To see the announcement for my poetry book, Sparrow, selected by poet Dorianne Laux for the Kenneth and Geraldine Gell Poetry Prize at Writers & Books, go to

You can find a review by Kathleen Kirk at EIL:

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


In the past two weeks, I've attended two weddings, both outdoors in remarkable settings, joining remarkable people. I'm inspired to share a favorite love poem.

Answer to a Child's Question
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Do you ask what the birds say? The Sparrow, the Dove,
The Linnet and Thrush say, "I love and I love!"
In the winter they're silent—the wind is so strong;
What it says, I don't know, but it sings a loud song.
But green leaves, and blossoms, and sunny warm weather,
And singing, and loving—all come back together.
But the Lark is so brimful of gladness and love,
The green fields below him, the blue sky above,
That he sings, and he sings; and for ever sings he—
"I love my Love, and my Love loves me!"

Monday, June 21, 2010


My friend and fellow Teaching Labster, Sheila Dunn, sent me this, which she called "a bad poem." I don't think it's bad; I think it's really good. I wonder if this came out of our very brief discussion about Aporia, that Greek notion that where our thinking gets jammed up, that's where we have to keep going in order to have the big breakthrough?


(for Bethany Reid)

My day is a log jam once more.
I stare past it, dumb and dulled,
a thud and a jolt now and then
but most of the time choked in place.

That's where you come in.
Why not, you say,
Raise a log, hoist it on its end,
then shave the rough parts
and rub your hands on its grain?
Why not, you say,
pull the post with the strength you doubt,
then haul it to a dry spot
to see it the first time?

And why not imagine a face in the wood
and you with a knife and the will to chip?
And why not, you say,
lay it on the ground and sit a spell?

You stir the log.
You break the jam.
Bring it forth, you say,
watch the whirl,

feel the water in wait,
and it will move you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


I have a poem in the current issue of Blackbird, an on-line journal.

Click on "poetry" and then look for my name.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Mary Oliver's "Wild Geese"

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting--
over and over announcing your
place in the family of things.

Although I wasn't able to attend, I'm told that my good friend Thom Lee mentioned this poem in his address at EvCC's commencement Friday evening.
Image borrowed from Mary Oliver's page.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

End of the Quarter Dream

Having asked my students to write about a minor character in the folktale, I write about the ferryman. I am the ferryman. I row passengers to the other side. Some passengers rock the boat. They grip the gunwales and moan. It's my job to keep the boat steady, to get them across. They get out, and I'm as relieved as they are. But sometimes they're smart and funny. They tell good stories and make the rowing easier. No matter who I carry across, when we reach the other side, I wish I could get out, too. I picture my passengers going on in their journey -- on dry land, through cities and prairies and mountains. How far will they go? How crucial was it, getting them across one small body of water? I shift my oars and row back to where I've been. New passengers grumble and step aboard.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Emily Dickinson: The Language of Flowers

Take the time to browse this site co-sponsored by the New York Botanical Gardens and The Poetry Society of America. Click on the "Gallery" tab to find still photographs and videos depicting the recreation of Emily Dickinson's flower gardens.