When she seemed old

I like the foliage when
It’s just past its peak
When the leaves are more
Yellow than crimson
When they are a little dry
Just on this side of brittle

Most of them still hang on strongly
To the branches of their mother tree
And the carpet they form on the ground
Is soft not yet crisp and crumbling
Like my skin now that I am
About to be the same age as
My mother was when she seemed
So old


Whisper into my breath

The stack of books on my night stand
Is getting taller.
I know there are too many
When I have to build new stacks
Because the existing one grows to a foot,
Give or take a few inches,
So as to avoid the shock of
Thunder in the middle
Of the night.

In the morning Billy
And Mary and Hafiz travel
With me down the stairs to
The kitchen, where impervious to time
They soak up the heat of the day
While their dogs Percy and Dharma,
Chase wild geese, and
They laugh at me from the counter
Because they know
That I still think I have
A thousand serious moves.

At night they meander back up the stairs
And hold me with their words
Channeling the universe
Minimally processed
And escort me to that place where it can
Whisper directly into my breath.

An ode to probability

Chi square, Student’s t —
These are the tools of my trade,
The tea leaves of probability.
They have brand names like Pearson’s,
Fisher’s, Mann-Whitney.
And let’s not forget
Kolmogorov-Smirnoff, which
Sounds more like vodka than tea.
All of them — brews
Created to cage the timeless,
To lasso and tame uncertainty,
To answer the answerable,
To make the unanswerable remote.
We think they will assure
The outcome of our Russian roulette,
And we tear into our lives
Blazing them like guns, only to
Find ourselves blind and naked,
Ensnared in the infinite mystery
Of a steaming cup of tea.

Ducks have joy

Why do I think that
Ducks have joy?
Have you ever noticed
How they commit themselves
To mud?

It is the same commitment
That I would scrub out
Of my son’s toddler denim overalls
When he came into the house
On a fall day,
Eyes shiny, buoyant with pride
Over his architectural masterpiece,
Even as it was already oozing
Back into its origins.

So are the ducks,
Their joy at a clean tub of water
Filling it with dirt as rapidly
As possible. And
Reveling, becoming it
Without equivocation.

Autumnal shrubbery

There is a cardinal.
A male cardinal.
A dot of bright redness
In the nakedness of
The autumnal shrubbery,
A succulent berry.
He flies and lands and looks
Around surveying,
His black eyes
Galactic dots,
His showy plumage
A sacrifice to his
Evolutionary destiny.

If I were a cardinal,
I’d mate with him,
And we’d have cardinal
Nestlings, then fledglings,
Then, crimson and black meteors,
They’d blaze through my garden
In the nakedness of
The autumnal shrubbery.