Poet & Teacher
Photo by Emma Dodge Hanson
Recently published poems:
WHAT'S WRONG WITH ME
The end of the world
is not what’s wrong with me.
Old age, illness, and death
are not wrong. They just are.
A stone says, Wake up,
exactly this is all there is!
Everything says it—
a sick coyote crossing the field,
poisoned, injured, rabid, old,
the rest of the pack anxious,
yipping and howling back and forth
across the valley as dusk comes on.
What’s wrong with me is that
I find their music beautiful.
I dwell on it long after it stops
and in the silence afterward
I write down its words.
(In The Georgia Review)
It’s ridiculous, at my age,
to have to pull the car onto the shoulder
because Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash
are singing “Girl From the North Country,”
taking turns remembering not one girl,
but each of their girls, one and then the other,
a duet that forces tears from my eyes
so that I have to pull off the road and weep.
Ridiculous! My sadness is fifty years old!
It travels into sorrow and gets lost there.
Not because it calls up first love, though it does,
or first loss of love, though both
are shawls it wears to hide its wound,
a wound to the girl of which
all men sing, the girl split open,
the sluice though which all of childhood pours,
carrying her out of one country
into another, in which she grows up
wearing a necklace of stones,
one for each girl not her,
though they all live together here
in the North Country, where the winds
hit heavy on the borderline.
(in Salmagundi, Best American Poetry, Pushcart 2018)
I touched them, her ashes,
when we gathered by the Atlantic’s
cold green-gray concussions
to free her, handful by handful,
from the form she had taken in the world.
She was silky and gritty and purified.
I had to rinse her ghost from my hands.
(in The Yale Review)