Monday, December 11, 2017


While he can still recall her face
He draws it on a piece of brown paper
With red chalk and black and a bit of white
Catching the faint shine her skin showed
When she'd been working. From the page
She smiles at him reassuringly.
Even dead, she’ll interrupt her work
Because he asks it of her.

Friday, December 8, 2017


There was to be, my notes tell me, a poem
About the trumpeter Columbus brought with him
To play a fanfare for the Chinese Emperor.
In China, three ghosts and a raven
Were waiting to whirl him and his horn
To a different court entirely. I believe
The God of Calligraphy had agreed
To make an appearance halfway through.
Alas, the trumpeter or I missed our time
And the poem sailed off without him.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017


A reader from Ohio writes
"What sort of zoning laws require
That garrets have bath houses
Built next door to them? Also,
Is one of the ghosts named Trevor?
If so, I think I met him once
Floating down the
Rio Atabapo."
Dear reader, the zoning laws
Are not quite so simple. The area
Is what is called a "mixed used district;"
The uses it allows are garrets,
Gazebos, bath houses, bird baths,
And giant naked statues of Napoleon.
(It happens I am quite well acquainted
With a giant naked statue of Napoleon
But he lives in Apsley House, in
The birds in my poems are dayworkers
Who mostly choose to bathe at home.
Thus, most of the district is simply garrets --
Whole buildings composed only of garrets.
(We're offering very attractive terms
If you're a starving artist looking
For a basement garret.) The main bathhouse;
It moves about, or did until the Princess Sophia
Took it over.  I’m not on the Zoning Board;
Most of its members are cats. I do not intrude
Upon the business of cats.

                                                    None of the ghosts
Is named Trevor or anything remotely like Trevor.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


The stone over her grave lists her virtues
Saying she was loved and loving but
It's carved in reverse so that a mirror
Is needed to read it. Also, her birth
Takes place 28 years after her death.
Such things happen to some folk.

Monday, December 4, 2017


Somewhere -- -a bar? A lecture? -- my muse met
George's daughter, the blind Princess Sophie,
Who spent many of her last dark years
Tearing up books under the impression that torn paper
Comforted the sick. Who knows how many pillows
She sent to puzzled ill people? It was a slow season;
I had no work for her. Still, she seemed a quiet soul
And blind! And princess! So I let her live
In an imaginary garret room. Unfortunately, zoning laws
Required I construct a bath house next door
(If you have bath house ghosts, sooner or later
There must be a bath house for them to haunt)
The garret bored her; she frequented the bath house
Where she mastered Minnesota Whist. I don't see
How a blind woman can win so often, nor what
She means to do with her indentured ghosts.

Friday, December 1, 2017


4:05; November's last day
Sky grey up high shading to white
At the horizon. A single leaf stirs
In a breeze only it feels. Until now
The universe has gone as planned
But this moment, this leaf,
This breeze from a direction
Never previously suspected
Is as far as the planning goes.
Think carefully; listen to spiders;
Practice looking through walls.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017


In tenth grade I read Sinners
In the Hands of an Angry God
There, Jonathan Edwards
Posits that every man is,
For all intents and purposes,
An unusually loathsome spider
Appallingly ugly, unable
To tell a joke without
Laughing at it himself
A spider who never
Pays child support ;
He probably smokes
And spits in spider soup.
This awful bug
Is being held by God
Over a roaring fire
By a very thin thread --
Since even God does not
Wish to touch spiders.
As if this isn't enough
God really, really hates
This particular spider
Who is -- remember? --
You. Your only hope
Is that God decided
Before you were born
That this wasn’t a day
For burning spiders.
Too cloudy, perhaps,
Or too clear, or a cloud
That looks like a dog
Makes Him uneasy.