- From the 2016 Texas Poetry Calendar
- From the 2015 Texas Poetry Calendar
- From the 2014 Texas Poetry Calendar
- From the 2013 Texas Poetry Calendar
- From the 2012 Texas Poetry Calendar
- From the 2011 Texas Poetry Calendar
From the 2012 Texas Poetry Calendar
- “Enchanted Rock in September: A Tritina” by Carie Juettner
- “Tracking Hurricane Ike” by Carol Coffee Reposa
- “Wolf Moon (January)” by Patricia Spears Bigelow
- “Winter Grackles” by Jeff Santosuosso
Blues & Nothing But . . .
Your sudden bolt bloodied my mouth
A thousand and one reasons gone through the fabled door
A blue norther brings no news
Your place empty next to my memory
Your name through abandoned streets
Spinning like drifting smoke—
A blues desolate as a bar stool in December
I want to stab this pain
Until it bleeds a hundred deaths
My soul a nest of scorpions
My voice full of stings
I sing this wounded psalm
To no one minus you
Green were the notes
Of summer’s golden promises
Struck down by idle words
Curse of circumstance to be ruled by chance
Strange, how great matters come
To insubstantial ends
Fernando Esteban Flores read with us November 5, 2011, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. Twice a juried poet at both the Houston Poetry Fest and the San Antonio Poetry Festival, Fernando has multiple publication credits, including RiverSedge and The Texas Observer.
On Leaving Possum Kingdom
Firewood covered, patio chairs stacked
in the shed, boat secured in its stall.
A solitary blue heron, alert at the dock.
This last morning passes like a thought
or smoke from a chimney as we return
the lake house to the shy slough of water,
a spider’s angular strand.
The goodbye season begins: quiet
as a jacket pocket, a wildflower book
on the table, a seed in the ground.
A sign saying Closed for Winter.
A leaf’s meditation, its decision to fall.
Sandra Soli read with us November 4, 2011, at the Dallas Poets’ Community reading. Winner of the 2008 Oklahoma Book Award for What Trees Know, Sandra has many publication credits, including Southern Poetry Review, The Enigmatist, and Platte Valley Review.
from Manon, music by Jules Massenet
Returning from my errands, walking past
The lawyers and salesmen, hawkers of goods—
Jewels, well-cut suits, the latest gadgets,
All guaranteed to lift a mood, delude
Me into some civic satisfaction—
I escape, silly man, in reverie,
A harmless cliché, a private vision
Trading gutters for a clear, happy stream,
The busy sidewalks becoming leaf-strewn
Paths, the tenth floor condo, a white cottage
Needing paint, beside it a barbecue
Where I would grill, a little acreage
For a garden, orchard, a patch of woods
So the wild will survive to sing and swear.
Yet still I’m captured in my lonely mood
Reflected, on display. Where are you? Where?
Lyman Grant read with us October 1, 2011, at the Georgetown Poetry Festival. Author of The Road Home, Lyman has published in many journals and anthologies, including Big Land, Big Sky, Big Hair: Best of the Texas Poetry Calendar.
Life on Ganymede
Last night fiery planet Jupiter arose
to star nearby our quarter crook of fall moon,
its lunar hook hovering low where evening grows
silky clouds that cast a fuzzy light-cocoon
about a streetlamp’s yellow head and old rows
of red oaks shadowing November lawns. Soon
the glistening giant assumed its aspect high,
as your slow, warm palm crawled up my mid-life thigh.
Katherine Durham Oldmixon read with us December 3, 2011, at BookPeople in Austin. Katherine has numerous publication credits; she teaches in the University of New Orleans low residency M.F.A. program.
Summer’s fever has ended
when I find the translucent
paper-thin husk clinging
to the bark of the cedar elm.
I pry it from its rough perch
and look closely at the shell
split neatly along the back
as if it were a zippered jumpsuit.
My mother at the end of her life—
but not yet a shell—
once asked for a zipper
or at least an end
to the interminable prodding
by doctors and lab techs.
It’s like I’m a bug
on the end of a pin, she said.
I don’t know if
she was thinking of cicadas.
Jean Jackson read with us November 5, 2011, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. President of the San Antonio Writers’ Guild and vice-president of the San Antonio Poets’ Association, Jean has recent poems in Dreamcatcher, Inkwell, and elsewhere.
From the corner the taquache watches
his moves, careful not to get in the way
of love’s midnight dance, where two not swayed
by death practice their steps. Not the tango,
not the waltz or a huapango, but el
taquachito. They move to a conjunto beat
only they can hear led by el acordeón
somewhere in the distance. Under a full moon
on some unnamed Texas ranch, el vaquero
calavera leads his mate in an eternal dance.
Brenda Nettles Riojas read with us December 3, 2011, at BookPeople in Austin. The author of La Primera Voz Que Oí, Brenda hosts Corazón Bilingue, a radio program about the impact of language and culture on writing.
Enchanted Rock in September: A Tritina
Sandals grip the dusty smooth surface of the stone
and a bead of sweat trickles down as I make my way up
and up and up beneath the sweltering heat of the sun’s power.
Past prickly pear cacti and one lone puddle of water, I power
through the ache in my legs, pushing harder and harder against the stone,
trying to imagine how it felt centuries ago, to look up
and see, in the distance, above all the trees, filling up
the horizon, this spectacular view—this vision of power
and endurance—this natural wonder of stone.
It fuels my awe for this stone, rising up out of the landscape, full of magic, of power.
Tracking Hurricane Ike
Newsmen air footage nonstop:
Rising water battering the Seawall,
Wind bending palms
Half of Houston
But I am thinking of another sea,
When my teenaged grandchild
Pulled me into the waves.
Then the photo: spray rising around us
In an iridescent bubble
Above the white-sugar sand
And turquoise swells,
Her long arms wrapped around my waist,
Her hair a golden storm—
Something Botticelli might have brushed
One sunny afternoon.
For that instant
We are safe in the eye-wall
Of each other’s arms,
Sheltered for the moment
From all the tempests waiting,
Hard squalls that will come
The next day or the next
In e-mails and text messages,
Offices and classrooms,
Courtrooms and bedrooms,
Rising water everywhere.
I hold her tight.
Carol Coffee Reposa read with us November 5, 2011, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. A three-time Pushcart nominee and author of three books of poetry, Carol is a professor emeritus of English at San Antonio College.
- Back to Top
You Don’t Know Hot
until you’ve seen August
her full skirt flaring
as she settles in,
knotting her hair each night
in a low, golden ball,
lying back, stretching long
legs of sky
of clouds. Cowboys stop
and stare, Stetsons pushed back,
falling in love again,
slow exhales of whistle
from their lips.
Karla K. Morton read with us November 5, 2011, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. 2010 Texas Poet Laureate and winner of a 2010 Next Generation Indie Book Award for Redefining Beauty, Karla released three new books of poems in 2010. Those are her boots you see on the cover of our 2012 calendar!
McDonald Observatory Haiku
Seeing Saturn’s rings—
Not a photo—my own eyes—
Jo Virgil read with us December 3, 2011, at BookPeople in Austin. Jo loves to write narrative non-fiction, short stories, poetry, folklore, environmental essays, and has even tried her hand at a novel (in progress).
On hot days you could find him
down by the river and up a tree,
enjoying its cool. If she stood on tiptoe,
arms stretched skyward and he reached
his hands through the branches,
he could lift her into the leafy treehouse
where they’d be hidden from view.
Too young to work, too old to play,
they’d stare at each other wordlessly
smiling like maniacs, eating green
grapes, a breeze lifting the damp hair
off their foreheads, arousing in them
a restlessness they didn’t yet understand.
That boy is dead now. The tree, too.
Today, by the river, even the wind is still.
Erica Lehrer read with us September 10, 2011, at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. A featured poet at the 2011 Houston Poetry Fest, Erica won first place in the 2012 Texas Poetry Calendar awards—for “Wimberley.”
That Southern Fire
down in the heel
of the muddy boot of Texas . . .
a pulsing city
in the pretense of winter
and melts steel
in the furnace of summer.
But my love’s freckles
glisten with sweat
and taste of salt.
And the tequila here
stings my lips
like a sultry kiss.
And I’m willing
to be with them both.
Nathan Brown read with us October 1, 2011, at the Georgetown Poetry Festival. Winner of the 2009 Oklahoma Book Award for Two Tables Over, Nathan has the lead poetry exercise in Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry, a 2011 release from Dos Gatos Press.
Gecko in the Toilet
When I lift the lid, the shock of daylight
startles the small gecko running circles
in the velodrome of the bowl.
He banks his circuit high up
under the rim to outsmart this intruder
whose urgent strategy is
to flush him down.
Splaying his five-toed, suction-
cupped feet in the wide stance
of reptilian instinct, he grips
the rock wall of porcelain
as a torrent of waterfall
crashes over him.
With a comb I flick him
into the gurgling water
where he spread-eagles
on the sloshing surface.
Unwilling to send him out to sea,
I scoop him up with a cup,
like a goldfish prize
from the carnival,
the child coming home
clutching a bulging baggie—
can I keep him?
what can I feed him?
can he sleep
in the salad bowl?
Martha K. Grant read with us November 5, 2011, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. She has recent poems in Earth’s Daughters, The Enigmatist, Voices de la Luna, and three previous editions of the Texas Poetry Calendar.
I keep tryna cross that road.
Keep tryna make the next step in my life.
When outta nowhere comes this semi
barreling down I-35.
Knocks me over.
Spills my guts.
Leaves skid marks up my legs.
I’m so dizzy from the impact
all I can see is red.
Blood on the pavement.
Blood on the truck.
Blood up and down the wall.
What little life juice I have left
oozin’ out my skull.
So I lie still for a coupla days,
tuck my knees into my chest,
rock to the flow of traffic sounds
and wait for life’s next test.
Kelsey Erin Shipman read with us December 3, 2011, at BookPeople in Austin. Author of three poetry chapbooks and recently published in Borderlands, she has written for The Austin Chronicle, USA Today, and small presses across the country.
Busted Oil Pan
My own fault. On a washed-out road
west of Bandera, high-centered the van,
tore a hole in the oil pan that left
a five-quart puddle of 30-weight
and a vehicle not going anywhere.
Lucky my friend’s mechanic in town
is a Bodhisattva in the making.
Eyes the old green Chevy,
“Sure you want to stick 800 bucks in this?”
I can’t resist: “Ah, grasshopper, many miles
together we have gone.”
He only smiles. He’s dealt with strange
old goats before. “Four days, give or take,
I’ll call you up in Austin when it’s done.”
Took a Greyhound home, a Greyhound back.
Costly lesson: stones and icebergs
keep their true size hidden from the eye.
Ralph Hausser read with us December 3, 2011, at BookPeople in Austin. Ralph has recent work in Borderlands, di-verse-city, Farfelu, and elsewhere; he won first place in the 2006 Texas Poetry Calendar awards.
Out in West Texas
sandpaper storms scrub the sky
back to perfect blue
Neil Meili read with us December 3, 2011, at BookPeople in Austin. A longtime member of the Austin Poetry Society, Neil is the author of twenty-five chapbooks, including Take Two Haiku and Call Me in the Morning.
Back to Top
Walking the farm’s path
I scream snake and run—
Coiled diamonds at my feet.
Claire Vogel Camargo read with us December 3, 2011, at BookPeople in Austin. First-place winner of the Austin Poetry Society’s 2010 haiku contest, Claire has had poetry in di-verse-city, America Remembered, and other publications.
Near San Marcos
The sign says NO TRESPASSING, but the birds
do it all the time with no consequence.
Good binoculars. I watch a mockingbird drop down
from an elm. An unlucky moth feels—what?
The bird stabs it quickly, too big,
so eats a bit at a time, hard for a creature,
handless. Head-shaking gestures. Now and then
the bird pauses to look around for danger.
It flies away, moth in beak.
has just seen a rattlesnake sneak into a hole.
Spring. Walking along, we kick forth butterflies,
small ones, there for transient yellow wildflowers.
Train tracks not far away. A freight clicks by,
its loud whistle. Yes, a crossing up ahead.
Most cars carry gravel hills which come to points
as if mountains. Ah, April tends its wildnesses.
Traversing Houston by Bus
This city loops
around a spoke
of veined highways,
and a cracking concrete center which
I pass over, under, around, through
again and again
unable to find the heart.
Squares are the only geometry
that makes sense to me,
graph paper the only part of
math class I liked, wasting
time filling in the
spaces with pencil, going
darker and darker, making welts
on the other side of the page,
rather than correct answers.
Maybe if I hadn’t been so intent
on filling in the blanks, if I had paid attention
to circles and ovals,
I wouldn’t get so
disoriented here, wouldn’t be so dizzy.
Maybe if I had been receptive
to soft lines and curves
I wouldn’t be dependent on right
angles for navigation.
be able to make sense of the pulse, the unstructured sky,
the arterial overpasses.
Allyson M. Whipple read with us September 10, 2011, at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. Allyson has recent work in Young American Poets; she founded literaryaustin.com in order to support the city’s thriving literary culture.
What’s left are piles of clothes, some shirts, a gown.
On Sunday, late, the sale is winding down.
A basket filled with odds and ends. A pipe
my daddy carved, a knitted scarf, wool, still white.
A pink peignoir with feather trim seems lost—
It’s sultry sex had found no lovers crossed.
Painted china made by Momma’s friend,
who couldn’t paint, but Mom would not offend.
Good china, glass were not put on display—
My children wanted them so they were packed away.
The last car leaves, the remnants set to go—
A smallish pile remains, not much to show.
But in the end, is someone’s life defined
by what they’ve been, or things they’ve left behind?
Barbara Gregg read with us December 3, 2011, at BookPeople in Austin. With scientific articles and technical reports among her publication credits, Barbara has poetry in Wingbeats: Exercises and Practice in Poetry, a recent release from Dos Gatos Press.
the small blond girl
asks her daddy
the kind that fall
out of the gray cloudy
sky on winter mornings
wet and cold landing
on an outstretched tongue
her daddy laughs
and says we don’t get many
snowflakes in Austin, Cat
she furrows her brow
draws snowflakes on white paper
cuts them up and throws her
flowcakes up to the ceiling
watching them float to the ground
while she stands under them
Laura Peña read with us September 10, 2011, at the Blue Willow Book Bookshop in Houston. Current President of Gulf Coast Poets, Laura won third place in the di-verse-city anthology awards at the 2010 Austin International Poetry Festival.
somehow, the loquats
made it through the winter,
thumbs of fruit
The goldfinches that fed
all winter at the feeder
left before their feathers
lost the gray of winter.
The loquats got their color
just in time: waxwings
flock in the tree,
flash from fruit to fruit,
tearing as they go
ripe, orange flesh.
Somewhere, far away,
sing in the woods,
yellow and black
flash between trees.
Here, only leaves
quiver in the breeze.
Here, only green.
scattered on the ground.
Gary S. Rosin read with us November 5, 2011, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. Program chair of the Houston Poetry Fest, Gary has work in or forthcoming in Concho River Review, New Texas, and elsewhere.
Wolf Moon (January)
Brightest of any moon in years,
blazing cut-out against the blue-black sky,
its small sidekick Mars, a pulsing orange firefly.
We stand shivering in the cold night
three days after your surgery,
watching the celestial display,
waiting for the dog to pee,
your larger hand enclosing mine
when suddenly a shooting star flashes,
streaks across so fast I have to squint to see it,
focusing all my energies on that one spot
where now there is only afterglow
and the small, fleeting radiance in my chest.
Patricia Spears Bigelow read with us at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio November 5, 2011. Author of Midnight Housekeeping, Patricia has had recent poems in Sustaining Abundant Life: Women’s Prayer and Poetry, and Big Land, Big Sky, Big Hair: Best of the Texas Poetry Calendar.
The grackles sag the wires suspended from the streetlights.
A parabolic unease replaces horizontal balance.
Others blossom in the pasture,
Then swarm to an old, withered ash
Defoliated from winter’s cold.
Now instantly fuller than summer, the old tree swells,
Bloomed black by the grackle nation,
A flock that would nest in an entire springtime grove.
Branches shatter as the culprits take flight.
The sky darkens, blackout worse than blizzard
As the swarm takes wing again.