For a video of the installation ceremony, please go to


How a Poem Happens:

Go to, managed with finesse by Jayne Jaudon Ferrer, who says, "Our intent is to make visitors to Your Daily Poem aware of the joy and diversity of poetry."

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Home: What Does It Mean? How Can We Expand its Voice?

I am holding a copy of the seminar program for the recent NCCAT program, NC IS MY HOME: Celebrating NC's Literary Heritage.
I invite all writers, teachers and students to respond to the question of what home and heritage mean, how our educational system can teach our literary heritage to a new generation, and how we as citizens and readers can support our teachers in passing on the love of literature.

Thank you!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

JAKI SHELTON GREEN: Poet of the Week

I'm happy to feature my friend Jaki Shelton Green as my NC Laureate's Poet of the Week.

As the first Piedmont Laureate, she offers the following poem, “who will be the messenger of this land,” as her February “poem of the month.”

The Piedmont Laureate program is dedicated to building a literary bridge for residents to come together and celebrate the art of writing. Co-sponsored by the City of Raleigh Arts Commission, Durham Arts Council, Orange County Arts Commission, and United Arts Council of Raleigh & Wake County, the program’s key goal is to: “promote awareness and heighten appreciation for excellence in the literary arts throughout the Piedmont region.”

Jaki's publications include “Dead on Arrival,” “Masks,” “Conjure Blues,” and “breath of the song,” which was cited as one of two Best Poetry Books of the Year by the Independent Weekly. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines and journals, including Ms. Magazine, Essence, The Crucible, and Obsidian and she has performed her poetry and taught writing workshops throughout the United States, Caribbean, Europe, Central and South America. Her poetry has also been choreographed by groups such as African American Dance Ensemble, Two Near the Edge, and the ChoreoCollective, and awards include the North Carolina Award for Literature in 2003, 2006 Artist in Residence at the Taller Portobelo Artist Colony, and the 2007 recipient of the Sam Ragan Award.

Poems from her most recent book, breath of the song (Carolina Wren Press), follow her February poem.

who will be the messenger of this land

by Jaki Shelton Green

who will be the messenger of this land
count its veins
speak through the veins
translate the language of water
navigate the heels of lineage
who will carry this land in parcels
paper, linen, burlap
who will weep when it bleeds
and hardens
forgets to birth itself

who will be the messenger of this land
wrapping its stories carefully
in patois of creole, irish,
gullah, twe, tuscarora
stripping its trees for tea
and pleasure
who will help this land to
remember its birthdays, baptisms
weddings, funerals, its rituals
denials, disappointments,
and sacrifices

who will be the messengers
of this land
harvesting its truths
bearing unleavened bread
burying mutilated crops beneath
its breasts

who will remember
to unbury the unborn seeds
that arrived
in captivity
shackled, folded,
bent, layered in its

we are their messengers
with singing hoes
and dancing plows
with fingers that snap
beans, arms that
raise corn, feet that
cover the dew falling from
okra, beans, tomatoes

we are these messengers
whose ears alone choose
which spices
whose eyes alone name
basil, nutmeg, fennel, ginger,
cardamom, sassafras
whose tongues alone carry
hemlock, blood root, valerian,
damiana, st. john's wort
these roots that contain
its pleasures its languages its secrets

we are the messengers
new messengers
arriving as mutations of ourselves
we are these messengers
blue breath
red hands
singing a tree into dance

© Jaki Shelton Green


razor blades did not
slash rainbows
hands did not
steal light from the dawn
prayers spoken in tongues did not
dissolve into silk pocket linings
air could be bartered
for fire
war could reinvent itself
as a prayer of silence

paper dolls

for darnell arnoult

it is the joy of tomato sandwiches
the smell of jergens and jean nate
at thirteen
or our love still for grandmothers aunts
who enter rooms
largely sideways
hips broad enough
to use as sideboards
maybe it is the value
we place on duke's mayonnaise
the sandwich spread for queens . . .

whatever wherever and for ever more
we are little girls
revisiting space
rebuilding houses
renaming mothers . . .

perhaps it is the secret
knotted inside the pleats of skirt hems
sewn along scarf edges
fringed secret whispers
that whisper a familiar smell . . .

whatever we become
stealing a moment
to cast word spells
undress our mothers
repaint their lips with anything red anything italian
drench their heads with ancient clairol wisdom
anoint their hands with herstorical bronze
queen of the nile henna . . .

we reembrace
full petticoats
white linen skirts
sailor dresses
patent leather

for the pretty pirates
we will become . . ..

perfumed necks
wrists adorned
in vintage memory
cut carefully
along the edges
of this madness
this magic . . .

we lie down
and wait for the moon
to trace us.

i know the grandmother one had hands

i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always in bowls
folding, pinching, rolling the dough
making the bread
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always under water
sifting rice
blueing clothes
starching lives
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always in the earth
planting seeds
removing weeds
growing knives
burying sons
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always under
the cloth
pushing it along
helping it birth into
curtains to lock out
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always inside
the hair
twisting it into rainbows
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always inside
holding the knots
counting the twisted veins
holding onto herself
lest her hands disappear
into sky
i know the grandmother one had hands
but they were always inside the clouds
poking holes for the
rain to fall.


in the season of rising up in the morning
granddaughters give new meaning
to great day in the sky
sky with small
fists, pinching clouds
reshaping stars
into skirts
wearing moon shadows like capes
we turn raindrops into buttons
stitch hair balls along the hems of
fire dresses
new granddaughters
wear new earth clothes
spell their name sistuh
prepare new warriors
to prepare new earths
check skirts for hems lined with hail dust
never admitting to treason

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

North Carolina is My Home: Celebrating Our State's Literary Heritage

North Carolina must surely be one of the nation's leaders in supporting the literary arts and education. One of the facilities that gather the two together in seminars that inspire and instruct is the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching here in Cullowhee. You may find out more about the history and mission of NCCAT by visiting its website,

I was fortunate enough to be involved in NCCAT during its first years when it was housed in Madison Dormitory on the Western Carolina University campus. That was 24 years ago! There I met such memorable seminar leaders as Carolyn Tobin and Jon Rinnander and came to know numerous teachers as colleagues and friends. Several years ago NCCAT moved to a beautiful new facility across the road (HWY 107) where it continues to offer our teachers a place to relax, re-energize, and form communities with each other during the various seminars offered by the staff. Our teachers have had many burdens laid upon them over the past few years by legislatures that have little understanding of the art and practice of teaching our children. Too many tests, too much paperwork, too many restrictions on precious time and resources--this is just the beginning of a list that makes teachers' work more demanding, more stressful. We should all be alarmed by the number of teachers in North Carolina and nationwide who leave the profession each year. We should be asking ourselves and our legislators and school administrators WHY?

(The library and large parlor downstairs at NCCAT)

(Original artwork by NC artists is displayed around the Center.)

The questions being asked in the seminar North Carolina Is My Home:Celebrating Our State's Literary Heritage are ones central to the teaching of NC literature and writing. Alton Ballance, Seminar Director, and his assistant NCCAT Program Associate Linda Kinnear put together a program that enabled everyone to consider such questions as how does one give voice to "home"? How have our writers presented their time and place? What challenges have they faced as writers and what instruction can they offer to teachers struggling to teach a love of reading and writing to their students. How can we encourage students to learn more about their communities, their families, and themselves through writing? As one of the seminar presenters, I had a front-row seat in helping to discuss these issues.

(Watercolor by Bryson City artist Elizabeth Ellison outside our meeting room.)

(Alton Ballance, NCCAT Center Fellow)

Georgann Eubanks, author of Literary Trails of North Carolina, led off the seminar with a place-based discussion of where our authors have lived and brought alive in their writing. She also guided the teachers through a writing exercise based on the work of poet Robert Morgan.

Acclaimed novelists Pamela Duncan, who now teaches at Western Carolina University, and Charles F. Price of Burnsville, whose novels deal with North Carolina History, brought their humor and mutual admiration to their readings from their work. Ron Rash read from his new novel Serena, again emphasizing the importance of place in his development as a writer. Michael Parker, fiction-writer and professor at UNC-G, spoke about the ambiguities and tensions that we face in our local communities, tensions that he has brought into his novels and stories.

(Novelist Charles Price and his wife Ruth share a humorous moment after his presentation.)

(Ron Rash signs books after his reading Monday night.)

(Novelist Michael Parker chats with teachers after his presentation....)

(....and signs books for eager participants, including Constance Ramey, former President of the NC English Teachers Association.)

Fred Chappell, our state's most renowned writer, brought the authors' portion of the seminar to a close with a short story and poem that captivated the circle of teachers. Again, a sense of humor, community, and sheer enjoyment in each others' company marked his presentation.

(Fred Chappell signing his book Look Back All the Green Valley.)

The stars of this seminar? The teachers, of course. A young woman like Rebekah Haithcock, for example, who represents the future of NC public school teaching. Or former NC English Teacher Association president, Constance Ramey, who personifies the life-long commitment to passing on a love of language and literature. Herlinda Bryan who teaches Spanish at Frank P. Graham Elementary in Apex. And all the other lively participants who made this seminar one I will remember for a long time.

(Posing with Rebekah Haithcock, a Spanish teacher at West Caldwell High School.)

(In the seminar room moments before Fred Chappell's presentation.

(Mealtimes give teachers and presenters time to get to know each other.)

(In downtown Sylva, outside Lulu's Cafe, Susan Chappell and Ruth Price give each other a farewell hug before going their separate ways. Fred looks on, while Charles stays in the background!)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Poets of the Week: Rebecca and Joshua James


Josh James and Becky Hallman sat at the end of the table in the poetry workshop I led during my Rivers-Coffey Residency at Appalachian State in the fall of '06. Neither said much during the first weeks, but that didn't mean they were not paying attention. As you can see from the two poems below, they've been paying attention all of their lives. Josh turned in playful, ironic poems that I sometimes couldn't figure out, and Becky offered us intense, allusive, sometimes erotic poems that gave a glimpse of the creativity underneath her reserved exterior. I came to know them better when they stopped by my cottage in Blowing Rock several times during the term. We talked about all sorts of things, including poetry. Those were among my favorite times while at ASU. In the winter of '07, they got married, and after their graduation, I lost touch with them. I knew Becky was planning on working toward an MFA in writing from Queens University in Charlotte while Josh joined the military, but I had no idea what had been happening until a letter from them arrived before Christmas. The biography gives a brief summation of their professional lives to date. I'm proud of Josh for blazing new trails at Anson High, as well as in his own poetry. Becky likes living in their old farmhouse surrounded by fields. I think you can see the influence of this in her poem.
Two special people. North Carolina is lucky to have them!
Joshua and Rebecca James met in the creative writing program at Appalachian State University and are celebrating their second wedding anniversary. Joshua teaches English composition and is yearbook advisor at Anson High School in Wadesboro, North Carolina. There, he has co-founded the school's first literary club and organized an annual talent show and poetry slam hosted by a popular Charlotte DJ. Rebecca is currently completing her MFA in creative writing at Queens University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Iodine Poetry Journal, Blue Collar Review, Sounds of the Night, Hurricane Review and Main Street Rag. Joshua and Rebecca live in Morven, NC with their two cats.


there is no snow –

you do not see

the ice-white lichen

lattices of purée

atmosphere ending

in mesh-wet pores or

tongues and one would

think of the delicacies

these could land on

the small of a woman,

her back glittered

with filaments of

golden semicircles

eyelashes of newborns

or the breath mint left

last summer in the yard

that stews in the heat

and sniggers in winter,

the breath of burrows

tantamount to a wasp

with frozen wings

--------Joshua James


I have lived in the mountains,
the metropolis piedmont,
and now the sandhills.
All with you.

Last year we brought with us

the spoils of big box bookstores
and a frosting of Appalachian snow.

Today, the wild onions

and daffodils in our yard
do indeed grow through sand.

Perhaps we will make it to the coastal plain
on our slow crawl toward the sunrise,

toward the sea—the hinged clamshell
of you and me teeming with life.

Rebecca James

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Bruce Lader is the founding director of Bridges Tutoring, an organization educating multicultural students. A teacher of disadvantaged teenagers for many years, he holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education, is a former Writer-in-Residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Colony, and has received an honorarium from the College of Creative Studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara. His first full-length collection, Discovering Mortality (March Street Press, 2005), was a finalist for the Brockman- Campbell Award. He was also a finalist for the 2008 Greensboro Award for Poetry.
A featured reader in many venues, he has worked as a Poet-in-the-Schools of North Carolina, New York, and California. His poems have appeared in over 75 journals and including Poetry, The New York Quarterly, Poet Lore, Potomac Review, Roanoke Review, New Millennium Writings, Asheville Poetry Review, International Poetry Review, Main Street Rag, Iodine Poetry Journal, Harpur Palate, and the anthology, Against Agamemnon: War Poems.

Our Own Blood

The generals deliberate on the climate of war,
insulted that some harebrained foreigners
might beat them at seizing the capital.

The generals read barometers of insiders,
tally missiles and unmanned drones.
Their temperatures escalate as the budget deficit
dives and the foreigners move forward.

The Supreme Commanders would like nothing better
than to turn the tide, reduce the expense of casualties
to zero, risk only what’s necessary,
leave nothing to accident.

Fingers like rolls of million-dollar bills
toying with the buttons of boom,
the generals reckon lives,
plot exact targets via satellite surveillance.

The security of our native land hovers
like Apache helicopters
on a do-or-die sortie.

The generals know it has always been
us or the enemy, the battle between
alien blood and our own.

© The New York Quarterly

Continue obeying, don’t get hurt, he repeated,
and parachuted, a man-of-war
beyond barriers of fear,
his life on the line to free the oppressed,
avenge his country
against an enemy he didn’t know.

© Audience


Blips of stealth
on reconnaissance radar
alert the PFC;
he determines position,
zeroes in with unflinching telescopic power.
The face and build look familiar
though he isn’t certain he recognizes
the helmeted youth training a rifle on him,
resolved now, as he is,
to execute orders, complete school,
bury debts.
In the desperate moment
they have to decipher each other’s
encoded shibboleth,
identify themselves in the purgatory
where they’ve been conditioned to kill;
or remain lost, detached forever,
blown to a furlough of sand
in the schizoid scrimmage
over a fast killing
at any cost.

© Audience

Student Evaluation

The teacher’s a loser.
Not a scar, hands like Paris Hilton.
Believes kindness can block punches,
enemy knives that slash our blood.

He wears Disney glasses.
Never had a rival gang on his case
burning to steal everything.

Truckers, trash men, dealers
take in more money, drive cooler cars.
He should let us slide
when we don’t do work,
hand out A-pluses, help even the odds.

The nerd uses Odor Eaters,
walks that snobby hood talk,
doesn’t dig hip-hop,
can’t get no other job.

His jokes make us cough.
No one savvies his geezer jive
like How do you open windows
of caring and peace?
As if riddles give respect,
could turn backstabbers into brothers.

When we’re only playing,
he goes buggy, lectures on forgiveness,
bringing home the gold of freedom.
As if mushy dreams can stop
bangers from stomping us.

We want the real deal who can KO,
teach us to get upmarket dinero.

© Café Solo

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reader Renga Poems

A few weeks back I suggested that readers could use the renga form to write their own individual poems, even though the renga was begun as a collaborative verse form in Japan. I had several memorable responses to that blogpost and I'm featuring them today.


Mist rises from the lake
like a mystery
in front of me.

mountains disappear

in fog or clouds, not sure which …
now the sun shines them
from obscurity.

---Karen Holmes

Karen brings 26 years experience in marketing and corporate communications, most recently in the corporate world as Vice President of Communications at ING. In 2000, she began her own writing and consulting business, WriteSource, which she renamed "Simply Communicated" in 2007. She now serves on the board of Netwest in WNC and helps to enliven and enrich our NC literary community. You can see from the above the poetic voice she brings to her own work.


Deep clouds hover
Over mountaintops.
Full moon, lost.

I miss your anxious lips,
Your eyes.

Dim lit world,
A cool darkness
Settles in my bones.

----------Mindy Evans

My first taste of poetry came from an ancient, crumbling hymnal. I learned quickly the beauty of words and their power to invoke emotion.. I wrote my first poem at the age of sixteen and when I was in love. Luckily, the object of my affection wasn¢t permanent but my love for poetry grew. I attended UNC-Charlotte and majored in English. I was fortunate enough to take poetry writing classes from Dr. Robert Grey and Lucinda Grey, both equally wonderful teachers and poets. I am currently employed at my local library where I moderate two book discussion groups amongst many other responsibilities. A North Carolina native, I reside in Marion, NC.

My poems are inspired by nature and the complexities of being human. I am deeply inspired by the work of many poets. And, if all else fails, I find inspiration from a walk along a light streaked sidewalk. My work has been published in Western North Carolina Woman Magazine out of Asheville, NC.


The boy at the altar
received blessings
from the church.

He leaves tomorrow
for war.

Tomorrow he rides
open waves,
blown by God's breath

It's junior high, it's going off to war, but here is another image I've been getting from biblical inspiration. Yesterday's homily focused on how the original Hebrew of Genesis could be reinterpreted into today's language, and the line that struck me most was how the wind over the ocean was God's breath, how God breathed life into the waters.

That image took me to an old country church I'd once been to, where the only 18 year old boy in the congregation was being prayed over by the church elders as he prepared to leave for Iraq. It was breathtaking in so many ways.

So, still in the pew, I started fusing those images, and thank goodness you had a little poetry assignment for me this morning. I needed to start letting that out. I'm hoping there's still room to work more...

-----James Hogan

James Hogan is a 2003 graduate of The Honors College at Western Carolina University, where he majored in English Education. While at Western, he was a member of the Pride of the Mountains Marching Band and the Creative Writers Guild, and he worked in the University Writing Center. James taught high school English in North and South Carolina for five years before joining the Annual Fund staff at Davidson College in February 2008. As the Gifts Officer, James is responsible for working with reunion year giving as well as visiting alumni from all graduating classes. He and his wife, Kelly, reside in Statesville.



Mother of the bride
waits alone in her front seat,
tissue in her sleeve.

She sits all alone,
stands at her cue to look back,
and catches her breath:

The two she loves most
walk arm-in-arm down the aisle,
their smiles glazed by tears.

Nancy Posey ( is a former English teacher, a great friend to writers in this state, and a fabulous reader of their work. Visit her blog!

Saturday, February 7, 2009


(Cover Art: David R. Winston: Let's Just Be Friends)

CAVE WALL is a new poetry magazine in our state, and it's been garnering great reviews from readers and in the media. Its Editor Rhett Iseman Trull and Assistant Editor Jeff Trull describe their magazine this way on their website,

Cave Wall, published twice a year, is a national literary magazine
dedicated to publishing the best in contemporary poetry. We are
interested in poems of any length and style from both established
and emerging poets. Each issue includes black & white art, as well.

Among the North Carolina poets who have been published in Cave Wall are Bill Blackley and Diana Pinckney. Anyone who keeps up with NC poetry knows who Bill is and what he has contributed to NC letters through his involvement in the NC Poetry Society, among others. Bill is also a a ferocious harmonica player. And an M.D., besides that. Oh yes, don't let me forget, he's a poet. Maybe being a medical doctor has led him to some secret discovery for harnessing human energy. Some special formula he has tucked away?


Here is his poem from Issue #3/ --Winter/Spring 2008


Two-finger blow a kiss
goodbye to dad’s graduation
watch left for easy
pickings on a beach blanket. So long,
to the self-winding Seiko rolled
in gray sweat pants outside
the handball court where
a thief slips my treasured piece
into his pocket and beats it
while his lookout grins. Bon voyage,
to the green-rimmed Swatch a kid sticky
fingers from a pool locker while
I struggle to hold
my water-polo position. C’est la guerre
to the radium-dotted Bulova I peel
off a National Guard soldier not
in Vietnam long before I bag
and airmail his scorched effects
to Altoona. Adios,
to a fourteen dollar Timex I toss
to a co-worker when presented a Rolex
at my retirement gala. Gods chuckle
at us mortals caching batteries, winding stems
and punching in our measly hours.



Diana Pinckney has been featured earlier on our site and I encourage you to go to our archives and seek her out. She is a member of what I call "the Charlotte group," including Dannye Romine Powell, Dede Wilson, Lou Green, to name only three of this remarkable gathering of poets who are also friends.

Diana has published poetry and prose in such journals and magazines as Cream City Review, Tar River Poetry, The Deep South Writers Chapbook, Gulf Stream, The Comstock Review and others. Her chapbook, Fishing With Tall Women, won North Carolina’s Persephone Press Book Award and South Carolina’s Kinloch Rivers Memorial Chapbook Contest. Nightshade Press published her second collection, White Linen. Two of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Pinckney was selected for North Carolina Writers Network’s Blumenthal Writers and Readers series in 1994 and 1999. Her writing has won awards from numerous journals and from the North Carolina Poetry Society, the Poetry Council of North Carolina and the Charlotte Writers Club.

Here are two poems selected from the four in Cave Wall # 4, part of her new Mermaid series.


Tall on this rock, she gives
me a See ya and dives

for longer and longer swims,
leaving me to wonder whose sails

spread before or under her
on those hard slick boats she loves.

Whose sand oozes
between her toes, sticks to her legs

after a throw-down with beach bums.

Total party hounds, she sneers

when I ask. Gives me an O.K. sure
or worse, a None’ ya biz when I warn.

Besides me, who waits for those white
arms rolling in the foam of midnight,

those bright streamers of hair tangled
with moonlight, lifted by a tide

that measures my days, that returns
each night, refusing to give up my daughter.


I floated by in a basket?
Like wood storks bring babies out
of the marsh. Oh, please.
So she sang and played her flute,
combed my hair with coral and, whoa,
gave me manatee’s milk meant
for those fat pups
under mangrove roots, wrapped me
in greasy sealskins, yuck,
fed me fish roe – no way this was caviar –
tern eggs. Whatever.

Like how
did I end up with her?
Maybe some beach beauty
does a total meltdown at two a.m.,
can’t take the crying.
Who knows. Hello? No one
drops her baby in a grass basket –
wouldn’t that leak -- then shoves it out to sea.
Mothers don’t do that.
Do they?

Thursday, February 5, 2009



Monday, February 2, 2009


I met Rebecca Pierre several years ago when I was invited to read at North Carolina State University and judge their annual poetry competition for NC residents. Her poem was clearly at the top of my judge's list, and I awarded it first place, a tie with another poem that I had found worthy. As it turned out, this poem had only a few days before been accepted for publication by a journal, thus eliminating it from consideration. Rebecca came to my reading, though, and we have been in contact, off and on, for quite a few years. I admire her poetry for its visual and musical effects. Her book, A MYSTERY OF MOON, was published in 2006 by Main Street Rag Press and was selected to reside in the NC Historical Archives at UNC Chapel Hill.

Rebecca lives, writes and plays in the clay on Oak Island, NC where the sea is her muse. She settled there after living many lives mostly in the eastern US. An accomplished Clay Artist, she is addicted to pots, poetry and the poetry of pots. Through the years she has received numerous awards for her poetry as well as a grant for a week-long workshop at Wild Acres in NC and one for a month-long residency at The Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT. Her poetry has been published in such publications as: Asheville Poetry Review, Wellspring, The Cancer Poetry Project, The Peralta Press, Lullwater Review, NCPS Pinesong Awards, Of Frogs and Toads, Illya’s Honey and others. She hopes that her words will touch a place in you that may have remained untouched without them. An ambitious dream, but one that she carries in her heart always.

As a Southeastern NC writer she was interviewed by an MFA student and a DVD of that interview now resides in perpetuity and available to be viewed by any interested party in the William Morrison Randall Library Special Collections Archives at UNC Wilmington.

A piece of her clay art titled 'Licorice Twist' (see below) was chosen for 'The Power of Art: Preserving the History of the Fine Art Community in Southeastern North Carolina' and remains on display in the William Morrison Randall Library at UNC Wilmington.

Rebecca's clay art website is www, (A wonderful site! Please visit.)

For for this feature I have interwoven images of Rebecca's pottery with her poetry. Enjoy the poetic and visual treasures in this post.


The first three are from a series Rebecca calls "Beach Walks" that she hopes to publish with paintings. May she find a publisher for it soon!


The beach is empty
this morning. Wild waves
stir up seafoam like
soapsuds that cling
to the tideline in
clumps. Clouds, gray pillows,
smother the sun. Houses
are painted derelict by
mist. No wonder laughing
seagulls share a joke.
No wonder millions
of tiny pieces of
seashells whisper underfoot,
This is our eternity. This
is the world as it was in
the beginning, before I set
foot upon the sand. This
is the world as it will be
in the end, still turning
and singing its song.



A leisurely walk. A lone sandpiper
skitters constantly, seeking food.
To avoid my advance she moves
quickly away, Not heading toward
the beach but toward incoming
waves. My breath catches for
an instant before I realize
she is smarter than I. She knows
she must merely lift her wings
and fly. I must remember that
I have wings.



And on the way home,
as I pass Heron Lookout,
I catch a glimpse through
tall marsh grasses of a
Great Blue Heron perched
atop a birdhouse in the
canal. I step gently forward
for a closer look but her keen
eyes, born to catch the tiniest
movement, catch mine. She lets
out a cry that sounds like the
breaking of a branch, spreads
her glorious wings and carries
my soul with her, sailing low
over the water then swooping
up to her nest in a tree.



This hammock, connecting
tree to tree, becomes a
suspension bridge for ants
who travel the rope that
borders the edge. Focused,
they never lose their way,
never deviate into the web
of highways, the tempting
byways of the green
knotted network that forms
the bed. While live oak branches
bow in an elegant sweep
to the ground, pieces of sky
hide among the leaves overhead.
A blue jay startles herself
by landing too close to
the hammock. A mockingbird,
so enraptured by his own song,
lifts straight up from a fence post
at intervals in his singing.
A grey squirrel sits in
a patch of sun, holds
a toadstool in her paws,
turning it with her delicate
fingers as she eats her
way around the edge. This
is the business of the world.
Our business is not to miss it.



John’s Island, SC

Early Sunday morning,
walking to the pond,
suddenly I stop.

Upwind, a cougar,
tawny and sleek,
regal head raised
searching for a scent
on the air.

I think of the leopard
lying in the painting
that hung above
the fireplace in a house
I once called home.
A place I left
like the cougar leaves
gliding through long grass
as if she had never been there.



All day it rains
as if the sorrow
is too much to bear
without weeping skies.
Finally, they walk out
together let the rain wet
their hair, their clothes,
and still they walk
knowing walking is not enough,
nor is crying,
nor talk of the past,
the uncertain future.
Knowing that they must
each put one foot
in front of the other,
going apart, coming together,
going a bit farther, coming together,
until their walking takes them
beyond return.



I like to imagine
the potter at her wheel
slamming the clay down
onto the wheel-head,
bending forward, her elbows
locked against her knees,
eyes closed to better feel
the centering. The clay,
dug from the earth,
wet with water,
spinning in her hands
to a burnished ball,
the precise size to fit
smoothly in the cup
of my hip where it
glides with each step,
with each movement
of my leg. A ceramic
ball fired expertly to
the perfect temperature
so that the surgeon
cannot help but turn it
in his hands, admiring
the artistry that combined
with his skill, will make
me pain-free and whole