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Denise Low: California Poets Part 7, Two Poems

Denise Low

July 1st, 2024

California Poets: Part VII

Denise Low

Two Poems



Nose to ground like a dog but             cat-like—

triangle  ears                   pricked—                            


it glances at me           the interruption

back to            scent of a rat


rummaging noises       in ivy leaves.

So quick          it gambols


like the ghost               I sighted once

brown blur of a man                on the sidewalk.                     


You are that fox                      adept

on this almost-a-mountain                   a magician


of the heart.                 I know your spoor

dear one                      now partway vanished.


Sugar Maple


Her begging hands

collect alms

from the sky.


A fortuneteller reads

each vein

of her lined palms.


When she dies

tangerine birds

fly from her arms.


Where she once lived

an old brown woodshed



Someday dry boards

will remember how

to bleed sugar.


Ode to Deer


Hooves beat against the gate. Eyes open.

Our golden irises trap dawn’s bright.


How effortlessly you move in memory:

a riddle with no answer.


I once went deer hunting. The rifle smelled of oil.

            Underfoot the woods crunched.


Springtime foods are red roses and jasmine.

            In autumn, swaths of acorns disappear.


A sister cooks tender backstrap with hull corn.

Communion remains on my tongue.


Beneath juniper spikes once a fawn sleeps alone.

            Neighborhood children hush quiet.


You step along the stream, shifting heft

of eight prongs. I recall this for years.





From “psithurisma,” Greek for “whispering,” like wind-

shivering trees, especially pines, as in Theocritis,


“How sweet is the pine’s whisper as she makes her music,”

the silent P in the word dropped so zither-sounds of strings


strum the air. A writer from the mountains once noticed

how friendly was the wind blowing trees in my yard—


slow fanning of a white pine, sway of a ponderosa,

its yellow cloud of spores tracing air’s currents.


No afternoon squalls of sleet peppered our faces.

Maybe that P letter does have a sound, a puff


rather than airy hisses like with sounds D and TH.

Listen now to breath—yours, mine—what


stirs the air along the river line updrafts

sending crows scattering into bluffs.


Author Bio:

Denise Low, a Kansas Poet Laureate, is winner of the Red Mountain Press Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. Other recent books are Casino Bestiary (Spartan) and a memoir, The Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (University of Nebraska. A book of archival/verse experimentation is forthcoming from the University of Arizona Press in 2024. She founded the Creative Writing Program at Haskell Indian Nations University, where she taught and was an administrator. Low is past board president of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and currently curates the Indigenous Voices series for The 222, an arts organization in Sonoma County, California. She teaches for Baker University’s School of Professional and Graduate Studies.


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