Early Orchard Snow

The barn door yawns slowly,
the rusted hinge loosening a soft moan
at the touch of the breeze
meandering off the orchard slopes.
Beyond the frozen ruins of the garden,
deer for a moment cease their hopes
of winter wheat and cock eyes and ears
toward the snoring barn.
Firewood hides beneath the snow
and my back cocks once, quickly,
as I gaze upon the axe.
Blessings huddle beneath the wood shed,
one dry cord.
Standing still again, I close my eyes.
The creek gurgles its way across the farm.
The barn door shifts in dreams.
Latching the door, I turn to predawn hills.
Row after white blanketed row
the apple trees wait, freshly pruned.
Like Arlington they stretch beyond sight, wonder.
Like the little ones snuggled close inside,
they slumber.
I close my eyes again and see blooms
and fruit.
I fill my arms and turn from orchard to orchard.



Mailing Resum├ęs in December

released to the wind and the cooling earth
to be broken, decomposed, decayed
Forsaken arms stretched skyward
bearing no gifts, only baring what nakedness reveals
Gaunt, gray fingers content to wait and wave
possessing no heated desire or urgent need
Autumn leaves, her vibrant dress now brown,
scattered in countless swatches on the wind
to fertilize tomorrow's dream perhaps
but now



New Clay

The soft, cotton string
of a jet splits the autumn sky
as I sit on a hill above the river
The labor of hands and feet
and a mind intent on moving
suffers frustration, a shiver,
a thundering.

A decision in weakness
in the garden of heaven
and now we strive and thrust,
But better lives were ours
before the blood lines
passed as they must, before
the firing

Of the new clay we inhabit,
where we taste but a glimmer
of the freedom that was given
and spoken.
Finding the gift proves fruitless,
though, unless we destroy
ourselves, bringing us riven,

Like the raiment between
the world and the holiness
when the clean blood fell
like rain.
As the lines of cotton fade
above me ,and the sky is one,
I find understanding in the nail,
a gain

Of sorts, for how else can there be
such love as a death,
such gain in loss?
Tell me.
The river flows still,
and the tree of my life
is twisted to a cross.
Nail me

There and take this labor
and craft some greater love,
end this strife.
Grave me.
For no labor brings joy
like a love given freely
like the gift of the life
that saved me.

On this hill I imagine
another time
when the life of the world hung dead
until a blood stronger than the river
ran and a wind from heaven swirled

and I rise with new eyes
and I walk new paths
and I can sing
As one
with the angels and saints
and the Father of Lights
as They come and bring
the Son.



A Poetry Day

Morning Awakening

Never take lightly
Shades of a sunrise slaking
The dark thirst of waking
Hills dressed in early spring
Nightcaps garnered with foglace

Even though Momma’s probably up
By now and the house is one
Big coffeepot steaming done
So I smell coffee outside

I always am a child when I think
Of Poppa and of dreams
And of Momma’s old surprise
The magic coffee sunrise

Never take lightly
All those burnt summer evenings
Between the trees behind the house -
The two dogs chased squirrels
And I sat until the sweat dried

Mostly wondering if dogs cry
They look so like they know some things
I like to run with them at night
In visions tomorrow wide

I sometimes drift away when I spy
Chimney smoke flapping in the wind
And clouds floating vividly
Above a pastoral mountainside

Never take lightly
But the milking and feeding
And mowing need done by noon
Then the fence the far pasture’s needing
Must be up by new moon

Baby brother will soon be here
Pondering the sunrise, reckoning
Son, the tomorrows keep beckoning
Ages pass year by year

I laugh at becoming my parents
Still, their sun shines brightly
The mountains are quenched – time to rise
Long working day – don’t eat lightly



Making Sense

I sometimes do things that make no sense. I mean, they make no sense to me, so I am sure they make no sense to others. I always believe that everything happens for a reason. As the hours and minutes of these past few days are processed, categorized, divided and stored, I know, am certain that powers beyond the control of any mortal are working. Currently, I am hovering an inch above the ground, a mile below the sky... waiting. I have always been decisive. Now I wait. For just a little while, I will only breathe. Minimal movement, for the next move I make may change the world. First, I will sit, wait, and determine the square root of my destiny.


This Functional Life

Pictures from a recollection and wishes
of somewhere else in time and distance
where trees are grown for no reason and I can love
the moon

Several sawed-off shotguns
wasting in the woodshed and suits
with dusty shoulders from hanging too long
in the closets of rusty soldiers
Maybe in church on Sunday
where real seems sometimes surreal but yet so real
that thanks should be given for bloodshed
and all the spankings behind the woodshed
because more than our shoulders are dusty

Must he
hide behind the squint and swagger
when all that is needed is a smile to sweet the bitter
swallowed with a childhood chased with annual migrations
and carpetbaggers from God-knows-where
who appear in bedrooms and kitchens
calling themselves family

from the sweetness of her love until
tears fall because of daily realizations and recognition
of mortality, of loss
because nothing lasts forever outside this room

Sitting on a sunset
smiles become vivid recollections and even pictures
will not remain – memories can’t last forever
like stale toast
popped up in Pompeii and frozen to yesterday


The Morning Train

I should not think of you again
unless I can dream
free and clear of heartache
and the next big earthquake

Seems there’s less to gain
unless tomorrow comes
without memory and desire
and yesterday’s fire

I could put you on the morning train
unless you’d stay
you could tell the birds
so there’d be no words
for me to hang on
no hopes but those
I live on

But I will sleep now
unless the phone rings
free and clear is the line
but the light doesn’t shine

and still I dream
and always will
unless I wake in Ireland
and hear the choir and
the birds
without words

I shouldn’t wake but I do
and I think of you
ever, still, and will
free and clear like the morning train
and I sure would love to see you again


Thaw Me

Sometimes I am abandoned
by my heart, and I cannot even feel
Sometimes I am abandoned
by my body, and I cannot even walk
Sometimes I am abandoned
by my head, and I cannot even remember
Sometimes I am naked in the snow
and am willing to lay there
Bundled people passing by
forsaken in foreign ways but one
should have my promise to keep
Not willing to forsake
but to thaw me awake


Stripping Still

This process is but a cog in a gear in the system that is me.

Water Dream

We melted into a pool
cotton, silk, cotton-poly blend, denim
falling all around
Like autumn leaves drifting to the watertop
barely rippling the surface.
Hesitate, hurry, heat, cool air, stop
don’t stop –
bronze the moment in memory
like baby’s shoes – reminder:
fruit of conception –
Like stones skipping, scouring smooth surface
with simple swells until the fall
down – can’t wait – drown –
drop fast
Stone to the bottom of the pool
And like a stone,
Can’t remember the details
once the ripples slowly move away,
fade into the rushes, blend
with man-made wake while
Waiting for winter to freeze me again.


Economy of Love

The swinging in the playground
twenty years ago
Stopped dead in the rust
of feeble, old dreams.
We grew upward from strollers to bikes,
leaving each to fall like leaves,
And time still hikes
its way through a mangled world.
We dined at the wedding feast
on gilded plates now broken
from the move you made
Love depreciates.



Hold the Morning Like It Was a Plow

Tomorrow and maybe ... same thing, just spelled differently. I was thinking of favorite lyrics or phrases today. "One day when the weather is warm, I'll wake up on a hill and hold the morning like it was a plow and cut myself a row...." is one of my all-time favorites. It is from Joe Henry's Kindness of the World. Of course, I could fill up a notebook with favorites from Dylan. Anna Nalick is good, too. "Driving away from the wreck of the day, and I'm thinking 'bout calling on Jesus - 'cause love doesn't hurt so I know I'm not falling in love, I'm just falling to pieces." Then there's Matthew Ryan: "Now it occurs to me like blinds undrawn or a bullet from a shotgun that she knew long ago what it meant to feel irrelevant." I am a sucker for good songwriting. I enjoy a good groove, too, but someone who can craft a great lyric and support it perfectly with musical atmosphere, delivery ... cool.

Artists. I have fancied myself such for much of my life. I sit here, though, and look around me. The question hits us all at some point or other: is this what it's about? I am way too analytical, way too much a thinker. I have been trying not to think. That's funny, really. Seriously, though, I long for that peaceful balance between thinking and just breathing. A place in this world, in this life, where I am not burning up with desires I cannot even define. Road-hogged by far too many ideas and phrases and dreams, I dart and sometimes crash and sometimes shuffle from project to project. Priorities shift, not with the wind, but close to as often. Focus. No more than two or three projects at a time. Finish one before adding another. Take a break and stop thinking - even if it's just for five minutes. My father is peaceful, now. He only keeps one or two things going at once. He seems bored though. All - the - time. I can't endure boredom. Contentment? Maybe.