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Sample Poems by Kimberly L. Becker

What to Take

Your long-ago loves:
leave them behind
You'll find another lover just ahead,
where the gap goes blue beyond the fog

Don't worry, you'll find more;
in fact, they already lie in wait

Weapons? Yes
Know how to use the knife,
in close combat, the club
Food you'll have to hunt
Don't take without asking
Don't leave unused what blood you spill
Fur for greed breeds unluck

Disease you'll carry mostly without knowing,
sometimes with intent
Don't defile the water source; immerse yourself and pray
See that hawk? It knows what gap you have to cross
It doesn't cry a warning
but wolves running in pack howl direction
if you but heed and hear

Here's the thing: you can't prepare
A list is more for reassurance
The things you really need, you'll bring
The knife with handle of bone
carved from deer you killed for meat?
Take that; it's good for many uses,
its heft more comfort than a woman

Testing the Compass

I'm not sure why I thought it might not work
(rust at the needle given its age)
but I ought to have known the test
was more of me and whether I could gauge

North from South, East from West-
The sun looks on indulgently
As I turn my body
needle trembles then reorients,

finally points to where I knew I was
(when we lose that trust,
no one can show us which way
to go- we're lost)

Whichever way we turn,
the needle wavers before settling in
Directions remain;
it's we who move,
trembling for a place where love
may not be proved,
but still is hoped for as true North

As I turn in prayer,
I know I'm centered, home
Thank you and help me (in Cherokee),
are the only words that come


Discovery of gold in 1828 led to the Georgia gold rush that hastened the Trail of Tears

When I say I'm going to Dahlonega,
and ask directions from the fellow
at the gas station, he says I say it wrong.
I say it the Cherokee way for yellow:


The town's museum:
testament to greed,
land lotteried
Even the bricks wink and glitter in collusion


An Indian friend says gold
is "the yellow rock that makes whites crazy"
We laugh although we hold
pain below our words


You saw in me something of worth,
inherent wealth from birth
Go slow go slow my love
delve deep to treasures that I keep


Dahlonega's gold was pure
before the California rush
There is no cure for desire,
pan filled with silt, with fool's


When you say you want me,
my body already yields, vein on vein,
your mine, your land, your claim
Crazy for your touch, I become


Securing the Line

Every web begins with a single thread

I struggle with my drafts,
cross out old lines
spider consumes old web,
eating damaged

She rests then starts to spin anew
First floating line into the wind until it takes
Secures that line, then
another to the center,
making an initial Y
before adding non-sticky radii

She finishes with catching silk,
body oiled, preventing stickage to her own devices
Design is by old knowledge
Her web looms large, six feet across
Head down,
she waits
for flying prey

Women rubbed their hands
with spider webs
to ensure their skill in weaving
Would this bless my writer's task?
This weaving and unweaving
of all-consuming
stick and silk

head down,
I await
new words-
toss out a new line til it takes,
led by that initial


Packing the car I see a moth on the door.
Gently I remove him so he won't blow
away or get wings torn
riding on our car that will go
too fast for mountain roads. He's loden
green with antler-like antennae.
The edges of his wings are brown
like leaves gone to lace, crumpled and dry.
Bulbous- bodied, unlike his cousins, small
white butterflies that play across the orchard.
When I get back to the city I look online, but can't tell
what kind he is. Identification is hard
when you're not a lepidopterist used to mothing.
Still, I remember him, and that's not nothing.