Getting on with it

After the ice storm, it’s good to get back to the living world, back to performing ordinary acts.

A Gathering of Sorts

As morning curdles its way to noontime,
autumn plays its lazy guitar.
To join the living world,
we make our way to the post office
with enough change in hand for three stamps.
Their duty is delivering messages:
a utility bill, the insurance payment, a letter
to a friend. In the front of the line,
a woman’s daughter spins
and spins in her orbit.

Gathering packages in his arms,
a man, Santa-like in tweed jacket
and leather cap, stands beside
a painter covered in plaster.
He sways and looks away
from us, staring instead into
the clouds of his day.

Each day we perform ordinary acts:
we teach algebra, refinance mortgages,
cook dinner, journey to the moon.

Each day a mixture of light and color
penetrates our trust. We place our faith
in little things: the oak’s red summit,
a stamped envelope,
holding the door for each other
as we enter and leave each other’s lives.

Potato Eaters, published by Finishing Line Press, 2008

Escaping the hook

I’m looking forward to an upcoming post-Christmas family reunion. Here is one of my favorite poems from Potato Eaters, my first chapbook from Finishing Line Press. The photo, too, is one of my favorites, found in an attic box years ago. That’s my mother, on the right, and two of her brothers on the left.

Click the yellow BUY NOW button found at the bottom of the page (or this link) to order a signed copy.

Fishing with My Brother

My brother, who is prone to nosebleeds
hasn’t the efficiency to heal wounds;
on his left arm burn marks permanently
blister. His chin bears the scar of the second
fall on the steep hill below the house.

You can’t get any better than that
he says, pushing the fishing line
into my face. Of all the fish ever
to swim in this pond or that, this
one decides to end life on a hook,
its flesh torn and gaping. We
could take a lesson, learn when to give
up, when to know enough is enough.

dana-john-ferne-swingsetHe throws the fish back. How did he become
so elemental? How did he know
the average heart cannot drown
itself too deep, forgetting its purpose?
I want to tell him walk a bit with me
and we’ll cry to the birds who nest by us
in the fairy tale. He’ll listen, I hope.
I can’t wait to see him plant fields, discover
electricity, and cut a strong path
through jungles. But there will be time for that.
Nine times out of ten, it is speed
that breaks us; we grow too fast
trying to fly, or escape the hook.

Ordinary Acts

A Gathering of Sorts

DSC_0424

As morning curdles its way to noontime,
autumn plays its lazy guitar.
To join the living world,
we make our way to the post office
with enough change in hand for three stamps.
Their duty is delivering messages:
a utility bill, the insurance payment, a letter
to a friend. In the front of the line,
a woman’s daughter spins
and spins in her orbit.
Gathering packages in his arms,
a man, Santa-like in tweed jacket
and leather cap, stands beside
a painter covered in plaster.
He sways and looks away
from us, staring instead into
the clouds of his day.

Each day we perform ordinary acts:
we teach algebra, refinance mortgages,
cook dinner, journey to the moon.

Each day a mixture of light and color
penetrates our trust. We place our faith
in little things: the oak’s red summit,
a stamped envelope,
holding the door for each other
as we enter and leave each other’s lives.

Portraiture

A poem from Potato Eaters (2008 Finishing Line Press). Be grateful this Thanksgiving.

Portrait of a Girl and Boy on a Bus

 

She is seven, maybe eight; cords of brown hair
weave around her neck, weary of years.
Holding her brother’s hand
as loosely as a button off a winter coat,
she waits as he climbs the broad bus steps;
he doubles up on each, just missing a shoelace
undone and unraveling from each of his shoes.
A pair of red knit mittens connected by string
falls loose as her arm laces around his frame;
his hair, misshapenly cut, hides a blue bruise
behind his ear.

Protecting his six years,
how she glows—as if light winked
from under clouds, and cast a coral light around them.
If only sand coursed beneath their feet,
and starfish gleamed, the ones they’ve never seen
land-locked by this turbulent bus,
this unlucky globe.

A Gathering of Sorts

 

IMG_0469A Gathering of Sorts

As morning curdles its way to noontime,
autumn plays its lazy guitar.
To join the living world,
we make our way to the post office
with enough change in hand for three stamps.
Their duty is delivering messages:
a utility bill, the insurance payment, a letter
to a friend. In the front of the line,
a woman’s daughter spins
and spins in her orbit.
Gathering packages in his arms,
a man, Santa-like in tweed jacket
and leather cap, stands beside
a painter covered in plaster.
He sways and looks away
from us, staring instead into
the clouds of his day.

Each day we perform ordinary acts:
we teach algebra, refinance mortgages,
cook dinner, journey to the moon.

Each day a mixture of light and color
penetrates our trust. We place our faith
in little things: the oak’s red summit,
a stamped envelope,
holding the door for each other
as we enter and leave each other’s lives.

Click the title to find Potato Eaters, where this poem first appeared.

IMG_9092

Weightless

A poem first published in Potato Eaters, published by Finishing Line Press, copyright 2008.

Weightless

Autumn, the ballet, dances
through the speechless trees, resplendent
motion uttering no sound.
Painted atmospheres tickle
a spectator, that flesh colored leaf
standing at the center, earthless –
a Renaissance bather in a silent film.
Beneath the young girl’s feet,
cold clay moonrocks touch tenderly.
Standing motionless, she takes flight
like a naked sparrow, windblown;
no chill strikes her skin; she listens
to all that is quiet and warm,
warmth which radiates not
from the yellow sun, but from her angel spine
with knowledge of the breathless wind.
Unworldly, unafraid, enjoying
the dance she sees, fancying
herself a participant.

Click here to see my poem “How Poetry Differs from Gardening,” in Fox Adoption Magazine.

Click here to connect with Homebound Publications, and my latest book, Reconnaissance.

Tissue

This poem first appeared in Potato Eaters, published by Finishing Line Press in 2008.

Tissue

On the nights she went out
to PTA meetings and Tupperware parties,
my mother would leave
a pressed ruby imprint of lips
on a square of toilet paper.
Pirating treasure-kisses
left on the counter,
by the time I was fourteen,
I had hundreds saved
in her crimson pump shoe-box
under my bed. Weighed down slightly
by a perfume bottle, those kisses
were left for me to find,
until I grew out of snug, cotton dresses.
Now, my best moments recreate
those toilet-tissue touches,
those sanguine emblems,
of beauty, and generosity,
those most sacred tokens
of any world.

mom and amy