Monday, December 24, 2007

Fall Colors

© 2007 Photos by Sue Miller

I love fall colors. I meant to put these up a while back when leaves on trees on the NMSU campus were changing colors and leaves were falling on the ground. Just had to share these (best shots).

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Super Fine

My hair is a spool of thread,
fine and straight, slightly wavy
at the end. Flips in locks, knots,
tangles when wet, wraps around
my neck if it ever thickens,
grow long again, which is why
it stays short, curled on the ends,
a bob or page-boy hairdo.
Goodness, I still look like a kid
but with a Beatle cut style
except my hair is turning gray.

I hate these slender tresses
hugs my head like dainty string
follows my white balding crown
in a circular direction
like a cyclone Kathy
or a whirlpool Wanda.
My right backsides hanging flat
no matter how many times
I roll it with a dryer
I'm a lop-sided Sue with
a spool of thin strands for hair
filamentous, gossamer
silky, threadlike, as light as
cheap cheesecloth or gauze—almost.

Hot Enchiladas

My stomach is a potbellied stove,
big, fat and full, rounded out,
expansion free, not hard as steel
but soft as a balloon. If helium filled
the crannies between food and tea,
I believe I'd pop, burst into a
skinny Minnie. Instead, I wish
someone could lift me with a crane,
gently place me in a wheelbarrow,
roll me out to the car. I can't get up.
My stomach rumbles with burning
embers, flickering sparks, ravage
the sides. I grumble in misery,
pain so bad it is good, like a large
pan filled with beans, rice, lettuce,
tomato and lots of tortillas, enchilada
sauce and lots of guacamole
and hot salsa on top, guaranteed
to move me the following day.

Ripped Off

I was flabbergasted
winning fifty dollars,
and it was mine,
he made me
give him half.
After all, he paid
for the bingo cards.

Looking back, this is
the first time I
felt ripped off,
a selfish man
took from someone
with little money,
and that was all I had.
My step dad did buy the cards.

Scratch Fever

Cats live beneath my skin
irritable Pac-men
gnawing away, nibble-nibble
here, crawling itch there, driving
me crazy. I scratch with claws,
fidget, too—as if that helps—
flex and wiggle back and neck
raise the shoulders, squirmy yet
brush it 'til my hide turns raw
like inward prickles
scour with nails as srubbed by Brillo
chafe until my crust is pink,
parched and flaky. I might
as well use a cheese grater.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Carob Almond (I Scream for Rice Dream)

Only meant to eat half a pint.
Every bite tastes better than the last

shoveling spoons of an ice-cream style
dessert, cold, melting in my mouth

chomping almonds in carob despite
how much sodium it contains per cup.

I eat the whole package; my body
collects four hundred and forty

milligrams of sodium and twenty four grams
of carbohydrates to expand my waist,

to put me on the verge of disaster,
perhaps hypertension or other affliction.

But, at this moment, I don't care,
it was sinful, delicious, I will suffer

the cost and not repent one luscious
scoop, not regret that hungry walk

down the freezer aisle as I dallied along
seeing it behind that icy glass door

screaming "Buy me, buy me!"
and my taste buds said "Oh, do it!"

Thinking Out Loud

Funny how I talk to myself
moaning about something,
sometimes sarcastically,
as a psycho-syncopathic
mimicking pundits
or acting out something
in my head.

Maybe it's just frustration
about the way things are.
They say I can change it
but it never changes--
stuff of that sort.

Then I wonder why
I'm even complaining
when I realize how good
I have it, compared with
some far worse conditions.

I go around in circles
with repeating thoughts,
then I start talking again--
a vicious habit.
Well, maybe not vicious.
Maybe it's just plain crazy.
Am I crazy?
No. I'm just human.
Everybody does that.
I think.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Winter Forecast

© 2007 Photo by Sue Miller

The Jujube tree is barren already
except for a few dead leaves,
they waddle and sway with the wind
stringy as limp Irish moss.

Grey and white doves huddle
together, their fat bellies
overhang on each side
on mangled, dead branches
intermingled as cobwebs.

A cold front and overcast sky
mute activity if it weren't
for me scampering below it,
bundled in three layers
of clothing. Afternoon sprinkles,
biting cold, pierce my bones.

I'd much rather be cool
than blistering hot
as long as temps stay the same
and the rain lasts one day, I'm fine.

I dislike persisting rain
day after day, thermometer gauges
dropping down, down, down
until I wake up one morning,
find my car whiter with snow.

I can see it now when
I am late for work and drivers
here screech into nasty mishaps
because they know not how
to drive in it. I will brush off
the snow, drive slowly to work,

dodging wrecks and tow-trucks,
police cars with circular lights
and I hope to park near that
Jujube tree, resting in winter
its wicked limbs frozen, stiffer
than planks of grey steel.

Time Change

Long day.
I have no concept of the sun
descending beyond dusk.
At 5:30 p.m., I shut down
the computer--
gather my things.
As habit dictates,
like it did last week,
I attach my clip-on sunglasses
and head for the front door
expecting summer light.

I hate when time changes.
Now it is dark and I grumble.
From what I can see
the Asian Jujube tree,
with its plump
green leaves last Friday,
already turn yellow and brown
by Monday.
They shrivel and curl,
hang like dead grapes,
as dry as my skin without lotion,
droopy as an old woman's
face, pronounced
with bumps and crevices.

One minute ago
I'm tired, yet optimistic,
but now I'm slumping,
Summer is over.

Tonight, the knuckled limbs
become bare, arthritic.
Leaves cover the ground
more than yesterday.
Tonight, chilling.
It's November.

There is hope.
A few trees shine red,
deep plumb or yellow,
their edges, crispy
and roasted brown.
I can crumple them
into tiny pieces
with one hand crunch.
Though I loathe coming winter,
I welcome fall colors,
sunlight by 7:00 a.m.
and triple-chirping birds
who motivate me
each morning.

Stiff, Ugly and Bent

Now the lawn outside
is more cluttered
more dull with yellow leaves
than the week before.

A weakened tree stands
but wilts, mopes,
slouches and droops
its remaining leaves
on half-naked limbs,
slumping into
wicked sadness
of dreaded winter.

Long knurling limbs,
skinny knob knuckles
bent like witch's claws
screeching silently,
scraping the blackboard
of the night sky.

Stiff, ugly and bent
resembling dreadlocks
as old man winter
approaches and mutes
this tree to hibernate
down to its graveness.

(Note: This poem was originally written in 2005. Revised in 2007.)

Mind Clutter

I'm trying to read some poetry,
next door neighbor's
kids are squealing,
ambulances scream by
on Espina, their sirens
        abrupt my thinking.

A radio commercial
replays in my head.
A woman sings
        baby can't stop cryin'.
An acoustic guitar strums
in the background,
a chorus of female
voices harmonize
an unforgettable jingle.

I'm trying to concentrate,
my brain overtaken
by too many things--
        that happens a lot.

I hope I can sleep tonight,
        the music keeps
        playing over in my head
until my thoughts
are impenetrable.

Philadelphia-or was it San Francisco?

I don't know
what made me think
about a trip I took
to Philadelphia,
or was it San Francisco?
           I get confused.

It was the early 80's
since I traveled
to those places.

I remember the shock
on my way back
to my place of stay.
I made the mistake of
walking one more block
than I should have,
not knowing exactly
where I was going.

As they say,
they only come out
           at night--
scary characters
who don't even know
who they are.

I heard a man ask
one woman--
if that's what she was--
wearing a black
leather jacket,
with mohawk hair,
pierced nose, lips,
ears and belly button,
attached by chains every
which way,
           "who are you?"
           "what are you?"
She couldn't answer.

Every time
she turned her head,
her spiked Mohawk
feathered the air
like cockatiels do.

The other eccentrics
on the street
were just as frightening.

Walking fast,
I got out of there quick.
Every city has its misfits
           I suppose.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veterans Day Parade

© 2007 Photo by Sue Miller

Kodak moment
a convertible
with four veterans
a Native American
holds a blue and yellow
Veterans flag
an American flag
drapes the trunk

a decorated old man
with patches and medals
barely seeing over
the car door
generous smile on his face
hand extended, wrist
resting on the door
there is something in his hand
for the children
excited, they flock to him
to get candy, and
pick up candy dropped
on the ground

I pulled off my glasses
to wipe a tear
my heart touched
deep inside
innocence and honor
rolled into one shot

Monday, October 22, 2007

Rooster Plates

© 2007 Photo by Sue Miller

Kind gesture of a neighbor--
never thought a man would do this.
His thoughtfulness, no matter
how small the favor.

He rang my doorbell--
a gift from his trip to Arkansas.
Four ceramic plates
smaller than my hands.

Each dish a different rooster
hand-painted in country
reds, browns, blues, yellows
black rims and solid bottoms
traditional American style--
something I might find
at a Cracker Barrel store.

I will buy four small hangers
display them on my kitchen wall
admire them while I eat,
singing in falsetto,
Cock-a-Doodle Doo.


© 2007 Photo, Sue Miller

a patient Labrador waits for his owner
in a classic red convertible
parked in front of a small white cafe
in quiet Hillsboro, New Mexico
smells of hamburgers drift in the air

the driver inside waits for his order
we can't see him, he talks to a waitress
asking directions to Las Cruces
so he can stay for a while
he wonders if James Dean ate here

a few clouds dot the sky
floating like flying saucers
the blue road curves into a one-point
perspective, leading to somewhere
perhaps to winding roads
of the Black Range mountains

the driver just drove through there
lonely, hungry, he needs gas for his car
all he has is the dog, and a suitcase
of clothes in the trunk
anxious, he hopes for renewed
caresses in the arms of an old girlfriend

Monday, October 8, 2007

March Storm

Thunder cracks the blackened sky,
dropping booms on this desert valley.
Sheets of pouring rain POUNDS
the one-peaked roof like a million
laser beams scarring thin tissue.
Run-off patters, dances off vents and gutters.

Wind howls through cracks and holes
like dragging buckets through a stormy sea.
Claps of thunder walk away momentous
blasts again southwesterly.
The tempest circles north, rides with devils
on grenades, rips through whirlwinds
and back out again, echoes through the Doña Anas.

(Note: Originally written in 2005. Revised in 2007.)

Under a Scope

A bird's eye view,
many islands surrounded
by red beans and mushrooms
in a soupy fuchsia sea.

Perhaps these islands
are tug boats hauling
red cargo. Maybe
they are millionaire's mansions
or cockroach cocoons
waiting to be hatched.
The artist says
they are ladybirds dispersing.

Squinting, I see
white blood cells
with red corpuscles
floating in blood
under a microscope.

I suppose this is more appealing
to a biologist.

(Note: This was an Ekphrastic writing exercise where postcards were passed around. I wrote about the image on the postcard handed to me. First, the image looked like a map, and then it looked like something under a microscope.)

Red Hand

The wind brought
a gift today.
Outside my door,
a small hand greeted me--
lying in the dirt
scribbled with red Crayola,
excess paper cut around every finger,
a happy high-fiver
waiting to be found--
I set it on my kitchen table,
wishing me a good day.

I remember drawing hands
in my youth, turning
them into turkeys or plants,
decorating them with glitter,
painting them in rainbow colors,
one for every mood.

I imagine the child
who created this.
Did the wind snatch it away from her?

I will display it for her
on my refrigerator.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I used to work
with a shop 'til you drop
kind of woman;
she went crazy at Christmas,
spent hundreds of dollars
just on her mom,
and her kids
must have everything.

The whole year through
she floated around
from office to office
singing carols
like a jolly Mrs. Santa
eyes glistening
as if she'd just bought something
and hid it away
for Christmas.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


fine hair tossed with the blue-cased pillow
       crazy scenes twisted my dreams
sweat drenched my neck
       designer sheets crumpled every angle

my body turned, a rocking barrel
       alarm clock labored through the night
phone rings too early this morning
       tired eyes peep at dawn

Naked and Ugly (Art Student Days)

shock factor

naked female mannequin
milky white       blushy cheeks
strawberry jam
spread on its body

One arm up
fingers styled--
so-o-o-o-o-o conventional

gooey and ugly
my classmate
calls it art

get it out of here
kick it       drag it
out of the room
throw it in the trash

give me a still life
landscape       portrait
paint splashes
child-like etchings
except that mannequin

Saturday, September 8, 2007


The wind whistled at the moon
      raked every star like leaves
the rain poured a million tears
      stretched a river in flowing veins
thunder cut the clouds in two
      black night closed a torn sky
the sun spoke daybreak
      trees catch the afternoon

Monday, August 27, 2007

Chattering Teeth

I remember a professor
invited to speak
to us about careers.
He could not wait
to dig his hand
inside a paper sack.

Like an overgrown boy
he pulled out a toy
wound it up
put it down

a set of teeth
chattering away
bouncing itself
around in circles
clackity clack
smackity smack
falling off the edge.
He ran to catch it.

I forgot his message.

Today I think
of people like that
whose mouths
flap endlessly,
they gossip away
as mindless puppets
their words mean little
and wonder
why they fall.

I remember
falling like that
feeling low and worthless

yet somebody out there
a mentor or voice
like that professor
caught me and helped
me back to level ground.

New Orleans Clown

no, don't drag me into your world
your skit, your mime
the silent dialogue
of your white-gloved hands

don't make contact
with those painted eyes
or frown and smile
with that hotdog-shaped mouth

don't put me through a guilt trip
if I don't play your game
of catch and release
don't make me cross the road

I don't care if I hurt your feelings
you tricky man hiding
as an innocent under that clown suit
how do I know you mean no harm

Saturday, August 25, 2007


for many hours
when we were young
we played with those prisms
rainbow colors bouncing off the walls
refracted light shining through from the sun
those entrancing slanted surfaced paper weights

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Four Walls

Float to the ceiling
I'm light as a feather
my arms have wings
at first I lose control
bumping into walls
twists and turns
spinning me around
as a tornado
tosses wreckage
it scares me to death.

Like a baby bird
first learning to fly
I figure the balance
and slow my speed
level my arms
gliding my way
travel the room
around and around
without hurting myself
and then I wake up.


My strained right eye.
Frightening debris
obstructing my vision.
Did somebody clip my eyelash,
and place it in my eye?

A hemorrhage,
posterior vitreous detachment--
a sudden blast
of venous fibers,
octopus tentacles
floating in my eye.

It hurts
pain behind it
like tissue ripped
from the retina.

That eyeball
feels larger than the other,
a marble popping out
of its socket.

Sleepless nights
forcing myself to get more rest
fear of losing my eye.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Rain in August

I raise my window
God's musicians
play in the cooling rain
I listen

a steady waterfall
tinkle a running creek

raindrops rap in a bucket next door
as percussionists tap
timbales and tom-toms

combining different thump beats
booming base drums
hands ripple one finger at a time

I want to dance as I am--in the rain
like dancing on noisy cellophane
to crinkle at least for the night

the pail has its fill
drum taps take intermission
the sky keeps raining

rumbles echo from the southern sky
God's kettledrums
roar and fade as lions on hilltops
a timpani in God's symphony


Good sleeping weather

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Besides the defender, emancipator,
the samurai manifested by fortune conquers
each rival in the branded earth,
awaiting fundamental disclosure of their choices.
A solitary fighter, discovers the enemy within,
he twists and thrashes away, opposing the ocean.

The guardian and warrior, upon swallows of tides,
wrestles the rebels as dragons on fire,
flinging their swords in armor of Imperial ranks.
Like a farmer in arms, the single combatant
clashes with a barbarian over boundary lines,
defeating his foe since he is a true noble.

(2007. This was written for a local poetry challenge.)

Silly Girl

Some people believe they are invisible
They drive in traffic, mouths moving, fingers point,
but they are the only ones in the car, laughing;
or they pick their nose thinking no one notices,
or sing off key with the window down,
belting out to a song on their stereo.

I'm just as guilty; I drive down the road, glance
at my features in the rear view mirror, make faces
until I crack up laughing. One eye squinty, the other open,
my lips stretched out of place like twisted Play-Doh.
I release burbling air bubbles trapped beneath my soul.

I get that ridiculous gut feeling as a part of my innards
burst into jiggling belly waggles
an itch to become the fool I am. I can't help myself.
I yell cat meows out the window as loud as possible.


There. Now I feel better.


Wednesday, May 9, 2007


the wind is a dialogue
between whirling thoughts
that follow my ambiance--
from places of veneration
to days of awareness,
from moments of merit
to times at fault

my thoughts drift through cracks
like a silent draft
floating on high
or spiralling low

the wind sighs
sweet sounds of life
as a sailing vessel
on a smooth course
gliding through water
exchanging ideas
between then and now

a conversation circles
back from gusts to whispers
speaking from various directions
what only I can hear
and keep confidential


Black Out

I am a juice-lapping cat,
licking black bean sauce
from a #28 plate
under a flashlight--
storm ahead, no electricity.

I am a curious cat
peeking out a window
adjusting eyes in the dark
wondering what others are doing,
a nice cool breeze on my face,
a fly crawls along the window screen.

Flashes of lightning,
lights from cars
expose my living room.
Neighbors walk around outside
slamming car doors
speaking in Spanish
waving flashlights in their hands.
A child cries "Mama. Maammaaa!"
Little footsteps scamper
along the parking lot.

I am a bored cat
watching cars pass by
wishing to be
on the computer
checking email.
Instead, I will curl up
on the couch, go to sleep.


Sunday, May 6, 2007


On a Saturday, tired from the day before
I forced myself to rise for the day's promises
duties chosen because I wanted to
made connections in rooms big enough
to expend my energies for something new
to feel known for a little while
discovered creations that others share
listened to their plights, joys, experiences
seeking influences for I will need it
soaked it up until it uplifted, then drained me
because some day I may be like them
sitting behind a table full of my craft
marketing my words printed on paper.



I am a voice in the wilderness
hiding behind trees milled into paper.
Clacking silent at words,
opportunities to express, reveal.
These words come and go
faster than finger snaps,
dissipating into thin air,
finding their way back for future scribes.
I capture words, carve them in stone
unless, depending on circumstance,
they are editable
fast as wind takes another direction,
zipping through one minute,
lethargic as mold the next,
scratch them out
quicker than turning pages.

(2007-2008. Revised)


I'm always late for something.
Like they say, people here
are on Las Cruces time--
often 15 minutes behind,
is considered being on time.
Unlike someone I know
who gets flustered
when I'm one second tardy.
Geez, where is she from?


Near Full Moon

Her head glances
out of the clouds,
she giggles over evening's
black canvas.
Bright, yet bashful,
she covers her mouth,
silly, coy.

She bows in respect
to her spirit,
waiting for a groundhog
to show his face,
waiting for people
to accept her nod.

We smile at her
as she ducks
back under clouds,
like a child peeking
over bed covers.


A Healing Tree

If I were a tree,
smooth and tall with a narrow trunk
a little hip, no knots or age spots,
no dry cracks or oozing diseases,
I would have many branches.

Big leaves that make music
together, reach for blue skies
on a warm summer day, bear edible fruit
for you to eat, keep you happy and whole.

I would strip part of my bark, grind it up
treat you to a tea for whatever ails you,
crush the leaves, blend them in water
use as a poultice until your sores disappear.

I would give you my roots to chew like gum
to cure your allergies or sore throat, or grind,
pour it into capsules and take as a pill, purify
all your parts so you can feel brand new.