Music at Work

Sometime around midday, I pause.

My mahogany desk is so shiny. It’s always marred by fingerprints.

Beyond this dark wood is a wall of brightness. A live background mural of clouds and sky and trees. Silent and untouchable. No one who is busy with accounting notices.

I can’t help but study the living movement of the palm fronds. I hope no one sees me.

My co-worker is blaring gaudy pop songs for the whole office to hear. But I have my own music– a soaring melody for listening ears only.

I imagine this…
slender leaves are fingers
playing piano.

{This is my first attempt at haibun. I didn’t have one about dusk, which is the dVerse haibun prompt this week, so I am going to use this for Open Link Night #218. }

Dead Leaves

The trees here in the south,
though half-turned from the season,
are still every shade of green.
Moss sways in the cool sun,
casting black and gray shadows
that move like snakes
on my neighbor’s white roof.
He is unaware of their charm,
but they amuse me so.

My home is silent,
but every now and again
a sound like hailstones startles me
(even though we are frost-proof).
Hard, dead leaves are falling,
but what my neighbor sees
is soft and brown and orange.
It flies past his window
in a sudden gust of winter wind,
silent and secret.


The gulls are fighting over clams in cakes.
Among the yawning cracks of rocks, we walk
as delicate as dreams when one awakes.

Chowder in our bellies, stomach aches,
we’re locals who will want to stroll and talk.
The gulls are fighting over clams in cakes.

We watch the widowed, white-capped wave that breaks.
At Galilee extends an arm of rock
as delicate as dreams when one awakes.

A cloud of witnesses surrounds us now and takes
some photos of the greedy, gathered flock.
The gulls are fighting over clams in cakes.

The bolder the gulls become, the fewer mistakes,
taking possession, eyes like steel and chalk,
as delicate as dreams when one awakes.

Crumbs of pity, for orphaned gulls’ sakes,
are tossed by innocent tourists. We locals mock.
The gulls are fighting over clams in cakes
as delicate as dreams when one awakes.

{This is my first attempt at a villanelle. It was inspired by a memory of feeding clam cakes to seagulls at Galilee, in Rhode Island, my home state.

It was also inspired by a recent reading of Psalm 73 (which I believe to be a beautiful Psalm, and which is one of my favorites, despite its imprecatory tone).

Finally, it was indirectly inspired by one of my favorite stories from childhood—Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach}

The Grace of Tears

Too many reasons, I confess.
I counted the cost. It’s dark
as Hell,

and         I doubted.

I plotted. I feared
no praise, no lessons gratis
for the lost.

Though blessed, I gambled
in this cold season.
                        I hardened,

in form and formalities.

                I thought
a complex poem might help
me: a villanelle—
                gratuitous stanzas,
              repetition, variation,
           drunk and dramatic,
something to show
                        and tell

a long laborious song,
a skill to buy and sell.

A golden calf,
                        when I
should have known
tears would do
just as well.

I fell.

My heart sank
                and swelled.

All grave vision
        and scope,
but nothing anyone
would recognize
as hope.

{The dVerse prompt that inspired this poem is drunk.}


Must morning devour me,
subdued in my bed, inarticulate,
after God’s sunrise voice
makes my murmured longing
soft, not vast?

My voice sinking soft
like powdered sugar on hot dough,

Must evening eat
my soft mind too, when
God’s sunset voice declares it?

{the dVerse prompt which inspired this quadrille is the word murmur}

Love and the Poet

Love, as in falling-in-love,
no longer exists for me.
Not fondness, not affection.
Not any of it.

I simply don’t believe in it.

And I see no value in considering it deeply.
I find no meaning in it
of any kind, no usefulness or purpose.

Not curiosity,
Not nostalgia.

No interest in it
as a plot element,
or a conflict,
or a trope,
or a character arc,
or the subject of a poem.

Have I loved?
Yes, and now I renounce it.
For good.

No-love makes it hard to be a writer or a poet. What is left to write about?




I suppose there are still some themes.

You’d never know it by skimming the shelves of bookstores. It’s all love, love, and more love.

It even makes it hard to be a reader.

No Jane Austin.
Shakespeare. Meh.

I’m trying not to be pessimistic.

It’s not as if I can do anything about it—about the fact that no-love
makes half (or more) of all literature incomprehensible and foreign. False.

I guess my job now is to find out what I still do believe in.

Find those poets who understand me, who understand that falling-in-love is just a chemical trip.

There are other kinds of love.
I will write about them.