I would love someone else to blame.
When things break—when I
break things: Seedlings, pillars,
the glass top of my desk.
My worse angels have raggy wings.
They cackle and spit.
Have mercy on us all.
I would give up poetry for joy.
I would love someone else to blame.
When things break—when I
break things: Seedlings, pillars,
the glass top of my desk.
My worse angels have raggy wings.
They cackle and spit.
Have mercy on us all.
I would give up poetry for joy.
Every wedding recalls every wedding.
I twist the band on my finger.
The groom’s father with his old lover,
recent wife. The steadfast grandparents.
All those promises about fidelity.
How things blend together—
flowers, colors, the musics.
Sooner or later (and may it be sooner)
everyone will recognize our common face
ANOTHER SCHOOL SHOOTING
if you believe
of being a star,
It’s because the
Last night, the chorus I sing in had its last practice with our long-time conductor. I wrote this this morning, thinking of her and our time together:
THE LAST SONG
~for Susan Borg
Every song is the last.
How can I keep from singing—
that group in the church loft,
remember? and we stopped
and looked around, amazed.
No audience but ourselves.
Francois and Chuck over the rainbow,
with tears in their eyes and our eyes.
Hallelujah on New Year’s Eve
and the audience sang, too.
Hearth and Fire that last night,
all together, my voice breaking
as I met your eyes. Every song
is the last—each song, each time,
these singers, where they are,
what they carry, what they hold,
what they let go.
IT’S A WINDY DAY
Mother Hölle’s coiling up thin threads of whirling rain. Tick, I hear her reel click. Deer on tiptoe carve a twisty path to the curving creek where swallows gyre at hatching flies encircling boys who cast and spool at trout turning through water’s whorl. In the spinning sky, silk dragons entwine, their tails entangle in the wind.
June 5, 2009
We keep showing you:
The little frogs, the birds.
Islands and mountains,
Brown leaves out of season.
Trees move so slowly.
Don’t let dread freeze you;
ice is deadly as heat.
Stamp your feet.
And promise us
you’ll save something:
of hallowed ground.
Last hold of winter, grip of dark and cold,
our times of gathering close by the fire.
Tomorrow the maiden will strew flowers,
tomorrow the furrow, the scattered seed.
But tonight, once more belongs to the old
who know to sit quiet and count the stars.
Blessed sameness in the passing of years—
mountain snows flowing from river to sea,
trout lily leaves poking out from the mould,
rhythm of courting and birthing and tears.
Shall we gather tonight on the mountain?
Shall we sing together the last winter hymn?
Already the children dance by the fountain.
In the light of the sun, our fire grows dim.
I think it was during National Book Week that people on facebook used to post, say, the 3rd sentence on page 52 of whatever book was closest at hand. This is a found poem from 2012, cobbled together from a bunch of those sentences.
IMPOUNDING THE OVERFLOW
Methanogens, red paper hearts,
white paper lace, cartoon cupids,
grey seals, are archaea.
The central brainstem stands up
like a fist on an arm, renowned
for many haul-out sites
over and around it,
dominating it both physically and mentally..
Every computer fits easily on the page
by impounding the overflow
from the spring into a reservoir.
Besides being a theological dilemma,
it is also a judicial one–
think about it critically.
I think it was this line of reasoning
that roused me or maybe
it was my desperation that made
me unconsciously pound the door
with the back of my head.
That was, ‘I love you.’
Obtain title to “desert land”
by irrigating twenty acres.
As you begin, understand
that the Indians’ new homes
are ‘settled, fixed, and permanent.’
as a product of their metabolism.
Lounge in the sun and enjoy
the abundance of fish
Consider the Indians friends and neighbors.
Produce the flammable, odorless
gas methane. Explore flash
content on other webs.
Go to sleep now like a good child.
Cooper treads through the darkness,
enters the tent, and is asleep instantly.
Sick, and trying to remember
the grandchildren, who started this.
Sick, and thinking of refugees sick
in tents in terrible weather. Sick
and tryng to be grateful for clean water,
warm blankets, my blue mug,
tea, fuel to heat the water. Grateful
for music on the radio all night,
the pressure of the dog’s sturdy body
beside me on the bed.
THE OLD LADY DISCOVERS FACEBOOK
AND OFFERS A SORT OF APOLOGY
All you want to do
is touch. It used to be easy,
while winnowing grain or stalking beasts.
Your bodies remember
the smell of sweat in the longhouse,
gossip by the well,
embraces under the trees.
Once you spoke while hanging wash
or mending nets or minding babies
or scything hay or boiling sap
or making shoes or spinning thread
or pounding nails or stitching quilts.
you are scattered like chaff,
dispersed as hunted game,
and so are we.
Oh, children, do not complain at us!
We are as exiled as you.
Like you we want to find our friends
and digging is so hard.
as you, we post lines
and flickers to our tornaway tribes.
Now the ether carries in bits
our sketchy sentences, our loneliness,
tears that this strange communication
without skin or breath can maybe begin to mend.
I wrote this years ago, when I first joined facebook. Now that I’ve deleted my account, I find it intriguing that this was the original intent.
(Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite)
She set aloft smooth on her slim white rocket
into the blue air above the sea,
the shape of fire around her like wings.
Her great voice diminished as she rose.
An angel made from bits of Earth,
sent out because we cannot bear,
in all the heavens, to be alone.
Oh, the wildness of the teller in her cave of bone!
She finds dragons in stumps, faces in every carpet.
The smell of whisky, the texture of satin,
a whisper behind a half-closed door,—
how will she make it cohere?
Was it once upon a time, or ever after?
Snakes and bears are real enough,
and mirrors trying to reflect what’s fair.
She searches her fallible senses
entwined with shadowed remembrances
and pieces a pattern, a dream, a tale— something
that might be true, or that someone might believe.
No weather lasts forever.
Even this craziness, this winter
that doesn’t want to end.
The sun is still up there,
above the heavy clouds.
There are currants driving the winds.
The blackbirds have returned
and are searching for seeds
and the robins have found the sumac.
It is our grandson’s third birthday.
He talks all the time;
he’s trying to read.
Our granddaughter will be one
two days from now. She
is walking, and working on words.
Small plants, lettuces and pansies,
are growing in greenhouses
and the farmers are potting up tomatoes.
My nephew is feeding his chickens
and gathering the eggs.
There are new black calves in the pasture.
Sometimes I can believe
that the world doesn’t matter,
that what matters is the earth,
and the people who do good work
every day, who walk their dogs
and love their friends.
10 RULES FOR POETRY, #9
Don’t keep anything for yourself:
the scent of white iris or wild grape flowers,
the empty spaces between stars,
the russet tail of the crested flycatcher
and his raucous, tuneless voice. Don’t keep
linnet’s wings, or the hummingbird
who bathed this morning
under the spray of your garden hose,
or the scarlet tanager, always just
out of sight in the oak.
And don’t keep uncertainty. And tell us
when you mourn. When you are afraid,
don’t hold it close. When the world
is too much with you, when darkness
comes every morning, when the center
cannot hold, when everything
you love is falling away, when dust
is rising and settling on every inch
of grass and skin, when the brief
candle flickers, don’t keep it.
Tell us, tell us how we aren’t alone.
Honorable mention Comstock Review contest, Fall/Winter 2016
Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.
But this is my circus:
the bareback rider dancing in perfect balance
between the prancing horses,
the spangled artists on the flying trapeze.
The fire-eaters are mine,
the troupe riding unicycles across the wire.
The whole sideshow is mine.
These are my elephants, stolen from the forests;
these are my unhappy lions.
The clowns, of course, are mine,
emerging from their tiny car,
swarming around the ring,
beeping their noses,
stumbling over their feet. But
Not the monkeys.
This lot of monkeys
was never mine.
published on the facebook page “Rattle Poets Respond,” July 24, 2017
an older one:
A statue of the Virgin Mary,
weighing 250 pounds, has disappeared
from a shrine outside a Vermont church.
Police have searched a nearby forest
and cemetery, to no avail.
~June 15, 2012
Tired of inactivity, disgusted
by the behavior of some, infuriated
by the treatment of others, alarmed
by heat and melting ice, bored
with candles and flowers,
The Blessed Mother shook her feet
loose from the cement and shed
her heavy cloak. Police
will find that later,
along with the halo,
caught on a snag
under the bridge.
Where is she now?
A thin woman in a white dress–
she might be anywhere.
If I were so inclined, I might
tell them to look
at the Farmers’ Market.
Or in the hospital
cafeteria. Maybe she’s reading
in the park. Or maybe
she’s just gone
to that place where all good divinities
go, where it’s quiet,
where nobody needs anything.
Where nobody even remembers your name.
Sing in me, Muse, and through me tell the story
of poets in April, of twists and turns.
Driven to and fro by words and noise,
haunted, solid, cursed, concealed.
Many things they saw: unpeeled oracles,
flying seducers, flights of sparrows,
long months dressed in black or gold.
Thrumming weathers pulsed through their bones.
Even so they saved each other from disaster,
no gods or sirens seduced them.
their own wild recklessness kept them all–
children and fools, they ate the moon,
their muses leapt into their arms
and wept and laughed, and explained their lives.
Wrote this one in 2013.
BLACK CAT ZACH
I am the only one who spells
his name correctly: Zachariah.
He appreciates that, and rewards me
by losing hair on a patch of his belly,
by leaving half-eaten mice on the rug,
by snagging my sweaters with his claws.
He is seven years old today.
Climber, racer, shoulder-sitter,
keyboard menace, (;ljhd )
friend of Thumbs Magee,
destroyer of plants and china bowls.
His beauty covers his sins.
WE HAVE NO WORD
. . . for that feeling when the car pulls away
carrying the children home and the house
is quiet again as it always is now
except when they come
with their suitcases and boxes and diaper bags
and sippy cups and potty chair,
and we take the portable crib
and the high chair out of the attic
and the blocks and wooden train and smurfs
and drum and tambourine out of the trunk,
and the three-year old takes the big metal bowls
and the measuring cups and spoons
out of the cupboards and we
take the old picture books off the shelf
and make sure the camera batteries are charged.
And when they go, we put it all back
and get that feeling that has no name.
March Prompt #12
It wasn’t aimed at me,
but the blow broke
all I see
April Prompts are welcome.
I bought one for the first time in decades.
I’m wearing it.
What possesed me?
It has suddenly become important,
like the high heels Martha wore
the day she got her general’s stars.
Those men, suited or uniformed,
slick-shaved, striding to the podium,
and the unapologetic click of Martha’s heels.
This is the sound of it, I thought.
The shift. The change.
This is what it sounds like.
Did you listen close
while Nancy defended the kids?
A powerful old woman
dancing forwards. And not
just in high heels, but stilettos.
Did you listen to Emma,
the power of her stillness,
unashamed of tears?
Not for men’s pleasure,
these symbols of our power:
lipstick, high heels, short skirts.
Maybe it was Eve who woke me up:
This short skirt is mine.
I am old enought to remember
Bella’s hats, first the necessity,
then the pleasure.
Maybe it was our hats,
those cute pink hats with ears.
We grabbed the derogatory,
transformed it into strength.
What change looks like.
Even tears are power.
It’s what we’re doing now
in our leggings and boots,
and running shoes and fleece,
our torn jeans and t shirts and hoodies
our shawls and scarves,
our nursing bras and aprons.
And yes, in our lipstick and four-inch heels.
IS THAT MT. MARCY?
March Prompt #11
. . . or Manford? Or Mohegan? I think it
starts with M. One of those old volcanoes,
or maybe a whatchamacallit like
in earth science. Block fault? Strip fault? Or wait—
folded up? Like something pushed it. Like a
layer cake. Anyway, it’s a mountain,
and a tall one by the looks of it, but
it’s hard to tell here, with all the mountains
everywhere and the hills leading up. Not
like at home where they just come up—POW!—out
of the flat. You can tell. You can see one
a long ways off and just look at it. For
miles. And it gets bigger the closer you
get. It doesn’t come and go like these, these—
what? Ozarks? Pocos? Andirons? One of
those, maybe, or Blue, or something like that.
THE CHILEAN SKELETON
March Prompt #10
There was nothing to do but baptize it—
God forgive me—that tiny dead thing.
It was still warm, still damp with its mother’s
blood. They were afraid to wash it,
she said, afraid the water would kill it
before they could get it here, to save
its soul. The least they could do, they said.
She kept crossing herself, the grandmother
who brought it to the church. She kept
crying, afraid the girl had sinned, afraid
she herself had sinned. I did what I could.
I blessed her. I lighted candles for the girl.
I washed the little thing in clean water,
sealed it with the cross, wrapped it
in a linen cloth. I offered to bury it,
but the grandmother said they’d see to that.
It’s what women do, she said.
All Ours, II
It was my grandson they shot,
though mine is three, and white,
and doesn’t live in Sacramento
and as I write is probably playing
with his sister or his toy dog.
His radiance, his embrace.
How he learned to walk.
His first words. The funny way
he said Nan-NAH. He was
mine. How you anyone forget,
how could you forget,
he was also yours.
DEFINITELY NOT A ROBOT
March Prompt #9
Even though, now and then,
I click and whirr. Even though,
now and then, I need to shut down,
amnd recharge. My circuits
are not logical, not digital.
The nightingale, that organ
of delight. Peanut butter
for the dog. One thing does not
lead to another. If this, then
that, but only on Fridays.
This pimple in my nose
makes me want to sneeze.
How much stage direction
do I need to put in? And
margins. Good Friday next
week. Gotta burn those palms.
Storefronts. Street signs.
March Prompt #8
90% of everything is crap.
Crumpling works for poems and stories and manuscripts,
for drawings and lighter paintings, too, perhaps.
Crumpling and tossing, with a flourish, into the basket,
and missing sometimes, so that the floor
is dramatically, artistically strewn. Later,
one’s lover can retrieve a piece, smooth
it out and say, “Why, this is genius!”
and the rest is history.
Burning is excellent. Oh, the notebooks and canvases
crackling in flame while one cackles
and takes long swigs from a bottle of red wine!
Bonfires are best. Small fires on the edge
of the driveway arose the suspicions of neighbors.
Is there genius feeding the fire?
Who knows? Who cares?
One can always claim that, in after years.
THE CHAIR THAT WAS FIRST OWNED BY MY GREAT-GREAT UNCLE ASA
March Prompt #7
He wasn’t actually my uncle. He was my cousin’s uncle, on the other side of her family, you see, but we called him uncle because of that chair. It was passed on to my cousin’s Great Aunt Martha (not my great-aunt, just hers) who was his second daughter-in-law, and she passed it on to her son Freddy, who of course was my cousin’s actual uncle. He was the youngest in that family. Johnny, the middle one, married a Brady girl, and we have, at least my husband has, connections to the Bradys since his sister-in-law’s first husband was a Brady, and her oldest daughter. She didn’t marry his brother till he died. My husband’s. brother. Anyway, Freddy—my cousin’s real Uncle Freddy but we all called him that, used to come to Thanksgiving at my Aunt Bet’s. She was my cousin’s mother, Dad’s sister. So he was my uncle’s brother by marriage. He was the oldest. Never married. No one ever said why, but we have our suspicions. And one Thanksgiving, when he sat down at the table on that rickety old chair—you know how everybody has to haul out all the chairs at Thanksgiving if there’s a big crowd and there was always a big crowd at Aunt Bet’s since she and Dad were two of seven and Uncle John—not the John who married the Brady girl—that was Freddy’s brother—my uncle who was Aunt Bet’s husband had the same name— was one of four and by then they all had kids, except Uncle Freddy, and she always took in strays besides. People, I mean, but she did take in some cats, too, but mostly they stayed up in the barn except that orange one that everybody called Blink because it was missing an eye. But he sat on that old chair and even though he was pretty skinny it broke under him. Bumped his head on the edge of the table on his way down. We all laughed, and so did he, but he was never the same after. Neither was the chair, so Uncle John threw the chair in the fire and Uncle Freddy had to sit on a stack of apple crates they hauled in from the shed.
People who stay and people
who go, or something like,
and one must decide, and
oh, I’ve stayed and stayed,
a Moomin behind the stove,
a Fillyjonk unwilling to open
the curtains to the light.
And there are things: tassels
and white seashells, my handbag,
the equipment I need to make
pancakes and poems, things a tent
could never hold. And yet, in Spring,
in Fall, when the geese are going
or coming, sometimes I wonder
why I am staying.
If you don’t know Tove Jansson’s Moomintrolls, it’s time you met them.
March Prompt #5
(Especially for Maggie)
Not far from here in place or time,
there is, in a closet, a box.
A perfect place for mice
with yarns of purple, blue, and green,
too many colors to name.
Soft yarns, striped ones, sparkling ones,
neat in balls and skeins,
stacked by size in pleasing array.
But late at night—when else?—
when the woman of the house is asleep,
they come. Not mice because of cats,
a tribe of tiny folk. Who knows
where they live in the day?
Their work is simple.
By sunrise the box is a mare’s nest,
a gallimaufry, salmagundi.
The Tanglers will not be distracted
by good seeds to sort from bad.
Bowls of milk left for them would be
drunk anyway by cats, tiny garments ignored.
Oh, to have the focus of a Tangler,
a single-minded dedication to a task.
Any task at all.
TALK IN MARCH
What does one do about talk
in March? An hour
of medicines, what-he-said,
the kitchen needs paint.
When it’s March and snow
again and sidewalks and roadsides
are full of slush and one can’t
stretch out. When no one can.
When all our talk is weather
and how terrible the news
and how hard to sleep.
When minds need color
and clear space, just one
thing clean and new born.
PERSEPHONE’S WISH SONG
I will not be forever
maiden—that flimsy dress,
the little bouquet.
I am tired, so tired of helping
Mother with the spring.
Nor do I want to sit, solemn,
beside my ancient lord.
I am too old to be innocent,
too young to be still.
I want to be Queen of November,
Queen of March,
of coming snow and melting snow,
of browning leaf and stirring root.
Queen of half-moon, gibbous moon.
Queen of labor room, death bed,
first cry, last word.
I want long bright corridors,
doors and windows open
to the music of water
and changing wind.
A land where every step is new.
I want to be Queen
of sketchbook, unrehearsed script,
melody stirring in the throat.
Queen of poems that twitch
just out of reach,
Queen of stories emerging
from the dark.
This snowstorm’s not exactly late,
In fact, they happen all the time.
This sort of thing’s what we expect
For living in a Northern clime.
Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean
It’s something we appreciate–
Wouldn’t it be more comforting
If winter had a closing date?
~a response to yet again another daylight saving time hangover
Clocks should be limp, like Dali’s,
should flow into the tunes we sing,
the love we make. Clocks should
liquify and drip from the eaves,
turn to jelly and ooze through cracks
in walls and floors. Clocks should be
loose, relaxed, rubbery, unsettable.
Clocks should be like glue, like wicking,
like olive oil. Clocks should be
controlled only by cats or lazy dogs.
COMING TOWARD HOME
I want to love things all by myself,
not looking sidelong to see
if others are loving them, too:
the sky like old blue glass held in by a tracery of trees,
the great horned owl’s cynical question–
the falling cold stars of snow.
One night I snowshoed in the woods alone,
the full moon lamplight gleaming
through the lace of soft snow clouds.
Coming toward home I saw in the frame of an uncurtained window
the painting of a summer orchard
above my piano against the green wall,
my husband moving across the kitchen with his teacup.
I thought I would break for joy.
This is an old one. It was published in Calyx, in September, 2000
It came like a lion.
A wet lion, irritable,
shaking its sopping mane,
its soggy feet splattering
snow globs everywhere.
March Prompt #1
No purpose but pleasure:
Tai Chi before breakfast,
coffee’s bitter “Aha!”
Not to clean the air
but because it’s lovely,
the pink cactus flower
above the desk.
Bread is not nutrition.
Wine is not a drug
to make you live long.
It’s not exercise,
the morning walk
with the dog.
THE CRUELEST MONTH
Here, it’s March.
The back door was opened.
Now it’s closed.
We don’t know what to wear,
where to turn.
The petals of yesterday’s crocuses
are frightened stiff today.
And Lent, of course,
our season of deprivation.
The less you eat, the longer you live.
The dog has to go out, never mind chill below zero.
On this deserted street, through my muffled head
I hear the nine o’clock bells ringing
from the steeple of the Federated Church.
An old familiar carol.
I stop to listen while the dog sniffs
a plastic tricycle left beside the sidewalk.
“The world in solemn stillness lay” is it?
“To hear the angels sing”? Yes.
A pause, and then “Once in Royal David’s City.”
Through carelessness or a great kindness,
through the misery of March,
Christmas rises triumphant.
Now, through the instability of things,
I need this wild sweet music so much more
than I did in December’s beginning time.
There is a time to sing,
to eat and drink abundance,
a time to remember the return of light,
youth and brilliance, salvation,
the givenness of everything.
There is no one else on the street,
so I begin to sing along:
“with the poor, and mean, and lowly. . .”
The dog looks up at me, puzzling,
and wags her tail.
VIEW FROM THE TOP
From here, the garden:
four stiff stalks of kale,
black leaves folded frozen.
Snow halfway up the rabbit fence.
The old wooden gate to the compost,
center brace broken,
its screen torn and propped till spring.
Will there be spring?
Two spiral stakes mark volunteer
asparagus, one marks the long bed
where under snow and straw
the garlic sets its roots.
I. Unum Deum
Nothing bursts into being.
Universes bruise together.
Where did the surface scatter first?
What if every what if is real?
The word we need is Emanuel.
II. Et incarnatus est
Comprehension: the whole
with its layers of gravity, darkness
at the center beyond the constant light.
Every fragment gathered.
One bread, one cup. Water
is wine, enemies beloved.
Every anxiety, every wound
of every small being wound
back into the singular dark where
division fails, the powers fall.
At the intersection of love and pain
all coheres, and is raised.
It’s fire we breathe,
the gas of burning
cooked out from the deaths of stars.
Brood across our chaos,
flame through our loss,
singing our every tongue.
Fear not. We will conceive.
Cheating. I wrote this a long time ago.
EARLY MORNING TAI CHI
Slow, the Jade Lady works the shuttle.
There was a dream about the dead cat
who did Tai Chi whenever she moved,
stepped with great care, raised one paw
in graceful greeting.
he can’t move slowly doesn’t mean
I have to hurry all the time. The coffee
makes a sound going into the blue cup,
the pen whispers words on the page.
There is no hurry. The grave
will still be there.
FINDING TOYS ON THE STREET
Winter Prompt # 28
He’s on the second shelf between
the first doll I made and the bricks
I use as bookends. I suppose
he once was plush with brown velvet
paws. I never knew him plush.
One amber eye is nearly blinded
with the straggle. His joints
are still good. Maybe his mouth
and nose were embroidered
by Mother, who found him
in a trash can in front of Veterans’ Row
when she was pregnant with me
and had no money for toys.
She was learning how to live
with a husband with PTSD,
the farm boy she married—
and Mother all the way from Cleveland—
waking screaming with flashbacks
of the crashing planes, the burning
friends. Later the bear—I named
him Pooh—taught me
about steadfastness and make-believe.
About comfort and the importance
of a second chance.
SOMETHING LEFT BEHIND IN A PLACE YOU’VE NEVER BEEN
Winter Prompt #27
I left two novels.
I left five collections of poems
and scripts for six plays. I left
an article about conodonts
and a treatise on the rights of women.
I left them on that island in Maine—
I can never remember its name—
it was a two hour ferry ride—
where I didn’t live
in a small, low house in a meadow.
Not right on the shore since I couldn’t
afford it, but a short walk to the rocks
where I didn’t sit with my notebook
and my thermos of coffee
early every morning
whenever the weather permitted.
I left a few pottery bowls there, too,
a cello, a field of daffodils,
and in the shallow soil the buried bones
of a couple of dogs I loved.
Oh, and a little lilac bush that didn’t
amount to much because of the wind.
In memory of Ursula K. Le Guin
Winter Prompt #26
Tear it all up—
old bills and tax returns, bank
statements, stock certificates,
manuals and guarantees.
But don’t stop
there. Tear up all the useless
books: archaic sciences, outdated
histories, smug theologies,
the whole thick body
of masculine pronoun,
life as battle,
possession as the highest good.
Winter Prompt # 25
Holiday Point, South Hero,
that summer between houses.
Popham Beach in the fog,
the first time I met the sea.
Fred’s Beach, Fourth of July,
hotdogs. Fireworks over the water.
White Strand of the Blasket, inviting,
dangerous, like its mothering land.
Kitty Hawk, where the first flight paths
are measured by stones.
THE FIRST TO
Winter Prompt #23
We were always doomed,
we pioneer women, plodding,
we thought, toward a new land
while the residents of the old one
were sliding grumbling into their graves.
The lightless caves
were full of bears,
the forests wild with tigers.
Eagles screamed and fell
from the startling sky.
Nothing was easy.
The young ones have not followed.
How can we blame them?
The roads we made ended,
not in the City of God
but in the broken place we started from.
Some of us are still here
in our Gothic stonepiles,
wrapped in albs and stoles
tending a dying fire.
Some of us look sideways,
step into small houses
with open doors and warm beds,
with gently lighted windows.
We are making bread, sharing wine.
And some of us are climbing peaks
we could not imagine
when we started our long walk.
Our music drifts down
into the cities, shakes the towers,
rings the ancient bells.
Winter Prompt #22
I used to study this stuff:
mantle, crust and core.
The mantle and core poetic,
the thin dark covering
of protection, something
a goddess might wear,
or a saint.
the golden heat—at least
golden in the texts—
at the center. The wobble,
the weight. But
recalls chicken pox blisters,
chapped lips, skinned knees,
burnt toast on school-day
instablility. Not poetic,
ALL YOU CAN HEAR
“All you can hear is the wind and the stars and the fog and the snow.”
~Arthur, age 2 3/4
He can hear the stars.
His father did not ask
the sound they make.
It is too solemn a sound,
too private to describe.
Have you heard it?
After the soft snowing stops,
and Orion comes striding
through a gap in the clouds
with his dogs at his heels?
A COUNTRY-WESTERN SONG
Winter Prompt #21
He came through the night,
runnin’ all alone.
All he’d had to eat
was a thrown-out chicken bone.
This old cat has seen a lot of years
From the night I saw him first—
A streak of white across the drive,
Just fur and bones, but real alive,
All hunger, fight and thirst.
We trapped and took him to the vet
We thought we’d set him free
When he was fixed and had his shots,
But it turned out he liked us lots—
My good old man and me.
So now he’s sleeping on the chair
All full of fish and cream.
It goes to show that any stray
Just needs a hand along the way
To realize his dream.
Refrain, fading. . . .
Winter Prompt #20
Whenever I look, I see you twice.
The tent in the forest by Texas Falls
and the couch where you go
those nights you can’t sleep.
The rocky lake shore
in the moonlight and wind
and the chair where you doze with the cat.
This double vision is a peculiar
blessing to the old,
living as we do in many places
with so much behind
and so much less ahead.
Winter Prompt #19
No problem. I never, ever
remember her. Waking at 4 a.m.,
that old fear clutching—I am not
remembering Matilda. Walking
by the sea, filling my pocket
with white pebbles, admiring
the pair of osprey hovering
beyond the tide-line, I do not
think of Matilda. Stretching
my ice-cleats over my boots,
clipping the leash on the dogs’ collar,
following the ways of rabbits
through the snow—no Matilda.
Singing lonesome madrigals,
buying onions and soap,
drinking coffee with my husband,
feeding the cats,
reading to our grandson—
Matilda never enters my mind.
I have long list of sorrows,
but the one thing I do not regret —
I never remember Matilda.