Early morning,
before the tractors are awake,
listen to the gentle words
of the warbler in the willows,

the oriole playing flute notes
that never quite make a song,
the brush of leaves, summer-dry,
when someone passes, furtive and sleek.

Listen before you scroll
through the litany of lies,
and perhaps bird-words will linger
and some of the truth will stick.



The burden lifted long ago

the childish wondering how and why so much suffering

because faith belief God’s love etc.

Long ago (the piles of bodies

clambering for the last pocket of rank air

the faces smiling

as they dragged mothers and their children through horrors)

long ago (and tomorrow too

despite the candles and beatitudes

and the smug well, just believe and be saved)

long ago I opened eyes and saw the truth

incontrovertible, unassailable

unshakeable as mother-love.

Stars and meadows roll

and birds bring fledglings to flight

kits and cubs from blind to crafty world-wise

and we are what we are

ourselves alone

the hand that holds the knife the gun the whip the pen is sovereign.

No hiding in the celestial light

or praying for celestial rain to cleanse

this world is

this earth

this life


Bring your eyes from the clouds and that ever-receding pie

and count the dead and dying.

What matters is.

What is

is this bird

this child

this future.

Drink, said the muse

A poem for Margot, the queen of blackbirds, whose Easter eggs hatched over the weekend, inspired by the Secret Keeper’s writing prompt. This week’s words are:



Drink, said the muse and you will know,

Look for the flame-lettered sign on the wall.

I own I saw no great symbol there,

Or tasted honey in that cup at all.

Watch my lips, said the priest, and believe,

The test of your faith; you must take my word.

I own I saw only a puppet leer,

And the wind in the reeds was all I heard.

The blackbird sings when the spring buds burst,

He sings his heartsong in a voice so clear.

I own I see roses in the sweet notes falling,

And the scent of pure love in what I hear.

Drink of this potion and know the answers,

Blown in the breeze as it ruffles the sedge,

Caught in the dewdrops that spangle the roses,

In blackbird’s sweet voice as he sings in the hedge.