Holy Week

by Pamela Uschuk


At sunset short-nosed Mexican bats like burnt
scraps of love notes flip.
Mockingbird won’t sleep, his melody
an awl piercing holes between
tender creosote leaves. 
At the tops of Italian cypresses planted
by the Mafia, great horned owls breed, moan
howling through razor beaks
the color of Apache tears. Good Friday
and the first gecko climbs my bathroom window screen
on the other side of the swollen blossoms
of orchids as fleshy as magenta vulva
                           Screech owls wing close
to desert mica and clay, over brittle bush
lifting bouquets of yellow daisy blooms,
over lupine’s blue lips, frilly lipstick penstemon
and broad-billed hummers zipping in
for last sips. I listen to the angelus
of goldfinches wheeze in star jasmine. Twee, twee, tweeeee
peace, they plead.

Finding perch, yellow-rumped warbler, Bell’s vireo who all day
              screamed deep from mountain laurel thatch to cat claw
              to the long patch of oleanders lining the drive, Lucy’s warblers
              scouting the north facing twigs of mesquite, the pair of curve-billed
              thrashers still bullying mourning doves, towhees,
              ground-feeding Gambel’s quail and, in the ocotillo black wag tails,
              Phainopepla’s crest, midnight velvet. Before Jupiter rises
              cardinals streak like venous blood to an orange tree.

Downhill on Oracle Road the unending beep and screech of asphalt trucks
              hold up rush hour. Who won this construction project
              that crawls year after year? How many wings tonight
              are sacrificed to the gods of hot tar, concrete?

Pamela Uschuk has howled out eight books of poems, including Crazy Love, American Book Award, and Refugee, Red Hen Press. Translated into a dozen plus languages, her work appears in Poetry, Ploughshares, Agni Review, etc. Awards include Best of the Web, the Struga International Poetry Prize, Dorothy Daniels Writing Award, National League of American PEN Women, and prizes from Ascent and Amnesty International. Editor-In-Chief of CUTTHROAT, A JOURNAL OF THE ARTS, Black Earth Institute Board member and Senior Fellow, Pam lives in Bayfield, Colorado and Tucson, Arizona. She is finishing a memoir, HOPE’S CRAZED ANGELS: AN ODYSSEY THROUGH OVARIAN CANCER.