Monday, October 5, 2015


 ( From an old Slavic Folktale.)

In the house

there were no furnishings

to seat her,


no ripe fruit or fresh milk

to feed her,


no dry kindling or coal

to heat her.


Only green sticks

that would not burn,


a shawl

unwoven by moths,


a pigeon cage

with two birds who bitched

and would not sing.


So in a scatter

of  bitter words

I told her to leave

and unlocked the door.


Yet, after I closed it

light burned through the frame

on an overcast day;


and for some reason

with her back to the sky,

her hair falling in flame
she lingered.

The title means hope or optimism in Czech or Slavic.
 This kind of hope is almost spiritual, very tenacious and when the physical dwelling as well as the individual's spiritual house becomes bare, lacking sustenance, furnishings, and sheer force of will to endure and uphold the shelter, optimism may be discarded or "shut out". Yet, the spirit of it waits on the door step until it is asked back in. It haunts the owner never relinquishing the chance to resume its role and place in his or her life. It lingers like a burning light, a presence that can be ignored but not forgotten. And even though, people so disillusioned with life may swear at it  out of frustration/anger/shame, it remains both tolerant and merciful. But it is also stubborn and willful, intending to win out. I have taken that concept and personified it  as a feminine entity in this poem, almost angelic like.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

The Monk Poems

Morning To The Solitary
The tall monk stands

on the cliff pausing

from the patch  of garden that needs

his toil. His hand  a perch


for cold air clawing

at the veins --  but not with

arthritic ache,  solely

affirmation --


and to his love, he whispers

a poem of praise.


Grey gulls skim the grey water

as if to pull strands

of your  incandescent hair

 from the sea.


White flowers trail  the wind;

how beautifully the hem

of your  gown trembles

in these hours before the first

meal of black bread and cheese.


The moon is nothing now

in your presence but sealing wax

for parchment  --  on which I'd pen

these words if there were spare

calfskin and ink


but they're reserved

for writing holy text.

So here I stand among

the old stones;

and besides the old stones,

the weavers, the potters, the  bellfounders

have known  you longer than I --


but they do not cease

from their daily craft

to watch you rise, arching over the round

Cragg of Alisa


and loosening your long light

into the salted  wave. The splendor of it

stirring fish and sunken gleam

of treasure floating wild 

or tangled still in prayer's netting,

that of boyhood dreams.
 The  Ego To Her Monk

And so  you bring me here

to witness how:

 you live in a hut

 built of mud and stone,


dine on leaves of kelp

and water cress floating

among the rocks of St. Kilda,


taste wild honey sweet

off a waxen comb

crafted by bees humming

their own Salve Regina,


write verse with the stray

feather of goose or duck,


muffle your ache

with the moan of seals,

in  the waking dawn,


tie your robes with a cord

of grape vine,


and cut your hair

when it lengthens past

the ear lobe.


And so you bring me here

to say -- as temptress born

from your grate of bone

I will perish...


The turf shall become my tower

into which I   fall

earthen-deep, my white throat

consumed by worm and  beetle,


its vessel of vain song

diminished -- to the masonry

of seed and  loam,

the slow fade of sin.


And so you bring me here --

an obdurate stare, too shocked

to coax or tremble.
Note-- the lovely image is by 19th century Illustrator,
Emma Florence Harrison.


The Refugee

You ran through fields of sunflowers and corn

rustling  the dry stalks with nothing

but your light-footed haste. The last of your belongings

thrown near a startled flock of geese.


Now you lean against the green door of a rail car

waiting to board.  Razor wire scrawls its signature

along the border; and you reflect on those birds. Like you

they possess only the memory  of migration

and a shadow.  Yours outlines a slim woman with  her hair

loosely tied, a clump of tangled strands


that resembles  the roots you saw when pulling

a white flower from the soil in Syria. The plant

wasn't dying but  it seemed pointless to leave

beauty dwindling in a garden embalmed  with  heat

and ruin. You cut the stem and pressed the petals

between pages of your journal. The leather book

fallen to the  bottom of  the luggage  you abandoned .

Your poems written in graphite, and the pencil

cloaked in the lace hem of  a slip. Its gold wood  bearing

the bitten rhythm of  fear.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

September Grace

As the day ends, the sun spreads it wings

sailing west over the granite hills

and coastal village.


The first light and the last light

(one in the same )

falls through the pine branches

and the hands of those praying


at the table, in the garden

or on a fishing  boat  this hour.

Its soft  brightness pulsates

 a number of times. For some

it is seven, the seven sorrows

of  Mary.


Her beautiful head

bows in the church window.

Her blue veil  seen

from the close distance


of an old  fountain

with it stone chipped

and gauzed in spider's silk,

( all the water drained)


or the dock further down

jutting into the river

with its wood splintered

and leaves floating green

and gold as vinegar in the shallows.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Messaging In the Country

They each have their own gossip, their own sound, their own rustling

whispers and smells. 

                 Charles Lint


In the  warm wind,  trees text each other,

leaf flutter

                    the  ripe scent

                    of  berry and  pine, the breath


of sawn wood --

until a woman interrupts

                 crossing their  path on wheels.


Again, the texting starts

a shake of leaves, a sway of branch,

            the  quandary of what to say.


Cyclist or Hepburn,

            the latter seems more savvy;


her wide-brimmed hat

floating black with a scarf


           the signature

                        of Go-lightly,


Her shadow making it two

for the road

              instead of one,


and her eyes, large and lovely.

Their chestnut light

              falling into a glide, you gaze at yourself

              and the charade


of Autumn pretending

to be Summer. Its surveillance of birds

           heading south.




Marie-France's whimsical painting , "Bonne Rentree" inspired this poem which has a light-hearted supposition. If trees have a language of their own, thoughts and spirit, how would they feel in a rustic world underscored by modern tourists and technology? They might communicate with each other through an invisible scripting of leaf /branch movement, scent and shadow, the angle of light and wind. It would be their version of "texting". And having witnessed the urban arrival of people from different parts of the city and suburbs,  they would become acquainted with the more sophisticated ways of  the cosmopolitan world,  even perhaps, have viewed their own countryside being used for a  movie set/location.

So what happens then when a woman rides her bicycle through their region resembling the late actress, Audrey Hepbrun? How would they define her? What word would they use to describe her presence? That becomes the capricious debate in this poem. Using a vernacular  term like "cyclist" would be commonplace, general and  lacking a certain "savoir faire". It would make them seem as rustic trees that have never expanded their horizons , typically used to seeing hikers, bikers and woodsmen who rather look all the same with their gear and clothing. Yet, this sudden intrusion of a chic  woman crossing their path on wheels gives them a chance to employ their wit and imagination. A singular, ingenious word that would convey their savvy intelligence. And that would be calling her "Hepburn" because of all the similarities in her look, motion and interaction with the scene that makes them reminiscent  of the actress and her film history.
Those movies would include:  "Breakfast At Tiffany's",  "Two For the Road" and "Charade".
More of Marie-France's wonderful art work can be found at :

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Fair In Late August

In the song, a young woman

glides through the fair--

a pale chord of satin.


Twilight softens the sky

and the day lessens with crowds

into more shadows and silence.


A few stars waken and swans

(on a nearby lake)

slow the water

in  statuary white.

Evening falls into a dream.


Here, the Autumn wind

moves in early making

her presence known. Her hands

smell of cider and wood smoke.

Her pace the saunter

of a doe browsing the field.


A quiet entrance

but the livestock knows

how quickly she can change

scattering leaves like ashes

or covering the lawn in fleece.


Frost sheared off the wide-

spread chill of October

when smudge pots are lit

and left burning to heat

the orchard fruit.


But for now, sun flickers

between the tents and trees

lighting her and the fairground

with its silvery flame,


the last weeks of Summer

kindled with longing

each soul must define.

Something bittersweet

birds amplify in their passing.
Beautiful drawing is by artist, Alan Lee.

Note -- the reference in the poem to " the song" refers to the old Irish Tune,
"She moved through the Fair".