In the Study, with the Candlestick

March 18th, 2020

“How Parents Can Keep Kids Busy (and Learning) in Quarantine: as American schools close, parents are suddenly faced with the challenge of keeping their children occupied at home.” The Atlantic, March 16, 2020


Light catches in the dusty window, crawls with juniper shadows to night
How slow we can go. How many games we can play in one day, week, months

Cupboard forgotten cards and pawns of childhood, our own, our kids’
Sketch us just so, a study of character, the revelation and concealment

Of hands, the microdistance eyes travel to read motive, intention, alliance
Cardboard arenas of little consequence: what we do, are willing to do

To win, to lose, to anticipate and thwart another’s loss at personal cost
To play and play until everyone wins, everyone shouts YES! at least once


haiku for my love
in the time of quarantine

March 14th, 2020

love’s bright corona
our bed a microbiome
touch your lips to mine


poetry is

March 7th, 2020

reeds edging the ponds of my life

white blood cells fighting off my death

flock of black words dispersing in the distance

nerves netting a world of fish who can’t swim air



March 7th, 2020

Wrapped up in ropey thoughts
on a sea rock
surrounded by swords

limber, limbic
in micromovements
of tension, relaxation

I inch my way out.

29 Feb. 2020

Prop Plane Haiku

February 19th, 2020

softly hiccupping
the small plane skips air pockets
impossible stone

above San Luis
heart slow-leaps the steep Sangres
above Wet Valley

14 February 2020

A Drift of Pigs

February 11th, 2020

In the clearing past the woods
behind our neighborhood, we found
a shot-up car, glass dangling from the
gaping windshield like broken teeth,
a half burnt farm house with canned goods
and fruit preserves still on basement shelves
and outdated, thin cotton dresses in the closet

Better yet, an abandoned barn—full of straw
and a lazy rope— surrounded by a fenced yard
of wild grass and weeds needled through
two jerkified pigs, whiskered leather and teeth
eyes shrunken black

Squeals and groans
slow motion survey of the strange scene
tiptoeing through awful weeds

Who left you in the yard?
Was the farmer’s wife crying?
What is it like to die naked beneath the sky?
Was it night?
Were you hungry?

Yellow spread light across me,
my best friends and the pigs like butter

We moved from mundane mystery
to the stubborn barn door,
ran through the maze of stalls rich
with sweet old stink

Forgetting unlucky pigs, numb
or, perhaps, reveling in our living limbs
despite the pigs, we took turns
with the thick rotting rope, leaped
from the loft and swung
from rafters like promise
after promise after promise, flying,
falling into straw, newborn pigs
stunned by air and gravity
looking up into dust riding light


Three Late Winter Haiku

February 10th, 2020

The stunted pine shakes.
Perched inside, a mound of snow—
sphinx heart carved by wind

* * *

A fat log burns bright.
Five friends roll six dice and laugh.
Everybody wins.

* * *

Graupel filled footprints
crunching back and forth for miles.
At least half are mine.


On Reading Woolf Again
After 26 Years

January 30th, 2020

–for Chrissy Mason, with fondness

Over Thai, bright eyed, Chrissy confessed
she once wrote out every sentence
Virginia Woolf ever penned.
Novels. Short stories, essays too.
The way the nuns would read
fine literature aloud and pause
as pupils scratched down word
for word in perfect penmanship.
The nuns were, I was, laying down the track,
she said, for what a sentence could do.
And now, as I re-read Orlando’s thoughts,
Clarissa’s— gasp at her shilling tossed
into the Serpentine, her never-Septimus
(Clarissa’s double; Woolf’s triple, and mine)—
and think them, I am also thinking Chrissy’s,
perhaps, marveling at Virginia’s odd clauses,
generous commas, semicolon hitches; hooking
coach cars; occupied by well-heeled, awkward
friends; freight cars bursting delphinium;
shadow cargo; centuries of ice coupled
with foiled men waking up as women;
everything pulling on everything else
behind the locomotive of her mind;
riding a rail that will never arrive,
or always; in Vita’s arms; in one of several
lakes; in my hands; yours. Call it luck
to rattle under the warping weight of her,
all of us, every place: her station.


My Argument with Sartre’s Math

December 24th, 2019

One always dies too soon or too late. And yet, life is there, finished: the line is drawn, and it must all be added up. You are nothing other than your life.
— Jean-Paul Sartre

We outgrow the soil
from which we grew
our early fame and infamy,
seeds flung by storms
into new, forgotten grounds.
Or, we compost our youth.
George Sand’s sturdy suits,
love affairs, tobacco smoke
for menopausal altruism.
Malcolm X’s white devils
for brotherly love’s final gun.
Mark Twain’s naive Finn and Jim
for the dark Mysterious Stranger.
Ram Dass’ Harvard spin with LSD
for Now’s inner God of Stroke.
My father’s four kids—cut losses—
for a Spirit World pardon of a line
of broken boys-turned-our-fathers.
My early LDS one True Church
for many truths, my groping
hungry ghosts for natural mind.
For what blooms will you be known
after your long, weedy life?
Change the metaphor, writer, fisher,
hope your readers understand
your denouement and fall with you,
uncaught by the unknotted net.


Couplets of Snow, Alone

December 13th, 2019

The sky starts as flakes, lands wet.
A juniper drops glassy beads, one by one.

The Frigidaire’s high whine goes dead.
Silence brings the flat white sky inside.

A cat crunches kibble in my closet head.
A black dog stares out my window eye.

Snow buries words within my chest.
I don’t look for a shovel or sun.



December 8th, 2019

Flakes land softly like the damp cloth
of a death midwife
cooling a dying woman’s brow

where little heat remains
sweet with the scent of medicinal sweat
clammy and velvet new hair.

Snow hands wring out silence
deep inside the cold, a clarity
so clear we wrongly call it light.


Your River

November 25th, 2019

Smart speakers offer manual options for volume
for people like you whose giggle, talking ridiculously
to plastic, quickly turns to awe and bossiness.
Hey, Google, play “River” by Leon Bridges.

Hey, Google, 75% volume. Hands free, music makes
a soundtrack for cooking, cutting onions.
Hey, Google, 100% volume. Constant visual overlay
these days. Memory’s relentless mind screens couple

with memories of small screens, fingers scroll songs,
click video versions: a black father’s blood-spattered
white t-shirt, his baby crying, calmed on his chest, tiny
red-wet fingers, Black people in white, standing in water,

not the literal river you misremember: they sing in rain
enhanced by a hose, join the onion on the cutting board.
This isn’t video. Your husband is out buying avocados
and blue chips. The song story thunders through you just

below a rolling memory of the morning he held you up
on your feet, thighs and knees giving out with father grief,
beneath your cry, are you going to leave me, and the song
came on spontaneously, the river song, the song

now always a stream in the dark of your son’s room,
smelling of unwashed clothes and an old dog,
the room, looking into the kitchen, where he, your love,
sat with you on a messy floor-mattress, untangled

antique knots of abandonment, your face a river.
You say you are always waiting for what you deserve,
that being left is what you will get for what you gave
and have been given, your narrative inheritance.

He asks, can’t we rewrite that end? I want to, you say.
Songs shuffle. Onions gleam. The kitchen glows yellow
with the promise of a new mythology, a river flowing
without water, without gravity, without a final sea.

Here’s Leon Bridges’ song, River

Cohen’s New Antidepressant

November 9th, 2019

Following a joyful litany of faces, pastries
Fruits and bosoms, Leonard Cohen ends with
I am so grateful to my new antidepressant
And I think not much of it, no judgment
But no gratitude, either, in my ignorance,
For pharmaceutical panaceas. It is not yet time
To release that sputtering trope: Rise
Above neurosis with your mind. And we hope
It won’t kill us, the darkness in which we shine,
Groping for yet sometimes blind to intermittent sun.


Leonard Cohen, flame dear,

November 8th, 2019

Give me your danger
Your simple eye and word
So I may have the courage
To write the beautiful bore
The helpless mother-terror
Each day of my slow burn.


Two Meetings

November 8th, 2019

millions of tiny
blue symbols
hung in the heart
a pregnancy of sky
fly out of me
touch everything
fill space
endless charm
of hummingbirds
crowding the void
changing the world
the world endless
flowers not-flowers
into a humming
invisible blur
wings not-wings
fly back into me
not-me so my mind
may meet itself
blue and rest

Blue symbol
cubit balloon
hung before the heart
hovers gently
bumps along
destroys the world
touch by touch
mountain by mountain
sea by sea
bounce by bounce
cloud by cloud
moon by moon
sun by sun
love by love
pops every thing
and me meeting myself
popped empty

with thanks to Khenpo Rinpoche