The daffodils hold,
their green ranks standing silent.
The peach tree, chafing
with impatience, holds forth in
full spring, laughing pink blossoms.
My little cat cries
to go outside. She’s right: the
must also eat
but seeing bloody feathers
drifting down to earth rips up
roads, the world unwinds,
my sighs release the chains that bind
Shadow of wings fly
the sun path from the window.
Outside, crows caw, gulls
pipe, finches chitter while all
gather at my bird feeder.
Pink blossoms embrace
the earth; emptied branches bud
with future peaches.
night, two amber
eyes caper down the street
flash and now
I see the woman all
in black holding tightly to
Along the street the
trees stand naked and shy. The
trimmers have been here.
The hawk rides thermals
above the wetlands—glad he's
left my bird feeder.
The daffodils have
finally woken, dancing
along the garden
wall, dreaming faces turned to
the sun after long, dark sleep.
Four white egrets dive
in rainy air just above
the startled cars, a
chase and loop close to doom. Do
they dance—or are they fighting?
He's a rodent, yes,
and eats my peaches up. But
the squirrel is still cute.
3, 4, tanka:
The crow maintains a
wary eye. After years of
feeding him he still
keeps distant, unbelieving
in the kindness of mankind.
1, 5, tanka:
The ocean never
rests, moment by moment it
changes and renews,
unknowable in its vast
The squirrel maintains a
bold eye. Seeing a girl with
peanuts, he's all in.
The windows are too
high to see the rain but I
hear its staccato
splatter notes and the subtle
music of splash on wind chimes.
Phase 2, week one:
Who can know the soul of rivers?
I don’t. They turned our rivers to concrete
long before I was born, choking them
and channeling them on their journey
homeward to the sea, floodtide or flow.
We think they are tame, yet they fool us,
routinely eating children and the unwary.
Oceans I have seen and lived beside,
and no one would mistake them for tame.
Yet who can know the soul of such a vast,
primordial giant, changing with every glance,
moving moment by moment, hour by hour,
the protean mother surrounding the world?
Who can know the soul of rivers?
Wild or contained, channeled or flooding,
they flow through us but are hidden,
on their way home to the mother of us all.
Phase two, week two:
Sometimes my anger is an ice scalpel
cutting with pleasure, glorying
in slicing, hungering for deeper cuts.
Sometimes my anger is a bludgeon,
turned outward to smash and bully,
to get my way, to assuage my ego.
This anger never holds sway:
guilt beats me back as hard as I hit.
Sometimes my anger is a snake
devouring its own tail. But this
Ouroboros, instead of infinite wholeness,
destroys, particularizes, breaks apart.
It consumes me, digesting my own bloated
corpse, dissolving me to nothingness.
Sometimes my anger is a vision,
sweeping away denials and delusions,
forcing me to see things as they
truly stand: in dreamless clarity.
Sometimes my anger is a fire god,
burning me clean and truly righteous,
pulling me up from the pyre to stand
and speak, to do those needful things.
To change myself, and thus the world.
Phase 2, week three:
“It’s all lagers and cigars here”
says the ancient postcard,
remembering a time when,
a long-gone long ago.
Lately, the Crone has slipped
me cryptic messages, all lagers
and cigars, remembering when,
whens that never were except in dreams.
I accept them all, those never-whens,
as absolute fact, an internal terrain
as real as terra firma.
Those dreams once meant something
more than fantasy, something realer
than real, a world burgeoning
in silence and sighs, forming on paper
and on screens, going forth into that
other world, the one most folks
mistake for real.
“When shall we two meet again,” she asks,
“over lagers and cigars?”
I have no answer except “soon”
She laughs at that.
She recognizes the sound of dreams
disappearing into the mist,
like gorillas on the brink of
Phase 2, week four:
Sometimes the wild creatures in your heart
get too scared, remain restless, hide away.
My mother the horse-whisperer would have
spoken gently, stroking calmness back into
those creatures, and walked them through
Sometimes you don’t have to put the bucket
far down the well before it fills.
Other times you hit the rocky bottom.
My grandfather, the water witch, would have
gotten out the willow rod and paced the land
to find a new well.
Sometimes you need to heal but it takes so long
and the medicine you need is so hard to find.
My great-grandmother the herb witch
would have walked the hills until she found
what she needed.
Sometimes you just have to pick yourself up
and do what needs doing.
Only you can find what you need,
only you can recognize the magic
when you see it.
Generations behind point me to the path.
But only I will recognize the magic when I see it.
And I must walk the walk.
Phase 2, week 5:
Poetry is not personal.
And so, the spring!
Green grass, fog, blossoms,
the daffodils headless
after the gardener passed through.
Birdsong, God yes, birdsong,
morning, noon, twilight,
even a damned nightingale
passing through on its way
from point A to points farther north.
The crack of the bat,
the smell of the crowd,
young bodies turning to fancy,
fancy bodies turning to fever.
Bleating lambs with gay
red X’s spray painted on their coats,
and orange tags stapled to their ears,
frolicking and jumping while
they still have a chance
to be something more than chops.
And so, the spring!
*For a definition of what constitutes haiku, tanka, and cinquains, and for an explanation of this poetry project, go here.