My Neighbour’s Hydrangeas – Lenten Considerations Leaning Toward Easter

Taking into consideration,
a Merlot-mellow chord progression, 
or the sight of a great grey owl
surveying a ravine from an aspen limb,
or, in spite of sorrow, that silent power
that wants me to live,
why wouldn’t I spend my days being happy?

And if I take all four seasons just the way they come,
patient as an old horse nodding in summer’s sun,
in winter, pawing clear a spot in the pasture,
quiet there, recalling those spring-blossom words:
though your heart condemns you, I do not —
why wouldn’t I fall in love with every human face?

Or if I was reduced to an atom of dust,
clinging to dew as dew clung to me,
and we’d join a cloud weighing more than a bus
then burst over hills burdened by thirst —
wouldn’t that be enough to reclaim me, free
me from the grip of all my grim dreams?

Or if I was a heap of egg shells, crushed
and worked into the soil along my rickety fence,
and so adding, in a year or two,
majestic blotches of blue
to my neighbour’s hydrangeas — wouldn’t that be enough
of a life? Wouldn’t people exclaim far into the night?
Lord, Lord, ain’t that some kinda resurrection!

Poet Laureate – A Valentine

I’ve not craved the main stage.
I like a side stage.

I know what the Good Book says
about hankering after the head table,

and what the Good Lord thinks
of highfalutin manners.

And while I have trouble saying “I”
with a straight face,

I’m not above jealousy, so for penance
I’ll execute a downward dog in public.

I don’t need four wheels (unless
you count trainers), two will do.

I have two pairs of boots, one pair of shoes,
my wardrobe is laughable.

I’ve minored in The Idiocies
with surprisingly high marks.

I prefer lime to limelight.
I like editing better than inspiration.

I prefer Billy Collins to Lord Tennyson,
Sappho to Mr. Poe. I faked reading Milton.

I like the words festoon and spittle,
more than it’s reasonable.

I’m nearly unilingual
and I’m wild about contractions.

Modifiers however, put me in a subjunctive mood
when left dangling.

People say nice things about my books, like:
they can be read in one sitting,

or, they’re notable for reviving the idiom
of old chestnuts.

Some, not many, well one, said I’m a late bloomer —
which reminds me of knickers in old Westerns.

I’m a Nine on the Enneagram,
which is as high as you can go — or as low —

so this makes me nervous to tell you,
as I don’t want to upset or repel you,

but all I’ve ever really wanted
was to be your personal
poet laureate.

may your Valentine’s Day be festooned with garlands of love!

Collage gleaned from volunteering at a local hospice


I keep her pictures close,
they’re like comforters.

We sit together in this backdrop of grief,
his eyes, above his mask,
like windows in rain.

They did all they could… still, we had a few extra years, 
I should be thankful,
I’m hardly alone,
there’s no shortage of sorrow in the world.

I listen, careful to bring no urgency
into these silences —
the pauses are lay-bys on gradual paths,
my mind is an empty diary he writes in.

You know, I dream of her in the middle of the day.
I see her on one knee, tightening, once again,
the hinge on our garden gate, smiling,
like she has this bright green thought —
the wonder of being here at all.

He turns his head to the curtained window
and enters some secret place, where,
I imagine, they’re sitting together
without worrying the future.

But that was her faith — the daily eloquence of
of small tasks, like bodily prayer, like St. Benedict caring
for his spade and rake “as if they were vessels of the altar.”

In some way, I never want to stop grieving.
Is that crazy?
I’m afraid if I do I’ll lose her,
I’d sooner join her.

The wells spring again and I wait.
Pure mourning is like a meadow
where sorrow finds its sun and flowers, hints of fruit.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to go on living as long
as I can, but in a way, her dying
has simplified things — has taken away the dread.

She told me once she learned of an ancient dance —
a chain where each new leader lets go, spins
wildly away
then joins another chain,
an open circle,
a rehearsal, she said,
for dying and rising.


I Want To Be A Pharmacy



I want to be a pharmacy

that’s open all day and all night
and makes deliveries for free.

My clerks would be rainbow-bloused angels,
fluent in the lingual acts and active arts of kindness.

I’d carry the widest array of solutions
for every possible disaster
(so not a small store,
but neither a colossal corp-of-a-store).

All my tonics would be non-toxic,
rigorously tested by the non-quixotic.

I’d carry a purity for every infirmity,
an anti for every inflammatory.

In my apothecary
there’ll be gel-caps of stout stem cells,
that race —
sirens and lights — to the site of every injury;

followed by time capsules, which, taken as directed,
will preclude all subsequent accidents.

Of course I’ll stock stardust
from all the best constellations.
Of course all chocolates, even Cake Pops,
will brim with antioxidants.

Among my sundries:
oil of gladness, edible sunrises, musicians-in-bottles,
wind treasures, potable shade.
My sunglasses will put you in touch with yourself.
Take a look, the mirror is filter-free yet merciful.

In the back will be a studio with play-based paints,
a heliodome for your pets,
a round lounge with full-range-woofers of silence,
(to drain the noise from your bones),
opening into a space with rejoicing trees,
real crickets, song sparrows and curative waters
running over obsidian, pooling
beside a steam room of sacred cedar.

For you, at the checkout, on the eye-level shelf,
you’ll find a complimentary neck-brace
of such ergonomic elegance,
you’d swear
the world
was a thousand-armed embrace of everlasting tenderness.