Correlation does not imply causation. I'll never finish writing my juvenilia. Here are some poems.


In Fall

Let's run into each other.
Let's get
good and drunk.
There's wood smoke in the air and dry leaves on the road.
There's space to walk.

I want to tell you
about being so cold I
pressed myself to the ground afraid to sleep
and how my shoulder got stove-in
in a fall so fast there was no time
and I got my bell rung, good.

I don't want to tell you anything but
you can spend ten years
telling me anything you want.

Dead Creek

We won't be back until three. A difficult thought over breakfast knowing there will only be an hour of daylight left. But it's decided, Dead Creek. A drive down the terraces of the old lake, down into the cornfields and abandoned houses, to the lone observation pagoda on the frontage road. Do you hear it she says do you hear it I say but our son has found a stick and contentment. All my clothes are on but I'm still cold.

Snow geese. What we came for. A shimmering pool half a mile from the car and the barbwire. There is low sun in the west over the mountains. the slides on Giant are white, to the east, all above is black. In twos or threes, a few of the birds lift from the group, take a turn, settle.  Snow geese existing only in a white pool under a black heaven, their voice like machinery beyond the horizon. Maybe we can drive around, maybe a little closer.

A landing. A boat ramp. Couple of beercans and some fire scars in the grass. Geese to our west now, audible only through a gap in the white pine windbreak. There's a pond for rock throwing and we are out of the wind so I can shed a layer. Then a fox, coyote, hawk, gunshot. I don't know which but the machine rumble is a scream, the sky fills with snowgeese,screaming, circling. They are all in the air and we are leaned back, craning as they school clockwise, counterclockwise, in layers.



Paint's gonna peel on the radiator
I put my thumbnail under a bubble
on the one in the bathroom.

There's bronze under there
spaypaint by the look of it
under our gloppy white
and iron under that, rust.

In between, green has grown.
Seriously, it's algae, not verdigris
or something. Again with the thumbnail
I scrape a bit and it blackens the halo.

A radiator is a complicated shape
and a heavy thing full of water
bolted to your home.
You can't just sand it down
or move it


What it is Like

In darkness there is no room in the bed
and my back hurts the
reminder of gutter cleaning and the
weekend ladder.
The trim boards are rotting, black, but they'll
maybe last the weekend.
My head is stuffed in and
I don't want to be sick for the holiday
gotta shave before our one bathroom
is irretrievably fogged by your shower.
The boy is up too
demanding the food before the food he is demanding
undressed, not ready clock's ticking.
The dishrack full and the sink getting there
I play the puzzle while the pan smokes
he wants to stir the eggs and does
in that nonchalant four year old way
that splashes milk on the counter.
What is the point I think
what is the point of a dishrag that
nobody wrung out last night and sodden it drips on
my socks when I pick it up.
the pan is smoking and the butter that hits it burns
makes that smell. The bread is soaking I can go shave.
Is this what it is like I think
is this what I am supposed to be telling them about when I go?
I pop two Sudafeds knowing my heart will beat wildly all
morning but I might be breathing and
I make the coffee no way to do it
but to get some grounds on the counter then when
it's going load the work bag-clean shirts and such,
wallet, phone I pull on jeans and they don't feel right
was there really that much excess this weekend
how far off track am I am I just going to
get fat again washing dishes again I go to squirt the
soap and it is running out time is running out I forgot to
get more yesterday and my heart is pounding and my back aches
as I make the lunch and then I am chastised
the yogurt will spill how do you
expect him to keep the lunchbox level all day
and I know that I don't but it would be nice to have that one thing.
Eight minutes. Six minutes. leave early and it's smooth leave late and
next thing you know you're in a line of eight cars, six cars waiting to
turn left on the busy street.
Somehow a blessing when the boy has
dressed himself out of sight.
That is the 25 minutes that led up
to the now of not knowing
where I put my keys down last night.
Not in the bag not in the pockets of the too tight jeans or the other nicer ones I
wore to the restaurant yesterday where
I was shamed when my son made a face
at my father and made noises
in the restaurant where I tried to pretend
that soup was enough and coffee.

And I explode. I pick things up too small to hide those keys
and slam them back down again and your yelling at me while you
unspool your car key to give to me
and I deserve it I deserve it I deserve it all
and even though I am terrifying now
I kiss the boy on the head and say I love you
I love you have a good day (and if I could cry anymore
I'd be doing it right now by the way) but it's
too late. I can only hope the backdoor
might be unlocked for me today when I come home.


Things I have Learned

'Wane" is the soft edge of a board
piece of lumber, cornered with bark.
There is a drawing of a tiger on a board in marker
above the work table.
When all there is is to wake
run eat work and walk up the hill
to climb into a tent at the end of each day
You're pretty good at that.

A knot in a slab of wood
is the scar of the tree's own branch
enveloped as a heart is.
Try to smooth it and it will tear out,
blow out, depending on the violence
of the tool at hand. That's why you wear eyeglasses
so the experience isn't also blinding.

If you listen to baseball at night on the radio
you'll know the storm is coming before the first flashes.
To think something so great and gray
coming for you at highway speed
and the size of a state while Chicago changes pitchers.
Then Chicago changes pitches again in the same inning
before you see the first flashes above the ridge.

Between the scream of the circular saw
and the solo morning runs
and the mouthfuls of farm-food
you can almost be a silent monk. Nodding
in agreement at the glassed eyes of the teacher
his hand on your hand on the saw
his mouth making the words "straight,