View from the Upstairs Studio Window

Out the window of the studio,
is a row of large evergreens and the sky.
It’s dark now, but the day
is just beginning to brighten.
The sequoias on the left
have grown more than thirty feet
taller since I first met them.
There is a scraggy willow
who shades the walkway,
and a mountain ash.
But the window focuses
in on the sky. Hundreds of swans
have flown overhead at night,
and in daytime, ravens and wrens.
From this window, each view
carries something new, a bird,
a leaf, a color. Right now,
the sky is changing from
the infinite night sky to
the skin of the exosphere
that binds our planet together.
I can’t imagine anything
better than that.

There Are Horses in Heaven

This is a secret you mustn’t repeat:
There are horses in heaven.
They have been there always.
Even while here, they are aware of there.
Have you noticed how the horse
sleeps upright and ready, and seems
to be elsewhere? There are horses
in heaven eating golden sheaves.
They come to earth on angel wings
on the darkest nights.They stay with us.
They sometimes grant us wishes. They
relieve us of labor and sorrows. The horse
was in heaven before Adam met Eve.
And when they left the garden,
a horse took them to another.
The horse lives in heaven
wherever she goes.
This is confidential
and true.

Waiting in a Painting

Kind of drab, the color of the wall.
The woman with the updo looks off
in the distance to her left, unsmiling.
She’s probably wondering why
the bouquet hasn’t been brought
to the table yet. She must be an early
bird. There’s no tablecloth, no candles.
Not even a doily. Just a strong white
woman in a long black dress standing
beside the unadorned table.

Or perhaps the woman waits,
impatient for someone to bring
the jewels she intended to wear.
The pearls for her neck and ears.
Where are they, and what of her shoes?
Oh, dear. This is turning tragic
before our eyes. Those uncomfortable
straps. The dreary wall!

When a One-eyed Sphinx Moth Lays an Egg

She doesn’t stop at just the one. She lays hundreds
of little white pearls, one after the other, in piles here

and there. Color-coded, the eggs turn green
and donut-shaped just before they hatch.

Once loosed from the shell, they are tiny lime-green
caterpillars less than half an inch long.

This particular moth larva devours willow leaves
like candy. Their tiny heads move up and down

the leaf as it disappears, bit by bit, down its gullet.
From there, the growth spurt begins and never ends

until one day, after half a tree’s worth of willow leaves
have disappeared, it stops. Then the caterpillar

climbs out of itself, abandons the husk of ‘pillar like
an old fur coat dropped in front of the new changeling.

Now, there is a rotund, shortened version of the cat’
that squirms and wriggles like Jabba the Hutt,

changing color in circles first, from bright green
to amber, and finally all at once to chocolate brown.

That is the chrysalis laying there under the dirt. What
was green and chomping will now sleep through winter

and then emerge next summer as a large moth
with scalloped wings who will never eats a thing.

Driving Down Sunset

It’s winter. Everything is cold—the weather,
the car, my bones. The days turn dark too early.
We’re in the car going down Sunset Drive,
and the street light turns red. Cars are backed up

and moving slow. The wipers plod across
the windshield. We’re stopped, waiting
for the light to change, when out pops
a deer mouse from under the hood.

She comes up near the wipers, so
I turn them off. She looks at me with her large
black eyes, nose wiggling, cute, before she jumps
quick into the warmth of the engine. The light

changes. I worry the she’ll die on the hot engine,
or in the fan, or on the windshield because
I might need to use the wipers soon. Or
maybe she’ll try the traffic. We drive off slow,

turn into the church parking lot on the corner.
I get out, look under the hood. No sign of a mouse.
I’m pretty sure she let herself out in the lot.
Maybe she’ll make a new home in the church.

Red Moon Tonight

The moon, aloft already
in the hazy sky to the south,
illuminates like a dim bulb, and yet

the tall canary grasses
in the fields next door shine
below a moody line of evergreen.

In the distance, a bull frog
echoes another, and a young girl,
so far away only the rising lilt of her voice

can be heard, asks a question in the dark.
There is no other sound, except the tires
of a faraway car as it rolls along the highway.

A mist rises up across the far acres,
and the coyotes begin to sing
in the woods just across the way.


Leaves that clear the mind
and leave the rest behind.
Tea for two. First you, then me.

Without the Sun

Summertime, and the rain’s still coming down.
We were kids and this was our summer vacation.
We were supposed to be outside goofing off,
having some fun, but the rain came down for days.

We made a plan to head to the park beside the lake,
and go for a swim rain or shine.
We made peanut butter and honey sandwiches,
and crammed them, with our towels and

swim suits, into brown paper bags, and
started out. It poured all the way there.
By the time we hit the parking lot, our bags
were soaked through, our lunches wrapped
in towels, also soaked. We were bickering.

We dared each other to put on our suits.
We put our suits on.

We dared each other to run to the shore.
We ran to the shore.

We dared each other to step into the lake.
We stepped into the lake.

We were so easy.
We were startled
to find the water warm.

Mr. Bilbo Baggins on Heroism

Any improbable hero
is a little timid at first,
sticks to himself,
mutters a lot. I’m
no exception.

Today, I’d probably join
in a Women’s March,
but only if my friends urged
me on. Pink hat? Not likely.
But I’d consider carrying a sign.

Still, you can’t make a difference
if you aren’t faced with an impossible choice.
I’m pretty sure now that not just anyone
could have found their way out
of the Mirkwood forests. Some of us
can’t even kill a little spider,
let alone a giant one. Though once given
the task, I did faint right after. But I
awoke oddly filled with courage.

It doesn’t always take courage
to be a hero. Sometimes,
all that matters is a bit of wit
and a gentle heart.
Oh, and I still mutter a lot.

The Odious Rooster

In the first rays of day,
the rooster stirs, restless.
He grumbles a bit about
the slow rise of the sun
before he begins to crow.
The rooster is angry all day
because he never calls
as loudly as he wishes, and
he knows the answers to nothing,
except where the best bits of grubs
are kept, and which is the finest
of the hens, and why.

But at night, late, the rooster begins
to dream he is Gullinkambi,
the golden-combed rooster the height
of a horse who roams the Old Norse mountains.
The rooster has dreamt of the unceasing
crescendo of Gullinkambi’s roar
ringing in the final days of the earth.
He knows Gullinkambi would tell
whatever you want to know,
and a lot more. He knows which wolf
swallowed Odin, and who stole
what horse and when.

When morning comes again,
the rooster mutter and moans
as the day brightens. Though he
hones his spurs, and learned
a stompy dance, his stature
is in his dreams. When he steps
into the sun, he will crow every day
as loud as he can, forever disappointed.

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