Wednesday, November 5, 2014


When the leaf falls in the collapsing din 
of summer light, it doesn’t crawl along 
the ground, lame in heavy breathing for months. 
The leaf lets go of mother’s hand and floats
gently to her grave. Not my old sweet Lab 
who teeters into hers, bowels and backside--
all her senses--in disarray.  I wonder. 
Is it kind to let her find her own end? 
To let her sleep all her days, 
to crawl crippled to her water bowl? 
This loyal friend who trusts 
herself to me as to her own mother. 
She'd follow me unflinching to the vet, 
her eyes allegiant as she slips into that other sleep.
And what would she be missing? 
Sleep is sleep. 
Only her dreams would end.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


It’s like waking up to the short wild scream of the horn
of a distant train blowing and you know that great big
black iron horse is charging this way though still unseen
behind the hill. No need to rush, but it’s coming now, 
the horn is blowing for you to hear--a shrill wheeze in 
the wind, the sound not yet piercing your skull but you know
it’s time to stand up, gather your things, prepare for boarding. 
And the sound keeps getting louder,
like the high groan of yard dogs pulling on their chains
and yet there is a pleasantness there, a kind of promise
when your heart dares to listen. But still, how can you
ever be at ease, how can you ever rest with that horn 
groaning louder in your ear?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Making ends meet

On the playground, the Sisters of the Holy Cross sell little bags
of chips and boxes of chocolate milk. 
Not expensive but more than I ever have in my pocket, 
which is almost always nothing. 
But sometimes I am the owner of dimes, 
stolen from my father’s dresser or given by a fairy, 
so I can purchase a box of ice cold milk, 
maybe even a bag of chips. 
As I write about it now, a half century later, 
I am overcome by the same lightness of spirit 
that follows those first sips,
that satisfying sweetness assaulting my mouth. 
My pleasure seems extreme 
because it isn’t just the flavors of the loot that brings 
exhilaration, it is that the power to buy 
is the ticket into the universe. It makes me part of it, 
no longer she who stands outside it, on the edge 
of the Black Hole horizon, observing the brilliant stars 
around her. Now I have what it takes to belong 
to the beautiful world swirling around that playground. 

Saturday, November 1, 2014


Awake another night I am, your news 
sitting on my bedside--obese, ulcered, stinking 
until the wee hours, the first light of another
day of fright, pressing down on this 
mattress like a four-wheeler--tossing me 
from my own bed. Your news cloaks the
room, my limbs, my dreams, all day
my eyeballs burn as if they'd been soaked 
all night in vinegar and it’s not over yet, 
your news will trap for sure more nights 
between my sight and thought, 
between the dusk and dusk again.