Caretakers of Water

an elemental poem

Wet, clear
Dripping, collecting, pooling
Who owns this water?

The people who pump it into their swimming pool, clean it with cholrine, and swim in it to ease the stress of daily living?
Mr. and Mrs. Mallard who are looking for a place to live?
Those who harness its power for the industries that give us jobs and products to purchase with our pay?
Those who live near it, on it, and in it?
Or those who pum it through miles of desert pipeline to reach their homes?
Those who sail on it?
The companies who bottle it to sell in stores, Or the people who pay for the bottles?

The caretakers
Of all the water on Earth
Those who drink from it
Those who bathe in it
Those who use it, treat it, Return it to its source
All use, and therefore share, ownership and responsibility for this precious resource.

Spring, alas

Piles of snow and ice tenaciously refuse to melt on the north sides of buildings and trees

Fallen branches from the ice storm mock the emerging crocuses

Beauty emerges within the storm’s beastly remains.

Grateful for low tech tools

The fireplace, the printed book, the battery-operated radio

We stay wrapped up in the magic warmth of blanket throws

And wait until the weather warms enough

to deliver tornado season.

Alas, that’s spring.

Water isn’t blue

an elemental poem

Water isn’t blue.
It only appears blue in the distance —

— except when it has a high phosphorus content, making it look green, which leades people to name the bay Green and name a city after it and a football team…

But back to water.

Water isn’t blue at all.
Its surface reflects the color of the sky —

— which appears blue because nitrogen is the most prevalent element in Earth’s atmosphere and nitrogen appears blue when the sun’e rays reflect on its molecules

H two O.

Water can look clear
In a tub or shower. —

— The drops cling to the wall until they fall, sliding into one another and joining to puddle at my feet because the drain is clogged and I keep forgetting to treat it…

Oh. Yes. Water.

Water isn’t really blue.
It’s really colorless –.

— but its clarity can still hide micro-organisms that can make you sick even though you can’t see them in the apparently clear mountain spring…

Blue? Not water.

Water isn’t blue.
When a lake freezes, it looks white —

— from the gradually growing ice that spreads across the surface of the lake, insulating the water beneath to house fish and all other kinds of marine life, thickening to hold the shanties of ice fisherman who spear for the sturgeon, prehistoric beast, trophy for walls, provider of fine caviar…

No, water isn’t blue.

A Walk through the Woods

This is a “stolen lines” poem, created from lines “stolen” from a class collection of poems

If something sounds familiar, it probably is.

We stroll past the colors that transform a field
sometimes green and sometimes gray.
Where the sky is a page of water
with an in-your-face honesty to it, a clarity free of reflection.

We search out every horizon
through a veil of distance
in this vast and wondrous land
where everything is clear and still.

Now into the forever shadows,
the canopy lush and thriving above, a carpet beneath our feet
something less tangible courses here,
as we wander through woods that hold no breeze.

The soil is full of marvels and above it,
buckeyes, sycamores, and one black walnut
let their cello depths emerge from the cycle we call life.

Nature, great providder of the rainbow, sends
saffron leaves rusting, cresting into their moment
red-brown pine needles inches thick, a black beetle quick
to burrow back under the rich brown loam.

We listen, we believe,
oh stranger of the future,
oh friend of yesterday,
while a kind of twilight begins to permeate the air

As one hour sweeps into the next,
here it’s proven that time requires
this fleeting moment of eternity be savored — where
fact and fiction are indistinguishable in the moonlit night.


All the personality of a bar code

Bars and spaces parallel
Unique, yet unnamed, and carries
Not even as much individuality as a number.
Tired of repeating the same answers,
I try to go off script.
No luck.
To this operator/ scheduler/ untitled worker I am just another account.
One of many, all alike.
I am a bar code.
A featureless set of lines, unreadable by the human eye.
Scan me, I may contain information.
Feelings? Symptoms? Pain? Forget it.
Follow the script, the whole script, and only the script.
Is this any way to provide health care?
If I can get past the operator/ scheduler/ untitled worker I might be a person. Maybe.
Then again, maybe not.


In the garden

I can be me.
I can relax.
I don’t have to pretend to be normal
Or fake happiness.
No plastic smiles stick on my face.
Social skills optional; the tomatoes want water, not conversation.
In the garden
I have no deadlines.
I can slowly pour the water onto the plants
Letting the moisture sink into the soil
Nourishing the plant roots below
Encouraging growth above ground.
In the garden
I can hold entire conversations in my head
No one need know what I’m thinking
Indeed, the talk is quite dull to most.
In the garden, my thoughts are my own
Until I decide to share them, if I share them at all.
A small plot of ground,
My garden is my retreat.
When I need a break.

The Stockpile: Ten Years Later

based on a poem written in 2002 and “inspired” by Homeland Security

Remember after the Twin Towers crashed?
Remember the panic, the advice
from government leaders
to prepare for anything, everything
by buying

Bottled water, analgesics, thermometers,
Batteries for the flashlights and radios,
And emergency rations, enough to last six weeks or more.

Nuclear Power Plants are nearby,

Viruses are everywhere, and
Quarantine is inevitable.

But now —

Osama bin Laden is dead and his organization
Our economy is in recession, and cash flow is very tight.
Think about it.
Closets packed with canned food,
Over-the-counter meds,
And cases of bottled water?

Shop, yes. And replenish the woodpile, too.
But I’ll buy a bottle of wine
A good book,
Cheese and crackers.
Seeds and seedlings for my garden,

Not stockpiles of panic.
We’ll cozy up by the fireplace,
In our favorite blankets and quilts,
To enjoy each other,
And take care of our family.

We’ll continue living our lives.
Common sense, love and caring,
and family
Make survival after any disaster

A Very Special Author

originally posted in March 2007; originally published in WSRA Journal in 1997

When we were young
And could pick up a book,
A man with a gift
Made us all take a look

At a cat with a mission,
A feline with style,
Dressed up in a hat
With a hint of beguile.

The cat made us smile,
The Grinch brought a tear.
While the Whos down in Whoville
Inspired a cheer.

Those red fish and blue fish
Or green eggs and ham
The Star Bellied Sneetches
And that Sam-I-Am

The poor little boy
Wearing five hundred hats
Got caught in the oobleck
That fell and went splat.

His stories had morals,
Were strong with conviction,
Even though written
As young readers’ fiction.

A clear point of view,
The compassion he saw,
Like”…a person’s a person,
No matter how small.”

The elephant Horton
Who said what he meant,
That he could be faithful,
One hundred percent.

And think of the Lorax,
The one who said, “Please,
Oh, Please stop destroying
The Truffula Trees!”

His creatures were special,
Both comic and tragic,
Some small and some large,
With an aura of magic.

Think of the characters,
Ageless and timeless,
And how he could make
Something rhyme that seemed rhymeless!

The point of my story,
I’m sure you have reckoned,
Someone quite special
Was born on March second.

Creator of Yertle,
And Thidwick the Moose,
A talent unequaled:
The dear Dr. Seuss.