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after epiphany

after Epiphany, there are changes
to the roadside light-up display
Whoever it is, the mystery curator
in charge of this once-empty field
removed the nativity scene.
Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, gone.
Santa and his sleigh left last week
all that’s left among the corn stubble
and snow sparkle—three snowmen,
a couple of reindeer and one lone donkey
stayed behind to flash and shine this January gloom away.

an ode to my furnace on the anniversary of insurrection

only one thing
will be in the news today,
and for once it won’t be
this virus.
But at five a.m., it’s still
peaceful and dark and I
am quiet enough to hear
the furnace kick on.
How many times each winter?
And we were all asleep
or gone or all making
too much noise to notice.
So today I say thank you
sweet hidden furnace,
wonderful pipes,
beloved old-fashioned steam radiators
for warming us through childhood
and adulthood and so many news cycles
winter after winter
whether we heard you or not.

January 4th

year after year, I put away the holiday
as do the neighbors who line our street
with Christmas trees at the curb
I sweep the floors, begin picking up words—
small words, short moments,
haiku with their gorgeous spareness,
one lit candle on a clear desk,
how the smallest joys
hold the day aloft—tiny poem,
unlikely purple bloom in the garden,
or looking out the bedroom window
last night, smiling because
one neighbor’s tree
is still lit


deep blue sky over
rooftops before dawn—
color that rolls off the tongue
in the same shade that swept
across the almost morning sky
of a new year

still, here

nights? full of crackling awake static-starred hours
mornings? no new words twirl through the cinnamon-scented coffee
It is so still,
where there is no right thing to say
reminder that words
can do many things but not
puppy yawns himself awake
with a voice like a creaky uncoiled hinge.
When nothing else remains,
there is routine—he sniffs the back yard air
Barks at the morning runners
Every day, they do their thing and he does his
run and bark, bark and run
they all have their daily practice,
I have mine. Words no matter what
morning words amid the noise and feet
nothing new but we are still

after the fire

she says things:
I was sure he was
right behind me.
in two weeks, I lost
my dog my house my son my cat.

I listen.
We all do. Listen
to the sound of fresh grief
as it clears its throat
settles in for a long stay
the way some visitors,
long-winded or lonely,
stretch their legs and
nestle into the couch cushions.

What Kind Of Mother,
she says,
escapes a burning house
while her child
is inside?

The question forms itself from
smoke to solid.
I study it.
This gray, wrong,
unanswerable twist
of lies.
It has heft,
is heavy for a new born.

This is it.
All of us who love her
measure it from every angle
And we each take a deep breath
of the sooty air.
This is our opponent
our foe, forever
at least
as long as we both shall live.

December 15

unreasonable joy
arrives despite
how puzzled I am
it chose my doorstep.
I try to explain why this can’t be the right time—
We’ve got death, destruction, dementia
going on now—all the bad D’s.
Are you sure you’ve got the right address? I ask,
blocking joy’s entry with my whole body.
Yep, says joy. I’m here.
What else can I do except
open the door wide and say
How long can you stay?
Joy, of course, doesn’t answer
but just rushes in

Monday Morning

Sometimes it just shows up
this reminder to love the ordinary—
Puppy asleep, my feet as his pillow
His feet chasing dream rabbits
while I write my way awake
and remember to say thank you
for the noisy day ahead
and this little cup of quiet

might as well laugh
when the first test of thankfulness
Immediately Arrives—
the way you press a finger
into the fragrant loaf of bread
to see if it’s cooked—now,
the kitchen heater with
the broken fan and a definite
scent of old mice kicks on
to remind me—this day also holds
an expensive repair bill
Still happy? Still think this Monday
Is a poem? Yes. Yes, I remember
and yes, I do.

two more funerals this week

One by one, we turn off these roads
head another way.
Have you noticed?
The longer I drive,
there are fewer
and fewer of us out here
still traveling at all.
Do the others veer off
for the road home?
Or are they aiming at
some other destination,
one that only occurs to them
there at the end?

fine, a walk

Fine, a walk
I said when I didn’t want
a walk because it was
early. Before coffee early.
But we went. Wind died down
Stars from the sky and those green
and red stars from my neighbor’s
Holiday Light Extravaganza
spread across the dark above
and around us. Snow all melted
away. Rain in the night.
Lights meant to reflect snow
now glisten in the rain
and despite my grumpy
hesitation? It was
a fine walk.

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I came to where you were living, up a stair. There was no one there.--John Ashberry, "The New Higher"

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