Snow geese


Gleaming river that flows timelessly for a while
One day, one afternoon, one hour of quiet
Only the cry of the geese, the murmur of wind in the slanted autumn light
A hawk poised on the updraft
His wing feathers tilting agains the changing sky
My heart opens just a little
Was it a knock I heard at that small door
Rusted with many regrets, many rejections
Was it a knock I heard at that small door?
No, only a branch torn loose and tapping, tapping
At the small dark door now closing, closing

Shakespearean sonnet on the moon


Small moon, each night you hold us in your arc

Though ever fluid in your form and in your path

You dimly vanquish sacred night’s dread dark

And soften our vile actions’ aftermath.

Symbol of longing, love and sweet desire

Of dark despair or hopeless lonely grief

See how the poet prays your silver beams inspire

A sonnet on a shower or a falling leaf.

What are you, moon, a minor spinning rock

Whose light reflected from another greater sphere

Must pale and suffer modern man to mock

and leave your magic to long-dead Shakespeare.

But lovers, tell me, do you burn and swoon
For an email or twitter prompted by the moon?

Moving Day


The gaze of the young mover, grave, muscled
His glasses a nod to the world of the mind,
the life apart from the material world.
But is the mind ever apart from the life of the material world?
Brute strength, muscle power, lift and carry,
Never apart from the guile of coaxing, shaping, shifting, yes, moving.
In my womanly way I bend that world to my will.
Is it my way? No, more the way the world has taught me.
Cooking, washing clothes, banishing dust. . .sometimes.
That’s a way of bending the material world. Sometimes I do well but
When my car is broken, I call.
When the toilet floods! I call
When the fuse blows again and again, I call.
Who comes to me? Today the grave and muscled young moving man and
Someone else.
Chantal, the muscled calves and arms, the black hair, the ice blue eyes.
The lady mover.
The womanly mover who brings the force of the coaxing, managing spirit.
Eyeing the narrow door, the steep steps, strategizing, planning options.
Quick and close in to the customer
That dangerous smile, not at all dismayed at the task.
Laughing, calling for tools to dismantle, to reassemble the bulky matter
that is, after all, necessary for the cook, the laundress, the housewife.
No hurry or ego here, just the belt and a look between her
And the grave muscled man.
“Lift just a bit on the left. OK and now twist a bit.”
A midwife to a washing machine, slipped through the impossibly narrow door.
And I bow to the muscles, the manipulation, the mastery of the material world.
Payment, quick and honest, a tip, a beer and then a surprise
The manipulator of the material world kisses me on both cheeks
And to my smiling astonishment backs the moving van gently into the fence.
Ah, well, the material world is a tricky business.

Listening to The Chieftains









Please tell me you know who they are. That’s right the oldest, wittiest most authentic and yet most inclusive of Irish music bands. I get on my jags with music. Sometimes it’s Mexican or Russian or French chansons. I’ll play the same CD over and over again in the car. Sometimes it’s Mozart or Chopin. I drive around in that bubble of music. I’m the same at home. I played a tango CD for weeks in my kitchen as I made coffee or chopped veggies, my feet gliding around my happy little kitchen as I dreamed of vacations in Argentina. Hey, why stop at a vacation. Surely I could stay for months, years…….all on the strength of that music. Then, all of a sudden I was tired of it and my flights of fancy went out of the window. One music is always welcome though, that of the Chieftains. Why I wonder? I suppose it’s part of my heritage. Why does that sound corny? For all my linguistic enthusiasms, running around the globe, dreaming about tangos, somebody “belonging to me” came from Skibereen and ,starving, set off out of that famine ridden island so that I and some others behind me could dance around the kitchen in Montreal. Dance to what? To the Chieftains — or cry to their heartbreakers. Ah, music, play on, play on, with that drum and those pipes and the tireless fiddles. Play on!










Gold in the Gutter





Gold in the gutter
The hour, the golden hour has come
For you to flutter, for you to fall.
Your song becomes a stutter, a cry.
The others lie though they too were so proud against the sky.
Gold and high but no more can they fly the flag of beauty.
Gold in the gutter

Once green, lush
A sign of life, renewal
The hours, cruel hours rolled
Clocks have chimed, bells have tolled.
Now became your when.
How green changed hue. Now still gold on blue,
Still hanging on the branch
This day a chance, a little gasp, one grasp of an Autumn day
So soon gold in the gutter

Late for dinner





What what is this place where they tell you

they’ll hold dinner for you

because there are right whales off the lighthouse

and you have a little time.  Maybe you’ll see them.

What is this place where the broad flat sea stetches away from the

lace-rimmed rocks out to the horizon where the paler sky


The swallow tail light is as white as a virtuous woman.

The air rivals the wine left half-drunk in the glass.

The sea birds are clustered together in tremulous knowledge

of the two right whales.

They are there and sometimes I can see their plumes

white against the blue sea far off out from shore,

I wait patiently in the early evening, the breeze waiting too, gentle

on my light clad arms.

I would be glad, no, transported with joy to see them

but I know they have their own business to attend to.

Even in this place I cannot wait until dark, I cannot

keep the others waiting.  The others are of my kind

and the right whales have their own business to attend to.

Even though I could only feel them there off shore and know

as sure as sure

that they were there  attending to their right business,

well, this was enough and more than enough to transport me

to the watery depths, to the cold boundless places where the right whales

with no regard for me attend to their right business.

What kind of place is this where no bird or seal or tree or breeze or wave,

pays attention to my tender waiting?

It is the right place.





The Lighthouse




Set on some windy highland where blasted trees struggle for survival,

By definition prey to storms.  No silence here, the breath of wind and shush of wave below

Punctuated by the cries of gulls, the sighing wet breath of humpback or minke whales

and from time to time the chugging motor of a fishing boat.  The lighthouse.

Saved, restored, shored up, paid up, cabled up, held up, kept erect, alive.

But wait, isn’t that your job, lighthouse?  Standing up in all weathers, in all winds, eternally

saving, restoring to the shore puny mortals?

Of course, now there’s radar and sonar, GPS I suppose, but still,

there’s something forever about a lighthouse.

I used to lie down here in the summer grass where wild roses spread over the windy peninsula.

I’d wake to bees or crickets and follow the paths of desire over the rough ground.

I never dreamed a lighthouse would need help.

For decades in the sunny days the keeper’s wife would knit or nurse her child.

In the winter night the light, the bell, sometimes the deep fog horn would sound.

And those at sea would chart and steer a course, safe in that way at least.

The keeper tending the light in the high wind-shuddering lantern peering into

snow or darkness, knew he and the light had done the best, the best they could.

Long-gone the lighthouse keeper and his wife, long-gone the many wrecks

so must we save the lighthouse?

Is there “forever”on this rocky wreck-strewn shore?