Inspiration

(an excerpt from my selected newspaper columns as poet laureate, to be published in autumn 2020 as Seen from All Angles: Lyric Everyday Life) I have tried—with what I consider good reason—not to talk much about my own poetry in these…

Abattoir Time

The widower pushed the tailgate shut and fell. The two sounds –click and thud– seemed synchrony, As if one in fact were function of the other. The red calf, bound for veal in the pickup's bed, Looked rearward over his shoulder. No one…

A Monk After Dark

One boot sags dumb like him in a corner. He drops the other to the floor with a grimace. He’s still devout. If his face contorts, It’s from pain in both his shoulders. A nuisance,   Not metaphor. It’s the fruit of labor– A…

Balloons and Flowers

–for Goran Simic I dropped into sleep while reading a book of poems by the Bosnian friend I write for here. They’re brilliant, full of red flowers and graves and wrenching accounts of his homeland during the 90s. They lend some…

Old Leather Suitcase and Me: A Fable

I found this suitcase slumped in a dark attic corner like a drunk awash in self- pity.  I was Me once. There’s a burn mark beside one latch. I tell myself, with a bit of wonder, Me used to smoke in those days. Indeed– and drink.…

Why Poetry?

The following essay is from my forthcoming collection, The Music of What Happens, a compendium of newspaper articles I wrote as Vermont Poet Laureat (2011-2015): People have often asked me, of course, why I chose poetry as my principal vocation.…