All Her Life (Written August 20)

All Her Life


But instead she came up behind him

And again put her arms around him.

She was not angry, she said, only hurt.


All her life she’d been told she was

No good, and would never amount

To anything. It was like a monkey


Sitting on her shoulder,

Whispering ugly words in her ear

The moment she began to think


Better of herself. As a mother,

As an artist, as a human being,

She wasn’t so bad, she guessed,


But the monkey had different ideas.

His breath rose and fell on her breast,

Blowing at her conceit like a bellows.

West Florissant (Written August 19)

West Florissant


The news on television

Keeps getting worse

And worse. Ferguson


Is on fire, up and down

West Florissant.

Nothing is flourishing


On West Florissant

But a sense of grievance

And an anger that dates back


Decades, centuries. What

Looked like progress

Seems now to be arrested


Development, like insect

Colonies. Demonstrations

Of mistrust and hate


Overshadow gestures

Of love and friendship,

Which appear weak.


The loudest command

The most attention,

And glory in the moment.

Speechless (Written August 18)



I didn’t know what she was afraid of,

Until one day I came home and found her

Looking through my journal, the one


That covered the years just after my divorce

When I took up again with a woman

I had known in college. She was afraid


That I still loved this woman more than

I loved her. She said we had probably married

Too soon, before I had really got over


What’s her name, whatever “got over” might mean.

Nothing I said could convince her otherwise.

She said she must be a disappointment


To me, after being with such an intelligent,

Accomplished woman. I was afraid

She might continue to believe the story


That she was telling herself. I was afraid

She might distance herself from me, as a way

To protect herself. I knew I ought to smile


At her, and tell her how silly she was being,

But the smile wasn’t in me that day.

For the first time in years I was speechless.

The Lost Dreams (Written August 17)

The Lost Dreams


I am going to fall asleep again,

And there is nothing I can do about it.

Under the cheekbone my heartbeat


Is acting up. I am alone, I think,

For the last time. Outside, the street

Is bare, deserted. I am going to lament


The lost dreams, for the friends

They bring, and the fright. Accidents

Piled on accidents. I am bleeding,


Not for the first time. The wrist is tight

There where it is cut. I want to see

How the blood runs down onto the floor.


It did not have to happen like this.

Nothing is what it was before.

I curl up tight as a ball.

Manifesto (Written August 16)



Apropos of my decision,

I have nothing more to say.

I saw that it could be done,


And I decided to do it. Others

Before me, no doubt, have made

A similar commitment,


But that does not concern me.

It’s what I see, filtered through

My own experience, that matters.


By definition, that means it’s mine

And mine alone. I have enough

Confidence to believe that my view


Will be as interesting, and as lively,

As anyone else’s. I knew

When I began that I would need


To be as open and transparent

As I could possibly be,

And to speak only what is true.

Look! We Are Here! (Written August 15)

Look! We Are Here!


A light rain began to fall,

And the clouds over the bay

Grew even darker


And more threatening.

Today was not the day

To go swimming,


We decided, unanimously.

But with summer,

The real summer,


Coming to an end,

Every day was precious.

If we couldn’t swim,


We could party,

We could sing

And dance.


We could open another

Bottle of wine,

Touch glasses,


Make a toast,

And loudly proclaim,

Look! We are here!

Stories To Tell (Written August 14)

Stories To Tell


One day I took a walk in the woods,

Happy to be alone with my thoughts,

Free from family and friends at last.


The sun still shone through the trees

But the light was fading fast.

I hurried on, but when the sun set


And darkness fell, I was lost.

I was a little afraid, and yet

I kept going. The trees loomed


Large over the path, obscuring

The way. It seemed I was doomed

To repeat the same pattern,


And turn back empty-handed. Then

Stars began to appear, golden Saturn

Chief among them, low


In the night sky. In the midst of such

Beauty, my brain began to overflow

With ideas and images and maps


Showing me how to get from a to b.

How could something like this happen

To someone like me? I let my feet


Carry me along, deeper into the woods,

Into the darkness, happy to meet

And accept my fate.


There were stories to tell and poems to write,

People to love and people to hate,

Feelings to bring to light.

Stay Awhile (Written August 13)

Stay Awhile


Come come, take a seat,

Stay awhile, keep me

Company, I beg you.


It gets pretty lonely

Here, especially late

At night, when nothing


Seems to work, and I

Have to turn out the light.

I toss and turn in my bed,


While the words keep

Rattling in my head.

Don’t worry, I won’t


Hold you long. You

Can leave anytime

You want, obviously.


All I ask is a little

Feedback. Do you

Like it, or do you


Not like it? And why?

Just a word, positive

Or negative, I’d be


Most grateful. I hope

You don’t mind. It will

Get me going again.

Her Own Scale (Written August 12)

Her Own Scale


She liked everything around her

To be on her own scale,

Larger than life.


Not far from shore we spotted

A seal, its head bobbing

In the water.


After supper, she made a mint tea

And asked each of us to recite

A favorite poem.


A few lines into Danse Russe I stumbled,

Unable to remember what comes after

“Silken mists.”


Everyone waited, politely.

I tried again, with the same result.

We took our bowls of ice cream and cake,


And went outside, sat on the steps,

And watched the sun go down

And the colors fade.

Black Cabs (Written August 11)

Black Cabs


This might be all right,

This might even be fun.

Forget about the proud


Arrogant faces that will never

Be beautiful. That’s too loud.

This is intimate and odd


But something definitely

Doable. Once thawed,

It looks like the ear


Of some gigantic bronze

Statue. Perhaps a deer,

Or a runaway caribou.


It’s amazing to see

What money will do.

Black cabs are to cars


As cathedrals to houses.

An early fog mars

The view from here.