Poems

Sea Levels Rising

When Lake Michigan climbs the bluff
claws her way up up up past riprap
dropped to stabilize the bank she
clutches weeds saplings the trunks of
trees she hauls her dripping body to
the top stops to admire the view from
an Adirondack chair in someone’s yard
moves into a mansion for a brief respite
swims in the indoor pool with zebra
mussels still clinging to her green
algae-tangled hair sleeps in a queen-
size bed surrounded by windows that
crack from the roar of her outsized snore
tries to make a fire but can’t find
a dry match finally gives up bursts
through the front door rushes across
the lawn to the street where she flows
gradually west seeps into every home
liberates tropical fish gushes up a slope
until she comes to a single-story flat-
roofed house almost square in shape
which she lifts from its foundation
and tows like a toy in her wake while
an old woman sits inside at a small desk
pen in hand sifting her brain for
something remarkable to recount to her
sister in a nursing home five states away
not even noticing a change in the view
though she does feel a bit more adrift
than usual and can’t help wishing
something extraordinary would happen
to make her letter more exciting but
so far nothing has and she doubts it will

first published in Seems


Today I Threw
My Watch Away

Now if anyone
asks the time
I can say
a stanza past
breakfast,
a lyric before
lunch, not
sorry to be
imprecise but
grateful for
the privilege
of an uncuffed
wrist, sprung
from the workings
of minutes
and hours,
mocking tick-
tocking in all
its guises,
convinced that
the sun, even
when left to its
own devices,
gloriously rises.

first published in
The South Carolina Review


Inside Out

Shake winter if you can —
like an old rug in a mudroom
flecked with birdseed waste
once cased in ice that your
boots tracked into the house.

Shake it over snow, so any
tiny, unused seeds can grow —
only to be weeded out by you
in spring when mud’s the
clutter that you bring inside.

Boots, snow, birdseed, hungry
doves, grubby mats, sprouting
plants, mud-caked clogs —
you go from season to season
acquainting and reacquainting

the outside with the inside,
the inside with the out. Do you
doubt the value of this exchange?
No, you don’t — not while
you’re able to heft a rug and

stomp a shoe, listen to birds
chirp, whistle, coo, trill. This
is your part in life: track mud
and waste into the house, shake
the mat, put fresh seed out.

first published in Peninsula Pulse
Honorable Mention, The Hal Grutzmacher 
Writers’ Exposé, 2013