Wednesday, December 8, 2010



Out in the pasture,
the cows
are wide-eyed
and bellowing,
as a flock
of birds wheel
in the snowy
air above them -
like a multitude
of holy angels
in the December sky.

Now, everything
becomes a promise –
the smell of hay,
the curl of smoke,
the icy fern along
the frosted path,
the kitchen where
the sausages are
hung high and the
walnuts are crushed
and sugared - where
warm gingerbread
steams the windows,
blurring the moon.

And night’s breath
breathes on us again
in our deep slumber,
as the cows lumber
in silent resolution
into the warmth and
light of the little barn.

Sunday, November 14, 2010



Out here on the celestial equator,
I am Monoceros, a faint constellation
barely visible among the brightest stars
that shine radiantly from the great circle.

I go practically unnoticed - like blood
seeping through the reddest terracotta,
or like minor chords being played slowly,
woefully over an elegiac reading of some
dejected and plaintive poet…

I want to be mapped again by the Dutch.
Instead of a shy unicorn – I want to be a lion,
an eagle, a bear, or a glittery whale
spouting water, like crushed diamonds,
around an imaginary sphere of infinite extent,
tilting and swimming in all directions at once.

I want to be on a different quadrant of an astrolabe,
a fresh copper engraving, pictured in a star atlas -
or just clearly visible on a plastic plansiphere
that rests deep in the pocket of an old woman,
who has designed her days by studying the stars.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Walt Whitman's Death Mask


You started out superbly.
No one was more gifted or blessed.
You called yourself
a freakish character,
saying it was “damnable”
to be tailorized after a mode.
So, come on – admit it
you were a little Rabelaisian!

You were one of those big sprawlers –
your masterful words never touching
the lines of the white ruled paper
upon which you so liberally wrote.

You were a winger too -
an open-air man,
whose feet were
never really needed
for traveling.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that you
lolled in your high board bed,
over on Mickle Street -
eating pickled peaches
out of a blue glass jar,
while listening to sounds
from the street below?

And now your face
is all repose, and sweetly so,
with eyes closed and lips tight
and your splendid head
at its noblest and most serene.

Sunday, October 31, 2010



Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Who goes howling without a key -
a plot, a scheme, a mystery?
Knots are tied and knots unraveled
along a road that’s highly traveled,
winding in some mysterious way,
puzzling pedestrians night and day,
while water cries and wind speaks
and frost makes roses of our cheeks.
And who’s the potter and who’s the pot?
And which is the vessel and which is not?
For these queries, avow – avow!
The answers are being written now
on onionskin paper, smooth and light -
on sleeveless arms, ghostly white -
on leaves rustling on far away trees -
on hills and in hollows, such as these.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


I can’t help thinking
that I would feel at home
in the closed off hives
under the pear trees,
in amber stillness,
in the warm wax cells -
there to live a life of
sweetness and daylight.
But – somehow, I survive
in a dim aging cellar,
where the spirits settle
among the oak barrels
that rise in the darkness
like communal hunchbacks,
awaiting clarification.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Turning circles
and pocketing stones,
we were more astonished
than we had ever been
by the sweet leaves,
and dry golden corn,
and the flowers
offering up their seeds –
and the white horse,
standing motionless,
in the stark pasture,
a hawk’s reflection
appearing in his big old eye –
their precious spirits
merging interminably.

In the wind, we heard
the weeping and laughter
of the fiddles and banjos,
harmonicas and mandolins,
and we danced along
for a little while in the grass,
under yellow gingko leaves,
eating wild grapes and
hard, sweet apples.
Toward home, at dusk,
there was only the
low hum of our voices -
the intimate press of our hands.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Guest poet, Chloe Gilbert

Chloe rode on a train from Southern Virginia to Northern Pennsylvania, recently. One of the passengers, a kindly old gentleman sitting across the aisle, caught Chloe's imagination. She said he wore a bow tie and had the kindest face. They never spoke, but Chloe felt that he was someone special - she even felt a certain kinship toward him. Then, just as she garnered enough courage to make conversation at a stop in D.C., he stood up and departed the train.

We have all wondered about strangers that have traveled with us on trains, buses, planes....we come up with life scenarios for them. It is a poet's past time. Right?

This poem was churned from Chloe's thoughts, while traveling on the train.


I can’t help
but sneak a peak;
What spell have you
cast over me?

At a glace, to have felt so meek -
From your unintended presence,
I cannot break free.

Have you traveled far?
Could it be that you
are wondering as well,
If my story is just as spectacular
As your story in my mind dwells?

Inside, mindless masses hurry in a blunder,
As the world beside us both passes,
Creating even more magic and wonder -
Empowering my will to leap and ask.

Alas! You are now escaping this
Metal monster and leaving me behind.
Thank you sweet stranger
Whom I will never forget,
For leaving me soft and kind.

Sunday, September 12, 2010


A vague feeling
has arisen in me,
with no real meaning
that I can think of -
and apart from any idea
I might have had recently,
but truly affecting and moving,
as with any other vision in life.

It prompts my mind to toil -
all thoughts tendrilling upwards
and outwards, trying to catch
somewhere - and take hold.

My mind fills with
some moonlit view
of barefoot wanderings,
and a distribution of figs
to the sick and dying –
their sweet, sticky lips
encrusted and tasting
of nothing but blood.

An odor of turpentine emits
from some dark alleyway,
where doors are open to show
dimly lit rooms divided by
unfinished canvasses,
wet with paint and going
white with mildew.

And there is not
an infinite number
of stars in the sky,
only a few large ones,
spinning and shining -
like dying martyrs,
and like living lovers,
eking out their incredible
days of pleasure and pain.

This vague feeling…
This stab in my heart.

Friday, September 3, 2010



what warbler’s watery
trilling could ever entice
me from this sovereign light
and lure me into the shadowy
world of a mysterious thicket -

where each wary step is
infused with whispered
petitions and every sharp
thorn brings forth visible
and agonizing stigmata

Sunday, August 29, 2010

First Day of School

When I was a senior in high school, I think I missed the bus about 10 times a month. Dad had to drive me to school. Looking back now, I'm glad I missed it so much, because I had that precious one-on-one time with my dad, but - I digress.

Karen is driving the Poetry Bus this week to school! So, I promised her I would try to be on time.

Oh, so many ways one could go with this, but I wanted to have FUN - since that was the way in which it was presented by our bus driver. I did write a poem for Karen about our WVTech days, but want to keep that for later in September, since it is a little more obscure. I hardly ever rhyme my verse and I really love to. So, with a jaunty wave out of the bus window, here I go...


School bell rings.
Grab your things.
Run to the gate.
Don’t be late!

Heart’s thumping.
Brain’s pumping.
Children weeping.
Mothers leaping.

Summer’s over.
Goodbye, Rover.
Hello fall,
And hallowed hall.

Find a chair.
Fix your hair.
Smile at friends,
Or just pretend.

Shiny shoes.
Pencils (number twos).
Heavy books.
Learning nooks.

Favorite teachers.
Some are creatures.
Principal’s tall.
Vice is small.

School lunches.
Hate them bunches.
Makes my day.

Dismissal Bell.
School’s swell.
Maybe, then,
I’ll go again!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


I wrote this for my granddaughter, Chloe, who turned twenty years old this month. A few days after her birthday celebration with all the family, we had a little picnic at Bowman's Creek - just the two of us - chicken salad, homemade pickles, peaches, iced tea with limes. We had the place to ourselves that day. We had a good time sitting there by the water - talking about the past, wondering about the future. Chloe tells me the most interesting things, too. She amazes me, really. She has always lived away from us, but comes to stay here in the summer. So, our relationship is a special one. We have to pack a lot into those few weeks! While watching her wade out into the creek, singing to the fish - this poem was already forming. Oh, and Bowman's Creek is a place where we have always gone. We used to swim in the cold currents years ago and ride the "rapids" in an inner tube. I would take the kids all summer long, before the pool. We used to have big family picnics there, too. (Oh, those halcyon days of years ago.) I guess this seems like a big intro for a short poem, but - as you all know, I am all about brevity in my poetry...I try to say a lot in as few words as possible. Hopefully, it has worked here.


The time of water is over
and most of our sun is gone -
wrapped in a filmy gauze
left over from our days of
sweet and soft iridescence.

But before that –
her skin had reflected water,
as she waded up to her knees
in the cold swirling creek,
singing to the fishes that hid
among the mossy ledges, imploring
them to eat bread from her hands.

And there, by the huge sycamores
that rose up mottled around us,
I felt like time had reeled back
and we were the universe again,
and we were the ancient mystery
that we had always been.

Friday, August 20, 2010


How much more
pain could you have
shown us –
pins holding your
brain in place,
as your fingers
separated fact
from fiction.

He hung like a robe
on the back of the
bathroom door -
nonchalant and dead,
you liked to say.

You claim that you
died, too, that night.
Are you sure
you weren't born –
pushed out of the hard
cold womb of anguish?

Thursday, August 12, 2010


It’s always about the light,
or the dissolution of shadows
and shade that makes it so.

Like the brightness
in the corner of the woods -
filtering down into the fields,

where standing amid the night
blossoms and summer grasses,
the unexpected fox shows himself

and his sweet vulnerability,
never realizing the small
disturbance he has become.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010



While trying to discover
the realities and facets
of my spacious present,
I become camouflaged
in real physical time,
where senses become
distorted and where
all experience comes
from second-hand energy
and ordinary circumstances.

I am trying hard to stay
within my bony skull –
in order to travel outside
my plane of existence, but…

Can I help it if I am
obsessed with the theory
of beginning and end -
and that I conceive time
to be a series of moments?


Tuesday, July 27, 2010



you mark your days
with rented doorways
and the heavy body
that ticks the hours
swinging on a cord –

this life…
extraordinary sorrow
and more –
a long and reluctant
letting go

Sunday, March 28, 2010



The pastel cultivars
emerge from their
swollen corms
like chalices,
offering us communion
with the natural world.

Friday, February 26, 2010


The Dual
oil on canvas by Merissa Gilbert Garrison


Something’s at me today -
a tearing of form,
a stitching of words,
a definition of hours,
like a quiet folding
or unfolding
of the thinnest paper.

It’s like sitting with my back
against my own back and
trying to wrest something
from the sweat of my skin
and the salt of my bones.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010



All morning
I have been
watching doves -
covering a
silence of light
under their wings,
like a sacred secret,


in the root cellar,
the beets bleed
from their constant
jostling in the bin,
cheeks pale and
withered now


the potatoes, too -
with their wandering
eyes and mocking
grins, beg to be
buried again


I find myself
thinking that
had my electrons
been arranged
just a little bit
differently, I might
have been a
mourning dove
hiding the light
under my wings


a root vegetable
in a winter bin
spending my days
going soft in the head.

Thursday, February 11, 2010



This elation,
this sunlight after the snow,

and this page my lover,
because we are alone.

Look how the cypress trees
edge my thoughts and the

sweet smelling mimosa
peeks her delicate head

into my window to see me
under a canopy of dreams

of warmth and want - and
flowers that grow from

one world into the next,
their fragrance my desire.

Now, your kiss - a languid
fall into love all over again.

Monday, February 1, 2010



My eyes are getting milky
from staring at the moon –
the snow moon that hangs
on the ice encrusted limbs
of flesh, muscle, and bone.
I was a young girl, once,
staring at a snow moon
out my bedroom window.
Its soft glow got inside
of me that night and somehow
I was able to carry the light
for a time. And the snow?
It melted inside my veins
and ran like sap in a maple,
clear and sweet and slow.

Saturday, January 16, 2010



In the gallery, completely
ignoring poor Alice Neel,
Richard’s at it again –
bouncing from wall to wall,
arms flailing, voice wailing
about Kasparov’s loss to
IBM’s computer, Deep Blue.
It cheated! He screams.
I want to shake him and say,
Come on Richard! Get over it!
It was just a freakin’ chess game!
But, he won’t listen to me.
He wouldn’t understand
what I was saying, anyway.
He doesn’t speak or hear in
English anymore. His language is
expressible and understandable
only by algebraic notations
and Boolean ones and zeros.

Sunday, January 10, 2010


Charcoal Drawing of Walt Whitman by Merissa Gilbert Garrison

~In Imitation and Praise of Walt Whitman~

From the corner of a blue fog lifting,
Comes an old man bending.
It is the good gray poet dressing
The wounds of the young warriors,
Whom he longs to love.

Dear heart of the nation,
Keeper of democracy,
Man as literature,
Who better to sit by the unsettled
All through their somber night?

Who better to remove their blood soaked rags?
Who better to smooth their hair?
Who better to cry their suffering?
Who better to beseech death to come,
But one who will record it so sacredly?

From the corner of a blue fog lifting
Comes and old man bending.
It is the good gray poet turning
The heavy woolen blankets to find
The face of Christ, divine in death.

After these some hundred years it is
Still the same grass growing,
The same leaves turning,
The same wind blowing across the
Stagnant, bloodied, and flyblown fields.

It is the same celebration of yourself.
The same mist of your breath,
The same play of shadow and light.
It is the same song of yourself,
Sung from the same bearded lips.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


Watercolor, Old Mossy Moon, by Terry Clark


What does it mean when you show up at my door,
Youthful and majestic, a lost Croatian queen, carrying
In your deep fur-lined pockets, fossils of Neanderthal
Bones, like stones, unearthed centuries ago in Krapina?

On my stoop, in January’s radiant light, a crown surrounds
Your pale head, as the arctic winds blow through my open door,
Swirling into the house, touching every corner, smelling of sweet
Black juniper cones, icy ferns, pine needles, and a crush of cloves.

By the fire, we sit for hours as you regale me with your stories
Of giants, and faery-folk, snowy owls, and cave dragons of
Fire and smoke, and of stars that have fallen from the heavens
Into your winter’s garden, where they grow into crystal flowers.

Now that the wind has quieted down and the fire has turned cold,
And I have been told the last magical stories you will ever know,
You pack your words away and start on your long journey home,
Through the moonlit woods, over the snowy hill, toward home.