Friday, March 29, 2013

Two chickens missing

With spring’s at last
comes this sudden moving
in to out, limb to stalk,
thawing patch to puddle,

chicken footprint crosses
here and there bleeding
into the last spongy rags
of snow. The sun writes

an invitation on blue
sky vellum to all of us
creatures — large, small,
chased, chasing — the surfacing

grub, the jerky hen, the hawk
patient in everlasting promise.
Even these white feathers
blossoming in the grass.

Monday, March 25, 2013

questions at the end of March

You cannot tell
from the wind chimes
or from the truck's
barreled rhythm
if it is spring or winter,

but the click of the woodstove
is slowing, and we
are almost out of wood.

The question
remains, whether we buy
another load
or maybe chop and stack
one more dead tree
from the pond’s shoulder

with no thought
in its body of spring

no map of which streams
to open, and when,
no worry of frost
or drought
or whose song is being sung,

neither looking up
nor down. It is a fact
that you cannot tell
from the dead tree
if it is spring or winter

until you burn it
because you need it alive
and clicking one last time

Thursday, March 21, 2013

we are drowning

Sometimes it is all just too much, and finding beauty feels like the wrong calling. As more information surfaces about the costs of war, of rape, of power, I am so sick I can't refrain from writing out of this mess. 

We are drowning 

in an ocean,
a human drain

under the plank
that moves with pleasure
on top of us,
an iron vessel that keeps on
floating and sliding through waters
calmed by those themselves
who ride us,

their vision of
clear sailing
in a free and open sky
beautiful to them
who look to the horizon

while we thrash
in the still dark deep
stain below,
pulled down
under them
into the

Saturday, March 16, 2013

mud season

I laughed out loud just now as I finalized this poem. I started it at around 6:30 this morning, while it was still dark outside. Last I looked (yesterday early evening) Michigan was in that season between winter and spring, when everything is drab, brown, muddy and puddly. When I looked up from my laptop after typing "mudstone" a few minutes ago I saw that it is now light outside, and everything is covered with a fresh layer of white: two inches on the ground, and every twig and bamboo leaf heavy with it. We have had one snowfall after another for a couple of months. But anyway, the mud season will come again soon.

Mud season

When I think
how much
of life is spent
on pavement —
   sidewalks, roads, foundation slabs

I am grateful
for the season of mud
in this field and woods
even as my feet sink
and rise sucking
even when all is drab
no fairy white guise
even when stems
bent and broken
resemble wall-leaning
Bedlam sickness
even when trash
in small blue or red
strips and noblets
reminds me of the sometimes
painful touch of humans
I go ‘round and ‘round
this circled path
boots painted brown with mud
and I parse
out from drabness
cushioned deer beds
of copper needles, green
liverwort mosses knitted
over roots, jade lichen
lacing sumac sleeves,
bronze oak leaves sculpted
into armed Venuses
hanging at eye level,
fallen pine boughs
where hunter green fountains spray
as if to announce there is still water
flowing through this broken branch
its jagged tip
a beautiful sienna
striated in circles
like a miniature butte
in the Grand Canyon
where a river once flowed
its layers
an infinite range
of ochre shades 
of mudstone

Tuesday, March 5, 2013


I worked on a poem yesterday, well more like struggled with a poem. There was so much I wanted to say. But the more words I added, the worse it became. Nothing of the meaning came through. How could adding more words make meaning more obtuse? But so it was.

Then last evening I did a movie and dinner with my poetry mentor, Diane. She told me that this was the second year she'd been asked to judge a national haiku contest. Each judge was given 500 haiku that had been published in journals and had to choose five. Then each judge was given those five choices of the other judges to rank the top ten. She explained that last year she agonized over the process, afraid she would reject something worthy. But this year she did not agonize and enjoyed it.

Sometime after waking up this morning it occurred to me that maybe less would be more in that poem I struggled with. Maybe haiku would express the imagistic meaning I felt far better than the explanatory lines I kept adding. Maybe what is best rises to the surface when more and more is eliminated. I don't know how well this haiku works for a reader (or judge), but it expresses what I feel about this moment of anticipation in nature. The haiku is an opening, for the music.


stems and sticks upright in snow 
bows at rest, ready 
for a cello to play “suite”