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The ranks of small town dead

Ranks of our small town dead spread out like ships at sea, room enough for all. The oldest graves are closest to the winding path. No flowers adorn them, neither plastic nor live. They have been dead for a long time —their people too. Some of the stones are lichen crusted, moss coated. These are the dead who have no people left here to tend them. These are the ones dead so long that maybe they have no people left anywhere. A gone tribe.

Further from the path the rows of newer graves are moss-free and festooned with mum-filled urns. Early in the day, you can’t cross the grass to these graves without getting your feet wet. Later the sun climbs high enough to dry the dew.

Beyond it all, the row of shade trees. Beyond that the almost empty morning park. It’s too early for playground children, the wrong season for little league or pee-wee football to crowd the fields beyond the swings and teeter-totters. Early mornings, it’s only the drug deal makers working to fill the field beyond the newest graves. It would be simpler to stretch out now, you high boys. Lay down there, on the park side of the grass, so near to the rows of stones we’re all headed for—though you’re headed there quickest.

Lay down, boys. Let the dew cool your back as you contemplate your next move.

end of summer

on the front porch steps
woman, dog, moon—this postcard
sent from the season

moon talk

Remember the night
the full moon followed us home?
How she talked—only of light,
only of stars and us
here on our glowing planet

Methods of Studying Distance

We walk the edge of impassable spaces
Daily, we approach the distances between—
between us and the world we walk through,
between cultures, between what we believe we look like
and what the camera shows
between what our dogs wish we knew
and what they can say,
between the awake and the dreamer, dreaming

We pick our stance, to confront, or study, ignore, admire—
Sometimes we surge forward, all power and confidence
setting out to cross to the other side
Other times we study maps, draw routes full of potential,
compile exhaustive lists of possibly critical supplies
Sometimes we are content to acknowledge the distances
as in the way we watch a sunset—
lovely, fleeting and unreachable

Today, I am the one writing about it in the dark
and the dog who tends me is on the porch,
undecided, hovering between barking at the night
or watching headlights and the wind
and the way moths try to fly through the screen
to reach the light inside

Guess What?

at seven years old, the neighbor’s grandson
has only one conversational opener—
“Guess what?” begins and connects
each shiny bead
on the long line
of that day’s events

I look up from my book on the porch,
from weeding the garden,
or getting out of the car,
coming home from work,
or really, doing anything at all outdoors
And he is there, ready to tell me all.
The school year is new and bright
and memorable, full of things to say
all beginning
Guess what?
So I do

If You Get Too Busy To Notice The Season, Ask The Trees

late summer
flowering quince tree—
unless it’s a crabapple—
Whoever it is, who once
was springtime’s pink queen
now sends a scatter of yellow leaves
to brush across my notebook

today’s recipe

some days you have
the lightness of hand
to make a soufflé
or time to knead bread, set it to rise
Other days, peanut butter on saltines.

It’s all food.

Just so with art—
In the same way,
some days you may conjure
a poem, a story, a painting, a song
Other days, you get one moment
when your eyes
are open

today it was you,
brown and dappled deer,
strolling slowly across the side street
next to the quiet bricks
of the fire station

beginning with crickets

awake before dawn
crickets in the garden still cricketing
at work and play in the mums

in a few hours, laughter
talk and noise and questions
a new school year

Before all that,
I will too.
Before we begin
let’s spend an hour
quieter than crickets

How To Be More Mindful Than The Dog

the startling surprise
is only
a squirrel
a jogger
a fallen tree branch

Take a breath.
Look before you bark.


Though this is such a small town
the whole world passes by
in the mornings as we walk
I have been each of you—
The determined and driving not quite grimly East directly into the morning sun
And you, disheveled sleepy man shuffling with a cardboard box under one arm and a cigarette in your free hand
And I’ve been you, little mama, hair pulled back as you fold and stack your yard sale treasures
All of us awake early
before midday heat that flattens all action
flattens even the impulse to action
Today, let us each relax
even revel into
Who you are at this moment
Whoever you may be
Now, I’m going home to write a poem about you
after I move our chairs into cool shade.

A Hundred Falling Veils

there's a poem in every day

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