small songs I sing
to join
my voice to other voices
hidden in the grass

Monday, February 19, 2018


a trickle
in the long-dry creek . . .
chorus frogs
piping a memory
into the heart of winter

I fell under an enchantment when I was only a small child. The sun warm on the back of my neck, I would stand stock-still at the edge of a marsh, waiting for the voices to begin. I heard them first in the distance—one, two, then more and more until they merged into a sound like a million silver sleigh bells.  Even when a voice pealed out right at the toe of my boot, I could not spot one singer hidden in the reeds.

still seeking
what I cannot see—
a mystery
haunts the marshes
of a wayfaring mind

Half a century later and halfway round the globe, 25 new species of frogs have been discovered on Mount Oku in central Africa.  But as fast as their voices are heard, some fall forever silent.  Nearly half of Mount Oku’s amphibians are threatened with extinction as people cut the forests and poison the water . . . as the climate heats up and diseases spread.

found and lost
in the space of a song
the spells
of an unknown weaver
undone by hexing hands

~Skylark 5:2, Winter 2017

Monday, January 29, 2018

the streambank

another death . . .
I follow a path
thick with oak leaves
turning into soil,
nourishing the roots

rose hips 
and holly berries 
in deep green hedgerows
winter quickens its wings

the brook
vanishes beneath the earth
to rise again
in a spatter of bluets 
. . .  this runnel of hope

~Ribbons 12:2, spring/summer 2016

Thursday, January 18, 2018

trees in winter

filaments of snow 
       drifting sideways 
                 on the wind--        
                            old pines 
                                     shed their ghosts
                                    ~tinywords 17.1, 2017

the oak stands
stripped to its bare bones
half the year—
I lay my naked words
in homage at its root

beech leaves
clinging past midwinter
sing on the breeze
there is only the dance
of sunlight and shadow

~Ribbons 13:2, spring/summer 2017 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

safely delivered

Printed in 1725 and thicker than my hand is broad, the leather-bound Bible that once belonged to my grandmother contains several cracked and yellowed pages closely written on both sides in faded brown ink, the entries dating back to 1699.  The ink has bled through the thin paper, which is torn and mended in several places with cloudy tape.  I photograph the pages with my iPhone and enlarge the images, laboriously transcribing as much as I can. 

Here is my ancestor Elizabeth, married on August 20, 1717 ‘old stile.’  In the next twenty years she bore thirteen children—seven of them born dead. Her granddaughter, also called Elizabeth, married a lieutenant in the 55th Regiment of the British Army and sailed with him from New York to Ireland and back again.  Widowed with at least three children, she later remarried.  An oil portrait of her second husband, in powdered hair and flowing cravat, hangs on the wall behind me. One forefinger marks his place between the pages of a half-closed book. 

a brittle history
of baptism and burial—
the refrain
        thanks be to god
 in a spidery hand

~Skylark 4:2, Winter 2016

Thursday, December 21, 2017

solstice fires

solstice fires
burn the old year’s dross
to ash . . .
the raven’s cry
like smoke on the wind

~red lights 13:2, June 2107

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

the galloping years

my mother’s voice
reciting The Highwayman
by moonlight
the gleam of a dark red love-knot,
the clatter of galloping years

poplar leaves
already freckled
with age
I pen an elegy
in elderberry ink

~Moonbathing 17, fall/winter 2017

finding I’ve shrunk
by an inch and a half . . .
yet the mountains
of my inner island
still converse with sky

~hedgerow 122, winter 2017-8