The Worsening

For Three Word Wednesday, prompt words persuasive, loud, riches. Felt like rhyming this week.

The Worsening

Black shapes against the sky
Hover, descend.
They do not make a cry
But with the blackness blend
And raise a solid wall
That will not shake or fall.

In circular silence
I try to find a door
That isn’t there. Bent
Numb fingers explore
Until persuasive despair
Calmly buzzes in my ear.

Will these dead bones live?
To sing again? I recall
Some melody through the sieve
Of my memory, small
Spent riches of sound
A dirge for the burial ground.

Yet I am not alone—
Child-like belief makes
A chink in the dark stone.
The loud creak of hell’s gates,
Startling as I spring
Free of the worsening.


For Three Word Wednesday: prompt words dual, volley, identical.


Invisible change, slower than the shift
From babbling youth to maturity.
The dual reality of living—

Flesh-willing, spirit-weak. Wait
Still as ancient stone; night fades into day.
A volley of light, celestial energy

Breaks the tedium, penetrates marrow deep.
Hold the tentative hope until
Spirit and will are identical.

Roethke is a great poet . . .

… and here is one of my favorites.

A Light Breather
~Theodore Roethke

The spirit moves,
Yet stays:
Stirs as a blossom stirs,
Still wet from its bud-sheath,
Slowly unfolding,
Turning in the light with its tendrils;
Plays as a minnow plays,
Tethered to a limp weed, swinging,
Tail around, nosing in and out of the current,
Its shadows loose, a watery finger;
Moves, like the snail,
Still inward,
Taking and embracing its surroundings,
Never wishing itself away,
Unafraid of what it is,
A music in a hood,
A small thing,


Three Word Wednesday: prompt words breeze, mellow, tickle.


Rending breezes come and go.
The limbless tree still
rooted stands. You’re stumped—
words tickle my throat—
why I oughtta nod
off, quit trying when
trying is half the fun?

But I can go further even if
on my belly and I will
I will not cry out!

Will you meet me
at Mellow Marsh? I didn’t
think so but just in case.
Buy an island no one
cares where. I smell home,
and I’ll not stop
till I arrive.


Truth manifests itself to
the ones who love

I thumb back and forth
as if all is at stake,

a miner in a rush
to pan his fortune once for all.

Yet the essence of truth
is manifest, overflowing,

like the scent of gardenias
carried on by every little breeze,

like flecks of gold delighting
every wondering child.

Worthless animal

My youngest daughter’s cat is the most worthless animal ever created. Well, that is probably speaking a bit beyond my experience, but I would bet my next paycheck that she easily makes the Top Ten Worthless Animal List. (Cat, not my daughter.)

We live in an older house, and from time to time we have a rat take up his abode in our attic; before long, it finds its way into the living space and eats Wonder Bread or Snickers until I finally end its miserable life. I assumed that Cat—a master of stealth, well-equipped with sharp claws, teeth, and night vision, and therefore gifted beyond my pest-controlling abilities —would make a good recruit. I hate to admit it, but I was wrong. Cat sleeps like Van Winkle all night long, and the rat is getting plump on cat food.

She’s great at catching wind-blown leaves, though.

Seamus Heaney: Squarings xlvii

The visible sea at a distance from the shore
Or beyond the anchoring grounds
Was called the offing.

The emptier it stood, the more compelled
The eye that scanned it.
But once you turned your back on it, your back

Was suddenly all eyes like Argus’s.
Then, when you’d look again, the offing felt
Untrespassed still, and yet somehow vacated

As if a lambent trooop that exercised
On the borders of your vision had withdrawn
Behind the skyline to manoeuvre and regroup.

~Seamus Heaney

For you-know-who

On Our Twenty-first

They ask “How’d you do it?”
as if we had worked magic
or turned water into wine.
Something more wonderful—
two became one, without

reservation, a complete giving
of self. All the rest,
the common work and common love,
radiates from that first
encompassing fullness.

How or why it works, I don’t
know. I only know that tomorrow,
and tomorrow’s tomorrow,
I will continue to lose myself
in your welcoming love.

The Hallway

For Three Word Wednesday, prompt words were dainty, tantalize, haunting. An old memory, hopefully I did it justice here.

The Hallway

At the end of every service came
the Haunting, when every grinning
worshipper had gone through
self-closing doors, and in the dead

quiet every creak and squeak
was empirical proof
of malicious spirits waiting
for the final light to be dimmed.

And that was my job, turning
out the last back hallway light
while Dad checked the locks.
Switch at one end, stairs at the other,

hellfire sermon still alive
in my impressionable mind. I flipped
the lights off and paused, the soft red
glow of the exit sign serving only

to tantalize, a temptation
to take the first step
toward safety. I ran, blood pounding,
ashamed of fear but determined

not to become a dainty meal
for fire-breathing forces.
You may laugh and say what you will,
but I have known from childhood

that evil inhabits holy places.