Peggy Shumaker
Horny Toads


Vodka bottles
stashed in the ragbag

torn out knees
in pajamas with feet

her daughter
never took off,

too small
in winter, cut off

in summer,
four grubby seasons.

Palo verde bent back
white spines scraping green skin,

writing in languages
no one alive

could speak, palo verde
bent back, pliable

feathers velvety
as the drunken tongue

we waited for her
to outgrow, silent

as horny toads
leathery bellows

burrowed into
brick-hard earth.