Answers are easier to come by than chances but after one by one
they close and drop carpeting the ground with faded color
and you’ve pushed the blade in, and your dream falls to its knees
and you have to finish what you started, you wonder
how it ever came to this but you lean forward anyway—
until all the pain is gone—then you look up to the mountains
because they have been there all along and you look
to the sea’s returning wave and understand that between these two
and the high blue sky above it is still possible you have a chance.


Letter to my Daughter

Sometime past midnight

I am reading your note, the story of your equinox afternoon. I smell the sugary musk of rain and rot. I see the field and you in slow motion playing with a ball that gets away and rolls into the elongating shadows of the trees. I am a slug munching leaves there and twitch my antennae in the vibrating air as you pass. You kick the ball back into the open under the cloudless sky.

Tomorrow the light will begin its retreat, allowing my world to sink back into its roots. In breath, out breath. Bittersweet. Little Molly is curled here beside me, her thin black lips hidden by white hair.

I love you always.



New York City
By the sun, I know the stairs from the street face
north. I go up, mote rising through slanted light,
through the door that locks the City out—into the
darksome hush. I do not disturb the pods, each
tethered to a different zero point. I go up one flight,

then two. Here the path turns east then south again
from the room with blackout curtains, home of the
old Jewish fellow who sits—white beard guarding
his chest—at his table reading the Torah in the
afternoon by candlelight. Past the bath, halfway

to the cockroaches' kitchen at the end of the hall,
I stop—turn west, insert a key into the lock and open
the door to my room—window facing North Dakota
a hundred years ago—single bed in the south and
east corner, table and chair at the foot. I sit to write

but lower my head, stretch my arms out, press my
palms on the cool green formica and listen. In the
whereabouts—bed spring frenzy—thumps and growls
startle—then succumb to the silence. One hand
makes its way back, soothes the hair from my face,

picks up the pen. The other remains on the edge,
absorbing the petulant reds. We are bound by a mutual
debt, these hands and I. They are here with me now—
faithful old friends tracing the cyan forms hovering
in the air—past and future working out the difference.


published in Stepaway Magazine

Mélancolie Mécanique

Dear Mother,

I was in the world
a succession of strangers.
How was I to know?
The dog goes on her lonely
way. I forgot about you for
years. Morning has me

in her claw; disheveled, vacant.
Before sunrise the hard bounce
re-tooling of the clockwork day
is done and the great wheel set
between the glittering city
and the far-flung sea.

I called last night. They told me
you were still dead and too busy
but I know you were there, silent
as the white owl come to the terminal
edge. Now it is up to the rain and 
chance. Y nosotros, tus perdidos.


The wind is idling down the road.
It passes with a backward glance.
It is an old conversation, one I can
neither remember nor forget. No
word means the same thing twice.
I miss you. That I remember in the

mother tongue. They will deny
everything. Potato-bug begins her
trek across the day. I stop to let her
pass. Ant rushes by. Dandelion opens
to the sun. In this inherited dawn,
first light slanted just so catches

movement, something struggling in
the indifferent gears, washed in by
the collapsing wave, cornflower sea
glass eyes etched with irreconcilable
horizons. Beast or demon? But I am
getting ahead of the story.



there is a sadness
standing before light
clouds know it
stepping out
into the air—

great storms
born of upper
unseen winds
know it
to the edge of light
but for all its
is still—
an uncored flute
through which
the disturbing
winds of heaven
cannot blow

there is a gap
nothing can fill
born of what
can never be

there is a yearning
stepping out into mystery
lovers know it—
calling one to the other
the Unknowable
answers back
their hearts
with unthinkable


Cnoc a' Cairn Hill

Famine Graveyard—Dingle Ireland

It’s different here on the westward side
The cairns are small
or not at all
long running mounds
no one knows how many lie below.
In a dream
I see the sky
so blue above
the opening
bending down
toward me—
even the drought
come upon us late.
The grass remembers,
covers our naked bones,
draws up our misery—
gives it to the sky
to carry away.

published in West & Mid Kerry Live   


Winter Solstice

Winter Solstice illustrated
Full moon in Beaver Damn Wash

It has always been spoken of
as the grave and womb of light
this most brief day
this deepest midnight
stiffened with ice and silence.

It is crucial now that there be
harbors and pools and islands
of light, and it is necessary
that there be song
for the dead are everywhere

stricken with grief, wandering
among the birds of winter but
with song they may be comforted
and Love, on this longest of nights,
requires the giving of a gift.


History Lesson

Eating our way out of the jungle
we quit the river we followed.

Finally there was nothing left
of the world that bore us
nothing left of us
but our hunger.

The dead refuse burial.

Strangers now—
turn your attention
to the sky we breathe

and the fiction of escape—
fiction enough
for another thousand years.

published in 300K: Une Anthologie de Poésie sur L'espèce Humaine /
A Poetry Anthology about the Human Race

Los Viajeros

El camino es largo.
El dia es corto.
La noche es
ruidosa y calor.
Estoy afuera
con la luna.
El camino es angosta.
El cielo es ancho.


The Travelers

The road is long.
The day is short.
The night is
noisy and hot.
I am outside
with the moon.
The road is narrow.
The sky is wide.


Writing Instructions

For John & Lee

How do you do, he whispers in her mind.
Take it a little further, he murmurs—
beyond this afternoon, the layers of cliff light—

gray root eyes stern in his pitch thick bush of hair.

Amid the squeaks, twitters and rattles,
the plunking sound of jumping fish,
drifting mumble of lunchers down the lake
and buzz of diving flies,
a fish strikes, bites the meat.

When I was a child I fished,
watched them glide just below the surface—

For a moment only the wind,
winding its way through the tops of the trees,
makes a sound.

Shake out a beginning, middle and end, he whispers.

The boy catches his first fish, grabs
the struggling creature into his world,
his too bright light.
Its tiny teeth sink into his hand;
catch his surprise in the inverted wilderness of water.

Fishing the lake means seeing it from all sides,
he whispers, smiling around his teeth.


Originally published in Byline Magazine


I have been up all night
writing and re-writing
watching the stars
tick across the sky.
Around midnight
the Big Dipper is just
beyond my window.
By 3 am—only stars.
No names.
Then in the hush
just before dawn
when time slows
nearly to a stop

I see my grandmother’s dog
the one she made live outside
that entire North Dakota winter
his pleading, cold-crazed eyes
a sad, two-star constellation.
They shot him in the spring.

The sun doesn't rise.
The world falls face first
into its light, finds its mark
resumes the fiction of the day.

With regret I sense before I can see
the Holy Dark dissolve into grainy
morning. Here and there a bird
stirs in its quills. Before long
they are on the roof rattling
the gutters, pecking at the
tiles. One of these days
they will pull the house beam out
and the whole thing will fall down.



When I was a girl
and hungry for pleasure
with feathers in my hair
and bells on my feet
a wild unpruned thing
a child on the run
feasting on the sweets
and bitters of love
on the full gush of all things
in a swarm of musics
and carelessly carefree
rising and falling  
on each tide swimming
a slave to the moon
with a barefoot heart dancing
to the flute of my own god
I spilled blossom after blossom
to the wind with no regard
being full of my season
and the aphrodisiac perfumes
on which I fed
lips red   
voice thick from singing
eyes heavy from wooing
until I delivered the fruit of the union
until I became
with the pain and the growing
the reaping and sowing
a woman.


Another language

Haiku 51 - Another language

Elegy for a Poet

Before the final breath and night
swallowed the glow above the hill
and in the eye

before the bloodsplash of light
pulsing with unborn and terrifying thoughts
was stilled in the gently falling hush
world to world of the quietest breath
and the last petal of a most beautiful flower fell
into the quick black stream of death

fell down and forever from view
know this darkness that settled
this disappearing act forever playing out
within the world, this knife
around which the wound dried
was delivered by angels.

You were a splash of light
between two worlds
grooving, ransacking visions
till kingdom came
singing till you shattered
ravaged by innocence.

You were a dying man
hungry for the company
of rain soaked pines
a downed bird whose fierce eye
grew dim in the cage by the door.

Holy Mary, Mother of God
. . . you were a curly-headed boy
      stealing to the lake for an evening swim.
Pray for us sinners
. . . stealing back to the lake for an evening swim
      stealing back to lost summer.
Pray for us now, at the hour of our death
. . . as I kiss your wax brow
      at the door that is always locked.

          John T. Chance, in memoriam  - June 9, 1934 - February 1, 1992


The floor of my mind is littered with words—scrawled, scribbled out, crumpled words. I hear them whispering to one another—shifty, resistant as shadows in wind, as bugs in cracks, as sprouts growing in the fetid dark. Some are annoyingsharp rocks under bare feetothers threatening as broken glass. Some are photos fallen from a collage with little value of their own, pennies on the ground. Others are blobs of paint that did not make it to the canvas, beautiful, dry and beyond recall. Others are worlds orbiting their own remote stars. Observed they change. They do not obey the rules. They float, switch polarities, attract and repel at random, sometimes swirling, sometimes playing dead only to suddenly reappear with new meanings.


Red Fish

A red fish
the size of a child
startles up through the trees.
Who sitting around this stone table
will remember this for me?


Crow and I

Crow and I alone
on opposite sides of the
road. She flies away.


Stonelight - Prelude


setting out upon a long journey
I take my lantern off the post
the hills in the west are approaching Jupiter

a young moon
in the 7th house
horns to the east
floats low in a purple lea
half in shadow/half in light
I take the path of the terminator.

there are endless stones in this path
each stone a world
and endless steps in this journey
each step a birth/each step a death
birth/death blended into this exquisite twilight
through which I go towards Jupiter
and the edge goes with me
for we are in need of the sea.


Stonelight - Movement 1

the little moon
       the little moon that starved so long in the brass box
       the little moon
who only eyes of dream can see

—that one—

who lay so long
sunk in a chilly abyss beyond the reach of conscious fire
she has summoned me to leave the daylight realm

cold stars swirl and drown in the black sea that must be crossed

on a winter's night
first passing the lava bone brain forest of an inner deep
I set out

            she keeps her dark face forever turned to dark
            she stands behind ripped clouds
            hanging from the proscenium arch of night
            peeking in at the living world
            aching with light

on a winter night we set out on that terrible journey
     through the larvae brain bone forest
           over sunk stars sparkling beyond reach

only eyes of dream can gather the crystals—the frozen
shipwrecked treasures from which the moon was born.


Shattered mirror

The now shattered mirror
reflects and holds ten thousand
fold all that I see.


Road's Eye View

Road's Eye View

I saw her once
presiding over the
beginning of the day,
the giant turbaned umber
goddess of morning’s sunlit web

—Banana Woman—

mountains of bananas rising behind her,
towers of bananas stacked on tables around her,
foothills of bananas sprawling out
along the market’s spider path.
She would not look up from her ledger so,
needing to make peace with my demons,
I gave my confession to her dogs.

And her dogs replied—

Let us begin with death
and the possibility of death
for this is the humid season
of atrocity and wonder
where the starting point
is fear and desire
twisted together,
inseparable vines,
the assailable heart
and the available flesh
lashed to a skeleton raft,
survivors in the carbon sea
shipwrecked in this stinking
singing swamp, ten thousand
tiny concertinas squeaking in the
buzzing, clicking, humming dark—

where are you . . . here I am . . .
here I am . . . who are you . . .
here I am . . . here I am . . .
where are you . . . who are you . . .
who are you . . . I am here . . .
who will feed my daily flesh . . .
who are you . . .
who are you . . .
I cannot sleep . . .
here I am . . .
peel back my skin and eat . . .


To Ram

when you came
and the sea was night
oh come
be with me always
o Boat—night and day at sea
your touch
at last I speak

laughing at me
because you are kind
my heart can grow
because you love me
I do not need to know tonight

the foghorns hare aroused me
from the dream
I drift on
away from sleep
away from sleep
in you—in me

o Earth
living constellations
and dark
and the blissful
the murmur of your holy name
awakening in my heart at last
o joy

the fulfillment of my deepest

perhaps I can never return
my way is with you
if I cannot reach you tonight
streets and bushes
let me be
I will sing and die
waves on the shore
the end of the sea

if you touch me
o Ram
make me mad
your love is enough
so empty
so night

be still
Cloud of Dancing
you do love me
that is enough

stairs of stone
of wood
of waves
and laughter  skyward
as though I die
telling me

be at home my child
my darling, my earth and look for me
I am here behind every guise
garlanded by Love’s bitter-sweet tears


Pyramid mountains

Pyramid mountains
speechless in the summer snow.
Someone has to talk.


Between Us

if the blood red rose
blooms white some spring
lighting its obscure
part of the night

a small perfumed moon
nestled among thorns
who would protest this wonder?

I tremble before love’s simplicity

oh bitter sweet surrender
oh ever sweetening trust
even death is turned
inside out

let it pass through me 
love’s terrifying light
should I become ash
it will be enough



Having found no suitable priestess
I have become my own—
and transforming myself.


Roadside oil rigs

Roadside oil rigs
metal dinosaurs in the
hot Texas morning.