Tuesday, March 12, 2019

limb from limb


morning light
gilding the treetops
as they fall
splinters lodge
in my paperbark heart

the sound
of limbs being broken
as if on a wheel—
bloodless the fallen hollies,
the heart of pine laid bare

the blunt thrust
of a bulldozer,
the shudder 
of tissues torn apart—
who cries for the earth me too

a box turtle
crushed by the skidder’s tread
at the edge
of the leftover woods
this barricade of spiders’ silk

plumes of smoke
rise from the clearcut
silvery as ghosts
the sound of wind chimes
before the hurricane

may the words
that tumble from my tongue
be turned to moss—
creep over the wounded land,
bury the cities of men

~Ribbons 15:1, winter 2019






Monday, December 3, 2018

Original Sin



I try to grab it just behind the head, but it’s  too quick for me; as my fingers close on the slender body, it whips around and grazes my hand with needle-sharp fangs. I drop the young black snake onto the laundry-room floor and gather a container and some stout cardboard. Eluding my clumsy efforts at capture, the snake vanishes beneath a cupboard. I crouch down just in time to see the tip of its tail disappearing through a narrow gap in the baseboard—back into the crawlspace whence it came, no doubt seeking a dry haven from the waterlogged yard. 

That evening, I watch the news: as Typhoon Mangkhut batters the Philippines, Hurricane Florence continues to dump Biblical rains across my already flooded state.  The coastal city of Wilmington, with virtually every tree and power line down, is completely cut off by rising water.  

A torrential downpour drums on the sheet-metal roof, drowning out the newscaster’s voice. As I reach for the remote, I notice a curious strip of glossy, black-and-silver metal lying along the wrought-iron trim of the gas fireplace. I take a closer look—and meet the unblinking eyes of a small snake just as it slips behind the fireplace facing. 


a drop of blood
seals an ancient covenant . . .
our debt
to fellow travelers
on a planetary ark




~Haibun Today 12:4, Dec. 2018


Saturday, November 10, 2018

A Thousand Oaks and the Tree of Life



thoughts & prayers
for Parkland . . . and so many more

seventeen more
black arm bands
on a nation’s soul—
yet the guns stand erect
as the coffins go down

NRA
blazoned across his back—
I look
for the blood
on his hands

on foolscap,
I write letters
to my Senator—
thirty pieces of silver
jingle in his pocket


~Atlas Poetica 32, spring 2018 




whistling in the dark

a meeting
of the Flat Earth Society
in my state capital—
looney birds roosting
in the Land of Trump

from the throne
of a naked emperor
torrents of words 
like day-blind bats
twitter across the sky

on the radio
the usual blather
about causes
of gun violence—
a wren burbles in the frost

worshippers
kneel in a river 
of blood,
lifting clasped hands
to the god of guns

bereft of words
I kneel and listen:
lullabies 
in falling snow 
the silent sparrows

emptiness—
the discarded bottle
in my hand
sings at every step
the wind’s low note

deer entrails
at the meadow’s edge—
I divine
the will of the gods
in a chickadee’s whistle


~Atlas Poetica 32, spring 2018 






Friday, October 26, 2018

Gossamer



the thinning
of the leaf-green veil
at Samhain
the colors of another world
break through


hummocks
of golden grass
let loose
a volley of birds . . .
thoughts tumbling skyward


one white stone
plucked from the gravel—
again and again
I toss it into the blue
to catch its fleeting gleam


the lines 
of a poem I’ve yet to write
tangled
in the silver ribbons
of a lost balloon


splitting 
the silver milkweed pod,
Pandora lets loose 
upon the autumn earth
a raft of spindrift wishes


~Skylark 4:1, summer 2016





Tuesday, May 8, 2018

canticle

driven
by shifting winds
a crow
with white-barred wings . . .
my yearning for omens


who am I
to lose what little 
faith I ever had . . .
the redbird still sings 
in the apple tree


leaf shadows
shimmer and pulse
on an orb web
shining in morning light—
the clerestory of my mind


she flees
along a silken thread
to lie hidden
in the curve of a leaf,
whoever wove this world


the song
of  blade on whetstone
as the meadow 
falls to the scythe . . .
nunc dimittis



~Skylark 6:1, summer 2018

Monday, February 19, 2018

Harbingers

a trickle
in the long-dry creek . . .
chorus frogs
piping a memory
into the heart of winter

I fell under an enchantment when I was only a small child. The sun warm on the back of my neck, I would stand stock-still at the edge of a marsh, waiting for the voices to begin. I heard them first in the distance—one, two, then more and more until they merged into a sound like a million silver sleigh bells.  Even when a voice pealed out right at the toe of my boot, I could not spot one singer hidden in the reeds.

still seeking
what I cannot see—
a mystery
haunts the marshes
of a wayfaring mind

Half a century later and halfway round the globe, 25 new species of frogs have been discovered on Mount Oku in central Africa.  But as fast as their voices are heard, some fall forever silent.  Nearly half of Mount Oku’s amphibians are threatened with extinction as people cut the forests and poison the water . . . as the climate heats up and diseases spread.

found and lost
in the space of a song
the spells
of an unknown weaver
undone by hexing hands


~Skylark 5:2, Winter 2017




Monday, January 29, 2018

the streambank



another death . . .
I follow a path
thick with oak leaves
turning into soil,
nourishing the roots


rose hips 
and holly berries 
glistening 
in deep green hedgerows
winter quickens its wings


the brook
vanishes beneath the earth
to rise again
in a spatter of bluets 
. . .  this runnel of hope


~Ribbons 12:2, spring/summer 2016