Monday, August 10, 2020


Have you tried to write a sonnet, while a child fussed at your arm,

Or tried to tell you all the different kinds of Pokemon?

Have you rhymed a little quatrain--have you even turned a couplet

With a baby at your elbow saying Mom, can you just stop it?

There's something about writing that makes children need to snuggle;

Their plumpness is a pleasure, but it makes the task a struggle. 

I will write poems one day, I say, to the wiggler on my lap,

But today I'll scrawl some doggerel, and then I'll take a nap.

Friday, August 7, 2020

harvesting sunflowers

We tease the black seeds
from their spiral nests
like little teeth,
the children's fingers nimbler
than mine. These smaller
circles recall
the first faller--the great
moon face, pie wide.
When it died
the thumb thick stem
green as a lime skin, grew
new small blooms
palmsfull of darktipped seeds
compact in spirals
soldiers surrounded by double
ranks of petals bright
and soft as mango.
We cut the elder sister
off her stem, scraped
the red filaments,
unpacked the dark seeds
to keep, to plant, to toast
and eat; we cut
the first two sister faces
too, propped up in a glass
jar with water.
For a week there they reproached us,
then their bright petals
unpacked themselves
and dropped, puddled on the bare
table like yellow tears.
Just so,
once, I left for the evening
and returning, met my
littlest, her legs
curled beneath her, baby
face pressed to the wood
floor--she'd cried,
her father said, until
she fell asleep.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020


TO my children, let me leave
my love of beetles, their bright backs
gleaming, God's little gems

and of fungus, diverse and startling
in the world's damp places

and of words, that bubble on your tongue
that turn flips, that warp and warble,
bright gigglous things.

Let me bequeath
a chain of prayers, precious
to the God of beetles.
Prayers he gathers up
and stoops to bless
as they trundle over his palms.

Let me teach you
more than any thing, this
that your words too
are dear to him.

My children, bring him your prayers
as you gave me dandelions
and bruised mushrooms:
never doubting my delight
you pressed them eagerly
into my palms.

i do this badly, check back in two years

The myrtle's pink silk frills, that bow
its slender branches to the ground
then drop, and blow in drifts around
Sing praise

The unhurried travel of the vine
that climbs the gate, and steady, winds
its stems, and opens green leaves wide:

The yellow shiver from the trees
where the shrill cicadas scream
to shake the air, scraping their wings
Sounds praise

The bright sweet waft of fragrant mint,
rosemary's pungent piny scent,
and savory thyme like incense lift

The mockingbird that shears the sky
like silver scissors, with a liquid cry
flowing to harsh laughter, dry
Sings praise

We however wall ourselves up in thick metal,
swaddle ourselves in treated air and the stereo sound
of popstar inanities, idiotic anthems that drown out
the engine's roar. So insulated do we rush
on thick paved streets from box to windowed box

through a world of praise


Three's turned herself

upside down again,
she crows, she kicks
her heels above her head
merrily, her legs long now,
summer brown stems,
and her feet are like sunflowers

(how i love the round
proud bowl of her belly
flipped now over her dainty chin,
over her grin, wide
over her teeth)

three is a fierce season,
an age of fists and teeth
into the world
(such tiny perfect teeth,
like white pebbles)
she shrieks, she crows,
peremptory, jubilant

Daughter, don't ever give up kicking your heels.
When you change your thin chest
and your round cheeks
for a full size set
keep on insisting
keep on crowing,
shriek your need.

Sunflower soul, keep
turning the world
around your bright wide joy

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Covid July

After the long flat months
trapped and masked
day after day the same: manna
we make a little room for
little sins
longing for cucumber
dust on our tongues
a long walk still through
how many months
or years
in the same damn sandals
and manna
just enough

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Reading the Elizabethans, 1

I am
a catalogue of parts: a master's list
of lustering gems. A casket full of pearls
and sapphires, faceted, that flash
love's image to their lord.
A green wild world
to be dug up and treasured as a hoard.
I am
a glass, a stone, a form. Galatea,
warm figure, who can moan, can sigh, can kiss.
Or scribed and served up on a silver plate:
two breasts, of such a whiteness, such a size
to press. A narrow neck. Perhaps two eyes
to gaze on love with love. Two cherry lips.
A stomach, maybe, quivering and sweet.
A space between two thighs, white tender meat.
So the poets carve, and plate, and serve
something like a woman to the world.
Come, admire, eat.