My newly published third collection of poems, To Bury or Burn, sweeps
across the spectrum of life, leaving in its wake moments of joy and
grief, childhood and motherhood, poets and their poems, and the
company and loss of cats, all of it against the backdrop of the
The book is available from Amazon
from the publisher, North Country Press
from Barnes & Noble
and from most bookstores.
The first flakes of November snow
are singular: one––two … one––one.
They come gently down from clouds,
white clouds hurrying over to keep
an appointment with approaching winter.
Suddenly thickly they hit the ground
a cold body of weather fully formed.
For four minutes, five minutes, what
was flurry becomes a full-blown squall
drawing me out of protective quarters
to see if I’ve misunderstood what it portends.
Is there any reason on your birthday
to believe that you have not been reclaimed
from the worm of sickness that struck you down?
In August tomato worms abounded
but the physic of the gardener’s attention
plucked them and ended their tomato
dominion. Did the physic of death
end your suffering just so? Now, like tomato
plants of September, do you bear new fruit
as a sign of time well spent in struggle
to be free of the worm at last?
Just in time for a summer wedding
the white hydrangea bloomed.
Both guest and greeter beside the mailbox
it grew from the gravel of decades of winters
plowed to the side of the road. Each white
puff a bridal bouquet, doubled in number
of blossoms this year at the time of the first
anniversary, with an added blossom
of the couple’s own: a baby girl, born.
You mix Miracle-Gro with insecticide
a peculiar pairing for the vegetable garden
where you are enemy of potato bug, scourge
of flea beetle, and crusher of tomato worm
that takes its nourishment from a nightshade
plant, deadly for others but food to grow
from worm to ultimate flight as moth, leaving
us to hope for time for a second leafing, all
the while admiring the jewel of camouflage
that is its green and luminous stock-in-trade.
Deer have nibbled bush and tree
have ended the blooming of phlox
before it began. What next?
Will they jump the fence
of the vegetable garden to join
the porcupine’s destructive way
in this year when he descended
the oaks for a taste of something
other than acorns? In one night
the green beans gone, broccoli
Swiss chard and kale ravished,
bolted lettuce left for us.
Is there time for a second planting?
The triple threat of goldenrod
aster and ripening elderberry
signals No! But why not gamble
on a late frost? Let’s put the seed
in the ground and mark it “hope.”
Bluets first, then violets
backdropped by dandelions.
Daffodils going by, tulips
opening pastel wings.
Promise of iris in rising spears,
lily-of-the-valley set to bloom.
Across the field, the lilac tree
lifting soon-to-be fragrant cones
that one week hence in full bloom
will assault the eager bees.