Blue mist, bluer stillness,
rising up
from the hollow

to the ridge where I wait
not wanting to return
to the blue house

on the hillside where
he still sits inside shaking
from the effort of squeezing

my throat until I turned
blue in the face and finally
he let go and I left with

nothing but a pair of blue
jeans, huddled here turning
blue as the night chill

comes on, night coming
to hide the guarded faces
of those who hear and know

and do nothing but sit behind
windows translucent-blue
with age and wear

and hope that someone,
somewhere, sometime
will do more than hope.



I always thought I’d return
one day, maybe after I’d finally

gotten things together
and had something to brag about,

some big story to tell—after
I’d made a name for myself and arrived.

Now it’s been 26 years
and of course I’ve nothing

much to show for it. A few
good gardens; the day I watched

a banana spider spin her web
from start to finish; that night

I spent sleepless and saw the moon
so large and orange and pretty

that I cried, wondering at it all;
a few lines of poetry strung out

on the pages of a life
still being written.

Poppy’s Brush Pile


Poppy’s Brush Pile

Poppy liked to tell the story
about the time he did a little
yard cleaning and had a grand old pile
of brush and leaves, probably
about ten feet high more than likely,
and reckoned he couldn’t
bag it all, that Ketchem’s
didn’t have enough bags to sell
even if he’d wanted to, so he
figured on it awhile and settled on
a big burning as the best way—
shortly the pile would be gone,
and while it was a-going he could
set on the porch and just watch.

So he took a dry bunch of leaves
up under the pile and dropped
his half-smoked Marlboro.
One tiny spark and a smidgen
of smoke and nothing else.
Well, this ain’t working
worth shooting, he said.
Then he went to the porch
and got a-hold of the morning paper,
crinkled it all up, stuffed it
in the pile and lit a match.
The paper burnt quick
and awful hot but petered out
before doing its business—
‘bout like my pecker, Poppy said—
so he went back to figuring.

Then he remembered that five-gallon can
of regular gasoline he had sitting
in the shed, and he wasn’t about
to let a damned brush pile
make a fool of him. He took the can
and scrabbled to the top, standing
like the precious good Lord
come again on Mount Olive,
and dumped the gas all over the pile.

‘Course it took awhile to pour
five gallons, so in the meantime
the fumes worked their way
all into the little pockets
of air. As you might guess
but Poppy didn’t, not quite yet,
when the match was dropped
the blast blowed him
clear into the flower bed,
heels heavenward. He said he smelt
singed ass-hairs for two weeks after.

He liked to tell this story and say,
See there, honey, even if you reckon
you got the best idea, you still
might want to figure awhile.

For dVerse Meeting the Bar. I have been absent from the bar for a few months, and sincerely missed everyone. Peak season at work, tons of overtime. I still was able to do a fair amount of reading, but very little writing. Just couldn’t find the motivation, the inspiration, the whatever it is that makes me put pen to paper and try to make sense of my world. 
Anyway, our host Tony Maude has us hearkening back to previous prompts, and since I missed so many I felt a lot of freedom. This poem is meant for the prompt Victoria offered, in which she invited us to write close to home, personal, in the common speech of daily life. I actually had another poem ready that I wrote last night, but things happened and I didn’t submit. Then as I was falling asleep I thought about this story, so I wrote it out this morning. 

Home: A Sorted-book Poem

Paths to the heart,
the immense journey.
The way of a pilgrim,
the unforeseen wilderness;
the dispossessed garden;
the trail of tears
back to Cain.
The heart of man,
the hidden wound.
A world lost,
far from the madding crowd.
The way of the heart,
mountains and rivers without end.
Reaching out . . . .
you can’t go home again.

For dVerse FormForAll. Sam Peralta has given us a project to complete—sorted-book or spine poetry. The idea is pretty simple: take a number of books and arrange their titles in some kind of coherent order. It’s a whole lot of fun. I’m all for any project that ends up with books scattered all over the living room. I started out with about 50 interesting titles, finally whittled it down to this. I was delighted to be able to use the last title, since today is the birthday of Thomas Wolfe (earlier today I posted a little excerpt from Wolfe). Interesting how many books I have with the word heartin the title—you’d think I was a cardiologist or something. I also have a hell of a lot of Wendell Berry titles represented. I figured that would happen.


The mountains that in ages
past were level plateaus;
the shoreline that has
not kept its place;
the bones of extinction layered
like words in a holy book,
telling the story
of what once was;
the changing sky,
a glimpse of the universe
passing, rolled together
as a scroll.
            the same,
yesterday’s relics,
like the boarded-up shops
in any small town.
For dVerse OpenLinkNight. Claudia’s post had me thinking about culture, history, place, and this is what came out. 

Heaven and Earth

I haven’t written in a few weeks–work and winter colds have left me feeling a little strung out. Linking this little piece to dVerse OpenLinkNight, hoping that you all will join in and share your little piece of heaven and earth.

Heaven and Earth
It’s good to think
high thoughts—
our brains lightly brush
the heavens, lifted from earth,
drawn above plodding feet
into the beyond—
but at times we must rest
our heads in the tall grass,
as when we were children,
to smell the slow decay
and make peace with
our native home.

Edited: A few hours after posting this I realized a stray line had made it through the cutting process, making a very strange first stanza. Now removed for your viewing pleasure.