Tuesday, January 31, 2006


I've been diverted today from my usual routine: I'm not much on talking about myself, but the incomparable Patry has tagged me for a meme, asking me to describe ten things about myself. So here goes with a ten bits riff:


Favorite poets include (and are not limited to):
Mary Oliver, W.C. Williams, William Stafford, Rumi, Charles Simic, Theodore Roethke, Gary Snyder, the list does not stop...

As a child, W.C. Williams' poem about the red wheelbarrow stunned me. I read it over and over, trying to figure out why it was magic.


I believe life is for loving kindness, loving kindness is life, living kindness is love, love is a kind of living.


English, Hebrew, French, Italian, Old English, Spanish... For as long as I can remember, I've been like a magpie, stealing shiny words to line my nest, admiring their beauty... but I remain truly fluent in only this language.


I wrote my first poem when I was three. My mother transcribed it for me.


Also when I was three: he was red-feathered, severe and bright yellow-clawed, stalked noisily through the yard after crowing the sun from bed. His name was Chadwick. He was mine. He bit me.

(That's not the poem.)


Give me one week, obligation-free, and I'd quickly make a list and only get half of it done:

gather with friends and loved ones
sing and play music with friends and maybe drink a little whiskey
write a poem or song
sleep outside under the stars
walk in a green place and smell the forest duff
sit by a creek among the wildflowers and listen to the meadowlark
sleep late
make love
laugh with my daughter and hold her
work with clay
work in the dirt in my garden


There are four of us in this house, including one completely adorable and emotionally complicated border collie, and I love us dearly. I can't imagine life any other way though I know it easily could be. Yesterday, three of us decided we are all easily amused, easily entertained, and messy.


Some favorite foods:
chai tea
coffee ice cream
fresh raspberries
fresh corn on the cob
toast with peanut butter and slices of garden tomatoes
homemade basil pesto


I take pleasure in making yogurt in a sleeping bag. (Easy: heat the milk, add a couple spoonfuls of yogurt, put it in jars, put the jars to bed for the night in a sleeping bag.) Fresh yogurt, in glass rather than plastic, has a delicate, creamy flavor that can't be beat. Topped with a spoonful of rhubarb-berry jam… oh.


People with whom I'd like to have tea:

My oldest childhood friend
William Blake's wife
Emily Dickinson
My daughter after school


Ach, sometimes I have trouble finishing things...

...there, you see? I forgot the end, the tagging part. But I'll only say that anyone who comments here and who has the desire should jump in with their own list - just be sure to let us know!

Monday, January 30, 2006


On snowshoes: view to the north.

Incoming snow.

Snow-spattered, electric green, wolf lichen on a ponderosa pine.
The bark smells like vanilla, or maybe butterscotch.

Fog and snow arrive.

Two ravens wheeling in the fog.

Enlightenment on a spring.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Owl feathers

"Keep me away from the wisdom
which does not cry,
the philosophy
which does not laugh
and the greatness
which does not bow before children."
— Kahlil Gibran

"Love doesn't just sit there, like a stone; it has to be made, like bread, remade all the time, made new."
— Ursula K LeGuin

“There is no time like the pleasant.”
— George Bergman

Thursday, January 26, 2006

La primavera

Tus palabras
volaban como
un rio del cielo
y transformaban los campos del mundo.

Te busqué hoy en el arbol desnudo
respirando la luz del sol,
en la tierra oscura
floreando con nieve.

Creo que las nubes cantan de tí
y los pajaritos negros
en el cielo rosado
bailan para tí,
creyendo en tu regreso.

Miro las hojas en el suelo,
blandas por la lluvia
y se agitan en el viento lento.
Aprendí del cieno y
las piedras del rio —
el mundo cumple sus promesas.

La noche cerró sus ojos estrellados.
El sol brilla sin parpadear,
y el viento grita a través del cielo.
Aquí, te busco,
Aquí, te llamo dulcemente.

in translation:


Your words
used to fly like
a river from the sky
and transform the fields of the world.

I looked for you today in the naked tree
breathing sunlight,
in the dark earth
blooming with snow.

I believe the clouds are singing of you
and the small black birds
in the rosy sky
are dancing for you,
believing in your return.

I watch the leaves on the ground,
soft from the rain
and stirring in the slow wind.
I have learned from the silt and
the stones of the river —
the world keeps its promises.

Night has closed its starry eyes.
The sun burns unblinkingly,
and the wind shouts across the sky.
Here, I am looking for you,
Here, I am calling for you, gently.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Standing in the meadow with the brilliant
Sun sliding overhead
From rim to rim of the broad bowl of sky

It will drop over the lip and
Darkness will rise up like a spray
To rinse the world of its tired dust
In a colander of stars

You say this will happen again
But it will never happen again
Quite like this

In this way you see the days and nights
Unfold ahead of you
An endless path spiraling out

And you are only ever taking
This step

Monday, January 23, 2006

Dream poem

On occasion, I remember poems that my dreams write. Sometimes, they're completely laughable. When I'm lucky, there's a line or two I can use. Usually, upon waking, I discover they're not nearly as good as I was led to believe in the dream. Here's one that arrived last night.

he is the kind of guy
who edits on the fly

when the buzz has stopped
the editing is dropped

Friday, January 20, 2006

The dark speaks

in night visions
i watch my poems
write themselves
inviting me to disappear

into the wings of language
like the dark speaks
to itself
long after echoes have ceased

Wednesday, January 18, 2006


for TRW

she has a coinpurse
filled with currency
not recognized
in this or any other
land now,
small talismans
from years ago
spread across
the rough burgundy
of her skirt

with three of her steps
for every one of his,
she walks the
bright green swath
behind his lawnmower,
a path through summer grass

looking up she sees
the winter's bright red sled
through the window
of the shed

a white wicker chair
with no legs
hangs in the apple tree
as a swing

apple blossoms

tilting her head back,
she looks up
into the
of his eyes

the sound of his
of her childhood

in the darkened room
lit only by
the soft lights
in the evergreen branches,
they begin to sing

but it is his voice,
rich bass,
pulsing through the harmonies,
that she hears

she drops the pieces
one by one
back into the pouch,
their weight wordless and
greater for the polishing

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sitting at the foot of the hill

Just this day,
I want to dissolve into
The endless grey of the sky,
I want to run like sap can
Under rivers of tree bark,
I want to tuck myself inside the
Feathered, waving tail of a squirrel.

Just this day,
I want to follow the wind
On its ways
Round the rocks and
Among grains of sand,
Slip through tree branches
And ruffle a bird's wing.

Just this day,
I want to sit still inside the hill,
Looking out over the valley
And see, in hill-time,
What the hill sees.

I wonder if the hill
Sees the rest of us
As we see smaller creatures—
In higher-speed motion
And with a shorter life span—
Clouds breaking against it
Like waves on a shore,
Small and inconsequential
Human-made structures
Rising up and breaking down,
Cars like tiny insects moving quickly
Down their paths.

Just this day,
I'd like to know what the hill knows
And learn its gathering wisdom.

Monday, January 16, 2006

An owl's feather

"Hatred and bitterness can never cure the disease of fear, only love can do that. Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it."
- Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.


On different note, my child's homework today consists of finding the ratio between x cupcakes, y chickenwings, and z pastries. Her math book is in translation, but still, isn't that a trifle peculiar?

Friday, January 13, 2006

Friday the thirteenth

I could tell you that the sky is blue, or that it's grey. But the more I look, the more I see that isn't so.

To be sure, there is blue and there is grey. But also lavender, white, gunmetal, pearl, the variegated colors of old steel and old lace. And there are feathers, rolls of cotton wadding, stretches of diaphanous tulle. They seem to catch sometimes on the bare branches, entangled with chimney smoke.

There is no sun.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Finding Home

Ah, it's up. Go see! One of my poems is over at Qarrtsiluni as part of the theme Finding Home. The poem goes by the same name.

My thanks to stellar editors Lorianne DiSabato and Tom Montag, who proved marvelous to work with.

My thanks also to those who commented when the first draft of that poem appeared here briefly, a while back.

Monday, January 09, 2006

"Oh my ears and whiskers"

...How late it's getting! After a lovely weekend of singing, swimming, learning sudoku, snowshoeing alone in the hoarfrosted woods (forgot the camera), watching the gorgeous Winged Migration, and not writing a word of poetry, I'm facing an extremely busy week ahead. I'll be here, but expect fewer than usual posts this week...

Friday, January 06, 2006

Owl feathers

“Being nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you like everybody else means to fight the hardest battle any human can fight.”
— e.e. cummings

“I'd rather be a could-be if I cannot be an are; because a could-be is a maybe who is reaching for a star. I'd rather be a has-been than a might-have-been by far; for a might-have-been has never been, but a has-been was once an are.”
— Milton Berle

“The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.”
— Carl Gustav Jung

Happy weekend, everybody, it's time to sing!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

After many days

after many days
of darkness and muted light
the dripping rain stopped

this morning woke cold
startled by birdsong and sun
lighting the glass panes

like pink ribbons left
to float on an aqua pool
by careless summer

the morning sky was
filled with rose tendrils of cloud
breathing in and out

breaths that bring the warm
memory of summer back
to winter's longing

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

The old sweater inherited from a poet

years after the Iowa City snow piled
so high that a step off the porch
was a slow-motion fall
collapsing inwardly
under glimmering light of streetlamps
by the park

brown of teddy bears and
large, enfolding, practically bear-pawed,
a sweater that wore stories up and down its sleeves,
that dreamed poems while folded in the drawer
and recited them to the rhythms of the dryer,
momentarily forgotten
in the dark undershadows of a table
slicked with pizza grease
in the grey rain of Portland

found by someone else
and the only question is
will they find poems in their dreams, too?

Monday, January 02, 2006

New Year haiku

like a long deep breath
the first day of the new year
stretches quietly