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4 Poems

barley and a blooming

Inspired by Martín Estrada’s  “Imagine the Angels of Bread” and “Bread and Roses”, from the Pride soundtrack. 

This is the year we fight for bread and roses because without a blooming how can we hope for barley wine. 

This is the year for desire of every color, rose-gold, for fleeting touches and delight dripping down our stems.

This is the year for pearls strung round sooty necks, for hobnailed boots and fishnet tights, for coal smudged smokey on our eyes.

This is the year to pour out a pint for she who blackened our seams. Dark artery may you sleep deep under our ground.

This is the year we fight for bread and roses because our valleys were green once and we will grow them once


go find your lambs

How’s your hip?

I have to ask because i want you to know that i know and that i don’t cry

for orange blossoms smashed guitars or blackberries bruised and broken winged

I have to ask because i feel the straight clean cuts you set like a surgeon, steady hands

peeling back the parchment to see all the roses you grew inside.

I have to ask because i too have spent mornings breaking myself

hating the swell of my belly and the spread of my thighs.

I liked to count my ribs muscle slick sliding sweet under skin.

From my collarbones I whittled a cross and hung upside down to drain myself dry.

I have to ask because the plinth has called for your blood and my pretty pretty bones.

because I am tired of being a lost lamb

of the braziers thrilling with oil and boots treading harsh upon stone.

I have to ask because what if we are not nails and knives

what if we are bare and lovely beneath the fig trees

what if our sacrifice is not to starve, to bleed but to live? 

fiscal year 2021

This is me now. I stayed because here I breathe deeper the promise of summer, I ponder the depths of elderberry wine. What a fucking pretentious sentence. I mean life is slower and sweeter when half the year you spend encased in ice. 

For a while I’ve thought of being here as a series of set-backs, give-ups, and drawn-outs. I don’t know how to stop loving you, but someone else said it first, so now I must make this place mine. I like the silver birches slender in the slanted light, I think I like it here.

I hope you did too. 

I want to be everywhere! in Barcelona, renting an attic kitty-corner to la Sagrada Familia, just drowning in olives like a full-throated gasp. A gasp, draped all in black and my legs burned strong by the hills like wishes you forgot. Of course I wrote poems here, but wouldn’t they be better by the sea? 

I should move to Asheville, Carolina and learn much more about the stars. Or south and west, a donde viven las bolas de oro y las escobarias. Me envolveré en guirnaldas de santas teresitas y en mi corazón no me quedará espacio para cuestionar. Tengo tanto miedo of missing that I was running running when I could have stayed. Stayed, and breathed, and loved, so –

perhaps it is time now. 


Some would say it’s sex or watching the sunrise clutching cocoa, watered-down.

I say it’s watching them fall asleep head heavy in their arms.

Knowing they’re crossing a slow gray river and praying that they find you

on the other side.

Hayley Jones is my niece and she is perfect in the way the most perfect things are: complex, made and re-made, folded into curious and beautiful shapes, unfolded, evolving. You can read more of Hayley’s poetry on her blog, PDX Whimsy. You can read more about what I think about Hayley as well as find list of books she recommends in the Grief House library (click here).


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