After a long dry spell, I’m happy to say that my little poem HALLOWE’EN is now live at The American Journal of Poetry, along with a feast of others! My thanks again to editor Robert Nazarene for giving it a home.
on a vase of tulips:
the pinks whites yellows
reaching upward outward
way over the edge
opened wide to their silken centers
until inside out
suffused with the vibrant morning
they surrender who they are
with wordless grace
small soft footprints
across the kitchen table
should I wish
Another “golden oldie” from two decades ago, first appearing in North Shore Magazine in 2005.
Those who would in private bury us
with their solemn observations,
who would write us off sooner than
look into our eyes
do not know the happy grace
of our ignorance: how it lifts us
past their grave faces
back into our own
This little poem was a finalist for IthacaLit’s 2015 Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize and was published there April, 2016.
Hymns whistled from a stand of trees,
light that falls in waves across the face
of morning, a gleeful wind that turns
away all thought:
you have only the skywide space
of a single breath to rise, unspoken for.
Any day offering itself to you like this,
would you refuse?
The day you can hold in your arms as yours
is the one that will love you back utterly
through the succulent and the unripe hours,
the one that deposes the future, crowning instead
this moment, the day you know yourself
as the praise of birds, as fully here—and enough—
as four letter words singing
good holy love, amen.
This poem was first published in “Nostalgia” in 2001 and then again in North Shore Magazine in 2004. It’s a good reminder for me on some mornings.
An anniversary gift, her first time doing it
Lenami Godinez-Avila, 27, hugged the pilot
from behind as instructed, ran with him
awkwardly to the edge and stepped
into the wind-tug beyond anyone’s reach—
her harness not clipped on. She fell
like Icarus a thousand feet, melting
from sight with the pilot’s shoes
into a sea of limbs webbed with leaves
down, down to the forest floor.
Her boyfriend, filming it,
stopped. Love screamed
through the air as he ran down
Mt. Woodside to find her.
Until he did, there was hope.
The pilot glided back to an open
mouthed crowd, to his twelve
year old daughter watching,
and swallowed the memory
card onboard. His fiftieth birthday.
Who hasn’t known each of them
in dreams?—where we fall without
falling, see what can’t be happening,
get to creatively escape a bad scene.
And wake relieved, our lives still
hanging by a thread of assumptions.
This poem won IthacaLit’s 2016 Lauren K. Alleyne Difficult Fruit Poetry Prize, as judged by Allison Joseph and was published New Year’s Day 2017. The prize came with a generous purse ($1000) and offered a huge thumbs-up when most needed. Sad to say, the magazine recently folded. Both the nutshell poem of the previous post and this one were drafted about the same time. I couldn’t give either of them up – for anyone following this blog, I’d be interested to know if one version appeals over the other.
inattention can’t wolf a mind,
expectation—lamb another. They grieve—
those left behind—
that a short sentence appears to love
more the one who put a period where a comma was.
Lenami Godinez-Avila—friend, daughter, lover.
Fate or happenstance, it’s how that leaves
a bad taste in the mouth long after,
sinking the heart too late to address
the assumption the one in charge knows best.
Another poem which first appeared in Volume 8 of The American Journal of Poetry, with thanks to editor Robert Nazarene. This is my short take of a horrifying incident: news article . My next post will feature a longer (and prize-winning) aspect of the same event.
You drink the cool clean water
and smack your lips, refreshed.
Elsewhere, in this same country,
the water is not clean,
must be boiled, then drunk.
Elsewhere, you might be dying
to drink it as is,
and damned if you do.
Elsewhere, water means business.
It thickens wallets.
You will pay for it.
You could ask whose future is being spent
down to the last hovering drop.
You could ask about thirst—who thirsts
for a better life and who for just a life
to grow all the way up in.
But you don’t. You drain the glass
and turn on the tap for more.
There’s never not been more.
This poem, written 20 years ago and finally published in The American Journal of Poetry in 2019 (with deep thanks to editor Robert Nazarene) unfortunately addresses a continuing and current situation (I’m thinking of Texas). It was inspired by watching my thirsty ten year old son gulp down a glass of water and imagining this conversation. He must have heard me – he continues to ask all the right questions about this world that he and all our kids and grandkids will inherit.
Thoreau would have loved this dark lining
to a stormy December day, the even darker,
almost liquid, pooling of night. He’d have loved
me preparing meals, doing dishes, my son his
homework, all by candlelight, the household
machines, loud-mouthed TV standing lifeless.
I find myself spare in the silence, sharpened.
My steps count, movement is rationed,
the thrust and parry of the world I know—
a thunderous dream from which I have at last
awakened. In the chill air I light a fire
and worlds long gone lick the edges of today,
speak of a mind that roamed free, mapping
its maker. No outage there.
Here’s a poem published 14 years ago in North Shore Magazine – it seemed appropriate, given the current power outages in Canada and the USA! Here’s hoping all of you affected keep warm, have water to drink, food to eat and oh, get your internet service back, computers and cellphones charged up.
My mother and I are like the hands of a clock—
she, the seconds that move my minute
and I, the minutes that move her hour.
I was born on her twenty-first birthday.
We are always walking hand in hand
between the astonished faces
of what’s to come and what has been.
A birthday poem for my mom and me, first posted here in 2019. Looking back and ahead, I’m still astonished – and hope our journey together continues for many more years.
She toddles down the street alone
all of fifteen months how odd
I park, pick her up
walk a half-block back
to where she might live
a boy in the driveway maybe five thwack
of a hockey stick
a face in the kitchen window
when I ring the bell
a mother’s eyes welling fear
pint-sized princess pulled from my arms
Thanks flounders in her throat,
shark fins of horror and shame
silencing her tongue, can’t look at me now
thwack of a hand on the boy’s butt
him hauled inside
door slammed shut
No way around it—
to save the day
I had to ruin it.
This poem first appeared in The American Journal of Poetry in 2019. Many thanks to editor Robert Nazarene for accepting it!