RSS Feed

Author Archives: Puff Of Smoke Poems

Like Everyone Else These Days, Poems Get a Little Bit Lost

Time is scattered
through a million little rooms these days.
I write in my head on long, solitary walks.
Count breaths and syllables.
Repeat the poems that come,
hoping to grasp their raggedy edges
long enough to get home
where I keep paper and pens
and sometimes one slips away, like this–

My favorite strangers
hang plastic eggs
from bare tree branches
tied on with bits of
colored string

April 17

shake off last night’s snow,
sweet green almost open buds–
don’t you yearn for change?

April 16

one small red tulip
forgot herself and blossomed
knee deep in new snow


Is today still my brother’s birthday
when he’s been dead a dozen years?

Is yesterday’s poem a record
of images I want to hold?

How about this? The bean counter
mechanical thing in this
platform I use to wander words
through the internet–
Yesterday it told me I had posted
poem number 1000. One thousand.
Why am I proud of accumulations
of words in mostly careless patterns?

And how about
that old fashioned term “bean counter”
that I have never said out loud but it
jumped out from a mouth that might have been
my grandmother’s–where does that piece come
from? Where do I put it–
in the trash bin or in a poem?

And where do I put the worst fact–
the long, rambling, happy walk that became
yesterday’s poem? It ended with you calling
as I unlocked my front door.
And when I heard you crying
I thought virus I thought death
and I was half right.

and I dragged myself to yesterday’s poem
anyway– out of habit, out of my depth
and it turned out to be number one thousand
a gnat to brush away with my thoughts on her
On her and the thoughts she sits with now.

And clearly this is a puzzle of many more
than 1000 pieces and the pieces are scattered
and we’ve lost the box that shows what
this picture is supposed to be

Notes From The Cemetery

I want to tell you
there is still snow under the big tree
and a scattering of brown wreaths
trimmed with bedraggled red bows
There are bright plastic lilies
on your mom’s grave and
her neighbors are looking sprightly too
One grave in the next row back is decorated
with a two foot tall plaster rooster
Nearby, somebody named Smith
is blossoming into daffodils and purple tulips

A Good Day To Be A Houseplant

the snow has to fall
three times on the daffodils
before it’s springtime

later, I’ll go out
and explain to my garden
what your grandma said

Ditch Mermaids

There are ditch mermaids
gossiping in spring runoff
at the edge of fields

No seashells here.
Freshwater mermaids know
how to glide by all that trickles and drops
down these steep banks, the trash
caught in the weeds–
plastic bags and dented cans,
takeout styrofoam and Big Gulp cups

Sure, they dream big dreams,
fantasize about wider horizons,
about the lives of their ocean cousins
(who call them mean names–
poor ditch trash, and worse)
But here the fields carry green spring smells
of clover and manure and in their hearts
they are hometown girls who prefer
fresh mud to sea spray


even the worst yards
mud and gravel, sticks, road trash
still daffodils still
crocus bloom purple and white
still robin’s blue eggs
still robins hunting thick worms
in the leaf mold grass

Dear Students

Dear Students,
We, your teachers, are running
in busy virtual circles. Picture us
snapping our fingers inches from
your faces. Picture us–if you picture us at all–
waving to get your attention.

Some of you wave back. Some of you
crave connection. Some want to learn
what we still know how to teach.
For you, I post Daily Assignments from far away
Read this. Think about that.
Compare. Contrast.
Compose a song or a portrait.
Conduct an experiment within
this experiment we’re living through.
Cite your sources.

Those of you who won’t wave back
or who can’t wave back
I am setting you down, gently,
in the place you like best
whether that is a beach, a forest,
your grandmother’s backyard,
your friend’s kitchen table
or in front of a game on a screen.

Because above all I want,
I want you to be comforted
so play the game that comforts you
Then get dressed. Go outside.
Write a letter or a poem
and send it to someone.
Send it to me
I’m here.

March 27th

sleepy with the spring
quiet plants, quiet people
breathing in and out

from above, this world
looks gray–but our roots deepen
long before we bloom

The Novel Bunch

aka: The Happy Bookers

The Sketchbook


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 and twig

where observation and imagination meet nature in poetry