Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Shore of Tomorrow

Let us take our time
when it is given to us
and how.
Take our time in our fists
and haul it to our breasts
as a fisherman hauls a net -
full and slippery
and splashing with now-life
caught in the sea of then
on the shore of tomorrow.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Winter's Quiet Zone

We enter winter's quiet zone
with grey and feathered wisdom in our hands
a fine soft promise
that floats on the wind
an angel's tufted down
the brittle bones of the hereafter
assembled in a crone's scepter
cupped in dry fingers
with translucent glowing skin.
A breath will carry it away.
Attend and notice now.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Why Bother?

Mountains of stories
Floor to ceiling thoughts
Food for worms
Rooms full of
tired legs and
tired eyes in
spider worlds
that weave through
corners and covers
with dew-dabbled blood-thirst

Strings of bodies
Lives that line the streets
Riding escalators elevators incubators
Up and Down, Up and Down
Round and round
Swings and see-saws and tilt-a-whirls
Cotton candy
Spilled ice cream
Torn ticket stubs
Street-sweepers sorting confetti
after the parade

sand and waves and drops and grains
galaxies and ants and seeds
scattered in well-tilled fields
of scorched earth
and parched corn
awaiting sobbing clouds

shoe boxes in thrift stores
children and families and
grandmothers' rings and things
albums worn thin at their velveteen edges
lacy water stains grin from leather-bound covers
fifty cents a piece or five for a dollar

flints and pottery and
mud-caked bodies clasping each other close
at the moment of annihilation
Pompeii goes boom.

Three trees full of thieves
and a savior
under the thundercloud skies
ten thousand soldiers died
no one knows their names
holds their shrouds
leads their crowds
puffs of dust on long-gone

Every new mind steps up
with visions of sugar-plums
and one sour grape
waiting to burst its skin
and squirt its juice
into the mouths of babes

So we ordered Chinese food
basked in electricity
shot up our veins
with a thousand insanities
and stood in Costco
selling ourselves
in bulk

Monday, October 24, 2016

Election 2016: Good Enough for Government Work

There is a place where we are good enough.
In that place we can let go of folded sheets and oil of olay
and bathroom scales.
In that place dust gathers without consequences
and Mr. Clean and the Brawny Towel Man hide in a bottle
while I-Dream-of-Jeannie wreaks havoc at sea
like Puck set free.
In that place, hair styles change every second
like a mood ring on your head
and psychedelic colors cavort across bodies of every gender
with no hidden meaning.
In that place a pantsuit is a miniskirt is a burka is
culottes capri pants cut-offs low-risers hip-huggers
bikini brief knock-offs
and clothing is the same as going nude.
In that place where we are good enough
we speak bravely to the boss
and sleep the sleep of the just
just because we
And in that place
And in that place
And in THAT place
are good enough for government work.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Garden Epiphany

Life defies housekeeping.
It spills over edges,
reaches for the sun,
topples itself,
messy and uncontained,
   demanding and delicate,
          diverse, entangling,,
                 unpredictable -

The riotous spikes of a rosemary bush
The crocosmia leaves' refined swoosh
The potted hydrangea's fat purple blooms
The yellow roses' buttery swoons
A single bird that tweedles its tune

And the counterpoint caw
of a death-hued crow.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

future past perfect: a prophecy

when you get lost in the forest
you will be
you will have
no armor
you will
strip naked
and enter the darkest of caves
with nothing
but a flickering torch

Friday, September 23, 2016

Auntie Duchess

Auntie Duchess,
cool as cotton sheets in summer,
her smooth fingers dancing
with acrobat grace through nested hair
to leave behind a trail
of tightly braided rows,
"Hush now, hush now.
It's all the ashes of a burnt up day."

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Chainsaw on Cherry Wood

I find nothing beautiful
In the shredding sound
Of chainsaw on cherry wood.
Why do machines always seem

By the end of the day
Another hole has opened in the sky.
No shelter -
No shelter -
No shelter from the blistering sun
Of this new age.

Even to trees death must come.

Are these the things
  that help old women
    lay down their arms and say
Good night?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

On the Eve of Beginnings and Endings

Pause on the edge
Pause on the edge and look

Look below
Look below to the valleys
Valleys and vistas
Valleys and vistas and winding rivers
Rivers that teem
Teem with the life of a thousand suns
A thousand suns and a thousand worlds
     and the moon as a compass

Now look up
Up to the heavens
The heavens that teem
Teem with the light of endless stars
Stars and clouds and the colors of space

Where numbers are meaningless
Only the infinite counts

Now pause
Pause and breathe
Breathe the valleys and vistas
Breathe the teeming rivers the thousand stars the cream of clouds

Carry the world in your heart
Carry the skies in your lungs

Now step into space

Sunday, July 24, 2016


we tell the same stories
over and
    over and
      over and
        over and
          under and
       under and
onto the rocks shores wells
            as caverns
           as devils
           as canyons and conches and caterwauls
   and waterfalls
cascading lines of doggerrel can only go
the day we fell we fell
    from the summit
   from the heavens
blue sky all why and wherefore
and intellect so circumspect
the pit
of mud
what worth can anyone make
of mud
but mud
and clay
  and homes
    and dreams
      and figurines
figurines that speak
                       like gods
and hear
                      like gods
silent and deaf
prayer after
    prayer after
crashing like cataracts off boulders
over and
   over and
      over and
        over and
           over and
   under again
we pray the same prayers sing
the same hymns want
the same wants and fears and no one nears and
no one hears
over and
     over years
         upon years
hard clay ears

god is a desert all dried up

Thursday, June 23, 2016

We Are

We are
too dense to breathe
too soft to kill
too cold to die

We are
made of silk
spun sweet as amber
whistling wisps of jade wind
a cacaphony of birds and wolves

We are
close-hewn and rough-cut
beetles and ramikins
shorn sheep and tulip blossoms
all afloat on crackling seas

We will not be silenced

Not 'til bleeding wood
finds its way on force-fed feet
to the crooked ends of the earth

We will follow our fear
and eat it raw.

We are we are we are

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Elegy June 2016

The crow's hoarse shofar drowns
the dancing trill of songbirds.
"Death. Death. Death," it warns
by the muted glow
of a cloud-cast dawn.

There is a special providence in
the fall of a sparrow
the uplifted ends of green leaves
a blush of rainbow
a whirling storm of apple blossoms.

One, two, ten, fifty -
fifty souls fall to earth
and rise again
crying "Kyrie Elaison!"

Where do flowers go
when they die?

Ashes to ashes,
dust to dust.
"The Lord be with you."
And also with you.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

inviting the sun

it’s been less than a day
since i invited the sun into my home

there’s a fullness
to my mansion
now that she’s here
time is tighter
i want to feel her presence forever
in a year I will hear her
running from the lions in the basement
clear and confident
dancing below her long arms
and flying
across the sky

in the morning
she will stand by a swing set
laughing under an erect sycamore
her hands full of vanilla and garlic

in the evening
she will sit on a far-off subway train
different from any other thief
stealing a remembered invention

she will drop her feet
frown skeptically
and curl her slim toes

i will curl away from her

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Word Hoard

I cling to words,
   collect them, pile them,
     scrounge them from the rubbish.
I cannot let them go -
  yours, mine, the world's -
Every one born of a perilous, toil-filled journey
  along spark-ignited neurons
    through the larynx off the tongue into air,
     through the sinews touching fingers tapping keys
       falling into the black hole of the machine and 
Coming out the other side to rest on the page.

Earthlings, our world overflows with words!
  We cringe as we craft them, battling to build,
     struggling to sculpt, stringing syllables like beads.
We feed one another on their milk.
   We weave them into strong ropes to rescue
      or to hang.

How can I bear to throw away a single one unread? 

Saturday, April 30, 2016

A Promising Lie

I remember being told that I could be
Anything I wanted if I tried.
A promising lie,
The philosophy of open doors.

Anything I wanted if I tried!
Actress! Writer! Astronaut!
The philosophy of open doors,
Wide vistas and endless roads.

Actress, writer, astronaut ...
Policeman? Fireman? King?!
Wide vistas and endless roads
Have boundaries and limits.

Policeman, fireman, king.
Childish archetypes
Have boundaries and limits.
Is it a crime to find an ordinary path?

Childish archetypes
Collapse. But the weights of adulthood also
Have boundaries and limits.
A promising lie.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Breathe With the Trees

Breathe with the trees-
Just breathe -
In -
Out -
In -
Out -
Joining the waving cilia of ferns
The hush of the air brushing
Mossy evergreen branches,
Filling secret hidden lungs.

The forest opens out -
Opens me -
Soul-birthing depths of lush green life
Unstoppable, ungoverned
Akimbo, askew
Fallen and reborn
Quiet and still and strong

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

I am Janus

I am Janus.
My face is an open book
Until it is not.
You are my friend
While the doors are open.
For now, I am smiles,
Beginnings, welcomes.

I am Janus.
Today, I shut the doors,
Forbidding entry.
Walk away
From my other face
While you can.

Friday, April 8, 2016

How Much Hope Fills a Soul?

Numbers pummel our hearts, measuring gales of laughter.
How many grams does a giggle weigh?
Can you quantify the hereafter?
How much hope fills your soul today?

How many grams does a giggle weigh?
What of a chortle or a sniggering stare?
How much hope fills your soul today?
What is the weight of your heart's despair?

What of a chortle or a sniggering stare,
Are they worth an ounce of gold?
What is the weight of your heart's despair?
Can it ever be bought or sold?

Are they worth an ounce of gold - 
This fine spring day, this jasmine scent?
Can it ever be bought or sold -
This longing look, this deep lament?

This fine spring day, this jasmine scent
Will not long linger here.
This longing look, this deep lament
Will not outlast the year.

We'll not long linger here
Counting out our costs.
We'll not outlast the year,
Numbering sighs once lost.

Counting out our costs
We'll seek a different goal.
Numbering sighs once lost,
How much hope fills a soul?

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Ode to Dormancy

Awaiting spring, I learn to honor
Dormancy -
Bare branches, buried bulbs,
The hard knock of rose hips,
The nourishing subterranean retreat,
The silent reclamation of strength,
The patient instinct for self-preservation
That out-waits winter's blast,
The disguise of death that hides

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Facing Leviathans

When I was five I faced
Alligators at Okefenokee Swamp.
When I was fifty I faced
Whales in the wild at Depoe Bay.

What is this fearful fascination I have
With leviathans?

Maybe it's a God thing.

And even though my whole body
Wanted to barf or faint,
I peered around the corner
To glimpse the divine
As long as there was somebody
Holding my hand.

It's good to remember
What it's like
To feel small
And survive.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

A Teacher's Morning

Photo by Sam A. Mowry
I want to harvest sunrise
And plant it in their hearts -
Winter trees lit by white,
A sky on fire with dragon treasure,
Melting pink edged in blue,
A lone bird soaring across
The glowing face of daybreak.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Against Despair

I despair of the world and then I see
The blossoms on an apple tree,
The leaf-topped tips of a lilac bush,
A smudge of green, spring's frosted push
Born from winter's cold remains,
Dots of life on pale gray frames.
If such bare bones are still alive,
Then hope, perhaps, can be revived.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Bully

No one cares who started it,
The words they hurled like rocks -
Loser, lard-ass, fatso, faggot
Retard, lame-ass, homo, maggot.

Every living thing has voices -
To mock, to pity, to howl.
Every living thing makes choices -
The victim, the teacher, the crowd.

He stands alone in his power.
Alone, alone in his might.
Alone on the playground.
Alone in the tower.
Alone, alone, alone in the night.

Pariah, excluded, unwanted,
He carries his need in his eyes.
He muscles through their close-knit walls
Wearing his armor of lies.

His fists command attention
Demanding a change of course -
Demanding to play -
Demanding your heart -
Demanding the world by force.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Apologia de Religio

Tentative tentacles reaching out -
Remember me?

The lost lines
Submerged in the lake of the past.

I wish ...
I regret ...
Didn't think -
Didn't mean -
Mis-spoke -
Mis-thought -
Mistook -

The soul is no trifling thing
And I am not a prophet.

Will you sit with me?
Can you bear it -
Breaking bread together,
Remembering my arrogance?

Will I look you in the eye?
Can I bear it -
Your soft lamb's gaze that says
"I learned"?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

An Ode to the Belly

Belly, belly,
Beast of burden
Bearing brute rebellion,
Belching beatitudes,
Bulging and bloating,
Bleating, bursting, and bellowing,

Reckless, recalcitrant,
Rolling and rounded,
You are an ocean's tide,
A moon-borne ebb and flow,
Ring of fire,
Seething with unspent fury,
Swelling and surging and swallowing,
Shape-shifting as the soul,

Unbound and unbreakable,
The gauge of age,
The seat of truth.

Feel, and be filled.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Floating In Benson Lake

In this submerged and muted world
Only birdsong is permitted
        and heartbeat
             and the low rush of pumping blood.

In this liquid body
Only flesh is permitted
    Swim-soaked skin
          pond-filled pores
And birdsong
     and heartbeat
          and the pumping of blood.

In this spirit pool
Only inner shadows gain entrance -
An island of dreams lost in midnight -
    and birdsong
          and heartbeat
               the pumping of blood
                    the liquid flesh
 And you.

Monday, January 11, 2016


When you told me the truth
I couldn't bear it
So I drank my oblivion
Under the stars
Dining on cold cuts
And hot tempers.
Insanity's not a condition, god dammit!
And yesterday's news
Leaves tomorrow's broken souls.

My wounds wear wings
Of worthless wealth.
Take them home.
Hang them in your closet
With the mothballs
To gather mildew
And memory.
The dust bin has no heart.
The compost makes no sense.

Leave your note on the doorstep.
I've gone out.

Friday, January 8, 2016

A Modern Dilemma, or The Nonsense-monger's Song

(with a tip of the hat to Edward Lear)

My head exists in cyberspace.
My legs are on the couch.
My hands are in this notebook.
My tongue is pointing south.

My teeth are in the cemetery
Chewing on some gruel.
My brain is lost in rhyming land,
Repeating like a fool.

Between remorse and reason,
Beneath despair and dread,
Until the warmer season,
I'm farming in my head.

My words are cast in crayon,
Unlocking winsome doors.
My thoughts compete with fashion.
My dreams are keeping score.

Come dance with foolish poets
And greet them in the streets.
They bark like fish. They swim like dogs.
They dine on salted meats.

They force their invitations.
They ice skate in their socks.
They live off incantations
And die when they are mocked.

Good-bye! Good-bye! my leaping friend.
You cannot find your toes.
Your foolish song is at an end.
Your pen's cut off your nose.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

What Is the Matter?

"What is the matter, my Lord?"
Said Polonius to Hamlet, in the alcove reading.
And he answered:

A zero sum vacuum.
A smallness. A dot.
Angels crowded on a pin,
Dust and ashes and taxes."

"No, no, my Lord"
Polonius cried,
"I meant the matter you read."
"Ah," quoth Hamlet, "then you address:

Dreams in stone.
Vows fulfilled.
Oak-tree visions across a river.
Soul-searches, love-quests, and truth.

What is this quintessence of dust?"
Asked the youth,
Declaring disinterest, despair.
With subject plus verb he dismisses the world.
So there."

The grammar magician defies apathy.
Waving a well-placed hyphen and
Planting a colon on the earth, he
Transmutes unconcern and indifference.

Insignificant infinitesimal insubstantial nits.
Now you may proceed to list
All the pointless little bits
The washing dishes shushy slush
That puts your spirit in a ditch.

Begone! Begone!
Now feast upon
More pithy, weighty stuff -
The solid-liquid-gas,
The life-and-marrow mass



Monday, January 4, 2016

Snow Day

Trundling bundles
    nod softly,
       tread lightly,
          smile shyly
            as they pass.

Indomitable abominables
   in snow shoes
     scrunch through
       on their way to

In the tree-filled church of sledding,
Pilgrims pray on bellies flopped.
Tushes twirl in coaster pews,
         and spin
              and stop.

Busy sculptors
Work cold wonders
   in the city, in the park -
     frozen maidens, chilly children,
       carrot noses, eyes of bark.

A snowy deer with antler branches,
     Standing tall and poised and still,
         Like a glacial wintry sentry,
             Keeps its vigil on the hill.

Gilded beams grace the rooftops.
Droplets glisten from the eaves.
We'll have buttered toast in blankets,
Cocoa kisses if we please.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Now is the time to choose

Either the mountains     
    or the ocean
              or the seashells I used to own,
       the empty cigar box,
             the endless corner of snow-filled laughter,
                   or the earth itself.
The dead things that walk along crowded streets
               sell scraps of brown wind
                      to deafening time.
Cheat them.


Saturday, January 2, 2016

Aurora Borealis

A wish
Reaches back beyond beneath,
Opens a brazen swath of mind to
Remember the future at play, to
Awaken the births of the past.

Behold the spectral grace that sweeps
Over the teeming world of night,
Redeeming wounds,
Entreating art,
Announcing creation's truth.
Let us pray
In wine-fueled wonder,
Singing the hymn of friendship.

          - for Lynne and Lawrence, Suzanne and Sam, New Year's 2016