By purest chance I was out in our street when the kindergarten
Bus mumbled past going slow and I looked up just as all seven
Kids on my side of the bus looked at me and I grinned and they
Lit up and all this crap about God being dead and where is God
And who owns God and who hears God better than whom is the
Most egregiously stupid crap imaginable because if you want to
See God and have God see you and have this mutual perception
Be completely untrammeled by blather and greed and comment,
Go stand in the street as the kindergarten bus murmurs past. I’m
Not kidding and this is not a metaphor. I am completely serious.
Everyone babbles about God but I saw God this morning just as
The bus slowed down for the stop on Maple Street. God was six
Girls and one boy with a bright green and purple stegosaurus hat.
Of course God would wear a brilliantly colored tall dinosaur hat!
If you were the Imagination that dreamed up everything that ever
Was in this blistering perfect terrible world, wouldn’t you wear a
Hat celebrating some of the wildest most amazing developments?

Dark and light places

“. . . the great dark place of all my dream life.”
                                        Alfred Kazin, A Walker in the City

I ran away from home once
to the nearby Bell Theatre,
where I often viewed musicals
and comedies with my family.
I wanted to escape from quarrels,
to find in the dark a life
as shimmering as the stars.

The Sound and the Fury with Yul Brynner
and Joanne Woodward was playing
that night. Before long, my father
came to take me home. I was eleven,
too young to flee my family.
He rescued me, as he would later,
while away in school, sending me
cash folded into his letters.

My father resisted my mother
as well: Thanksgiving he refused
to eat her green peas and mushrooms,
dubbed them buckshot and devil umbrellas
word play an antidote to bickering.

Years on, I taught Faulkner’s novel,
remembered the night my father
took me home, his small notes
on the underside of silver paper
lining his cigarette packs.

The philosopher and the poet talk on the last warm day in fall

—for Steve Broidy

My neighbor scrapes old paint
from the fence around his pasture,
an annual chore he attends to,
for he knows the white he applies
revives each slat.
            I think of his recent essay,
peeling back the layers, as he said,
of online education, revealing a barren base
devoid of the body’s subtle
               how a screen cannot replicate
confusion written on a brow,
engagement flashing in the eyes,
or a hand touching a shoulder.
How a cursor cannot translate
the voice’s inflections, nuanced
as the nod of his head, greeting me,
while he lays
                 down his tool to rub my dog’s ears,
while he motions toward the remaining wood,
tells how he’ll finish the job before winter.


The feel of awl and augur in his hardened hands,
the rough hull rimed with salt, a whittled plug
he made himself, so tight he set his teeth!
His handiwork behind him, Norway a miniature
carved in the distance, he watched the gray Atlantic
like a ravenous whale devour everything between.

The story ends, and yet begins again. Here
in a foreign port, his touch begins to read
each sign, the curves and swellings, splintered
keel and patchwork. How his heart quickens
when he finds his father’s fishing boat, familiar
as his name, the family build, their house
nailed fast above the rocky harbor.

And yet begins again. How the found word both
fits and startles, an oracle recovered just in time,
just when it’s needed, just before faith slips
away like my great-grandfather’s wedding coat,
ruined in a flooded basement with old books
and portraits, speckled sepia like a gull’s egg,
water-marked and too far gone to keep.

Praise the one that breaks the darkness

Revelation 21:9–23

I praise the necklace so long
it drapes, loops, and circles
the neck of a grieving dowager
back to her girlhood play.

Yet, I praise the darkening
urine of amber beads and the fears
engendered by bloodstone;

I praise red coral—millions of gifts
piled by sea creatures’ lives.
the hard western sky, I praise
grimy hands, fashioning turquoise
squash blossoms for the necks
of tourists.
             I praise the poor woman’s
subterfuge, Zircon, and the queen’s
throngs of golden chains.

I praise Nancy Pelosi’s pearls,

the sound-taste of chrysoprase,
citrine’s juiciness, opal’s sparks,
amethyst’s rumored temperance.

I praise the jeweler’s loupe,
peeking down from its glass copula
into jasper’s chocolate smear
purloined from Heaven’s walls.