The Wren

Carolina Wren on my windowsill by by Marianne Roken Del birding

photo by Marianne Roken



Here’s a poem from my book Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky:


The Wren



is foreign to the wren.

She is all present in her garbling song,

She is all knowing as she carries thin sticks to her nest box

She is all loving in the dawn

She is powerful in clover to the tiny bug

but the crow could swallow her,

and she would fit into my hand.

She is eager, not tense.

She is present, not passed,

She is perfect, not single,

and no helping verbs accompany her.

Her song is a breathtaking flood,

lilting , unlikely OM

to the wrenmother


Carolina Wren by Wendy Luther Dickey

photo by Wendy Luther Dickey




Jeff Wall Untangling


Here is a poem I wrote after viewing Jeff Wall’s large photograph of the same name in the Hirschhorn Museum in Washington DC, back in 1997.   It appears in my book Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky:



Greasy yellow hose, thick as a child’s arm,

blue rope thick as a dogwood trunk,

white rope grey with dirt, thick as a child’s arm.


Hopeless tangle on the workroom floor,

writhing tangle on the workroom floor,

writhing serpents on the workroom floor,

distinguished by the colors of the rope,


writhing serpents on the workroom floor,

blue intestines on the workroom floor,

old sea sailings on the workroom floor,

yellow hose thick as a child’s arm,

frayed and broken ends of chestnut mane

together tangled into argument

of complex sentences, equivocations,

qualifications all in a mess

on the workroom floor.


Strippers and sanders on the shelf,

unplugged witnesses of argument

say: how will it be undone?

Man attentive to untangling

stares without strategy.








Anne Sexton’s Last Reading


Anne Sexton Love Poems book cover

I was a young poet when I saw Anne Sexton give a reading at Goucher College in Maryland  USA.  It was 1974, I believe.  She committed suicide the following day.

I wrote this poem about that reading.  It appeared in my book  At the Year’s Elbow:


Anne Sexton’s Last Reading


Seven years later I remember

the long red dress

clinging to your lanky frame,

a slash of blood

in the middle of the stage.

Your poems,too,

like slashes of blood.

How impolite of me

to stare at them.

You hung them in the air

with your

low nonchalant voice,

arranged them with

garish foreign hands,

garnished them

with cigarette smoke.

“Unless God keep the city,

the watchman watches

in vain.”

You said it was from Kennedy.

Now I know it is a psalm,

and now I know

that two days later,

you killed yourself

in a closed garage

with poison smoke

unnoticed by the watchman.

Rains of my regret

cannot wash

the blood from

your poems.


Anne Sexton

Blue Winged Teal

Blue-Winged Teal, Birding Center, Port Aransas, Texas


Here’s a poem that appears in my book  Life List:

Blue-Winged Teal


Small dabbling duck,

wallow in freshwater ,

mince your steps on the sticky fronds

of April,

rest your blue bill on your speckled chest

like a dignified dowager,

looking down her nose.


Fashionable in your touches of sapphire

on breast and wings,

your color is more blue than

what the paint store calls teal,


something more moody than


more matte than satin.





Sunset over vineyard in the Carneros Region, Napa Valleyphoto by Gary Crabbe

I wrote this poem about 30 years ago. It appears in my first book, At the Year’s Elbow:




The vineyards tumble

down hills

like children

in the summer evening

before their parents

call them to bed.


The vineyards green and heavy

promise wine,

glinting secret in casks,

or raisins,

the disappointed ones,

the grapes

who settled for less.


Raise sins,

rays ins,

wrinkled and sweet,

fly like,

sticking together

in boxes.

Dry and dark,

poor raisins,

never wine,

no longer young

and full of juice.

Over sweet

memory of summer

in mince pies.


 from seriouseatscom

photo from



June24 2012 012

 These flowers are blooming in my garden right now.  The poem comes from my book Reconnaissance.




Named Lucifer, she rides her curving stem

Rococo red glad mimic in the shade

Seems rare as orchid, skating on her blade

Of stiff hard green, her color sings a hymn

To all those corms whose offspring number them

Among the stars, prolific garden trades

Because they crowd and choke the flower beds.

Late summer crows sway scarlet in the light

Of slanting sun on slender arching branch

Named Lucifer, those thousand bug sized crows

Of red, assembled bold and bright

Like sailboats getting ready for their launch,

Like poison berries no one ever knows.


Pulling up the Vines

its not work its gardeningfrom blog”it’s Not work, it’s gardening”

Here’s a poem that appears in my book How the Hand Behaves:


Pulling up the Vines


Five entwined:

Wild grape ,aristocratic leaves and tiny purple berries,

English ivy, dignified and sturdy,

creeping Clematis, profuse and pungent white flowers,

Honeysuckle, seductive, heavy, waxy yellow flowers,

and Poison Ivy, those shiny red then green glossies.

Gloved , armed with clippers, I tear them from the smothered juniper.

Snarling, I charge them as I wrench them:

Get off the azaleas!

Bouncy and fragrant with galloping photosynthesis,

they pull away in long loops.

Aggressive, rejected,

they wilt slowly,

piled in a mountain by the trash can.


PoisonIvyfrom wrkf org