All lies,
In boxcars,
Not possible,
But I saw,
All lies
Cannot be,
In boxcars?
Cattle, yes
People, no.
I saw,
You saw what?
You saw
What did
You see?
You saw.
I heard,
You heard?
What did
You hear?
People talking?
I heard names,
What do you
Mean names?
I don’t see them,
I heard
Their names,
What names?

In praise of small living

I do not mind small living. I love the minuteness—
ducks and geese grooming, swans preening lazily,
sharing our rice and beans, spending hours indoors
with lungfuls of room air, going outside for a walk
after the rain. I can suffer wearing a mask, in fact,
prefer it in cold weather with no need for lipstick.
I hold an umbrella by its bamboo handle, just so.
I enjoy the smallness of this life. I love the edges
of souls looking at other faces on a screen, praying
about who and when, and where we are going.

Prayer as weather moves in

Our house looks out upon a lake
facing northwest some fifty miles
southeast of Lake Superior.

Which means our storms throughout the year
can be seen long before arriving,
rising in clouds like mountain ranges.

I sit along our shoreline watching
these storm fronts move and split and change
to every color, every form. 

I take a book; it might be hours
until the weather will arrive.
And yet I find I can’t read long

In quarantine, listening to the news

Clouds of locusts cover the face of the earth
darkening the land in Somalia, Kenya, Uganda.
A single swarm devours what 35,000 people could eat in one day.
In Washington State, Asian giant hornets behead
thousands upon thousands of honeybees, sting
a beekeeper through sweats, his bee suit, high laced boots.
The ER doctor wears a mask at home and scares his little boy.

Thy necessity

Our friend Greg was two weeks shy
of his lingering end when he called to say
he was so sorry we had lost our golden retriever. 
You see, he had lost a retriever himself
and knew the private pain of it.
Then there was John, my former colleague,
who, when given his own death sentence,
found a way to console the young oncologist,
telling her what a good job she had done,
and how he was sure it must have been hard
to share the news. How to account
for such men, such moments? Deflection? 

The food they stored

We walked the dogs this morning.
The long walk we call it:
Where the path splits, go to the right,
Up and down the hills to the lake,
Then turn left. They know the way home.

Early spring. Our breathing
Wraps around our heads,
And we shuffle through
The crisp remains
Of last year’s autumn.

My favorite season, once.
I loved the slant of light, the cool smell of trees
Mixed with notes of books both old and new.


More precisely, the Hebrew is Havel: a breath. His life,
as short and ephemeral as an exhale. Don’t ask
if he was a boy scout, or if some lass from God-knows-
where had her sky blue eyes on him; he was
rubbed out, bumped off, smoked.

His brother, like David after Uriah, tried to Houdini himself
out of blame, thinking murder happened in a vacuum—
both thinking their victims wouldn’t be missed any more
than the sheep they kept.

Havel’s blood cries from the ground because he cannot.

Relocation learning curves

The small bright squares of face instead of chairs
encircling their ideas in classrooms
we once inhabited, our bodies there
attached to mind and chalk. But now there’s Zoom

shrinking the snores or grins to sticker-size—
“thumbs-up,” “applause,” the new epiphany.
And yet, within this safest compromise,
ideas ricochet, insights split sky;

tech heavens open, knowledge tumbles in.
The space has changed; the will to learn remains.
Welcome young Angelous and Ellisons,
Baldwins, Alexies, Frosts, Poes, Plaths, and Cranes.