Sunday, April 30, 2017


Is this the creative process? Where do words come from?

So often
I can’t figure
Where words come from
I sit
In the blue chair
And there they are
From the ceiling
From the sky
Flown in
From a conversation
From something I read
I plop it
On the paper.
There it is.
It’s almost like
Someone else
Wrote it
It’s almost like

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Bridge paint

Ah hospital visits. I learned so much visiting people in the hospital.

I visit people.
I learn so much.
One told me everything
Anyone would ever want to know
About bridge paint.
So different
From other kinds of paint.
Wall paint
House paint
Ship paint
Car paint.
Bridge paint.
It’s different
Than most other paints.
I visit people
Let them talk.
I learn amazing things.
Bridge paint.
I could give a sermon
On bridge paint
I could write a poem
About bridge paint
Like this one.

Friday, April 28, 2017


I am still learning how to walk. I am also learning how to pick up tissues with my toes, a more difficult feat than I would have imagined. I can make my own hard boiled eggs.

Exactly a year ago
I was learning to walk
I took meals
With the rest
Of the physical therapy floor.
I was the youngest
By far.
I had a lot to learn
But then again
We all did.
I knew
What cranberry juice
And prune juice
Were good for.
Others knew
It was possible
To order hard boiled eggs.
We all
Knew different things.
Each thing
Made life
A little easier.
We laughed
And cheered
When the woman
With the broken hip
Went home.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

It's time

Time to clip the clematis

It’s time
To clip the clematis back
Before the blossoms
Bloom purple,
Before the rain
Pours hard.
It’s time
While sun
Here I am
And night
Waits for moon and stars
It’s time
To clip the clematis back
So it can
Get a fresh start.
We will see it
Begin again

Monday, April 24, 2017


Of course the squirrels. Of course the birds. But even skunks and coyotes and fox eat crab apples. Our backyard is a veritable banquet table.

The crab apple
I know I mentioned
The crab apple yesterday.
It appears this time
Of year
In full bloom.
All the animals wait
For the apples
To appear.
Everyone eats
Crab apples,
Carries them
To places no one else
Can find them,
Secret stashes
Of apples

Sunday, April 23, 2017


Every change brings grief with it, whether the change is major or minor. Sometimes others detect and carry the grief before we do.

I find a place to sit
Maybe grieve for things
Others have shouldered
In my absence
Others have questioned
In my presence
How can you not
Be sad?
They say
Where have you stored it?
I wonder if the next time
Something happens
(And it surely will)
I will find that place
It has taken shelter.                                                                                                              
I will find that place
And it will come
Out of hiding.
Now I sit and watch
The crab apple bloom
Exercise my feet.
I figure
When it does
The grief will catch me

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The fountain

When we move, as we will, the fountain stays.

We bought this house
Years ago.
On the back patio
Is a fountain
A boy
A girl
They hold
An umbrella.
A cord ran
Through a crack
In the cement,
Ran through the basement
Was plugged in
Over the washing machine.
The cord was the first
To go.
The fountain
Has been a planter
For years.
The boy
The girl
The umbrella
They stand on different
Every year.
A garden
For bees and butterflies
Border that planter.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Certain people do not have fingerprints. Me (for instance) or nurses or anyone who washes his her hands a lot.This was a new thing for me, though it seemed to be known to most nurses I ran into.

In the most recent vocation
I needed to turn in
My fingerprints
My fingerprints
Do not exist.
They had no contingency
For such a thing.
I thought to change my vocation
To bank robber
Except now
I can barely walk
Nor can I drive.
I would not be able
To get away.
Someone else
Would have
To drive
the get-away car.
I would most likely
Get the giggles
Picturing me
In the walker
Carrying a bag of money
Over my shoulder.
No fingerprints
Would be
The least of it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


One thirty. One twenty. Always a surprise.

We witness the children
Actually they launched
When they were born.
We saw it
The way
Most parents do.
Of course
We prefer
To be better
Than most parents.
Of course
We are not.
Maybe they see us
From the air
As they fly
Like hawks
Like goldfinches
Dipping and diving.
We witness.
We never quite know
What to expect

Monday, April 17, 2017

Tax time again

Dreams die hard.

Years ago
I found an ad
For a piece of land
With a creek.
It bordered
The bottom.
Eight acres
Mostly hillside
In Wisconsin.
We bought it.
Paid taxes
Every year.
Dreamed about a cabin
On the hill
Next to the creek.
We have been there
Exactly three times.
Eight acres
On a hill
Down the road
From the maximum security prison
In Boscobel.
We talk about it
When tax time
Comes around
Every year.
Write the check.
Talk about selling.
Then the dream
Comes around again.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


Dare I say I do not own a Kindle?

I admit
To the purchase
Of hardcover books
With the excuse
That I need them
For my professional life
Whichever life
Has rounded the bend
This morning
Or even
This year.

I admit
To not wanting to wait
For the paperback edition
With the excuse
That the author
Gets more royalties
If I purchase
The hardcover version.

I admit
It is four blocks
To the library
And the library
May never purchase
This book

I admit
I have no more space
On my bookshelves
For one more book

I admit
I have books
Never read
Stacked on the nightstand.

I admit.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Not so obvious

In spring
Life continues
In so obvious ways
The baby giraffe
Being born
The squirrel
Leaping limb
To wind-tossed limb
He keeps his balance
I do not know
The kitten acknowledges
The sun
Comes back to me
Then back
To the sun
We both
Turn back
To that squirrel
Now he hangs from
The smallest branch
We watch and pray
He doesn’t fall
Do cats pray?
Now back
To the baby giraffe
New to the world
Everything is new
In obvious
Not so obvious
If we look.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Sisyphus Classics major returns.  It is Holy Week. Easter is upon us. We are waiting for that stone to be rolled away.

Push up
When the rock
To crush you
No mind
No mind
The stone must roll
Be named
For what it is
So the gardener
May find
What lies behind
Run and tell
The others
Some will believe
Others will not,
They will push up
Catch the rock
A futile gesture
More gardeners
Will come.

Everything in its place

It strikes me that Holy Week should be marked this year, in particular. Why?  I'm not exactly sure. But it feels like a Holy Week sort of week and I'm not exactly sure Easter will arrive. Some years are like that, I guess.

This is how
I keep track
Of the world
It is Good Friday.
I have missed Holy Week
This year.
Usually I keep track
With the Triduum.
This year
A cold has landed
In my head.
I am stuck
At home.
My feet declined
To be washed.
No creeping
To the cross.
Easter will come
As it does
Every year.
But not quite yet.
First Jesus
Will empty Hell
Then Easter
Then Easter

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Who won?

Sometimes I wish I had majored in something else.

My parents
Were concerned
That we each got
A bachelor’s degree
From a school
In another state
No matter what
The subject.
It was
A beginner degree.
My sister majored
In biology,
Went into
Mortgage banking.
My brother majored
In geography
Then law school
Then ran the family business.
I majored
In Greek
Went on to seminary.
I’m not sure
Who won.
By this I mean
Whose degree
Most closely matched
What we ended up
There are arguments
For each.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Sudden cardinal

Nothing like opening your eyes first thing in the morning and seeing an immediate cardinal.

I opened my eyes
And there he was
Cardinal on the red bud
Three feet away.
I’ve seen birds there
But none so startling
So immediate
Opened my eyes
The surprise
Of the cardinal
Suddenly there
Of course
I was sudden to him
As well
But I was not dressed
In red
I also
Did not say
Fly away.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Donkey island

In Minnesota (and...I understand Wisconsin) people spend summers going Up North to The Cabin on The Lake. Of course these are all different cabins and different lakes. Ours had burros.

My grandfather grew up
Enamored with burros.
When he could afford one
He bought that piece of land
With a Cabin
Up North
On a Lake.
He bought two burros,
Built a corral
Gave them shelter
In a wood shed.
One burro
Was pregnant.
One burro
Was male.
Soon there were too many burros
For a woodshed
So he built a barn.
In the woods
Did I mention
The woods?
The burros roamed
On the shores
Of the Lake
Up North
I went to camp
We canoed on that Lake
Did you know
They said
Did you know
About Donkey Island?
Who would believe it?
They’re burros
I said
They’re my grandfather’s burros.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

First to Oslo

First to Oslo
Then to Edinburgh
With perhaps a side trip
To Iceland.
It’s been awhile.
She has been planting trees
On Mull.
We will not
Be planting trees
A friend’s daughter
Is in Madagascar
Counting snakes and lemurs.
We count ducks and squirrels
An occasional redwing.
But first
To Oslo
What swims
In fjords?

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Medicine ball

Carrying the weights of others

The medicine ball
Has stayed with me
Since you threw me
The image
On Thursday
It is not my
Medicine ball
We walk around
And carry the weights
Of others
This is what we
Then remember
This medicine ball
Is not mine
It is hard
To throw it back
It is so heavy
You may not be able
To catch it
And there I will be
And there you will be
And the medicine ball
May make a hole
In the floor.

Friday, April 7, 2017

So many voices at once

Poetry workshop

I went once
To a poetry workshop
So many voices at once
I know why I went
I know why I will not
Go back
So many voices
At once
Mine was drowned
Except for that particular
Smell when I walked outside
My door
In the morning
By myself
An almost sweet
Unidentifiable smell
That particular smell
Before I met anyone else
And began hearing
All those voices
At once.

Thursday, April 6, 2017


This is the Minnesota part of me. 

I would love
To give away
The new references
I have
To someone
Who perhaps
Needs them more.
Everyone tells me
Keep them
Keep them
Keep them
There are many enough
To go around
I wonder
Who else
Needs a referral
To a podiatrist.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Circuit breaker number five

There are three circuit breaker boxes outside my office.

The electricity in my office
Is circuit breaker
Number five
I have to learn it again
Whenever I enter
And it has
To the place
Electricity goes.
I seek it out
So my client
Will not meet
With me
In the dark.
The last time
Flew the coop
We had three men
At the circuit breaker box.
Our administrator said
She could smell
In the air.
This time
I knew
It was
Circuit breaker
Number five.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


I had forgotten the meaning of eleemosynary. I am also glad I did not get it in the eighth grade spelling bee. Affidavit was difficult enough.

I have always been
A good speller
Though I came in
Tied for third
In eighth grade.
I sat with
All the other sort of winners
Who misspelled
My father
Was an attorney.
This misspelling
Was particularly
This morning I heard
On the radio
Had to look it up
It said
My eighth grade self
Charity wins
The day.

Monday, April 3, 2017

New credence

Most of us have had our doctors feel they know best (and often they do). My trip to NIH and the recommendations from that visit have had an amazing weight. Amazing.

I have gained
New credence
With my doctors.
Any recommendation
From that special place
Bears the weight
Of the angels
Maybe even
Of God.
Of course the angels
Are light as the feathers
On their shoulders
And God
Of course
Is unknowably heavy.
They must know
What they talk about.
They must know.
It’s a given.
I would bestow
This new credence
On everyone I love
And even all
I don’t.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

250 gifts

I forgot, until I remembered.

Before the hospital
I ordered a book
250 poems.
I forgot.
Found it on the dresser.
Now I have gifts
250 gifts
For daily consumption
I forgot
I ordered it.
Now I remember
Now I remember.
250 gifts
Now I remember.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Snit fits

What does a happy tortoise look like?

The tortoise is home,
Not happy,
But home.
We await
The snit fits
Which only he
Can throw.
The plate in his jaws
Against the glass,
The head sucked into
His shell
So no medicine
Can be applied.
The tortoise
Is home
Not happy
But home.