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Monthly Archives: August 2009

“They All End Up Walking In Circles”

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…………………………THEY ALL END UP WALKING IN CIRCLES
……………………………..~ with a line by Matt Moore of Associated Press
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…………………………Walking, they have no way
…………………………to chart through clouded skies,
…………………………bearing down upon the layers
…………………………of leaf and soil and stone,
…………………………eroding as do the seasons
………………………...the pathless shifting terrain
…………………………of black spiders, red efts, and
…………………………possums. Their steps are felt
…………………………from below as a quaking fault,
…………………………the pile-by-pile collapse
…………………………of an orchard wall, a fox’s
…………………………low surveillance. Beneath them
…………………………are shin bones buried in
…………………………the round, sockets not seeing
…………………………the veer of the moon,
…………………………and jaws unable to say
…………………………to the lost ones above
…………………………as they walk and slip into
…………………………a ring of heat and then
…………………………a trace of dew, how false
…………………………are North and South.
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…………………………by Therese L. Broderick
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Writer’s Statement — The title of this poem is a slight modification of a line in an article by AP journalist Matt Moore who reported on a study about people who get lost. I emailed Mr. Moore, and he has seen this poem.
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“Rules Outside the Ranch”

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RULES OUTSIDE THE RANCH

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Don’t touch the cactus needles which hitch

quick-as-a-draw to your fingertips.

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Don’t slip off your leather boots to stand

on iron-red stones, as hot and coarse

as the brand for a steer.

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Avoid a spring-time fling

with the pretty green bustle

of the prickly pear — she’ll just double-

cross you, send you packing with

nothing but rancid jelly.

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Don’t trust the saguaro to give you water.

There’s no froth there, nothing wet

to spoon. No oasis. No saloon.

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Above all, don’t listen to the nightly rant

rising from the chapparal —

that loco elocution, high and dry,

of the mind-rustling coyote.

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by Therese L. Broderick

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Security

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At the airport in Nevada, security staff
politely inspect some suspect items
packed inside my suitcase — gifts I bought
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for a friend who couldn’t come with me
to Bryce Canyon and the tribal reservations.
It seems the culprit is an 8-ounce package
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of authentic Indian fry bread mix
which may appear through an x-ray scanner
to be gunpowder or a pouch of anthrax.
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As two officials duly puzzle over
my goodwill purchases, I think of
the Navajo code breakers, those loyal men
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whose intricate native tongue
saved our Allied cause, won for us
the Pacific war. No foreigner has ever
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deciphered their secret lexicon.
I remember that the tour guide told us
how the code breakers disguised
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each usage of the English “bombs”–
by pronouncing instead 
their Navajo word for  “eggs.”
 
Eggs or bombs? Weapons or food?
Friendship, hatred, or the call of duty–
even in one language, hard to tell apart.
 
 
 
 
by Therese L. Broderick
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(An artist’s statement about this poem appears as the first comment.)
 

In the Narrows

 
Any day now, after a long full life together,
you and I will have to make our last good-byes.
The part of me that won’t be able to find the words
is already moving away from you
and from the pain, stepping down the switchbacks
of feeling from a loss too steep and keen
to levels less so, then less so again.
 
If I try now to say Farewell
I will not reach you, won’t be understood.
I become like the crested canyon blue jay
which flies from tree to tree
behind the couples treading along a forest path,
calling out its own wilder version
of their softly-spoken Follow me, follow me.
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by Therese L. Broderick

Resistance Training

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On days when he and I agree on things
just for the sake of keeping peace, I need
as long a workout as a wife can get. Bring on
those upper arm levers and lower leg presses,
bicep pads and tricep handles. Give me
a few strong arguments for soft abdominals,
some hard hammerings for hamstrings,
a long debate for pairs of deltoids and dorsis.
I’ll start right here with these two black steps
which contend so well with carbs and calories —
how strict a measure they ask of my heart
which too often gives up on firm positions.
Then listen as I huff along to the toughest
voice in the gym — a tape which pummels
over and over, Now move to the next station.
This platform, this time, I won’t give in.
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by Therese L. Broderick
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(An artist’s statement about this poem appears as the first comment.)