Hold steady . . . find your still point . . . get used to letting go . . .
I was pleased to by honored recently by the Hamden Arts Commission and the Hamden Symphony Orchestra for my poem “Circumstance.” The poem won second place in the first ever poetry award co-sponsored by both organizations. Also featured during the orchestra’s spring concert were fellow poets Meri Haray and Laura Alshul and the winners of the Young Musicians Concerto Competition. Listen:
I’m also trying out my new voice, mostly recovered from vocal cord paralysis. Work in progress.
Bless the first day of class
with its confined clutter. Notebooks
stacked and piled like sculptures
that say to the first lesson, I am ready for you to feed me. Catapult us
into the realms of academia.
Picture chimpanzees swallowing
pineapple-white sheets in open cages.
Get your hands dirty, I tell them,
love the pages, the print, smell it
and remember papyrus. Break
the spine, hold it up to the light: tell me who you are, author, tell me your secrets; help me make sense of your world. Transmogrify.
Cave dwellers, hierophants—make friends
with the exclamation point, bond
with the asterisk. Play with dirt.
Play with dirty words.
If we could have read the moon’s face
through the falling snow
that night we drove into its absent shadow,
it would have told us that the cold
sometimes melts things, too.
The train station, under hazy yellow lights,
fills with travelers arriving for Christmas.
We drive home with our father,
a faint smile crooked in the low end of his mouth.
Because the road hides so much,
more than once, Dad mentions black ice
the way he’d repeat an argument
until we understood. But when the car,
spins momentarily toward the guard rail,
he anchors us—and we are held
by his steadiness, which, for so many years,
we mistook for other things—
discipline, scolding, but mostly anger.
It’s time now to take this lesson
and file it safely under black ice, reluctant blessings, how our father,
silver haired and breathing slowly,
saves his children’s lives yet again.
Last August, I spent three wonderful days at the Wellspring House in Ashfield MA. I’m grateful to have had the space, time, solitude and solace, which allowed me to finish the manuscript forReconnaissance.
or geraniums, depending
on if I call it by the number of stalk –three –)
or by its potted home: –one – white enamel
ridged like waterfall rocks)
whether it is coming or going.
Likely, someone has turned
the thinnest frond
toward the light
of open window; someone has filled
the pot with too much water.