Tag Archives: winter

The last night of the fall of my fifty-fifth year

The last night of the fall of my fifty-fifth year

Winter comes in
Tomorrow, late,

Hardly anyone will stay
Awake for it. TV in

Front of an empty couch.
Fatherless months

Asserting order like a rake
Across dirt. It’s a season

I’m finally ready for.
Though every brilliant flick

Of survival by the wren on
The empty feeder mocks

My readiness. And in the
Quick corner of its eye

For the briefest wingbeat
Spring is looking at me.

Wallace Stevens walks abroad on a foggy-mild first night of December, passing as an unseen shadow by my window from which I often view the public library, and has nothing further to do with this poem

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Wallace Stevens walks abroad on a foggy-mild first night of December, passing as an unseen shadow by my window from which I often view the public library, and has nothing further to do with this poem

That one had a little skull to speak of.

Magnolia trees’ fail to announce themselves but demand to be seen. As if once they were simple flowers for the dead, rootless like a funeral flower left by a stone, but time turned it into a tree with the unexpected smoothness and texture and the character of a stone, and the smell of lemons reminded us of all whom we miss and who miss us but are by us forgotten. A shadow reminded me of this

While I walked with a scary god in the dark.

It’s not debt I fear but desertion. That there’s no scary god beside me that I pick up and carry when things get difficult.

I pulled off last month’s skin and saw that I am already that memory you have of me, it said to me under a streetlight. I said something like a thought has to be light or it can’t fly and we left it at that.

The baby’s skull mends itself from the moment it’s born, like it knows what’s coming. The magnolia’s petals, like softened plates of bone abandoned by a weak seam.

I knew if I said anything like “seem” that you’d think I was writing about Stevens. And now he’s part of this poem for you, even as the poem is coming together like the plates of a skull to keep Wallace Stevens out of its mind.

This is what I knew about the South. I drove across an empty parking lot in the Florence of South Carolina. Inside the coliseum, the hockey players swarmed in a pre-game drill.

By the time I turned around my scary god was trying to bury me among the abandoned boats of fallen magnolia leaves. His eye sockets were the shells of boiled peanuts and his mouth was a stately house left by its family as the burning army came closer.

Six late winter mornings

Six late winter mornings

It’s the underlined day
On the calendar of forgiveness.
But I cannot make the call.

I get up early
To let the dogs out but

It’s too cold–they stay on the porch
As if waiting for a ride to pull up

Or a drink. I walk to the back yard
And relieve myself

Against the frosted grass.

The black rabbit
Lounges in his hut

By the family vegetable garden.
He often rode on the back of our dog.

One day he lay on his side,
Not waiting for the morning

Or for us to find him.
He was finished and he went.

Leaving only a stiff black shroud
And the sound of birds.

Winter leaves like that.

In our blizzard-crafted snow cave
We almost died

But the snow plow missed us as we hid.
Years later, my childhood friend Marty

in his capacity as a civil servant
of the public works

Tore up a curb with his plow right
Across the street from

Where we’d once schemed
How to pay for the garage window

We broke with a barrage of snowballs.

After an early March storm
I snuck out before my son woke

To make lumps in the snow
Like snake coils surfacing.

Over breakfast I swore
I saw the Loch Ness Snow Monster

Out the bay window in the plow drift:
When we went to investigate

He discovered a large egg
Of ice, snow, and dirt

By the edge of the plowed pile.
He demanded we take it inside.

We put it in the freezer
To see what would hatch.

Spring grows over the winter
Like a scar

The hurt season’s swelling

We almost over-reach for it
As if we prefer being sore

Over forgetting, a cloud
Ceiling over empty blue sky.

Poem to be read in the middle of the night (i)

Poem to be read in the middle of the night

In the daylight the wind in high branches
can at least be seen if not heard

In the spring it will regain its voice
the trees will put on their hands and applaud

Their applause is what we hear
The performance itself slips through ungrasped

December 30

December 30


All winter the days will grow– into winter’s death
Where light and darkness equal out.

Penultimately just nine days in it serves us
To pretend the end of anything–

So make your list. Sum it up
Like any cat lifting its tail to spray

Against the furniture. Already the leaves
Hiding like a punchline to a joke not yet told

Are laughing at how quickly the living forget
The cold, the weird verse of numbing wind

I hear in my mother’s painting of snow
And sunset, starlings on the highest branches

Of black walnut, as light as the best and worst
Of any year, as gone as the dead who won’t come back.

Meditation on an empty field

Meditation on an empty field

The winter field’s as many colors as kinds of loss.
It gets no bigger but grows every year.

There’s still sweet green, scuffed gold, brown verging
On yellow. Things beneath with code for new color.

Where the digging root took deep hold, maple and oak:
Identifying grief is like recognizing trees in winter

In this season of missing. Look closely.
There are months to learn them all. The wind

through this one is my name, your voice.

Near the End of the First Winter of My Sixth Decade

Near the End of the First Winter of My Sixth Decade

Through a brick-lined alley where I read my life’s sentence
I step over a rivulet of snowmelt that flows behind me into the past

walking with an open cup of coffee in a soft cold rain

Winter Sun

Winter Sun

Sometimes it’s the other way around,
though most times the winter sun does x off x

by which I mean, you glimpse it baring the soul
of a whisper of empty branches or scrolling a message

across exhausted snow crusting a street corner
and you see reality, suddenly, not in a new way but an old

way in the way the winter sun is old, it’s been burning
so long after all maybe you think not with the heat

it had as a younger sun when everything grew green
beneath its gaze till a hemisphere turned its shoulder one

season and that was it, but sometimes it’s the other way
around, things can be cold and burning at once,

sometimes reality sees you, and it’s blinding.

Warm Breeze, Mid-Afternoon in Mid-Winter

Warm Breeze, Mid-Afternoon in Mid-Winter

At the walnut tree’s highest reach
the day’s breeze sets twigs and thin branches

tense like frantic lost messages, last waves goodbye
but the slur slows through the random knots

and twists of the limb structure and’s spread asunder
further in by the outward-reaching limbs and widening

resolve of main branches to the absolute breaking
of leftover negative space: down where I am, humming

a tune I heard my beloved sing and will not forget,
just my voice in the quiet, here at the trunk where all is still.