Tag Archives: poetry

The Killjoy

Jardins des LuxembourgUpon arriving at the Jardins du Luxembourg, we immediately noticed that nobody was sitting on the grass. Strangely, we didn’t assume, from this, that it was forbidden, but that they … um … didn’t want to? I’m not sure I gave it much thought. Perhaps I chose not to believe the obvious.

Anyways, we found a delightful manicured spot of grass, threw down our scarves as blankets, and lay down to read “The Silver Chair.”

We got through about a chapter when the gendarme came up and yelled at us about being on the grass, and how it was strictly forbidden. We reluctantly joined the other refugees perched on hard iron chairs on the walkways between the spots of beautiful welcoming grass to continue our reading. It seems a great shame to have such a gorgeous park and not allow it to be used in the obvious manner.

And apparently this was his whole job, for the rest of the time that we were there, we watched him chase off perhaps a dozen other people who were misled by the beauty into thinking that it was there for them to enjoy.

The Killjoy
July 13, 2007
Jardins du Luxembourg, Paris

Do you remember what it was like
to be young and in love,
to feel the soft grass on your bare feet,
to lie in the cool shade
and read to your lover
about another time and place?

Do you ever wish to kick off
your iron-soled boots,
and, with a quick glance about
for your fellow gendarmes,
toss aside your official hat
and coat, and sit, for a moment,
beneath the poplars you
so jealously guard?


I thought I had posted this quite some time back. Apparently not. These are some observations while floating down the canals in Amsterdam, getting brief glimpses into the lives of people with their homes tied up to the banks, and them getting brief glimpses into mine.

Windows (or ‘Anchored’)
May 4, 2007

We drift slowly past
a thousand lives
tied up to the river bank.
A peek in the window,
nothing more,
and then the boat moves on.

They sit at dinner
and argue about the bills.
She yells at him, then
looks out at me,
and I move on.

He sits before the bookcase,
books to the ceiling
All his friends there on the shelves
Dickens and Balzac and Tolstoy
to keep him company
on lonely nights.

She stares out the window
and the strangers in her front yard,
wishing she could go
where they have been
see what they have seen
longing to be far away
while I long only to be home.
She waves, timidly, sadly,
and we float past.

Here sits only a cat
always at home
for all places are alike to him.

A hundred faces from
and hundred windows
on their way to Nasau
and sun and sand.
Are they going to, or from?

A thousand lives
tied up to the river bank
and we,
we float past
wishing, perhaps, to be

Time Is Money

Important men
having important conversations
determined that we all know
how important.

Calling to encourage you
to focus on what works,
rather than doing what doesn’t work.

And that this eleventh hour deal
was big enough for me to
interrupt my busy schedule
of waiting for my delayed flight.



A postcard of the sunflowers,
rather like a Chick tract,
a blasphemy, in the hands of too many people.
Like CliffsNotes of the Brothers Karamazov,
condensing into ninety-six pages
two years of Fyodor’s tears.

One can almost, but not quite, imagine,
concealed far beneath the half of a half of a half-truth,
the great Truth, waiting patiently to be discovered
but waiting in vain, for we don’t even know
that there’s something to be discovered.

And then, picture Vincent, at the same time
amused and flattered, depressed and enraged,
that everyone in the world
has an imperfect copy
of this gift to a friend.

Poetry as journal

Ever since I started writing poetry, I find that I long to share some of what I’ve written with you, my loyal reader. However, so much of what I am writing is like a personal journal, and, as such, would have to be heavily filtered before I would be willing to put it out in public “for daws to peck at.” Either it is too personal, or it is about events that would take too long to explain, or alludes to images that simply wouldn’t make sense if you weren’t either me, or my Best Beloved. So, while much of my poetry isn’t technically written *for*, or *to* her, much of it is inscrutable to anyone but her. And that’s ok. I write primarily to express ideas that clamor in my head, demanding to be expressed, not because it’s particularly necessary that anyone ever read them.

So, I have a half-dozen pieces that I’d like to share, but one after another, I’ve eliminated them, because they would require too much explanation, and so could never stand on their own. Perhaps when I’m dead and famous, some critic can go back and try to figure out what the heck I was yammering about. 😉

Here’s the one that remains, and there’s one other that I might post, if I can persuade myself that it would not be misinterpreted by the few people whose opinions I care about.


May 11, 2007

Time is both enemy and friend
we urge it on, beg it to stay
scream at its sluggishness
and rail at its flight.

Please, please stay, linger with me
preserve the sweetness of each moment,
and be gone from me,
thief of my life, thief of my joy,
destroyer of my patience, of my youth
and of my innocence.

Each moment, like a rare drop of dew
on the petal of an already-wilting poppy,
each moment rolls slowly by – far too slowly,
and is gone, forever, before there is
time to notice that it was ever there.

Ploughed Fields

Ploughed Fields (‘The Furrows’)
27 April
In the Vincent Van Gogh museum

No print can ever again convey
close enough to touch,
feel the farmer and his horses
leaning so far out of the canvas
I think they might fall
and out of the corner of my eye
I think I saw a petal fall
from the sunflower.

Is it a poem?

In honor of National Poetry Month, I offer:


When I was young, I learned that poems rhyme.
And so, when I discovered that my Best Beloved wrote poems
as lyrical as de la Mare, and more meaningful than Causley
but which did not rhyme
I was somewhat taken aback.

Was it poetry?

Not being one to care what the dictionary had to say on the topic,
I searched, instead, my soul,
to see if this was poetry.

While there, I found that, not only was it poetry
but that there were several poems of my own
cowering there, afraid to come out into the light
because they knew not what Iambic Pentameter might be,
and were afraid of the scorn of the Madding Crowd.

So, is this a poem?
I’m relieved to discover that I no longer care.



It grew in the Kericho sun
watered by the rains that swept up from Lake Victoria
every afternoon at 4
like a heavy felt curtain.
Top two leaves and a bud
picked in the pouring rain.
Flapping black raincoats and hats,
bright faces and bright singing.
The emerald of the freshly washed leaves
almost hurts the eye.
Miles of smooth green hills
stretching to the horizon of my mind.

Dried on acres of wire racks,
the smell of them a liquor in the nostrils,
drowning in the thick black scent of it,
bathing in the aroma,
the smell of home and happiness
and warm rain running down my back
and black earth and blue skies.

Memories, packaged in a green box
and sent to me by kind strangers.

The margin is insufficient

The margin is insufficient

I’ve long assumed that
Fermat had nothing –
no “truly marvelous demonstration”
for which the margin was too narrow.

But suppose he did.

When all you have is the margin,
there’s never sufficient space.
The margin is insufficient to express
ideas that the universe cannot contain.

We spend so much time
living in the margin
frantically jotting notes to each other,
unable or
unwilling to take the time
to fully express the
truly marvelous demonstration
on the page.

The margin is insufficient
for what I want to tell you.
I need the whole page, the whole book,
a library.
And years in which to sit undisturbed
and read to you.