Tuesday, May 28, 2013



The room was kept dark,
funereal silence only broken
by the hum of the fish tank filter.

A few bookshelves, lined with
Encyclopedia Britannica
and the latest children’s
books, the kind one might find
in a hospital waiting room,
all pulled invitingly close
to each shelf lip.

In one corner
a piano, never played,
now that she’s gone,
and the water in the fish tank

constantly drips

like the tears that wrinkle
the unread pages of your book.

Submitted to dVerse OpenLinkNight. A lot of good poetry happens over there tonight--type a few lines and send them in! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Openings: A Glosa in Honor of Wendell Berry

This is a glosa, a poetry form that Sam Peralta has challenged us to write for dVerse Form For All night. He explains it well--essentially, it's 4 stanzas, 10 lines each, the 6th, 9th, and 10th lines rhyming. And, most important, each last stanza line is taken from a cabeza, a 4-line heading that is borrowed from a favorite poet one wishes to honor. I'm pretty late getting this out, since I wasn't sure I would have time today to read and comment. It could have turned out better (I was rushing! something I am opposed to in this poem!!), but it is something I can work with later on. 


I walk in openings
That when I’m dead will close.
Where the field sparrow sings
Will come the sweet wild rose.

            (Wendell Berry, Sabbath Poems, 1990, IV)

When I was younger
I liked to force my way
Through the woods. The most
Tangled path made me
Feel brave, lording my
Superior wits against Nature, cutting
My way through wildness.
Imagine my surprise, now
That I’m finding
I walk in openings,

Slowly, taking only those steps
Freely offered by the way.
It’s a different kind
Of bravery—non-combative,
Even doubtful. In openings
I am exposed,
Seeing and being seen
By things that live on
The shadow-boundary that’s imposed,
That when I’m dead will close.

And there is a
Hushed joy even in that
Which makes life
A hymn to limitation,
A song of surrender, like
The murmur of wave-rings
Circling out from a thrown stone.
The light rain has begun
To fall in the opening
Where the field sparrow sings

Her single trilled note
To the graying sky.
I am still. A single
Step would feel
Like blasphemy, like breaking
Faith with those
Whose lives are entwined
With mine, soon not to be.
Yet, after we all die and decompose
Will come the sweet wild rose.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Annie Dillard: Our Original Intent

(Photo: Three of my boys, fishing and looking)
I am no scientist. I explore the neighborhood. An infant who has just learned to hold his head up has a frank and forthright way of gazing about him in bewilderment. He hasn't the faintest clue where he is, and he aims to learn. In a couple of years, what he will have learned instead is how to fake it; he'll have the cocksure air of a squatter who has come to feel he owns the place. Some unwonted, taught pride diverts us from our original intent, which is to explore the neighborhood, view the landscape, to discover at least where it is that we have been so startlingly set down, if we can't learn why.

-- Annie Dillard, from Pilgrim at Tinker Creek

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


For dVerse OpenLinkNight. Short and sweet. Share your poem, long or short, polished or still in progress.


That vast space between


a gibbous moon,
philosophy failed,

and there I laid you
down, I laid you down.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Clowns are Freaking Scary

Paper regularly collects on my bookshelf. Articles I print out for later reading, birthday/holiday cards that I put aside for future disposal (just in case the giver happens to come by I can pretend to have saved their important well-wishes), time-sensitive mail that I fully intend to handle soon, school papers from the kids, and, best of all, artwork from the kids.

Yesterday I cleaned out my accumulation and found this drawing from one of my sons, probably dating from Dec. 2011-Jan. 2012. I don't know if I've seen anything scarier in my life.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

It Is Enough

Anna got me thinking about willing, wishing, answering the call in her great post on dVerse Meeting the Bar. I put a few lines together, but nothing seemed to fit the prompt as well as this older poem, slightly reworked. My apologies to the few who may have already read this one. 

It Is Enough

I heard my share
of sermons, serving
time on straight-backed
pews, begrudging each
moment lost
                     to eternity.

My elders sat willingly           
in expectation
of heavenly reward, glad
to leave all worldly affairs,
glad to rest weary bones
if only for a moment.

They meant well.

I see that now, now
that my own bones
need rest, now that
I hope beyond all hope
to be free in the divine.

But we will never
decipher the mystery, try
as we might. Will we?
All we have from him
we already know,
written bold:
do not kill,
do not steal,
do unto others.

We stumble over what
we do not have: the
shrouded, incomprehensible,
written in sand, faint

markings that lead us
to belief or despair. I believe
it is enough to want
to believe. It is enough.

Technology and Me (by way of Hank Hill)

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


(Image credit: http://redwasp.net/)
Another dVerse OpenLinkNight, hosted by the illustrious Claudia Schoenfeld. Making connections. Here, I make a connection with a red wasp. We are not so different after all. Post your poem and join in!


In my pickup waiting,
window open to the day,
a red wasp lands
on the dusty dashboard
to clean her legs, rubbing
them earnestly on her
heart-shaped head.

Bump Bump Bump
She tries to take off,
lifting her cinnamon body
upward only to bounce
off the windshield. Again,  

Bump. She pauses, puzzled,
seeing the same blue sky
above, the familiar yellow
pine dust floating, the ordinary
soft air just overhead.


With something akin to rage
her stinger pulses, in and out;
and I, with utter gentleness, lift
her to the open window,
knowing what it is
to go Bump.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Sanders: Keep Gesturing

All that pictures and words can do is gesture beyond themselves toward the fleeting glory that stirs our hearts. So I keep gesturing.
--Scott Russell Sanders, "Beauty" 

Monday, May 6, 2013

Maureen Ash: Church Basement

Ted Kooser is not only a great poet, he is also a great judge of poetry. This is one of the finest poems I've read in a while. Copied with permission from ALiP.

Welcome to American Life in Poetry. For information on permissions and usage, or to download a PDF version of the column, visit www.americanlifeinpoetry.org.
American Life in Poetry: Column 424

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It’s a difficult task to accurately imagine one’s self back into childhood. Maybe we can get the physical details right, but it’s very hard to recapture the innocence and wonder. Maureen Ash, who lives in Wisconsin, gets it right in this poem.

Church Basement

The church knelt heavy
above us as we attended Sunday School,
circled by age group and hunkered
on little wood folding chairs
where we gave our nickels, said
our verses, heard the stories, sang
the solid, swinging songs.

It could have been God above
in the pews, His restless love sifting
with dust from the joists. We little
seeds swelled in the stone cellar, bursting
to grow toward the light.

Maybe it was that I liked how, upstairs, outside,
an avid sun stormed down, burning the sharp-
edged shadows back to their buildings, or
how the winter air knifed
after the dreamy basement.

Maybe the day we learned whatever
would have kept me believing
I was just watching light
poke from the high, small window
and tilt to the floor where I could make it
a gold strap on my shoe, wrap
my ankle, embrace
any part of me.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2012 by Maureen Ash. Reprinted by permission of Maureen Ash. Introduction copyright © 2013 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.
American Life in Poetry provides newspapers and online publications with a free weekly column featuring contemporary American poems. The sole mission of this project is to promote poetry: American Life in Poetry seeks to create a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. There are no costs for reprinting the columns; we do require that you register your publication here and that the text of the column be reproduced without alteration.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Marilynne Robinson: The Human Face

. . . now that I am about to leave this world, I realize there is nothing more astonishing than a human face. [My friend] Boughton and I have talked about that, too. It has something to do with incarnation. You feel your obligation to a child when you have seen it and held it. Any human face is a claim on you, because you can't help but understand the singularity of it, the courage and loneliness of it, but this is truest in the face of an infant. I consider that to be one kind of vision, as mystical as any. Boughton agrees.

--Marilynne Robinson, from Gilead

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Tonight at dVerse, our hostess, Victoria Slotto, invites us to write something with voice, passion--something about which we are motivated, inspired, excited, or outraged. This one is not really up to those standards, but it is about an event that held deep feeling for me at that time of my childhood. And I think it does ring with my voice, such as it is (that is, I think it's typical of the kind of stuff I usually write!). Come share with us!


That blazing afternoon
when I chased an ill-thrown ball
into the front yard, and saw
your shoes beside our car’s
open door, your upturned
purse, and you were nowhere,
and what can you expect
from a boy weaned on
Armageddon and the Imminent
Return of Almighty Christ?
In the twinkling of an eye,
we were told, and the blood
rushed to my hair-tips, and I looked
for you, would not be comforted.

And later, you came home and told us
how you saw little Randy
running across the street, careless,
and the black low-slung sports car
screeching, flinging him into the air,
and before he came tumbling down
you had dropped your purse, run out
of your shoes, and he would be
all right, just a few broken bones,

but I thought you were gone
to be with Jesus, one taken
and the other one left,
and never again have I felt
so alone.

More Backyard Fun

This is my third day off in a row--a rare event here recently, but it's been nice to reconnect with the family. Today is breezy and cloudy, and last night's light rain left behind a welcome coolness. I took the littlest munchkinette outside to talk to the flowers. We had a splendid time.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Backyard Fun

I was able to spend some time with the boys today, after they came home from school. We found this big skink, about 8"-9". This isn't the first one we've found, or the first one that I've blogged about--I guess the backyard is a welcoming skink habitat. Here's a pretty good shot.

I came in a little closer, trying not to scare it away.

A little closer still.

This guy's had a tough go of it--notice the scars on his head and back, and it looks like a fairly new tail. Moving in for the big-time closeup, and . . .

Yeah, he split pretty fast, made me jump. Up the tree he went. You can just make him out, center of the picture, left side of the trunk.

I saw a lot of other wildlife. Here's two of the boys, digging in the ground for bugs. They get that honestly, I suppose.