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Pat Anthony, four poems

The Blade

he shaped knives with ash

handles like the one that bends

to the shape of her leg inside

scarred boots

gone on forty years now and still

sharp enough to cut through

burr cucumber the ropey vines

of hopweed spines of smilax

as she blazes trails

dusk drops and her hands reek

of No Hunting purple paint

she breathes in

trying to catch the scent

of her Daddy’s gasoline

stained shirt

tung oiled boots

only catches lemon

drifting from sumac

heat rising

off the river and the blade

At the Farmhouse on the Highway

She doesn’t know where they went

just that they’re gone those strands

of turquoise and hot cerise she hung

on the arms of blue berried cedars

spiking weedy pasture fence lines

leaves them anyway snips

and twists she calls the leavings

after she’s hooked another scarf

she’ll hang from the river bridge

come winter free for the taking

imagines them wrapped like ribbons

around shivering bodies beneath

those cardboard boxes dusted with snow

shoulders swaying their way to soup kitchens

sends them missives freighted with her

thoughts that echo in empty rooms where

she throws worsted like Rapunzel

goes out only to barter for more

with fall produce knickknacks slid

from dusty shelves even as she says

she doesn’t need to know where any

of it’s gone snips twists scarves produce

tchotchkes admits that when her eyes

stay open more and more on moonless nights

she might wonder every now and then

The Weight of Wool

in a woman’s gray wool coat

from Farrar’s on the Plaza

in Kansas City

her mother’s fond of telling

people how it is

first class

while she struggles with the second

hand hem dragging

tries to stand tall

to keep it

out of muddy gutters


to understand

how special it is

a find at the thrift store

on Troost

right on the bus line

being the laughingstock

at school doesn’t help

name brands tony locations

names brand

her mother cuts the shank buttons off

gray faux pearl

with silver centers

when it wears out

wool gone slick

as horse hair


a poorly cinched saddle

her shoulders too long yoked

helps cut it then

into long strips braids

a wool rug placed in the middle

of the front room by the green divan

says it’s like being walked on

She Can’t Risk Killing

poison ivy until fall

when birds nesting

on the corner post

have fled and sap

draws down the way

she feels she’s settled

into her feet today

dragging as she hikes

to the high gardens

where spurge flows out

from carrots like green water

the same color as the dead pond

its early summer layer of algae

in full bloom she searches back

through the night she can’t remember

if she dreamed the moment

when she started counting

how many fence posts keep her

inside these boundaries

so she searches daylight hours

for gates she can slip through

untwist the wire he’s wrapped

from old clothes hangers bales

of dead grass that will never feed

a horse moves the rocks that keep

the rabbits out with stealth until

she pops out over the ridge runs

toward the fields rank with wild

strawberries and sinks low to

hunker below whipping switchgrass

where she gorges on red berries

he’ll never even see her fingers

bloody with the plucking stained

presses again against the hurricane

fence dividing the back gardens

where she grew up her fingers

laced through the wire diamonds

to touch the girl on the other side

whispers falling onto strawberries

their bloodied bare feet


Pat Anthony writes the backroads, often inspired by soil and those that work it. Often using land as lens she mines characters, relationships and herself. A longtime educator, she holds an MA in Humanities Literature, Cal State, among others, poems daily, edits furiously and scrabbles for honesty no matter the cost. She has work published or forthcoming in Cholla Needles, Heron Tree, Quail Bell, Third Wednesday, Tipton Poetry Review, Open Minds Quarterly, Orchard Street Press, Passager, Red Wolf Journal, Snakeskin, The Blue Nib and others.

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