This isn’t actually “all” my poetry, but it is a good bit of it, the archive of all I’d written and finished up to about 2012 which I’d set up in this list on my old website and it was just so simple to copy over. I will be adding poetry individually, though, and breaking down this list so the you can read one poem at a time, or search for subjects or themes using the thumbnail images below.
Library of individual poems
You can also find my poetry in these pages built from my annual poetry readings including poems and art:
AFTER THE FLOOD*
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Dedicated to the people and places of the Chartiers Valley after the flood of September 17, 2004
After a day of rain
the creek has been rising
and by night it thunders down its channel
writhing around its curves like a medieval dragon,
pulling at its banks and anything overhanging,
carrying whatever it can grasp along the way,
and I have seen this creature before
in the creek’s rise and fall,
now tamed by engineering,
filling its channel to the brim, then receding
each spring and summer
and not felt threatened but fascinated
by its power, power not of humans,
power to change absolutely to a form
unrecognizable from its usual character,
yet always returning to the quiet,
sleepy nature which I had explored from childhood.
But I am remembering another night
when the creek refused to stop at its brim
but spilled over and over and over,
thundering down all the hillsides came its sustenance
tributaries filling their valleys as never before,
rushing to join with the writhing creature,
mixing and turning and thrashing and smashing anything in its path
so drunk with its own power
that it forgot all those who loved it,
who lived on its banks and in its valleys,
listened to its soft murmuring voice in the darkness of a summer night,
but even as I pleaded with the creature to stop, it had gone too far,
my friend, my refuge, how could you betray me,
I knew that the creek would not listen,
it was no creature gone on a rampage
it was simply following its nature, and this one time
it defeated our intelligence with its simple power
and all our homes, possessions, lives
were nothing in its path.
The next day the beast no longer raged,
the sun shone and the air was mild,
and the autumn continued like any autumn before,
but we were changed, all of us,
the long journey ahead, longer than we knew
and our place here will never be the same.
August 18, 2005
A woman’s wail, beginning low and slow,
arose in the heavy August afternoon,
exiting an open, unscreened, uncurtained window
of a ragged apartment building,
lifting and curling
over the street,
reaching a high-pitched shriek of ecstasy
in the oppressive sun,
above buildings, cars, trees,
swirling among the clouds,
for the moment the food stamps,
unaffordable car repairs,
the kids’ bathing suits
pushed away with the dreams
of the college degree and career,
the loving husband and new house,
this is real.
APPLES FOR MY LOVE
July 4, 2006
I read a poem
About another poem
Read to a young boy by his second-grade teacher
Which caused him to fall in love with her
And carry her memory through all his mornings and evenings
Inspiring his life as a poet and lover,
The premise of the poem I don’t know to be true,
About a tradition of lovers in France
To leave an apple on the bedside table at retiring
So in the morning they could share a bite upon waking
To cleanse the night must, then kiss to begin the new day together
Sweet and satisfying to each other.
Whether true or not,
And though you are as distant as that boy and his teacher and the poem and the apple,
I will leave an apple at my bedside
For the morning when, finally, you are with me.
AUGUST 28, 1941*
Bits and pieces from The Pittsburgh Press, evening edition
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
1935 Ford sedan for $95.
’33 Auburn Sedan for only $5.68 per month.
Cary Grant’s Mexican jaunt to invest $300,000 in silver mines there.
Fred Astaire is building a private golf course on his San Diego County ranch.
Steelers Make Guard Out of Dan Williams, Texas Tackle.
LifeGuard tires save lives, money, rubber.
America’s snapshots better than ever–most of them made on Kodak Verichrome film–to those in Service, send the news of your new life in the Nation’s service with the portable form of snapshots.
New York Central System, Travel in comfort, every Sunday to Cleveland $2.50.
Mt. Lebanon, New, 6 rooms, 2-1/2 baths, brick, large wooded lot, $9,600.
I can give you my word that Roosevelt, the man, has a deep personal hatred for war. Roosevelt, the president, has the task of carrying American Democracy forward under God against any resistance.~Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd.
Pirates Run Over Phillies, 12-2.
College days are with us again as students across the nation start cutting rugs and classes.
At the “New Carnegie Theater”, Carnegie, PA, Cary Grant, James Stewart in “Philadelphia Story”, also Cartoons and News.
Hitler’s Broken Promises Occupy Nearly 1,000 pages in his own words: “My New Order” from Reynal and Hitchcock.
Ten Homewood children, between the ages of 7 and 12, held a lawn fete last Friday afternoon at the corner of Gettysburg and Edgerton Streets for the benefit of the Milk and Ice Fund. Today The Press received the proceeds, $3.57.
Among the novelty high shoes this season is one of black patent leather having bowknot patterns showing an underlay of white kid.
And when we witness the downfall of dictatorship–what then? A world union of self-governing peoples to guarantee and enforce peace.~Associate Justice Owen Roberts, U.S. Supreme court.
Today’s newspaper boy–tomorrow’s leader–When Robert S. Bogda, son of Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Bogda of McKees Rocks, finishes high school, he intends to go into the steel mill with his father. He is the junior merchant who delivers The Pittsburgh Press daily and Sunday to subscribers around Ridge Avenue. Bob likes to travel and also runs errands for neighbors to augment his fund for travel.
A program that is heralded as the world’s first all-Negro opera will be previewed on KDKA at 8:30 tonight as Negro performers from all over America perform selections from “Celeste Aida”.
Bellevue couple welcomes twin girls.
But did anyone see the storm darkening the horizon?
June 12, 2000
Roiling clouds blown by winds
Before a summer thunderstorm,
Huge constructions in purple and blue
And lurid green tinged with coral.
The delicate lace of a fair summer day,
Puffs and wisps in white and cream
Shaded with lilac and blue
And edged in yellow.
Hazy wisps in autumn
Moving slowly from one horizon to the next,
Never amounting to much.
The heavy purple rainclouds of a late spring afternoon
Looming on the horizon
Shadowing the early wan sun
And promising a rainy night.
The approach of the first storm of winter
As flat gray clouds form in the west,
In their shadow bringing the first reminder
Of the eternal cold of year’s end.
May 27, 2005
The dogwoods are blooming up and down my street.
The breaking of the cold,
The unusually warm, brilliant spring day
Has brought my neighbors out to wash cars and cut grass.
Like the returning birds
Their conversations drift and circle from yard to yard
And cross the street on capricious breezes;
We have been put away all winter
Like articles of summer clothing
Our potential at rest,
Yet now, even at night,
Pale, airy clouds of blossoms
Hover in the darkness all over the neighborhood.
On the death of a downy woodpecker who ran into my window.
March 9, 2004
I can only hope that
her heart was filled with the joy of the unfolding spring
and that she saw paradise reflected in the glass of my window.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
She is a little small but quick
and she obviously adores her father,
following him everywhere
and imitating everything he does,
to the best of her ability;
this is what the two of them do most afternoons,
he running down the list of things she needs to know,
and methodically showing her how to do one and another,
and he is very affectionate with her, touching her face frequently.
She’s a little uncertain at this next task, though,
and hesitates as he coaxes her,
she clutching the branch in her little orange claws,
the tiny red-brown crest on the top of her head
moving forward and back as if in question,
and even though he should probably stand his ground
until she has learned her lesson and does this for herself,
the bright red cardinal grasps a sunflower seed from the feeder
and hops back to his daughter, each tilting their head as if to kiss
as he gently places it in her open beak.
After this, hard as it may be, she is on her own.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Oh, I can’t stop looking at all the feverfew
in my garden,
I just keep running from one cluster to another
those tiny perfect daisies
in umbels as if floating without stems
on waves of bright green leaves
the dots of dew flashing, sparkling
in the day’s new sun
just arrived over the horizon
its color still warm and yellow
as if it’s a cookie just taken out of the oven
and I have to look at all the feverfew
from every angle
until I’m done looking
and I discover I’ve forgotten all the problems of yesterday
and all the ills of the world that I feel the need to carry
and I’m laughing
and dripping with dew myself
and visualizing stunning works of art
and amazing poetry and prose
most of which will ever be realized
nor do they need to be
the inspiration only needs to settle into my soul in this early morning in June
and its glow will warm heart
and keep me laughing with joy
through the day
and the next
and the next.
FIELD OF GRASS*
June 12, 2000
A field of grass,
Never still, never silent,
Responding as one being to wind and weather,
Rippling in breezes, dancing in rain,
Changing each moment in its fervent march
To ripened maturity;
In the spring, new bright green velvet
Undulating in capricious spring breezes,
Laying flat to reveal the shining silk beneath,
And cast with shadows of clouds moving quickly
Over hillside and valley;
In June, tall and deep green
With eager pale seed heads
Standing tall and youthful,
Dancing carelessly in storm winds and evening breezes;
In the amber of late summer
Under the relentless faded August sun,
It stands in simple primitive beauty
At the moment of its ripe maturity,
Whispering in anticipation
Of the end of its journey.
FOREVER WITH EACH OTHER*
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
She still wears her hair long, with bangs,
slightly tinted the red of her teenage years, thought not exactly;
he still wears a t-shirt and jeans
even though he’s a little thicker around the waist than high school,
because that’s how they picture each other.
She still wears that shade of red lipstick
that was popular during the War;
he still has enough hair to slick back
with a few waves
just like their wedding picture.
To those of us on the outside looking in
it may seems as if they’ve missed a few decades
still dressing like the 70s
or the 40s
or some style entirely their own,
walking as if they still had the
balance and charm of youth,
but we’re not in on their secret.
Somehow they’ve preserved that moment
of meeting in the hallway in high school,
or running into each other on campus,
or being introduced at a party,
and they still see in each other
what they recognized that moment
as if the decades still lay ahead.
June 12, 2001
Dusk shadows sparkle with fireflies,
Air perfumed, heavy:
LIKE A TREE*
July 5, 2000
To live my life like a tree,
to grow steadily from small beginnings,
fervently when possible, and quietly adapt when necessary,
stand in peace and harmony with my neighbors,
bear my fruit appropriately,
bring shelter and comfort to others indiscriminately,
and when my season is over
graciously give my gift to the earth
for the benefit of myself and all around me,
and without fear
patiently wait for my moment to return
July 20, 2007
Your petite silhouette lingers
long, graceful legs tipped with soundless slender paws
the waving tendril of a tail curls in a perfect circle
as you pause in your eternal dance
and enrich my life,
awakening nascent creative visions
and laughter at the silly joy of youth,
yellow eyes illumining my world
leaving rainbows in your wake;
the images you inspired in your brief existence
erase the sadness of your leaving
and as I remember and render your antics
I can share you with the world.
MY FIRST DECISION*
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I am riding my little red bike up and down the street
in the sun I think it is July the black pavement
is a little soft and smells like asphalt down the street
it looks wavy above the surface just like the mirages
in the desert you read about I am the only one out in the street
I ride to where the hill starts on one side then to the
bend where I can’t really see the house on the other
then turn around every time I go past the house I check
the driveway for the big light blue car with wings
on the back it looks like an airplane I’ve never
seen one close up from every house I pass I hear
the hushing sounds of an crowd and Bob Prince
I know his voice everyone is watching the Pirate game
on TV my mother father sister brother are in there in
the shade watching the game they cheer and yell and scream
when anything happens it sounds exciting but I don’t understand
I’d rather be out here in the blue and yellow afternoon
riding my bike up and down the street forever
just the scent of a hot July breeze grass and sunshine
and the hushing sounds of the audience and yet
another announcer announcing another Pirate game
has brought this all back in a rush thirty-some years later.
July 2, 2004
You can best see the constellations
by lying on your back and dreaming
and in due time the sky is filled with
cavorting gods and goddesses,
love, death, politics, art
all in the air above you;
yet concentration on one
will cause them all to lose their magic.
So I, facing the surprise berry patch,
focusing to find one berry, and then another
while the clean June sun spilled over my head
warming the smell of berries and leaves and dirt
and small wild plants brushed the soles of my bare feet,
became at the same time a small person
faced with a raspberry clump taller than me,
surprised to find something
so joyfully abundant
and free for the taking
where last week there had only been leaves
along this path,
and, while watching the clouds
forgetting the berries
in both ages
my hands found berry after berry
and my heart found dreams.
June 12, 2000
The field of grass
In September has reached its full maturity;
As the wrinkles of a face
Share the joys and sorrows of a life’s journey,
The field in the shadows and highlights of its grasses
Holds the colors of all the seasons.
The amber of ripe stems
Is toned with the warm, rich lilac
Of a winter sunset.
Shadows hold the deep bright blue
Of the early summer sky
Blended down to sienna
Borrowed from leaves in a winter pond.
In the highlights, the bright delicate green
Of new leaves on willows
Mixes with the yellow
Of silver maple leaves in autumn.
ROAD TRIP, LATE JULY, WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA*
July 31, 2004
Green, green waves ahead
diminishing to blue over the northern horizon
exalted rises and shadowed valleys gradually made plain
to rolling hills and misted hollows
interstate unrolled as ribbon
around hill and following valley,
signs noting unseen destinations
bearing hopeful small town names:
little hamlets of Pennsylvania coal being crushed to diamonds,
glittering in the vales;
a gauze curtain of rain shower flows across hills
soaking opposite side of road
but the sun shines brightly ahead,
occasionally a sudden cluster of official orange obstructions
gives instructions to change directions
slowing pace to allow a close and careful study
of native plants along the roadside,
a stately brick farmhouse, a skull with empty windows, abandoned, its outbuildings only roofs in the tall grass
as if melting back into the earth from whence they were created;
then a curving exit that leaves the noise of four lanes behind a rise,
a sojourn on a quiet two-lane three-digit backroad,
once the lifeline before the interstate, now empty;
clusters of buildings at intersections, one traffic light flashing yellow,
old farms and equipment,
rusted industrial structures,
a field gone entirely to Queen Anne’s Lace,
some cows on a hillside,
and everywhere roadside stands
celebrate the first flush of mid-summer bounty;
collect loose change from pockets and floor of car
and with the dole,
buy fresh homegrown sweet corn to feed thy soul.
SNOW AT NIGHT*
March 26, 2006
I check under the streetlight whenever I pass the window,
the still night scene like a Hopper painting, tranquil and perfect,
or the set on a stage, ready for the players, the houselights dim.
I anticipate the first action of the play,
and I grow impatient–
the stillness, the leaden sky as the afternoon aged
weighted with promise,
the early darkness,
then suddenly a bit of movement under the arc of the streetlight,
I hold my breath and still myself–was that it?
then a pause, then again, at an angle, a bit of ash gently drifting,
and another, then two at once,
then too many to count, meandering,
all in the same direction,
appear in the streetlight’s cone of illumination, then disappear.
I am transfixed
as the flakes simply continue as if without agenda,
my neighbors’ windows are all covered,
lights and flickering TVs behind curtains and blinds,
I am the only one who has witnessed the beginning.
Sometime in 1982
A satin silent night,
A silver path through my window,
And silken paws paused to stay
On the pillow next to me.
THE CHANGING SKY*
June 12, 2000
Pale blue in late winter,
As if too weak to put forth much color,
Growing through the warm blue of spring
To the rich deep blue of summer,
A canopy of hope and optimism.
All too soon it begins its fade
Into the cool blue of autumn
After the intensity of summer’s heat,
Then fading yet more
To the pale blue of a crisp
June 30, 2005
An ancient rambling rose
Spread her arcs of deep red blossoms,
Rich against the yellow painted wood siding
At the corner of the house,
A creamy lace curtain in the window just above,
All soft, washed by the warm, gentle sun
Of an early June evening.
I paused, considered, returned to the spot,
Coming back to capture the last of the moment
Just before the shadow of the house across the street
Crept up over the rose,
The siding and then the window
Revealing faded, peeling paint
And a gray, sagging curtain,
The rose but a clump of brambles
Among tall grasses and thistles.
Things I Found in the Woods*
January 13, 2006
Tiny rivulets of water released from thawing soil
flowing beneath last year’s debris, trickling and gurgling all around
hurrying down hillsides before the freeze returns.
A cup-shaped fungus holding a tablespoon of snowmelt
for a song sparrow to sip, practicing its vernal melody
for the time when spring arrives in earnest.
Ferns, newly-green, draped on cliffs,
fluttering like garlands in the mild, caressing breeze
gathering a little nourishment to last the rest of the winter.
Fallen trees blanketed with bright green moss,
thick and lush already in the brief January thaw
filling a span of life in but a few days.
Four young white-tailed deer, capricious as the gusts,
feeling the flush of their first spring as adults
cavorting as if winter might not return tomorrow.
An understanding that life and love are cycles,
and that the moment must be taken for what it offers
even if what it offers is not what we expect.
A fraction of your dignity,
and the desire to walk with you to the end of the path
as you transition from this beautiful world into the next.
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
He doesn’t have to give this gift to her
and she doesn’t have to receive it
as she could easily feed herself
but she perches on a fallen branch
while he flies to the feeder
grasps a sunflower seed
and flies back to perch next to her;
they tilt their heads as if to kiss
as she accepts this seed of his love,
the bright red cardinal’s first act of courtship
to his dark red mate
on Valentine’s Day.
(AT THE VET’S) WAITING FOR MOSES
January 11, 2006
I remembered a moment earlier in the day
even through the fear and pain of your impending death:
in that moment when I reached out to you
and you firmly rubbed your face against my hand,
nuzzled your nose between my finger and thumb
and lifted your chin for me to scratch underneath,
eyes squinting at me, whiskers curved forward, nose crumpled;
you, reassuring me.
The look in your eyes wipes the tears from my face
and I can, for the moment,
spontaneously smile and love you completely as of old,
above our grief.
February 1, 2007
At a bend in the trail,
The scent of wild apples greets me.
A tree abandoned from an old orchard
Or sprung up on its own from old stock, wild and uncultivated,
Heavy with small round burnished apples.
The late summer heat releases their scent,
Sweet and tart, that the world may know they have reached their prime;
The wild perfume of the coming season.
From another tree one single leaf lets go
And falls, papery, dry and curled, slipping through branches
Clattering to the summer-hardened clay of the trail,
Loud in the silent heat of the August afternoon.
Winter lost her grip, and, one by one,
The wildflowers of spring began to bloom,
Which, in their turn, faded into the shadows of the dense summer woods.
Now summer is losing her strength,
Autumn is thinning the woods
And bearing her own flowers and fruits,
Changing the palette of the landscape
With bright summer greens turning gold,
Deep rich shadows fading hazy blue.
Soon autumn will blaze along the trail,
And songbirds will move their chorus south.
Already winter has touched my hair,
And the smell of wild apples is in the air.