A tenderness grew in me

beyind all porportion

like a tangled vine


Nothing you could see

such as initals scaring a tree

but the desire claimed there

to be entwined

in something permanent


the way the sea

in all its motion

can't let go of the sea


                                   published in humanaobscura



War Orphan, Poland, 1948

                                                                                                                                                                                after a photograph by                                                                                David  Seynour                   


She looks at you as if she’s been startled.

Behind her is a blackboard,

and she’s holding chalk that’s drawn

this maze of intersecting lines.

What she’s drawn when asked

to illustrate the word Home.


Was she remembering the barbed wire

of the concentration camp she was in

after her parents died. Who has

bought this dress that looks like velvet,

the huge bow keeping hair from her face?


The drawing you had hoped to decipher

will be erased. For now, it exists

without an entrance or exit

for there’s no door, no window, no ground.


                                          published by Consquence Journal



Man in a Cardboard Box

after a photograph by Tom Gralish


He is sitting in his shelter near a cab stand,

and looks the way you’d expect—

worn face, uncombed hair, torn shoes.

He wears a thick jacket.

He’s eating something—

spoon in one hand, bowl in another.

It’s January in Philadelphia.

His name is Walter.


The photographer wanted to know

how it was for the homeless

on the street and discovered

a community, that there were

enough vendors who were nice

to them, enough steam grates, a liquor store

nearby, lots of commuters.


Wherever they live, whether on fire escapes

or in alleys, sun is their warmth,

rain their shower, and it’s

coming down now—

people on the sidewalk

walking under umbrellas

looking straight ahead

except for a few who reach

for coins as they pass outstretched hands.


                                                       published in Heartland Review



Starving Child and Vulture                                           


                                                                      after a Pulitzer Prize winning

                                                                      photograph by Kevin Carter                                                                        Sudan, 1993

The naked child

with white beaded necklace

has sunk to his knees on the ground,


his head almost touching

the barren earth.

A vulture lands nearby,


and you with your camera

wait for it to move closer.

but you do not go to him,


warned not to interfere for fear

of spreading disease.

Then, the world’s cry


when they see this image

that stays in their minds

wanting to know what


happened to the child.

And the outcry that you continue

to hear until one day you


drive your truck beside a river

and tape a hose

to the exhaust and sit


inside with your last letter.

There will be no more

photographs, and slowly


all will become silent,

even this river

in South Africa.


                                                          published in Kakalak, 2021



From "An Instant out of Time"


Tractored Out


Set in the midst of furrows.

A small house. No smoke from the chimney,

no people. They tried to hold on.

Oh, yes, next year's crop will yield,

and the dust will cease.

One child after another,

Dust Pneumonia threatening death.

Finally, the people moved on to Oklahoma

where conditions were the same,

then to California: No Oakies Allowed.

Now th efields are silent,

no sound of tractors.

The price of wheat falling and falling.

What might be left inside the house?

What wasn't necessary,

wouldn't fit in the jalopy.

The straight road ahead.

Signs to count the miles.

Stories for the children

to ward off hunger.

The mother saying, Soon.



Still Life with Bottles

                                  for my husband


                                                                                after Monet, 1859



Come sit, share the bread with me, spread it with butter, there on the pewter dish.  Pour the wine—we won’t need the carafe of water, but maybe later the apricot brandy the sun is hitting now, spreading its shadow across the table.  Bring cheese, and there are apples in the kitchen in a basket.  Red wine is your favorite, earthy tannins that preserve.  I want to tell you of the new sadness, how the heart can fold like a flower at sunset.  You, who’ve lived with me so long, having studied my face, desired good things for me—lift the bottle and pour, then my lips will taste like yours.  Don’t worry about the white cloth if anything spills, it will wash.  This knife isn’t sharp, just tear the baguette—bread made to last only a day.  Now I can tell you, while all is quiet, the walls surrounding us, making us  close in this small space. 


                                                            published in Yemassee




I was wearing an orange maternity dress

that summer morning, standing at the airport

that would take you to Vietnam.

I wasn’t yet twenty-one.

Our parents never said how foolish we’d been

to marry, having done so themselves

in a time of war. I watched you

go up the steps of the plane,

put on your sunglasses

and turn to wave.

Should I have thought

I might never see you again?

The armor of youth.

I barely remember driving home,

only the comfort of the bed,

the antique dresser with mirrors

across the room. Somewhere someone

was mowing. I knew I should get up

at some point, the baby’s foot

a knot in my stomach.

Outside were lilacs, hollyhocks,

hydrangeas. I could make a bouquet,

but I didn’t. Night came with its cool air,

air you were flying through.

A small lamp on, a moth at the screen

In its camouflage.


                                                    published in Up from the Depths:

                                                    Haunted Waters Press