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

January 22, 2017 § 4 Comments

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.

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 § 1 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.

Biography of a Nobody

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment


A woman—breast bulging with milk
gave birth and nobody was born.

There where building blocks and
a rocking horse and nobody played.

When a girl with crooked hair
moved in next door nobody

cherished her glance, nobody
spoke softly her name.  But

somebody was born and nursed
beneath a mother’s melting eyes.

Somebody did with those blocks
build a castle and rode a rocking

horse through its gate, and remember
the girl with crooked hair? who grew

into a woman with crooked hair,
well that same somebody filled

her mouth with kisses that
breast bulging she gave birth

to nobody, who yet is somebody,
and might even be you.

It’s Time

September 9, 2011 § Leave a comment


In the Age of Falling
banana peels are everywhere,
no one knows to tie their laces
and leaders say—“Come
the floor is waxed and wet
let’s run!”

Insurance replaces the house
as life’s biggest expenditure,
and we love our hip-
replacements, our titanium
pins, our plastic kneecaps.

Yet as unbelievable as a radio
would sound to a caveman
or a cell phone to Paul Revere
I must tell you, an Age is coming
when falling will not be possible,
that is to say—Falling   Will
Not   Be   Possible!
And “Falling” has been enough.

It’s time
for the Age of

Clark Kent Can’t Wait

September 8, 2011 § Leave a comment

Clark Kent can’t wait for a bank to be robbed
or a jewelry store—even a kitten to be caught
in a tree, for then he gets to be “Superman.”

Otherwise he’s stuck like you and me at the dumb
desk of work writing and rewriting a story he can’t
stand, Lois Lane near by—angelic, snug-skirted,

intrigued by nothing but Superman.  And when
word comes that the Skyler building is ablaze—
people trapped on the top floor, everyone says-

”Oh no!” but Clark says—”Oh yes!”
In instant he’s there flying them from the flame,
and as he lands the last one to safety Lois is there

too with Jimmy Olsen snapping the photo,
and their eyes meet—the eyes of a woman
overwhelmed, the eyes of strength subdued.

Returning to the Daily Planet, Clark at his desk,
Lois says—”You were not there, you did not see?”
and Clark says—”Did I miss something?”

Feeling for this man who seemed so “unsuper”
Lois lays her hand on his shoulder
and for a change it’s Clark’s turn to fly.

Grandma’s Pancakes 

September 8, 2011 § 1 Comment


Even in old age when Death comes to the door
who would let him in?  Inundated as we are
with living we think there’s still laundry to do,
a book to finish, a DVD to return.

So it was with Grandma withering on the bed,
and why not—she still with the strength to sit up.

Then, tired of ringing the doorbell Death raised
his fist to the door, and Grandma spoke of the
Funeral Parlor she remembered from streets
she roller-skated as a child, a place that unless
the son and grandson of the undertaker took up
the business was long gone.

“Yes, Grandma, yes,” I said, then seeking her smile
I spoke of her pancakes, how her trick was to
prepare the batter the night before, mixing
the white of the egg with the flour first, then
the yolk, and placing it overnight in the fridge.

As I spoke the ninety-three birthday candles
of her life glowed in her eyes and happily
she said—“When I get to heaven the first
thing I’ll do is make everyone pancakes!”

So it was one perfect morning that my Grandmother
having prepared the batter the night before
made all the free and joyous souls pancakes,
a heavenly feast that I already have been
so privileged as to enjoy.

Published in This Enduring Gift – A Flowering of Fairfield Poetry, 2010

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