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

Winter Work

Winter Work


Winter Work

Snow piles thick
like skin of lost pachyderms,
the ones filed into burnt
tomes of obsolete
glossaries. Shovel in hand
I plow with fortitude
into bellows of white,
a knee’s worth, sugary
and full of honeycombs.
Slopes and muscles meet
and I scoop into wicked
luminosity, slay lathered
pathways and toss
the blizzard into
the mammoth’s toothed void.



From Four Blue Eggs

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How to Say Goodbye

The eighth month buzzes
through lichen days, dry
and hot; mud pools sweat
from the long-ago decadence
of rain and frogs plop like ice cubes
into this imagined summer drink.

Badges of mica shimmer
in the sun-bathing rocks
and the thirsty earth sends
missionaries—brown mosses
crunching underfoot; leaves
absorbing the prism, reflecting
the short, electromagnetic
waves we have come to call
green, and grasses turning
now, slightly away as if
to say, enough, spreading
chlorophyll cylinders
to catch a dreamed of
rain drop. Even crickets
sing with parched voices;
their constancy interrupted
by an intermittent hiccup;
small bow legs pause to rest
and then return to syncopation.

It’s too hot for human flesh:
our scales have fallen off,
and our naked, unprotected cells
do not photosynthesize.
We are much like sticks
fallen from hardy oaks,
vulnerable to the breakage
of heat. But there are promises, too
here in this parched world:
of shelter, protection, the sip
of a cool night, the awe of witnessing
something of change; promises
of relief if only we hang on until
our reddest moment, after we’ve turned
everything to sugar and can let go
knowing winter’s white can hold us.