Fourth of July, 2014

003Dew-wet grass glitters ; the heat, too much for early summer,

has been vanquished this July morn. Orange daylilies nod in relief,

their bloom almost spent but still

a few curl their petals sunward for their one day of glory.

On the porch, a mop’s wood handle rests against the weathered gray rail.

Its head, a white t-shirt torn and stuffed through the metal springloaded clamp,

is stiff and dry, a reminder of yesterday’s labor.

Water splashes in a gray metal pail, goldfinches dart from feeder to feeder

and a lone cardinal calls from its oaken perch.

(Is it true what they say, I wonder,

That a cardinal is actually a visit from a loved one who has passed on?)

Cucumber vines clamber up a stretch of barn red snowfence;

dill, basil and garlic tinge the air with invitations to taste, to cook.

A cat sits patiently on a stump, waiting for a wary chipmunk to reappear,

while a kitten dodges beneath the green

that is everywhere overhanging walks and garden fences.

A shovel bites black earth; my husband, in his favorite blue overalls, gently tamps earth

around the roots of a young Japanese snowbell; he pulls a red bandana

from his pocket and wipes the dew of sweat from his brow.

There is no breeze, no ruffling of leaves against the brilliant blue sky; the flag hangs limp,

its stripes and stars blurred together.

Miles away, I hear, there is a hurricane bashing the islands of the Outer Banks,

flooding the roads and tearing at the trees and houses. It seems like a story,

impossible to believe its truth when peace reigns within my view.

I watch the kitten named Soldier, our boarder while our granddaughter

goes away to prepare for war, to become a soldier herself.

Peace is, after all, a transient thing;

even on this quiet morning in the country

the drumming of the woodpecker resounds

like shots from distant guns.


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To the Mountains

Allegheny Echoes 2014 197I have been to the mountains, to the trees and rocks and rivers,

there to calm my spirit and rest my mind.

I walked a path first trod by buffalo, later by men

With arrows and sharp eyes,

then by others, pale of skin and hungry for land and freedom,

And some for power and wealth. These last found what they sought,

wrestled the coal from the earth, the trees from the air,

laying steel and building engines that belched black dust on green and clear.

The path is quiet now, traveled by others like me who seek the peace

of the forest, of water, of the music of birds and wind, leaves and stars.

The mountains forgave the rapists who ravaged them;

new growth covers old wounds.

I sought comfort and nourishment from these old mothers,

grieved the visible scars and yet

returned home grateful for what these mountains still offer to pilgrims like me

who cannot name the longing that pulls them to the hills.

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June Garden

Sweat tri087ckles, drops in salty beads from nose and chin.

Ahead the straight green rows stretch, beckoning my hoe to do its worst,

Or perhaps its best. The perspective depends—weed? Or corn, bean, tomato?

Hot noon spills across the June landscape.  

A dragonfly swoops by, iridescent lightness in heavy air. A woodpecker drums,

Then calls irritably as if he is tired of being too hot, too sweaty, too heat-exhausted.

Dust puffs from the chicken yard where a hen is taking her daily bath;

The rooster struts but is subdued by the sun’s fierce glare.



Cut weeds wilt almost instantly; the savage hoe strikes and strikes again.

A sudden breeze flutters my hair, ruffles my cotton shirt and dries sweat

Into white ribbons running down my arms, tracking a path through dust and dirt.

I lift my head and inhale the unexpected sweetness of honeysuckle.


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In Search of Us

I keep looking for the you that was,

The you I knew when you were young

And strong and the world

Was only there for you to conquer.


I keep trying to find the me that loved

The you I used to know

When I was young

And the world was mine to explore.


I keep trying to find the us that was

When we were in love

(Or maybe it was lust),

When we were young and strong and sure

That all the world was ours for the taking.

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Star Wars

Neither Medusa,

nor Cassopeia , or 

stony Phineus

could defeat Perseus’ love

for starry Andromeda

Trying a Tanka today–and idea sparked by The One-Minute Writer blog.

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Will There Still Be Whippoorwills?

I want to write about the nights, and the whippoorwill’s cry and the owl’s hoot,

I want to show in words vivid and violet-red as the setting sun

what a country night can be

and how the stars whirl overhead like a giant sparkler in the black before the moon.

I want to tell about the early days of spring

and how the mayapples unfurl their umbrellas and how the bloodroot bleeds

And that we know it soon will rain

because the mourning doves are calling and the air is heavy with waiting.

I want to texture my world with words that make it all real, to make others feel it as I do,

To sing with a voice operatic the old-time melody in harmony

with wind and birds and insects and the crackle of a deadwood fire.

But will anyone even listen what an old woman has to say?

Will anyone hear

Or see as I paint with feeble words the world I know,

this quiet place filled with the noise of life that is not human?

Will they care that the whippoorwill calls his love in the gloaming of the day?

Will they still know what a whippoorwill is,

or how his eyes glow red in the dark, and his whiskers drag in the dust?

Will there even be whippoorwills when I am gone

and all that is left of me is dust, and these lines,

Written in the fading light of another country day?

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Time in Passing

My friend the poet Sherrell Wigal posted a lune today. I had never heard of the form, so I am borrowing inspiration from her for today’s poem. In this form the lune should have 3 words, 5 words, 3 words. I used hyphens to make one word out of two. Cheater!

Was it yesterday

I kissed your baby-fat cheek

now grizzled, stubble-covered?


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