Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dead of night

This is a poem about that night.

It could be about my mother,
my father,
my brother,
or my man
because all died
in the dead of night.

For a long time, it was getting ready
to happen
and then it happened
at the exact time when nothing
is supposed to happen.

They all got that dry nose and
startled look, twilight
dimming from day to night,
to the very dead of night,
one by one, decades apart,
all got that puzzled look,
a match flame in the iris,
bodies mushed as pumpkins in June,
becoming the ground,
placed in their boxes–my people,
now the fruit that sweetens
their compost.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Her voice

Between sips of French Roast, words 
into this white space
and wiggle to life,
to become perhaps 
a poem 
or the last leg 
of one. 

I can do this all day. 

I am in no hurry. 
I can get up any time for a stroll 
then sit down again here 
or in some other cafe 
and read Sharon Olds' confessions 
to loosen my shy tongue 
until words sprinkle around 
and I see some consoling truth 
emerge in this or that phrase 
and then lean back, 
sip more coffee, 
hear thoughts meander 
out of their caves 
down my right hand 
onto this page, 
just as I magined 
all those years 
sitting in that high rise 
looking down on cafes 
where people at small tables 
like this one 
sat for hours 

Someday that will be you, 

a voice consoled. 
That voice of longing 
that won't die in me.

My new chapbook, Moments of Our Parting, available on Amazon


Comments from readers:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

After the trial

After the trial, and what a trial; 
one manages to stand up again;
life wants to go on.

Odd isn’t it?
To love life even though it takes and takes.

When the raft floats away, we refuse to sink
but clasp life’s hand like a drowning child.

No one buries their beloved and leaps off 
the roof. 
Not even Edgar Allan Poe

after loosing the beautiful Lenore,
the light of wants remained lit in him.

Our bodies, these lamps of desire, endure,
tho awake all night, naked and stiff.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017


Wind on metals,

a match made 

in heaven,

a sound fluent 

in sorrow and joy, 

each note 

a simple spirit

that tows me 

from my self 

into the eye 

of a storm, 

a center, free, 

no agitation; 

whatever I do, 

wherever I stand, 

the ting ting ting 

brings me to a pause;

my crouching soul 

stands up 

and bows to it,

feels each note 

enter as a kind word, 

feels the ting ting ting 

of grace, 

the ting ting ting 

of blessing 

come over me.  

I say, gather me 

and ting to me 

and seal me up. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Counting the damage

What if I forget him?
What if he blurs like a good vacation?
Already I have to concentrate, piece him 
together as a puzzle, matching the bits into familiar
body parts--his swollen knee, wrist with
fancy watch, lips pinched into a trumpet.   
What if the pieces tatter? 
Stop fitting? 
What if one day I can’t recall 
but a moment? 
Already a hush settles into every crevice 
as if stillness were normal in our house.
Already I have grown used to having 
no one in love with me.
I frame photos with the breath of panic,
mail his face to everyone.
I will not count his memory
among all the other damage.


Don’t turn away 
from the mirror. 
Keep looking 
at what you’re made of--cloth strong 
enough to be a flag and don’t forget 
he loved you 
for your spine 
that’s not crocheted but woven 
tight as burlap
and because your heart is spun 
of silk, 
its long threads pulled 
from countless other acts 
of metamorphoses.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

How to remember

For quality memories, first blanche them; 
the dirt will ruin all. 
Peel off the shade before storage. 
Like the day you played hooky 
with a married old professor.
Keep only his grateful kisses,
how tenderly he squeezed your hand goodbye. 
Store only drops of joy, hold on 
to the sweet seeds and juice. 
Memories can be chopped up any way you like; 
almost none can be kept whole. 
So stick with the best parts, the parts least 
bruised and spoiled, snip what lacks the flavor 
of happy recollections. 
I can tell you that grief and other passions 
loosen the tough skins of bitter times––they slip 
off easily. Let the pealed memories cool 
then store them in your heart's larder. 
When you’re ready, behold this delicious jam, 
savor it for the rest of your days. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

All of them laughing

i only write about the dead. 
the dead are all i write about 
because i cannot get over those 
cold still hands. 
i cannot get over those 
lonely sounds.
i cannot, just cannot 
get over them. 
Hours, months pass 
and graves close up;
new things grow on top; 
a hard scab forms that only 
hurts if you move
the wrong way. 
best not stress that scab or else 
it bursts with hard new pain. 
i only write about the dead because 
i cannot get over them, 
i write to rip their fingers from my heart, 
to scrub their dander 
from my skin. 
the suffocating dead; i see their faces, 
all of them laughing. 
all of them content, 
all of them tired of me, 
my endless mourning.

Cry a gray river

All day every day their cries 
invade my house, 
cries so shrill they burst 
from souls of souls from all directions, I hear 
the screamers shot, gassed, 
blasted from homes, 
kicked over borders; 
every day I hear 
the whimperers--sick, hungry; those 
despised for some singularity, 
some disparity at birth and then 
there’s the mourners like me 
whose lovers left them. 
What can we do 
after the postcard to Congress, 
after the march, 
after the all-night benders? 
I can say crying a deep gray river will soothe us, 
somehow a gray river of tears
will hold us steady;
and so will chanting 
and so will rocking, 
and so will praying, 
though no one 
beyond the lamp post 
will give a damn but

we can rest. 

Thursday, April 6, 2017


There were warnings.
The frisky pulse and flow within,
the puzzled looks, the growing thin.
the kinks in lids, the stickiness and all
in every honeycomb of him, up, down, I heard 
the call but was sure of time, thought more of it then
--not so now I’ve seen its fainting pen, 
for really time and time again that glue
was always plenty, really all we knew.
But it runs, runs out on them, on you
and we are locked long in its slur:
shame and blame all go with mourning 
and then the anxious wait 
for yet another warning.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Under thumb

For a year I only write about my father. 
Words pour out in streams. 
I am a jug filled with father thoughts 
until one day they stop 
and then every day I write 
about her, more than 365 days, 
all about her. 
It shocks me how many thoughts 
of her fit into a jug. 
How liquid they are until only some 
flow from me and then the very last ones 
dribble onto the page and it is over. 
I have not thought about him since the writings. 
My mind is empty. All was said. Everything, 
every last thought, said. 
I am now devoid of father thoughts, 
as if I had had no father. 
Then the jug fills up again, this time with mother thoughts. 
Every day I write about her. It shocks me.
Every day I tip the jug and from its spout pour
the rivers and rivers of mother thoughts. 
Sometimes it seems I will never run out but I do. 
The day came when the jug felt dry as baked clay. 
My mind on the subject of mother was empty. 
Now I see her name and my mind is blank. 
I am purged and clean; I am a motherless person. 
Then my man died and his death usurped. 
Everything I encounter connects me to his absence. 
I have been under that thumb for so long 
and I'm afraid to stop because he too will be gone. 
Out of mind, out of sight. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017


I barely move now. Nearly still.
Crawling beneath a shell, 
the past stacked high, scales 
for every memory. 
Inside each, a photo or two. 
Some letters. A wool cap.
With my load, I amble 
along, here and there. 
No sense of where
The question every day, 
where now? 
What is life without a hill to climb? 
There must be a hill to climb.
A widow must step outside 
and look around,
pick up a tool and get to work. 
She must choose a path and clear it, 
then fill it with flagstone. 
No good to stroll about  
like some old tourist 

in Chinatown. 

Gutttural sounds

Oh honey, look at me.
Sitting here and must endure
your failure to be present,
to suffer the deficiency 
of you all by myself,
endure the lack of you 
without you.
Here and now this paucity 
of you must be gone
through so alone.

I can’t remember all we did,
only how you nursed me in the dark.
I have memorized your eyes on me.
I could not love you more 
than I loved myself 
but I loved you enough, 
or so you wrote in every card 
piled here on my lap. 

But just when I need you most, 
you are so absent,

so enormous this gap.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


His grooming strikes you 
the way a green golf course in winter 
calls out 
for a long long 

His love of it speaks
no words, 
there’s a shyness in him 
toward the art 
though he entered the world 
its schemes.

Even when the nurse wheels 
him to dinner, 
you must look at the man 
with waves of white hair 
in the knobby whelk sweater, 
those dark eyes open and blank 
as a mounted stag, 
but my oh my, 
what class, what rank.