August Picnic (#29)

August, all ready
Without being readied—
Only the pitching of
Peach pits,

Bruised tomato divots,
Tossed towards
The cherry trunk and
Gobbled up by grass, gone!

Gone, too,
Corn silk,
Garlic skins,
Filament husks,

Carried on the breeze
Through the red bud leaves,
Invisibly eddying,
Cooling bare legs.

A yellow-legged tree frog,
One eye gold,
One pupil-less eye
Platinum,

Fetched, full-handed—
Whitman’s summer,
Onward and outward,
Spread across gingham,

And death is bowls brimming
With plums, pears,
Peaches, tomatoes,
Diced garlic, and hot peppers.

Wounded Wasp (#28)

Wounded wasp,
Turning circles in the sunshine,
Hot with rage and
One warped wing—

I can’t help you,
But wish I could!
To be a surgeon
For your ailment—

Setting angles straight,
Poulticing pain;
But surely you would only
Sting me, bite me,

Passing poison
With no remorse.
Oh, wasp! Such reliable
Waspness! Bless you—

I will see you again
In tall grass, beatific,
Close to the earth,
Where cooling rains linger.

Lost Path (#27)

Twelve hours of July heat,
The workday ended weary
Well beyond dark,
Dewy stars sparkling,

And beneath my feet,
The path I’ve followed
For twenty five years
Has suddenly vanished—

Tangled in chicory,
Queen Anne’s lace,
Knee-deep in timothy,
Knit with clover,

And I understand
Suddenly that it’s
Me who has vanished,
Star-blind, stumbling—

The reliable path, so trodden,
Only inches left or right
In the corporeal darkness, is
A mile, an ocean, a world distant.

Mud Daubers (#26)

Peace-seeking mud daubers,
Lovers of good work,
Blue-black glinting
In the morning sun—

When, at age six, I climbed
The hot cinderblocks of the
Sow shed, and one brick tumbled,
Disturbing their labor—

Swarm! So many stings!
Instant admonishment,
Bare legs blistered with welts.
Moments later, in the farmhouse

My stone-eyed uncle asked me
“Why are you crying?”
For the same reason,
I now understand,

That a forty year old man
Could ask a child
Such a caustic question:
Acute suffering.

But more mysteriously,
I knew I cried also for the
Humming haste of the wasps,
Dutifully heuristic, adults whom

I respected, and had never
Intended to disturb.
The moment I fled, they calmed,
Returning to their parging,

Plastering pipes.
Pipes? Flutes!
Cylinders stuffed with spiders,
Beetles, flies. Feasts.

Look! Their waists,
Thin as bow hair;
Susurrant wings
Softly warning. Merciful.

Metallic musicians, conducting,
Near the reeds at
The edge of the marsh
Balling wet clay,

Mandibles filled with mud,
Pragmatic silence.
Futile, to proffer pain,
When grace is your language!

Farm Poem #25

The trees are bursting with crab apples,
Hard and red and reticent as their namesake,
Thousands for the picking, if one enjoys eating
Sour rocks. The hardscrabble fruits of our

Ancestors: Wild persimmon, rhubarb,
Damson plum—ultra-tart until boiled, stirred,
Sweetened, canned, conjured comestible
With the alchemy of sugar, trophic and treasured.

Still, today, here’s a tree awash in fruit and,
To be sure, nothing will happen; nothing
More than noticing, that is, such outrageous
Abundance, sequestered from subsoil.

No nostalgia, the pantries of my childhood! Golden
Rims gleaming, ruby jams, carmine jellies; now,
The same fruit, round and reliable as Jupiter, is left
Hanging in the southeast sky; so bright, so unavailable.