Sample Poems by June
I loved the dirt under my
I'm grateful you left me feral
to roam the fields and
to sink my hands in ochre earth.
I hated the belt-raising
welts on my legs.
Tongue lashings. Church.
Church most of all-
the long drone of
leaving sunshine and grass
Now, my own child is grown,
and I gave him no church,
except my love. Was it
How could it ever be?
The only home for him
to inherit is our shared
A wave knocked us down,
another brought us
back to shore. Look
to the sea.
window fills with gardenia bloom in evening.
The humid air, my sister's voice, this
I raise and lower across elastic time.
Some days the window is out of
I have to climb the trellis that rose to yesterday
and disappeared in winter.
build steps out of snow and pack them down
with stomping, with sturm und drang,
It's worth the effort. Every effort.
Though who knows what the window
will let in or out?
Sometimes a slight crack and angry voices engulf
the space in
flames. Always somewhere a burning roof.
Sometimes the corn stalks are so high that
them to carve their initials in the flesh of the moon.
Sometimes the window
wells with salt spray from an ocean
that buoys and baptizes, but also serves up jellyfish and
I look for the family portrait there, moving frames -
a lullaby slips out, a
dime locket, cootie catchers,
a fish hanging from the lightbulb, duck quack,
underpants stuffed behind a freezer,
mittens and carpet burns, a clue in a clock
backwards braille of names knifed into the sill,
a diary with a broken lock,
a revival tent of dire prophecies, lightening bugs,
ticks, scabs, the
hanged man, angels glinting,
a sack of pecans, a rusted tractor, a fly swatter.
only a first story window.
It has more stories than stars.
If I don't open it,
Our breed was a brooding
menfolk in barns and garages, silent,
thick fingers turning tools.
Those hands could
snap a shoulder
back in place, or drown a litter
of unwanted pups. They did
what had to be
done, without a fuss.
Summer brought a bounty of small
skeletons, surfacing from shallow
in the piney woods.
Mothers, captive in their kitchens,
call children in when the
star brightens and bats begin to flit.
Call children in to supper, in for the night.
Then recall the lost ones, the nameless
swallow hard, blink them back to shadow.
Turned gruff, these mothers stand
they can, what they must,
and command: don't track in mud.
They knew the patch of earth
the garden toil, the final bed where
they would rest, marked as well
allowed. Wary folk,
dead set against raising false hope,
they warned in word and
bloodlines map existence.
We, their sullen children,
even if we could, would not resist
entirely, the stubborn pull
our dirt-lined palms predicted.
Even were we able to break
Earth's gravity, to rise like Venus,
bright in the gathering dark,
between us, who would choose
to quench that old smoldering fire,
deep in the blood?
Who would choose to leave?
Overdue Elegy for
I didn't see you go. You might have
wandered off to the garden,
or drifted off like smoke curling from a chimney.
The melted nougat
of hidden candy,
your last gift.
You were brief in my life-
tricycle days, before school
or learning to tie shoelaces.
You were crew-cut-white, sea-eyed,
We recited nightly,
"Now I lay me down to sleep..."
You scratched my cheek with
then warbled a song about the moon
through the leaves of the old oak tree,
on the ones we love.
I never said goodbye, unaware
you wouldn't reappear, not at
not even at Christmas.
This is it, then. The farewell so long overdue,
condenses in the air and vanishes
in this cold attic, absent you.