Finally, I’m worried

Dr. Evil and Trump

On this New Year’s Eve,  here’s a “worry poem” I wrote back in 2008.

I’m worried about other things this year:  my divided country at the top of the list. But here’s this one anyway:

Finally, I’m worried


I’m worried about Petunias.

The ten year old seeds stewing in my

windowbox peat seed starter

are not starting.

If they do, I worry if they’ll grow.

I worry if they will survive

the transfer to outside.

I worry if the rabbits will eat them.


I’m also worried about Nuala,

my idiosyncratic friend,

she of the pontifications

against the Republicans,

who, in church,

picks at her ear with

her little finger,

and then studies the gleanings

intently, head down,

eyes above her glasses.

I’m worried she will lose her job

for incorrigible quirkiness.


I’m even more worried about Emily,

my bashful student,

she of the singular smiles

when listening to a private conversation

which seems to be taking place

within her mind,

between those sandy braids.

She of the zipped up hoodie,

late adolescence

like a lilac holding back its bloom

due to unseasonably cold weather.

I’m worried she will lose her will to live

when she’s home for the summer.


Finally I’m worried about the receipts

I’ve lost,

the weight I’ve gained,

the dreams I forget.


<a href=””>Finally</a&gt;


almost at twilight



fort clifton park

On this snowy morning, here’s   a summer birdwatching poem I wrote many years ago. It appears in my book “Life List.”


At Fort Clifton Park, Colonial Heights Virginia


We walked the boardwalk through the little swamp

almost at twilight

almost at closing time

for the nature preserve.

In the quiet


flash of buttery yellow

and the Prothonotary Warbler


three feet in front of us

on a crusty branch,

to feed her flapping fledgling.

Unmindful of us

paralyzed with joy

to see her

so close

so close.




<a href=””>Almost</a&gt;










Cozy Apologia

woman at desk

Here’s an appropriate poem which uses the word of the day.

It’s by American poet Rita Dove:

Cozy Apologia

For Fred
I could pick anything and think of you—
This lamp, the wind-still rain, the glossy blue
My pen exudes, drying matte, upon the page.
I could choose any hero, any cause or age
And, sure as shooting arrows to the heart,
Astride a dappled mare, legs braced as far apart
As standing in silver stirrups will allow—
There you’ll be, with furrowed brow
And chain mail glinting, to set me free:
One eye smiling, the other firm upon the enemy.
This post-postmodern age is all business: compact disks
And faxes, a do-it-now-and-take-no-risks
Event. Today a hurricane is nudging up the coast,
Oddly male: Big Bad Floyd, who brings a host
Of daydreams: awkward reminiscences
Of teenage crushes on worthless boys
Whose only talent was to kiss you senseless.
They all had sissy names—Marcel, Percy, Dewey;
Were thin as licorice and as chewy,
Sweet with a dark and hollow center. Floyd’s
Cussing up a storm. You’re bunkered in your
Aerie, I’m perched in mine
(Twin desks, computers, hardwood floors):
We’re content, but fall short of the Divine.
Still, it’s embarrassing, this happiness—
Who’s satisfied simply with what’s good for us,
When has the ordinary ever been news?
And yet, because nothing else will do
To keep me from melancholy (call it blues),
I fill this stolen time with you.



<a href=””>Cozy</a&gt;

I must confess

red prom dress

Here is a wonderful poem by contemporary poet Marisa de los Santos:



Perfect Dress



It’s here in a student’s journal, a blue confession

in smudged, erasable ink: “I can’t stop hoping

I’ll wake up, suddenly beautiful,” and isn’t it strange

how we want it, despite all we know? To be at last


the girl in the photography, cobalt-eyed, hair puddling

like cognac, or the one stretched at the ocean’s edge,

curved and light-drenched, more like a beach than

the beach. I confess I have longed to stalk runways,


leggy, otherworldly as a mantis, to balance a head

like a Fabergé egg on the longest, most elegant neck.

Today in the checkout line, I saw a magazine

claiming to know “How to Find the Perfect Dress


for that Perfect Evening,” and I felt the old pull, flare

of the pilgrim’s twin flames, desire and faith. At fifteen,

I spent weeks at the search. Going from store to store,

hands thirsty for shine, I reached for polyester satin,


machine-made lace, petunia- and Easter egg-colored,

brilliant and flammable. Nothing haute about this

couture but my hopes for it, as I tugged it on

and waited for my one, true body to emerge.


(Picture the angel inside uncut marble, articulation

of wings and robes poised in expectation of release.)

What I wanted was ordinary miracle, the falling away

of everything wrong. Silly maybe or maybe


I was right, that there’s no limit to the ways eternity

suggests itself, that one day I’ll slip into it, say

floor-length plum charmeuse. Someone will murmur,

“She is sublime,” will be precisely right, and I will step,


with incandescent shoulders, into my perfect evening.


Marisa de los Santos

 prom 2002






<a href=””>Confess</a&gt;

five years torn down

Broken Egg in Carton


Here’s a poem I wrote about 20 years ago.

It appears in my first book, At the Year’s Elbow:




I sing of the lost things

that cannot be found,

the tiny key to the file,

the slides of the building

that’s five years

torn down,

the photo of the woman

ten years dead.


I sing of the broken things

that cannot be mended:

the tulip blossom torn to the ground

by the heartless child,

the egg seeping

out of the carton,

the film exposed to the light,

the coat lining ripped

at the center,

not the seam.




<a href=””>Torn</a&gt;

under miraculous skies

nativity harpers

Here is a wonderful poem for this time of year:


Christmas Poem                           by G. K. Chesterton

There fared a mother driven forth

Out of an inn to roam;

In the place where she was homeless

All men are at home.

The crazy stable close at hand,

With shaking timber and shifting sand,

Grew a stronger thing to abide and stand

Than the square stones of Rome.

For men are homesick in their homes,

And strangers under the sun,

And they lay their heads in a foreign land

Whenever the day is done.

Here we have battle and blazing eyes,

And chance and honour and high surprise,

But our homes are under miraculous skies

Where the yule tale was begun.

A child in a foul stable,

Where the beasts feed and foam;

Only where He was homeless

Are you and I at home;

We have hands that fashion and heads that know,

But our hearts we lost—how long ago!

In a place no chart nor ship can show

Under the sky’s dome.

This world is wild as an old wife’s tale,

And strange the plain things are,

The earth is enough and the air is enough

For our wonder and our war;

But our rest is as far as the fire-drake swings

And our peace is put in impossible things

Where clashed and thundered unthinkable wings

Round an incredible star.

To an open house in the evening

Home shall all men come,

To an older place than Eden

And a taller town than Rome.

To the end of the way of the wandering star,

To the things that cannot be and that are,

To the place where God was homeless

And all men are at home.


(Gilbert Keith Chesterton)


<a href=””>Miraculous</a&gt;

little silent Christmas tree




I love this poem by the unique American poet e e cummings:


[little tree]               By E. E. Cummings



little tree


little silent Christmas tree


you are so little


you are more like a flower



who found you in the green forest


and were you very sorry to come away?


see         i will comfort you


because you smell so sweetly



i will kiss your cool bark


and hug you safe and tight


just as your mother would,


only don’t be afraid



look         the spangles


that sleep all the year in a dark box


dreaming of being taken out and allowed to shine,


the balls the chains red and gold the fluffy threads,



put up your little arms


and i’ll give them all to you to hold


every finger shall have its ring


and there won’t be a single place dark or unhappy



then when you’re quite dressed


you’ll stand in the window for everyone to see


and how they’ll stare!


oh but you’ll be very proud



and my little sister and i will take hands


and looking up at our beautiful tree


we’ll dance and sing


“Noel Noel”



<a href=””>Silent</a&gt;