last night I ignored
the full moon
did not dance
as she sang
in rounds, stayed under
the lamp watching flickering
figures move in blue
light, watching black
words dance on a white
page but
this morning when I woke she
was still there, hanging
among the tallest branches
to say goodbye


Rooster’s big day

Rooster opens an eye. Dark. Of course. Gently, he ruffles his feathers, shifts his feet, opens both eyes. Clears his throat. Big day ahead. As usual. He will eat and drink later: now, there’s work to do.

He hears movement and knows the black hen is peering toward him. She likes to watch him work, likes to witness his skill, likes to be there for the first moment to know he has succeeded once again.

Rooster hops down from the rail and walks out the door of the coop to the wire fence. The end of the moon tosses a little light into the yard, and the stars wink. Goodnight, Rooster tells them, Your work is done. Sleep. He hears the black hen walk into the yard behind him. Then he clears his throat again, settles his feathers, and begins.

He knows he has timed it perfectly. He’s been at this for years. As a young cock he was sometimes hasty, started early, worked too hard. It is hard work, it takes stamina, but he knows his job and he never falters, never fails. And after the first big haul, it only takes a little well-timed effort here and there during the day until it’s time for night again.


Rooster pauses for a breath. One more. ERRR-a-ERRRRRRRRRRR! And there. The tiniest slip of pale golden light appears behind the trees on the far horizon. Rooster nods. The black hen sits down. ERRR-a-ERRR-a-ERRRRRR!, cries Rooster, as he pulls the sun into the sky.

Snow Globe

The changes that can take place between the first and final versions of a poem astound me. Sometimes in my poetry journals I am lucky to find both preserved. Here are two approaches from 2010 to a snow-filled morning: haiku, version 2; and the original poem, version 1. It was my year of writing daily haiku, so I condensed the long version into the short one.

Snow Globe (2)

Before dawn, snow falls.
Light lifts, drifts, infuses this
creamy, cradled bowl.


Snow Globe (1)

Before dawn, the snow comes down.
The shed, the hydro wire, the metal
swing chair without its cushions–

all wear the same homage to sky.
Thick as cream, clouds fill the bowl
above us and the flakes tumble
til we are only shapes and shades of clouds.

In our bowl there is no sun
there is no moon
the streetlamps have no power.
We are lit by reflected glory,

a steady glow of grey and ochre
rising from the ground, falling from the sky,
assimilating every atom in our snow globe.


Feb. 23, 2010

Match girl

There’s the polished moon again
hanging in its velvet sky,
and the stars
in party clothes–
every sunset’s a new occasion
to haul out the jewels.

The night’s a rich affair
invitation only
and I linger on the sidewalk
like a match girl skirting
the houses of the wealthy
with their bright lights, laughter,
and clinking crystal–

Hoping someone’s gaze will turn,
spot the princess beneath my rags
and pull me in to their magical soirée.