Tag Archives | Pat West

Listening to Jimmy Santiago Baca by Pat West

She drives home on a dead-straight
two-lane highway, listens to the CD
of the author reading,
I Am Offering this Poem.

His lines break off
in her mind, making space
for another and another.
His rich throaty voice

layers offering upon offering.
She feels like those times, in dreams,
or while drinking, when she thinks
she can finally see inside things.

She noses the car into the garage,
picks up his book on the passenger
seat, stares at his picture on the back cover,
eyes the color of slick-river rocks staring right at her.

When the world outside no longer cares
if you live or die; remember.

The last line a slow whisper,
I love you. His breath strokes

her skin. She sighs. Maybe next time
she’ll meet someone who knocks her flat-out
crazy in lust with one poem.
Instead of some old, hairless guy

who wears white socks
with black dress shoes, says huh
one hundred times
in two hours, yet swears he doesn’t have

a hearing problem. She shuffles into the house,
drops a kiss on her husband’s bald head
as she passes his Barcalounger,
takes the book of poetry to bed.

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

Gravity’s Never Been My Friend by Pat West

I remember falling¬¬¬¬

out of a pear tree at seven,
playing Follow the Leader
with my older sister.

Off a bicycle onto gravel,
grass and blacktop
unable to push through the wobbles.

Solid on my tailbone in the Crystal Theater.
(Mouse Merriman thought it funny
to fold my seat up when I wasn’t looking)

During a high school field trip to Chicago,
first time maneuvering high heels and an escalator,
I fell down the up staircase.

Busy reading the bio of the visiting conductor,
missed the curb outside the Schnitz. Stumbled,
parted the crowd flailing, perfect four-point landing.

Over backwards from a ladder holding a full pan of paint,
Martha Stuart butter-cream yellow splattered
like a Pollock painting on kitchen cabinets and floor.

The tumble off that sloped-roof
shed behind the barn
doesn’t count. I was pushed.

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

I Carry with Me by Pat West

Memories of old army blankets
slung over the clothesline,
a tent built when I was seven.
The front steps
of every house I ever lived in
thinking this is it,
this will be my home
from here on out.
My phone
and all the numbers
of people I call
and those who don’t call back.
Every fresh new start,
every last turn of the lock
and final drive away.
The tabby’s gentle footfall
on the bed. A shiny crescent scar
on my knee. Grocery lists
and birthday cards to send.
Flashbacks of the first funeral
I attended decades ago
and all the ones since.
The ceaseless chug of days
that pull me forward. The sour hope
that I’m among the ones
who get to grow old. I carry with me
an image of my father’s ropey hands,
the redness of my mother’s lips,
my brother laughing
crazy hard that time he ordered frog’s legs.

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

Land for Sale by Pat West

Time and time again,
in the darkest hours of the night,
I have gone down
on my hands and knees
and painstakingly measured
the empty space you left
when you died, so vast
and deep: I’m tired of living with it,
so I’ve decided to put it on the market.

Property values are soaring,
there are even bidding wars.
Oh, I won’t sell to just anyone,
wouldn’t want to wake up one morning
and find a strip mall in my heart.
But I could live with an art museum
or maybe . . . yes,

a library with vaulted ceilings,
sprawling wings, quiet reading alcoves
off the main lobby, tables, lamps
with puddles of amber light
dotting the landscape.

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

Ode to Film Noir by Pat West

Copyright: <a href='https://www.123rf.com/profile_nejron'>nejron / 123RF Stock Photo</a>

I love a city that can keep secrets
not to mention rain-slicked alleys
cluttered with garbage
abandoned warehouses dust hanging in the air
crowded bars boozy nights chiaroscuro lighting
slicing through venetian blinds
dark offices overlooking busy streets
a hard-boiled private detective
wearing a double-breasted suit
a good guy before one bad turn
made his life hell
I love the ballsy two-timing blonde
with thin eyebrows false lashes painted red lips
high heels snapping on the pavement
a dame who knows how to use men
to get what she wants
I love how the story unravels
conspiracy corruption murder
and how the bevy of hired hoods
barely have time to toss out more red herrings
before they get plugged
sure all the double crosses and backstabbing
make it hard to follow
but when I watch the sleuth
romance the doll with the pretty face
investigate an endless list
of seedy characters
I love the tight knot in my gut
just before the broad does him in

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

Nocturne With Bonfires and Volcanoes by Pat West

We celebrate our twenty-year class reunion,
notes vibrate through the atmosphere

full of frenzy like Debussy’s two movements:
Festivals and Sirens. Whirling around the bonfire

raising dust in the clearing behind the Grange Hall.
The band, a standup rock-and-crazy-roll group

with legs skinny as bed slats,
wail their tune of love lost and found and lost again.

The same story we heard back in high school
when we swayed to “Only the Lonely”

in the basement. Roy Orbison,
master of the romantic apocalypse

everyone dreaded.

A supersonic boom rattles windows

as Mount St. Helens blows out sideways.
The forest flattened

by a force equivalent to five hundred
Hiroshimas.

Ash billows from the new crater,
climbing miles into the sky. Blue lightning

flashes in the cloud. Downwind, for hundreds of miles,
day turns to night. Roads and airports close.

Ash falls like heavy snow. Downstream, rivers choke
with mud, trees and ice blocks.

Harry Truman, David Johnston and fifty-five others
lost under smoldering rubble.

About the Author: Pat West

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

Summer at Mt. Tamalpais by Pat West

The redwoods whoosh
whispering secrets
of the ancients.
The giant sequoias hoot
and grunt like the deep bass

of a tuba. Sunflowers
and dahlias, framed by my window,
topple under the weight
of giant blooms.

Yellow-striped beefstake tomatoes split
with ripeness. Green zucchini, sweet corn
and poblano peppers demand,
Pick me, pick me.
August sun scorches, the earth cracks,
there is no choice
but to endure. Life’s been this way
since dogs could talk.
And everything is thirsty.

Deer come close in the early hours
and coyotes yap at sunset.
Cobwebs shimmer between branches.
Honey bees gossip
with fairies in the garden.

About the Author: Pat West

PatWestBio

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

I Play Hooky from Work on Wednesday and Take a Road Trip by Pat West

Sixty-five miles west of Chicago,
I turn south on Route 23.
Here the landscape’s
dotted with white two-story farmhouses,
red barns, and gravel roads that crisscross.
Rows and rows of corn whispering
all the way to Iowa.

So this is rural Illinois on an August
afternoon. Hollyhocks hunch over
from the weight of purple and bright pink
blossoms, wide front porches with swings
and rocking chairs welcome farm folk
after chores.

Out here it’s all so flat,
as if the summer sky’s come down
and pressed this land level with the horizon.
Riding alone, I take in the mix
of freshly turned soil, pollen-thick air
and the long upward-winding curve
of a train whistle.

A lanky man walks down the driveway
to check the mailbox,
all the time keeping an eye on the road,
like he’s watching for someone to wave to.

I feel like stopping the car
right in the middle of the road.
Instead, I raise my hand palm up
and leave it out
gliding over rooftops and fields.

About the Author: Pat West

PatWestBio

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

After a Relentless Winter by Pat West

you come with a slow strut
and soft buckle
of your body against mine.

Winter’s low, weak light
and even less warmth, over. Now
the sun rises high and strong,

bringing that particular alchemy
of air and earth. The rich pungent smell
of wetness. The earthy musk of damp dirt

after many months,
I open the window
and let you climb in.

I inhale long and deep, remove my apron
like someone drugged
and stumble out the back door

straight into your tenderness,
and the return
of what was absent: crocuses, daffodils

and tulips. Each a splash of color
on the canvas of nature.
A passion stirs within me,

as I sprawl under a pink canopy
of cherry blossoms giddy
in the arms of spring.

About the Author: Pat West

PatWestBio

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

If You Step on Ants by Pat West

it will rain comes to mind
on my walk this morning.
Such odd things people believe.
Knocking on wood to avoid
tempting fate. Saying bless you
when someone sneezes
because the heart comes close to stopping.

They seek truth in Tarot cards
or expect answers from shamans
about good and evil spirits.

Some are certain guardian angels
protect them, others think life insurance
will cover everything.

Myself, I’ll marry in black
rather than white, break a mirror
on purpose, give a witch a lock of my hair,
lap up dragon’s blood.
I point at the rainbow and shout, So What!

About the Author: Pat West

PatWestBio

Pat Phillips West lives in Olympia, WA. A Pushcart and Best of the Net nominee, her work has appeared in Haunted Waters Press, Persimmon Tree, VoiceCatcher, San Pedro River Review, Slipstream, Gold Man Review and elsewhere.

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