“All life is a foreign country”

–Jack Kerouac


All my life my tongue

could not curl about

the words spoken here—

my teeth cut my cheek

as I stumbled over

simple words, simple ideas.

I was silenced in simple

misunderstandings, in fear

of the wrong word spoken

too loudly, too softly,

or not at all.

I wish I were

a mockingbird able

to flit between the leaves

singing the song of others;

to speak earnestly around

the mundane bits of life

we share, like now, or mimic

an old man’s nod of greeting,

or children’s laughter outside

this window; or to simply cross

over the border to a home.


(September 1, 2018)

A Safe Community



I love to be loved,

as do you— as do

we all. No one wants

to be free: Trekking

off, boldly alone

through mountain forests,

the romantic cliché

tousling one’s hair.


I like knowing where I am,

to seem competent

in my children’s eyes,

to be myself inside,

a context provided,

a piece to a puzzle.


(July 21, 2018)




mostly now, I stay at home

rarely driving farther than work


or to a nearby market

for the night’s dinner


tomorrow, I travel alone

two thousand miles from home


to meet with other teachers

with other poets to talk


about poetry and its teaching

in an age of blatant lies


(July 8, 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)

the unknown’s always vast





I take off my glasses

and cannot see

with any clarity

more than a little way


my vision’s weak

but sufficient

to navigate within

these blurred horizons


as with any truth

only what’s near

coheres enough

to provide shape


even so few know

the heart close by


(February 13, 2018)


cognizant for the moment

the ephemeral flutters
like feathers along a raven’s neck
yet aware of each new wind
in which to lift aloft
the jet black wings pull
into the air resisting
gravity’s cold collapse
to fly as he wills
no more to the edges
the distant distractions
to turn a black eye from home
no more  fleeting presumptions
to tear away at my heart
(February 12, 2017)