(This small book of poems along with my novel To The Well of Earth is dedicated to Missy Mazzoli whose opera Song From The Uproar and vocal/instrumental work Vespers For A New Dark Age have been such a deep source of inspiration and exploration, not only for their lush and alive vocal writing, but for the wonderfully rich harmonic and structural eco-systems they enact.)





For Missy











Two Bones


Dreamed of a woman who put two bones together

One bone was the intellect

And one was intuition

And then I sat at a café table

Outside a friend’s house

And a fox came by

This is what the bones had become

A woman I sat with said: “Don’t feed it cause it will get used to people

and someone will kill it”


Oh great fox

how you watch us

and ignore us

and love our chickens

and even take time to consider our crazy deodorant bodies

from your dens of awakening

watch us and wink

while we’re sleeping

with your golden eyes














Poem For Erinn


To dance this wombsong garden unseeing

Petals unsung into forest white

Our unsinging into being to let the universe fly

and drift toward solstice

To put up the oars lost so sweetly

on this bridge of petals and silence


The drum of our feet flower lifted

and slow waves of land sliding naked into the ocean

Eyes like aspen leaf lit springs

laughing out of the depths of winter

Neck down in migration’s home

Just a step of waking continent

Ears glacial kettle’s slow dream song


To breath in sleep the fragrance of honored skeletons

and spore-like stars

To drip through night’s holes

and pull the earth closer so that the galaxies are blankets

for sleeping mountains

formed by fallen love

Faces in the plowing sea

Crystalline branches of rivers still holding fruit

turning to fermented awakening

Birds getting high after leaping from limb to limb

and the lips of continents

rim to rim

in migration’s home














When The Child Was A Child

(Variations on a poem by Peter Handke)


Love so ancient

like a finger of moon

like the moon of shore

between stars this silence so thick

that gave birth to the child


When the child was a child

the deer came and sang with his unspoken prayers


When the child was a child

he saw the flower his parents grew on the night shore and pulled hotdogs and

marshmallows from the speaking petals, and a man came and laid down and did a

voice improvisation with popping and crackling, face against the fire


When the child was a child

he left his job at the factory and awoke to hear the woman who lived beneath him

practicing her singing


When the child was a child

loons came to him cause he swam out so far


When the child was a child

he found himself in a shopping cart and saw only gardens and asked his mother

to pull down the universe of roses


When the child was a child

the ships hung from the sky with smoke

he watched them sliding to the chorus of the sun’s leaving


When the child was a child

he barely knew his father


When the child was a child

there were famous artists living in the tidepools

he knew they had invented themselves


When the child was a child

he took a bear’s hand


When the child was a child

he knew he would see her again


When the child was a child

the wind had a body that could only be that beautiful from being old

with an open cloak that was wind

that the moon was blown

that it was only the stars that held their own


When the child was a child

he couldn’t wait for his face to be wrinkled as the sea beneath the sunset

and he thought: someone’s walking to me across the water

toes curling over silver edged ribs of turquoise of the melting sun


When the child was a child

he knew he would forget to speak to the water

and he thought: someone is really walking toward me

dragging the density of dried and bitter swags of roses

until they burn down to the core of summer which will finally end

as her legs fold upon the shore

as he tried to listen to his mother


When the child was a child

he felt so much lighter watching the cargos burning in the horizon


When the child was a child

every forgiveness was a flag torn free

passed from limb to limb through the trees

to be a bouquet tossed into the fires of sunset

maple leaves trailing out into the villages of gulls


When the child was a child

this concentration of beautiful fires called to the sunsets he held

this audience all liquid condensing from the moon’s reflection

sauntering into the moon

dripping from the edge of night’s highest flower

landing from the moon

walking back into the sea


When the child was a child

he looked in the mirror and saw he was a different person dawn after dawn


When the child was a child

he set off to be a hermit beneath a quilt near the TV


When the child was a child

he met her again and knew to who he had always been speaking


When the child was a child

he remembered the morning fires when he lit his cigarette


When the child was a child

he knew surrounded by flowers those friends never stopped living


When the child was a child

he reported back what it meant to fall as a broken king


When the child was a child

he opened his eyes in firefly wonder

breathed dying green

in autumn when the Nighthawks would glide the evening skies

and tractors would plow the fields

round brilliant skullholes

rhythmically sighing with a gardener’s hope


When the child was a child

he laid his head on her heart and listened














Walking Poem


And then there’s the real music

Things growing everywhere

Birds eating birds

Swallows cutting out the forms of nutrition

And flowers from abandoned farms


And invasive species

Rain as the sun shines

Swamps and mountains and shimmering sea

Calling like rebirth

All within sight

All their breaths becoming wind

Becoming the engines of itself

Ant cities just beneath waking

In mycelium gardens

Tending their aphids

While raccoons, mink, deer, mice, bear, cat, worm, thrush, slug

raven, beetle

all leave a chord

in a single puddle














Morning Wind


Vibrating with these brushstrokes of dawn

in these winged Chicadee voices I’ve courted

by tying deerfat to the corner of my tent

in this savanna of snow

the gods walk and fly in great caravans

mask merchants

above and below the ground

antler sages

Bluejay measuring space with cacophony

and fox mothers wrapping their tales and musk

around children taught to play with the moment

year after year


In their prosperous down

the Chicadees dive

and take turns eating as I talk to them

wearing sheep hair knitted around my head and body

like houses of smoke


Morning wind

can you blow these selves to earth?

like leaf after leaf

the sky has grown from a silver branch

in this snow-rising chant














Breathing Deep Dear Even Son


To report back what it’s like to walk away from the factory

what it’s like to burn behind a shopping cart with another baby on the way

the flame that no one sees

to hand a stranger a cup of tea and receive a tip to cash in

for all eternity and hope

to walk away

to return

to learn

to fall

to be the one to pull a log from the beach so children can have a floating island

a drift of rose the sunset held

and heads bobbing

seeds on the sunset’s metal


To report back what it’s like

to feed a family with a guitar and touch a new set of strings

to know that librarians are angels

to walk the beach alone

held by invisible engines

to one by one watch your children leave home

to feel your mind flow into the oil of every machine


To report back what it’s like

to believe in nothing at all

to have only a home in your own stolen clothes

to have a needle drop from your wing on the way to heaven

to stand on an assembly line with invisible angels attending


To report

To report

To report

to light a little fire on the beach

to fish all day with your daughter and catch the sun on the wave’s laughter

to be all so sick you can barely light a fire in your new stove

to wonder why you’re here

to check on the price of gold

to get a divorce and spend your first Christmas so free

so alone

with your body

so full

so empty

in the morning mirror

to realize your garden is like a city

to realize that a city is a garden grown

to finally be home alone

to be ravaged by alcohol

to be broken

to shimmer

to be ugly as beauty new

to be beautiful as stone

to watch otters and wonder why you can’t love like they do

sliding through the bright tongues of mud and nutrition

to be a tyrant

to be a thief

to curl up in the leaves

to look at the autumn and thank the sky for having dropped its masterpiece


To report back what it’s like to reach back from the front seat and have your palm

read by children…














Ancient Love Affair


ancient loves ever-grown

through stencils moon-sewn

two people come together

again and again

brought down by winter into a single bed

rich in future

but for so many invisible beneath an expanse white as a doctor’s gown

differentiation grown and inhaled

from a single source

with fingers bound to fit together

one enemy a river when the moon is new

the other a lake at the end of autumn

and both wondering why their feet

brought them down to drink

water to water

leaf to leaf

all in all

above and beneath

and winter deep

and dawn made of the wind dying down to listen

two husks born of a single seed

washed by melting

into each other














Poem For Jody


Getting high in your blue truck

southern Wisconsin winters

keeping warm with cigarettes

I wanted to sing in those blue clouds

turn the smoke into a factoryless first light

I never knew that deer could sing me to sleep

that owls and coyotes and wolves

could form the rungs of ladders

into my dreams

with their songs

into a raven dawn

It’s not only the disembodied voices

on the radio

that can sing their way to heaven

It’s my love for you that taught me

I could only