A Selection from Water/Music


swallows at daybreak –
pure inviolate sounds
the flit and splutter
of their antic rounds

across lake glass
dipping their tails
mid-flight and lambent
translucent inkwells

left pooled and pooling
toward the outer shore
a water-pocked trail
their signature

Blood Moon Blues

protesters marched
shutting down cities
senators sponsored
their own annuities

car bombs were back
hem lines higher
forecasters tracked
low fronts and fires

children were told
their parents were thugs
governments banned
playgrounds and hugs

analysts mourned
stagnating markets
terrorists surveyed
expanded new targets

refugees crossed
invisible borders
arriving malnourished
colder and poorer

high up above
a blood moon rose
the seas churned on
the shore decomposed

Venus and Mars
ascended in unison
glaciers kept forming
palatial ruins

while higher yet
at the back of space
a star imploded
leaving no trace

but hydrogen and helium
the seeds of our genus
potent as love
or a neutral virus


Orion’s sword glints in a sky gone platinum
as winter cuts its teeth on a bone-white moon.
Oak leaves, frozen, tremble like seraphim
mauled by a gale whose tin-whistle tune
strips the season of its last live harvest,
scattering windfalls like abandoned ballast.

November. Midnight. Soon the Geminids
will fade as portents reduced to rumor,
as gravity takes hold, mortals and demigods
tempted to read in each burnt-out meteor
reprieve or good omen traversing the skies.
The planet spins on. The oceans rise.

False Cardinal

Just before sunset a cardinal sets
its doo-wop-chirp-chirp atop an elm,
a knot of flame like an epithet
inside the evening’s sky-blue dome.

Spring again, the cardinal’s return
now three weeks early, revenant
of a future we’ve come to learn
will see the planet dead and spent

or not, or maybe so, while likely
the cardinal’s song, undulant still
in its late-day-last-call reveille,

will find us at evening facing west,
transfixed and emblazoned, a cardinal
sun sinking in each pane of glass.


We look to nature for what we long to see,
a cloud’s dissembled face in the aqua blue,
the reed-buffeting breeze, the slow shamble
of water chuckling the creek bed’s gravel.

Whatever is hidden at a glance’s edge
the mind will have it – a bobcat spotting prey
too far outside its burrow’s sunken cavern,
the spider stalking a fly in the nimbus of a web,

the owl’s muffled flight, the pewter gleam
of a muddy river’s eel, the tympani of ice
thrumming a lake’s black kettle – marginalia
in motion within this evening’s pregnant calm

are palpable yet invisible, magnified
dark silhouetted hills dilating before you,
dusk sharpening their backlit ridges,
talismans at twilight, the whir of birds.


Shy panzer of the swamp, atavistic
in your haughty calm, you blink at us
encapsulated in our swanky Prius,
crossing the road from the prehistoric

world you’re going to or coming from
to lay your eggs in the sandy bed
of tomorrow, knowing like the dead
that, however slow, it indeed  will come.

And does, even if absent of you—
sanguine, curmudgeonly, immemorial
as mud, or the memory of mud

propelling you on as you cling to
your path through fan-tailed ferns that flood
our eyes with green heraldry, fresh and real.