What if the one-legged tenant in the upstairs apartment
drops his boot with a thump and there you are staring
at the ceiling, waiting, because you never bothered to learn
who lives above, below, or about any neighbor, for that matter,
and you are waiting for something that’s not going to happen,
and you are missing out on meeting a really good person,
but no, not you, with your negative expectation
and lurid imagination, you insist on reading the worst
in the paint’s imperfections, in the shadows and cracks,
and you persist in believing doom follows gloom
as night follows day and there you are waiting...
The rat-a-tat yap has finally stopped.
What set off her terrier alarm?
A neighbor who would do me harm?
And when I head home late and get a flat
at dark on the country road, should a stranger stop,
would I take a ride to my abode? I never used to hesitate.
Fear is a sensible trait. Nothing is wrong
with caution. But age and the news confuse me
into thinking the enemy might be you.
“Now we are having beautiful warm windless weather that is very beneficial to me. The sun, a light that for lack of a better word I can only call yellow, bright sulfur yellow, pale lemon gold. How beautiful yellow is!”
Vincent Van Gogh
Bees buzzing in buttercups
Cowardice! No, not so. Color of courage in Japan
Daffodil’s diseased leaves
Egyptian female pharaohs painted in ancient tombs
Frogs with yellow bellies hop away and hide
Gold the world over
How to mark a Heretic
Jaundiced skin means yellow fever
Yellow Kid journalism
Lemons and legal pads
Moonlight and marigolds
Nazis forced Jews to sew on their sleeves yellow triangles with the star of David
Ochre horse painted on a wall at Lascaux
Political praxis of Yellow Peril, pineapples; post-it notes
Standing in a stunning field of rape singing the “Yellow Rose of Texas,”
Sun! star at the center of our solar system, staying stable for another five billion years
Taxis, Turmeric, Tonka trucks
Visible of all colors--yellow with black--STOP!
Wearing a yellow ribbon while waiting for John Wayne
Xanthopsia, an eye condition in which objects appear yellow-- why Van Gogh loved yellow so
Yellow submarines, where we all live with the Beatles
Zinnias in your backyard
Between me and the clothesline--
a bull snake whose blotches blend
with wet dirt and dead leaves.
No hiss or fake rattlesnake coil,
still-- silly me--I shield myself
with a plastic laundry basket.
Last summer, I was enthralled
by a bull snake in my apple tree.
Disguised by the mottled bark,
it stretched toward a robin’s nest,
and, yes, I couldn’t help but wonder
what the heck Eve was thinking.
The year before, a pair mated
near the garage door, and so much for
rural advice, “They eat rats. They eat mice.”
I said it twice before the urge took hold
to hack them with a rake. Instead, I yelled,
“Go get a room at the bullsnake motel!”
Even now, there’s an image I cannot erase
of the hapless snakes who tainted my space.
“And swelled with thoughts/presumptuous…”
from The Persians by Aeschylus
Some say we, too, in the hands of a whack-the-water man.
Ooooops! Did I open a whoop-ass worm can?
Speaking of dog food, Baxter Boo dog clothes online
Unicorn Fufu Tutu Iridescent Doggie Dress
Rainbow Sequins for only fifty ninety-nine,
comes in red, blue and purple, too.
I’m selling Betsy Ross dental floss
for real teeth and fake teeth, yessiree.
You’re all crazy except me, me, me
Yesterday—the dog and I on the long
stretch between Winnemucca and Lovelock--
I fell asleep. Felt my head nod and bob…
Awake!-- a moment unaccounted for.
There was another moment—thought I left
the dog wandering in the sagebrush
wandering onto Interstate 80–
loved little dog dead in a second.
Made it to the place I call home,
forced myself to open the curtains,
“Didn’t die this time,” I reminded the dog.
Poured a glass of wine and said, “Cheers.”
Virga is a...shaft of precipitation...that evaporates before reaching the ground...making the clouds appear to have a comma attached.” Wikipedia
the grand Nevada sky
is punctuated with virgas
we are sentenced
to read disappointment
in every direction
when rain fails
to reach the ground.
“Thank God for hollyhocks,” the ranch wife said
as she stood by the side of her truck.
“They go untended, not like everything else
around here.” She glanced at the house,
the barn, the cows in the field beyond.
“Some say a hollyhock is a large, coarse plant,
like the plainest girl at the dance.
But their colors are pure,
the sturdy stalks stand up to the wind,
the seeds easy to give to a friend.
What’s best is they are familiar,” she sighed.
“When I see hollyhocks, I know I’m home.”
I close my eyes
you in a skiff facing seaward
me at water’s edge
holding the bow line
I let go
you bobbing in the slip
a seagull squawking overhead
Painting your face on a kite
I’m holding a taut string
conjuring a whirlwind
I let go
you twirling skyward
in crazy circles
smashing into the branches of a tree.
serves you right for leaving
Nancy Harris McLelland taught creative writing, composition, and literature for over twenty years and Conducted writing workshops for the Western Folklife Center, Great Basin College , and the Great Basin Writing Project . An Elko County native with a background in ranching. McLelland has presented her "Poems from Tuscarora" Both at daytime and evening events at the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko. Her essay, "Border Lands: Cowboy Poetry and the Literary Canon" is in the anthology Cowboy Poetry Matters .