Owls and Dogs

The first owl that I saw here actually

Was dead. A small Brown on its back

In the grass wings splayed next to the

Street. Killed by crows, I guessed, or

West Nile.

The thing about a dog is how I spend

A lot of time more time outside at dawn

And dusk. He takes these matters seriously.

I had already learned to look

For owls at these times at these times,

To listen for the the trilling of

The Browns before they took flight,

Or in the morning on returning from

Their hunts.

The sky, no matter what the alterations

Humans have imposed on it, is always

Just so good to look at in the morning.

The end of the universe is out there.

On the morning of Election Day 2008

Anxious to go vote, I saw a Great Horned

Owl spring out of a tree as I passed under it

And swoop off into darkness. I took it

For a good sign.

Today I listened to the trilling of the Browns,

And take it as a good sign

That a Great Horned Owl flew

Out of the dark sky to perch

Above our heads. Even if

It was only an owl, that alone

Is a good sign.

Write About a TV Show

Because words make magic happen

They should not be trusted. With your eyes

Closed I could say, “a shining light,” and

You might see yourself as if from across

A sunlit field, like you were a running dog,

Or beside a lake, or at a desk in front

Of a computer.

Or I could use the words, “Korean

barbecue and French fries.” Your mind

would be so happy, all your senses

Wrapped up in the zest and sizzle of

The smells and flavors of the roasted

Meats and spices.

The sounds of words you would mistake

For satisfaction. No field would have been

Raced, no fish reeled in, the tingle of a hot

French fry might be savored as a memory,

But your body would be empty and unfed.

Nothing would have been accomplished.

So when I watch TV, I keep the sound

Down so I can’t hear the words. A fall

Is funny. Or if something breaks. Guns

Can be funny when the people in the bar

All duck and nobody gets hurt. A trap

Is funny if your hand is stuck but nothing

Else. A drunken man is funny, or a man

Who cannot find his chair, his car, his

Words. But you can’t tell sometimes about that.

In my last dream I saw the words, “Cow/

Vow,” on a page in a book. There was more

That made some sense, but I could not

Remember by the time I woke up.

Even when you are not dreaming, words

Can make reality very difficult to understand.

Snow Again

This morning when I woke up

The sky was dark and the ground

Formless and glowing as if parts of it

Might rise and float away like clouds

Or pale ghosts, but quietly.

I had been running a race

On a track that stretched off

Into distance without end. Time

Mattered not at all. Leaders stood

By confident the winner would have

Already been decided from among

Those present. Or who would soon,

Or had already left.

The only thing that will not change

Is being haunted by the past. Summer

Nights spent shivering in blankets marking

Time until the sky grew light enough to rise

And start a fire, watching smoke curl up

Between the leafy branches of the trees.

Feeling warmth begin to grow.

1328 Maxwell

In this house the child knew

What it was to sleep next to an

Open window breathing in the

Clean sheets and the scent of

Lilies of The Valley which were

Blooming in the shade this

One warm day that would last.

On her dresser pictures and a pincushion

Drew his eyes and opened questions he

Would never ask. In this house he would

Know little, but know it well. Motes of dust

That floated between sun and shadow,

Reading by the hot air register behind

Her chair. They spoke little. He would

Arrive early in the morning. She would

Bake and clean, then sit for coffee

And a game show.

In this she lived after they had

Left the farm, but just a couple years

Before her husband died after his

His stroke. This house they moved

Her from when so much else was gone

She could no longer stay. I only

Know part of the story. This house

Now fenced for a construction site

And marked for demolition.

Poetry Month Poem-a-Day 3

I owned a shirt like that

Back when we had a garden with

Tomatoes every shape and color.

Yellow, green, and red. Like the moon,

Like roses, globes, or shaped like rain.

On hot nights the vines would pull

Themselves from deep beneath the soil,

As if they ached for whatever they imagined

Would be possible, had imagined

On the day when I had placed them

In the ground. There was no fruit

Shaped like a star.

Mornings I would stand

Outside at dawn. The fruit would

Sing the sun into the sky.

My shirt, that red one, hung

Off of me like memories of a rivalry

That I would never win.

That was what I had to leave behind.


These dreamers sat at the window

Sipping coffee staring at the line of

Dogs from the neighborhood who had

Slipped their collars dancing on their

Hind legs, spinning like the colored strands

Of streamers in the cold wind.

Plumes of music and exhaust fumes belched

From the motors of the barrel organs. The

Streets were closed, crowds of people

Waiting their turn to eat, to spill

A drink, to throw darts at a balloon,

An axe at an apple on the head of

Their youngest son, shoot skeletons

In a saloon, pitch baseballs at ancient

Monuments for prizes.

The real prize, thought one,

Is in a tent that holds the sky

And it is so large no one pays

Attention. Admission, thought one.

There is a show, thought one,

Inside that tent. Thought

One, it’s time.


It began as a color, like

the unicorn, almost too beloved to be a part

Of anything the world might have

To offer. In daylight, starlight, in

The rain or total darkness it would race

Among the trees, across the dancing

Tall grass, twinkle on the surface of the water, and no living creature, no sighted

Creature was immune from being struck with awe.

Some say the world

Was a better place then. Silence

Was everywhere and every living

Creature, seeing creature, knew and

Recognized its beauty.

Look at how things are today.

Machines at all times everywhere

And not just in the cities, under ground and

In the sky and under water

Making sounds nobody can escape.

Some wonder why the change?

Nobody knows for sure. After

It happened there was nothing

Anyone could ask and get an answer.

They say though that silence at the

Time was tired of being seen, that it

Decided that it wanted its voice

Heard as well.

That’s how it goes, and this

Is what we have today.