Winter Gifts

yet we can seem spendthrift
in any season scattering care
like birdseed on the ground, wet snow
no more weight on tree-shoulders
than skies gray or gold or blue—
and remember what you’ve done for me
shoring up my heart, careful
packing and piling
these paths through snow
with cold fingers rewiring
the whole house to sun-blaze
pouring joy through windows
and doors spilling love into the night

Cold like the moon

this skimmed-milk faith
glowing a bit, a movie-god’s halo
(but blue-white, LED, not incandescent)
trembling near nightfall
under sudden river-ice


and the reason we want a plot
a cheer-heart resolution
to this hapless wandering
(eat, sleep, cry)—who is writing
your story with its cast of millions
cross-referenced, pronunciation guide
at the end?


when we stood, this close
to touching a beauty hauled round
up-horizon, the glow you would know
for all its pits and crags
until you woke again
and lost it


The girl looks a lot like you
red hair (but dyed), the nose-ring
of rebellion and my pang
for her parents pulls up short
in self-excuse—I want to say
they are not like us
but can we know anything
of how? of their heart-tides
the thousand-faceted diamond
of one soul in one frail body
or its shattering fault

It’s the same old lava pit, one slip
from the beam and we’re lost
in boiling regret. Can we not
spend your lifetime in fretting
over who and what and why?
your path finds its shape

The Same Darkness

We’ve tried to measure this pit
pace it bit by bit
and examine, and not fear

its black pool. Could we submit
trammel soul to fit—
nothing? For nothing wells here

we slip, fall, fail again; quit
strife for dark (fine grit
of hope chafing deep, unclear)


An asefru for Yeah Write’s June poetry slam.

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.

The labyrinth is safe but endless

You think you stroll
a straightforward path
bits of thread-meaning only
someone has been before
(you) until at dead-center
end and broken
in the circle of dreams
the third fox appears

you begin to imagine
messages, force weary words

O Sly One, what problem
must I solve, task
perform to win
the prize, or
merely live?


Title from W. H. Auden’s poem “Casino.”


Wide prairie with a single tree

(add in your paint-blue sky
or cloud-dotted
or billowed with stormy gray
to the west
purple slashed from noon to night)

Wide prairie with a single tree

(make it a cottonwood, leaf shimmer
with a lonely farm—how small!
beside the lake
and give the lake a sunset glint
or a midday dazzle
and a few ducks or geese
or raucous scores of them among the reeds
cranes and herons, blackbirds
a finch?)

Wild prairie with a single tree

(strokes of swaying grasses
more than pronghorn-high
or covering the wheels of the covered wagon
the weary horses’ flanks
sweep it with flowers
purple, golden, red
or make it flattened, winter-scoured
with snow or sleet or death in the wind)

Wide prairie with a single tree

(have you found it yet
under the black, star-streamed sky
or why are you still here)