Posts Tagged ‘poem’




empty space

at the dinner table—

a flower without its petals

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Don’t stop, she says,

and grabs my hand

and pulls it again

to her back. She

rakes it across

her skin and urges the nails

deeper in to scratch

some invisible itch

that she can’t reach herself.


In the thin light of vespers,

her face is more shadow

than shape. Still,

as my hand grazes

her skin, I make out

the place where her brow begins,

the jut of her nose, her angle of chin,


and she is no longer

nine years old, but some

timeless version of herself—

maybe thirty, or sixty,

or eighty-four, some year

when I am no longer

near to scratch

the unreachable spot.


The thought of it

makes me linger longer

than I normally do—

until her breathing changes,

until she is nine again,

her body curling

into her blanket,

her hand opening

into sleep.







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            for all the busy people



that’s when I hope you remember

the skylark, not so much the bird,

though that, too—how it sings

even while being chased by hunters,

though it increases its chances

of being caught.


But more, I hope you will think

of Johnny Mercer who struggled

a year to write the words

to the tune by Hoagy Carmichael.

By the time he finished Skylark,

Carmichael had forgotten

all about the song.

Sometimes, it takes a long,

long time before the words

come out right. Sometimes,

the moment just isn’t ripe. Sometimes

there’s just too much to do.


But perhaps amidst the meetings

and the plans, a snatch of song

will come to you, something

that won’t be ignored.

Perhaps between the papers

and the rush, you will feel it,

winging. Perhaps, as you fly off

toward the always what’s next,

you won’t stop yourself

from singing.











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… one sector of the self can step in for another in trouble

            —Kay Ryan, “Why We Must Struggle”



Because the heart is a mess

I mop the floors. And shake

the rugs. And find homes


for all the knick knacks

and papers that clutter

the shelves. And when


the heart is still a mess,

I scour sinks. Then wipe

the mirrors. Hours go by.


The drawers are straightened.

Sheets and towels refolded.

Even the piano keys


are not sticky any more.

The filter in the fish tank

is scrubbed and changed.


But what does the heart care

for cleanliness? It walks

across the polished room


in its muddiest shoes

leaving gravel on the floors.

Shoves all the pillows off the couch


to make a cozier spot

for fussing, then spreads its troubles

across the counters


where they more easily

can be seen. Organizing the lot

is beyond me, but


I notice how,

between those muddled troubles,

the counters gleam.




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Oh yeah, I say,


I let you

sneak up on me.

I knew you were there.

I chose to wear this coat

of goose bumps

so you couldn’t guess

just how strong

I feel,

how fine.


Oh yeah, says the fear,

too scared to confess

you’re not as brave

as other people

think you are?


Oh yeah,

say the goosebumps,

speaking for themselves,

Oh yeah. Oh yeah.



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double rainbow to the east—

I stand in the rain and watch

as its colors deepen—

something small inside me

grows brighter, bright enough

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One Agreement



wondering again

why did it happen—because

says the world, it did happen

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