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Maybe Next Time

Caught saying I hope to be like Cessaly in old age

sweet guileless cheerful open affectionate Cessaly

taking no offense when offense is given

erecting no walls against hurtful arrows flung

offering her open heart again and again

I realize I am nothing like that now.

Can one evolve so dramatically in old age?

I think not.  Maybe next time around.

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As Fate would finally have it after all the years

each turned their heads just in the nick

to see the other passing, remarking later

that had one or the other not turned

had she paused at the shoe store windows as usual

had he bought his ticket a little more quickly

had he strolled on in, eager to find his place

had either been diverted for even a few seconds

the convergence would not have happened

and none the wiser, they’d each have had

their evenings swim on in the usual way

nothing to remark on or puzzle over

the whole tenor of the remains of that day,

the following morning, the rest of their lives

untouched by Chance.

But of course, Fate did have it

and that was that.


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Rain cascades over our soggy town

as if from God’s overfull gutter

and all I can think is his roof

must be leaking, too.

Raised Catholic I can’t help

but say his not hers, him not her,

cannot help picturing an old man

white of beard, a length of thin white hair,

in this case soaked through, a drop

hanging from his Roman nose

all because of a divine experiment

gone awry, humans left to their own devices

and now no way to stop the flood.

The rain that refused to grace us

last summer now will not let up

on point of pride and God himself,

hard pressed to keep a civil tongue

in his head, grumbles and roars

throughout the heavens.

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Once Again We Consider the Greatness of Mary Oliver

It is said as you spend your days

so you’ve spent a life.

So what shall it be?

Pennies tossed at trifles

or sums invested in what matters?

The book you planned to write

pile of paintings

trip to France

sonatas of Beethoven

garden overflowing

wrongs put right

catalog of birds

anatomy of stars

children nourished

loves cherished

problems solved.

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?”


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December 17, 2012

My own grief so sharp for children I don’t know

whose parents I’ve never seen, never met.

What to do with it, where to place it, how

to dislodge it, crouching in some tight corner,

from my body?  It will not be removed.

I wander directionless, hungry like everyone

for the why as if knowing why would somehow soothe,

knowing it won’t and knowing too that there is no why.

A pall has settled over us all and I do not know how

or why a wise man might say to this

I don’t mind what happens

as if all that might happen is

a poorly timed thunderstorm, flat tire,

cancelled flight and not, for example,

a life cancelled or twenty or twenty seven.


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December 9, 2012

Rufus looks up adoringly from

where he lies curled up against the pillow

the perfect little sweetheart of a dog.

Who would guess that at any given moment

a hapless passerby down our street would

elicit a firestorm of barking, growling, racing

in circles, standing on hind legs on the arm

of the couch to ascertain they have gone

by as they should, without pause, without

breaking and entering, without attempting

murder or mayhem against Mother, Brother, Miles?


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December 8, 2012

Lazy lazy lazy

the getting out time later and later

the lure of pajamas stronger and stronger

ever pull the soft covers at my shoulders

crying Stay!  Stay!  like a lover

always wanting me wanting more.

Just a few more minutes

just one more hour . . .



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December 4, 2012

She says with some sadness that it

interests her to see who slows to her pace

and who does not

who among her friends accomodates

these changes wrought by age and misfortune

and who does not

who is willing to listen to speak

of loss and acceptance

of grief

and letting go

and who is not.

One wonders what threatens

what beckons

what retreats

what hides

in the feckless heart

what crooked bony finger implies

you too will succumb

you too will fail, will falter, will fall.



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December 2, 2012

A gifted writer, the spoken word often her undoing.

Once, frustrated with her quiet lumpy students

she muttered loudly enough for all of them to hear

Why don’t you go out and take drugs so you’ll have some ideas in your heads?

A wrong thing to say, of course, and came with consequences

as did the day she stormed out of the English Department

slamming the door and grumbling loudly that she thought

she might go postal, later to claim in her letter of apology

that she did not own a gun and was rarely homicidal.

There she went oops once again.