Poem: It Should be Spring

the gardens of Troy 2

It Should Be Spring

Your mother’s death, too few years ago,
in the season that should be spring.

Abuse of children and old men, hidden in the dark,
spilling out again a generation later,
and a generation after that.

The haunting image of empty shoes,
reminders of death by weapons of war
where there is no war.

The broken in your backyard, untreated.
their minds and bodies become wastelands
of lives that should be healed and whole.

Relationships built on lies, one on the other,
their foundations full of cracks, dreading
the first tremor that can send them tumbling.

Too much.
Too close.

It is not all dark. No.
There is love, intimate and passionate
wrapped in Paul’s love letter.

There are children, once lost, regained
and held close. Vital things, born helpless,
battered young, yet grown whole again.
You rejoice each day for their wings.

There are the one or two you touch,
the places you make a difference,
hearts not broken, but healed.
Your joy in them is immeasurable.

Your heart is too weak
to feel it all at once.  Time and circumstance
have left their scars, and they still seep.

It should be spring.
But not yet. God will send it in his time,
but for now, you are still covered in snow,
waiting for the thaw.

About this poem

It’s been a long week or two. Rough, less for myself than for so many around me. Still…

It’s time for spring. I think the first warm day that comes along, I am going to chuck everything and sit in the sun.

But that may be a while.


Poem: What the Dark Covers


What the Dark Covers

There are a hundred ways to kill.
Most of them are done in the dark,
no less fatal than the boy with his weapon of war,
they are fatal.

The cruelty of parents, siblings and strangers.
People without ears.
Procedures without hearts.
The acceptance of hate, some of it
disguised as love.
An old man abused in his own home.
A wife battered by a husbands words and lies.
A young child’s body claimed and ravaged
by those they should be able to trust the most.
Madness, untreated.
Legislators in marble halls caught up in politics,
their souls checked at the door.
The wars families fight, uncaring of casualties
as long as it is not their own.
Untreated madness. Unchallenged anger.
Unacknowledged desperation
left to fester.

There are a hundred ways to kill.
Most of them are done in the dark.

About this poem.

This morning, the anger is spilling out a bit. But it’s the truth.

The picture was taken in downtown Athol, Mass.


Poem: Museum Piece


Museum Piece

There is dust on the folders.
Dust on the desk.
Deep white dust, thick as decades.
Otherwise, nothing has changed.
Someone walked out,
shut the door.
And life went on.

About this poem. 

A poem about both abandonment, and how life goes on.

The picture was taken at the Rogers Store Museum in Surry County.


Me, the Cat and the Snow.


This is how bad it is. My cat went walking in the snow this morning.

My cat hates snow. Hates it. Cat hell for her is not a place of fire and brimstone, but a world covered in snow. She spends the winter pacing back and forth to the door and windows, trying to figure out what happened to her world. She goes out on the porch and paces back and forth for twenty-minute spells before she starts shredding the screen to be let in.

This morning, though, with the snow that was supposed to stop last night still falling heavily, she took off, her little cat paw prints going down the steps and disappearing in the white that was once my driveway.

I get it. I am a bit prone to cabin fever myself. Mostly, I drive through the stuff. I’ll go to my favorite diner just to get out. I’ll cruise the country roads with my camera, but it’s not about getting beautiful pictures. I just have to get out.

But this winter has been relentless. Snow after snow after snow. The news outlets in all their armageddon verbiage have constantly reminded us that this is the third nor’easter in 11 days.

As if I had to be reminded.

I don’t like feeling trapped. Don’t ask me where that comes from. No one ever locked me in a closet or threw me in a dungeon. All in all, I have lived a much freer life than most people. I didn’t have a lot of rules as a kid, and most of the ones I had, I ignored. As I grew up, I was pretty good at building work and lives that gave me a lot of freedom to go and do what I pleased. So there should not be any latent fear of being closed in.

And it’s not a fear exactly. it’s a restlessness. I like to be able to move. To see what’s out there, what’s happening, talk to people, watch the land and it’s seasons. Take that away from me and I am like a prisoner in jail.

So, when it snows, I go out in it. It’s not hard sometimes. It is hard sometimes. Certainly, it takes more work and care and vigilance to drive in snow. Do a lot of it and it’s tiring. And this last one, the one that is still going on, coldly, gleefully messing with the almost ides of March? It was the backbreaker.

I’m just tired of the stuff. I want to cruise down my country roads too fast, loose and casual with the top down on my convertible. I love my tank like Isuzu Trooper, but I’m tired of it. Tired of its square squat tankness and salt-stained floor mats.

My friends are sending pictures of Crocus in their gardens. I can’t even find my garden.

Yeah, I’m whining. And I am not prone to whining. Which tells you how tired of the white stuff I am. I love winter, but just like kids, it’s supposed to grow up and move away.  This snow is like the 50-year-old kid that never moved out.

But the cat has the right idea. Go out anyway. When I am done writing this, I’ll bundle up, and shovel out the truck. I’ll brush off the snow and chip off the windshield. And go somewhere, anywhere.

Until the next snow.

It’s only mid-March after all.



Poem: And yet, there are guards


And yet, there are guards

Two guards stand in the room.
Art sprawls across the floor.
Outside the glass is the city.
You sit in the far corner.

Valuable stuff this art. Abstract. 3D.
I’m an artist myself and I know
the work that goes into this random scattering or materials.
Valuable, and yet no one comes to see or steal.

But there are guards.
Vigilant. Well dressed. Armed.
Careful men. Watchers, and you wonder
what they make of the art.

Does it seep into their souls?
Do they shake their heads in wonderment?
Do they laugh?
Do they understand at all? Does it matter?

You wait in your corner and watch.
You are there too long, and become a person of suspicion.
What could keep someone in this room so long,
this room where no one stays.

And yet, there are guards.

About this poem

We spend a lot of time worrying about what others think. The truth is, most of them don’t even notice. Or if they notice, they don’t much care. Or if they care, they don’t much matter.

The picture was taken at MoMA in New York City.


Poem: Stronger than Vows


Stronger than Vows

She stands at the edge of the water.
Her dark hair blows in the wind.
The ceremonies are done and
now she is more than the woman you love.

She is your wife.

How is it that beauty grows
when nothing has changed except a day
and the exchange of vows?
How is it that you feel less alone,
part of something larger than two souls?

It is enough to renew your belief in God.

Birds sing above the beach. Seagulls.
Not music, but music, counterpoint
to the rhythm of the waves.

You take her hand as the tide rises.
Let it come.
Together we are stronger than we deserve,
walking together on the beach.

This is what you remember,
more than music and ritual,
company or canapes, white dresses
and grey vests. All that is captured in pictures
and memories. The stuff of anniversaries
and smiles. You treasure them

almost, but not quite as much as this moment,
she and I on the beach, just us
and the wild blue horizon.

About this poem. 

I am married less than a year now. Unexpected and unsearched for, she brings joy into my life I never expected again. At times, it brings me to tears. The good kind.

The picture was taken on our honeymoon.


Poem: Temporary Casualties

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Temporary Casualties 

I am dragging this morning. There is no poetry in me.
The words in me are discordant,
bully words,
the words of people who loved me intermittently,
intimate allies one minute,
aware of each weak point in body and soul,
intimate enemies the next, just as
aware of each weak point in body and soul.

That’s what I know. Bullies have a particular power.
They know best, just where to place the knife,
and they know they do not have to twist the blade.
They know
I will do it for them.

“Talk to me like you love me.” I once told one
of these off and on lovers.

It is confusing, love with a bully.
And in the end, they leave you,
their voices become yours.
You become them, far better
at evisceration than they ever were,
far more persistent.

At sixty-two, I know them well.
I listen to them,
just long enough
to separate out the voices,
to know which are yours,
and which belong to the devils
who wish so fervently to become demons
and possess us.

It’s not going to happen.
(not a poetic phrase is it? It sounds
more like a bad adventure movie, still)
They have had their moment.
But it is past.
Like a Celtic army, they can scream and paint themselves
with false righteousness before the charge.

I am no longer unarmed.
My mildness is no longer weakness.
It has been built of wounds and wisdom.
I have survived and I know the difference
between the devil’s insidious song
and my own.
Let them charge with their painted faces and spears.
I will laugh as I pull the trigger
and begin my day,
each word I do not feel is a roman discipline.
I write them and watch the lies fall,
temporary casualties.

Better them than me.
I stretch.
I push aside the cat at the foot of the bed.
I get up.
There is a life to lead.
Until tomorrow’s battle,
I am safe.

About this poem.

Another dark morning conquered. This is what I do. Every day. I left out the victory dance, but my kids call it dad dancing and it’s not a pretty sight.

Laughing with joy.