managing

we whiz along, or grind
jaws tight with effort
to be good and right and
happy

until we explode—
all the mess to clear up
exhausted

screaming and crying and chaos and blood
nearly always
the loom of news vans

we are no more than animals
we fear

while juncos hop along the brick
cat-scattered
squirrel descends fence
walnut bigger than its head
tight in its teeth

Opening the blinds

When you were in the hospital
I went looking for something
in your dark cluttered room—
you wanted your calendar—
and found my last custard cup
full of coins and old batteries
on your nightstand and knew
you had never asked to use it
but just pulled it from the shelf
as if you had right to anything
since we’d let you into our home
perhaps; but I took the dish back
gave you an old butter tub in its place
and yes I felt small but had I not
felt small all the time

building the rest of the world

ripples, or a Zen rock garden
the atom at the center

because we began
in the same star, light-

years ago, falling
(sometimes fall still)

but these rooms of reality
small (rocks, again)

catch us, safe
when we want to float free

Inspired by passages from Alan Lightman’s book Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine, pp. 53 and 55.

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April Gifts

i.

the cardinal sudden like words
from a friend, bright unexpected
against leafless sky, same sweet
song and soul-balm

ii.

not faith but a kind of pride, your belief
every day should offer something
like this dirt finally warming,
hand-crumbled, enough?

iii.

if the pansies survive
this record cold, it is no god’s bow
to the balance due, nor even
to your impatience

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