Firewoman Shimmies at Canyon Mouth Park


Your hair—slicked flame spikes. You built this blaze

beside the shoals to mirror their brash shine.


Scavenging downed wood along the water’s edge,

collecting branches up the pass— sunshine’s spring splurge—


our daughters found tangled nests— driftwood globes—

balled stakes, stems, moss and trash—fuel for fire shine.


You dragged torn saplings down from cliffs.   Turned that Janis

Joplin on.   Busted open our beer stash.   Time to shine.


Skies popped with stars. Little River’s crevasse

echoed laughs. Moon’s slice glossed the dusk.


Conjuror—you made the fire light.  Our voices rose,

following your lead, we boogied on behalf of girl-eye shimmer.


Young moms—forest freed, passing wildness to daughters—

ceremonials past the grasp of techno shine.


You fed whole oaks—branch to trunk—onto the pyre.

Woman—make the flames jump skies.   Craft the night’s shine.





Firewoman Meets her Match


The sun revives green plots across your land,

and wakes a horde from subterranean sleep—

thousands of fire ants churning dunes

in armored metasomas, rise to claim your farm—

nemeses, adept at lifting trees

and killing chipmunks with their stings.


Last year, they filled your walls, swarmed

the laundry, infested sheets, left your skin

inflamed with wheals.


Show no mercy,

raze their nests and pour in boiling water.


Like losses which won’t give your mind full rest,

they shift a yard away, topple sunflowers,

bite your chicks, lift stones from red clay.


Stuff their beds with hot coals,

strike a bargain with these devils-come-to-stay,

This patch is yours; the rest is mine

an accord they’ll violate.


Mow the tops and watch them swarm,

throw a match on gasoline.


Raise the base

of every flowerpot, and grow immune to sting.





Firewoman Puts the Blaze to Bed


The burn ban was over.   Dragon-

faced cedar bark, poised in place

through three full moons, anticipated fire.


You were ready—stacked piles

of kindling, dried sycamore leaves, wind-

tossed pine branches, and seasoned hardwood.


With lighter pine stuffed

around, we sparked

this mythic fire mound.


The moon and the circling

lunar heat recalled

our early days—


young motherhood—longing

for wildness,

aching from moonlight.


You uncovered a goddess log

with a branching pubic crook.


I stood her in flames— caressing

oaken labia, they hollowed

her inner circle.


Our tinder drained

to coals and pocket flames.


You spread the remainders thin. Glowing

coal morsels swam in trembling

fire slivers. I grabbed a poker,

stirring the red orange circle,

drawing orbs,


snakes and fish.


Under the lunar lamp,

each image flared

anew, and pulsed

in simmering flame.


Our circle cooled, leaving

a black hole with singular


moistened with water.


Smoke mists



I roused

smoldering embers,

until we faced each


over the black-bed


and the moon’s cold shine.





Eating the Shadow


I once ate mine on the sly, from a caramel

doughnut box, sneaking one―

crisp, and soft, sticky and forbidden―

emptying the case in hopes I’d cure myself

of Mommy’s nightly sobbing.


I tried downing it with cola, planning the war

on poverty, smitten with love for Tim,

who swabbed floors after quitting college

to change the world.


I ate my own dark progeny, in bagels’ parboiled rings,

twisted and baked

for our Berkeley commune, hoping to alchemize

collective veneration

with their egg-washed, banshee whorls.


I bit my first southern summer, lustily,

dribbled purple juice down my chin,

my pies made with stolen blueberries

from an abandoned farm;


gathered throngs of poke-sallet greens,

boiled those stubborn leaves

in pot after pot of water, till all the poison leeched;

my work yielded less than a cup

of wilted leaves, but I fried them up

with bacon, and left no slimy bite forsaken.


Shadow, you don’t scare me:

I’ll transform you with fragrant spices,

sweeten you with blood orange,

and flambé you with kalamatas and brie.






A Birdwoman


Crested red hair now braided silver,

she lights no furnace in the coldest months,

saving to pay the mortgage on her acres.


In bitter winter songbirds arrive—

flocking finches, nuthatches,

indigo buntings, wrens, chickadees.


She stacks her pick-up with brush

to build a thicket for their shelter—

an arbor of pecan branches,


and heaps her green

glass bowls with sunflower seeds;

tossing feed from the concrete stoop


to woodpeckers who strut like chickens,

and chants for a time when she can get by

while tiny warblers nestle and rise.


She makes a nest for herself

from futon and tattered quilts in the truck bed,

for tonight promises meteor showers.


At sundown she drives to her land’s highest

spot—a field inside a pine ring;

she hears a mockingbird sing boldly,


she envisions an illuminated Buddha

encircled by gods and goddesses,

speaking a sermon, This troubled world is filled


with Bodhisattvas numerous as sand grains.

Watches his hand sweep over the earth—

It trembles, fields and mountains split open,


and ordinary people—farmers, fishermen,

widows, mothers, children—

immeasurable and golden— emerge from below


filling the sky like finches. The skies are gorged

with densely shooting lights. Surrounded,

she feels wing beats embrace her body,


a songbird flock lifts her, she floats

above the dark land,

the sky surges with quickened stars.








Laura Secord:

“I am a poet who received my MFA from Sierra Nevada College. I am spoken word artist, who has produced performance events, including 100,000 Poets for Change and Voices of Resistance in my community.  I have a lifelong commitment to women, the under-represented and have been an activist and health care provider for one fort years.  My poetry honors the unsung voices of women. I am the co-Founder of The Sister City Spoken Word Collective.  Here is our Facebook page