Scrounge and Comb

The heart is like

this small brown bird

who finds in the lawn


a bit of dead grass

and flies it away

to build her nest—


sometimes it takes

so little to build

something beautiful.

Out of Obstacles



Walls will only crush you when they fall.

—Ray La Montagne, “Be Here Now”



So when

a wall forms

between us



reuse each

brick as cobblestone


we’ll build

our own path

as we go.






It happens, sometimes,

the waiter notices

that your glass

is half empty

and so he walks over

with the bottle of champagne

and fills it again, and then

when it’s half empty

he fills it again,

and again,

and a whole morning

can pass just like this

sitting in the window

on a generous sofa

across from a friend—

outside the snow falls

on the newly green leaves

and inside,

though we plumb

the layers

of fear and loss,

it’s increasingly

hard to believe

in a glass ever being

half empty.




One Contentment




not all gifts are gifts we want

this one, perhaps, leave unopened

the day itself gift enough




when I was four or five

and my mom took me

to a home where rhubarb

was growing.

The old woman there

cut the thick red stalks,

peeled back the tough outer skin

and then sprinkled

the naked stem

with sugar. The crystals

stuck to the wetness.

Take a bite, she urged,

my first invitation

to learn how

it takes so little sweetness

sometimes to transform

a sourness into something

we might learn to love.


One Misperception




What if it’s not an hourglass?

What if our time here

is more like sand

in a six million

mile an hour





Foreign Tongues




We sometimes slip into w-wanguage,

a tongue my son invented, though no longer speaks.


My daughter and I are the two sole speakers

and we often find ourselves saying


What wa wabulous way, or

Womma, wan wi wease wave wore wapples?


The rules are simple.

We break them anyway,


forgetting to w or tripping over

our own expectations of how a word should sound.


In the end, the desire to speak clearly

and to be understood always wins.


Other times we’ll speak in nonsense syllables,

long strings of babble bellowed or crooned.


We’ll wave our hands, as if there is something

really at stake—like the desire to be understood.


Perhaps this is why whatever syllables

she utters, I will eventually echo them back,


stroking her hair, looking her right in the eye,

letting her know for certain


I know exactly what she means.


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