My Mother’s Robe by L.I. Henley

I wear my mother’s terrycloth

four in the morning     back in her home


renting for cheap while it waits to be sold & I wait

for a signal


wait for the coffee machine to finish


for ancient crumbs

in the knife grooves of the cutting board

to tell me a story


how to solve the equation of winter

plus no propane

plus no wood


The answer is always

So what

I like it that way…


Hello old home!     Hello hard pain!


*           *           *


Maybe I am building     sure

hammering something into shape

something that can be hammered

stone or leather



There is air moving through

a conch that I have never seen but often hear

louder & louder

it is carried to whatever desert I fling myself

it arrives in the early morning

& I must get up     get up & do what?

Dance around a bit     drink coffee fast

go to work


I am my own little shadow

& someday my body will give the gift

of availability the easiest way it can

which is to say    it will stop


*           *           *


Here we do not recognize walls as walls

& so the weather lives with us always


Last night I dreamed again about the meth-head

neighbor who drove right through

our chain-link gate


Today you & I will burn the stumps

lining my mother’s driveway

After that     we’ll take apart the redwood fence

that I used to seal & re-seal for summer cash


Today I heard a voice rushing through a conch

& got up to find the mouth      Today

my mother’s robe

is wearing me around


Keeping Our Own Names

We have one photo of the courthouse wedding

us in our shorts with two of my grandparents

in attendance     champagne & cold cuts came after


My grandfather     the retired naval officer

was only a year from death & so

drank the most     blessed us with his dancing


For the honeymoon we moved

to a cabin in Joshua Tree where


scorpions ran around the porch

like Arabian horses     Tarantulas

with monkey faces moved in like carnivals

that broke down & never left


We made a movie about escaped convicts

living on the lamb

poured brandy on our collection of stab wounds

gleamed from the local bars


& ha     remember how worried they got

when we decided to stay ourselves?

L.I. Henley was born and raised in the Mojave Desert village of Joshua Tree, California. Her chapbooks include Desert with a Cabin View and The Finding, both from Orange Monkey Press. Her full-length, THESE FRIENDS THESE ROOMS, will be published by Big Yes Press in June, 2016. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets University Award, the Duckabush Poetry Prize, and the Orange Monkey Publishing Prize. Her work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, RHINO Magazine, Main Street Rag, Askew, and other places. She co-owns and edits the online (and soon to be print) journal Apercus Quarterly with her husband, poet Jonathan Maule. Despite having multiple auto-immune conditions, she is an amateur bodybuilder and is studying to become a personal trainer.