My Poetry

December 2018

Good Company in the Snowy Field
There is a moment before the white tail lifts in a short, sharp, shock and she disappears in silent bounds into the forest. In that moment, there is an inquisitiveness, an ears forward fearless gaze. Glistening snow holds the space her hooves once occupied.

An old red fox crosses the field, her broken tail askew. Head down listening, listening to the soft rustling of life beneath the snow. She pauses, still, creeping, still and pounces her headlong abandonment into the deep drift. Coming up short, she trots to the large pine and rolls in the snow.

She is in good company.

November 2018


I never became afraid of the dirt, the loamy darkness of earth
still finds its ways into the creases even when decorum and wily age say NO!
Rolling, rolling down through ferns and green slippery leaves,
bare skin picking up twigs and twines and flecks like a large human lint roller.
Blonde locks lose their thin blow-dried safety, wild earth girl tangles emerge,
a place for birds to nest. “Come and get me!” I cry into the salty breeze.
Rolling, rolling down through dunes to crashing waves,
laughter lifted to the cries of gulls and least terns that swoop their greeting.
And my beloved comes rolling too.

February 2018

Death Valley

The wind howls across the spine of shale and abraded 
rock ridgelines where Sentinels stand tall in the twilight, 
Gods watching the story of the desert night unfold.
I reach out and touch the lovingly placed stone
whose countenance reminds me of home fires,
moonlit snow crunching beneath my beloved's footstep. 

Am I too safe, too protected in the womb of this slumbering
mountain? Who am I? Bared bones, desert dry skin, with wild hair, blue dress dancing, voice lifted in song:

Sister Wind, Brother Stone...marry me home...

Reeling starlight peeks through the crevice doorway straight
into my broken heart. It shines coolly down on the desert washes
where hours ago I wandered in the blazing sun collecting
fossils and dreaming of discovering the crescent moon
curve of the magnificent Big Horn sheep, fallen among the 
shattered rocks, creosote scrub and red fruited desert holly.



I had my place at the ancient
Colosseum. A seat right up front...
until the horses thundered by
all froth and supple violence
sending shit-mud-water
raining down.

I simply cannot abide. I cast
a final gaze at vacant-eyed
corpses lifting delicate parasols,
colorful, dripping brown.
The spattered faces of my
family, so enraptured.

They did not see the sky
turn to lava, alien drones
opening fire. Do they even
know that they are dead?
I cannot not go back for them.

Instead, taking up arms, a tired
rebel, adrenaline junkie
lifting sword and shield.
Broken glass, stumbling,
black-toothed railroad ties.

I yield to a stony bank,
rough kneed, blood in my
palm, dusty sandpaper eyes.
Raven, dark winged
shawl bows my head.

And we make our escape toward the
bright forest, where the moon sheds
her clothing on oak, ash and thorn,
yew and cedar, my ancestors.

January 2016

Silence Broken

I stepped inside,
and you found me,
I saw your eyes, obsidian,
your wings frightened my hair,
little merlette mornée;
the world tilts, falling,
my breath caught,
and you at my throat.

An Impressive Anomaly

I flip my computer open in the morning and punch its keys not like the born-blind reading braille but with the brute force of the jazz pianist. I am fast on the keyboard but the curl of my fingers and vigor and flare of my pounding reminisces an old Underwood.

Last night's crumbs fly up and I take a perusal rest and sip my coffee. I have found some news of great moment.

“Scientists looking to uncover hidden chambers and other ancient secrets of Egyptian pyramids for the first time using powerful scanning technology, have detected an ‘impressive’ anomaly within the Great Pyramid of Egypt, which could indicate something hidden behind the ancient walls.”
Of course I want to know what is hidden. What could this impressive anomaly be? The treasure but a mouse click away! 
I pause, hear the fire crackle in the wood stove and the dog sigh. I look out the window and see a woodpecker tap-tapping on the old maple tree.  April 2015

Lotus Flower Awakening

There is a place that is out of time
where breath quickens and fingers twitch.
Look up, to the western sky!
There, Venus dances with the crescent moon,
and fog shifts in new greened fields.
And I, I am dreaming.

Red rock savannahs lift pinyon pines.
Thousands of birds fly riotous, a migration.
I watch knowing the mammals are next,
the slow moving reptiles and belly crawling snakes.
A pterodactyl darkens the ruby sky,
and I, I am dreaming.

In the beyond, heaves an ocean of molten lava.
Contained within, a dragon's eye sleeps.
I fear the shadow of his molten depths.
And so it is, the fiery dragon's eye when opened
is become a red and orange lotus flower.
And I, I am awakening!

February 2015


I descended from the slumber of my second youth

In a rush of salty heart beats and cries of sunlight,

To find madness in moss-covered stillness.

To you, I am an echo across the valley;

You see me now, but I am not there.

Instead lichen grows in my hair

and black dirt lifts my fingernails,

and above, the mountain, dark and snowy,

unmoving granite and shifting shale,

yields not to echos and whispering winds.

January 2015

The Warrior's Shield

He wore his shield
upon his back
like earth turtle
wears his home.
A  gleaming carapace
the length of him,
like a tree he stood.
And upon his oval spine,
ancient symbols carved,
shrouded in the primal deep,
which speaks of
The Dreaming Time.

A moment-to pause

There is a moment,
a split moment
when bloods run high
and Ole Georgie tells lies,
that the snake rides black.
In this moment, there is a gap
if one but pause and see
a tiny spark, forgiveness
that softens angry faces.
There is a moment to believe
no matter the other side,
another possibility, forgiveness,
that moves the serpent white.

Forgiveness ﴿

If I lived my life by mask and pose
the world confers a show in making,
if only the actors would all comply,
my calm would not be disrupted.

Behold the dragon with breath of fire,
to strike dark fear in fragile hearts
whose open doors defile his purpose,
of which he has no ken.

To fall asleep amid the cries
of battle wounds that echo rage,
up and through wrinkled times
of past hurts and suffering.

And yonder star on savage horizon,
that rises from slumber with salty secrets
and whispered tales of forgiveness;
to deliberately do what makes me softer.

To reveal beneath gold so long hidden,
true, limb and thought and spirit suffers,
yet hatred never ceases by hatred,
but by love alone is healed.

December 2014

Spirits Rise

In the dark of dirt and clay,
dormant wings and silent song,
pale-feather'd hearts that lay,
buried deep, the night so long.

Ancient Oak whose roots embrace
where spirit dwells in earthen keep,
cradled there awaiting grace,
like a seed there planted deep.

Rejoice the fire from sky above,
grieve the silver lost to sea,
be they gentle as a dove,
hand and hand they long to be.

Bursting forth from blacken'd ground
in unfurled wings and love unbound.


It began with music
and fell into dance
as she lifted her arms
toward the sky
and slowly began
the turning of the world,
and she became a still
flower at the center,
heart petals opening,
gently in whispers of
dusky flesh and timelessness.



In the hiss and static of worlds colliding
a darkness gathers on twitching eyelids
bodies become still breath deepens
in the distance
a white rabbit turns and hops
and down I go

Terror clutches the sleeves of some
sunlight and joy lift others
lions tigers and bear abound
hearts open through pain and grief and love

World-side the buses run
board room captives scheme their plots
bombs explode, daisies push
crushed under foot my soul

I walk through forest and desert
ice fields and teeming ocean sea
I did not know it was so far
so near only a blink
a breath away

A child appears
a girl with knife in hand
sea shells and ash and spirals
on her dark skin
a message for all the world to hear
no one knew it would be so far
so near

Worlds tilt turning spinning
I am in the garden
father smiles strong arms lift
I look up at the Yellow Spinner
she teaches there are no seekers
there is only desire.

September 2014

Oh Deep Canyon!

Long I stood on canyon brim,
A wanderer, a seeker and lost to me,
My child's sail brought tight to trim,
I sought the depths beyond the sea,
And found red rock and dusty pinyon pine,
distant clouds scuttling darkened skies,
Why me? I lament and wail opine,
my fears turned angry savage cries,
Paleozoic heart in heavy chest,
The dream led me here as before,
Yet still I stand I must confess,
I did not know this heart could soar,
And then in mortal fear I leapt,
To discover my own bottomless depth.

Breath Deep In.

My lot seems restless traffic through teaming street,
Late for work, my iphone rings,
A passing nod, no eye to meet,
And in the distance a song bird sings,
God's mountain crumbles and blocks the path,
Can forward motion not be thwarted?
He pushes through the rising wrath,
To take the hand that would be courted,
Heavens shift and dreams unfold,
to tilting worlds and wild snows,
A leap to awe and love untold,
The din of life turned river flows,
The curve of breast meets muscled skin,
The smell of Her! Deeply I breath in.

July 2014

First Sonnets


A complete accounting of the facts
requires that all must be known.
The horrors, the darkness, the calloused acts;
the loss of spirit flown.

It must be that something is wrong
that all the tides have turned to sea,
but that I would break into song
to feel the sea in me.

Never before had I seen the sun,
hidden as it was behind the moon.
And once the song had begun,
it fell from lips as if a rune.

A secret language long held bound,
to fill the air with joyous sound.


If everything was blood and tears,
fire blacken'd stone tombs...
A darkened ship whose angry rudder steers
and slips on water washed from wombs.

If everything was only light reflected,
muted sounds and subtle tones...
Temples of avarice and lust erected
and me just dust and bones,

Would I wander lost in hell,
only remembering sun combust?
Would not all sound become a knell,
never again my heart to trust?

And yet still I fall a new born fawn,
in pink and orange expanding dawn.

June 2014

A Cry to Heaven

Little girl hand hovers over keys.
Horizontal slats, bright light.
Fingers curled, reaching.
Black and white striped ivory clad.
Dusty train car. Steel rails of death.
Fingers crash to keys.
Hammers strike steel strings.
Girl lifts head, a cry to heaven!

In the Blood

He paused, 1000 year old, alabaster skin
Viking warrior, feral in the blood.

We stood facing the horizon
and stepped out of time.

I turned and saw the world-side
water made, the desert gone.

Sparkling blood water offered,
into the holy grail of me, filled.

May 2014

Litany: The Lamb

When I was small, I had a lamb in me.
Shy and soft and vulnerable
She lay down in white snow
and her black fleeced head
lay down soulful eyes and slept
Lost under the snow in a dark wood.

When I was small, the lamb cried
searching cry, hungry cry, lost cry
wandering lamb listening for the return call
fear entered sharp, short, shock
beast in howling wind, branches snap
lost lamb in a dark wood

When I was small, I awoke
little lamb neck and legs stretching,
back arched, rising heart opening excited
lamb cries raised to the heavens
the flock was there in thicket and field
a small dog with a red ball brought her home

And I was small.

Haiku, 2012 - 2013

I began writing Haiku style poems in the summer of 2011 mostly around what I would see on my small homestead farm. In 2012 I began writing them based on images from my dreams. This style poem is to evoke a feeling through the image presented in the poem. The poems shown here are all related to images from my dreams. Each Haiku stands alone:

A blackberry winter girl –
Arms around the Father’s waist,
She says, “I love you”.

Black seeds organizing,
Growing shutter fast, in quick time-
Desolate soil turns green.

Yellow Spinner heals:
The boy starts to scream in pain,
As the demon leaves.

Running on all fours:
I cannot run fast enough
To ever escape Him…

Bull moose at the door,
Stomping his fierce hoof at me-
Potent, powerful…

Old woman in field:
She is planting the garlic;
I don’t have to.

Woman in blue robe,
Dark hair and summer blue eyes…
Distant sea beckons.

Subway entrances;
Glistening trains ride rails down…
All stops lead to Him.

Loss of the Father:
I found him in the garden;
He lifts me up high.

Yellow eyes in jungle;
Moonlight sparkles all around…
The boy and wolf run wild.

All content © 2012 - 2019 Laura M. Smith-Riva