Resolving the Year

half-year: half-clouded
horizon, old thoughts cast new
loops around half-moon
Today begins our Family Poetry Project, brainchild of Number Three, in which each family member writes a poem a day for the duration of the school summer holidays. Can we keep it up? We are going to use a selection of prompts. Today I made a haiku per Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.

Blackbird’s Patience

Time has not passed for me
in years or even seasons, moonrise
or sunset, river flood or ice-sharp howl
To wait as I have is only suspension
of wing-beat, heartsong—in my dreams
I walk the earth but my voice is gone

Wizard still strings his words in dullness
Crone sits staring, opens blue jar and sniffs
My girl will come back—To have her back!
But I’ve seen her across unbridged river
settled for what humans call love, forgetting
bright belief like autumn’s rotted leaves

Autumn Spells

My heart falls and falls. She smiles
like a flower under glass, fading
far from native earth and sun and sky

I give her home, children, garden, love
but longing follows her like a shadow
wakes me in the night to see her walking

at the forest’s edge, staring hard across
moon-bright water, listening—for what?
—fingers open, reaching, empty.

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.

End of the European Adventure

Café umbrellas blooming (sunny days);

the gabled houses leaning eave to eave;

these lofty steeples watching maze-like ways

and cobbled fountain squares—how can I leave?

The castles standing lonely, hillsides strewn

with sheep; the mountains’ shawls of mist and snow;

the rustic doorways framing stars and moon

and shadowed cypress, olive groves below;

medieval city walls and Roman baths

in crumbled ruins; art and music born

and raised sublime; the bird- and brook-sung paths

through ancient forests—oh! for these I’ll mourn,

for now it’s time to turn and time to pack.

(I’ll nurture dreams for joyful journey back.)


Strange, how I can see the hilltop town

lights many miles away and the headlights

of distant cars twinkling as they move down

switchback loopy roads—glittering stars

to the steady planetary glow of the towns.

But no, the planets move and so they are

the cars and the towns the fixed-star definers

of the sky: the hills are there and there. Strange,

to tell myself I am here, tonight, in Italy.

(I have to keep telling myself.) For I have seen

hills before and hilltop towns before. True

there are cypresses, tall thin shadows in this

deepening night, but I have seen stone houses

before and olive trees before. I have felt

gusty fall breezes before, seen cloud-shrouded

full moon before. I have drunk Italian wine

before. But on this chill night in this gusty breeze

under this cloud-shrouded moon, with the warm

light through the doorway of this stone house

above this olive grove (with this glass of Italian

wine in my hand), I know I am here, and am glad.


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.


A sea-storm of cloud over just-dark:

brightness beneath, bats whispering

the air out of reach, breath held


breeze rattles black cherry

and the moon-rim rises, pulls clear

quivering against blue-black


Something more than five hundred

full moons I’ve been alive and why

this one night it transfixes me—


How many of those hundreds have I

completely ignored, blind to looking,

blinder to not be transfixed?


If it were ten times brighter, twenty

times, would I not soon forget it

just the same? Take all for granted:


bat-wing silence, leaves unfurling

in daylight, the rise and fall of waves,

countless fruits dropping to the ground


What good is it to notice the fruit

if I don’t look up to the tree? What good

is it to be transfixed by the moon


in a sea-storm cloud with you in bed

waiting for me to lower the blinds?


Inspired by last night’s moon-sky and a little interchange I had with Meg at Pigspittle, Ohio about Noticing.