a darker shape was always present

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (78)

after the worst of summer’s heat

we’d sit in the grass

beneath the pecan and cottonwoods

away from the radiant streets and sidewalks

the adults spoke of friends 

far away or long dead

they’d laugh and tell stories

which we were not a part of yet

we ran wild through the night

afraid of nothing

(July 18, 2020)

gently down the stream

from a work in progress: “process, not a journey” (49)

our lives changed

around him

the first born


that summer he turned one

I read dante and the moderns

for grad school


at night I’d rock him singing

row row row your boat

until he’d drift to sleep


now he has a child

and that summer

floats away into dream


like a mountain river

we happily crossed

splashing in the sun

(April 7 2020)

The Taming Power of the Small

from “Change,” a work in progress

Our government horrifies me,

and I feel powerless–

Each day I read and talk

with my students;

they exude such optimism

and hope, I’m humbled.

A slight breeze stirs

the oak leaves;

dawn breaks slowly

over all.

(January 25, 2019)

My Son Explains My Poetry to Me


One does not want to find

the body on the floor,

bits of brain and blood flecked

in patterns on the walls.


After decades scribbling

these poems to the page,

reading hundreds if not

thousands of others ,


apparently, I just needed you.

So, please, tell me, my child,

what my poetry means

to an ignorance like mine.


Keeping in mind, the reader

finds what he wants to find.


(May 16, 2018)

still in love



in a few weeks it will be

forty years since we went out

for a banal movie and pizza—


forty years, college, a marriage;

three children grown,

and moved out mostly.


We are grandparents now.

Isaac toddles about the house

determinedly going where he goes,

as we follow behind bemused.


I think we worry too much

for the troubles we have. I am

aware they are there, as they are—

yet, so am I, and so are you.


(February 19, 2018)

Shantith, or Original Sin

“Behold the time of the Assassins.”
                        Arthur Rimbaud
It is not that stories don’t matter, but they are not justified; the margins neatly matted. Each spring, as a child, the carnival would arrive in town for the fat stock show.  The kids in the local 4-H and F.F.A would compete, trying to win best of show and scholarships from the cows, pigs, sheep, and goats they had loving raised over the year for slaughter. We ignored the poison in our veins. Instead we spun, and flipped, and screamed tightly to each other on the carnival rides, held safe in our laughter. The horrors lurked somewhere else, some other state, some other country’s small town. Someone else’s children burned in the magazines stacked securely on the living room floor. From a blue sky, the sun shone brightly upon the cottonwoods in the back yard. As neighbors leaned on rakes talking quietly to each other, the sounds of lawn sprinklers spritzed through the evening air.
(July 8, 2016)

Dead Babies on the Beach

            Gaza, summer 2014
Among the detritus flecked with sand:
opaquely polished pop bottles, wood
from worlds away, tangled plastic
fishing line, damp beach towels,
beer bottles, wet fast-food boxes,
jelly fish lying flat as if defenestrated,
all coyly draped in sea-weed strands
like bathing beauties in the sun,
unmediated beneath an infinite blue sky
streaked in fading traces of smoke.
(August 5, 2104)

early studies in liminal space

before entering school as a child I would
listen to the thick sound move through water
I would hold my life’s breath at the bottom
of the pool far longer than I should have
feeling the edges of my existence
before pushing off the floor violently
breeching the surface into summer sun
gulping at the air in gigantic gasps
breathing the world like a baby’s first cry
(March 18, 2014)

27. Like Father

July 24, 1995
Mouth slack in awe, or just
stupidity?  When tired or tense
I read – – escape into words – –
Ezra and Quinn cuddle next to me
as we read  “Ferdinand the Bull.”
They, too, had a hard day.

(from My Book of Changes, 1994-1995)


At home tonight I broil some salmon
and a bit of asparagus.
Over a glass of wine, we talk
of our children far away.
(January 2013)