Like a mythic island
rising from the mist
for just one moment
on waking I saw
the stone high towers
of a castle, my tall window
framing that heart-familiar view
before mystic shapes resolved
into these quotidian
dawn-lit trees


Making this little poem claim to work hard for Day 24. NaPoWriMo prompt: mix and match high-flown and mundane language;  Poetic Asides prompt: lost and found.

How to Ruin Your Feet as a London Tourist

Because it would be uncool
to wear the happy shoes—tennies
with a dress—you go for the red.
They’re German, surely made
for walking. You’ve trod the cobbles
uphill and down, but this endless maze
of pavements, well. Short glory of grass
in gardens, a cool fountain longing
but tick tock: castles, galleries galore
museums, shopping, the M&M store.
By the time the big red bus drops you
who knows where, your feet are gone
and dreaming of green hills at Dover
how the Romans built all those roads
in sandals, the sea at the bottom
of every white cliff


NaPoWriMo prompt for Day 19 is a “how-to” poem. Poetic Asides asks for a cool or uncool poem.


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)

Scarf Daughter

black and white:
I made it
you wear it


I don’t know how to feel only
the hands keep working
you hate the cold
we text about weather
the sun slowly moves now
across an ocean
we keep the same hours


we stood on that castle hill
sheep scattered below
dog racing slant impossible
angles everything else
insignificantly small


from the earth this chain
of lands, hands, shearers
spinners, makers
green grazing
storm sky
wear that distant sun-root
with your attitude


love is not in the saying
and not in the doing
then where? the heart only
a physical thing
blood beating regardless


it’s called infinity
but of course
there is beginning and end
seamed together
with trust it won’t unravel

Pilgrimage 2

You plan to drop in, skim
the surface, not find yourself
caught. Cars highway-crawling
shopping centers sprawling
between open land and sky—
all as you remember. It repels
and draws, lodestone of home.
Just as the earth will have you
in the end, your birthplace tugs
you to the roots that shaped
and grew all your people, the same.
In that dark you examine your heart:
petals folded over petals, tight


Twelve hundred miles, the penance
of a confessed Grinch—
I say we will go home for Christmas
and by home I mean the place
I haven’t lived for twenty years
the family I happily abandoned
the scenes I packed up and moved
out of my heart. We will daze ourselves
driving, hug and kiss, dry-eyed
laugh a little, bring our own wine
and drink it in secret, trying
to remember how to feel. We will fall
into the old southern cadence for a time
but the glowing vision of color, carols
Momaw’s living room, gift-wrap strewn
is grayed-out, gone. I grow old
complaining of traffic and change
querulous for my own bed.


Février. The days growing longer but still threatening snow. We took the train from Frankfurt bundled into coats, scarves, the wrong seats set right in our sorry mix of German, English, French. Suitcases bumping cobbles, gray skies; our hotel sunny yellow, its courtyard still filled with green and breakfast elegant on spindly tables—croissants, café au lait—we could have been a painting. Sleet at the Eiffel Tower, rain on the Champs-Élysées and a tea-shop for warming. Lights winking on in the dimness, jardins, musées. We pored over maps, streets radiant, curving, narrow, grand, the river and all its bridges, names hopelessly garbled in our cold laughing mouths. How it never translated to street level; how we felt glad to wonder, to tell ourselves, now we are here.