Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Things are gentle again
Even the ripples rolling onto shore
are languid,
a loving tongue,
sure footstep,
a splayed hand

I am barefoot on the sand,
tracking a child's foot,
a dog's

The night birds --
are they only shadows,
figments of the space between dusk
and night --
begin to flit,
upland cedar,
the ragged black branches
I once sketched in pastel,
unaware of my future

Trip to the vernal pond
to hear the mammalian-throated frogs,
chaser of peepers,
Brazilian beat

New tulips, dainty,
and the trees in their new red buds, brushy-tipped

When life was still flush with the swell
of beginnings,
edges blurred by choices,
I carried them in handfuls,
a bouquet

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Winter to Spring

In the morning the birds
and the light of green rising to the surface of the grass
through the snow-sodden earth
Some days a luminous light
like the locked-together molecules of winter air have burst apart,
everything whirling,
not yet locked back together in the thickness of summer
Winter at ground level
but the light at the treetops is beginning to shine

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Lines from Sleep

A patchy building held together by the tendrils of the lives lived within it

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


The light's already fading at midday,
or at least the shadow of its decline is near,
deflating my intentions

It's too cold to face
the wind off the beach;
I want to be coddled not braced.
And, scrimping on heat,
too cold to care
about the dust bunnies and shriveled leaves
dropping off the salvaged summer plants.

The tattered thread of one afternoon,
arriving home in the dark,
unskeins through the long hours till bed
and accelerates when daylight breaks,
unrolling through the blankness of January
toward the tendrils of spring,
its roots firmly planted in the way we age

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Martin Luther and Coretta Scott King

Yesterday I lingered in the car to hear Martin Luther King's voice, delivering sermons, on NPR, and wished I'd been there to hear him,
glad that his voice still rings out at least one day a year.

When I returned to work there was a colleague's young daughter there and she told me she was off from school for Martin Luther King Day. "I was just listening to him speak," I said. She looked quizzically at me.

I remember when I taught second grade, hauling out my guitar for song sessions with the kids (always said you had to be under 8 to hear me play). Loved this time of year, we'd belt out "We Shall Overcome" and all the songs written about MLK, and the kids, having heard the stories of his life and work, would sing their little hearts out, fairness and equality being issues in which they were fully engaged at their age, and the singing would be an opportunity for all of our hearts to open.

Oh, and the Coretta Scott King part: Once, on a visit to Atlanta I snuck away from a conference full of English teachers to visit the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the King center, and Martin Luther King's birth house. I wandered past the black and white photos -- the horror of the fire hoses being turned on people, the dogs, so much more.
Then I sat outside for awhile on the steps. A car pulled up and Coretta Scott King stepped out of the back, such a lady. We looked at each other as she climbed the steps; she saw my face. And nodded at me, as I nodded to her, acknowledging, or so it seemed.

And now, tonight, one horror: Looking online for sites where quotes from Martin Luther King might be found I discovered that one, the address of which I will not repeat as I don't want to encourage traffic there, but at a web address one might assume is some sort of "official" Martin Luther King site, is instead operated by a white supremacist group purporting to be telling the "truth" about him and his agenda.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies
hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction....The chain reaction
of evil--hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars--must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of

Martin Luther King, Jr., Strength To Love, 1963.

The Kiss, by Stephen Dunn

She pressed her lips to mind.
—a typo

How many years I must have yearned
for someone’s lips against mind.
Pheromones, newly born, were floating
between us. There was hardly any air.

She kissed me again, reaching that place
that sends messages to toes and fingertips,
then all the way to something like home.
Some music was playing on its own.

Nothing like a woman who knows
to kiss the right thing at the right time,
then kisses the things she’s missed.
How had I ever settled for less?

I was thinking this is intelligence,
this is the wisest tongue
since the Oracle got into a Greek’s ear,
speaking sense. It’s the Good,

defining itself. I was out of my mind.
She was in. We married as soon as we could.

Waking Up Slow

Finally, no rain
the drops fell in between the atoms of my sleep,
small pops,
muted explosions of light
that traveled a curve to get here


Every morning I open the door to let the dog out,
I grind the beans
Conscious, sweet routine
But this morning, again,
it is snowing
misty waterfall of cold droplets coalesced and painted white,
snow lining the branches,
spotlighting winter's design of the world
and the road a spurious track

Sunday morning on a binary date
the same sweetness, the same pain
Silence is a thrum in my ears
the shadow of a pen, moving,
lying in bed, crouched in the sand, in the pine forest
where I lay the blanket, longing,
where I photographed the shadow
in the summer sun

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Goethe's Warning

Hell begins the day that God grants you the vision to see all that you could have done, should have done, and would have done, but did not do.
—Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)

Goethe obviously speaks to me; I had this quote written on a chalkboard in my kitchen for years, and, though now erased, its ghostly image is still readable:
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

So now what ??

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Flying Solo

Flying Solo

That morning I watched the sunrise at Charles de Gaulle I was washed of love, as singed at the edges as the yellow-centered ball of light that rose slowly above the glass skyway,
bright as the gold leaf of Jesus’s heart in the Sacre Coeur that began to beam as I prayed, pulsing into life,
everything contained within the hushed echoing curved stone of the chapel,

And then the sun faded to the pale light of a bland blue day
observed outside of the cask of the airport
and, hunkered down for hours in my hard-shell corner chair,
I was encompassed by the grandmothers, aunts and old men, sullen teenagers and crawling diapered babies of an extended family, chests and luggage all plastered with International Organization of Migration stickers, in their hodgepodge colorful clothes embarking resignedly on a new life

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Suzanne Vega, "Small Blue Thing"

Today I am
A small blue thing
Like a marble
Or an eye

With my knees against my mouth
I am perfectly round
I am watching you

I am cold against your skin
You are perfectly reflected
I am lost inside your pocket
I am lost against
Your fingers

I am falling down the stairs
I am skipping on the sidewalk
I am thrown against the sky

I am raining down in pieces
I am scattering like light
Scattering like light
Scattering like light

Today I am
A small blue thing
Made of china
Made of glass

I am cool and smooth and curious
I never blink
I am turning in your hand
Turning in your hand
Small blue thing
There's a little black spot on the sun today
that's my soul up there

Selected Lyrics from the Police

From "King of Pain"

There's a little black spot on the sun today
That's my soul up there
It's the same old thing as yesterday
Tha's my soul up there
There's a black hat caught in a high tree top
That's my soul up there
There's a flag pole rag and the wind won't stop
That's my soul up there

I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running 'round my brain
I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end this reign
But it's my destiny to be the king of pain

There's a fossil that's trapped in a high cliff wall
That's my soul up there
There's a dead salmon frozen in a waterfall
That's my soul up there
There's a blue whale beached by a springtide's ebb
That's my soul up there
There's a butterfly trapped in a spider's web
That's my soul up there

I have stood here before inside the pouring rain
With the world turning circles running 'round my brain
I guess I'm always hoping that you'll end this reign
But it's my destiny to be the king of pain

There's a king on a throne with his eyes torn out
There's a blind man looking for a shadow of doubt
Ther's a rich man sleeping on a golden bed
There's a skeleton choking on a crust of bread
King of pain

There's a red fox thorn by a huntsman's pack
That's my soul up there
There's a black winged gull with a broken back
That's my soul up there
There's a little black spot on the sun today
It's the same old thing as yesterday

Friday, January 1, 2010

Gardiner's Bay, New Year's Day

Gardiner's Bay, New Year's Day 2010

A partly unfurled confetti curl in the sand,
party colors in the dun
of winter, of early dark,
the failure to rise to a challenge

Breathing air off the cold deep bay
where a piece of saturated wood
seeps closer to bottom,
part of summer's ambition

Closing the pale yellow curtain
against weak midday light
its blowsy roses
taupe and scentless
I daylight-slept
one paw of the dog in my hand

Spring rain in the railyard, Centralia, Washington