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January Embers

for Amy

Last night, watching 'IT' I saw my wife weeping at fat Ben Hanscom meeting Bev Marsh for the first time and again, at the poem he later wrote and gave to her, anonymous.
I tell her he's my favorite too, assure her, in the end, they'll leave town together while the others all forget
and though I want to tell her more, like how Ben gets skinny and in the series, stumbles drunk to bed with a new girl every night before the phone call comes to send him home, I refrain
for there are many women and many, many poems but only one Beverly and only one that matters.
Recent posts

Barred Owl Talking

for Kristy

In winter, we are all hard up, and it helps to remember that even birds of prey will resort to carrion in the absence of fresh blood
except, perhaps, for owls.
I have been thinking about them a lot lately. I know they're out there, although I've never seen one, know where they hide from the low, eastern sun and have heard. myself, the fierce hunting parties of crows out in force protecting their nests.
And though with two feet of snow on the ground, the wind covers all tracks, the owls, like gratitude, or love requited, perch high and fly silent through the long, cold dark and never fail to meet their quarry, to warm the earth with the quick beat of their wings.
In winter, we are all hard up, but it helps to remember that.


Christmas Eve. The neighbor’s
cat who spent four
months this summer sleeping
rough in cornfields
by the house
sits now, trapped
and purring at my feet,
marking my ankles
with one cropped ear,
and fixes upon me with canny recognition
as if to say, you’d run too
given half the chance
but instead, content yourself
to winter indoors,
to eat and eat –
in the end, sick
though not quite sated.
You know
the always-hungry,
never full.
You too know
the wanna-run
but not to where,
the truth: that absence makes the heart.
We share a secret
and I’ll keep it, too
if only you’ll just
crack the door and leave it
open on your way.
(And if it helps,
I’ll love you for it.)

Redpolls Tunneling In Snow

for Janel Leppin

The first day of winter
and at the loom, my friend has discovered a new calling: landscapes that begin with sand and end in snow, or else a diagram of earth sliced neatly in half as if to say, look these are the strata that make up all we are, beginning with surface and ending in stone.
So here. Take this shovel and don't stop digging until you hit sea.

A Day

I don't think it's too much to want to leave early while there's still light hanging in the sky,
nor to speed through traffic as the sun sulks, glowering on a horizon that threatens to boil over with shame,
and neither to sit on a chair in the study, my guitar - a heliograph facing west, while the wheels of recording whir forward, marking the true progress of day until I press STOP and finally, the light dies - boots on, its dignity, intact.
I don't think it's too much
to ask - to leave early.


A prayer for California
There is a town in my dreams to which I return - streets paved with cobbles, run through by river, dotted with lilies and reached only by bridge, a dam of earth spanning the lain cross of pond.
I have called this place Monticello after the city now drowned beneath the largest manmade body in the west. It was a ranching town, I'm told, a place where things grew - calves into steer, seedlings into vines, grapes to wine, and in the first, all water, prescienting the end.
But the hills, now dead with winter crawl and leap with flame and I want to say to those fighters doubtless drawing from the Lake where once the city stood: lower your buckets down to me that I may fill them from my reservoir of sleep and put the blaze under
a damning burst of dream.