Thursday, September 12, 2019

Someday Soon

I should try
Church of Our Saviour
a mile down the road
rambunctiously progressive
or so I hear
even by Episcopalian standards

I should ask Christie
if she's ever read
"All Tropic Places Smell of Mold"
by Karl Shapiro

I should ask Jennifer
for a blessing for absolution
& if she'll hear my fifth step

Beggars Would Ride

Sometimes I wish I were James Merrill
but I'm too flippin' haphazard
& not nearly rich enough

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Can You See Me

I am the mausoleum in the October raindrop
I am the proud placard at the Mayor Pete rally
I am the bloated parcel of bliss at Avalon

I am the Tory at the B-52's concert
I am the brittle deacon at Lollapalooza
I am the surly sexton at Lilith Fair

I am the lemon twist in your 4th martini
I am the poet in the canned soup aisle
I am the mishegas in your well-oiled machine

I am Niles Crane at the biker bar
I am the orange soda at Woolworth's lunch counter
I am the flickering test-pattern on Channel 38

I am Hugh Roe O'Donnell Joseph H. Barnes Manassah E. Bradley
I am Emma Lazarus shaking her head in dismay

Yesterday's Storm

Rain bubbled up from the pavement
in quadrillionary eruptions of soak.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

What I Need

I need Naomi Shihab Nye
as President of the United States.

I need Celestial Seasonings raspberry tea
and an 18-hour Frasier marathon.

I need a mammoth bookstore
with a loveseat or two
for intimate, close reading.

I need Tracy and Hepburn,
Marvin and Tammi,
Maxwell House, Quaker Instant,
Donna Summer's Greatest Hits.

I need a warm inviting church,
a community that embraces.
I need a permanent break
from the armchair pontiffs
wielding brute cudgels of dogma,
the Facebook Torquemadas,
the blogospheric Cathopublicans,
the anti-Francis fifth column.

I need 16 pints of Ben & Jerry's
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough,
3 boxes of Cheerios (family size),
2 jars of Skippy (28 oz.),
at least one tube of Pringles,
and a half-gallon of Hood (fat-free).

I need '80s hits on YouTube,
a year's supply of Turtle Wax,
a Quartermillennial Minute,
starlight and pinetrees,
hope of deliverance,
and a gorgeous perpetual dream
of Thandie Newton's ankles.

Friday, August 16, 2019

South Wind

South wind coaxes petals from the hedges;
sidewalk teems with sparrows;
college quad whizzes with Frisbees:

noon in Amherst, April or May:
a twentyish woman's gentle tread
nudges joy from sleep-smudged ground.

Friday, August 9, 2019

A Monastic Alphabet

Aelred owns a mousing cat
Whose capturings have made her fat.

Bonaventure chants a psalm
To keep his brothers free from harm.

Caedmon strums a glad guitar
In praise of Mary, Morning Star.

Dominic recites his beads
For all the sore world's pressing needs.

Emeric is growing thinner
As he pleads "Save me, Lord, a sinner."

Francis warbles like a bird,
Or sits and meditates, unheard.

Gregory's the abbey's cobbler.
He limps a little, holy hobbler.

Hilary is quick to tell
That his name bears a single L.

Ninety-year-old Ignatius faces
His death with humour, laughter, graces.

Jerome? Well, he's been known to curse
Saying "damn it all!" and sometimes worse.

Kind Kevin thrives on Trappist ale
And speaks in accents of the Gael.

Laurence, named for a Roman martyr,
Humbly wishes he were smarter.

Martin's moves are supple, flowing!
He dances any time it's snowing.

But Norbert, who's from chill Iona,
Would love to move to Arizona.

Odo is even-tempered, sweet;
He doesn't balk at washing feet.

Paphnutius has a sobriquet
Which takes you seven hours to say.

Quentin shuns meat, but licks his lips
At the mere thought of fish and chips.

Young Raphael (neither short nor tall)
Enjoys monastic basketball.

Simon bakes bread and makes grape jelly
To satisfy a rumbling belly.

Theodore is a handyman.
If you can't fix it, Teddy can!

Urban's a gardener. By his toil,
Flowers emerge from rich black soil.

Vincent the novice knows his Greek,
But you can hardly hear him speak.

Wilfred likes writing comic rhymes
To cheer his fellows in hard times.

Few souls on earth adore the Savior
Like chubby, jovial Brother Xavier.

Yves is from France, from Old Cîteaux:
His hearing has begun to go.

Zachary dusts the choir-stalls
And dreams of singing at St Paul's.

Saturday, August 3, 2019


Nana was always deathly afraid of thunderstorms. Growing up,
My mom and her sisters would have to take out their bobby pins
At the feeblest flash or remotest rumble. Then Nana would go
Through the house and asperge every corner of every room
With holy water to repel the Lucifers darting down from heaven.

Needless to say, Mom inherited Nana's fear of the boomers.
Dad would tease Mom about this. "Next time there's a storm,
I'm going to stick your toe out the window with a coat-hanger on it!"
Presumably, Mom would have to be asleep. No chance of that,
With panic pumping adrenaline to every cell and nerve and follicle.

Whenever Zeus or Jehovah or some glorified King Lear
Starts lashing out at a thankless world with fire-fingered
Lightning-bolts, inverted birches flaring from on high,
Mom will invoke the Holy Family, with that mysterious
Fourth member. Her voice goes rollercoastering through

The names: JESUS-mary-saint-JOSEPH-mother-MACHREE!
I could never figure out who Mother Machree was.
Some Irish nun? A lesser known figure from the Gospels?
Who knows? Mother Machree seems to work, though.
Mom has made it to seventy-five without getting struck.

Me? I do get slightly nervous when the lightning comes close,
When I can feel the floorboards rumble beneath me, as if
I lived above a subway-tunnel with big trains clattering past.
I'll take up my rosary (plastic beads and twine! no trace of metal!)
And say a bunch of Hail Marys to while away Nature's rage.

I might quickly peep through venetian blinds, but I'll stay away
From cellphones and electrical sockets. Maybe I'll fiddle
With the laptop. If the storm is very fierce, I'll retreat
To the walk-in closet. If I'm outdoors in one of these soakers,
I'll sprint every time I'm near or under a tree. But some

Deep part of me, some primal pagan capacity for awe,
Will glory in the pelting rain and the sky's seismic tumult,
To see the clouds, to hear the rolling thunder.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Autumn, 30 Years Ago

Recalling a lovely
tussle & nudge
with my sweetheart

in the woods
of Ponkapoag
and the warm

consoling smell
of her nearness
as immediate

and life-giving
as freshly
baked bread

Poem, Perchance

The fair-haired woman of forty in the pink baseball cap, the diaphanous rainbow skirt over purple tights, and the black crocs, brought her breakfast onto the 80 bus that goes through West Medford: a strawberry Pop-Tart and a mug of black coffee from home.

Someday Soon

I should try Church of Our Saviour a mile down the road rambunctiously progressive or so I hear even by Episcopalian standards I shou...