Coming Upon A Stone Circle at Sunset
Old Birch trees, whose white branches weave and sift
The brilliant evening twilight, huddle deep
Around these circled stones. The old grove shifts
As leaves and chilly breezes slightly lift
And rustle. But these grey stones silent keep
Their secrets: no wind reveals, no evening shade distills
Why they stand, encircling each other, in these hills.
With ancient reasons more astute than ours
These stones were brought here, then precisely set.
Each in its place. Time moves, things change, rains pour
Suns rise and set, winter storms blow and roar,
These, encircled, change not. Only men forget.
And now we watch as deepened shadows show
How much we’ve lost of what our fathers’ fathers know.
First published in The Voice (Asatru Folk Assembly)
Violets no longer grow in the shaded places
Here and there among the thick Victorian stones
And the more recently enterred. There are no traces
That there ever were violets there. And these old bones
Won't tell you much, even if you should ask them to,
They can't. Their mouths were closed too many years ago,
They slumber now beneath some thorny weeds and a few
Dried out bits of yellow grass. Nothing much can grow
In here now; they do not water, nor do they prune.
It's all a tangled mess of burr covered stems— long
Busy with the task of wearing down the graves. Soon
There will be nothing here to see but them. It's wrong
Perhaps, of me to care so much, my bones don't lay
Beneath rough weeds. But, part of me still knows: they may
First published in Lucid Rhythms
I'll Keep My Ghosts
I'll keep my ghosts. Each morning down we go
Through the hallway, where they begin to show
As grey reflections of themselves in frames
That do not answer when I call their names
But swirl and curve around me, to and fro.
Sometimes, in this house that they used to know
So well, their unseen numbers swell and grow
Until I am overwhelmed. All the same,
I'll keep my ghosts–
By choice–for what else would I have? Hollow
Spaces between walls?Albums? And sorrow
That has no feeling to it left? Who blames
Me for my preference? I make no claims
That they bring only joy, but even so
I'll keep my ghosts.
Won 2010 Poetry Society of New Hampshire Spring Contest
First published in The Poet’s Touchstone
Winter Clouds: Liverpool
Behind the jagged winter trees, the clouds–
Grey clad and thickly edgeless–merge and form
A vast dim dome with no relief at all;
Just sky gone ashy white and blank. A shroud
If you will, a winding sheet that holds storm
And keeps back the light until cold drops fall
Beneath and coat the branches as they fall
With ice that does not sparkle under clouds
That allow no light, allow no shine. Storm
And wind and cold may descend –any form
Of dark and dismalness within this shroud
May come, but nothing shiny…light….at all
Lies here these days. None may be seen at all
Of brightened mornings or afternoons that fall
Into brightened twilights. For this dull shroud,
This thick mantle of unremitting clouds,
Shuts away the world from every thing: form,
Beauty, light, all is gone from here. High storm
And denser gloom, then another high storm
That brings more gloom, have filled the season. All
The sky is filled with them; their lack of form
Creates a backdrop to grey days that fall
With no substance to them beneath the clouds
That cover everything. The swollen shroud
That smothers the light, the smothering shroud
That both comes after and foretells of storm,
Looms and glooms above us through these days. Clouds
Touching clouds, stretched out across the sky, all
Thickly spread and set with dull rains that fall
Without relief and within a formless form—
Even harder rains cannot break this form
Of ill-formed grey blankness, seamless grey shroud.
Rains fall, but nothing changes as they fall
Rains storm, but nothing alters as they storm.
The clouds remain, endlessly, after all.
Clouds upon clouds remaining as if clouds
Were one form of endless form. Hail, snow, storm,
Wind: nothing shifts the shroud that covers all
As cold dim days fall …beneath this dome of clouds.
First published in Liverpool800
The jars of jam are lined up on the shelves.
The grain is ground. The cheeses stored away,
Waiting for the winter. Each one of ourselves,
Weaving out this seasonal interplay,
Casts her own spell, designed so that the whole
Holds steady, and completed, right on time.
We watch the sky for clouds, our ribboned pole
For winds, our pond for ice. The pantomime
Of squirrels clutching nuts and climbing trees
Reminds us of ourselves, we laugh and then
We work some more: we pickle, and we freeze
What we don't can or hang to dry. The men
Coming in, stamping from the snowy woods,
Sense that everything is laid by, snug and good.
First published in 14by14
The Last Werewolf
Who would have thought a broken branch could tell
So much to anyone? They tracked you down
Through these woods, picking up your scent, (the smell
Of sauerkraut mixed with an earthy brown
Fug of the land), and watching for some signs
That would lead them to you. You were alert,
You fled quickly, away from paths, through pines,
Ash, oaks… You should have made it, too, expert
In this place that you were, dodging them in
Rivers and through brush. Their lack of knowing
The ins and outs of these woods must have been
An added gift to help with your going;
They lost your trail so many times. Their hounds —
Heads down, circling themselves — found no one,
Their guns flushed out only squirrels and round
Small hares that fled in panic. Still their sons
Dashed out ahead and looked for signs of you.
There shouldn't have been any there…but then:
They came across that broken branch. A few
Seconds is all it took to call the men.
Guns were cocked. Dogs were set. And you were through.
Forthcoming in The Cycle of Nine (RavensHalla Arts, Fall 2012)
The Luck of the English
In th’olde dayes of King Arthour,
Of which that Britons speken greet honour,
Al was this land fulfild of faierie.
The elf-queene, with hirjolycompaignie,
Dauncedfulofte in many a grenemede,
Know this: you have never been here alone.
We are always here as well. Beneath, be-
Hind, beyond…. because every root, and stone
Can be a door. Hidden, but close, are we.
Dwellers of wind, of stems, of underground–
Inside, under, over and among, all
Along and astride. We dwell. We surround.
We mingle. Part and apart from you. Wall,
Door, gate, lock, makes no difference. We are
And are not the same stuff as you, we move
As thoughts move: in and out, here and there.
Some sense us, but no one will ever prove
Us. All you can do is know that you know:
We live with you, above, beside, below.
First published in Soundzine