To those who will live in this house, afterward

Give it life again. Be bold
in empty rooms the echoes are stilling
of what we made, what we talked over,
plans, the building of it: paint, floors,
curtains, yard. Wildflowers, vegetable rows,
perennials now overgrown with vines.
Get to know each creak and pop,
the cold corners and where a breeze will be
most welcome. Which window bursts pink
with bloom, which frames unfailing tulips;
how squirrels run the line
from garage to house with stolen tomatoes
or the neighbor’s peaches. The deck swept
clean and awaiting fall of maple leaves,
the golden slanting light; here a cat
might like to bask or seek shade.
Where snow will drift and pile,
how ice can encase every slight branch
of the crabapple, every perfect red fruit

All blackbirds in silhouette

It’s air-tight, this insulation
house silent except

the wicker crackle
of my chair-seat, periodic

ping of the furnace. Outside
before the sun, before even

the start of a down-street engine
swinging headlights, distant dog-bark

if I open the door (if)
a wealth of opening

joyflood birdsong, after-rain
dirt-scent, green

purelife welling a balm
worth its wait


Thank you, Jane, for the blackbird gold.

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.

Girl and Bat: A Poem for Two Voices*

against full moon
Shadow soaring
over skylight
Wing-swept wind
above my nose
                                                               Heart frantic-beating

                                    It’s from this

skimming smallish                          jerky largish


Get it                                                    Let me

I can’t see!                                          I’m afraid!

                        She’s more afraid of me?

*Performance note: I have adapted the format used by Paul Fleischman in his wonderful Joyful Noise. The poem can be read aloud by two readers at once, one taking the left-hand part, the other taking the right-hand part. The poem is read from top to bottom; lines at the same horizontal level are spoken simultaneously, and lines in the center column are spoken in unison.


things are gathering dust:

a mountain of must to sort,

slates to clean, a mean pile

of work to make this smooth

clock tick


but we have time, a garden art,

in these few hearts planting seeds

where the world’s wind will

snap no branch, let spirits

grow sky-straight


it’s not too late:

a touch of forbearance

at the end of the world

goes down cozy as coffee

and heartening as wine,

true-vine compassion

that forgives this mess


Literary in the Forest

Miss Havisham, dear Ophelia, let us flee

this dark house, the cruelty of misplaced

desire, the paneling of which is suitable

only for our coffins. Let us find another wood,

a brighter home of our own choosing, lush

with fern, moss-hushed, honeysuckle glinting,

scenting the sunlight and the hill-born(e)

breeze. Let us step from the shade into glade

of pink foxglove, listen for rocks’ water-song

and silence of trees.

                                            There is no revenge in pity,

no sympathy in surrender, so cast off your wrecked

dresses, your sodden tresses; care not about full-

filling hours. We will study butterfly wings, speech

of birds. We will deck ourselves with wild roses—

or toss them at the b(r)ook.


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.