"every diary desires a reader"

Reconciling Abstractions

Beside the quiet voices,
once brooding in my spirit,
I listen from the outside
for essence and for fact.
Acting on impulse, as usual:
exposure denied over preservation.

Beside the quiet voices
are photographs not taken.
Poring over elements
of light, color, shade.
Conscript a few to frames:
exposure favored over obscurity.

Beside the quiet voices
we walk the narrow byway.
My shadow protectors
whose faces I’ve never seen.
Those vigilante artists:
exposed, embraced, preserved.

What’s the Difference?

A soldier serves and defends,
sacrificing body and spirit.
We can’t make sense of the war, but
when the drum beats, the warriors hear it.

Doctors heal, advise and prescribe.
Leaders decide and take sides.
Lawyers argue, give and take…
but what difference do I make?

A mother brings forth life,
nurtures the coming generation.
But what of her own life’s work?
What of her own creations?

The Confidence of Trees

…And I realize I’ve been dreaming,
sorry to have awakened.

But I open my eyes and there you are.
At last, we share the night.

I listen for your breathing to be sure,
hold my hand near your sleeping face to feel your dreams.
And there,
there you are.

Alert and certain, I move about the cold, cold room…
to the window where the shadows sway to keep warm.
The tree outside, as naked as I,
seems content to be exposed.

As brisk and alive as we.
As peaceful
and achingly adored as we.

Deep Drought

Ironic how the well mourns for two,
confusing and bemoaning
the will of the weather,
the depth of the hole.
Empty… whatever,
but dry as a bone.


Reaching through the words
to finger-touch the life pulse,
breath connected, whole.

hands, eyes, freckles and wooly bears,
perhaps in old age.

Black dog or bliss,
banishment of selves, bodies:
paper hearts prevail.

Paper hearts prevail
and blossom into prose,
poetry and songs.

It’s what they dreamed of:
lighting fires, finishing.
Tales are weaving, still.


The breeze—
gentle, nameless color—
brushed the curls against my neck.

And I am moved to a day
when your lips were on my skin
and my hand touched your face.

The feeling makes me close my eyes.

Some days
the slightest movement of air
takes me back
to the perfection of feeling
when we are immersed.

In those moments
nothing else mattered,
nothing else existed.

Let Go: Unfinished Lives

My friend is dying. We’re the same age.
I watch and listen as she lets go
of things that matter and don’t matter.

Youth and beauty, places visited and unvisited,
loves never found, and the ones who stayed around.

Goals unreached, experiences had and not,
gifts unbought, those she’ll never find,
lives touched, and we who stay behind.

Her mother’s composure falters in my car.
What was unreal and unthinkable:
the diagnosis, the prognosis.
It’s here now.
Real. Unavoidable. She and we
would like to be out from under it, the trap of the future.
But there it is. There it is.

I watch her, the mother, as she lets go.
(She can’t let go.)
Things that matter and don’t matter.
One by one, these big and smallish unreachables.

I could not go to church today. Couldn’t face the rituals.
Instead I ran a long run. Breathing. Living. Sweating.
Blessed to be ignorant of my own demise.
Thinking about what I have and do not have,
what matters and does not matter.

What silliness we embrace sometimes.
And oh, how we’re shaken, shaken up so by loss.

Along my running trail I wonder to myself
but know
why she wanted to shop for a pretty dress.

Down to ZERO

Down to ZERO
…and deeper down still.

And yet I stand, empty hand,
paralyzed in spirit.

No grace, no peace or knowledge.
No light, energy or humility, no seed or sustainability.

Emptiness only—dark, hopeless, bottomless.

Why? Why can I not be saved?  Am I not worthy?

I reach and feel nothing. I am untouchable.
I hurt, but cannot be comforted.
No medicine or religion, no human touch or absolution.

Alone. Purposeless.

I want my brother.
I want my friend.
I want family.
I want love.

They are lost to me.
And with those losses go
mettle and meaning, strength and agility,
direction and ability.

Walking dead—numb or hurting—through a life
I wish would end.

“My flame burned out,
my hands without
my love’s extinguished fire.”

Abandonment, loss, separation.
And prolonged, pointless emptiness.

A Poem for the Caregiver

…And I have planted seeds of love
throughout my life,
that they shall surely bear fruit:
if not for me,
then for those I have kept
most closely to my tending hands.

And I have given sun and warmth
right through the misty clouds,
and called out blossoms and bees:
if not for me,
then for those I have known
most in need
and want of light.

And I have chased the changing seasons
that cool the air and make subtle
the briskness of youth:
not only for me,
but for those I have known
most hurriedly passioned and free of spirit…

The Window Wailer

She watches and weeps at the window
   while I weed the wet garden.
   My brother’s ashes lie here,
   and his yellow irises
   stand alert and awake.

She mourns, the girl at the window,
   and cries ever louder as I work.
   She pleads for the return of her beloved.

Over my shoulder
   I glance at the window where she cries,
   then turn back to the weeds and seeds,
   soil and ashes.

“Oh, brother,” I say apologetically to the ground.
“My cat … she is really pathetic.”