Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Now the nights grow chilly

When the kids move out and your man dies 

and the best friends get cancer or move to Arizona,  

the rooms in your house look dried out, roped off

like those rooms in a history museum 

because you just can't remember what you said 

or did in places where things will never be like that again.  

So you make pumpkin bread now and that makes you

smile back

at your Jack O Lantern‘s wicked grin.  

Outside the window a maple tree drops 

bits of gold across the yard, there’s a scent of wood 

burning in the fog & you feel the earth turning its back

On the sun, all the long, bright days

no more. 

Autumn still beautiful as before but

the nights now too chilly

so you go to bed with the candle burning 

just to keep Jack smiling at you

all through the night.


The Locket

I feel guilty. 

I was going to call back J 

and K and then I was going to read 

How Minds Change 

for the new book group 

but the Lex Fridman podcast took longer than I thought 

and afterward

I put on Paul Desmond and dropped 

into my sun-licked couch and picked up 

Len Roberts’ poems. Read and read and read

because Len knows 

how to keep me alert and out of air.

Each word of his poem What the Hell 

Kicks my butt and I am as angry as he 

so I put down the book.  

No need to step further out on the ledge of suffering 

than is absolutely necessary.  

It’s sunny.  I should take a walk.  

I command myself, get up, 

my self talks back. 

Why am I so lazy? 


The phone dings. A text from a boyhood pal 

of my teen-man.  

In town and wants to see us.

I’m excited and slip right into old road trips 

with the boys— how I miss them and

that locket they gave me—

With a string of plastic hot dogs —it’s in a drawer 


I should take it out and wear it

like a badge of honor

because teen-man is not sentimental 

so only I keep all that we have been. 

The memories spill down the hills 

right into me. 

This is my sorrow—custom-made. 

Teen-man will not even make a call.  

So as usual I tear up and text a lie 

back to his old friend.  


Now our old dog pees on the floor—

housebroken 12 years— and there’s blood in it.  

I stay teary. Feel like the last apple holding tight 

To the tree. 

Then the smell of skunk.  

Teen-man’s high now.  

And the rice I steamed came out dry. 

I soak it with 1/4 pound of butter 

and share it with the dog. Together 

we dine on our misfortunes.  


Sunday, May 15, 2022

I've been refused

I’ve been refused epic talent, 

power, fame

a long-lived  marriage 

and grateful children,

what I wanted in my prime, 

in that order

and before that, 

as a pious youth, I was refused 

a world without epic greed, epic hurt.

About that I am still angry, 

But about the rest, about all the rest

I am not angry, 

and about all that came my way, 

all my parochial achievements,

I am pleased, 

more than pleased, 

I am profoundly grateful, 

at times even blissed out

by the wholes and the fragments of my fate, 

the camaraderie and comforts, all the kisses--

for all I was not refused, at sunset

I kneel under the partial moon, the

hiding star.

Monday, April 18, 2022

Thoughts while gazing at Jesus statue in the corridor of Resurrection Church

 The eyes of Jesus grow large when bombs shatter the earth

       and the mouth of Jesus floods with dirt, 

       butter and salt 

in the slums and in the camps 

       and under the on-ramps   

because Jesus lives in the wounded,

       Jesus inhabits the humbled 

       and exalts them 

and the ears of Jesus amplify 

      their moans, 

he understands every language 

      because all people deserve 


     who have done something and those 

who have done nothing 

because the heart of Jesus redeems

      and the hands of Jesus shoo away filth 

      and the knees of Jesus ache from 

      lifting those he exalts

and the elbows of Jesus ache 

       from loading oxcarts and 

       limos with the exalted 

       and soon to be exalted 

because Jesus believes 

whomever wants to be first 

must be the slave of all,

so in everything you do, 

do as you want others 

to do to you

       because that sums up Jesus, 

       his last wish and testimony 

       as well as the last wish of all 

       the prophets before and after 

except the false ones. 


Friday, April 15, 2022

If only I could live fearless, fully awake

 .......every moment clear between these

ears and eyes

        So time would quiet down, 

        so it would move 


         on hands and knees. 

If tasks, news, silly things

       did not hold 

       me in a drowsy  trance

where time zip-lines away

       so it is always the  past 

      or it is always the future.  

How to keep this mind tuned 

     to the shapes of clouds 

    and phases of the moon, 

to the skunks that nibble from the cat’s bowl, 

       the weeping camilla I planted, 

       chimes I hung above it

and after read a poem out loud 

      about why there’s nothing to be so sad about 

     then write a poem about the worm

glistening on the deck 

      and mention all the things Im grateful for

and so turn time into my loving friend 

      who shares delights rather than 

      my foe 

     who steals everything I love. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022


I hesitate 

      but make myself do it.

I place my ear on your pillow

     at 8:32 PM,

the exact moment 

     of your ascent 

a year ago tonight.

     Yes––ascent––a propulsion

I listen for. 

     A gust of wind 

lifting lifting lifting 

     your wholeness

––mustache and thick curls, 

     perfect teeth, long legs––and, of course 

your bel canto trumpet,

     setting your completeness 

down onto the 


of saints marching in, 

     of brass bands 

and beautiful solos, 

     your trumpet blaring, 

your cuff links 


Monday, March 28, 2022

When my man’s hand guides my elbow up the stairs because I have grown unused to being upright (2021 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize Semifinalist

Because I have not slept a full night 

     since Spring, 

have not eaten through my mouth 

    in a season.  

The kitchen looks the same. 

   His mother sets the table, 

the kids sit down to eat

just as they did

      that night I bolt 

 to the ER. 

Now the man I married 

     pulls out a chair, teaches

me how to bend again. 

And I begin to sob 

     at the deep beauty 

of sitting 

      at that table.  

Because I have lived so long 

     as a clam flipped 

on her shell.  

Because in the bleached light 

     of my hospital room,

the scream of machines 

     do not cease, 

I think of all the things I will do 

     if I make it home again.  

First I’ll subscribe 

     to Gourmet magazine, 

learn to cook—embolden

     herbs with my love. 

     I will infuse the world’s oils 

with my devotion. 

   In the garden, I will tear at the ground 

         With both hands and birth 

   more trees 

        and they will include apple, cherry, plumb

and the scent of lemons 

     will besiege the windows 

of the house.

And there will be many red flowers

    to beguile more hummingbirds.

And each morning I’ll gulp down 

     the sun in one breath,

Starting with that first dawn 

    When I am home again.