Tuesday, December 31, 2013


The meetinghouse was no place for art.
Plain walls and clear glass
were better to focus the mind
on the spirit born in simplicity,
brought forth from the Inner Light,
and spoken in the still, small voice
that need not announce itself
with ornamentation.
So, too, with daily life.
When he became a man
he was told:  pursue a trade,
go into business, take up farming.
Do good, practical work.

The Meeting taught him
that God’s beauty was in all things.
He saw it everywhere—
in blades of grass bent before the wind,
in the colors of the sky throughout the day,
in ripples on the surface of a pond.
All the world was art to him.

So he became a glass cutter,
beveling simplicity's stark edge,
etching grace as lines and patterns
into vases, bowls, and glasses,
each refracting spirit and light.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


One year after tragedy—
one year of rhetoric and posturing
by pundits, politicians, and ideologues,
all proclaiming to speak for us...

One year after tragedy,
our attention foisted again
upon the grieving families,
wondering how they are coping,
repeating our heartfelt sorrows—
our words reeking with empathy...

One year after tragedy,
Newtown’s girls took the floor,
paused and set themselves.
Then, with symmetry and precision,
clapped and called in unison,
cartwheeled and jumped,
did handsprings and flips,
lifted themselves on high,

and showed us how to cheer.


Thoughts and words pile in my mind,
as heavy and mute as fallen stones that form gaps
in the walls that line Newtown’s roads
and the yards where children played.

I cannot speak for those who lost,
but I can grieve.
I can grieve for those who live
and must rebuild.

In time we will restack the stones,
but they will not fit as they did before.
The imperfections will remind us
of the symmetry that has been lost.

Sunday, December 8, 2013


You are standing, straight and tall,
your plain cotton dress
accentuating your slender figure.

Your younger sister stands beside you
on the sidewalk along F Street, Northwest
in Washington, DC.  The two of you

had gone into the city on your own,
without your parents—two teenage girls
in town on a beautiful spring day.

You are looking straight at the photographer.
Your wide smile and your eyes remind me
of how open and trusting you were,

qualities that too many of us perhaps lose
too soon, or that diminish in our cynicism—
qualities that, I admit that as I grew up,

made me think of you as dependent on others—
your husband, your brothers, your younger sister,
who, in the photo, stands at your side,

her body positioned at a slight angle,
between you and the photographer,
no smile, eyes narrowed, one leg in front

of the other as if ready to move. 
But, it is you that keeps drawing my eye,
and not just because I am thinking of you

now that you are gone (though I am). 
It is because in this scene you embody
the way we should present ourselves to the world.  

From US 1, Howard County, MD to Cambridge, MA-- all in Commonthought

The 2013 issue of Commonthought Magazine is out and I've got a few poems in it.  Each has a geographical focus, as is befitting poetry from a geographer.  The poems will take you from an ode to US 1, Howard County, Maryland to an encounter on Main Street in Cambridge, MA.

Commonthought is the literary magazine edited and produced by students at Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.  Many thanks to them for selecting my poems.

You can find Commonthought Magazine here

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Three for Three [Line Poetry]

I've returned to the pages of Three Line Poetry.  I've got one poem in Issue 20 and two in Issue 21.  I tend to like the three line format-- it forces brevity and economy.  My poems in issues 20 and 21 are all haikus.  You can find issue 20 here:  http://threelinepoetry.com/issue.php?id=20&issue=20

Issue 21 is here:  http://threelinepoetry.com/issue.php?id=21&issue=21


Thursday, November 28, 2013


Cold night...
Main Street, Cambridge…
As I walk to my hotel after dinner,
a guy about my age, thin jacket, walking toward me—
more than a shuffle, but not much—
whiskeyed eyes, half a cigarette in hand.
Our gazes meet—mutual nods of hello.
Perhaps he sensed that I thought he would speak to me,
so he says “I’m not going to ask you for money,
but, I do want to talk.”

He said he was homeless, and that he’d been hurt.
“I’m on my way to my parents’ house south of Boston—
 it’s okay, I got money for the T—
just need someone to talk to first.
They’re gonna give me a hard time cuz of how I live,
and I’m just gonna have to take it,
cuz I need a place to stay while I get better.
I don’t want to argue and make them mad.
And, then, my mom’s gonna fix
all the foods I ate when I was growin’ up,
but, you know, I can’t eat them cooked that way anymore…
peppers bother me now,
and anything fried,
and when I say something, it’ll only upset her.”
I said “I know what you mean,”
and we talked about getting older,
and the intestinal troubles that hit you after forty,
and how our mothers just want to take care of us,
like when we were boys.
And we go along with it, but only for so long,
and then we feel like the worst goddamned sons in the world.

We shook our heads, saying what can you do?
then shook hands and told each other
we’re lucky to have mothers
who still want to cook for us.