Thursday, January 30, 2020

Words are Birds

Her words were light as feathers
               from Emily Wilson's translation of Homer's Odyssey

Words are birds--

Sometimes brash as starlings
moving in beneath the eaves of your house without asking--

Or melancholy as mourning doves whistling,
 perched overhead on telephone wires--

Or quick as bright hummingbirds
darting madcap among the trumpet vines--

Or harsh as a murder of crows,
their raucous conversation splitting open the morning air--

Or pleasing as a lark, singing solo to no one
and everyone in a mountain's meadow--

I have no favorites.
Let them all come home to roost with me.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020


This is rough country,
Not fit for grazing horses and not spacious
But not infertile.
                   from Emily Wilson's translation of Homer's Odyssey

This space between well and unwell
where I reside in the months
when the light goes low is rough country.

All I can do is stand by the gate
and wait until the light lifts at last so
I can find my way forward to fertile ground.

Monday, January 27, 2020

An Invitation

"And where can I go wandering?"
                from Emily Wilson's translation of Homer's Odyssey

Come wander with me, oh Reader, and
I will take you through the winding streets
of my own mind where I promise
you'll meet the people who live there,
leaning inside doorframes and hanging
over balconies strewn with flowers,
telling each other stories as another day
rises pink and orange on the back of the sun.

Friday, January 24, 2020


Meanwhile Odysseus, who had been sleeping
in his own native land of Ithaca
woke up, but did not recognize the place . . . "
             --from Emily Wilson's translation of Homer's Odyssey

See your friend there?
She looks much the same as
she has always looked to you--
small and fine-boned as the birds that
swirl in the tree between your houses.

For years you two have shared that tree
and more--stories of your
children and your husbands
and all the things, dark and light,
that have filtered through your hearts.

But she is changed now, touched by an illness
that is touching her mind
so that being with her as the day unfolds
is like waking up a stranger in
the place that used to be your home.

Monday, January 13, 2020

A Writer's Prayer

These words—they have been 
Whistling like birds in me
And around me and through me
Ever since that month, that week,
That day, that morning, that moment
When I saw a windhover hover against
An open sky above an open field
And time past and time present 
Fell together and gave birth
To a fledging hope that 
I could take that moment
And give it time future--
A new life between the pages of a book.
This is a prayer to give wings to my hope.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020


Sitting now in a chair on a deck
in a land far, far away--
(How far, you ask?
Let's just say I can see
a volcano, its cheeks full of smoke,
from my host's front porch)--
I can hear these sounds:
The splash of a courtyard fountain--
The raving of roosters
although dawn is long gone--
The pop pop pop of fireworks nearby--
The banging of hammers
against metal and wood--
The roiling of wind through the trees--
The trill of small birds
hiding in leafy places--
The howls of a mixed dog chorus--
The blurred buenos tardes chanted
through a megaphone in the village below.
What is all of this here, right here,
if not music in the moment?

Friday, January 3, 2020


Pink dawn rolled down
the mountain this morning
like a loose armful of peonies--
a reminder that dreams of
May push up through fields
of snow and bloom anyway.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Prayer for a Winter's Evening

Please help me to love this
season of cold and snow.
Help me to see the beauty of
bare branches, hard and slim and dark--
Of stiff wheat-colored grasses
draped in white and sparkled ice--
Of a chilled pink moon rising steady
Over the crest of a powdered mountain.


If I can't see these things
and sing praise, then
please let me thank this 
season of cold and snow
for giving and giving away
to the riot of daffodils
that follows.