Raining Manure (this poem won 2nd Place in 2016 Iowa Poetry Association Contest)

January 22, 2017 § 1 Comment

With cows in the barn all night
things pile up—that each day I shovel
wheelbarrows full, walk them out

and up the narrow plank to dump
what the hay has become
into the spreader.

The Farmall—good as an old tractor
can be, its rear wheels so tall as to
leave tread marks on the clouds—

pulls the spreader through the fields
tossing the good stuff skyward, while I
stay mindful of how the wind blows…

that it not rain down on me.
Thus the grass having taken a ride
through the cow comes home, as we

all sometimes do—amazed at where
we’ve been and more than mildly



September 11, 2016 § Leave a comment

On 11/9 the Twin Towers stood up,

planes flew back into the sky,

and firemen throughout the city

ate pizza and played ping pong

on a day without fire, without


After 11/9 everything changed

troops deployed around the world

came home and the makers of

weapons made flowerpots instead,

leaving enough in the treasury

to buy everyone flowers.

If you cant see this, if you are yet

in the rubble of one days collapse,

then you need stand with that

which does not fall, to sit where

the earth is one with the sky,

and you too will be the maker

of flowerpotsand make them big

enough for the blossoming of all.

After the Iowa Caucus

February 8, 2016 § Leave a comment

Finally the circus left town—
with its trapeze acts, its knife
throwers and clowns,

and the quiet of cornfields
returned to the Town Square,
and to coffee houses

between thoughtfully
planted rows of conversation
in which we can again agree

on such matters as topsoil,
and rain.

Magic Light (Winner of the 2012 Norman Thomas Memorial Award-Iowa Poetry Association)

August 28, 2012 § 3 Comments

Ansel Adams sits up

reaches for his camera—

his arm bony as a tripod leg

for it is “Magic Light”

the golden light of sunrise

and sunset.


But then he lays back down

and focusing instead

through the lens of his soul

in the black box of his skull

he sees… all the light


that ever filled Yosemite

or blazed the crosses at Hernandez

and with his brittle jaw

with its few teeth remaining

there in the dark room of a coffin

he smiles.

Mud Poem

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment


Muddy-shoed mud poem
walks across the page
going as poems go
from line to line
and down,

and the more it rains
the more the ground agrees
to take up with whoever
comes along
and replant itself

on floor, carpet,
sofa, bed, in teacup,
on toast, until we are all
muddied, even rain
before it lands, even cloud—
dark with who knows what.

But fear not mud, but make
with it what you can
in sculpture, on canvas—
finger painted on a face
you kiss,
and in a poem.

Autumn Poem

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment


To write an autumn poem
crumple a piece of paper
and throw it on the floor,
then crumple another
and throw
till the floor is covered.

Let what has lived die,
except that deeply rooted
and the new inch
each branch extended.

Yes there are yellows and reds,
pumpkin fields and hayrides,
but an autumn poem
is a crumple of paper
that thanks to the wind
might yet make it
to the sky.

Canned Poems

September 9, 2011 § 1 Comment


It began with the war,
our soldiers overseas,
that so much of what
grew ripe or fat on farms

was entrusted to cans
and rationed to those
who survived
yet another day.

But food is never enough,
that poems too
were salted and sealed
and more often than once
when such a can was opened

a rifle was laid down,
a uniform removed,
and a man in his underwear
walked the land between two armies

every rifle pointed at him,
every mind thinking
is he mad
or drunk
or does he hear a voice
from heaven saying—
this way to peace.