I saw a picture of
Michael Brown’s mother
as she heard the verdict.
I felt her mother’s pain
radiate into my heart,
into my safe flat-screened life
a roaring scream—
and with the pain,
my own weak shame:
in my white-bubble youth
I was taught justice would be served—
to everyone, it says so right here.

No. Justice fled, unarmed
was shot dead
in an alley
on a street
in the dark
in the night—
Justice was too threatening,
I think that was it?
Justice was gunned down
in a hail of close-range verdicts
excusing the inexcusable:
racism denied is still racism.


Sky above Ault Park, Cincinnati


There’s a river in my
November sky—
a river of fathomless blue
sweeping between
ice-crusted snowdrift clouds
floating high
over bare-armed trees
and bare-armed people.

My teeth crunch an apple
my feet crunch leaves as
Monday’s snow melts into
tiny sidewalk rivelets.
A boy zigzags the lawn
hunting acorns he trades
for tired smiles from his mother.
Love flows like a river, unstopping.

Why wait?


Why wait?

Why wait for inspiration to appear,
surging onto your page like a whitecap
gliding over the sand
salty, foaming with words

Why wait, when outside the wind sings
naked trees wave their long arms,
even their sturdy trunks sway, drunken

Why wait, when the clouds above
skate across the cold sky
like children sliding on ice

Why wait, when the house seems to have weighed anchor,
rocking with every gust, creaking like an old boat
setting off on a choppy uncharted sea


ginkgo leaf


I feel like a river
so full I might overflow my banks
for years, so dry, now I am water, falling—
falling like the ginkgo leaves,
that lie scattered like footprints on the sidewalk,

so rain-slicker yellow, they are wet, oh
I had such a fever, once
I was empty as an old Halloween pumpkin,
scraped, drying, dry inside,
dying I was dying, I was lying

on my back, floating on the current
so hot the water sizzled when it touched my skin
I floated so long
hypnotized by love and the sky and
the fever’s fire

Once I was a wound, bleeding
Now I am welling up vivid as blood—
maybe I could be that red rose, blooming,
trembling in November’s
sharp teeth

Indiana Sunset, November 10

sunset and graveyard
Ovid, Indiana


Ovid, Indiana, another view








the start of a poem:

driving home from Indiana
sunset blazing an orange goodbye
contrails crisscrossing the deepening sky

speeding through billows of dust
from the seed corn being processed
by harvesters crawling the darkening fields

Pendleton, Eden, Maxwell, tiny towns
brick houses, bonfires blazing in backyards,
November leaves burning, summer burning

up ahead, a great pyramid of golden kernels,
oh, how they glow, under sodium vapor lamps
such a harvest, this year, such a farewell



telephone wires


I read today that
four hundred forty beats per second
equals the note called “A”

I thought of you, of resonance,
of tiny ear bones trembling with words
of the resounding delight of being heard

How the word ‘vibrant’
rings like a bell of poured molten
bronze, cast

cast like a spell, pure magic
syllables sometimes sing like plucked strings
music of minds in tune