Prime Caregiver (Written June 9)

Prime Caregiver


Devoted to his sick mother,

He was more than happy to stay

With her during the last weeks


Of her slow, steady decline.

Through it all, he sought

To assure her that he’d found


A new direction to his life,

Though he doubted it himself.

In fact, he clung more tightly


To his obsession even as he tried

To fight it. He knew, rightly

Or wrongly, the moment she died,


He would put on the white dress

And the red shoes, and the jars

Of make-up he kept in the drawer.

When I Was Distraught (Written June 8)

When I Was Distraught


When I was distraught

And could not speak,

My hands and my feet


Broken, unable to move,

Your coat like a sheet

Over my dying body,


Your makeshift sled

Slippery and shoddy

But equal to the task,


Your voice soft,

Clear, like a mask

Hiding your feelings,


My brain spinning

And reeling

From my fall,


When I felt your lips

On my lips, heard the call

From above, and saw


The great wing beating,

All bleeding and raw,

I was lifted and borne away.

A Summer’s Day (Written June 7)

A Summer’s Day


I look at the sun with open eyes

As it sinks low in the sky.

I listen to the sound of the children


As they play on the beach behind me.

I wave to the people on their boats

As they come in from the bay.


I feel the warmth of the sand

As it works its way up from my toes.

I let the words of the poem take shape


As I drift further and further away.

I let the rhythm of the waves

Give my words their lilt and sway.


I breathe in the salt air and breathe out

The stillness and perfection

Of a summer’s day in June, by the sea.

Deaf From Birth (Written June 6)

Deaf From Birth


Think for a moment of the child

Deaf from birth, unable to hear

Words, or music, or bird songs.


When the wind is in the trees,

How does she know? She longs

To be part of things, but feels


Forgotten. When the ocean

Caresses the beach, when seals

Bark to her from close to shore,


She stares straight ahead, unaware.

To be deaf in one ear is more

Than an annoyance, as we know,


But to be deaf in both ears,

To hear nothing ever but noise,

Is a blow of a different order,


A universe unto itself.

Why would anyone persist,

And yet she does, without fear.

A Despised Man (Written June 5)

A Despised Man


Someone has outworn a former life here,

Abandoned the pretense of being part

Of any community. What defined him


And gave him his identity has fallen

Away, as a snake sheds its skin

And moves on. The hunter has become


The hunted. The angry young man,

The self-righteous defender of gun

Rights, the man who would cast


Himself in the image of Rambo,

The lone man, the free man, the last

Man standing, no longer exists.


Now he is nothing but a killer,

A despised man who resists

Our sympathy, a hated man,


A bad man, a pathetic man,

With nothing left but to finish

What he has so egregiously begun.

The Woman Who Works In Alabaster (Written June 4)

The Woman Who Works In Alabaster


In a mirror full of carved alabaster

You look for the vase or the bowl

Or the animal sculpture or the mask


That might reflect some of the same spirit

That you bring to your own task

Of shaping words, in order to make


One whole, living, breathing thing.

From unformed jottings you cut away

The dead words, and you staunch


The flow of clichés that threatens

To undo you. Then you launch

Your little craft into the deep water


To see if it will float, just as the woman

Who works in alabaster, the daughter

Of someone you know, uncovers


The shape that’s been hiding there,

Inside the material, like a lost lover,

Waiting to be found.

The Swimmer (Written June 3)

The Swimmer


Scattered around the pond,

Almost invisible in among the trees,

Are several abandoned cabins


Where people once came for quiet

Days and nights in nature. But the path

Through the woods has become very rough,


And we are the only ones, at present,

Who keep coming back, regularly enough.

There’s never anyone here but my wife and I.


So it is a strange sight, on a misty morning

This first week of June, under a cloudy sky,

To see a lone swimmer as she comes


Towards us from the far shore, her face

Down in the still, smooth water, her arms

Moving slowly, methodically, a black


Bathing cap on her head, and even more strange

To watch as she comes right up to our shack

And pulls herself up out of the water


Onto the dock, a tall, well-muscled, silent figure,

And to realize that she is my daughter,

Whom we have not seen for ages.

Natural Buoyancy (Written June 2)

Natural Buoyancy


Beneath the waters, since I was a boy,

I have felt the tug of gravity pulling

Me down. This all-too-heavy body


Has wanted to sink and lacks

That natural buoyancy that others

Possess. To stay alive has been


A constant struggle. Keep your head

Above water, has been my motto,

And so I have not been the most


Honest of companions, or the most

Faithful of friends. I did what I had

To do to survive, and the proof


That I was right is that I’m here, I’m

Alive. And now, whatever the world

Wants from me, I’m ready to give.

Sisters (Written June 1)



A small column of alabaster,

Hollowed out, sits empty

On a table by the window.


A girl, perhaps eighteen

Or nineteen, scribbles a note

On the back of a postcard


And props it against the vase.

She takes one last hard

Look around the room.


What had been her sanctuary

Now feels more like a tomb.

The person she loved


Is not the person she thought

She was. Loved or unloved,

To leave her is to die.

His Last Few Moments (Written May 31)

His Last Few Moments


Not to die on the straw at home,

A lost and dejected man, with nothing

Left to live for, nothing to bring out


The best in him, an action, an idea

Worthy of his talent. Not to sing out

From the confines of his narrow bed


But from some great ocean, or some

Deep forest where it’s been said

That no man or woman has come


This way, or some steep mountainside

He’s climbed in the company of his son,

Who will most deeply lament his passing.


Not to take lightly his last few moments,

When life’s victories and defeats, massing

At the gate, await the final tabulation.