- 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 2013 Texas Poetry Calendar
- “Bluebonnets” by Sue Bartel Foster
- “Driving Through the Texas Hill Country” by Diane Gonzales Bertrand
Hill Country Sonata
bald cypress trees
edge both sides
of the creek
with their bare branches
spread like black filigree
a shawl covering sunset
the bubbling stream
hums festive carols
played on the keys of
entertains the lonely
hermits of winter
If I don the dress I will be Mary,
Great with child.
My want will be upon me;
Waddle will I a bit,
Swaying from porch to path,
My two selves denied entrance.
Holy and profane I will come to you,
Asking for succor, crying piteously as in olden days.
It is scripted that you remain indoors:
My face will hang in your porch light,
Your feet will approach the door,
You will see, through the peeping hole, my face,
And yet you will back away.
Cars will move down the street where it has rained,
Red and yellow lights reflecting;
They will go quietly like owls in evening,
Their tires invisible and silent in darkness.
My feet will touch the pavement; I will stay earthbound;
But pacing the roads, my body will become complete
Where the pains touch me here, and here:
It will be spirit knocking. I will imagine
Doors that do not close, a car slowing,
A welcoming voice that utters these syllables: Come in.
Trout on my line
Iridescent green and pink
Flashing violet—God’s color.
I ask for permission.
Larry Kelly read with us October 6, 2012, at the Georgetown Poetry Festival. Larry enjoys writing Chinese calligraphy; friends, who wanted his work to have a wider audience, prompted him to send “Speckled Trout” to the Texas Poetry Calendar.
Year of the Scorpions
I forewarned her,
suggested she always wear shoes,
look before sitting down,
check the bed at night.
I mentioned all this
as I cooked pasta on the stove top,
failed to notice that on the handle
of my floral spoon rest,
a brown branch protruded,
curved and aimed
for the inside of my wrist.
Catherine L’Herisson read with us October 6, 2012, at the Georgetown Poetry Festival. Current president of the Poetry Society of Texas, Catherine has numerous publication credits, including Lucidity, The Enigmatist, Voices Along the River, Windhover, and the Texas Poetry Calendar.
When I raise the window shade
a grey fox the color of morning
ambles away. Rain comes down hard
after five months. Thunder cracks.
Clocks flash. A window leaks.
We mop up with towels, retire
to the den to watch a video.
Rain pelts the metal roof, eases.
Stop the movie, you say. Come see this.
A pileated woodpecker has landed
in the oak closest to the house.
Uncommon, wary bird, big as a crow,
back as black, crested with red feathers
tall and thick like hair. White-faced,
the black line off its eye is like a mask,
the line off the base of its bill
turns downward as in a grimace.
A jester, a mad clown.
Not exactly pretty, you remark.
Better than pretty, I say.
The bird ratchets the tree
and is gone. Its call rises
to a wild laugh. Then, in the clearing,
we see the wide, white underwing
gleaming like the moon
beneath storm clouds.
Laura Quinn Guidry read with us August 25, 2012, at the Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. A featured poet at San Antonio’s third annual Poetry on the Move, Laura has recent work in descant, Louisiana Literature, and elsewhere.
Woodland Heights, Houston
Poor live oak, it doesn’t know it’s dying.
The King Lear of our backyard
moans windy sorrows. Creaks
at the joints, as I do on rainy mornings,
though it still holds
a royal flush of lusty green leaves.
Storms shape arrows from its aging branches,
turn sour nuts to stones that squirrels
store in my barren planters.
Survivor of a humid forest
above an ancient bayou, it leans
toward my home longingly. A waiting bed
for its weary limbs. My heart its pillow.
Sandi Stromberg read with us December 3, 2012, at the Coffee Oasis in Seabrook. Sandi has been a juried poet at the Houston Poetry Fest five times; her translations of Dutch poetry have been published in the U.S., the Netherlands, and Luxembourg.
A House for the Texas Coast
Strong pilings, long pilings: 10x10s, 8’ down in concrete, 10’ up.
Double 2×12 stringers, through-bolted, 4 bolts per piling.
The four corners of the house cabled down.
Exterior walls with 2×6 footings and studs, sheeted with 3/4 ply.
Four interior walls sheathed with 3/4 ply before the drywall goes on
so the house won’t skew in a strong wind.
Heavy rafters for the roof, double braced, covered with 3/4 ply,
then top-quality metal roofing that won’t blow off easily.
Shatter-proof windows to protect from blowing debris and damage inside.
Even with all this will I stay to watch the next hurricane?
Jean Donaldson Mahavier read with us December 3, 2012, at the Coffee Oasis in Seabrook. Jean was elected a member of the National League of American Pen Women in 2010; she volunteers with public schools, teaching students how to create poems.
After the Fires
Ghostly black remains
Giacometti stick figures
burned-out Bastrop woods.
Jill Wiggins read with us December 1, 2012, at BookPeople in Austin. The author of two chapbooks, Lemon Curd and Street Scenes, Jill has had poems in many publications, including multiple editions of di-verse-city and the Texas Poetry Calendar.
gentling into morning, only the redness
rising gives hint of the suffocating heat to come
sometimes so bright, a brutalizing light with no letup, as if
the light itself was heat
in a milky mirror I splash water, never cool enough, on my face
and hold images of August light behind my eyes—
light feathered through fronds or gone yellow-green under
wild ginger’s big leaves
light in Mike’s painting of a cemetery in South Texas, thickened
brown-gold light, on the headstone, under trees—light
patterns of light and dark from leaves dead still in no air,
not a whisper, appear on the ragged whiteness of
light with dust in it
light with sadness in it, limp and lax and damaging—no violence
Jim LaVilla-Havelin read with us October 6, 2012, at the Georgetown Poetry Festival. Coordinator for National Poetry Month in San Antonio, Jim is the author of four books of poems, most recently Counting, from Pecan Grove Press.
Cooking With Secrets
Grandma lived in her kitchen,
cooked on an old Glenwood stove—
fried chicken, cobblers, her Dr. Pepper-
Cocoa-Butter Sheet Cakes. All the kids
in the neighborhood feasted on her treats
at a cherry-wood table set against the wall,
a relic from the Menger Hotel. Her Persian cat
Archie basked in the kitchen window, leered
at birds daring a song in her cottonwoods
while she told familiar stories, fingerprints
from her youth. Between the table and stove
hung an autographed photo—Teddy Roosevelt,
back in the days when he led the Rough Riders
down in San Antonio. Grandma flashed a tiny
grin when asked about the picture, hummed
the grace of a quiet sigh, and said nothing.
She turned back to the coal-born flames, winked
at Archie, kept her secrets to herself. She moved
with a hint of flirty mirth, her footsteps
echoing through the kitchen.
Travis Blair read with us December 1, 2012. at Book People in Austin. Travis is the author of Train to Chihuahua, poems about his travels in Mexico; he has work in Red River Review, Illya’s Honey, and elsewhere.
No fancy frills.
No sleight of hand.
No devil’ egg.
He’s a potato salad man
all kinds of good stuff
fills you up and
leaves you feeling
all warm and homey-like
won’t turn bad on you
at a picnic, neither.
Gloria Amescua read with us December 1, 2012, at BookPeople in Austin. An inaugural member of CantoMundo, a national Latino poetry community, Gloria has recent work in Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku and Haiga, a 2013 release from Dos Gatos Press.
The Shape of Summer
In the drone of cicadas from small twisted oaks
we stretch our legs on the screen porch,
bare feet seeking cool concrete,
clothes like wash rags on skin,
the rhythmic clank of a fan,
taste of raw onion and steak
on bread from the ice chest.
Thoughts like lumbering clouds
dissolve while time appears to slow,
the black and gold spider keeps vigil
from its hammock between two trees,
a buzzard rocks to and fro on heavy air,
wobbles above a rail fence, a flagstone walk,
swings its shadowy scythe over the bowing grass.
Patricia Spears Bigelow read with us October 27, 2012, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. Currently completing a novel about her Choctaw ancestors in Mississippi, Patricia has recent poetry in Sustaining Abundant Life and the San Antonio Express-News.
White Rabbit Summer
White Rabbit Road,
halfway between Blanco and Wimberley,
was the way to Wonderland:
a bald plateau with a half-finished house,
tarpaper peeling from crooked baseboards,
barrels to burn trash,
privy walls of agarita.
Summer stretched time into
mustang grapevine spirals, and I followed
feet fast on crumbled limestone ledges.
Standing on the hillside, I grew
smaller and smaller
until I was the size of a thimble
drinking as much of the Texas sky
as any girl could.
Bending clumps of oaks and junipers,
the ever present wind filled my ears with promises:
summer would last forever.
My heart pattered rabbit-quick.
It was all I could do not to open my arms
and fly away, a red-tailed hawk,
splayed fingers catching the sun,
feathers seared with solitude,
branded, clutching summer to my breast,
never going home.
Nikki Loftin read with us December 1, 2012, at BookPeople in Austin. A published novelist who draws inspiration from the Hill Country, Nikki has had poems in Front Range Review, Improbable Worlds, and elsewhere.
Minutes before sunset, rays
slant through the maple tree,
and everything casts a long shadow—
sleeping cat and water dish, wine glass
on the table. Even the fine grains
of teak show ridges and valleys,
a ladybug crawls behind its silhouette.
The garden grows still.
Honeybees have returned
to the hive, all but the worker
perched on the looped cord
hanging beneath the umbrella.
A green anole slips down the pole,
snatches the bee with unfurled tongue.
It’s a royal feast—his last, it turns out,
though neither he nor the drowsing cat yet knows it.
Jerry Hamby read with us December 3, 2012, at the Coffee Oasis in Seabrook. Author of Letters Drawn in Water from Pecan Grove Press, Jerry has recent work in Lifting the Sky: Southwestern Haiku & Haiga (Dos Gatos Press, 2013).
Tortillas de Harina
When I was little, almost every day I made sanddollar-sized flour tortillas
with my grandmother. Granny would say, with affection,
“Mira, uno chiquito para ti!” With a smile in my voice,
“For me?! Because I’m little too!”
Granny’s Alzheimer’s is so advanced now that she can barely remember
who I am (her favorite grandchild, to her I am her son.)
Now we feed her store-bought tortillas and canned beans.
Yesterday, I told my best friend’s mother,
La Señora Valenzuela, “No recuerdo
como hacer las tortillas de harina.”
Her response was just like Granny’s,
“¡Ay mijo, son facil hacer! Mira,…”
She walked me through every step, like Granny did.
“Si tienes problemas, dígame y te ayudo.”
I was five again, smiling from ear to ear.
Her tortillas tasted like home,
Granny’s kitchen, my kitchen.
Today I made those tortillas with my daughter
in my kitchen. With quiver in my voice
I told her, “Mira, mi amor. Uno chiquito para tí.”
Gerard Robledo read with us October 27, 2012, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. A recent graduate of Texas State University–San Marcos, where he focused on creative writing, Gerard received an Honorable Mention in San Antonio College’s 2008 Spring Poetry Contest.
I saw him first,
the lonely soldier
worn out by battles
waged daily underground,
We stopped the car
and let him plod
across the road.
For a moment or two
we waited in awe
as if he were bound to return
or a medal for us,
as if we were not ready
for our own crossing ahead.
Elena Lelia Radulescu read with us August 25, 2012, at Blue Willow Bookshop in Houston. She has numerous publication credits, including Square Lake Review, Chelsea, CALYX, Karamu, and Trajectory Journal.
I’m beginning to hate bluebonnets.
What is the fascination?
traffic halts jarringly.
What is it?
A bluebonnet field.
Cars litter the side of the road,
otherwise sane people
planted in grassy fields
of bluebonnets and who-knows-what else.
There’s a picture of the whole family together,
then one of each of us alone
squatted and squinting against the sun
surrounded by billowing feathery green grass weeds.
Take the damn picture already! she’d said, smiling.
At least we still have the picture.
The bluebonnets are gone.
So is she.
Driving Through the Texas Hill Country
for Renée and Barry
No breathtaking view compares
to the touch of his hand upon her arm
before he asks her to notice
a small sign outside the car window.
Or the smile filling her gaze
before she says, “Oh, I’ve always
wanted to stop there.”
And he flips on the blinker.
Diane Gonzales Bertrand read with us October 27, 2012, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. Writer-in-Residence at St. Mary’s University, Diane has recent work in the Texas Poetry Calendar and The Pecan Grove Review.
Untold Fredericksburg Story
Geb 1821 – Gest 1847
grass and sadness
they and she
died so quickly
tired she had walked
so far, got so close
in her hands
yet this morning
a dawn breeze
brings breath, a
tiny pink flower
holds its head up
in the grass, doves
listen i see life
Lianne Mercer read with us October 27, 2012, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. A certified poetry therapist and widely published poet, Lianne founded the Texas Poetry Calendar with Betty Davis in 1999.
The Hoot of the Owl Wakes Me
not the shrill alarm you set
not the running water you use to shave
it’s still dark outside people asleep
but beginning to stir in their beds
waking from dreams they’ll forget by mid-day
I can hear you in the shower
then drying yourself on the mat
the rattling of the ironing board
and all the while the owl hoots
in time with my soft snores and you
said you didn’t know who was hooting
and who was snoring they both were
so alike I get up and you have your lunch
packed your coffee mug ready you kiss me
good-bye and I go outside in the first rays
of morning looking across the yard to the trees
wondering where the owl is settling in
for daylight dreams of catching a snake
Laura Peña read with us December 1, 2012, at BookPeople in Austin. President of Gulf Coast Poets, Laura counts di-verse-city, the Texas Poetry Calendar, and the Houston Poetry Fest anthology among her publication credits.
Winter Lunar Eclipse in West Texas
Before sunset the sky clouds, turns
cold and rough as stale bread.
Outdoors beside the fire pit,
our boots propped against its iron
lip, we wait for an eclipse that
never shows. We’ve driven hours
west to weathered open country
to watch the moon go out, to see
the broad white face reveal
a spreading amber stain, like
spilled tea on a tablecloth, to sit
beneath a sky full of portents
as distant as the stars. But there is
no moon to see, there are no stars,
only the red fire burning at our feet,
its sparking constellations, and
our faces turned toward each other,
the profiles to the fire reflecting
flame, the rest eclipsed in amber
shadows, simply reflecting.
Susan Rooke read with us October 6, 2012 at the Georgetown Poetry Festival. Editor of the Austin Poetry Society’s MuseLetter, Susan has recent poems in Exit 13, The Orange Room Review, San Pedro River Review, and elsewhere.
It’s 3 a.m.
no one to confirm
what I see
but as I stand
in the middle of the street
in my pajamas
a long-haul driver
between Waco and Austin
sees it too
he has seen
so many things
he can’t explain
he dismisses this
as simply fatigue.
It may be my reason too
a fugitive from my dreams
as the star puts on a show
I was meant to see.
Mike Gullickson read with us October 6, 2012 at the Georgetown Poetry Festival. Co-editor and publisher of The Enigmatist and Blue Hole, Mike has a poem on display with San Antonio’s VIA Metropolitan Transit. He and his wife Joyce Gullickson are founders of the Georgetown Poetry Festival.
On the Terlingua Porch
Last night a norther blew the new year in,
changing the Chisos to a floating vista of pale blue dust.
The mountains hover in the muted sunlight,
distanced from sky and earth.
Swept away like midnight confetti and discarded party hats,
grains of past days disappear in the sand.
What’s important now are black-eyed peas and
cornbread, cold beers clinking toasts,
a clean slate, a bit of luck.
A borderland band is jamming fiddle
with a side of rock and roll.
The ghosts in the old cemetery rattle
rhythm, content under the crosses.
Like them, I keep time,
tapping my toes among the boulders and bones,
taking inventory, settling in.
Darla McBryde (Spring, TX) read with us October 27, 2012, at the Twig Book Shop in San Antonio. The author of four poetry collections, Darla has had work in Poetology, the Austin Chronicle, Cenizo Journal, and elsewhere.
What I Don’t Know
Tonight, the drinking gourd
clear in black gauze sky,
indoors the piñon fire crackles
softly, begins its slow fade.
Before the embers die,
the bob-tailed cat drinks
and drinks from its
aluminum bowl, disappears
on its mysterious rounds.
I know nothing—the movement
of stars, the chemistry of fire,
how to make an aluminum bowl,
the inner lives of cats. It’s amazing
how full a life of ignorance can be.
Elizabeth Raby (Santa Fe, NM) read with us October 6, 2013, at the Georgetown Poetry Festival. Elizabeth is the author of three poetry collections, including Ink on Snow and This Woman, both from Virtual Artists Collective.