Late Winter

A late February snow has
the near world in its sequester

At Starbucks the barista imitates
a bird calling across the water


(Here is a bit of humor for those of us with Scottish ancestry. It is made with as many anagrams of the word “consist” as I could jam together.)

To my fellow Scots
who sit in a snit
you sots on cots
whose only icon is cost

You stoics who won’t
enjoy the tonics of sin
You nits with the tic
You sons of scions
hold onto your coins
and don’t give a toss
what other snots
may do with
their tons of tin

You’re a hurdie if you run a con
on your sis or your sons, you say
but tis a far bigger sin
–a super sonic sin–
to spend
“It will give you cysts
it will”

To you I say–
only wee ones

Thirty Seven Condoms

(News item: the 2018 winter Olympics issued enough free condoms for each athlete to have thirty seven)

Seven and thirty condoms all in a row
The Olympics only last two weeks
but you never really know

Let’s give every Olympian what they need
to keep them safe and happy, feeling
frisky, full of grace and speed

The love gloves are nothing to write home about
No colors, bumps or wireless Bluetooth
They won’t make you hump and shout

So, between events? Go ahead–whoop it up!
Waiting for the luge? Indulge!
Just cover up Buttercup

Tiny Orange Icarus

A rich man has built
the world’s most powerful rocket
Sent his avatar hurtling
towards the sun
behind the wheel
of a snake-hipped roadster

The American president
has ordered a military parade like one
the French president has only bigger
with Abrams tanks and rolling missiles
The Russian czar assassinates
journalists like shooting quail

To the ones with wings of gilded wax
and solid platinum bone spurs
on feet of of the finest clay
I say you are not gods
you are one of mine
your loans are due
your time in the fire is coming
and we have fed you
a thousand years

Storm Large, Queen of Heaven

Crazy enough doesn’t begin to describe it
She used to perform naked, breasts painted
like an American flag or like magnolia blossoms
Singing her guts out about kicking heroin
on her own in a darkened room with spider tentacles
clawing her eyes out & there is only one way
to make sure that you really live & that is to die a little
each day. A tower of flames rises from her head
full of bees and promise and E minor chords
She still performs naked but with her clothes on
She is Brigid, the patron saint of poets, the guardian of the forge
& those who work with metal, the protector
of the sources of sacred water. It is said she invented
Irish keening which can be heard at night in times
of grief and dark lighting & it takes effort to have vitality
without being consumed & you can’t help but suffer losses
so be sure to put baked goods on the doorstep for travelers
& remember that agriculture and poetry are the same
& the Queen of Heaven is nothing short of ordinary
and nothing short of radiant on this second day of February
this day of Imbolc, the first of the four Celtic fire festivals
that span the year and the world and the great vault of heaven


here is a fall day as beautiful
as a child's first haircut

the smell of sweet corn and hay
lies still in the afternoon air

scout troops, families
with small children

clusters of earnest motorcycle riders
patient missionaries all

military statues gaze
out towards seminary ridge

wishing that marble were lignin
and lignin were clouds

Clock of Wood

To make a wooden gear clock
you must have the long winter nights
of the north country, a good wood stove
and the patience of a Druid

Set no goals, no timetable
The well-tempered hours will soon
drape like silk around the back of your neck
strangely courting you in a way
that beckons, but waits for grace
like an obedient bloodhound

Gears: cut at least six copies of each clock gear
from grooved spools of straight grain maple
Most will crack or warp, but likely
one of each size you need will not
If not, you have plenty of time and wood

During the endless hours of fine sanding
come up with a name for your next long-buried dog
Give Sorrow a deep bow and introduce
it to Grief, which nature reveres
Ponder why Syrian men grow the finest beards
judging from their ancient sculptures

Escapement: the arm that makes
the tick-tock sound and controls
the steady release of energy should be carved
from dense hardwood–walnut works well

Notice how the creek calms itself under the snow
and how a hawk uses the subdued evening light to hunt
while overhead, Orion hunts all night following his dogs

Pendulum: the pendulum bob can be turned
on a lathe and slotted in the back
for length adjustment to fine tune the clock’s speed
To avoid drift, the pendulum rod must be
dimensionally stable – use ashwood

When the days finally begin to grow longer
recall the diarist Samuel Pepys
who stole a kiss on the lips from the long-dead
and embalmed Queen Katherine I
who had been exhumed and put on display
in the dim abbey at Westminster
and consider setting the clock aside to settle
and finding a shameless and insatiable lover
Every Druid needs one if the sun is ever to return again