Great Falls in July

greatfallspark from findyourchesapeake com

( photo from

Here is a poem I wrote a while back when I spent some time at Great Falls Park in Maryland USA.  It appears in my book  Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky. It’s a formal poem, a rondeau:


Great Falls in July


Although the heat sinks into stone,

the roasted rocks lean toward the shade.

Where gargling water cools the blade,

where tumbling danger flanks the bone,

from deep to center, I’m alone.

I grip the rocks and feel betrayed.

Although the heat sinks into stone,

the roasted rocks lean toward the shade.

From plunge to mist the river moans.

My heart pounds fire within the glade.

I feel the spray sting all I made,

the small falls I’m ashamed to own.

Although the heat sinks into stone,

the roasted rocks lean toward the shade.






Crop Circles

SONY DSCphoto from


Here’s a poem of mine that appears in my book Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky:

Crop Circles


“Early in my writing career I came to believe that the stories I wrote were already written in the unconscious by a hand other than my own.”

– James Lee Burke



Geometry was my worst subject,

but I love it slicing its way through the cornfield.

Flowers, Mandalas, Pentagrams,

twelve years now, each summer

new theorems.

Snowflakes, insects,

quilt squares,

Who speaks here?

What message whistles

in the high corn?

In the wheat , what coded words

have I been ignoring?

The cure is part of the art,

the unfolding of the origami of pain.

At the approach of the reaper,

sheaves bow down like Joseph’s dream,

not cut,

but bent.



photo by Monique Klickenbergh   on




it disappears


Here’s a poem I wrote about thirty years ago, in a little city in Virginia:




Brick mirage

in the flat stretch of parking lots,

the Trailways bus station rises,

a solid oasis

for those on the road.

For the natives,

it disappears

into the general route to the library

or the grocery store.


The inside,

between buses,

is as dark as a desert outpost,

stung by the smell of

french fries,

diesel oil,

soothed by the throbbing radio,

the regular breathing

of the Coke machine,

the foreign language of

arrivals and departures.


The local madwoman

makes it real.

She speaks a familiar accent,

but she braces the walls

like a sentry.

She asks me for money

as I walk by –

my payment

for staying home.


<a href=””>Disappear</a&gt;






Toxic response to infection

Edvard munch The Child and the death                                   EdvardMunch-TheChildandtheDeath

Here is a poem I wrote about the grandmother who died long before I was born:



My mother’s mother died from


In 1922

Two weeks after she birthed

My uncles

At home

Delirious, tossing in the bed,

Then dead,

Stiff like marble

When they lifted my

Seven year old mother up

To kiss her goodbye.



Toxic response to infection


Raging from

A bed full of childbirth,

A barely noticed cut.


Blood gone bad

Coursing poison through the body

Poisoned muscles screaming pain

Poisoned heart slowing down

Worse than arsenic,

Body turned against itself.





<a href=””>Infect</a&gt;

tides of noise, a crown of candy

crown of candy

Here’s a poem I wrote about twelve years ago:

After Laughter

after Ecclesiastes 8:15


Therefore I commend mirth;

so I praise laughter;

after all, I turn to grinning.

In the end, I prefer to chortle, to chuckle,

guffaw, snort, split my sides,

tears of mirth, earthy mirth,

rips of laughter, tides of noise, human breath gasping.

I can’t cry, but I can still laugh

at slapstick,

the foot on the banana, the pie in the face, the butt on the floor,

hit, broom! slice, twig!

I commend mirth!

I award a crown of candy,

reward hilarity!

Laughing wins, winds, winding around my guts,

splashing out my open throat,

tasting so much better than bile.



<a href=””>Tide</a&gt;

elaborate levels of emptiness

photo from mystic path to consciousness facebook page

Here’s a poem by Thomas McGrath:


I don’t belong in this century—who does?
In my time, summer came someplace in June—
The cutbanks blazing with roses, the birds brazen, and the astonished
Pastures frisking with young calves . . .
                                                          That was in the country—
I don’t mean another country, I mean in the country:
And the country is lost. I don’t mean just lost to me,
Nor in the way of metaphorical loss—it’s lost that way too—
No; nor in no sort of special case: I mean
Now, down below, in the fire and stench, the city
Is building its shell: elaborate levels of emptiness
Like some sea-animal building toward its extinction.
And the citizens, unserious and full of virtue,
Are hunting for bread, or money, or a prayer,
And I behold them, and this season of man, without love.
If it were not a joke, it would be proper to laugh.
—Curious how that rat’s nest holds together—
Distracting . . .
                      Without it there might be, still,
The gold wheel and the silver, the sun and the moon,
The season’s ancient assurance under the unstable stars
Our fiery companions . . .
                                     And trees, perhaps, and the sound
Of the wild and living water hurrying out of the hills.
Without these, I have you for my talisman:
Sun, moon, the four seasons,
The true voice of the mountains. Now be
(The city revolving in its empty shell,
The night moving in from the East)
—Be thou these things.



Thomas McGrath, “Poem” from The Movie at the End of the World: Collected Poems, published by Swallow Press/Ohio University Press. Copyright © 1972 by Thomas McGrath. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press.


<a href=””>Elaborate</a&gt;

the smile she would bestow

Perigee Moon May 2012 photo Eileen Wise


Here’s a lovely poem by Emily Dickinson:



The Moon was but a Chin of Gold
A Night or two ago —
And now she turns Her perfect Face
Upon the World below —

Her Forehead is of Amplest Blonde —
Her Cheek — a Beryl hewn —
Her Eye unto the Summer Dew
The likest I have known —

Her Lips of Amber never part —
But what must be the smile
Upon Her Friend she could confer
Were such Her Silver Will —

And what a privilege to be
But the remotest Star —
For Certainty She take Her Way
Beside Your Palace Door —

Her Bonnet is the Firmament —
The Universe — Her Shoe —
The Stars — the Trinkets at Her Belt —
Her Dimities — of Blue —




<a href=””>Bestow</a&gt;