Watcher at the Grave

She crouches, hunkered and alone.

The gray stones like mossy watchmen

’round the mourner at the grave.

Her golden hair glints in July’s evening sun,

while birds flit and twitter sweet songs,

and a yellow butterfly flutters around pink phlox.

The heat shimmers, but does not dry

her streak’ed face.

Grief is not a simple cut or a clean, tidy break;

it bleeds from ragged holes in broken hearts,

and leaves its trace in silent, lonely tears.

This one, this girl beside her mother’s grave,

once brazen, bold and little caring

for what her words and deeds might wreak;

now, too late, she knows the loss,

now she weeps and now she mourns

and calls her mother’s name,

covers her face with her arms against the truth

that what once she had, will never be again.

The hands that stroked, caressed, beseeched,

are still, six feet below;

and though she rails and screams and beats

her fists against the earth,

the only answer she will hear

is the echo of her misery.






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Tropical Treachery

Twisting, warm southern river

flows slow, liquid silk

slithering, hiding secrets;


In its dark waters

teeth, claws, poison fangs

lurk, invisible evil;


Unwary legs, and white, white feet

bathe, sacrificial

as innocent, naked lambs.



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If You Have Trees


“You don’t want trees,” the appraiser said,

“You need to cut them down

To increase the value of your home.

Because if you have trees

You will will have leaves

That will fall and clog your gutters, litter your lawn

And blanket your garden.

You will need to climb ladders,

To rake and bag and and haul off

Leaves by the thousands.

You will worry when the wind is strong

And the trees bend and sometimes break

And their twigs and branches will fall

And need to be picked up

So you can mow your perfect green lawn.

You will have birds dropping their waste,

Streaking your windshields and decks.

You will have pollen in the spring

That coats your car and deck with fuzzy green

And makes you sneeze

And sneeze

and sneeze.”


He is right, of course.

If you have trees you will have leaves,

Soft green in spring deepening and ripening

To emerald in summer, gold and ruby in fall.

You will have blossoms that perfume the air

and bear forth good fruit.


You will have shade for summer picnics,

Kindling for your fire,

Mulch for your gardens.

You will watch your trees sway and dance in the wind,

As graceful as any dancer, as sturdy as any man-built thing.

You will have pen-and-ink lines

Drawn stark and graceful

Against cold winter skies,

Sometimes outlined in snowy white

Or icy, icy crystal.

Christmas Day 08 005

You will have birds,

Cardinals and robins and chickadees,

Bluejays and wrens and sparrows

And you will watch the birds court, build their nests,

And raise their young to fly, fly, fly

If you have trees.

Allegheny Echoes 2014 197

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Storm Warning

Bright sun on white sheets;

on the horizon thunder.

Black clouds pile with threat.

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Take as Needed

The neighbors put up hay today

and in the field a Massey Ferguson rested

on sheets of felled grass and all

washed in the gold of mid-June evening sun

while I, passing and with no camera,

hesitated only a moment

to register the sight

then hurried on, leaving

the ripe hay, the aged tractor

and gilded light

to be remembered

when a place of peace

is needed.

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A tray with a rose, a glass,
a wicker chair under a maple tree,
and me in my nightgown because
I have nowhere I need to be and nothing
I need to do. In the basket at my feet green
glass sweats with chill beneath crisp linen.
My feet, bare and nestled in soft grass,
are damp with the leftover morning dew.
Even though
it is only noon I pull the cork,
pour gold into crystal,
slide down in the cushions
and sip
and sip
and sigh.


With thanks to for the prompt!

wicker chair

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Blue Watering Can

In her front yard, a peach tree heavy with fruit,

around its base a tractor tire filled with ditch dirt

where she plants tomatoes in cages

and waters them with a blue watering can;

cigarette smoke hovers around her head hung with silver strands

that drift in wisps to her waist. Winstons and matches

are always in the pocket of her cotton apron

when she is in the garden because she cannot smoke inside.

When the watering is done and she sits

in a wood rocker on the porch of the built-on trailer

that once was their camp but is now their home,

winter or summer, spring or fall,

and finishes her smoke with long, slow drags, making it last,

making it last.

Over the hill from the peach tree the coonhounds shift sadly on their chains

and one jumps to the roof of his dog house

as if to better see the road, the trailer, and the man inside

who wheezes with the steady beat of the oxygen tank

and watches hunting shows on TV, as if maybe one night

he will unchain the dogs, grab his gun, and walk the midnight hills again.

She waits in her rocker, puffing blue billows, and looking at the tree,

the tomatoes, the road, at nothing and everything,

one day after another, like all the others; she sees the peaches swell,

the tomatoes redden and ripen, and listens

to the steady hiss of oxygen, the exhale of life,

the coming of winter.



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