Happy Birthday to Me


You might think the years would be a cold stone

pressing us flat to the ground


a burden of one loss after another

certainly no one is left to remember

the day I was born, except my old dad

who is very busy today and old

which truthfully does not matter so much

because the years hold their own in the oddest way,


nothing like a burden

more like tiny birds,

kinglet and nuthatch type birds,

with their knowing eyes and light touch,


with their hop hop from branch to branch

seeking something


finding, oh maybe, maybe not,

and we are the gnarly tree

that supports all that commotion,

all that seeking and finding that goes on


from one season to the next

the way you think you’re not up for it again


and then –


the miniscule heart begins to beat

and the eyes find you


and you’re lost in the life you’ve grown into

how you happened to follow this sun and not that

or let one ripping wind break you and not another,

and that’s what it means, the birds are trying to say,


find a seed and nibble it down,

then, here’s the thing, find another.


My mother’s shamrock plant lived for decades

 in a painted ceramic pot hung by macramé

 from a hook in the back entry

where she kept all her plants until she died

and my father’s care killed most of them

and my Uncle Charlie advised walling in

one whole side to bring down the heating bill

but blocking the kindliest light such that


only the shamrock survived

keeping company with vases of fake flowers

that women liked to give my father in those days

when he was an attractive widower

who loved to dance and putter in his own house

all by himself for the first time in eighty-some years

that sadly charmed era when my mother’s shamrock

lived on no matter what, it’s roots woven tighter

than the macramé all around it


which was all before my father had his stroke

not final like my mother’s but trouble nonetheless

and we moved him far from his home

but close to ours

in the way that well-meaning offspring do

and in the taking of this and that

from one home to the next

I rescued the shamrock


and gave it new soil in a larger clay pot with ruffled edges

placed it on an antique blue and white plate from England

and set it near a southern window where it blooms

in constant tiny white flowers amidst dark green leaves

that do what shamrock leaves are meant to do:

that is to open and close


and open again.

Found Poem 1

Xiphias  Gladious


You’ve never seen

a color blue on land

like the color of a swordfish.


If you ever met a girl

with eyes the color

of a swordfish


You’d leave

whoever you were with

and go to her.

Fishing captain in Nova Scotia

Nature Conservatory Magazine

Found Poem 2

Surveying the Room of World War II Veterans

My 91-Year-Old Father Says:

They’re all old.