Poetry by Betty Bonham Lies Photography by Aunna Moriarty
We’ve gone southwest again,
slipping on red sand,
veined pebbles slide
beneath our furious feet.
The ground is crumbling,
littered with shed skins,
small fissures widen
to a gully I can’t cross and
there on the other side
you stand, glittering and hard.
My venom, even if it could
reach you, would run right off:
this land’s too steep for me,
the old paralysis sweeps
up my veins, I slump
to sullen stone.
Some day I’ll find
like the horned toad
shooting tears of blood.
Nowhere to Hide
Unpredictable, the winds that feed
those fires devouring Santa Barbara:
the anchor on the nightly news reports
erotic winds drive flames
every which way,
without warning or sense,
and I so understand:
when those erotic winds begin to blow,
you have to know it’s inescapable: it’s
fire, fire, fire, it’s just
piled up on another.
Woman Pecked to Death by Dark Birds
The eyes were the first to go,
next all the soft places that ever
gave her pleasure. They slit the tongue
so everything she said was forked,
then worked on joints: savored the hinges
of the thumbs until she could oppose
no longer; jabbed the knees,
the hip, the ankle bone until she was
immobile; picked out what lies behind
each vertebra. About the flesh, they took
their time, and found it slow and pleasant:
each stab seemed trivial, yet even one
brought bright blood to the surface.
They broached the skull, stripped it
of memory, then thought, and at the last,
desire. When all but consciousness
was gone, the job was done.
They could have let her go then,
but they thought it might be fun
to see if they could keep her pulsing
for awhile. They were surprised
how long she stuck it out.
Poets Bio: For most of my life, I have taught—every age from infants to adults. Poetry is my love, and I’ve published three collections, but also three books of prose. I live in Princeton, NJ, where I belong to the Cool Women Poets and U.S. 1 Poets (the country’s longest-continuing poetry collective.) As the senior poetry editor of U.S. 1 Worksheets, I get the pleasure of meeting many new poetic voices from all over the country