On a Lake in Vermont – poem

Somehow had never visited the Green Mountain State, but spent the past week there giving lectures and touring around. Oh my how beautiful! Re this poem that emerged from a sojourn alongside Morey Lake.

Low hills mirrored
in water like glass.

A cloud sliver paces
its under-surface twin.

Swallows swerve for bugs,
their paired reflections swimming,

brush strokes that punctuate
the otherwise limpid calm.

Loon song evinces
a quaver in the curtain

chorus of those I mourn.
A yodeled incantation:

It is this way today
while you are here

and will be when like us
you are gone.

Snowy Day Poems

Dawns on me that the day may soon come when central Virginia will see a winter without snow, and then another, and then before long snowy days will have become just a memory for us to bore our grandkids with. I’m going to make a hot chocolate, pull a chair up to the window, and, with our pup Buddy at my side, attend.

Sharing, too, a couple snowy day poems, the first by me, the second by Sarah Knorr, who loved snowy days so much. If you’ve written one, please comment back with it – let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

New Mad Swirls

Just a quick announcement this morning in thanks to the tireless and intrepid editors at the online multi-media journal Mad Swirl. Earlier this week, they kindly featured my poem Mementos, and I learned just now that they have also accepted and posted a new series of black and white photos on their arts board as well.

This journal means a lot to me. They consistently share work emerging outside the shielded walls of academia by artists with hearts and sharp eyes, and clearly, for them it’s all about the love. Swirl on, mad ones, and thank you!

ps – Here’s a link to a recent printed “best of” anthology – have a flash fiction piece in there!

Our Breakthrough Quarantine – a poem

Our son Nick, an ocean rescue lifeguard in Nags Head, NC, was vaccinated in May but this month came down with breakthrough covid, and quarantined with his gf, also a lifeguard and vaccinated and sick, at the beach. They’re okay now, back in town. He said they hunkered down indoors, ordered out, played video games, and only ventured outside one night late for a walk. Sentimental dad goes….

In our masks we hold hands
bare feet splashed in the sand
still warm all these hours after sunset.

The 8th of our 10 days sequestered.
Our first outside but late.

Whenever the hospitals normalize
and the masks come off

it will be this squish
of sand, the sea wash,
that wagging finger of moonlight
tracking our solitary stroll…

If we are among the lucky
and why not? Or wherever
you may be, I know I’ll say
but still, there was that night

when we both were feeling better
that pinned it all.

92 & 89 – found poem

They sit in wheelchairs, holding hands,
discussing this new thing
they’ve done together, falling.
He’d bent to catch her fell himself
broke a femur, now nailed.

He says, Glad we built that ramp.
She says, Our handyman, he could be
our driver now?

They stare into the face they know better
than their own.

She says, Let me comb your hair.
He says, Ask him if he’ll drive.
Both with only briefly wetted eyes.

Vanishing Point – a poem

Buddy splashing in the creek behind our house turns up an arrowhead
stubby quartz chipped to fit a twig pierce a buck’s tawny hide.

There that maw in the hillside where some ancestor mined for gold.
Rusted wire in the woods where sheep grazed in the day.

I went home to say goodbye to my brother who lay dying
in our late parents’ bedroom couldn’t take it had to go outside
and poking around in the back field where we’d raised chickens once
kicked up a rotten bucket a corroded canister what’s this?

So here I am at ten this July day swatting shuttlecocks with him
taking turns churning the salt and ice packed peaches and cream
until our father dips a finger licks the custard spits disgusted.
The can had leaked. See him set himself to hurl the whole
kit and caboodle over the back fence. (Mama opens a bag of Oreos.)

Well, here the moment lay weed sewn and half buried in the red earth
even that hand crank that had chafed my knuckles on its side.

In Virginia sometimes to stretch our legs
we wander Civil War battlefields visualize for instance
how close the farm boys crouched facing off like carnival ducks
at Cold Harbor. Once in a while you’ll see an old man in earphones
divining the lawn with his wand in search of a minie ball a button
some more than storied proof of one episode on this or that ageless acre.

And the night Mama died.  She’d been in coma for weeks
at the nursing home in Fork Union built on the farm where she was born.
I left there in tears before dawn stopped short in the parking lot
by a herd of cows chewing cud among the cars
a film overlay made of now and then
as if they’d wandered up from childhood to low her on.

Buddy cocks his head to wonder why I linger in the ankle deep stream
with this little shard of quartz. He doesn’t care that we live
in a lap dissolve, flies in amber that is only sugar melting.

The point at which receding parallel lines
seen in linear perspective seem to meet.

An article on a new book of photography in this morning’s Washington Post sent me down this rabbit hole! Here’s the article.

Mementos – a poem

On the first anniversary of my friend, the poet and disability service worker, Sarah Knorr’s death, this emerged on my morning walk in the woods with our pup Buddy. Guessing you may concur.

We say “passed”
as if they’d tossed a football.

Some use “transitioned”
so you imagine a Star Trek
transporter beam.

It doesn’t help.

Lately it seems
not a month goes by. . .

until I hear myself tell the boys,
“You want a reliable career?
They’re called funeral directors now.”

I need to get out, get on with it.
Live on in their name, as we say.

But it does get lonely in here.

Like when you think of a joke
that only they’d get
and look around to finger
some trinket left behind.