Poetry Archive

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:

2007 poetry reading: paths i have walked

2008 poetry reading: winter twilight

2009 poetry reading: change of season

2010 poetry reading: coming spring


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.

AFTERNOON ROMANCE

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

forgotten,

pushed away with the dreams

of the college degree and career,

the loving husband and new house,

perfect children,

perfect life,

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?

CLOUDS*

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.

DOGWOODS*

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.

ENTERING PARADISE*

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.

FATHER’S DAY

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.

FEVERFEW*

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

Covers hillsides,

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

June 12, 2001

Dusk shadows sparkle with fireflies,

Air perfumed, heavy:

June.

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

in spring.

LUCY*

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.

RASPBERRY DREAMS*

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,

mythological beasts,

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.

RIPENED COLOR*

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:

“Freedom”

“Prosperity”

“Harmony”

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 five,

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.

SOLSTICE MOON

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

Winter’s day.

THE PHOTOGRAPH*

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.

VALENTINE’S DAY*

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.

WILD APPLES*

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,

Stands trailside,

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.

Months before,

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.