing"
those summers he designed schools
for children of the "builders."

It's a long time between nine ant thirteen.
On weekends there was football, The Hit Parade,
dancing the Lindy at the teen canteen.
What could we know,
children destined as "the silent generation,"
"the beat generation,"
soldiers for "the Forgotten War.

We matured on the lip of the Atomic Age,
were educated by the GI Bill professors,
married the days of the Korean War,
bore our childre during the Cold War,
found no victory in Vietnam
and wish we could still believe
in a world made better by stamps
sold in the principals office.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Living on the Line

streetcar "A public passenger car operated on rails along a regular route, usually through the streets of a city. Also called "trolley", "trolley car." The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language.

There is a clanging in my head,
the house shakes; it's the years before
Pearl Harbor Sunday.
We live on the Como-Harriet streetcar line.
Every fifteen minutes electric trolleys pass,
one in each direction,
faithful, wooden, yellow as bananas,
iron wheels on iron tracks.
Their racketing owns the center lane
of those wooden brick streets.

Our house, solid, colonial, is my mother contends,
the only real mistake my father ever made.
He cites convenience;
his defenses tightening through the years.
"The rattletraps will be replaced,"
he promises on his morning exits to the University,
leaving my mother with doubts
strong like her breakfast coffee.

At the corner
step out into traffic, cars stop,
the hinged doors fold open,
three metal steps up,
token drops into a glass, brass box,
the conductor cranks -
clip, clip, ring, ring.
Up front, the motorman pushes his iron handle forward.

Chubby, bored, doubtful childhood ever ends,
I ride, sitting high, alone.
Jungle afternoons in August, windows open,
through wooded grounds of Como Park,
transfer downtown to fields of corn, wheat, cows,
stretching rural to White Bear
or transfer at Eustis,
through downtown Minneapolis,
the Gateway and then the lakes.
My thighs ironed into rattan waffles,
face and arms speckled with soot,
brain rocked to somnolence.

Summer nights,
homes open to catch coolness,
bright window squares fly by,
tilt, rattle and screech
around the corner on Como and Knapp
freakish and friendly.
State Fair week they line up tight
cow catcher to rear, miles in each direction.

Winters our "39 Chevy" would rocket
the icy streets between snowbank and trolley,
seemed barely two feet on either side,
my breath held tight, father's jaw rigid.
He was right, of course. Two wars later
they roll up the wires, inter the tracks in asphalt.
For some of us, ghostly cars still spirit
through old neighborhoods.