Kneeling in aisle three,
in front of the red hots,

colored sugars and non-pareils
reading their labels

and shopping price,
I did not know what I wanted

until a stranger with a dark beard
and brown coat walked around me

and said in a soft, smiling voice,
“I forgive you.”

Human Nature

Somewhere inside us
is a wolf hunting for prey
and marking its territory.
It prowls the perimeter
of our thoughts, scratching
and leaving its scent. There is also
a rabbit in there
who has not yet figured out
she’s wearing a bear costume
that her mom dressed her in long ago.
The wolf has kept its distance
until now, but that rabbit
is getting hot and thinking
how nice it might be to sit out in the field
and feel the sun on her back.
If she takes off that heavy coat,
she will learn fear.
If she doesn’t, she will never
learn who she is.

No space of regret can make amends for one life’s opportunities misused!
― Charles Dickens, ”A Christmas Carol”

Through the window, I see myself,
dead. The white sheet doesn’t cover
my feet, and they stretch, stupid and pink,
off the edge of the gurney. There is too little
callus on them. They should be dirty
from walking the world. What a waste to die
with clean feet. The earth would not be
so covered in dirt if we were supposed to stay clean.

And there I am, facing away from the corpse.
So human to want to turn away. My sleeves
are rolled up, but my hands hang empty.

And here on the street, I see in the window
some semblance of my face,
not quite transparent, but substanceless.
I pick up a rock small enough to throw,
big enough to break the glass. No.
I drop the rock, untie my shoes instead.

This poem is a response to a picture, part of Rattle’s Ekphrasis challenge …

Taking Lessons from Hermes

These wicked thoughts—
sometimes I try
to track them back
to their evil origins.
Perhaps they have learned
to put their sandals on backward
because they appear
to have started
with me.

I was a wilderness once.
I was howl and burrow
and shriek and claw.
I was moon and snow
on snow. Sometimes,
just before I set the alarm
I still can smell it,
the sharp gray scrape of sage,
the sweetness of trees
I never learned to name.

Short and Sweet

come closer
love, so close
you can hear
the red thrum
of my please
be a bee
to my poppy
a drop of
rain to
be sun
to my

I want to stand behind your mirror
so that every time you see yourself
I speak for your reflection and say,
“You are beautiful. Every inch
of your body is beautiful,
is exactly the way it should be.
I love your eyes, your hair, your neck,
your arms, I love your shoulders,
the color of your skin. I love
your waist and your hands and
your legs and your every toe.”
I have seen the way you scowl
at yourself, have seen you steal
a look in the mirror and wince
at what you see. I see you,
I see you so clearly, the way
you open your heart to the world
and close it to yourself.
Your beauty has nothing to do
with the clothes that you wear
or the length of your hair or
your height or the number
on the scale. You belong
in this world just as you are—
you are life’s ambassador
building a bridge between you
and all other life, and what
a beautiful job you do.
I see you, I see you. And if I cannot
stand behind your mirror, then
I will nourish the seed in you
that knows with all certainty
how beautiful, how vital,
how essential you are, I will
nourish that seed until it blooms
so fully that never again
will you let any mirror or
anyone else tell you otherwise,
not even yourself. But it
is an inside job—no matter
how much I might suggest
you are beautiful, the conviction
must come from you. See how
beautiful you are even
in how you believe you are not
beautiful? Each day more you
than the day before.


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