St. Francis and the Birds

—a painting by Stanley Spencer

The parade will go no

further than the wall, where

the gardener shields her eyes,

the ducks, hens, and geese scuttle

toward his frock, each dove

and jay leaning forward

on the low tiled roof to

watch the boy lead each one,

saint and bird, toward that town

his wings would bend for,

blind daylight place from which

his face must turn away.

* First published in I-70 Review

South from Orkney

Out of the North Atlantic gale and down

through the first rippling of Highlands

heather rusts the hillside and the trout-jammed waters run toward the sea.

Somewhere through a chink in the rock, high on a hill’s firm circle,

the broch-bound Pict will watch as the train moves south and away from him,

into the swim of history,

into a thick of eagles telling time.

* First published in I-70 Review


God works in material ways.

—Overheard at a café

Even as ocean water boils

to nothing, as granite stumbles

to grit. Even as the oak

give up their roiling orange to duff,

and salmon, silver, turn from foil

to red, to creek-bottom black.

Even now the sutured heartbeat

louder than rooms, a kind of green

beyond the glass, out the door.

So many ways to live again,

taking in breath, feeling this stone

through a shoe. So many dear

departed ones who might have stayed

but loved mystery more. The day

is for repair, the sutured

heart will say. Tear and tear again.

The angel does not hide from you.

Her sharp blade waits for the hour.

* First published in The Georgia Review


First in the clumsy sign, hexing that car

around the next bend. Then in the clear

expletive of feet, the way hers broke, broke

a soft face. How the gestures cloaked her

from those far counties inside. How bright

the road from bone to hand to daylight

sorties where the word, black as oil, argues

for itself in the sand. Where to find

the new songs. Across the sky, finches

leave their shadow. Meanwhile, the mute screech

of tires, child at a loom, the half second

when the house blows, a kind of speaking.

* First published in Poetry City USA

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