The problem

with living in the city


there’s always someone doing

what you are doing.

There’s traffic

all through the night

and you

are never the only one

up or out.


Well, maybe once.

In treacherous wind-chills,

my visiting brother and I

trudged to the edge of the park.

No people were there,

but through half-closed eyes

we saw

three does like a vision,

shortly, and then we went home.

Indiana Dunes State Park

I’m learning the Lake’s moods:

the polka dot calm–

blobbed reflections

(almost cartoonish)

riding gentle undulations;

bolder, half-sun days,

each circular wave

glowing green through the top

(rather like jello);

the desolate day

when everything went slate

(but lonely isn’t always);

the winter and watching

waves eat snowpack,

a miniature time-lapse

of canyons and wind.

Walking back with my brother,

the wind drove grains

across the sand

“like flees hopping.”

Too gross a metaphor,

he said.

“Poppy seeds, then.”

But poppy seeds don’t jump.


And Miss Ella conquered

the high dune mountain,

and Kat played her guitar

when the orange sun sank

to ride the backs of waves.

It was the most spectacular setting.

All down the beach

each human faced west:

the little girl and her mother,

the three ladies in matching jumpers,

the fancy-camera-ed couple–

everyone watched

the pink-purple glory

behind Chicago’s violet silhouette.

When the sun slipped at last,

it seemed we should applaud–

should stamp and cheer.

But we turned quietly,

each to her own home,

sated with sand and wind

and wonder.


Fresh out of inspiration,

I seek the shooting stars–

see three bright slashes

in infinite distance

and several pretty close

(the latter, moths, which streetlamps

make almost comparable).

A cloud of spiderweb

blurrily catches light

between electric wires.

My heart ticks against my ribs,

quivers in the triangle

beneath my breastbone.

I am a’rhythm with the crickets.

Another, I gasp–

someone has taken

a penknife to the heavens!


I return, warm with gratitude,

to a room that smells

like a holy day.


Bright plume lift

your living light.

Spread circle on circle–

compass lines,

bobbing, unbroken,

blending softer, softer

to the edges

of the room.

Evoke, in unstill city,

the gentle power

of the silent and holy.

When is the answer ever

How are you

going to keep this up?

Your planets are drifting

away from the sun, and this

is more than a cold.


Honestly, when is the answer ever

fine, thank you.



Barn Swallow

Dive bomber in navy tuxedo, you are

the dapperest guy on a wire.



the sky,


the cat,


the corn,



sing, baby, sing

the   longest   twittered   string   of    conversational    inflections    till    you    reach    that    final



Imperfect Explanation

I keep the pieces

of the angel ball.

They are too lovely

to discard–

hand painted wings

and stars and sky

(and dried red

peppers in a bunch)

on egg-shell slivered



Ideas broke my heart . . .

be perfect, which you cannot be.

I struggle to explain.

The shards did not

go back as planned.

The pieces fall to earth.

Thinking of Eight

These tender summer mornings

over all these flower beds

awaken wistfulness, turn me

sharply nostalgic for hosta houses–

the twig people’s sticky petunia hats,

their stands of spent geranium bloom,

their tricky violet-leaf tunics cinched

with xylem and phloem belts.


I miss when the world

could be put together under a leaf

with infinite room for intricacy.

I come from people

who believed God speaks

in dreams and visions,

who went to a land

God showed them


and died there

or left . . . We left.

I left.

(And, yes, there is more

to that story.)


What do you do

When you leave your Promise Land?

Is God’s glory dispersed, like a lake turned to fog?

Can you taste it in your tea?

Feel it in the curve of cup against your thumb?

Might God call to you,


through the sliding doors of the corner store–

your burning bush by the baskets?

Your burning bush in the sparrows bathing?

Your burning bush in your neighbor’s humor

or the freshly climbing sun?

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