Showing posts from July, 2017

Starry Night

Stars descend from deep night. The Milky Way Rides and curls and crests, Crashing in a burst of bioluminescence That shivers the sand. Wind eradicates all evidence of daylight life That would distract our attention From all that curling, cresting, and crashing. From the edge of the earth Atlas flexes his will, lowering his arms And putting the stars well within our reach. Only look up.


Greens the osprey Added to their nest Have managed to grow. Our ospreys have gone upscale, Adding landscaping to their roost. From his Adirondack chair On his deck, my father Notices the female in the nest Raising her wings above her chicks And the male perched firmly outside the nest And very likely noticing dad right back. Mom is inside with the grandsons Playing poker. Off goes the male to hunt And back he comes to feed his brood.   All day. “She’s the boss,” dad says, Nodding to the nest.   “She’s the boss,” the osprey calls right back.

Earth, Day 1

Fragments of everything Are cast upon this beach Three calm days After two summer storms Electrified and wrenched From the guts of the sea Stones, shells, fossils, stones, Small and ancient living things. It’s all there. We who took cover From the threat of storms And stood Behind glass Did not fathom The depth and degree of violence That turned the Atlantic inside out. Now: Here is the detritus Of Earth, Day 1, And every other day of our beginnings.   What do we make of all of this-- What we see and can name, What we see and cannot name? We peer into the creased, coarse sheets Of our story strewn across this beach, And even kneel down, The better to see it all. Perhaps we will find a shark’s tooth. Or something.

Topsail Sunset

There's no place like home.

Sunlight on the Shore

Walking the beach just before sunrise this morning, I noticed that we have moved away from the sun a bit.  As a result, the sun seems not to rise as high or as swiftly as it had earlier in the month. Now, the stones and shells on the beach cast shadows that are long.  The effect is significant; the shells seem to be calling attention to themselves.   Some shells made their way home with me, and I washed them up and put them in the intense mid-morning sun to dry.  Looking at them out of context, I found myself riding the waves of their colors, textures, shapes, and the magical mystery of how life was once lived in these shells.  The sun was my light source.  What a brainless bivalve can do.  Amazing.  Humbling, too.

American Haiku

Politics and pop songs and drama All about the narrative Who’s in it and where does it take this nation? Everything matters. I want to be Hercules Mulligan And when I am down Get the fuck back up again And that is the narrative, the story, the truth. Do not sweat the details-- Yours won’t be mine and, honestly, I don’t give a rat’s ass about yours Because none of them matter without us And we don’t matter Except that our stars have collided right now And here we are And there is a story that matters. This is a matter of national significance: Always, we are building a nation. Always, this is the conversation. We are where we were three thousand years ago: It’s about hospitality and honor: Be kind and give everything you have To everything you do.   That’s Achilles. That’s Hercules Mulligan. That’s Barack Obama. That is Billy Collins in Italy . Ultimately, Billy matters. Because he does haiku American style: Aha.  

Box Turtle Catwalk

 This little dude came out of nowhere the other day and took his time about getting wherever he was going.  He gave me time to get my camera and get close.  This blurry image captured a little dude who is actually showing off his best side with a smile. Patton out for a walk.  And then he was gone.

Turtles Lives, Our Lives

Today started out looking like this:  perfect.  The day stayed that way, as days do. The rising sun and a pair of very enthusiastic holiday makers discovered a turtle nest and were happy to share the news about it. These women had been on the beach the previous evening, and they had the good fortune of seeing the mama turtle who had come ashore to lay her eggs.  It seemed to me the nest site had the shape of a turtle.  Sadly, the ghost crabs found their way to breakfast pretty quickly.  Here are mama's tracks from the ocean and back again.They take the shape of the nucleic acid double helix.  Here beings life; here beings all life; here we are.  I have some choice words for the free-loading crabs, but then, they remind us that life is worth fighting for. A perfect morning.

Hamilton, Finally

For the trip south this summer, I had Shakespeare’s Troilus and Cressida .  Adella had Hamilton . Hamilton won.  With all due respect to the Bard, thank goodness for Spotify for bringing to us a narrative about the founding of American independence woven and set to music by the son of immigrants. Hamilton the musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda creates complex characters and then sets them on the road to individual and personal as well as social and universal freedom.  Whereas in so many musicals characters represent ideas, Hamilton’s characters represent individuals in all their unwashed, conflicted, complicated glory.  Somehow, both because of, and despite, who they are, these characters fight for the greater good at the same time they pursue their own happiness.  In the end, the achievement of the greater good is the precise measure of our own happiness. Here is an award-winning musical written by a second-generation American that celebrates the humanity of our Founders (Re

Five White Heron

The glint of the morning sun on their wings Caught me, and I looked up: Five white heron flying in formation Well above the nest of the osprey And their very territorial mother. Five white heron pulling together The threads of morning and of life And vanishing into sunlight. This was not a miracle or A sign from Jesus Or some axiomatic truth. This was just a true thing About herons: They live the big picture. They say nothing. They are there Even when you don't notice them. They will step into slime And eat frogs. They will fly into light To blind you so that you Will have no idea where they are going. This is not a parlor trick (sacred or secular). This is life. It is a one-shot deal That does not require your narrative, So keep it to yourself. Look up. Look around. Move on.

The Declaration of Independence: Mistaken for Spam

The Declaration of Independence or spam?  Some people can't tell the difference.  Sadly, they vote.  Read more here .

Bread and Water

Flying Home Where I had cleared the heavy, leafy debris Left by a winter of cold winds Following an autumn of neglect, And a summer of mild indifference, The dried strands of last year’s ornamental grass Float among the golden pine needles Fragrancing the spring day With a memory: The summer aroma of solitary sunshine in the treetops. Into this stasis flies a robin To tug on the dried grass until it yields. He flies away with it and a few pine needles And life continues.

Lily, Mum

 The water lily pushes through the muck and blossoms pristine.  The chrysanthemum arrives from the greenhouse, is tended by a paid staff, and blossoms pristine.  Both are beautiful, but the lily is magical.  The lily insists on itself even as the nasty algae that blooms, thanks to the sloppy work of the gardener who planted the mum, corrupts the water. Here is the difference between making a life and being handed a life. Here is a metaphor for the previous administration and the current one.  I take hope when I follow this metaphor to its logical conclusion; the lily will survive.

Where Is the Fight?

I heard them As they came up from behind Like Death Eaters, A loud menace rippling the road With the sheer force of their sound As they swooped down and around Two fighter jets The synchronous movements of which Stopped traffic on 84 outside Stewart AFB Ordinary people stopped from their ordinary business Lined up like road kill dragged out of the way And waiting to be carted off Hoods propped and drivers' bodies Draped across roofs and trunks The better to steady the iPhones and catch For the disbelieving The menace on its next round And this time, there were three Loops and circles corkscrewing the air Now rippling my heartbeat With dread that would have me pull over Except that I would not count myself among the dead And then there were five The contrails of which drew a musical staff Onto the faded blue of a cloudless summer day As they curved round and came back to Me on the torn up highway My breath stopped and my mouth d

The Start of the Day

Soft summer rain is A hypnotist: I am getting sleepy, sleepy I hear nothing but the rain And I am sleepy at six a.m. And at the chirp of the next bird I will arise and go now Into the soft morning To the lake isle of Innisfree And I will live alone there In a clay hut Without electric light And from the doorway I will sit In a wooden kitchen chair That is neither soft nor comfortable But is the only chair At a table for one And I will watch the soft rain And smell the damp earth And I will hold the gaze of a peering deer Also waiting it out Though neither of us minds the wet And I will stay there Until the last bird sings, When I will wake up  And return to this bed, Soft and warm and not unfriendly to dreams.