The Feast of St. John the Baptist


Rain again. Again. Again.

Not the gentle pitter-patter rain, but

the tropical kind, the pounding kind

that washes out roads and birds’ nests,

that splatters mud on the lettuce,

soaks gray squirrels to brown,

gives mosquitoes everything

they need but blood. I can’t

sleep in this rain. It’s something

primeval, some anxiety

about the river rising, roots

rotting, everything I know

being washed away.



~it’s like soldiers in combat—they’re scared, but they do their mission.

~a fragment overheard


It’s like that Hospice nurse with her to-go

latte. It’s like the pediatrician

with the plain blue mug. Who knows what they’ll see

today? It’s like that schizophrenic friend

of mine who time after time tells himself

the voices are demons Jesus casts out.


Look at them, will you? And tell me

you’re the only one. Oh somewhere in this

favored world the sun is shining bright—is

it here, where the north wind finally blew

away the ridiculous autumn heat,

where I can sit at a sidewalk table


and listen to psychobabble while I

pretend to be writing in a notebook?



September 10, 2015

April Prompts #25

April Prompts #25

Kari’s #3:  people with animal or insect characteristics




Under the eaves,

in an abandoned robin’s nest,

a flying squirrel stashes mushrooms.


Chipmunks carry acorns,

sunflower seeds, kernels of corn

to hoard in their holes under the garage.


Cherry pits

in the mitten basket,

behind the cookbooks.


Between the rafters

dog kibble

piled in fiberglass nests.


In the freezer,

blueberries and broccoli,

applesauce and greens.


On the shelves,

jars of pickles, pails of honey,

bottles of water, cans of beans.

April Prompts: Number 24

April Prompts #24

David’s #3:  Explain how you got here




Some of us came from the Red Sea

and some from the steppes.

We lighted fires wherever we went.

I remember the Zagros Mountains,

the shores of the Black Sea,

the dark caves in the high hills.


Sometimes we walked by walls of ice,

sometimes we slept in trees.

We were hungry,  and hunted.

We were frightened at night.

We were frightened of anything

we did not comprehend.


We made patterns on the ground.

We made pictures in the stars.

We made pictures on the stones.

We told stories to make us brave.

We sang to make us braver.

Our children are full of our songs.


This was a failed poem. I worked at it for quite awhile and wasn’t happy with it at all. So on a whim, I ran it through “Translation Party” and then did some tweaking. Sometimes that helps. This time, I think, it helped a lot.


The original–or at least, the version I finally gave up on:



Deer follow the ways their grandmothers made

beneath the shady trees and through the openings

to brooks and pools, where tender twigs

and grasses grow. Their pointed feet remember.


In winter, neat tracks on the snow

pass between hummocks and roots,

small distances, safe from hooting owls.

The tribes of rodents don’t forget.


When lions hunted in the night

and dangers skulked in every shade,

the paths were set in primate brains.

And still those tracks remain.



and the redone one:


Stoop under the pine-bough shade,

open the door to the swift-growing grass

where grandmothers of deer have flown

like winter rivers. Remember

their pointed feet. Roots track

through the forests beneath

winter snows. Owl, owl,

one calls from far away. Remember

our feathered tribes.


Night hunting beasts

skulk the ancient paths.

Their tracks remain.




It doesn’t take much of a ritual;

but you do need a definite ending:

a monogrammed handkerchief bound to a bough

of the gingko tree you started from seed,

for example. A four-leafed clover dropped

into the brook where you used to go fish.

A coffee mug, a wine glass, or perhaps

a porcelain vase smashed against a stone

on the edge of the forest. You’ve made all

the usual gestures of course:  the clothes

and books tossed, letters burned. But still, you need

one more small and private thing to seal that

door. (The German Requiem played loud,

and all alone, you cry and sing.)