The Cost

You came to me in a dream,
as the dead sometimes do,
and my joy rushed out to meet you.
I remember how your brown eyes held me
while, finally have the chance,
I said what I needed to say.

I must have looked away,
given you just enough time
to leave me.
I knew that you had died again
and that the cost was fair.

New Poem in Star 82 Review

Many thanks to editor Alisa Golden for publishing “A Christmas Poem” in the new issue of Star 82 Review. 

“Star 82 Review is an independent art and literature, online and print magazine that highlights words and images in gemlike forms. Each issue features flash fiction, creative nonfiction, erasure texts, narrative art, postcard lit and poetic storytelling featuring subtle humor, humility and humanity, the strange and the familiar, and hope.”

Write A Letter

Write a letter to your younger self,
they urge: It’s cathartic.
Be kind, be supportive,
guide her gently toward better choices.
Fat chance she’d listen.
Pearls of wisdom, cautionary tales–she heard them all.
And what, precisely, to offer?
Don’t settle? Don’t worry? Stay out of the sun?
I wouldn’t listen to me either.
If I took another tack,
told her she was strong
and worthy, capable of anything,
she’d only shrug and look away.
Not for a minute would she have imagined
a soft landing in her sixties,
four-bed/two bath, a steadfast spouse.
In any case, who am I to interfere–
she got me this far, didn’t she?
Better to leave her hurtling
into plight and fervor and folly
so that she can show up here
and astonish me.
“See?” she would have said.

Lichen

Bonded to a boulder,
living on air and random rain,
a forty-year-old lichen
claims a thumbprint of space.
Centuries from now it will be
the size of a dinner plate,
will still be young
when the millennium turns–
not that age applies
to a thing designed to override death.

Maybe this doesn’t sound
like much of a life:
stuck on stone, nothing to do
but make more crust.
Or maybe it’s a thrill a minute,
living up to all that potential.

I would like to find out,
to lie on a sun-warmed rock
and give myself up,
to become with steady assurance
all I was ever meant to be.


























 

 

 



Things I Keep From My Wife

News of animals, their misfortunes. Hopefully she has not seen these stories. I wouldn’t know.

Broken egg yolks. I give her the perfect yellow rounds, the slightly bigger shrimp, the cookie with more chocolate chips. I am nothing if not vigilant.

Worry about her health, especially her asthma. My anxiety will not help her breathe.

Worry about my own health. The little things. My body is my job, not hers.

Silly, daily mistakes I make. Which might, at this age, cause her concern.

My soiled childhood. This is what therapists are for, to hear the words that must be said to those will not be gutted.

Behavior I regret, the pages of our book I want to rip out. Admission is not absolution. Instead of infecting her with these images, I offer myself now, the improved version, the best I can muster. So far.

What Thrills Me About The Deep Red South

Surging dolphins.

Ospreys carrying dinner.

Fried shrimp picnics on the banks of a bayou.

Box turtles crossing the yard.

Tree frogs on the window pane.

Corn snakes in the squash.

The size of grasshoppers.

How tall my basil grows.

The end of summer.

And the Make America Green Again 

bumper sticker I saw yesterday 

on a car whose driver I’d pay to meet.

To My Aging Cat

Her eyes are clouding with age,
and when she peers at my face,
I see confusion in hers:
How do I appear to her now?

All I can do is lean forward
and kiss that small patch of white
just above and between her eyes,
the star she was given by a god
who foretold this moment.
She bows her head slightly,
allowing my reverence,
knowing her worth
all at once.

Greatness

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Greatness

An osprey dives over and over,
as many times as it takes to stay alive
and become incidentally superb.

Driving down the road near my house
I see them flying, a stunned fish in their claws,
as if nothing could be more ordinary
than a bird bringing home dinner.

Wings or brains,
we work with what we have.
I can’t snatch a meal from the ocean
at 50 miles an hour,
but I can plant a garden,
make stories out of thin air,
learn the difference
between an aspen and an alder.
Minute by minute,
even I can be splendid.

Past Lives

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Past Lives

Sometimes they are not dead.
Sometimes they just live far away,
and even if you stopped by for a visit
what words would persuade them
of your betterment, the worth
you finally achieved?
What could they do but listen and nod,
knowing what they know?

 

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