Category Archives: Poetry


This one makes me miss the days of teaching creative writing.  I tried to use the students’ writing time to write myself.  Partly to know the challenges the kids were going through; partly just to write.  Not on the state test, creative writing.  But it was fun to see the kids create amazing stuff.  Makes me jealous of the art & music teachers.




I look up from my work.

I’ve been crossing out lines

and writing new ones

and kind of forgot where I was –

on my stool – perched above

a classroom half-full of

high school students.


Some sit near one another,

others alone.  Their heads down,

pens and pencils move across paper.

Hands on faces – cheek, chin, forehead.

One chews a fingernail.

If you can hear thinking,

it sounds like this.


But this isn’t how it starts.

It starts always with questions,

questions I think I just answered.

“Sooooo . . . What are we supposed to be doing?”

A little chatting as I scan the room,

quietly reminding my students

why we’re here.


Then, like little girls at a slumber party,

they begin to drop off.

The sea of blue, black and

gray hoodies scribble silently.








The Sitter

I like this one.  It brings me right back to the house of that terrible sitter.


the sitter


a mangy shack of a thing

across the street from the giant grain elevators

next to the railroad tracks


a mean little place

in the middle of a neighborhood

abandoned by time


waist-high wire fence

surrounds the place

weeds grow up along side


framing the paint chipped house

and the neglected lawn

a portrait of loss


we enter the house

gloom settles over me

dryness grips my eyes and nose


inside the gray front room I meander

my brother stays beside mother

as she talks with the sitter


as I wander careful not to touch

any of the vague colorless furnishings

an old eye watches me warns me


my mother’s green dress

the only color in the room

and that soon is gone


the husband behind us

sleeps snores snorts in his Lazy Boy

as we try to enjoy Speed Racer


at first commercial break

the TV is turned off and

we are banished to the outside


to roam around the back yard

with a rusted and broken pedal-tractor

that grazes on the over-grown grass


we stare down into the darkness

of the storm cellar

daring one another to descend

and wait for our mother to retrieve us

your jungle

I feel like I should say something about this one, but I’m not sure what.  I never felt like this one was finished.  It needs some editing.  I’m not sure it says what I wanted it to.  Apparently my poems are not like my own children.  There are some that I love more (or less) than others.


your jungle


As you walk through the

black and white jungle

you are confident.

Spear in hand,

animal skins tied around your waist

reveal your muscled legs, chest and arms.

As the camera pans up to your head

the audience is surprised by a wooden mask —


long teeth, wide eyes, flared nose.


You walk through the familiarity and comfort of

your jungle.

Birds and monkeys squawk.

But you are at ease, at home.

The beating drums soothe you.

As you move, you slow,

the drums crescendo and

suddenly stop

as do the jungle creatures.

You slowly turn and the camera follows your gaze.


You see an animal new to you in your jungle.

It’s grayness blends with the grayness of its surroundings.

Two large eyes seem to

stare right through you.

You freeze

waiting for the beast to make the first move.

It doesn’t.

It’s smooth hide shines in the morning sun.

You side step.

Perhaps it doesn’t see you.


You will sneak around and

kill it from behind.

The wind blows,

you smell it now.

Its hot dirty acrid scent burns your nose.

It sits low to the ground.

As you creep forward

the beast is still,

it’s strange tail held stiff and off center.

Closer, closer.


With a snarl you leap

spear-first at its flank.

Ting! Ting! Ting!

Your spear tip pokes at the jeep’s back fender.

The audience laughs as the camera moves in close.

I see your eyes behind your mask.

I laugh too as my heels

push my mask a bit further

under my seat.

Embracing the Chaos

embracing the chaos


I stick my head inside my son’s room.

Has a bomb gone off?

Hot Wheels,

scraps of paper,

shoes, trading cards.

Action figures stare up at me.

Has he even been working on this?


Above the clutter,

He’s on the bed,

reading comics.


“Dude, get to work!  Done in twenty minutes or no swimming!”


Eight years earlier this boy on the bed is

strapped to my stomach, wide eyed, taking in the chaos,

wonder of a third-world airport.

Ukrainian guards in high hats – “He needs his visa.”

Questions at the gate – “I thought we had everything.”

Confusion – “He says we don’t.”

Nervous glances between his mother and I.


From the hallway I step into his mess.

“Come on.  I’ll give you a hand.”

He smiles,

hops off the bed,

gathers up an armful of super heroes

and drops them into the toy box.