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March 8

Right now, I’m taking an online writing class with amazing Natalie Goldberg, and rereading in little sips both her Writing Down the Bones and Clark Strand’s Seeds from a Birch Tree. I bought the Strand book from a used book store for $5 long ago, read it, loved it, tucked it onto a shelf. This early morning, I just reread: “Haiku…its purpose is not to convey information, but the feeling of a particular place and time.” (p.90)

today I’m the pen
that hiccups over a dry spot
shaken, scratched hard against the paper
And ink begins to flow again
deep and rich and effortless
but never smooth–random
occasional ink blots
add mess and joy

“We must allow a little space within which to compose a poem…no need to be frantic or hurried. There is always plenty of time.” (Strand, p.94)

one more wonderful
book fact–
words stay on paper
waiting for us

a year, ten, twenty-four–
no matter.
Here, open it
It’s for you–

Shamrocks in Their Winter Home

sometimes my winter phone
lights up with beach pictures
sent by my sweet friend
from the Bahamas

here where I live
late winter is a dare
a challenge to take up
day after snowy day

an island in the Bahamas
might as well be Mars

but just this morning
I watered the shamrocks
a row of pots by the sunny window
lined up on the radiator, lush
flourish of green and purple
and then I can picture
every lounge chair, every beach,
every memory of being warm
all the way to my bones

too soon to hope for

what I love now is
candlelight, electric light
strings of fairy lights

because before dawn
my world is black and white, snow
and melted absence

not tree trunk, field, road–
until sunrise or snowfall
or springtime sweeps through

only the birds know
world’s about to change again

morning, again

so I fret my way
through coffee,
and my drifting,
inefficient mind
I write about managing
as if my mind
is a puppy to train–so I
chop yellow peppers,
scallions, scramble two eggs
breakfast for today and
tomorrow. I congratulate
myself on
two breakfasts at once
I rinse the bowl–get caught
on the moon high up
framed by the kitchen window
here, where my daughter
once sang and washed dishes
A bird soars between me
and the moon.
time passes
And I’ll only be late to work
If I stop to write this down.

March first

march first, as if certain
is just down the street,
easy to reach.

Go empty-handed.
Sometimes, I carry a long stick,
jab at the ground
or poke the air ahead
demanding to know,
How much further?

Other nights, I go barefoot
amble along in cool grass
at the road’s edge. Why rush?
Consider how often
the dream destination
involves wild animals,
murder mysteries, or me with
no lecture notes, on the stage
in a crowded hall.

Instead, for this new month,
walk through insomnia,
Drop the stopwatch, the printed
itinerary–just breathe and walk
till I reach the threshold
and enter that other world

I Haven’t Had An Oyster All Year

I don’t know what we’ll call this
later. “Living through a war?”
Too elevated.
Your grandma would call this
putting on airs.
Mostly I’ve gained weight
become quieter while
witness to other people’s
despair dressed in illness
or money crisis or death

I always hoped if I lived
through a war I would
do it with a certain aplomb
like the Russian aristocrat
whose Berlin diary I read–
walking to hat fittings
through rubble of bombed streets
plotting to assassinate Hitler
then planning a party
with oysters and champagne

at least, tucked away and cold,
there is a bottle of champagne
just waiting for a thing
to celebrate

what birds discuss

this grocery store parking lot
tree-free but
filled with sparrow chatter
birds hidden in one scrubby bush
rooted in concrete and trash
surrounded by tired cars,
and shopping carts
loud invisible birds
discuss worms and weather
or like the rest of us
dinner, and some rest

Reading the shells

Rereading Seeds From A Birch Tree, by Clark Strand

The author says,
Do not work to
find the perfect word
Approach haiku
as you would collect
sea shells

However, I would explain, if the author and I
were discussing this over coffee–
sometimes (often) drunk on the thrill of the search
I’ve filled my pockets, hat, even shoes with shells
and staggered home with the
seashell equivalent of a fat Russian novel
bristling with sand and secondary characters

But, he would reply, remember those other days?

and I do–
some days I walk
let my gaze drift
not a greedy treasure hunt
but a gift
a story written by the sea
unspooling along the shore
jagged-edged, broken shells
so many shaped like wings
of somethings that fell
from the sky, tumbled and
came to rest here


thank you note

at five a.m.
the tail end of night
or beginning of the day
I read poetry. My breath slows as
I read and poetry unlocks the box
in my brain for Remember–
Remember what sparks and shines
inside each of us and remember
to say Thank You to poets
who turn language and looking into
poems and who help me remember
In the wreckage that was yesterday,
remember what blooms–
my grown-up daughter calls
because she has a cold (and I do not say,
but whisper to myself–this deep song inside
everyone who sometimes wants a mom)
And later, someone gives me a gift, a new mug
filled with dark chocolate hearts
and later still, a walk after work
through crunchy old snow in not yet night at 6 pm
and later the dog breeder sends a funny video
my puppy-to-be careening around her living room
chasing a basket by putting his whole head inside it

and also–
and later–
poems, read in the dark.
Thank you, poets
for the reminder: for walking your letters and lines
around the quiet runway
of the page
ready forever to help
any one of us look up
and see

so Monday

start the car early
on cold mornings–vacation
is gone as children

notebook lost somewhere
mud and dog hair coat the floors
after your visit

time escapes again
photos, notes, stories I tell
nothing ties it here

The Novel Bunch

aka: The Happy Bookers

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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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leaf and twig

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