Poem for Isolation

to: prisoners, refugees, immigrants, aged infirm, quarantined, us.

What I need to write now

is a different sort

of poem, one that

dings like a text or better

rings like a phone

call and when you

answer it is

your best friend, brother,

child, something, someone like

that, and everything is perfectly

fine, they say, the night’s heavy

snow is melting under spring sun,

something like that happens, and

let it be a poem that

doesn’t surprise you

at the end of it

with some scary real

news or moment of existential

panic like we get

every day. No,

I will write a poem

that could be everybody’s friend, could be

a hug, a kiss, could be

the delivery of oranges,

or the neighbor’s plum trees

flowering with certainty

there will be no late frost

no kiss of death

so when I share

this poem, I will edit out

the kiss of death,

will cut it short, and the flowers

will ease into fruit in this poem

over several warm months,

and when the poem of your phone rings

it will actually be your doorbell

(you have a door and a bell in this poem)

and there will be your neighbor,

your best friend, your children,

something like that, someone,

this poem, a hug during

the time of waiting,

not a poem of longing. Why

must I always follow

the poem to there,

a sorry visit to my heart,

a shocking fact in my mind,

some science that insists

on being spoken,

that it may be a very long

time before you have a door,

or a bell or a door bell rings,

if ever, but still,

when you open the door,

let the poem of us

be surprised and wait,

cherishing the light in our faces,

then let us reach out

and touch each other’s hands

then step as close

and hold each other as close

as a clam to its shell

mud to a shoe

a cat on your lap

fish in water, carpet to floor, bird to sky, egg to nest, worm to dirt, tree to root, type to page, planet to gravity.

Then let the poem be with you

like you and it are two peas

in a pod, that is

as close as the you-to-me

you always are

wherever you are.

Let my poem touch

you till you laugh.

p.s. Peas come 6 or 8 to a pod.

The poem will have a party!

Edward Hopper, Sunday Morning, 1930

A death/geometry poem and a helpful editor at Barnstorm Journal

I neglected to keep a good record of some of my publications and need them now in order to apply for a particular grant. I wrote Barnstorm Journal because I had difficulty using its search function and overnight received a kind note, an apology for the difficulty searching, and the url to my poem from 2013. So here it is! What a professional and generous editor, Charlotte Gross, an MFA student at New Hampshire University

Midwinter Night, Solstice December 21 2019

Fairbanks winter solstice, courtesy University of Alaska

What People Mean

Cousin Anne writes that the light that generally accompanies visitations has been seen at the Nighthawk cabin recently.

Midwinter sunset rolls out the red carpet for our mother

and midsummer dawn casts a gold path for our father

and the world they travel turns parallel to ours.

Transparent but visible, it overlays us,

think of 3-d lines in a comic book. 

Lightly, they embody themselves here, now,

their hands like clear latex gloves sheathing my hands.

Now we are dunking a pinwheel cookie, family recipe,

in a chipped mug with reheated coffee

and when I get up to light the candles

my mother’s hands cover mine and she shows me how

how to hold the match and strike away,

how to smooth with our hand a white cloth

where we’ll lay our ritual winter feast.

Free Cat Dreams

Thought you all might like a break from Chained Dog Dreams. These are our cats Natty Bumpo and Little Bear. They engage in synchronized dreaming. I wonder if they are both dreaming of sunshine. You can order Chained Dog Dreams now from me directly (leave a comment) for cover price of $19.95; I’ll pay shipping and will sign your copy if you’d like. It is also available as a special order from bookstores (through Ingram), at the Denver Book Bar, Narrow Gauge Book Cooperative, libraries, and through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I have a few accidently wine soaked ones for free.

Poems from Bright Path, Dark River in TMR

6 poems from Bright Path, Dark Rivers are included in this, and a studio made audio file of my reading of the poems as well.

I don’t know how the folks putting out a journal could be more generous and supportive of their writers and with such fine results. Many thanks to The Missouri Review folks. I am grateful and amazed to be among the other writers here and part of a collection connected through surrealism. Hope you’ll visit.