Three Poems

Amber Norwood


The cows will lie down,
scattered bulbs, black and white,
the product of carelessness in seed time—
and the sky will be bound

to horizon by lace,
the saguaro praise,
buck horn cholla supplicate.

The sun replaced by sparks in web,
neatly chaotic,
a long-planned wedding.
A veil cleaved, broken,

fingers the dry beds
that should be overflowing:
Snake. Milpitas. Holy Moses

wash. And the sky will part, displace
for tender black underbelly
a pewter back,

a thick-breathed surety
that this desert’s fever
is no ordinary illness

but an annual seizure:
now we know to tether.
bring the rag for her mouth.

A storm less angered
than exasperated, less violent
than worn, a riot

both faith-inducing and commonplace.


As Many as There are Types of Grass

The morning is sweet from shears that raze
the fields, from rain carving
estuaries into soil: pastures are the sea

here, just as savage
in complacency. We choke
on a history of removal:

displace land and body for better
crop and tribe. What man
does not revise, the landscape swallows

and returns in novel form. Cavities in earth
strain as hills are born, covered in blades that mark
what it means to be one of many, or not one of others.

In each mile, one patch remains greener, younger;
As you pass on the highway, see
a wash of grass like house paint spilled,

and ask the spot that catches your eye
(though you already know):
what are you waiting for?



knows her back is a scab bearing weight
of fingers, and compensates by scratching
drought with truth: I do not need
what I cannot have I do not need what I cannot—

Nevada knows absence can be repaired by sound,
a jingle digitally replaced by race track. Train
cars in red and blue are veins that bring oxygen to the tender place then take it away.

We justify breaks between scar and her heartbeat, make distance okay;
the train moves us toward marks for altitude:
we made it here, we can make it here, we can scamper
Nevada, the roads that suggest

not all wounds are worth their healing.
A man may weave hair into wigs for dancers, but some days make up
and red lights will make up for a lack, and always, she knows
what it is we are missing.

Amber Norwood teaches writing at a few colleges in and around Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband and cat. When she is not teaching writing, or commuting between colleges, she is making music and writing poems. Her work has previously appeared in Prick of the Spindle, The Northridge Review, and in other journals. E-mail: amber.norwood[at]

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