My first solo book of poems, Lit Only by a Few Thousand Stars, has been chosen Winner of a 2023 Blue Light Press Book Award. I have been writing this book for fifteen years, in dedication to our son, Peter. In some ways, the poems and illustrations are the answers to prayers and, in other ways, they are prayers themselves. At the very least, this book is a map of the path I’ve been walking. As poet William Stafford wrote in “The Way It Is”: “There’s this thread you follow. It goes among/things that change. But it doesn’t change./People wonder about what you are pursuing./You have to explain about the thread.”
Can we ever really explain? Maybe the best any of us can do is hold up the thread and share with one another how it feels when the whole earth–every rock and cloud, human and more-than-human creature–conspires to send us–and even support us–on our way.
I am grateful to Diane Frank and Blue Light Press for this chance to share the work with a wider audience.
How Can Your Absence Be So Present?
I wouldn’t expect you to linger in the garden
as you did when you were little,
or stay home playing fiddle in the D Minor Duo.
You’d probably move far away
with some career,
your crazy songs sung for friends,
and maybe a lover we haven’t met.
If you called, I’d tell you I’m planting Little Marvel peas,
and when I pick them in 60 days,
we will deliver a luscious bagful.
Your dad will bring new strings for your instruments.
I will ask you to stoop so I can kiss the top of your head
before you split open the pods and eat.
Not that it would be like this.
Not that it would be like anything.
It would just be today—
this first blue sky spring morning
when each turning shovelful of dark earth
is warmer than the last.
In Sleep, Some Promise Kept
When the Carrier Wolves come,
nothing can stop us from falling like water on their backs.
We bury our cheeks in their fur and breathe in the forest.
Our fists clutch the silken folds behind their ears.
Knees on either side squeeze their flanks,
as our soft human belly sinks into the swaying spine.
No one has to teach us how to ride.
We learned the smooth animal maneuvers
before our birth, before our eyes,
when we still had tails and nothing to hide.
Something about our bodies now,
and the uneven ground of lives lived in electric cities,
has caused us to forget the ancient promise—
the treaty lost in shame and ashes long ago.
The other party vanished from our midst,
but the loyal wolves of the Carrier Clan
insist that darkness will not be a shroud.
They sneak into our palaces and prisons,
lift us from our bed of roses or nails
and carry us like cargo,
on a zigzag path between the trees,
across the wind-stripped plains,
up through the glacial scree of a high mountain pass.
They deliver us to the shore of an endless lake
where we throw stones at our own reflections,
and try in vain to wake the Creator
from his mud bound sleep.
The book is available from online booksellers. Or, you can order from your favorite Independent book store: ISBN 978-1-4218-3535-8
For a signed copy, or to arrange a reading with a group of your friends (so different from paintings, poems are meant to be heard!), send me an email: email@example.com.