Brest, France - 1805

She swears that she remembers
the last time we lay as lovers;
promises and kisses in the dark
before the fleet sailed
on the first north wind of autumn.

She says I left her aching-lonely
stalking headlands, watching always
for the white topsails returning
her Lieutenant in the navy of Napoleon
the father of her unborn son.

Her seductive savior, I was
forever lost to Nelson's cannons.
Only echoes of Trafalgar's deadly roar
broke the cold and stony silence
waiting by her painted door.

And she feels again
relentless as a thorn
broken off beneath the skin
her endless never knowing
if she had simply been a fool

or loved.



Seeing Green

November's grey and patient rains came
quietly and slow, intimate and surprising
as always, filling pores and hollows
absolving me of summer sins
opening my eyes wide
in the kindly light
I have begun to see again
the ten thousand colors
we call green.




The last boat.
The first car
to not get on.

Left in America

all alone
in a strange land
no longer my own.



Death has come visiting
too many times this last year
leaving us lessons in loss:
someone in the photo is always blinking,
you raise your binoculars - but the bird has flown,
last words are unremembered
for their lingering metallic aftertaste.


With Caleb, Age 2, On the Porch

My weatherglass does not lie,
this hope colored sky
will again be gray with rain.
But for now, while the sunshine flows
honey-warm and honey-slow,
it is enough and more
to simply sit and rock
with this small and sleeping
grandson in my arms.



Breathe Normally

Attention passengers: We will be flying today
at an altitude of thirty thousand feet.
In the event of sudden cabin depressurization
an oxygen mask will miraculously drop out of the overhead compartment.
Pull downward sharply and the flow of oxygen will commence.
Place the mask firmly against your face;
breathe normally - the bag will not inflate.
It will look like nothing is happening; nothing.
Breathe normally anyway.

If you are traveling with a small child,
first put on your own mask, then the child's.
Unconscious, you will be of no further use to your beloved daughter.
You will be unable to calm or to comfort, to say
"Goodbye" or "I'm sorry; for all those times
I've failed you, for all the terrors
I have not kept away, for all the times
I called you by your sister's name."
You will be unconscious and denied the absolution
she might have given.

So put your mask on first - and remember,
breathe normally.


What If

All six billion of us inhaled
all at the same time?

What if
we exhaled
all facing the same direction,
how much wind would that be?
Hurricanes, typhoons, tornadoes?

What if
we all jumped in unison?
Six hundred billion pounds of humanity
hitting the earth all at once: landslides, earthquakes,
tectonic plates cracking!

What if
all six billion of us roared
in one thundering voice,
"No more war!"

What then?