If you aren’t connected,
come to my kitchen.
It is blue,
full of big people.

This world is alive,
as good as rain, so
talk like a motionless eagle
eyeing the valley.

Build a chapel
in your mind in your hour
of inactivation. Fetch me
black pepper and
spheres full of god.

Sometimes it’s as if I am
a large part of your hands,
your primate finger,
your clapping palm.

I shall never end
in irrepressible springtime.
Give thanks.
We are already tired, yes,
my birding friends.

You can defend
painting the summer,
managing some sort of time.


I have no idea what the inspiration for this was. It has a Translation Party ring to it.


I lost my poor little doll.  The days
are cold, the nights
are long. Oh,
green was the corn
as I rode on my way.
The clouds
are scudding
across the moon.
We were crowded
in the cabin. Up
rose old Barbara Frietchie
then. No useless
coffin enclosed her breast.
Slowly and sadly we
laid her down. Three
blind mice, see how
they run. The dew
was falling fast, the stars
began to blink. Now
see her mounted
once again. I pray thee
put into yonder port;
for I fear a hurricane.
The warm sun
is failing, the bleak
wind is wailing, the bare
boughs are sighing, 
the pale
are dying.
Found in Longman’s English Grammar, 1916, with some pronouns changed


This woman hauls water
ten miles every day.
This one bends her back to grinding corn
the way her grandmothers did.

Here’s one making change in a tollbooth.
Her fingers dirtied with bills,
but she keeps her fingernails nice.
Where does she go when she has to pee?

He makes hamburgers at McDonald’s,
evenings and alternate weekends.
He lives on broken burgers and fries,
wilted lettuce with special sauce.

Who empties the public trashcans
of waspy soda bottles, pizza boxes,
candy wrappers, hamburger wrappers,
and little plastic bags of shit?

She cleans toilets in a highrise hotel,
changes the sheets that someone stained,
mucks the hairs from the drains.
A guy in the laundry bleaches the towels.

This man stocks Walmart shelves
with cheap socks and sheets
and dog poop bags made in China
by people who don’t know why.

He teaches children to read.
She knows all about
The Faerie Queen. Somebody
digs up ancient hearths and coins.

Why do people make bullets?
Somebody has to fix cars.
Lots of us know how to sing.
Are there any lamplighters left?

People in expensive clothes
sit at shiny desks and make decisions.
They sell plastic bags and corn.
They sell salt and water and guns.

People plow the country roads
and spread gravel and the salt
so people can get to work,
so people can get their mail.

People sort the mail:
catalogues that no one reads,
magazines about the problem, pleas
from charities that never seem to help.

Some people try to grow food.
Some people blow mountain tops away.
Some people make money telling other people
they can cure their cancers with prayer.

Some people pray all day.
Some people learn to die.
Some people run countries
and some people change them.

This one writes poetry.
Here’s one who feeds birds.
This man plays the bassoon.
This woman learns the names of stars.


~for Sarah Hughes

Not for gold, but for love–
your arms light and supple like wings.
Little hawklet, eaglet,
skipping along the wind in the joy,
diamonds following your flying feet.

So desperate we’ve been, for so long.
Faces tight as tambourines jangling
our despair, our hearts pounding
prophecies of destruction.
We’ve moved in spasms,
like marionettes with tangled strings.
Perhaps there is no music,
no pattern anymore.
Perhaps there never was.

But here you are at last, lovely one,
here you are laughing
as you spin and spin perfection
all around the margins of the dark.
With nothing to lose, you lost nothing,
and nothing at last was lost.


I wrote this in 2002, after watching Sarah Hughes win her gold medal.





Last winter I did not go:
no snow to guide me home,
the woods an icy swamp.

But early this year I returned–
my snowshoes catching on stubs of stick–
through hardhack and ironwood,
little hemlocks bent with snow,

eager to greet the secret oak–
her lowest branches thicker than coffins,
split trunk of porcupines and owls,
her crown of rattling leaves.

But where she had always been,
a gap in the air–

her trunk had split in two,
splintered, shattered,
all her nests and burrows broken–
a pile of limbs and sticks.

When she fell,
every small ear
must have heard.

The snow was doing its best
to cover the wreck.

Spring will return, and summer.
Bats will shelter behind the loosened bark,
beetles and worms will do their work,
woodpeckers will rip and feed.

Hurt trees die from the inside out.
Dead trees decay from the outside in.

I asked a forester how long
till she returns.  He said:
Till there’s no trace?
As long as she took to grow.