“Sometimes late at night I lie awake and watch him sleeping…and the thought crosses my mind if I never wake up in the morning, would he ever doubt the way I feel about him in my heart…”
Garth Brooks

Remember how cold it was in that cabin where we first cemented
Our marriage – no running water – and the lake frozen to the bottom
But inside, we were as warm as any tropical island, melting snow
On the pot-bellied stove and burning firewood like there was no end
To it, or to us – how many well-meaning friends and family said,
“It’ll never last – you’re too different – you fight too much – he’s too
moody – you’re too sensitive –” and on and on, seeming to miss
The part where we went out for five years before we finally wed.

Here we are, four decades later, and still, my heart skips when you
Enter a room, our eyes meet; you hold my hand when we walk and
You automatically walk on the outside, nearest the cars; still, you rise
If I leave a dinner table and return; your impeccable manners have always
Made me feel so cherished, special, well-loved – and made you a hard
Act to follow, for our daughters, when they were selecting life-mates
And that’s not a bad thing – as we well know – they chose admirably

Some might think, after all this time, our love would be a given
A mostly silent thing – and I guess it could be – and that would be fine
But you, not usually given to demonstrative shows of affection
Ask me every day if I know you love me… You bring me flowers,
Spring blossoms that fill the house with colour, and the scent of April
And May – you bring them during the sub-zero weeks of February
Or when January winds blow snow drifts thickly – you bring them then

More and more as we get older, I can’t help wondering if you know
How much I love you too – it’s harder for me, the so-called sensitive
One to let you know just how treasured you are, and sometimes I find
Myself almost at a complete loss to express just what it is between us
I am amazed to reach for the poetic side of me and find instead this
Awkward, bumbling soul who feels inadequate to the task of saying
The simplest sentiment of all – I love you – I have always loved you
I will always love you as long as I draw breath, even if you stop breathing.
There – it’s not poetry but it is truth – it will have to do.


So many things about you bothered me
In ways of which I could not bring myself to look
Guessing, I suppose, in my naïveté and youth
That to peer directly at such a wounded soul
Would only serve to spread such poison,
Infecting me as well.

Still, sad recurrent secrets, accidentally
Overheard in the fissures of the night
When you’d so often waken screaming,
Wild and terrified
And Mom would rock you and ssh you
And sing nonsense lullabies to try
And soothe you back to sleep
Must have over-flown the banks of your reality

Those dark, purple bruises of your psyche
Likely seeped into mine
Or perhaps, because we grew so very close,
I absorbed your private hell by osmosis

I know only, my own deepest self bears ugly,
Wicked scars, belonging more to you than me
And even after some well-meant but paltry efforts,
The most I had to offer way back when
There was no escaping, not for either one of us.


Every time I think—
There—I’ve emptied
Myself for now
Said all the prayers
I know for you
Wept out every tear

Another indignity
Scurries forth
To further incense
Me, thwart
Any pretense
At ambivalence
Or dazed sanity



No matter – I welcome
Back the holy
Tenderness that flies
like a wounded cygnet:
Wings unable to flap
Lungs unready to breathe
It plummets, gives into
Fear and sinks beneath
the water …

Maybe if I think of you
in abstracts
the pain will grow
more bearable
I don’t believe it,
Not really but I need
to try something …
do something different.

When the Boeotian Hunter Appears








The hunter appears in the sky these nights

That great signal that tells of autumn’s arrival

His belt glowing brightly, vying for attention

With the gold of a harvest moon rising hugely

Dangling supernaturally just above the horizon


This is the season I think of as mine, I love it so

Filled with possibilities; summer is over and slinking off

Finished, it is time to get back to work, or school, or writing

In earnest, not that any of the creative stuff ever stops really

But the languid heat, even here in the northern hemisphere,

Dulls the senses somewhat, at least mine, during summer


However, give me the sharp bite of the breezes tickling autumn’s

Leaves – all of them resplendent – an impressionist’s delight

Ochre, carnelian, russet – and shades thereof – splayed against

All manner of evergreen — spruce, pine, cedar— in varying hues of green

And my blood quickens, my heart begins to race, I am reinvigorated


So ready to write the next great thing, I have to physically

Rein myself in, tie myself down, to try to keep from going

Madly off in all directions, or I just might and then it will

Be winter all too soon and while I do love that chilly season


I know I will regret wasting autumn if I don’t pay heed

To impulse control, to the need for some structure, ah but

It is hard when the puddles begin to ice over and the sky

Breaks cerulean and life feels new again  … ah autumn




She waits, in her pencil thin skirt

Leaning against the chain-link fence

Watches the sky slowly empty itself of dusk

Tells herself as the colours shift

From rose to coral to something deeper

He will come; he’s not the operator

Everyone has warned her about

Her mother thinks her naiveté is a recipe

For disaster, that essentially,

She’s beyond foolish, asking for heartache

To be handed to her like a gift—

As darkness encroaches and settles on her

Like a chilly shawl, she wonders

If she will be forgiven for being hopeless …



If you should feel a sense of something not quite remembered
Steal over you just before dropping off to sleep, don’t fight
To stay awake – let the darkness take you – go into the place
Where dreamscape is the reality and all else merely imagined

And should you find yourself staring into space one evening after
Dinner and wondering what it was you meant to do before you
Started to get up from your seat; just sit back down, continue to
Look off into the middle distance, wait until some sign appears

Eventually there will be one, or there won’t, and you might
Be able to go on from there; since they put him in the ground
Over there, you have not been able to tell one thing from another
Morning from night, good from bad, reason from insanity and yet

Every now and again, you feel a spark, a gentle bit of one, barely
Noticeable, you can hardly acknowledge it; it’s so dim this bit
Of brilliance but it’s there and more often each day, it’s there
No matter how much you might want to fight it and you do

If you let yourself believe for half a nano-second in the possibility
Of this spark, you know you will be letting yourself in for a world
Of unremitting heartache and you don’t think you can do that
In fact, you are quite certain that this is not something in the cards

No, you have played more than enough hands of whatever has been
Dealt, and so many cards were passed from the bottom of the deck
But with the acrid taste of cordite in your mouth, as if you were sucking
The barrel of a gun, you realize, that taste is just an imagined one

Should you finally decide to give it all up and stop yourself from doing
Any of it, no matter what the prevailing fashion of the day dictates
Choose your method carefully – do only what you desire most and care
Not what others think; that’s a fool’s game, as well you know, yes?


A Current Spare

String heart beats enough
Across the crack splitting
The chest; maybe temper
The racket thrumming there
Latch it closed against the draft—
It threatens to widen the chasm

Fingers numb-blue with trying
To hold sides together
Trace ragged edges sharp
Enough to draw blood’s refrain
“Give it up, give it up”
Blend ignobly against a current
As spare as winter in Chernobyl

Sunday Whirl 61



I am a pacifist if truth be told

And as such find war hard to bear

But yearning for peace and being

Against war does not mean I do not

Support those who fight for me

Who go to war and fight to keep

The country I live in free and my

Way of living a just, democratic way


While I will fight to keep the peace

And keep those I love from having

To take up arms to defend me

And my way of life, or this country

Again, it does not mean I cannot

Appreciate the many deaths that have

Occurred in the cause of freedom

Nor honour those who’ve fallen


This day is not the day my country

Sets aside to memorialize our war dead

But living as we do, so close to you—

Your larger-than-life country, mourning

Your war heroes in all their resplendent,

Glory, it is hard not to become affected

By your enthusiastic patriotism, your zeal

And grieve your losses with you genuinely

And even this dove can do just that …




Let’s Take a Breath

Just for today I thought

Let’s pretend we’re sane

Take a breath and hold it

While the stars dance

With that craziness that happens

When we forget to breathe

With regularity but that’s

within the bounds of acceptability

Let’s do that today

Let’s pretend with everything

In us that nothing matters

But right here and now

And what’s happening

Right in front of our eyes

In the present – the lovely

Unveiled, unmasked present

Let’s do that, okay;

What do you say … are you up for that …


May 28, 2012