Christmas Carol

It’s just a day

Christmas day

But I feel its magical pull all year

Counting down days in summer

Marking the years off, one by one


Christmas past, a tiny organ playing carols

Bouffant Barbie and Chatty Cathy ‘neath the tree

45s playing oh your red scarf matches your eyes

and first there is a mountain then there is no mountain then there is

itchy turtlenecks and slipper socks


Christmas present, a house filled with laughter

Babies and boys ‘round the tree

Mariah singing upstairs and football on tv

Baby dolls and stuffed dogs and shiny new trucks

Tickets to the future amid cashmere dreams


Christmas future, unwritten, still

built on hope and love and possibility

in rooms filled with people

we’ve yet to meet

in places we’ve yet to be

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View from the 25th floor


Alone, in an unknown city

Walking aimlessly

Alone, down empty streets

Beckoned inside a church with an open door

Following the scent of roses to the altar

Roses, in various stages of bloom

Placed at the feet of

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Shimmering there, in radiant light


What is prayer?

Why was I there?


The quiet peace of a mid-day church

The radiant light, the quiet peace of kneeling alone

Amid the roses


Later that night, alone in my room

Staring down at the lights below

Reflecting on lives lived

behind shimmering glass

ordinary things done in the night

all those saints and sinners alike

sending up fervent prayers in the dark


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Lost Words

woke up in darkness,

head pounding

brain racing


a dream that went on and on


standing on stage in a place

I’ve never been

reading poem after poem

list poem, prose poem, visual poem,

poems recited to a gathering of poets

each one original


dream poems

crafted while sleeping

lost now to daybreak

and the news of the hour

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Haiku Composed Beneath the Trees












Among the fallen leaves

Where his scattered ashes fell

Stone angel brings peace


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Autumn Walk at Daybreak

setting out

before first light

wrapped in cold

and still silent dark


spirit awakened,


beneath heavy pines

and sliver of fading moon

shadowing this great horned owl


a flap of wings

from above

and beyond

signaling change, perhaps


as I round the corner

they are already here

the workmen

come from far away

under cover of darkness

to lie in wait

in their dusty Hondas

while the neighbors rise,

creatures of habit,

get in their fancy cars

and head somewhere else

to obey the natural order of things



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Art Lesson


We’re told we must be silent when we paint

Turning off the left brain so that we might see

With artist’s eyes


In front of me, a small pallet –

Six colors to make six colors

and six hundred colors more


Finding hidden shapes

and shades within this leaf

Emerging slow in silent reverie


I dip my brush into the water

Let it soak in deep

Specks of paint spread quickly


Life bursting into light

Becoming something

Close to nature


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A Nun Speaks of Love

Sister Prejean spoke from the altar

a preacher of rivers and fire

awakened to injustice

bearing witness

to secret rituals

hidden behind walls

where she walked with dead men

into the fire

locked eyes with the dead men

to restore life

honored the flowing river of life

knowing, as Jesus did, that

we are all worth


than the worst thing

we have ever done


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In Ireland, we take a bus to 18 Parnell Square

home of the Dublin Writers Museum

to witness the old manuscripts

letters and diaries,

first editions and rare books

locked behind glass


Outside, a steady rain

pounds on leaded windows

while we greet the ghosts

of Behan and Beckett

Swift and Wilde

Dracula and Sweet Molly Malone

Alive, alive, oh,

once again

their passionate yearnings

scrawled across yellowed pages

released once again to the musty air

where they swirl and swirl

before settling into my bones



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Today after walking I sat in the sun

September air making its subtle season shifts

readying the leaves for changing

while bird shadows dance high above my perch

and woodpecker taps out his autumn song

time time time time

transporting me back to summer’s end in Papa’s yard

standing still in the garden beneath a tall pine tree

slow bee buzz and my first woodpecker concert

Papa in his suspendered jeans, tapping time on a rusty trash can

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Distraction: A Numbers Game

Yesterday I cleaned my closet,

donated two trash bags stuffed with clothes that used to fit.

I watered all the plants, repotted the lemon tree.


It has been three weeks since I retired.

So far, I have rocked two babies, one at a time.

Played pickle in the middle with two grandsons.

Read four books.

Sat in the garden for hours on end,

Thinking about life to the tune of a wisteria-drunk buzz of bees

and one raucous crow.

It’s lovely here in the garden.


Maybe tomorrow I’ll write.

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