your heart is not home

you didn’t know you could be lovesick
for a place, two years on
and no cobble-walking, tender for streets

even crosswalk signals; so when your mind sits light
on the task in hand, stitching waves
on ocean waves or maybe curled winter winds

you’re startled to see just that turn
of the Holzweg, the shop with wine-glass
windows, outdoor stacks of rugs

was it the sudden sun-glint on your cheek?
all your pieces wrapped in a rush
still swathed in paper, waiting

This Advent Season

Frost-night church bells
dim, no night of angels but
blaring electric light—hark!
the child who came, the Son
the man with never a place
to lay his head but
shallow alleys, shopping malls
gray-sky corners, caves

We all converged on the great city
we who worshiped power
and its palaces, comfort
for cold and sore feet
while these my brothers
hurried and howled
these my sisters
huddled head-down

All this distance
from heaven to earth
woman to man to man
empty and full asking why
and when would he come



No wildness here. Fountain, nest-box, feeder—
the pond itself—all man-made. We walk across
the hospital car park, half-empty in summer evening
with its surround of tame plantings, neat
golden daylily mounds, cerise scentless roses
bricks, benches, sidewalk. We can still see the highway
stoplights in their cycles, but ignore the traffic
all faceless humanity; we are only this family of three
and we have come for the swans. We pause
at the prescribed seat, admire them at a distance
with their attendant ducks. Our girl tugs us onward
and the male now sails his wings, drifting close
stern-eyed, closer still, huge and real and fearsome
but here are the young with their mother, pearl-gray
slight, arching their necks, sipping the water
learning majesty, teaching joy in small doses


French City Mystery (a fragment)

Colored by rain one morning
depending on sadness
sighing high houses in the mist
bridges piled on the river
(everything yellow
and falling


We’re here! NaPoWriMo Day 30, prompt is poems in translation. Many years since I studied (not learned) French, but I had fun with the two or three words I recognized in the early stanzas of Charles Baudelaire’s “Les Sept Vieillards.”


Like a mythic island
rising from the mist
for just one moment
on waking I saw
the stone high towers
of a castle, my tall window
framing that heart-familiar view
before mystic shapes resolved
into these quotidian
dawn-lit trees


Making this little poem claim to work hard for Day 24. NaPoWriMo prompt: mix and match high-flown and mundane language;  Poetic Asides prompt: lost and found.

Urban Starlight

These dusty ancestors: a matter of faith
when only the brightest still show up
to pierce the tattered clouds, the streetlight haze
tired and perfunctory compared to the blaze
of their mythical glory. They’ve been at it
eons, pulsing dreaming guiding
but now we spin these wheels to power
the night and can offer them retirement
close the book on their song
of glittering mystery


Urban (blank) prompt from Poetic Asides.


Février. The days growing longer but still threatening snow. We took the train from Frankfurt bundled into coats, scarves, the wrong seats set right in our sorry mix of German, English, French. Suitcases bumping cobbles, gray skies; our hotel sunny yellow, its courtyard still filled with green and breakfast elegant on spindly tables—croissants, café au lait—we could have been a painting. Sleet at the Eiffel Tower, rain on the Champs-Élysées and a tea-shop for warming. Lights winking on in the dimness, jardins, musées. We pored over maps, streets radiant, curving, narrow, grand, the river and all its bridges, names hopelessly garbled in our cold laughing mouths. How it never translated to street level; how we felt glad to wonder, to tell ourselves, now we are here.

Suburban Tech

Dear Sirs, you’ve lost control
of your traffic. These platoons
of driverless cars, routed
from the highway
and through my yard?
There are ghosts enough
in the concrete rows
of former cornfields—
the sky too blue
the clouds too white

Inspired by PAD Chapbook Challenge Day 10, technology/anti-technology and by this article about the future of transportation.


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