summer windowsill

I spent all day taking pictures at the reservoir. Out of fifty or so pictures, my favorite one was taken when I returned home to the afternoon sun shining in the kitchen window. It looks so different from my winter windowsill posted here so many months ago. August 15th, 2014

Edit: five years have gone by, and I found this in drafts. My old phone photos look so dated. Maybe I will start posting here again.


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Loneliness and trees

In the past,  the phone clicked with a sound of finality.  These days, it goes silent. The screen of the phone brightly announces the call is ended, fades for a few seconds and goes black.

There remains a nostalgia to phone calls. I remember there was a phone voice, and a real life voice. Even my own mother sounded strangely different and far off,  even when she was just two rooms away,  telling me to get off the phone already.

There were some years when I lived alone in my apartment. Everyone was so far away, and I spent an inordinate amount of time talking to my family on the phone. City living was lonely sometimes. The urban landscape made me yearn for trees.

These thoughts both soothed and disturbed me as I pulled on jeans and rose from the bed in late afternoon,  giving up on the aborted mission to dream land. The coveted nap eluded me. I had a blue feeling that comes from a mostly unproductive day.

I escaped to the woods with the phone set to camera. It was a grey and still afternoon, and the leaves crunched underfoot. There was nothing inspiring around. No autumn leaves, no greening tips of Sassafrass, no mushrooms. Eventually a veil lifted and I began seeing the way I was born to see. There is a kind of heart pounding quickening when ideas are born. A tall, dead pine leaning heavily sparked my interest. On close examination there was a stress crack meandering up the wood. I knew it was going down soon. Things like trees going down seem like sudden catastrophic events, but here was a foreshadowing.

The less obvious things attracted my eye more so than the tree. I liked the pinto pattern of remaining snow, the faded and flattened summer grass, the bare blueberry twigs that looked so frail against the oaks. I saw a decomposing log with a leaf reclining tenderly nearby, and up against the flat grey of the sky were tree tops, reaching for each other, so close to each other, and so separate.



Later, after dinner, I closed the blinds to the dark. I thought of the trees, standing out there in the cold, waiting for the day when their leaves will bridge the gap, mingle, and block out the sky in a canopy of green.

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winter update

We are deep into winter. Every week the dark slips back just a little more. Night is giving way, but the cold will not.

The moon was a pale peach orb in a shroud of clouds and a tangle of branches when it first came up. Later, high in the sky, it seemed smaller than it usually is. It was a cold, white orb.

Walking in the night, we come to the gathering place of the melted snow. It collects in a low area and forms a frozen lumpy skate rink. I give it a wide berth and tell about falling on frozen slush,  the wound it made, and how long the scar lasted. I sound for a moment like my grandmother telling us about falling on a scythe, and how she bled, and how the doctor used clamps instead of stitches. I still remember the wide crescent moon of scar tissue on her knee. The kids squealed in horror, but slipped around on frozen melt anyway.

They climbed the snow that was pushed into small mountains by plows. They claimed them, and named them. Everything was dark but the old crunchy snow glowing in the moonlight.

There is a dead tree out back, insect eaten and hollow. Sometimes the setting winter sun pierces it and I am left wondering what solstice it may signify. What important thing ends or begins midwinter, when the bright, white winter sun sheds light into a tree like the eye of a needle?


The sky looks black and the stars look crisp and sharp. They are the bright stars of childhood, the ones seen through the trees when there was no light pollution.

The snowdrops are trying to bloom, and all of the other life forms wait in the cold ground or in the cold muck at the bottom of a swamp, unable to move. The sun makes hot, bright sunsets that are ever so brief, to remind us.20150206_173542

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Taking Pictures

I came out of the front door the day after the storm and saw the sidewalks had yet to be shoveled by the management. I didn’t mind, as I needed some exercise to cast off the laziness born from cabin fever. It was a dry, cold snow, and very light, and I made my way to the car quickly. I brushed off the car with the plastic broom I bought when I worked at the dollar store. It was wrecked. The handle was made of bamboo, and was split multiple times almost down to the bottom. It pinched my palms a few times. I warmed the car as I worked. The exhaust filled the air around me. When I was finished, I noticed the grey day had a warm tint creeping into it. The tree tops were catching the beginning of a sunset. The were warm brown and showed prominently against the cool grey sky.
Fearing the quick loss of light, I jumped behind the wheel and cranked the heat. The window was down, the camera ready. I knew a place nearby where I could see the sky unobscured by trees.
When I arrived at the soccer fields, the sky was vibrant. Little yellow clouds puffed across the sky beyond the power lines.

2015-01-27 23.05.57

I looked for simple and pure compositions to photograph. The wind picked up, but I didn’t notice right away. I had found that the wind created drifts and dunes around clumps of weeds and trees, and across the road.

2015-01-27 23.41.37     2015-01-28 14.10.46

I took photos as the light faded, and I could no longer feel my hands. They were numb with cold as I drove back home.
I spent the last of the day cooking and cleaning. Weary, but with the crisp of winter still lingering in my hands.

2015-01-28 00.36.15

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two leaves


Veins form patterns

Like lines on a human hand

A leaf has a heart line

That foretells the graceful

Trajectory to concrete

A life line that splits and spreads

And is never long enough

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Looking West


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summer windowsill


I spent all day taking pictures at the reservoir. Out of fifty or so pictures, my favorite one was taken when I returned home to the afternoon sun shining in the kitchen window. It looks so different from my winter windowsill posted here so many months ago.

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do you remember the day
in the long grass
when we laid the blanket down,
and the salty mud
soaked it?


remember how we
raised eyes
to the sky
and down to black dragonflies
hovering over tide pools?

do you remember the leaf boat
tiny and alone
at sea
the berries and thorns:
a quasi-wiccan
elegy for alternate lives,
lost among the reeds?


Or the salty mud,
the fly bites,
heaven’s light glowing
from behind sculptural clouds,
the lapping of the bay,
the voices of goldfinches
playing in the cedars?

i sat on that old plank of wood
with my feet in the cool water
looking west
knowing for certain
you were there,
knowing it was not
the salty bay breeze
on my sunburned neck
but the breath of you,
saying those things
you say


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i know you are not
talking to me but
the century seems to have
fallen away
and i still hear you calling

i hear your ghostly echoes,
the words on the page only seed husks,
not quite alive but holding the shape
of your thoughts
like the walls of a nineteenth
century room that once knew
the timbre of your voice,
or the the trees at Melikhovo
that remember your hand,
your touch and
how they must
struggle with age now

i often think of how
bright was the light of paint
from your brother’s hand
how that light and shadow can
shape your face
and show your smiling eyes
to this future that misses you
and regrets:
another twenty years
was asking for
too much

and how grateful i am
that i can hold your words
in a chamber of my heart,
living flesh that holds tight
and squeezes hard all you
had to say to us,
to me


first published in:


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department of motor vehicles

The sun rose and lit the black to gray, lit the humid and thick air in this cubicle of a room. The sheer green curtain was tucked aside. The fan, choked with three summers worth of dust, sucked air into the room. The relief was marginal. Awake too early, my heart pounded as it went through the list of things I could do to put myself back to sleep. None would work, I knew. I kicked off the blanket, and pulled the sheet down to a modest amount of skin, down to the hip bone and no further, my skin alive and in search of cool air.


There are no notifications on the phone screen. I am too sick to care. I lay still and make a rudimentary plan: coffee. clothes. shoes. birth certificate. tissues.

At the convenience store, I splurge on a black coffee. When I come out, I see strange bird taking flight into the humid grey sky, awkwardly rising over the green oaks. Moments like this are rare. I stop dead in the parking lot to watch. I see that it is only a silver mylar balloon making it’s escape to the freedom of the sky. A horn beeps and I wonder briefly how I made it this far in life without getting run over.

I always tell people I live in my head. As I drive, I occupy the swath of green growth and vines that flies by the car window. I am the creature that curls in the shade of a thicket, the dreamy one who watches a tiny spider run frantically over my skin. I coo at it’s tiny body, asking it questions. A friend, the voice of reason, asks: “Is that a tick?” before I will finally flick it away.

The trip to motor vehicles was easy, and shorter than the drive. The facial recognition software not was even visible.There was only an innocuous looking sign with four different races and four different eye colors requesting that when posing for the camera, to please make a neutral expression: no smiling allowed.

Back home in my room, I thought of the spray of roadside chickory that I had gazed at longingly while the light was red. I snapped a picture, and then my eyes rested on them until the car behind me laid on the horn. I could almost hear the driver: Go, asshole, the light is green already.

I tried to take a nap.
I played with the phone until the battery was hot, and I felt a drowsy, heavy feeling in my eyes.
Off wasn’t good enough, so I went into the phone settings:
force stop, silence notifications. The phone hit the carpeted floor beside me with a thump, and I dozed.

June 24th 2014, waiting for your email but too sick to really care.


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