Fifteen Years

A frost-sparked garden path. Tragedy waits

around the corner, casual in sneakers and parka,

no ominous music or long shots of empty,

darkened streets. The sun shines; children laugh;

on the next block a house goes up with clap

and clatter, a future rising board by board.


Half your eternity away, snow threatens.

You’re thinking of Christmas, your unborn son.

This heart-dullness is an echo, a suspension,

a waiting. All falls and crashes sound fleece-thick

muffled but your daughter snuggles to your side

where you’re gazing out the window and asks you

what is wrong.


To My Father

By the wayside goes Tennyson’s Idylls—
the best of knights laid to rest
among constellations, comets, nebulae
and any splendor spared from sunset

My unpacking is eternal
Roman ruins, crumbled castles
Stonehenge, Starnbergersee

I used to think that too much poetry
caused my worship of starship captains

You, pipe-smoking Sherlock
were the silent-gunned cowboy
singing Simon and Garfunkel
reading books about dragons

Lifelong Texan, I dream you
in New England rain
Welsh hill-mist

My hero ageless in black socks
mowing grass, drinking tea
(sometimes whiskey)
pitching horseshoes

There is a heart to this–


Your first language after heartbeat:

Music. This foreign tongue, human,

is hard. It works slow and strange

in the mouth, bitter in truth and lies,

its grammar convoluted; the idioms

of face and body incomprehensible

to the non-native, but (carelessly

coached) you tried.

Until you stopped.

“Shut down,” they said: cold divorce.

Of course your heart never closed,

God knows you bled all unspoken

through chord and melody, but the

other, so rarely used, fell dissonant

at her feet.


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.

But Wishes Breed Not

Fallow time, moon-dark: no power

of words nor healing much less

smiles tears or beauty-making

(feeble light flickers in clouded lantern)


You know the black river under

starless skies ever cold and silent

No remedy but surrender

touch bottom (source-love)

and resurface


Title borrowed from “We Lying by Seasand,” by Dylan Thomas.

Mornings at Home

It would be the morning the boat left

(not the one she dreamed, coffee-mug in hand

gazing out the window at the season’s first rose—

the morning he returned and the floor still sticky

from yesterday’s juice spill)

or any morning after


Every afternoon an excruciating exercise in desk-sitting

watching the sun cross, sink, disappear

Every evening a ticking away on the wedding-present mantel-clock

and old news the worst news: death, war, nature’s havoc

Every night a dark-staring contest and the house creaking its joints

some small balcony-creature scritching at the door


It would be the morning the boat left—

the third of May—the docks a hundred miles away

and she would be home with the juice spill

every morning now looking just like the last


Inspired by We Drink Because We’re Poets Prompt #8: “Write an ode to Mornings…anything goes.” I skipped the “ode” part and embraced the “anything goes.”

I would have taken you to Cymru, in the west

We’d rent a car and drive the wanderers’ roads

We’d seek the house where Dylan Thomas lived


We’d walk the fields of summer sheep-cropped green

Through gates and gaps in criss-crossed dry-stone walls

In the heart of hilly Cymru, in the west


I’d carry snacks and guidebook; you, the map

You’d ask about my work, and deep in talk

We’d seek the house where Dylan Thomas lived


You’d stop and smoke and gaze up at the crags

We’d argue myth and Merlin and gray kings

In the heart of hilly Cymru, in the west


We’d stop for a pint and just at end of day

In a salt-scrubbed scruffy village by the sea

We’d find the house where Dylan Thomas lived


We’d hear the local singers spin their tales

Of loves and feats of heroes long at rest

I would have taken you to Cymru, in the west

We’d find the house where Dylan Thomas lived