Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Second Thoughts

I might have named her Susan, yet
my first impulse — Beatrice —
seems cat more than human

Dante’s proof — his imperatrice
was first a boy child’s sexual itch
later a creature of godlike caprice

watching him arrive, the bitch
first scorns him, then demands
he apologize, pathetic wretch

for larking off to distant lands
instead of cleaving to his first
devotion — Beatrice feline

communicates in sudden bursts
of motion, first she’s a missile
next she’s a whirling dervish

I school her — Be not servile
but gentle, I first admonish
then send her down a level

Soft paws, I say, as garnish
I suppose, since first off
she doesn’t capisce the English

besides how do we know if
we’ve chosen, first second or last
the best companion — it’s tough
to guess before the role is cast

Saturday, September 29, 2018


Beatrice does not know sloth —
jump down, run, climb up
defines her antic path

until she trundles into my lap
or onto my head to groom
a paw, a leg — eyelids droop

& close, open, close, a purr
rumbles — when my grandchild
finally drifts off her snore

gives her away, another wild
day capped by nasal storms —
it’s not yet safe to slide

away, she’ll raise alarms
until her snoring ceases —
silence is her cuneiform

for true sleep, like Beatrice —
once her purring stops
she becomes la seƱorita
of slumber, her chin drops

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Peasant Women

the heron rasps the unsayable
a crow answers, a duck loudly denies
what they know we have forgotten

Milosz has the Spirit of History say
for punishment I took away their reason

because a woman told what a powerful
white boy did twenty five years ago
she & her family have had to flee their home

loud clatter of wings, ducks apart, ducks together

the voters elected this pig so that the understory
could be told, the swinish greed to consume
everything — when it’s over
                                          what would it mean
to be over? the pig slaughtered, spoiled meat
left for maggots, for microscopic life

a new world hypothesized by peasant women
riddles in long dark skirts, glee & wisdom
flicker from their weathered eyes

Sunday, September 23, 2018

The Women Hold It Together

body & soul
whatever it is
I knew even as a child
the wisdom
quiet in their sitting
hands busy
or idle, in their walking
from one place to the next
their tidy doing
what had to be done
a child tended
a meal assembled
a floor scrubbed
& all around them
passing in & out
men, inert, useless

Friday, September 21, 2018

Wild Trace

Nearly to the end of Fort Lamar Road
I see the fox tilted downward
nose to the ground, a dark dirty brown.
Might be a stump. I circle & scan
as I pedal slowly back by — nothing.
I circle again, pedal even slower.
It’s not where I saw it first. There —
beside the driveway, a pair of ears
& eyes in tawny fur trained on me.
A large hare? I inch the bike back —
we both stare. Great head, pointy
chin. It turns, ambles, a thick white
flare at the tip of its long wavy tail.
This enclave — unimproved woods
next to the road, vast lawns with grand
houses next to the salt marsh, the sea
beyond — trace of what belongs here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


Dark pink sky by 6:15, sudden noise from the neighbor’s AC.
Once the light stains the water, duck sound joins the AC.

A single songbird trills, a heron rasps, half a dozen fish jump.
Dawn brings fresh cool air in the windows, makes the AC

irrelevant, though if your windows are closed, you blunder
through this sweetest part of the day, you’re cloistered in AC

closure as if the real world didn’t exist. The daily dozen ducks
stream in above the lake, slow, skid to a water stop. AC

silences all this noisy natural life, wraps humans in the hum
of conditioning. I say I’d rather sweat, & because my AC

stopped cooling yesterday, started streaming hot air up
the stairs, Carol will now sweat until someone repairs the AC.

Friday, September 14, 2018


Our measly complaints — how a hurricane
discommodes us. What if we were Philippine
waiting for Mangkhut in bamboo huts? Or Syrian
bombed & shelled & poisoned, our children
maimed. Or Palestinian, our land & livings
stolen for Jewish cause. Or Hmong displaced,
exploited, massacred in Laos, swimming across
the Mekong to Thailand camps — now tell me
again who & what you might have lost.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Letter to Susan

Well, Susan, look what you’re missing —
a full up hurricane scare with most poets
deciding to stay home. The nerviest
left Monday. Tuesday another drove her ill
husband to Savannah. Everyone else here
is practicing battening & hunkering as best
they can. Studies seem to show that the poor,
the old, & those who’ve lived here longest
stay put in a hurricane. I’ve identified three
parking lots with elevations of twenty feet
above sea level — Gold’s Gym, Walmart,
& JI Presbyterian Church — where I’ll park
my car if I’m worried about a storm surge.
So far the spaghetti models don’t converge.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Hurricane Florence

Linda’s packing her car to drive west & north, Debbie’s not
willing to fly to Baltimore, I can’t wait to ride out the storm.

Fourteen & working as an au pair on Cape Cod when Donna hit
I ran outside, arms wide, flew down the street ahead of the storm

& that’s it, no more hurricanes that I remember. Georgia was hot,
Argentina windy, Caly burned, Hawaii was good for tropical storms.

Think of all the ways I could buy the farm — actually, don’t —
simply realize I’m too old, I’ve had my best fun. If a big storm

wants to take me off, I’ll be eyes wide, hugging a fresh bottle
of icy gin, sucking ripe watermelon — Come & get me, storm.

My Lake

Today’s armada of eight or nine ducks
sways back & forth on the trembling glass lake.

Pale pink suffusion, pale yellow leaks
inlay clouds — angel, white skimmers, kayak.

Three ducks land, silhouettes on silvery back
drop mingle, six wings rise from the lake.

Their meld is liminal — turning away, wanting to mix —
muted rasp of males, sussurating lake.

A female quacks — nudged, goosed — night black
water brimming with life, smack of fish on lake.

Spot-tailed bass, minnows streaking from docks
white bellies skip like stones across the lake.

Great blue heron launches, glides, squawks —
its mate follows, climbs, levels, circles the lake.

Sun reddens the rim of towering clouds, breaks
above trees, summons kingfisher to the lake.

Orange collar, ragged crest, her chirr tricks
me to hear cicada, no, kingfisher — my lake.

Friday, September 7, 2018


Morning thunderheads — three
squaring off against each other
against blue sky & time — Brendel
& Gould, their slight bodies,
thundering & delicately fingering
hands, time takes them too, bar
by bar — below cumulus
sun’s gold burns outward, forces
human eyes (all but Newton’s)
to turn aside, clouds to feather
& froth, from lizard to city arch,
sonogram of liabilities none
can parse — another day’s weather
working through its serendipity.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


A wasp grazes my hand, buzzes
my face. I duck my head
& wave my arm, let go
the nozzle, turn off the hose
& walk away, annoyed & feeling
an itch, a mild pain — the sting
grows to a hard white pimple.
My hand throbs & swells.
I've seen a nest seething below
a porch stair. Today I’ll buy
wasp killer. Tomorrow at dawn
I’ll cover my head, spray the poison
& run.
         Why do this? Who am I?
Where do wasps belong?

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Fraction's Head

Fraction’s head an architect
foot an engineer — together
marvel & rigor inflect
structure & shape, flutter
of Sydney’s wings, slope
of pyramids bricked on sand
rising from fathoms deep
where slaves & pharaohs end.

What survives defies intent
relies on ever changing tides
a swallow’s path, extent
of maps ells & cubits wider
than Mercator’s fringe, dark
swell buffets of optimism
bartered against stark
ignorance — cataclysm.

Sunday, August 26, 2018


The microcode word is 60 bits long, the microcode blasted into a ROM chip that plugs into a graphic controller circuit board for a 1980s computer workstation. Each word of microcode tells six or eight functional components on the board what to do, & each time a microcode word is read, those six or eight components do what they’re told — move data, increment or add or shift, change the state of one bit or another — the effect is visual, either the expected pattern appears on a computer monitor or it doesn’t. Sometimes nothing appears, sometimes the pattern is the wrong one, occasionally the screen jitters or flashes in a way that promises an epileptic fit for the sensitive viewer. Any mistake I make in coding means the newly blasted ROM is trash, means I return to the code & find the problem. I become a parallel processing machine — six or eight things happening at once, one word after another — I simulate microcode in my dreams.