Where I Live

I live by the stream, by the old dam tumbled  into a fit of rocks.
Through the path we made, past Royal and Long Beech fern,
small huddles of baby oaks, sting of raspberry, a clutch of young pines,

I step onto the mown lawn, jumble of grass and weeds,
dandelion blades, fuzzy camomile, a scatter of gravel spilled by workers
building the garden wall, rocks as hard put as memory and more lasting.

I live in a house built from ground that Charlie cleared, just beside
the knot of spruce, needles falling, a constant rain of thin slices of life

that hide themselves in the grooves of my car, grow into clumps 
around the motor like small nests. I live on Oak Hill Road, though the oaks 
have grown thin and too many hills rise up to tell which is the one named. 

On weekends the train whistle blows, up at City Point, where the tracks 
cross the road and the walking path comes out after following the river from town. 
I see the stain the tide makes on the edge, a ceaseless coming and going—
dog walkers, joggers, bicyclists jamming along the old rail bed. 

In winter I stare at the frozen waterfall, bare branches, footprints 
caught hard in solid snow. I live in a world of snow, a place of blizzards 
and white-coated nests, of lines cut parallel through new snow, of white-outs, 
and power-outages, of lanterns, wood stoves and the thumping of generators 

in the shed outside. I watch the ospreys circle the stream, the eagle dive, 
the fish hang caught in beak, see the carcass of porcupine smashed on the shoulder, 
blood  smeared in tire tracks. At night cars slide by on the way to town,

to Belfast Variety, to beer, to milk, to wine, to the parking lot 
on the corner of Bridge and Pierce Streets where the young
gather, laughter a blanket of waves, an ocean, bandying curses and cuts,
tender limbs, cooled in the breeze, kisses touched on love-struck necks.

Naugatuck River Review
Issue 19   Winter/Spring 2018

Beyond the Final Chapter

Books form cliffs. We fall
into wanton characters’ arms.

Nothing holds us. Just whispers. Whims.
Each page turn, turns us into someone

dissolute. The author tells us we carry
a nest of laundry. We finger undone buttons.

I found the unexpected villain at the end.
A valley with trees tumbling down the sides. A gate

ruined. A gauntlet of afternoon light, a woolly ruff of heat,
stone-faced cats and rusty bikes.

When he came to me, I followed him, through
murmuring air, the wet suck of summer.

Now I wish for turbulence—disturbing, 
evocative. It rattles in the gravel

a broken tube of nickels.

Asheville Poetry Journal
December 2017

After the Fall

No matter what swells
over the seawalls
of your love and buries you, 

the plumbing still crumbles, 
the car still runs dry. 
At night I chew bits 

of skin from my feet, 
catch mice with cracker 
crumbs in the sink. 
We still watch 
the moonrise together, 
an atomic tangerine.  

Looters roam the streets.  
We sit with shotguns 
across our knees.  

Cradle them like babies.

Asheville Poetry Journal
December 2017

Snapping Turtle Nest

All fall you wait for the eggs 
to hatch, for the sight of a small carapace
scraping free. She laid them far from water

in a hole beside our drive. Now when water
from rain carves ruts, you think about eggs
in October earth. How little a carapace

can protect. How bones lie bare beneath,
thin and white as fools. How far from water
we all are, huddled in our tight eggs.

Worcester Review
Vol. 39   Fall 2018


Tonight men walk with flashlights beside the road,
their cars parked at City Point by the bridge, 
and I think they must be elvers. Men seeking elusive 

glass eels. Green ferns pulled down beneath 
mud and rubber boots, these men enter
the river where it ebbs and wallows, lugging 

fyke nets, metal chains rattling like coins in pockets.
Tiny diaphanous offspring struggling in from the ocean,
transparent gold, enough to line the coffers of the most

balky of fishers. Men who scramble along the earth’s 
hard face, kicked by sun, maligned by rain, stuck
in the throat of dirty snow. Determined. The ice melts, 

waters warm and their own sorry bellies pull them 
to the river as surely as the young eels are called upstream. 
Twenty six hundred dollars a pound. What does that equal 

in hours spent wielding a saw in a damp woodlot or stocking 
shelves at Walmart? Asians weep for this food, grow noodle  
thin American eels to adults and sell them at market. 

These Anguilla rostrata will never see the Sargasso Sea, 
never turn yellow and plump in brackish water. Caught
in nets, they turn in star-backed water like letters

that have lost their form, shift in this unnatural space, 
no longer moving with the tidal stream. Instead, lifted 
by calloused hands, they shine in picnic coolers shoved into 

pickup trucks, slosh against each other down pock-marked 
roads on the way to docks and dealers. Their thread-like bodies 
a writhing promise, treasure held in red and white chests.

Worcester Review
Vol. XXXVII No. 1 & 2
Fall 2016

On the Purchase of a House on Mountain Valley Road, 1985

In the year Samantha Smith died, the year
they captured the Night Stalker in LA, 
I bought a house on Route 220, two floors,
six rooms. This house bore me along 
for quite a few years, from rapture
of little boy noise to secret teenagers upstairs
playing games with impenetrable rules.

Before I completed the sale, Joyce, the woman
who owned it, died at home and it fell to her daughters
to come and pick apart her life, tear up rooms,
even dig up the asparagus beds in the yard. 
Yet they abandoned jars of smoked salmon
in the basement, tintypes of unknown people
in the shed, diaries Joyce kept where she talked

of her time at the sardine cannery, how on
gray days she would leave the house at seven,
hope for a run on fish, some time slicing heads,
and not a day when she would be sent home unpaid.
She visited her mother, helped her clean the rumps
of root vegetables torn from the garden. She laid out
the hard cargo of her life—her mother’s gout,

her own arthritic knees, the pain that twisted out
at each step, the unpaid bills at the Apple Squeeze.
I read each page, followed the lines of her pen, 
lines that carved a small cave of meaning, 
whittled down years to kindling, 
small sticks that were once her life.

No. 8   2019

Country Girl Thinks of Home

                                     after Girl on Porch by Eudora Welty

She perches, solitary, on that dusty city porch
thinks of foxes, owls, rabbits, coons, hears
their night songs, their rustlings in the deep brush,
feels the pine needles soft beneath her feet,

thinks on that slice of marble-cake she just ate
from the plate with the glued together crack
that ran straight between the two blue dragons
like some tall cloud, skinny, blown jagged in the wind
while she sat on the red seated chair in Aunty Nadine’s kitchen.

No wind now, only the ragged dancing of heat,
thick electric wires hung like strings from poles, 
winking silver in the thickness of sun.

That cake no match for the stream that she saw daily,
swift and burbling, sweeter than any store bought gum,
sweet as the way Uncle Jacob would grab her under the arms
and swing her high, even after haying, with the sweat
like a splash of jug whiskey over his shirt, laughing,

calling her his best girl, even when she wore
her brother’s cast off overalls, her hair caught
in tangles, a burdock bound up behind. He made her 
light as a bobwhite, waiting to lift wing to the sky.

No. 8   2019


The hot Long Island sun pokes
fingers into sandy ground,
stirs dust in my young throat
as I kick high the swing, hit

bottom on the downward fly.
White jelly bread rolls around
my hungry tongue, washed
with purple kool-aid. I grow

where green grass won’t,
nourished on margarine, wonder
baked in bread, Saturday morning
cartoons, the buzz of test patterns

in my head. Father builds a shed
beneath the staircase, packs
in rakes and brooms, bikes
and wasps and whispered things

that hang from nail hooks shredded
like cardboard Halloween skeletons
that glow in the dark. Honey-
suckle with fuchsia hearts grows on

my best friend’s vines. We pluck
them to suck the sweetness free,
rub the juice into our skin, run
with green feet beneath sprinklers, 

later, sip ice tea, nibble toast
thick with butter, play with candy
beads and lipstick, then practice-
kiss our arms, grape and tangerine.

No. 8 2019

While Aunt Irene kneels at the coffin

I stare, clutch a hymnal, revert finally 
to a prayer that the casket will not tip,

spill my mother to the stone floor. Light 
from stained glass marks the backs of pews

and I decide to continue to pray, so right away 
I ask that the Brussel sprouts in my garden curl

their small heads in that tender spot against
the stalk, safe from cutworms, cabbage worms, 

the diamond-backed moth. I pray 
for a pen that doesn’t leak, for a closed tent

in the forest of rain. Someone coughs.
Asking for health would be fruitless, I think. 

Cells die everyday in the millions, sloughing off
in waves, an invisible trembling spray. Instead

I pray now that the radiator leak in the car
won’t get worse, that I can make the drive

north without a quilt of worry over my shoulders.
I pray for a closed tent in the forest of rain. 

For my cats to always lie on sunny paws, 
for the red globes of tomato to survive the fall.

Tinderbox Poetry Journal
Volume 4  Issue 4

In Which a Mother Smokes Marijuana

After the blood appeared, small spots of uncertainty
After the first slice through the fleshy abdomen
After pacing, smoking, waiting
After the wound widened, the womb exposed
After a year of hope, of almost normal
After a visit to Florida, to her husband’s brother
and his wife, palm-treed roads, sun a helmet,
laughter slapped among waves
After the doctor again, the body mapped,
the body exposed, poisoned with hope
After the pills, the vomiting, tiger-clawed, ripped
The uncle gets it, a small bag, rolled with
clumsy fingers, the smoke inhaled
After she coughs, her eyes tear, she bends
double, cannot bear weed, air, anything 

Tinderbox Poetry Journal
Vol. 4 Issue 4