Ars Poetica

I expected more
but you will sit dozing
in the garden
as if this spectrum
from green to forsythia
were reason enough for being

You won’t rise to the rhythm
of truck-springs, dove-throated
scoldings; you come begging
on moth-wings for dew-drops
or even candleflame, snapping
up any crumb of praise dropped
between cracks while prating
of moonlight and blackbird song

If this kind of drowsy bee-hum
is the nectar you had in mind,
who would sip from it?
It tastes of mower-drone
inelegant clang and clatter
of construction on the next corner
whirr of what—saws? And the chairs
need repair; weeds sprout in the flags

My dear tone-deaf old thing
the blackbird is trying to teach you
while you lie there dreaming
you can sing
and fly


The NaPoWriMo Day 15 prompt is to write a poem that addresses itself.


forever set to disappoint

and astonish (I saw you

coming, sleek youthful

spirit, hobbled by shrinking

shell) like that rose, limp

and foolish, still blooming

under drooping limbs

and lace-fine shroud

of snow


Because I am slow this week, I had a chance to be inspired by two of Jenifer Cartland’s wonderful poems, “Another poem about a rose” and “Book of changes, ii.”

11 September, Mozartstrasse

A day of sun and rain either matches
or causes my mood; we have the illusion
like prism’d spray that we have arrived
at a cross-roads again

(the garden drips fruit-full but yellow
un-leaving but budding for fall bloom
as if no one knows what’s coming)

A day of rain and sun so I vacillate
poised on the balcony-edge of ennui
and sudden energy of making-purpose
jealous of sparkling brilliance

(the drops gather waiting on waxy leaves
spattered tiles, blown roses, trembling
energy before they are ripe for a splash)

I dress in gray and that’s not working
I drink tea and tree-gaze and that’s not working
We weigh this decision as if we had any sway
over these flighty earth-bound souls

(the sky is sudden in the hills—
watch clouds overspill forested heights
race wind-chastened down our valley)

Tree Dreams

The distant hills are age-old forested in greenish black-

birds singing wind blowing at all points and one baby

inconsolably crying a dozen shades of green in the garden

leaves reaching to the open song-filled sky roses blown

and fading (beauty, too, in fading) and the garden needs

no consolation

                                I dreamed I was a hundred-rooted plant

deep-spreading in earth magnificent sidewalk-breaking

strength like next-door cherry fruiting bright red and blood-

red under cloud-bowed sky sheltering the blackbirds shading

the inconsolable

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.

Bird Watching

It rained all night. Today

I dry-muse, inside, on tall roses

prolifically budded pink, yellow, red,


rising behind landscape layers

of glossy green. A blackbird thrashes

to the surface of the window-side shrub.


Ungraceful she is, faded black

with an eye duller than poets suspect:

nesting. Good mother, she must not blink,


must keep her head eternally cocked,

wary gaze on the shadowy unknown.

I wait, unmoving, not wanting to intrude.


(Ear eternally cocked, not even wanting

to listen, I hear the distant metal screech

of the city-bound train. Good-bye


for real, she said, stooping to kiss

her faded mother. She’s dressed for a party,

brilliantly plumed.)


I think this is an answer, of sorts, to the beautiful Prom night by Jenifer Cartland (Poems from in between).

Old People

Of course I am much younger than the old

man, my neighbor, his white head and legs

uncovered as he dozes with newspaper

in the sun. His yard is perfectly trimmed;

the garden surrounding the elegant green

is the wife’s doing, a riot of blossom in May:

roses, clematis, some German shrub I can’t

name. Oh, and a lemon tree. (In winter, it lives

in the glassed-in sun-room.) The wife is old,

too, pottering with her plants all day,

bending over in her rolled-up elastic-waist

khakis and on windy days, the fleece jacket

and her light curls all jumbled. (It is not

because I am getting old that I also wear

rolled-up elastic-waist khakis and potter

around the garden, talking to the plants,

or that I find myself sitting on the sunny

patio, dozing over this notebook.)

Houses (A Love Poem)

The one where you built, brick by brick

the half-walled flower bed, where we never

got around to the deck, where scorpions came

in the showers, where we set up the first crib.


The one-bedroom up a flight of dark stairs

where I wrote stories and school papers,

where we ate Hamburger Helper and the kitchen

rack slipped our wine-glasses to the floor.


The one with 1940s flooring and south view

of winter sun, where the laundry chute

opened on the basement where I worked

while my father died. The crib again, there.


The one with the teeny yard we cut with shears,

marigolds on concrete and opossums on the fence.

The one on the cul-de-sac with kids, a military circle

of playground, hospital, sleepless nights and 9/11.


The one I loved and you hated, money pit with

garden surround. Another crib, endless contractors.

Where you built, board by board, the deck,

where for 10 years we slept to rain on skylights.


This one, concrete-modern, echoing white and screenless,

where I have my very own workroom overlooking

neighbors’ lush gardens, where rain and stars are muffled

by a host of concrete houses, strangers shut within.


It is easy to forget, day by day, the places outside

of photos, the 22 years of furniture, curtains, carpet.

Where we fell into bed, fell into and away from each other,

began a new day again and again and again.


Last night, I glimpsed the full moon shining

through the balcony’s metal blinds.

You were sleeping but I wanted to tell you,

I would go with you anywhere, and still be home.