Things to do in Tuscany

1. 900-year-old historical heart
a piano, soprano & tenor
profound fresco, unsurpassed views
lunch under the pergola in the garden

2. The Duomo façade has no true rival
you do not have to be a lover of opera
unassuming, quiet place to kneel in prayer
(the body remains buried in Rome)

3. Leaning tree growing out of its top
Europe’s first school of drawing
stone-mill discovery of the truth of faith
whose roots have grown below


Found poem sourced from Things to do in Florence, Things to do in Siena, Things to do in Lucca.


I will avoid tints of sentimental;

if there is one thing we both hate

it is someone telling us how we should

feel. I will only say thanks

for allowing me to mother you

through trial

and error.


I will not say go forth and conquer,

but I will say continue and become

in every hue even when you don’t

believe any action or non-action

is of consequence.

It is: every shadow,

every glint.


Sometime Sacrifice

It is a clean place in the low countries,

all gleam, gold and azure between framing

cliffs, water-smooth reflection of white

town walls, sea-blue church spires, billow

clouds and distant in-sailing fleet.


What price, this peace?

What price, these burghers trotting

staid on horseback, wimpled wife

with her back to the half-door?

What price, the wide-open gates

and stream of people wending

curving path to crowning castle?


On the near green hill is violence.

It is a lonely scene, above the town,

screened from worthy citizens’ view.

If they looked up, they might catch

a glint of sun on armor or downstabbed

spear. They don’t look up.


The dragon is also blue and gold,

another part of the landscape.

Did he once come looming, blocking

the sun or kindling in the last glory

of sunset? Did they deliberate long,

in cliff-top towers, on the appropriate



The princess prays but does not look

afraid. The knight dispassionately

does his duty, only his streaming

crimson sleeves a hint of where

this will end.


It is a clean town on the sea,

and for this the dragon must die.

The idyllic day continues unruffled,

like the water.


 Inspired by We Drink Because We’re Poets: Write about a favorite painting. I was looking at Rogier van der Weyden’s Saint George and the Dragon, painted 1432-1435. You can see it and learn more at the U.S. National Gallery of Art’s website.

Happiness Package

In the beginning, the garden

waited for me (and the yarn)

As I was knit together, stowaway

on this toilsome voyage,

the secret tangle of me meant


and yearn, also beauty-dreaming

and green-growing-things

(not included: kitchen-willing

or gleeful-floor-scrubbing)


The riddle of passion is this:

If we are born to labor, we post-Fall

chastened spirits, then why

the beauty-dream and yearning?

For I don’t believe these are work:

words, music, garden, make

(The ball is unwinding

the path growing straight)


Inspired by this word-list prompt from imaginary garden with real toads.

Desperate Times

I suspect we grew up believing

that Darkness wore only a monster’s face

or swirled, shrouded, in a mushroom cloud;

that one day our own children could go

past the garden gate and safely to school,

returning unshot, unstabbed, unstolen.


Perhaps our ideals—ages of ideas—

freedom, opportunity and all the lofty

stump-speech words are hogwash,

mere castings of mis-aimed minds.

Perhaps we are meant to be enslaved

by want, greed, violence,

misinformation and mistrust.


Except: Why the unquenched desire

for better? Why these frail,

beautiful humans endowed

with soul-language of every art?


Inspired by this fortnight’s Two Cents Tuesday Challenge: Expectations.

For Those Who Made the Book of Kells

For your work, you had light—

as much as could be gathered

in that northern isle—and color

under the too-often colorless sky


In scriptorium silence the passion sang

from within; steady hand, pattern-vision

as much a gift from above as the word

you enwrapped for all the world


The times cannot have been so dark—

vellum glows with intertwinings

of lapis, vermilion, shimmering gold:

revelation for centuries of souls


If you’d like to gaze at pages of this amazing manuscript–probably created in Scotland circa 800 A.D.–find it here in Trinity College Dublin’s digital library. 


Mad-eyed from stating the obvious

and weary withal—what did you

expect from your sojourn

with this crudely formed clay?

Where obvious is the flavor du jour

every journey must result in frustration

a new vow to renounce

it all for your cave and a bagpipe-drowning

of the still, small voice

The days of sackcloth and ashes are gone

we will laughingly proclaim all our sins

in a most barbaric yawp. If you prayed

for subtle or sublime

you have come to the wrong town


Inspired by Quickly’s Prompts from April 9: Take a line from a newly-discovered (in my case, rediscovered) favorite poet and use it as a starting point. I used a line from Richard Wilbur’s “Advice to a Prophet.”