Ida Bell

9″ x 11″ Charcoal drawing of Strathmore paper

The dead man sits on a pot-bellied stove
Ida-bell stays around, keeps the cobwebs off
the couple in the corner, pack-rats
steal a bullet shell leave a cactus thorn.
Take it to the hidie hole. Gold mine.
“Where’s it at dead man?”
Shot him dead. Stretched on a tree.
Dead man’s mine still.
Ida-bell
sings softly and she dances to the tune.
Dust motes, dead man, join her in the sun.
Her long blue dress sweeps the dust from the floor
where the dead man slept. “Bum! Get yourself a room.”
Silver coin on the floor.
Dawn. Clouds in the sky burn. Sky blue.
Off to a lake where a pine cone falls
on the dead man’s head
and a squirrel looks down
mad. Laugh, leave him to his home.
Soft night, sing while they ride.
Soft night, sing in the meadow in the night.
Laugh. Love.

Dust covered stranger stumbles
falls in a wagon rut.
Water drawing pebble dry,
sticking out a swollen tongue,
black lips crack blood dribbles down his chin.
Laugh.
Ida-bell looks down,
“Water in the bar.” Leaves.
Tumbleweed?
Where?
Bar cool.
Die in the shade.

Ida-bell’s bones used to rattle in a tree.
Dead man, dead drunk sleeps in the street
when the teamsters cursed.

I Think, Therefore Iamb

Hard and soft ground etching with aquatint
on Rives BFK with black Daniel Smith ink.

I hate to write iambic garbage. It’s
a pain! With trepidation I begin
this noisome task. I cringe beneath the din
of “bozo” I hear shouted from the pits
of my despair. I say that I don’t care
if I succeed. It isn’t fair that I
should have to waste my time on this. I try
again. The meter falls apart. It’s unfair!
It’s hopeless. Where’s the garbage truck to take
this trash and clutter far away from me
and open up this loathsome cave to light?
Through reeking mental fumes I just can make
out images of freedom as I find
the end of this disgusting, ceaseless fight.

Exploring the Tide Pools

Hard ground etching on Rives BFK

Her hair was tangled with the setting sun
as carefully, she knelt and watched the sea
anemone. The black sand glittering
the tide pool’s edge was pulverized remains
of pyroclastic screams. The ocean’s surge
did not disturb the sheltered remnants of
renewal. “Look,” she said, and stroked the green
and purple fringe and watched it close, “I think
I know exactly how you feel. But don’t
you see? You have responsibilities.
You can’t just throw away the things you fought. . .
the things we both have fought and struggled for.
It isn’t right for you to even ask.”
The amber afternoon was breaking up.
The yellow, orange and purple sky and sea
dissolved together into gray and black.
“I think it’s time that we were going home.”

Sardinian Summer

3 1/2″ x 5″ hard ground etching on
Arches cover with black Daniel Smith ink.

Wheat fields bend in a Mediterranean Summer.
Olive back burnt black
bends
under the weight of a scythe.
I do not know who I am-
a lizard on a fence post licking its tongue,
waiting for a caterpillar
to weave a chrysalis around its heart,
waiting for its heart to break open,
to split apart and spit out
what?
My head is hollow,
an empty seed pod waiting
for the quiet of a fog bank
to cool the Mediterranean sun,
waiting for the rattle parting the grasses
to pass;
waiting for the smell of moisture
on the yellow stalks of wheat.

The sere, burnt afternoon
has almost wiped away the memory
of morning.
The red sun puddles in the still air.
It is time to move. It is time to move.

It is time
to move