by Katherine West

Even in October 

butterflies crowd 

the butterfly bush

are lifted by the cold 

wind then released 

to drift back to their magenta 


in a flurry of giant 

orange flakes 

of Halloween snow 

or fire 

The high rise looks like 

a grey ice cream cake 

left out in the summer 

sun so that slabs 

of cement melt and slide 

down its sides to the street where 

grey children lie 

with their eyes shut 

the party over 

time to go home 

The prairie dog sits up

on its hind legs 

still and alert 

waiting for danger—

shadows of crows 

pass over him and away 

like the low-flying planes 

in black and white newsreels 

of World War Two 

Pale blue flowers 

still cling to the tips 

of the rosemary bush 

but the lavender 

and thyme are dried out 

helpless when the wind 

drives down the mountain 

strips them bare 

In this house the cabinets 

are full of supplies—

ten of everything, power 

to run fountains 

in the desert 

thick walls to keep the heat out 

to keep the heat in–

a fat door like that 

of a castle

Vultures come in a black 

rush sometimes–

the body bags are white 

as lumps of sugar 

with the corners 

licked off

Katherine West lives in Southwest New Mexico, near Silver City.  She has written three collections of poetry: The Bone Train, Scimitar Dreams, and  Riddle, as well as one novel, Lion Tamer. Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Lalitamba, Bombay Gin, The New Verse News, Tanka Journal, Splash!, Eucalypt, Writers Resist, Feminine Collective, Southwest Word Fiesta, and The Silver City Anthology. The New Verse News nominated her poem “And Then the Sky” for a Pushcart Prize in 2019. In addition she has had poetry appear as part of art exhibitions at the Light Art Space gallery in Silver City, New Mexico, the Windsor Museum in Windsor, Colorado, and the Tombaugh Gallery in Las Cruces, New Mexico. 


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