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Author Archives: Puff Of Smoke Poems

September 17 Happiness

Today I think of those sappy old comics
With the Happiness is tagline
But I am. My daughter is healthy and happy
and made it through all the choppy years
to reach this moment. Fog is lifting
on this morning road, the dog beside me calm and
glad to be chewing the cardboard coffee sleeve
and on the radio Alison’s* voice sends Christina
Rosetti’s poems out over the hills —
And it all rises up in me and names itself.
Nothing for it but the truth. This? This is happiness.

*Plus, I just wrote my first poem with a footnote! Hurry up and listen to Alison McGhee’s poetry podcast, Words By Winter. You’ll be so glad you did.

poem to my feet

So far, so good
thirty minutes into the day.
The way each year my friends
thank Guinness for being their
music festival sponsor
I remember to thank my body—
this body short and strong enough
carries me, my soul and my heavy zigzag brain
through all our days and specifically
I say thank you to my feet—
these short squat toes
nails painted fiery orange
Hello, I say, thank you, I love you
to each chubby digit now
wiggling a bit under the weight
of all this unexpected attention

truth in advertising

truth in advertising:
orange monarch rests
on the butterfly bush

mountain climber

This year, I said
Will be Different
(as all years are)
This year, I will build a little nest
of words in the middle of the school day—
A place to look away from all this noise and
joy, frustration and talk, bells ringing.
A place to burrow
into words. Five minutes. Ten.

for three days,
this blank folded paper
on my desk

If I was an athlete
I’d be a mountain climber
the whole point—don’t give up
don’t sit down and let snow cover you
keep moving up the mountain

cornfield road

this road through cornfields—
miles of stalks taller than men
Tomorrow, all this
will be plowed fields
ready for another season

morning moon

morning moon
through birch tree branches

two old friends
who never tire
of each other’s company


low fog over the Berkshires
jet contrail dissolves
above me,
above the lake
and the calling crows

crooked pine
at the entrance
to the yoga retreat—
a signboard without the complications of alphabet
Look, it says—our paths
are alike
not straight
but ever towards

box of cups

cardboard box of cups
left by the side of the road
rainstorm fills them all

thank you note for all the gifts

rainy morning
coffee on the porch
last of the blueberries
in the blueberry colored bowl

car in the driveway, ready to go
your necklace hangs from the mirror
blue agate oval
glued-on circle of tiny pearl beads

reading the the local magazine
from the closest city
happy DIY article about an old student

weeks of travel ahead
to be with friends
and beauty

right this minute
propped on the edge of this covered porch
rain falls straight down, steady as a painting
and me, here, leaning
semi-dry feet
and a head full of
so many stories


when my daughter
speaks to me in that too patient voice
voice I know
voice I likely taught her
voice I use on my own father
voice I hear as condescending
Something in me shrivels

Here we are, again
Me with little packages of words
Ill-fitting for the occasion
Or wrong for the weather.

After so many years
You would think
I’d be better at packing
Better at choosing the right
words. But no.
Always too many
Wrong mood
Wrong color
What’s next?
Keep practicing
Or stay home and
Be quiet.

The Novel Bunch

aka: The Happy Bookers

Red Wolf Prompts

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

typewriter rodeo

custom poems on vintage typewriters

A Poet in Time

One Poet's Writing Practice

Writing the Day

A Ronka Poetry Practice Since 2014

Invisible Horse

Living in the moment

Leaf & Twig

Where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry.