Sunday, September 24, 2017

Thank You, Artists...

I spend many of my days trying to find new ways to get college freshman and sophomores to see that artists give us little moments of order and sanity in this random and chaotic world. That moment of order and sanity may be in the form of a poem, or painting, or dance, or photograph, or piece of music.

That moment may be one sentence of clarity in which the words seem to cooperate and do our bidding.

Thank you to all the artists out there. Thank you to the ones who give us reasons to see, reasons to try to understand—ways to see and ways to understand. When we lose one of you, we are reminded that chaos always wins, but art has the last and most enduring word/image/gesture/song.


crossing out
the word 'loss'
a light rises

crossing out
the word 'loss'
writing it neatly

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Still Pondering Voice

A lovely metaphor for voice: Today at the Franklin Gem and Mineral Show, one vendor had a display of Tibetan bowls that rang out one lovely vibrating note when a wooden pestle was "stirred" around the outside of the rim. The sound of the singing bowl was lovely and pure. Unaffected. Unexpected. The vibration that produced the note also traveled down into one's hand.

After hearing a bowl sing, it is impossible to look at it and think, "It's just an empty bowl." "Empty" ceases to exist as a concept after having heard the bowl sing. It would be like looking at a violin and thinking, "But it's just an empty wooden thing."

So many surprises today at the gem and mineral show: living creatures from millions of years ago now set in stone; colors and shapes cool to the touch that began as molten lava; little bits of this curious world that we seem ill-suited to comprehend. And bowls that sing, pitch-perfect.

each bowl
its own clear
trembling song

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Voice (Looking Back, Looking Ahead)

Yesterday's panel discussion on the definition(s) of voice in poetry was a wonderful experience. I was sitting between two poets whose distinctive voices were heard immediately. I talked too much about image, as I am wont to do. I became a little less certain of my own voice, which is not a bad thing—it feels like a beginning, the possibility of a new way.

Thank you, Norma Bernstock, for inviting me to be a part of this, for believing I deserved to be a part of this.

And then I had vivid dreams all night, as I always do when I attend a poetry event and listen intently to all those voices. A hummingbird turned into a kitten—and that's the least abnormal thing I can recall from the night's subconscious escapades.

I don't usually turn to my dreams (or anyone else's) for poetic inspiration, but...


dream image
his face the only
silence the only
hummingbird the only
normal tone

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Voice 2

I write in order to give voice.
I write in order to find voice.

One cricket, louder than his brethren.

All night, dozens of crickets who appreciate my diminished gardening zeal.

Four more days, summer. Why so quiet?

Canvas or camera or clay—the ones who discover their true voices thus.

There will come a day, soon, when the autumn breeze is just too much for us, and the wind chimes are moved to their winter home in the basement.

Voice. Definition(s) of. Today, Saturday, September 16, 2017, at the Dimmick Inn, Milford, Pennsylvania, 2:00-4:00. A panel discussion, with lots of poetry included. Free. All are welcome. Bring questions. Bring your voice.

Friday, September 15, 2017


I'll be part of a panel discussion (with lots of poetry being read during the discussion, as well) on the topic of "Poetry and the Definition of Voice," tomorrow, Saturday, September 16, as part of the Milford Reads and Writers Festival in Milford, Pennsylvania. Thanks to Norma Bernstock for assembling this panel and leading the discussion, which, besides Norma and me, includes poets Martin Farawell and U-Meleni Mhlaba-Adebo. This event is free! Come see us at the Dimmick Inn in Milford, PA, from 2:00 to 4:00. 

I've got a new poem that I might read, some Lavinia poems, some Thoreau poems, and some poems by some of my favorite poets, all with an ear toward what constitutes "authentic voice" in a poem. It should be a wonderful discussion/reading! See you at the Dimmick tomorrow afternoon. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The Worst Part (Haibun and Haiga, for Hurricane Season)

The Worst Part

must be watching it all go // or afterwards, looking back at the years of denial and recognizing it as denial // or later, remembering // or later, apologies to what was forgotten // or stepping once more into a calm ocean // replacing—replacing is the worst // deciding one can, in fact, do without // the waiting for some kind of normal // the normal, when it arrives uninvited, unannounced // wondering where it all went // the one or two things you managed to keep, now burdened with this new knowledge // denial as crucial to not giving up right here, right now // the dry room // each evening's forecast for the morrow // that one photograph, a child's boat taken by the wind



Sunday, September 3, 2017

Cocoon (Haibun)


these are not images from last night's dream / these are images from some future dream / the past is some future dream / what do you think you see, looking down through the dark water / what happens within the cocoon / what happens when one hand holds another / why the change in tone / why the change

/in the garden/
a caterpillar transforms
/from me to you/