Now That I’m Old

i know poets that became poets

to work with despair, one so big

they’re lucky to find themselves

in the same room with it.


the same room with it at

dark, with heavy curtains,

or light, too much light, and spotless.

they’d die happy then


to say all is forgiven,

and if they’re really brave

they could tell the truth,

that they were so small.


Words by Sylvia Plath




After whose stroke the wood rings

And the echoes!

Echoes traveling

Off from the center like horses.


The sap

Wells like tears, like the

Water striving

To re-establish its mirror

Over the rock


That drops and turns,

A white skull

Eaten by weedy greens.

Years later I

Encounter them on the road–


Words dry and riderless,

The indefatigable hoof-taps,


From the bottom of the pool, fixed stars

Govern a life.

~Sylvia Plath, The Collected Poems




The children are scruffy here.

They play out past their bedtimes.

Their parents are working double shifts.


Here it is childless high-rises

and low-cost housing. I try to keep the yard up.

I make fun of the trailer park  up the street

when I am broke and the final notice

for the heating bill has come.

I put Post-it notes on the cars

that park in my driveway:

Please inconvenience yourself.



My Russian neighbor borrows heavily:

sugar, eggs, flour.

She walks in, uninvited,

when she needs me. Susan!

Come! I give her rides because her teenage son will not,

and roll my eyes to throw her off,

to make her smile.  She brings me Russian wine

and food-bank treats

she will not eat.


She lets me pick tomatoes from her garden

even though I cursed the stench

of fertilizer the summer before.

When I am weary of helping her

she gives me a look that cuts me down to size.



I silently accuse my Vietnamese neighbor

of pocketing the money

that fell out of a dress, from the dryer we share.

And hated the smells

that drifted into my apartment

from hers, the cacophony of her voice.

But when I asked to borrow the barbecue

that sat unused in her yard

she said yes.



There, they were all

kinder that I, loved

my hard heart gently,

softly, unknowingly

to new pink.

~SR, 2012


Ornithology Lesson by Jan Wallace

Ornithology Lesson by Jan Wallace

It’s an act of desperation,
the rare mating ritual
of the bald eagle pair.

They come together mid-air between
mountains, you can barely make
them out, you with your Audubon

binoculars, you in your birding
hat. The two of them bound beak
and feather, claw and wing,

having taken leave of every other
instinct; like survival, like hunger,
when they caught that scent floating

in thin air. Mostly what they
have forgotten is how to breathe, how
to fly. They drop their wings,

admit to the full weight of themselves
washed clean of the serendipitous
magic of everyday bald eagle flight

by the thick true wash of lust–
which brings every creature right down
out of the wild kingdom into the one

common, humble denominator. Aren’t you glad,
Bird watchers, you’re not a part
of that? Those eagles risk it all

for the free fall down the long swallow
of sex, speeding down the chimney of air
plummeting blindly toward earth, unaware

entranced, careening toward your keen
eyes riveted on the speeding bundle,
and just when you know this must

be a suicide pact, no birdheart promise,
but the real thing among a sacred breed,
just before they hit the earth and scatter

like burst pillows–they disengage slow
motion in a stunning, artful gesture.
And there you are, binoculars around

your ankles, as the eagles pick up
the next breeze, feathering, feathering and soar.

~Jan Wallace



Making a home for my own poetry.

Lately I’ve been stewing about whether or not to sift through a  2 x 2 box of old writing: 12 journals filled with thoughts, ideas, poems, and crying  – some pages just have “fuck” written from top to bottom – to find a certain line of poetry I need for a current short story project.

I’d also like to get rid of a tub of  loose printer paper, match-books, napkins, old phone bills, whatever was within reach to write on at the time.  I’m tired of looking at it.  I want the floor-space.  I hate clutter.

So I’ve finally found the balls to make a home on my site for old work.  Whatever finished poems I like will go up.  What I don’t will go in the recycle.

And by the way: punctuation matters to me. I can happily spend 15 minutes putting in and taking out a comma (and change my mind about it the next day). Or ponder whether I like that  “s” in there or not. I like that shit. No, I fucking love that shit.