On a painting by Franz Marc

nature’s own masterwork
shading thoughts



i counted horses, dreamed
distant hill



taking fields for granted



A new form for me–this is a series of three. Learn about the tilus, see the painting, and join the fun at Jane’s Poetry Challenge #42.

Michelangelo in Hiding

in the Medici Chapels

A small room to the left of the altar
a trap door and down. You hide
and wait for world’s forces to forgive
to find art is more important
than power’s shifting tides. You sketch.
With charcoal, with your finger.
The corners full of shadows, footsteps
on stone above. A tiny window for light
and it is not always light.

day one day five day twenty
day six twelve nineteen

The food is cold the cell is damp how long
will you huddle here? Haunted by what
you have yet to do, by all those stone hearts
waiting to breathe

Inspired by this article about Michelangelo and by PAD Chapbook Challenge Day 16, a “haunted poem.”

Young Woman Seated at the Virginals

Daily I dress and sit, touch these keys,
nimble fingers bent to practice a song,
pray music could come from this desire

to sing out strong. What more could I desire
than to sit corseted, cosseted, pressing keys,
waiting for the world to praise my song?

Beneath silken shell a heart beats in song
while I grow old in daily habit, desire
mounting—to shatter this case and its keys.

(Why do I sit at these keys, bursting with song of desire?)

Another Miranda

How can I fathom this spectral procession?
Shall I rejoice that you drape sea-nymphs
with pearls, weave some glowing sea-change
to make courtiers of naught but magicked bones
fleshed, bedecked with rich coral and plumes,
your yearning after flowers? When the vision
doth fade, do we not suffer, being yet more alone?

O strange, that I should want to see beyond
this watery cave to the sunlit air whence came
this gold, these chests, these spars;
to crave speech of other, real woman or man
to see beyond this blackness, stars?

Having fun with Jane Dougherty’s invitation to imagine a story for this painting by Ilya Repin. I couldn’t resist sprinkling in some Shakespeare.


To find the poet’s place, exit
concrete boulevard, travel mind-
star miles to a green hill overhanging
ocean (or a lake or merely more fields
of sheep and yesterday’s sum of time—
summer mist-cold and sheltered
by silence, silvered neighbors just there
if you need them, trees turned
by storm-wind, insect hum high
brook-chatter, the night-limned runner
far ahead, speeding path
to stone-walled moss-field
guarding or mourning
or both)
hide hollow below castle walls
note-soaring above modern city:
this mix of yes and no
push and pull and aching
the shadow of tomorrow
spilled in water
on upturned palms, pleading

Donatello in the Bargello, Florence

Six hundred years ago

you had different ways

and reasons for making.

                                                  Love, Human. The same.

I came because your David

struck me here

art class, years ago.

                                                  You came because your children

                                                  are not marble.


The NaPoWriMo prompt for Day 14 was to write a poem in dialogue form.

Planning a Pilgrimage to Yeats’ Grave

More than nineteen autumns

have passed since I fell in love

with Ireland, with words—

brilliant creatures lyrical

mysterious, beautiful


I don’t know if I can claim

that I’d never before desired

a bee-loud glade; nor can I blame

you entirely for my choice

and my pride to stitch

and unstitch these lines

rather than scrub kitchens

break stones


(Soul, clap your hands and sing

to find again these phrases, to hear

with older ears the cadence

of the dim, green isle

Heart, skim back the years to see

a pulsing belief in faeryland, star-laden

seas and terrible beauty…)


I will go soon to Drumcliff churchyard

by the road, an ancient cross

there I will gaze and pray that I know

the song of linnet’s wings

peace dropping slow


I don’t know how better to pay my respects than to steal favorite lines from his works—“The Lake Isle of Innisfree,” “The Man Who Dreamed of Faeryland,” “Adam’s Curse,” “The Wild Swans at Coole,” “Easter 1916,” “Sailing to Byzantium,” ”Under Ben Bulben”

To the poet who breathed her last in this cave

This hollow place with the tide-breeze sighing—

Can I believe that the goddess brought me here

and say that when young dawn stroked rosy fingers

over the damp cave walls I saw your markings

and wondered how they aligned with the stars?


I unwrapped this tissue-linen and found nothing

but small bones, bird-fine and hollow, dyed shells

that I rinsed in tide-pool water and gazed at, wondering.

Can I believe that if the goddess brought me here

it was to interpret your breathings, the soft sigh echoed


by tide-breeze that vents this star-gazing cave?

Can I believe you once lived here at all?

Because I find only tissue-thin bones, salt-streaked

shells and they don’t align with your markings.

I wait under empty skies, dry-eyed and wondering.


When young dawn with her rosy fingers strokes

these open hands I will, with what care I can,

arrange these dyed shells, your bird-hollow bones

into a cairn below your markings. If I can believe

the goddess will bless the shrine, I will take this life-


breath and follow fading starlight onto the open sea

once more.


With apologies and gratitude to Jenifer Cartland at Poems from in between for this inspiration.