Timpani drums curl in a J
in the back of the room,
buffeted by the brass
and the woodwinds in rows.

The boys hold their mallets,
ready for their measures,
waiting, wishing their parts
were bigger, but eager
to make each note count,
to end with a flourish,
to drown out the rest.

Published in: on October 1, 2010 at 7:40 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Outside by the windowpane,
branches claw and scrape the glass.
Windswept blooms collapse and fall
to grass gone brown.

Sparrows perch upon a limb
and chirp, their songs
pitched higher than yesterday.

Green leaves husk with yellow tips.
Sunset’s coming early,
and you stand here with me
in a wheatgrass field.

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 7:38 pm  Leave a Comment  
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So this is farewell –
Soon I’ll be waving my hand
from somewhere else
(I suppose we all will);
Soon the lights will be turned low
and our shadows will fade
like mist;
Soon the curtain will fall
and the stage will be left bare;
Soon we’ll count the last second
on the clock
and we’ll say our last goodbyes.
But just when you come close
to forgetting a moment,
a friendship, a celebration,
think of me and I’ll think of you.
I’ll be the one waving my hand
from somewhere else.


Published in: on September 26, 2010 at 4:33 pm  Comments (2)  
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Clear Night for Ursa Minor

Golden honeysuckle sits
at the creekbed’s edge.
You stand, arms crossed, under
the blue-black cover of sky.

You wait, watch. You map
out the night, tracing a line
in the red clay with bare toes.

Zebra finches in the brush
chatter and flap wings,
leaving you and the moon.

Published in: on September 23, 2010 at 11:25 pm  Comments (4)  
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Image and Likeness

Maybe Pope Leo the Great,
after meeting Attila the Hun,
wiped his brow and wished he could
just hang it up. That was years ago –
now such meetings are rare for me.

On the whole I am a power for good.
My roaring and clawing, a front
to match my unruly mane. I promulgate
with chalk on blackboards and notes
on Post-its – ‘Reflective tone’ and ‘I hope
there’s more of this’. People whisper
as I walk by – no one connects the dots.

I am a monarch among men.
No Aslan, no Christ-figure,
allegorical. No. At best
an apostle, a cowardly lion
who runs from the soldiers and speaks
Doubter’s words – ‘Is it you?
Can it really be you?’

I think and act bigger than others
would normally dare. The domain
I claim? The hottest weeks of summer.
I gild my days with sun’s gold, I secure
a ruby in my homemade foil crown.

I may have these things going for me –
egotism, greed for flattery,
boastfulness and bombast,
pomposity, snobbish superiority,
intolerant disdain of underlings.

No king am I, and no kingdom
is mine. Maybe if Tolstoy were my
sign in the sky I could roar
just for laughs, leave war behind, find
a peaceful palace of straw and wood.

Published in: on September 22, 2010 at 3:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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A Dream Referred

Nighttime in the city, down an alley,

you might go looking for it – yes, your dream.

But there’s no way to find it, to redeem

some moment from your past, or to rally.

Not there – no – and maybe not in the light

where every splash and every shadow

overwhelm and underscore what you know.

The sun conspires with the moon to make night

a place of tangled webs and mystery,

a crown of half-spent glory, fading fast,

a stream of possibilities gone dry.

You start to rewrite your own history

with full knowledge: now, a bright trumpet blast,

now a falling away you can’t deny.

Published in: on September 20, 2010 at 3:55 pm  Comments (2)  
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What You Think You Know

You think you know and wonder if it’s true.

The clocks tick-tock and sunshine fades to black

and one day – soon – there’s something less of you.

You count the days and hope for skies of blue

on bright spring afternoons, but white clouds crack

what you think you know – you wonder if it’s true.

You travel free and clear, reach for what’s new

in the distance.  Should you try?  You’ll go back

and one day – soon – there’s something less of you.

Then grab hold – who can tell what you will do

until the time comes?  Mind and muscles, slack.

You think you know and wonder if it’s true.

Do you claim to know it all?  Not a clue

will make a difference if you go off-track,

and one day – soon – there’s something less of you.

When calendars flip shut, evening is through

and finally there’s nothing left to pack,

you’ll think you know and wonder if it’s true

and one day – soon – there’s something less of you.

Published in: on September 16, 2010 at 3:52 pm  Comments (4)  
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Your gravestone juts out of the ground
like a hand hailing a cab
or waving from a distance
to a friend from far away.
It’s been years since I’ve been here –
not many family visits
or flowers laid down on anniversaries. 

I recall the tearful day:
a funeral, a burial,
a gathering in the hall,
stories told and silent moments shared.
That stone retains two dates,
a commemoration, a name,
but visiting here feels more
like walking throught a dream,
disembodied, timeless.
You are not here.
You do not reside beneath
this too-bright grass,
you will not show up,
surprising us like ghosts do
in those late-night made-for-cable movies.
Where you are has nothing to do
with this place, this time.
So if I drive by without a glance,
you’ll know why and you’ll know how
I remember.

Published in: on September 13, 2010 at 2:50 pm  Comments (2)  
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