HERITAGE

My son, holding his new baby boy, whom he named after his dad.

Americano coffee in a mug,
time alone to savor
some timeless good words,
the day, for me, just beginning,
unfolding sip by sip
from the generous cup
in which it is first held.

 Yes, wars still rage
on either side of the heart’s door.
But lucky me—a colicky baby
born into a colicky world,
a world, it turns out, impossible
not to love
with all the muscle
of the grateful arms
in which I was first held.

This seemed like the perfect poem for me to post, as I’m still in the glow of my son becoming a new father, the little guy a month old now. It was first published in 2008 in North Shore Magazine.

The Offering

Photo by Ryk Naves on Unsplash

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. 

In The Cathedral

In the cathedral of this forest
while birds sing unseen
from the vaulted shadows,
I sit in the hand-carved pew
of a sawed-off cedar trunk
and think about last night’s

argument, a congregation  
of notes falling, rising,
coins of light clinking
into the basket: the dappled
adagio that ministers
a tight staccato heart.                                               

Century-old trees stand 
like mossed-over crosses
unbroken in their silence,
upholding the climb of secrets:
the whispers about living
on what’s left over from

the cacophonous demands of a day,
the scraping of those plates
to give again what is left over, love
quietly shrinking from the beginning
to the end of a word, pursed lips praying
but little abiding as prayer.

Yet here, in a green profusion
the curling ferns, the pungent earth
and the soaring branches cannot hold
all the love that grew them, nor can
the birds so tirelessly singing, nor my
dog chasing a squirrel chasing a squirrel.

The math is simple.
There is no subtraction.
Love’s pulse is steady
and it loads the woodland table,
as it must, even now, heap
a forgotten room in us.

Another poem that first appeared in the Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art in 2017. My thanks again to editors Veronica Golos and Catherine Strisik for including it.

An Open Air Reading

I recently had the good fortune to be filmed reading a selection of poems from my chapbook “Irresistible”. It was my brilliant son Stewart’s idea and I really enjoyed the experience! Please do check it out, if you have 20 minutes to spare: 

We did this in the Carcross Desert in the Yukon. The wind was howling and though we found a fairly protected spot, you can hear it gusting here and there in the video (as well as the odd ATV gunning it over the dunes). Many thanks to Stewart for his expertise! Here he is at Bennett Beach in Carcross:

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Eagle

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Happy to say this little poem has just been published in the 2020 print edition of “Crosswinds Poetry Journal” along with other finalists and winners of its annual contest. The poem was inspired by an eagle seen flying at sunset the last day of September and the boating memory of another eagle which was carrying a 3 foot long snake home for dinner. 

 

Poem Up at Recenter Press

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Photo by Fabio Comparelli on Unsplash

My poem LIFE – A Snapshot is now live at Recenter Press Poetry Journal! This poem was written a very long time ago – many thanks to editor Terra Oliveira for including it in Issue 3, alongside other insightful poems. And thanks to fellow poet Robert Okaji for introducing me to this journal, whose purpose is as its name suggests – to recenter!

A Thousand Blossoms

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Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

Late spring,
walking home
through the cherry trees:

a thousand blossoms
hurrying
to the ground below.

Though soon to die
they danced in the breeze
together

like beautiful lovers
forever entwined.
It seemed the trees

reached for them,
that the birds sang louder
with the squirrels chit-chattering.

It seemed the ants looked up
from their mad black scramble,
that we saw the grass billowing,

and the sun, wanting to touch
every petal, and the enormous lake
of sky, spilling down.

It seemed we all swam as one
for a moment, and belonged
in the world that way.

Though I promised to post a variation of the previous poem, this seemed a more fitting poem right now, written a lifetime ago. First published as an honorable mention for the Arborealis Prize in 2012. When we can travel again, I’ll return to the Mazatlán poem. May you and yours keep healthy!

 

Let Me Love You

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Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

Let me love you, eyes closed,
hands unasked upon your face,
fingers slowly tracing your story lines
back to their beginnings—
all the disappointment rivers heading south,
hungry for your large and generous mouth
and the thrilling pulse of an open sea—
our hands, the stars by which we safely
navigate our untold histories.

Let me love you more
than humanly possible,
colour you way outside your lines,
follow you boldly off the paper
into a holy space
where I could lose my mind,
and the high tide breaks
me open in as many places
as you desire to find.

Let me love you as you are
right now: in the door, but not yet home,
the day—a popped balloon, still tied
to your wrist. Come, sip some wine
and I will sip the silence
into which you pour your words,
until the shadows crowding the window
shrink from view, and it’s just me
and you and the Buddha
moon slipping through the darker hours.

Seeing as it’s Valentine’s Day, here’s a poem I wrote long ago for my beloved.

Willowy Rose and Chrysanthemum

At a table, over wine, two women
bent their heads toward each other
(willowy rose and chrysanthemum),
hushed words drifting down
upon two hands entwined
above the gift of a ring,
as steadily they leaned
into the garden
that chose them,

young stems glorying
in the bud of a caress, full bloom
of love upon their faces, and we,
a table of husbands and wives,
were as helpless as them
to turn our heads away
from such a graceful rain of light,
so firm a reach of roots
across forbidden ground.

This much older poem recently found the perfect home in the anthology “Smitten – This Is What Love Looks Like”, a hefty volume of over 300 poems, edited by Candice L. Daquin and Hallelujah R. Huston and available for purchase on Kindle and Amazon here

 

 

 

 

Joy Is A Liquid

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Painting by Lenore Conacher

Call joy a liquid detergent, washing
the worst away, and it becomes
my soul’s iodine, deterring a dark night.

Of all the emotions, it’s the ruby
that can’t be bought, the jam that’s
passed, spreading over my daily bread.

Call it love’s lava, as bold as a smear
of lipstick on a cheek, and it’s the wax
that seals us together, like an envelope its letter.

Call it a river, and it’s as necessary as blood,
branching from my heart into the body
of the world.

This is an older ekphrastic poem, inspired by the late artist Lenore Conacher’s painting “Joy Is A Liquid” and has now found a home in the 2019 Joan Ramseyer Memorial Poetry Anthology, edited by Brett Ramseyer, the theme of which was joy.