Friday, April 30, 2021


for Edward Baugh

Flashing silk phantoms
from the promontory,
when seen at dark
rushing to their beds,
those lights corroding
over Navy Island,
never grow old.
In two enamel basins,
fill water to wash overripe
stars, eaten without
second guess, worm
and all, from veranda
chairs, where no guilt
brims over, whatsoever.
As frost, unknown, intimate
breath bursts hot its kind
silence. Get up, go greet
Errol Flynn’s ghost
at the empty footbridge,
leaning on the breeze.
Maroons hum out
of hills, restless as
unappeased trees,
“Even days coming
are already gone
too soon,” then return
before the river’s lustre
hides their voices
and immeasurable
slow leaves bring
down our morning.

   - - - by Ishion Hutchinson

Thursday, April 29, 2021

I Am Offering this Poem

I am offering this poem to you,
since I have nothing else to give.
Keep it like a warm coat
when winter comes to cover you,
or like a pair of thick socks
the cold cannot bite through,

                         I love you,

I have nothing else to give you,
so it is a pot full of yellow corn
to warm your belly in winter,
it is a scarf for your head, to wear
over your hair, to tie up around your face,

                         I love you,

Keep it, treasure this as you would
if you were lost, needing direction,
in the wilderness life becomes when mature;
and in the corner of your drawer,
tucked away like a cabin or hogan
in dense trees, come knocking,
and I will answer, give you directions,
and let you warm yourself by this fire,
rest by this fire, and make you feel safe

                         I love you,

It’s all I have to give,
and all anyone needs to live,
and to go on living inside,
when the world outside
no longer cares if you live or die;

                         I love you.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Of History and Hope

We have memorized America,
how it was born and who we have been and where.
In ceremonies and silence we say the words,
telling the stories, singing the old songs.
We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.
The great and all the anonymous dead are there.
We know the sound of all the sounds we brought.
The rich taste of it is on our tongues.
But where are we going to be, and why, and who?
The disenfranchised dead want to know.
We mean to be the people we meant to be,
to keep on going where we meant to go.

But how do we fashion the future? Who can say how
except in the minds of those who will call it Now?
The children. The children. And how does our garden grow?
With waving hands—oh, rarely in a row—
and flowering faces. And brambles, that we can no longer allow.

Who were many people coming together
cannot become one people falling apart.
Who dreamed for every child an even chance
cannot let luck alone turn doorknobs or not.
Whose law was never so much of the hand as the head
cannot let chaos make its way to the heart.
Who have seen learning struggle from teacher to child
cannot let ignorance spread itself like rot.
We know what we have done and what we have said,
and how we have grown, degree by slow degree,
believing ourselves toward all we have tried to become—
just and compassionate, equal, able, and free.

All this in the hands of children, eyes already set
on a land we never can visit—it isn’t there yet—
but looking through their eyes, we can see
what our long gift to them may come to be.
If we can truly remember, they will not forget.

 - - - Miller Williams

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Bliss Point or What Can Best Be Achieved by Cheese

          the other gold.
                    Now that’s the stuff,
                               shredded or melted
                                         or powdered
                                                 or canned.
                                         the pinnacle of man
                     in a cheeto puff!
Now that’s the stuff
                      you’ve been primed for:
                                             fatty & salty & crunchy
          and poof—gone. There’s the proof.
Though your grandmother
                        never even had one. You can’t
                                    have just one. You
                                              inhale them puff—
                                                                     after puff—
                                                                after puff—
                               You’re a chain smoker. Tongue
                      coated & coaxed
but not saturated or satiated.
                       It’s like pure flavor,
                                   but sadder. Each pink ping
                                                       in your pinball-mouth
                                                                expertly played
                             by the makers who have studied you,
                               the human animal, and culled
                    from the rind
         your Eve in the shape
                                 of a cheese curl.
                                come curl in the dim light of the TV.
                           Veg out on the verge of no urge
                  of anything.
         Long ago we beached ourselves,
                                 climbed up the trees then
                                          down the trees,
                                                knuckled across the dirt
                               & grasses & thorns & Berber carpet.
                                           Now is the age of sitting,
                                   so sit.
           And I must say,
                       crouched on the couch like that,
                             you resemble no animal.
                                    Smug in your Snuggie and snug
                                                     in your sloth, you look
                                           nothing like a sloth.
           And you are not an anteater,
                                   an anteater eats ants
                                                   without fear
                                       of diabetes. Though breathing,
                 one could say, resembles a chronic disease. 
                                                                                            What’s real
                             cheese and what is cheese product?
                              It’s difficult to say
               but being alive today
                                      is real-
                                like a book you can’t put down, a stone
                       that plummets from a great height. Life’s
                      a “page-turner” alright.
               But don’t worry
                                      if you miss the finale
                                                of your favorite show, you can
                                                   catch in on queue. Make room
                                      for me and I’ll binge on this,
                                                            the final season with you.

  ---  by 

Monday, April 26, 2021

Passion for Solitude


I’m eating a little supper by the bright window.
The room’s already dark, the sky’s starting to turn.
Outside my door, the quiet roads lead,
after a short walk, to open fields.
I’m eating, watching the sky—who knows
how many women are eating now. My body is calm:
labor dulls all the senses, and dulls women too.

Outside, after supper, the stars will come out to touch
the wide plain of the earth. The stars are alive,
but not worth these cherries, which I’m eating alone.
I look at the sky, know that lights already are shining
among rust-red roofs, noises of people beneath them.
A gulp of my drink, and my body can taste the life
of plants and of rivers. It feels detached from things.
A small dose of silence suffices, and everything’s still,
in its true place, just like my body is still.

All things become islands before my senses,
which accept them as a matter of course: a murmur of silence.
All things in this darkness—I can know all of them,
just as I know that blood flows in my veins.
The plain is a great flowing of water through plants,
a supper of all things. Each plant, and each stone,
lives motionlessly. I hear my food feeding my veins
with each living thing that this plain provides.

The night doesn’t matter. The square patch of sky
whispers all the loud noises to me, and a small star
struggles in emptiness, far from all foods,
from all houses, alien. It isn’t enough for itself,
it needs too many companions. Here in the dark, alone,
my body is calm, it feels it’s in charge.

Sunday, April 25, 2021


I got a nasty paper-cut
right where my writing callus used to be.
It bled; it hurt; it kept opening back up.
I showed it to my daughters.
They said in unison,
“That’s no big deal Mom.”
I sought out my son.
He just rolled his eyes.
Then I went to you.
You kissed it tenderly.
You told me it would be better soon.
You said to keep a band-aid on it, and not do any dishes––
that I could take some of your morphine if I needed it,
that it looked like I would get by without IV antibiotics.
Me with a paper-cut
You with cancer
It's hard to get any sympathy around here.
“Paper-Cut” by Julie Cadwaller Staub from Face to Face. © Cascadia Publishing House, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

Friday, April 23, 2021


If you write a few words-
even half a sentence-
like half a sandwich
like the soup and half a sandwich deal
at Jojo’s restaurant
you can find a
glimmer of hope in between the words
like lettuce between the tomato and
the cheese
in the sandwich.
You don’t always find
the essence of our fathers
or god
or the hope diamond
but you might find a sardine like
like mustard or pickles,
not so much the chicken or the beef,
but enough to let you know
lunch was served.

Thursday, April 22, 2021


One bright morning in a restaurant in Chicago
as I waited for my eggs and toast,
I opened the Tribune only to discover
that I was the same age as Cheerios.

Indeed, I was a few months older than Cheerios
for today, the newspaper announced,
was the seventieth birthday of Cheerios
whereas mine had occurred earlier in the year.

Already I could hear them whispering
behind my stooped and threadbare back,
Why that dude’s older than Cheerios
the way they used to say

Why that’s as old as the hills,
only the hills are much older than Cheerios
or any American breakfast cereal,
and more noble and enduring are the hills,

I surmised as a bar of sunlight illuminated my orange juice.



Wednesday, April 21, 2021

A part of my life just disappeared


A webpage I made for myself many years ago while still working at ASU has all of a sudden gone POOF!  Disappeared without a courtesy warning.

Got in touch with the webmaster who referred me to the help desk.

Unable to sign in to the help desk with my username and password, I'm guessing because I am now a retiree, because that username and password is working fine for my email, I sent them an email which received no response.


NOT even a canned "we received your email" response.

It's a clunky old webpage.  Well, it was, but now it's nonexistent.  

but the contents were precious.

Old family photos which I no longer have access to.  

Old hometown photos I no longer have access to.  

Many, many memories - gone.

At first I was pretty mad.  Now I'm sad. I'll probably get mad again, but it won't make any difference.  If I can't get anyone to even take the time to respond to my query, why would I think it's a problem that they might try to resolve?

So I guess I'm stuck with having my heartbroken.  Thanks, ASU.


we looked everywhere, but what you're looking for couldn't be found..."

Historically Speaking

It was a year of pirates in speedboats,
anonymous bullies spreading privacies
on the Internet, and the worst of them
doing worse than that and wishing to be known
for what they'd done, their perfidy
an advertisement for a cause.

Thus it was a bad year for historians,
whose stories couldn't be correct
for longer than a few days. More than ever
the imperfections of memory
would combine with the slipperiness
of documentation to produce versions
only people who need not be persuaded
could agree with.

It was a war
where the enemy sometimes was wearing
the same clothes as its opponent,
and both sides believed their cause
was righteous, and years from now the victors,
if we were unlucky, would tell it as it wasn't,

unless we were the victors, and our historians
would tell it from so many angles
that both was and wasn't
would read like a symphony of discordancies,
an honoring of so many counterpoints
that I, for one, might find a place to rest uneasy,
historically speaking, among all the bloodshed,
the horror, which would stop for a while and continue.

The Paris Review
Winter 2016

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Things We’re All Too Young To Know

We’re all too young to know when we will die,
or what will cause it, too young to discover how little
our lives matter, how no amount of planning

or caution will save us. We are too young
to know this is the last vacation we will take
with our grandfather: this one by the shore
where the wind blows only from the east.
We’re too young to have grown children
or arthritis or thin hair, too young to choose
a spouse or profession, to drive a car safely
through the narrow streets of winter.
We’re always too young to have someone
we love tell us they are leaving. We’re too young
for root canals and retirement, too young
for sex, or even the pictures that suggest
its intimate details. We’re too young to play
with matches or to understand why chocolate
is usually eaten after dinner. We’re certainly
too young to know who we will be when
we grow up, to know that the sky’s blues
and grays are indifferent to our luck.
We’re too young for taxes or childbirth,
for dead pets, or the day when we no longer
have parents. We’re too young to find
our own faces foreign: the happiness and sorrow
visible, our skin folded like paper. And we’re
definitely too young for high heels and lipstick,
too young to sit at a bar with a glass of something hard.

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

“The Emperor of Ice Cream,” by Wallace Stevens. Public domain

Sunday, April 18, 2021


There’s just no accounting for happiness,
or the way it turns up like a prodigal
who comes back to the dust at your feet
having squandered a fortune far away.
And how can you not forgive?
You make a feast in honor of what
was lost, and take from its place the finest
garment, which you saved for an occasion
you could not imagine, and you weep night and day
to know that you were not abandoned,
that happiness saved its most extreme form
for you alone.
No, happiness is the uncle you never
knew about, who flies a single-engine plane
onto the grassy landing strip, hitchhikes
into town, and inquires at every door
until he finds you asleep midafternoon
as you so often are during the unmerciful
hours of your despair.
It comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
Jane Kenyon, “Happiness” from Otherwise: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2005 by the Estate of Jane Kenyon.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Try to Praise the Mutilated World

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Friday, April 16, 2021


"Never use the word suddenly just to
create tension." –– Writing Fiction

Suddenly, you were planting some yellow petunias
outside in the garden,
and suddenly I was in the study
looking up the word oligarchy for the thirty-seventh time.

When suddenly, without warning,
you planted the last petunia in the flat,
and I suddenly closed the dictionary
now that I was reminded of that vile form of governance.

A moment later, we found ourselves
standing suddenly in the kitchen
where you suddenly opened a can of cat food
and I just as suddenly watched you doing that.

I observed a window of leafy activity
and, beyond that, a bird perched on the edge
of the stone birdbath
when suddenly you announced you were leaving

to pick up a few things at the market
and I stunned you by impulsively
pointing out that we were getting low on butter
and another case of wine would not be a bad idea.

Who could tell what the next moment would hold?
Another drip from the faucet?
Another little spasm of the second hand?
Would the painting of the bowl of pears continue

to hang on the wall from that nail?
Would the heavy anthologies remain on their shelves?
Would the stove hold its position?
Suddenly, it was anyone's guess.

The sun rose ever higher.
The state capitals remained motionless on the wall map
when suddenly I found myself lying on a couch
where I closed my eyes and without any warning

began to picture the Andes, of all places,
and a path that led over the mountain to another country
with strange customs and eye-catching hats
suddenly fringed with little colorful, dangling balls.

  - - - Billy Collins

Thursday, April 15, 2021


As I grow old
I will not shuffle to the beat
of self-interest
and make that slow retreat
​​​to the right.

I will be a septuagenarian insurrectionist
marching with the kids. I shall sing
‘La Marseillaise’, whilst brandishing
homemade placards that proclaim
I will be an octogenarian obstructionist,
and build unscalable barricades
from bottles of flat lemonade,
tartan blankets and chicken wire.
I will hurl prejudice upon the brazier’s fire.
I will be a nonagenarian nonconformist,
armed with a ballpoint pen
and a hand that shakes with rage not age
at politicians’ latest crimes,
in strongly-worded letters to The Times.
I will be a centenarian centurion
and allow injustice no admittance.
I will stage longstanding sit-ins.
My mobility scooter and I
will move for no-one.
And when I die
I will be the scattered ashes
that attach themselves to the lashes
and blind the eyes
of racists and fascists.

       by Brian Bilston

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

A Color of the Sky

Windy today and I feel less than brilliant,
driving over the hills from work.
There are the dark parts on the road
when you pass through clumps of wood
and the bright spots where you have a view of the ocean,
but that doesn’t make the road an allegory.

I should call Marie and apologize
for being so boring at dinner last night,
but can I really promise not to be that way again?
And anyway, I’d rather watch the trees, tossing
in what certainly looks like sexual arousal.

Otherwise it’s spring, and everything looks frail;
the sky is baby blue, and the just-unfurling leaves
are full of infant chlorophyll,
the very tint of inexperience.

Last summer’s song is making a comeback on the radio,
and on the highway overpass,
the only metaphysical vandal in America has written
in big black spraypaint letters,

which makes us wonder if Time loves Memory back.

Last night I dreamed of X again.
She’s like a stain on my subconscious sheets.
Years ago she penetrated me
but though I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed,
I never got her out,
but now I’m glad.

What I thought was an end turned out to be a middle.
What I thought was a brick wall turned out to be a tunnel.
What I thought was an injustice
turned out to be a color of the sky.

Outside the youth center, between the liquor store
and the police station,
a little dogwood tree is losing its mind;

overflowing with blossomfoam,
like a sudsy mug of beer;
like a bride ripping off her clothes,

dropping snow white petals to the ground in clouds,

so Nature’s wastefulness seems quietly obscene.
It’s been doing that all week:
making beauty,
and throwing it away,
and making more.


Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda

Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Winter Grace by Patricia Fargnoli

If you have seen the snow
under the lamppost
piled up like a white beaver hat on the picnic table
or somewhere slowly falling
into the brook
to be swallowed by water,
then you have seen beauty
and know it for its transience.
And if you have gone out in the snow
for only the pleasure
of walking barely protected
from the galaxies,
the flakes settling on your parka
like the dust from just-born stars,
the cold waking you
as if from long sleeping,
then you can understand
how, more often than not,
truth is found in silence,
how the natural world comes to you
if you go out to meet it,
its icy ditches filled with dead weeds,
its vacant birdhouses, and dens
full of the sleeping.
But this is the slowed down season
held fast by darkness
and if no one comes to keep you company
then keep watch over your own solitude.
In that stillness, you will learn
with your whole body
the significance of cold
and the night,
which is otherwise always eluding you.
“Winter Grace” by Patricia Fargnoli from Hallowed. © Tupelo Press, 2017. Reprinted with permission. 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

The Dog Has Run Off Again by Mary Oliver

and I should start shouting his name
and clapping my hands,
but it has been raining all night
and the narrow creek has risen
is a tawny turbulence is rushing along
over the mossy stones
is surging forward
with a sweet loopy music
and therefore I don’t want to entangle it
with my own voice
calling summoning
my little dog to hurry back
look the sunlight and the shadows are chasing each other
listen how the wind swirls and leaps and dives up and down
who am I to summon his hard and happy body
his four white feet that love to wheel and pedal
through the dark leaves
to come back to walk by my side, obedient.

- - - by Mary Oliver

Saturday, April 10, 2021

Once in a while, we all succumb
to the merely personal.
Those glass shards and snipped metal
That glitter and disappear and glitter again
in the edged night light
Of memory’s anxious sky.
—Charles Wright

Friday, April 9, 2021

Visitor by Brenda Shaughnessy

I am dreaming of a house just like this one

but larger and opener to the trees, nighter

than day and higher than noon, and you,

visiting, knocking to get in, hoping for icy

milk or hot tea or whatever it is you like.

For each night is a long drink in a short glass.

A drink of blacksound water, such a rush

and fall of lonesome no form can contain it.

And if it isn’t night yet, though I seem to

recall that it is, then it is not for everyone.

Did you receive my invitation? It is not

for everyone. Please come to my house

lit by leaf light. It’s like a book with bright

pages filled with flocks and glens and groves

and overlooked by Pan, that seductive satyr

in whom the fish is also cooked. A book that

took too long to read but minutes to unread—

that is—to forget. Strange are the pages

thus. Nothing but the hope of company.

I made too much pie in expectation. I was

hoping to sit with you in a tree house in a

nightgown in a real way. Did you receive

my invitation? Written in haste, before

leaf blinked out, before the idea fully formed.

An idea like a storm cloud that does not spill

or arrive but moves silently in a direction.

Like a dark book in a long life with a vague

hope in a wood house with an open door.