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Rowing on South River

Tundra swans, Whistlin swans


The tundra swans hoot with travel plans,

the young flirt, murmuring

of nests on Alaskan shores.

The snow-cheeked ruddy ducks swarm

in anticipation, the buffleheads bob

one to the other. Exhaling

winter, I glide beside them,

the closest I can get to flying.

I rejoice with each particle

of water racing under my hull,

my oars, my wings, pulling

through the shifting tide. The sliding

seat breathes with me, each

fold, unfold of my legs

a song, answering

the cardinal who woke me at dawn.


Published: Maryland Writers Association Love poem anthology Life in Me Like Grass on Fire, 2011

The Grape Arbor

The lichen-laced arbor stands silent

as I untwist its vine

a weather-beaten muscle of wood

barren these last two years

after flourishing for sixty…when


daring each other, my sister and I

bit into the tart nubs of early grapes,

then as clusters ripened, we popped their purpleness

into our mouths, chewed the thick sweet skins,

cringed at the sour centers, spat the bumpy seeds.


When summer waned and nights cooled,

we picked until bushel baskets overflowed.

Separated from stems, crushed, heated,

poured into the large stained cheesecloth bag

to hang overnight above the stainless steel kettle,

the Concord grapes dripped

their midnight-purple juice.


Next morning, adding sugar and pectin,

Mom boiled the nectar, skimmed

the lavender-colored foam, poured

the fragrant liquid into hot half-pint jars,

layered each with melted paraffin to

seal them tight.


The vine crumbles in my hands.


Only a few wax-topped jars of jelly

remain in the cool dark of Mom’s cellar.

We break the seal, eat it carefully now,

its sweetness almost too much to bear.


Published: The Healing Muse: A Journal of Literary and Visual Arts.

Vol. 14, No. 1. Fall 2014.

Make Them Wonder

Bald Peak, New Hampshire

Don’t hide

your face

from staring eyes

Don’t hide

Go bold

into this world

Go laughing

Make them wonder

how one so scarred

can find such joy

Go seeking

with your one dim eye

the first red leaf

the last ripe tomato

Life, your life

needs you

right now

Go bold

Go laughing

Don’t hide

Don’t hide.

Published: Wordgathering  Dec 2009

For Janet

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