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Poems in Transit

The following is a working edition of a chapbook. The poems are dated as reminders to me about when they occurred. Expect changes as I edit. I welcome your comments. Please let me know which poems you feel are strongest, and which don't hold a candle to the rest (and need to be extinguished.) Send comments to fairfieldreview at hpmd dot com (with a sneer to the SPAMers :) --egh, 20 Oct 12

20-Oct - First draft of poems written while commuting and traveling.

Favorites --the ones I am currently attached to-- are:
  1. Journey
  2. Early Morning
  3. Lights left on
  4. Things Seen Twice
  5. Morning Poem iv
  6. Address book
  7. The Appointment
  8. Passing through
  9. Cold Frame
  10. Summer roll-out
  11. Signature
  12. When to write a poem
  13. Waiting for the train
  14. Periscope
  15. Loss
  16. Lyre
  17. New thoughts
  18. A Sheaf of Poems

Poems in Transit

© Copyright 2012

E. G. Happ
Nyon, CH 1260

All Rights Reserved


We met briefly after church one day and did what poets often do. We talked about our writing. He had a dry spell and I was writing poems on trains and buses, commuting to work in Geneva. He had just finished a long battle with the New York college where he teaches and was drained; I was looking for a change of jobs and the poetry was therapy. What would I call a book of poems written while commuting, images flying by the window, awaiting the station of noticing, where thoughts get on and off? "In transit" he said. Yes, that will do nicely, and we agreed that life was train and bus, inherently transitory. Poets can do that, speak in metaphors and cut to the heart. Here are the sheaf of poems --from October to October to October, as the leaves that fall from trees also remind us of the life that comes and goes-- that came to be, somewhere along the path from Nyon to Petit Saconnex, and back again.

October 2012


He asks,
how do you journey into a poem?
do you pack for summer or winter?
is there a sign-post or a map—
perhaps a crossroad?
will we be counting steps
at night
or driving in the rain?
I like how this billboard
appears out of nowhere
with its jingle of endings—
what's that about?
we've had to slow down here,
pull to the side of the page,
while all these other words
go racing by
as he looks up at clouds
sticking to the fingers
of an ancient oak,
she kisses his cheek,
and says, come,
take my hand.

22 Jan 12

Back to Top

Autumn Sun

Driving west on the Merritt
in the late afternoon
the sun washes everything
to silhouette,
the light dancing off
bits of chrome
and hatchback glass
like a jeweler's torch;
if it were not for the patch
of trees
between the Ridge Roads
yielding the vision of the shaded,
I would not see the burning
maples waving me
to exit here.

16 Oct 10

Morning Sun

The bus slices through
the morning sun
as the houses and shops
dice her hooded stare;
cars still asleep
in their blue-lined places
wait silently
fresh from the evening
the frost on their windows
glows silver
backlit from gold
that passes here.

29 Oct 10


For the first snow in the valley
there is a dusting,
an airbrush touch of winter,
a dab of alpine blanc;
everything hums the same bar
in a morning etude,
the rows of gamay vines
are the strings,
the pines a row of trumpets,
winter cabbage timpanis,
willows winds,
even this silver frame
that rings the train window
is my companion,
has caught a bit of the manna
as if to hold it up to my mouth
and whisper "eat"

26 Nov 10


I remember his hands
reaching under the ball of roots,
finger nails ringed with the loose loam
as he lifted the mellow mums
from the hole he dug months ago.
Now with frost looming in the morning forecast
they need to be moved inside.
This void in the earth
where once there were leafy stalks
reaching to the heavens
calls out to me.
This vessel of fertile ground
where earthworms dangle
and a few fallen leaves
leave whispers in their wake
sings a song that tugs
at the roots of me,
reminding me that just yesterday
you boarded a plane for the east
toward where the sun sets
as I rise
and ache to be with you.

29 Nov 10

La Neige

The lights of the station
are dodging through the flakes
shifted from an unseen baker
perhaps thinking of a baguette
or boule...
For now we are the cold table
and thoughts of a warm oven
giving rise to an aroma
that would lift a soul
through any storm
are somewhere else,
perhaps at the chocolatier
about to drop a dollop
of semi sweet truffle…

I am reminded
I have not yet eaten
and the train is late

30 Nov 10


Riding into an impressive sunset
the western ear-lobes of the Alps
cast in a yellow-pink glow,
listening to the taps of a lingering sun,
Mount Blanc tres blanc
in the sights of a lingering sun;
and all this day-after winter beauty
is not as stunning
as it would be
if you were following
the point of my finger,
I the capture of your eyes,
and the gush of wondering wind
as we say together, "look!"

2 Dec 10


At night
the tall thin bamboo
sway in the stifling breeze,
waving me back to my room
where the cool breath of AC
fogging the glass
perched on the bridge
of my nose,
taking me back
to a cold eve
on the other side
of the world,
just nights ago
when the bamboo
shivered stiffly
in the blowing snow;
and it is ever a wonder
how something as simple
as a gangly green stalk
takes me back
to somewhere else
that I had forgotten
or lost in the every-day,
that now stands out
and shakes me like
an outstretched hand.

4 Dec 10 from KL

A purple purse

She tells me of the purple purse
passed one-to-one
at the offertory,
something singular
amidst familiar words—
but hearing this,
my mind wanders
to silken altars
and a hue that glistens
even before
I run my tongue
across the pursed lips
and feel you arch
up in a gothic rise
as you begin
to sing the two-notes
that begin the sacred
journey that will ever
be a mystery.

5 Dec 10

White bridge in a park where we are guests

"...our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee" --St. Augustine, Confessions, Book 1, Chap 1

In the beauty of a foreign land
a simple bridge of whitest cloud
and an echo of a parasol above the two
who have paused in their journey
to look down to waters that flow
from east to west;
I am reminded that we
are strangers here,
aching to be home
even as we rest in a familiar bed,
an arch above what passes by--
and as we watch and wait
a new home comes to us
with a belonging that can only be
the whitest gift,
and our ache becomes the greatest joy.

12 Dec 10

Morning Poem

I go through the door
and there above the fountain
raining light from a window
a star of a hundred crinkled eyes
watches me
shrug my knapsack
and fish for my gloves,
pushing back against the grey
morning and melting snow
the music of the water
gurgles in the stone white basin
under a trickle of sun
here on my street
on my path
at my door.

21 Dec 10 

Morning Poem ii

The sun slices
the finger lake
with a knife
of burnished brass,
as if to divide
this from that
like a fence
or a closed mind
that does not
argue with itself,
a peace that is fleeting
and disturbed
by waves
that cut the calm
as a storm
or a dawning

5 Jan 11


The lights parade by quickly,
a window at a time
to the left,
and slowly
in the glass
of the train door
arcing back;
so much depends
on where you look;
this lake-blue bag
in the reflection
from the strangers seat
across the aisle
is so luminous
it must be holding stars

6 Jan 11

On the Train to Genève

Vast tufts of fog
are lifting from the lake,
the morning sun
climbing over the Alps;
we hurtle through one
then another:
one town yawning in yellow,
the next squinting
in the mist;
reading this morning
a short bio of Doctorow,
I wonder how the story
will unfold,
the headlights of this
train lapping up the rails
to Genève,
and I,
facing the rear,
back to the wind
seeing what already
has gone by,
am full of hope.

7 Jan 11

Music on the other side

Two musicians are playing fervently
on the tram,
while I, standing on the platform,
glass doors closed between us
hear no sound
save the whoosh of the cars
behind me
and the idling engines
of those stopped
like me
at the light
across the way.
An old man
with sunken cheeks
stares emptily
from the train-car,
oblivious to the music
that wraps him
as a swaddling cloth.

7 Jan 11

Early Morning

Before the light
has spilled over the rooftops
and through the frosted glass
the crows are at a beginning
or an ending--
it is hard to tell
in this darkness
that is passing,
in this dawning
that is knocking
once more on the drum
of my ear
like a lamentation for the night,
a calling for the sun.

12 Jan 11

Back to Top


A news paper,
pastry dunked,
drawn cigarette,
glowing phone—
each has hands
one after the other,
on the platform
for the morning train

13 Jan 11

Missed Train

Running across
the street
before the light
bounding up
the stone stairs
to the train
whose doors
have just closed,
finger extended
to the point
of light
that flashed green
and then went out,
the car
lumbered slowly on
while I like a dock
swayed behind .

14 Jan 11


We leave before lunch
under a round blue sky,
jet trails
crossing it as etchings
in a crystal salad bowl;
the trio of chimes
on the regional to Brig
announce the stops:
Gland, Morges, Lausanne--
and then Montreux—
down the steps
after steps
to the Lake
where one
after another
photo continues
the poem

15 Jan 11

Passing by

The row of cars
next to Trembley Park
are covered in frost,
each a shadow,
dark in the slice
of sun that wraps
around them.

17 Jan 11
On the 3 bus, Geneva

Lights left on

Someone left the moon on
last night;
we stood at the bedroom window
and marveled at how bright
its fullness was,
the clouds from the snow squalls
lit up as linen under summer sun
were its unwitting curtains;
but now having pulled aside
the kitchen drape
before the coffee drips
its morning melody,
la lune stares
from the other side
of heaven
and I hear my father
say to turn it out before
I leave the room.

21 Jan 11

Back to Top


The wind is whipping to the west
with the fury of a front marching through
without regard for who stands shivering
in its wake;
were it not for the blatant blue sky
and sun pulling itself up over
the clouds wrapped around the mountain,
we would think this was a winter storm
standing with our backs to the gusts
we line up on the platform
like crows upon the wire
confused about why the trains
are stalled upon the tracks below

21 Jan 11
Waiting for the Nyon –Geneva train

Clarity of Night

Even the lesser stars
are out tonight--
those finer points
that reveal themselves
in the clarity of night--
"sleep on it"
my friend imparts,
it will be clear in the morning;
and "put a pad and pencil
next to the bed
so you won't forget,"
having etched it
with a stroke of midnight
clear upon the bleach-white page;
I think I'll stand out here
in the cold buff of a January night
and hold my fingers still
in the ebony gloves
that keep me from finding
the edge of the page.

24 Jan 11

Commuting with Heaven in my Hand

Sometimes the connections
run together,
the green light at the corner,
the train pulling in
as I step onto the platform
and the bus waiting at its stop--
it flows as a current
one into another and another
and I in my inner-tube
of pen and paper
take it in
as it comes,
thankful for the rare moment
of startling grace

26 Jan 11


I read that Merton
died in the tub
fixing the fan,
as an experiment gone bad
or a sentence;
and yet doing the work
of mystics,
noting from where
the window blows
and to where it goes;
as the splash of water
I imagine
when he fell
into the final awakening
that stops us cold.

31 Jan 11

"In 1968, at age 53, [Merton] died by electrocution when he attempted to adjust an electrical fan while stepping out of a shower. " --Dr. Mardy

Things Seen Twice

An early day frost
on an early spring day
is a tease,
a "not yet";
the sun winks
between still sleeping trees
under a crisp blue sky,
fog puffing from my mouth
as I walk briskly by,
taps me on the cheek
and says:
there are parallel universes:
this one in which I walk
and the other
I imagine walks with me.

9 Feb 11

Back to Top


The wall clock is learning to dance:
one-two, one-two;
the full moon trips through the low
clouds over the lake,
and the walk-light hobbles off and on—
so much for the smooth passing of time;
I feel its constant stutter
as a hur-r-r-ry up
there is work to do
and it’s not what's tugging
at my finger tips.

17 Feb 11

A Dose of Frost

Frost on the railroad ties
have a rhythm,
a dose of cold at a time;
I prefer those icy places
in my life
where upending is a step away
with wild greens--
a chilled salad, if you will;
and a rain forest or two,
with lions and tigers and bears,
oh my!--
even if poking up through grey rocks
like crocuses on the hillside
not yet lime

18 Feb 11
Waiting for the 8:50 train from Nyon

Listening to the news from trees

The chorus rises each day,
new voices fresh from the south
gather on still bare branches
and sing with an excitement
not heard for a season,
becoming the great comma
in our melting.

18 Feb 11

Morning Poem iii

It is snowing lightly
on this promenade
of gray street lamps of threes,
in front of shops not yet awake;
a few passersby
wrapped in scarves
and woolen hats
are not quite to where
they are going;
the snow dissolves
before it touches the cobblestones
that crunch under my steps,
the salt and sand lingering
from the last time;
I think of these elements
as I arrive
at the next hotel
and I want you to know
the door opened
as I reached for it.

1 Mar 11
Budapest, Hungary

Morning Poem iv

Four days before the bell
of spring
light rain barely makes
opening the umbrella
worth the extra hand;
I wheel the luggage to the train
and climb the short steps
lugging and balancing
bag and backpack and the canvas gardener's bag
you packed with lunch and snacks;
on any other winter day
this would be a grey and gloomy ride,
but there are things opening up
on every side,
and this field we just hurtled by
glows with a fresh coat of green
as if the artist were up all night
broad brush in hand
an endless bucket of verdant oils
at his knees,
highlighting with determined strokes
what I would otherwise miss.

17 Mar 11
On the train to Zurich

Back to Top

Morning Poem v

I am traveling past the vineyards,
the pruned and twisted trunks still bare,
belie the emerald grass
that is out in front by days;
and I remember walking with you
along the gravel path among the rows
of sycamore trees, trimmed
to the shoulders before the winter frost,
now at attention in wait for a sign
that this yearning like a candelabra
aches for the match;
it could be a day
in a summer twice before
when I would wake to the tiny light
hinting on my phone
and I'd search as we did just yesterday
for the tips of green
among the black and white
of letters on the page.

27 Mar 11
On the way to the airport, Geneva

Low White Clouds

They've gathered around the green mountain,
a wisp of a necklace,
like I remember near the western bay
in February
when the rains broke
and the late light
touched up the darker clouds
that had moved on,
and I take all this in
from a train that lumbers east
past lime-leafed trees
and fields rowed with
straggled vines of new antenna
and I wonder whether all this verdant
sees the traveler whisking by.

29 Apr 11

Address book

Seated on the roundabout bench
with the tree shading the indoor perch,
an old man leafs through an address book
a page at a time,
as if studying all the faces
called up by the names and numbers
written there--
some in blue, some black, some grey
with smudges where some digits
were erased and the new penciled in.
And I am in the traffic
eddying around his island clump of stones,
passing before his eyes
and behind his shoulders arced
over his hand that has paused.

3 May 11

Back to Top

Morning Prayer

Silent in the last seat on the train,
alone in a two by two, sits a priest
or pastor--we cannot tell;
and he is staring into nothing,
with a set and dour expression
devoid of joy,
nary a whistle,
not even the motion of an eye.
Perhaps he is in prayer,
or pain;
we cannot tell,
perhaps should not tell;
and yet
how the large silver cross
around his neck
catches the light
dances on its chain
sings for a word.

9 May 11


Digging deep into my pocket,
searching for my memory stick,
I confirm what others have said:
there is always more in my pockets
than meets the eye;
it makes for delays at airport screenings
and fumbling for the key
to unlock the door at night.
I touch each item
with the blindness of a new born mouse
burrowing into the familiar,
looking for the one sense
that will bring the source I seek;
but I do not find it.
Taking out the wallet and the pocket knife
I whittle down the options
until the silver curve of its hinge
and dangling broken chain
on my fingertips
bring the "aha" I've found you!

10 May 11

The Appointment

The train drifts into the station;
it is painfully slow today,
the large iron wheels squeal
as the brakes are applied
by the careful engineer
with the reflective sunglasses;
one by one the cars ease by,
passengers in prayer to whatever befalls their laps;
it is not their stop.
and on a day like any other day
I get on
and wait for the pull
of the large red engine,
the engineer's hand nudging the throttle

26 May 11

Back to Top


is about knowing
where to stand.
This train slips into its place;
the doors to the empty car
open at the red mark on the platform
and this car after its journey
stops at the stairway
to the bus
that waits for only seconds;
and if by chance
there is a seat free
at the front of the #3
getting off at the chosen stop
allows crossing the street
before it pulls away.
All these minutes string together
adding to a start of day
when the office staff
expect my walking through
the door
from one world to the next
each day a little death,
[each day a new beginning.] ?

1 Jun 11


When I first see the old man
seated on the other side of the bus,
I think he has a scooter,
three wheels, folded up--

I imagine all the wheels-to-go
in our travel through this galaxy,
the many under this aging bus,
the bicycles I dodged
outside the station,
The cars parked as wings along the avenue--
All rest on tires wrapped around a core;
the scooter twins
race past our windowed doors,
the skateboards that have moments
of sudden flight,
the wheels and cables that carry
the gondola aloft,
even the gray ones
on this gents folded walker,

But what stops me in my tracks
are the ones on the gears of the plane
that will touch down
as you arrive

3 Jun 11

Morning Sounds

The electric bus
moves with a whir and a whine
like the small mixer
before it dips into the bowl of nuts;
at each stop
it sounds as if the plug was pulled.
the softer whoosh of the AC
enters overhead;
the hills create another sound,
something like a muffled two-tone siren
and at the top, the air brakes exhale
before it moves on--

all the time I am transported back,
and oh, how I long for you to stir--
the morning sounds,
with eyes still closed,
reach out for a morning kiss.

6 Jun 11


In a letter to a friend
I note how impatience has changed
with the flapjack flip of the decades;
I was so impatient for success,
independence, the finer things,
a kiss,
buttons popping like corks,
writing with possessed fury,
aching for inspiration.

And now
I am impatient with all the things
that do not matter,
endless meetings of recitation
the rows and columns
of made up numbers,
the little fears of making budget,
and the performance review

Give me passion,
time to think,
raucous conversation,
vignettes of silence,
a sip of wine,
a phrase of touch,
and the notice
of the board that tells me
your plane has arrived.

8 Jun 11


There are little lights
on the side of the hills
rising from the lake,
and through the morning mist
they catch the sun
and send it back
with a calling:
“there are windows here”

4 Jul 11


In the morning
there are small clumps
of dirt everywhere,
as if horses clomped their shoes
on the walkways
at midnight
before retiring to the barn;
even the platform
at the station
is spotted with telltale traces;
there is a field
pocked with shoe-prints
as if a quarry;
after the concert
rang its final note,
the caravan passed
this way,
and as prophets,
left small tracks
of an earthy song.

21 Jul 11

Morning Poem vi

Lone red engine sneaks through the station
on the far track,
before the express squeals
between us,
then another,
each in its own way telling me
that distance is relative
to the breeze in its wake
that turns my neck,
a soft pant of morning air
as if you were here
on the near side of the bed,
and slowly roused,
we leave this station
of sleep
coupled at the lips.

16 Aug 11

Morning Fog

Heavy eyes in the morning sun squint,
the haze lay heavy in the lake,
coddled in the Jura and Saleve;
what is awakening is slow,
before the second cup of coffee,
the fog lifting,
shaken out,
rolled up
as if sleep can be shelved,
clarity willed,
love called to your side
out of thin air,
across oceans
and time itself.
I will sleep more tonight,
more in its gift
that comes rolling in
when it will.

17 Aug 11

Passing through

The announcement comes seconds before
the Lausanne express
rockets through the local station,
it's red and white sleek skin
blurs by with fleeting weight,
its double-decker coaches
holding the morning passengers
set on their ticket's destination--
we see none of them
in the blink of passage;
if there was a child at the window waving,
I can only imagine
if she sees the blue in my eyes

18 Aug 11

Back to Top

Summer Storm

You can feel it approaching,
the storm in the distance,
wind's breath picking up,
articles tossed about,
the dimming
of the lights,
the urgent whispers...
the accelerating of time,
rushing over the cliff,
the drawn out moan
around the trees bending,
the drops of rain on the forehead,
and the flash of light,
the rumble in the loins,
the coming of the deluge,
the steam rising from the streets.

22 Aug 11

Out of the Fog

This morning
Lac Leman
is a cappuccino--
its top
a frothy milk
as if it's been poured
from heaven
and settled in between
the Alps and the Jura
waiting for a sip of sun
to dispel
its cloud
of knowing

12 Oct 11

Out of the Fog ii

It is a grey morning
as the green express
races west along the lake--
this is the season
when Mother Nature
takes down the comforters
left on the upper shelf,
shakes them out
and covers the cooling waters--
I remember a pet hamster
under the sheet, a fleeting lump
searching for the edge of the bed
when it poked its nose out
into the morning sun
just beginning to camber
over the curtain--
my train pulls into the station
a lump at the end of a journey
I imagine I will feel even
when you come to open
the door

16 Oct 11


Hurtling to Manhattan—
there is no other word
for the roller coaster
of a New York yellow taxi—
no one yields;
a merge is a jostling,
everyone in the funnel
of a narrowing to the tunnel.
This is what happens to time
when we start with the end
in mind,
no opening up,
no yielding
or running the roller coaster
in slow motion in reverse,
an un-hurtling
that jostles the mind.

19 Oct 11

On what saps my energy

On the 3 bus
on a Monday morning
I can hear the sucking sound
of the milking machines
before I arrive;
we learned in Gruyeres
that the wildflowers
on which the cows feast daily
provide the distinctive flavor
of the cheese,
that ageing concentrates and hardens;
yet the milk here has turned
and the cows have lost their way;
the floor is covered with a dozen hoses,
all sucking the air
out of the room.

24 Oct 11

The pull of fall

The workers
in the bright fluorescent green
and red jumpsuits
are competing with the leaves
they rake over curbs
and walkways—
fallen and swept away,
the evidence of turning
fades as quickly
as a flick of the wrist,
a wave of the arm,
leaves billowing to a pile
someone comes later
to pick up.

31 Oct 11

What would have been

Eight open cars
of a slow freight train
are pulled into Nyon station
filled to peaks
with sugar beets.
I take out my camera
as the morning train to Lausanne
pulls in between us
and all the sweet promises
that wait,
slip away

2 Nov 11

Morning Poem vii

In the early fog
a tall legged crane
with white rim glasses
is standing on the balustrade
along the country road
watching the morning rush
without a turn or blink
as if we are fish swimming by
with eyes gleaming
and he is coiled
in the wait .

3 Nov 11


I pass by the chocolate shop
on Grand Pre
and wonder how long
it can survive
in a world where cutting
appears to be the only creative act
that's how Americans
now look at the world:
what can we do without,
as if the editor in us
chops words here and there
until only punctuation
and we ache among
these breadcrumbs
for meaning,
for hope

22 Nov 11

Patisserie a la Gare

She has reached the head of the line
and now faced with the hundred morning choices
at the glass counter of this patisserie
she leans back and surveys the plenty,
points and asks about this one
and that;
what is simple
becomes complex,
rich with possibility
she says,
"I will take that one"

1 Dec 11


I skim through the book of poems
looking for a line that catches the smooth
stone of my eye
as the water grabs the edge of a flat stone
skiffing across the lake top
which I in a crouch have thrown
this is not what these learned minds have sought—
a reader on the shore
a random wind
driving up a word
like a hungry fish
waiting for the flitting eye of a dragon fly
to pass low enough as pause
it can be snatched to the belly of a poem
and taken down to the depths
where there is the digestion to a little death.

31 Jan 12

Nail in the Face

He announces the trick
to an audience
who’s been laughing;
holding an old oak-handle hammer
and a ten-penny nail,
the kind carpenters
drive into a row of two-by-fours
before hoisting up the wall—
you have to give him his due
as he tilts his head back
and bangs the nail
into his right nostril.
and I wonder where this idea
rose up like a bubble in his head
that he’s now likely burst,
as we look on gawking
with that kind of cringe
that says “why?”
just before he takes his bow.

4 Feb 12


"It is the star to every wandering bark" Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

She is a sower of wishes
With a wand for a hoe
A star for its blade
And this air of magic,
Something out of a Disney
With a bit of bippity. bobbity boo,
and pumpkins become something that transport,
Like the soup she whisked out of found items in the fridge;
There is such a creative act,
Not in what she does
As much as who she is becoming;
That is a magic
I never tire of tasting.

14 Feb 12
For Shirley on Valentine’s Day

Cold Frame

I remember the long planks
of grayed wood
and the old windows that lay
on the weathered frame;
those were the early boxes of spring
where seeds were sown
before the last frost
by my grandfather,
long gone to his own frame
in this earth,
walking the rows,
lifting the windows like a god,
checking for the tinge of life,
calling the dormant
to rise again.

18 Feb 12

Back to Top

Wind chime

The wind chime wags
it's steely fingers
from somewhere above
this narrow street
where I have turned
to walk another path
to the bus that waits--
and I am gathered in,
feet planted,
head tilted back,
eyes up the facade
to where it shimmers
in the morning light.

20 Feb 12

From the train, while pausing at Coppet Station

The field has been stripped
of its eggshell bed sheets
by a sun that climbs over the alps
earlier each week
and now on the mattress of earth
there is a hint
of a raucous green
that is always at the beginning
and yearned for ever since.

21 Feb 12


He waves his hand above his head,
breaks the beam
that opens the door
and walks through.
Out on the street
a troubled women
in a crumpled grey coat
raises her hand
and makes her plea en Français;
he does not understand,
she waves it off,
tries English;
He's heard the lines before.
She's lost her ticket,
needs help getting home,
"Could you spare some change?"
He reaches into his pocket,
comes up empty,
She is polite
waves goodbye;
the door whisks close.

1 Mar 12

The Tenor

The Italian tenor past his prime
stood next to the conductor
and with a wave of arm outstretched
strained to put
the accumulation
of his weight
to push the tenor's note,
wiping the sweat from his face
between each measure
with a large white handkerchief
waving a truce with the years
once ago
I was a bamboo
of boy, cool and quick
to wave with the wind;
now I am the man
who blots his face
arriving late for the morning train
and squints to see
the conductor
coming down the aisle.

15 Apr 12

Morning Poem viii

Winter wakes up
and realizes spring
has taken over the food bowl;
there is howling with the wind;
one has his back up
with no letting go;
tulips bend and fold,
even the grass shrinks;
but I refuse to wear a coat;
in the ides of April
is the story
of a hope
that ever rises.

17 Apr 12

Morning Poem ix

I've started three poems
and none are finished,
each having a turn
on something seen,
that just passed by,
having altered my path
if just for another step.
and in each I wanted you
to see it with me,
to stop and gasp
another breath
to feel the warmth
or chill when something
tickles a spot on the back
of the neck or thigh.
in all there is an ache
that reminds me of a vase
that sits and speaks with me,
this vase that once held
a freshness of daffodils;
this vase that is you.

18 Apr 12 

Unfinished Poem 1

This became two poems....

I am reading about wimp verbs
while walking with progress
through the gate
and up the path
to work;
it is spring
and I should be idling,
owl-ing my neck,
stature-ing with the horse chestnut trees,
still lime green
with white stars of spores
about to nova,
catching passage
on the sunlight
politicking thru
the limbs
shaking their fingers
at me
like an old witch.

18 Apr 12 

Unfinished Poem 2

A wing of a bird
graces the gateway path,
left behind
(I imagine)
by the large angora
who lives under
Annex II;
I am stunned
that this freedom, this flight
ripped from the very core
of what makes a bird a bird,
has fallen
before my uprightness
of step after step,
and I grieve.

18 Apr 12

Unfinished Poem 3

The spores are floating down
like jellyfish of the air
this sea of spring
that is rife with birth
flexes its fingers
of white against the hues
of green;
even the grey of the passing
cloud that unburdens itself
has a wail of one
that is coming into
this world,
one for which we hope.

16 Apr 12

Morning Poem x

I've started three poems
and none are finished,
each having a turn
on something seen,
that just passed by,
an has altered my path
if just for another step.

And in each I wanted you
to see it with me,
to stop and gasp
another breath
to feel the warmth
or chill when something
tickles a spot on the back
of the neck or thigh.

And in all there is an ache
that reminds me of a vase
that sits and lies with me
this vase that once held
a freshness of daffodils;
this vase that is you.

18 Apr 12 

Washing your hair

Washing your hair
in the morning
is a reading of history,
much of it is familiar
at least in its qualities,
and occasionally there's a bump
blemish and tender spot
that reminds us of something
encountered that didn't move
as much as us
and if vigorously shaken
the yolk inside
will separate and
we need to think hard
about what the connections
were before we did this;
but in the rinse
is a clarity
a smoothness
that is refreshing,
in a fog of little sleep
there is a new awakening.

29 Apr 12


I have time by the tail
and though I wring out
each wonder
that pulls me back
to what just was
so I can see a second time,
still it pulls
and with heels dug in
I pass the signs
that announce each destination
as if it was the last.

2 May 12 

Morning Poem xi

The trickle of eau potable
runs from a brass spout
as if there is no end;
there is no "off",
no tap;
like the Alps
that ever feed it,
it simply is.
and as I cup my hand
to catch its fresh coolness--
in this wasteful foolishness,
like a lover.
I imagine drinking
from the tree of knowledge.

15 May 12


In the early morning
those who walk toward me
have the sun on their faces,
as I study them--
a reflection;
some looking down
to this white granite pavement,
some looking up
radiant and squinting,
and others looking straight ahead
as if through me;
together, all have seen a burning bush
I cannot see;
but I have seen each face
as if a mirror

15 May 12

Two sides of spring

The snow on the Jura
recedes like a hairline,
a rolling back to move
on to a nascent season,
so unlike our human condition
where hair is left behind
in the reprise;
in some springs the snow lingers,
there are cold days in May,
but there is always a summer
to put it to rest
to usher the wild things

18 May 12

Idle Talents

Copper pots hung
on the peg-board
gleam in the morning sun
like idle talents;
there will be no simmering
in store windows
no trial mix of spices
and tasting
until something new
wafts from the cauldron;
ah, but they shine
and catch the passing eye.

18 May 12

Summer roll-out

Summer sneaks up
like a old Chevy full-size
on a slight hill
whose parking brake
has been released
and in neutral
with a idling driver
begins its drift backward
just enough
so its startled guide
stomps on the pedal
for an abrupt "wait!"
"I’m not in gear yet!"
the beaded sweat
on the brow
after racing thru spring
has not yet begun its slow roll
to the chin
and loosened collar.

26 Jun 12

Back to Top


Between the large
pale glass smooth tiles
of a washroom,
an author has left
his name on the sliver
of grout that divides
tile from tile,
as if in the depth
of a book spine
holding page from page;
were it not for the date
appended neatly with its dashes,
I could have sworn
I heard someone whisper

8 Jul 12

Back to Top

When to write a poem

When the Regio Express
throttles through the farms
and vineyards thick
with nascent clumps of fruit,
from vacation
to the city
each row of bush and tree
even the corn,
anchored in its field
lean with
the midsummer puffs
of wind
and point this way;
for the return to what was vacated,
feeling the weight of the body
and the breathing
just before the waking,
just before the alarm.

16 Jul 12

Back to Top


On the morning train
after the summer solstice
the sun slices the car in two
and I am blinded;
I cup my hand around the phone
that has become my early paper
to create a fist of shade
that makes the text appear;
and I think that this
is what the writer does,
dims the light a bit
so the news that washes
past us like a river
stands up in the current,
hands crooked around its eyes
looking for us on the shore.

17 Jul 12

Evening Poem

There is that point
after the sun has set
when the blue-grey glow
before the night rolls overs
frames the rooftops
and trees
as the silhouettes
they are
when we close our eyes

26 Jul 12

After the gardener

The side of the hill
the bus ambles by
holds the fallen
of the tall grass
left by a mower
I imagine a gardener
gripping with long arms,
feet anchored in the rise
reaching out to the walk
below and gathering it back
into him,
a breathing out and in,
the dull blades whirring
and whacking all that stands
up, surrenders
and dares.
For the passer-by
there is a silence,
the tall blades
of grass gone brown
laying intertwined,

31 Jul 12

Evening Poem ii

On our street
there is a pub
at the corner,
the laughter rises,
wheels of the bags
pulled from the Gare
chatter on the cobblestone;
and then there is the bend
in the lane,
this narrowing
where all the sounds
are squeezed
from the night
and the stars
wait patiently
for that look
that only comes
from stopping
and angling the chin
up as saint
and sinner
that makes every worry
a bit of pollen

6 Aug 12

Waiting for the train

People standing randomly
on the platform
hunched into papers
or phones, thumbs dancing
backs to the approaching train;
walking thru this forest
is not to see a single eye
in a sea of morning people,
no one speaking,
no one touching;
we are reluctant pilgrims
and the paycheck calls

9 Aug 12

Back to Top

Evening-morning poem

I pause at the turn
late in the new evening,
stare up waiting
for the fleeting flash
of the burning dust
from the tail of an ancient comet
brushing the night with hints
of its being,
the fingers thru my hair
as I tilt in hope
thankful that the night is clear.

In the morning, I pass
the shock of sunflowers
in the shadows
against an old stone wall
angling their necks
so their faces find
their echo somewhere
over the roofs;
it’s coming,
and they are expectant
like a star-gazer
in the dark.

14 Aug 12


Is this lone sunflower
just outside the shade
of a tree,
turning so slowly,
with the slog
of an August sun,
a periscope
on the deck of a silent ship
cruising below the grass,
a submarine crew of roots
and captain earthworms?
If you pause long enough
you can feel it move
beneath your toes,
you can see the waves
and the ears of a cruiser cat
bob on the horizon.

14 Aug 12
For Holly and Ingrid

Back to Top


The jackhammers begin early
silencing the morning doves
they stutter into concrete
walls to make a new way,
a portal that was not there before
but now lets in the early sun
that comes up over
the east roofs
looking for an opening

15 Aug 12

Two Frogs

Two frogs floating
in the shallow pond
for the same piece of bread
bump noses
and miss the morsel
that sinks to where
gold fish start a feeding
and the frogs
watch in disbelief.

15 Aug 12
For Holly and Ingrid

Morning Poem xii

The cool mist peeks
around the shower curtain,
jitters in the early sunlight
radiating from the high window;
it will be another hot day
late in August
when hot days will
and mornings shimmer;
the drops beam down
from a sun-flower shower-head
and I swear there are wisps
of steam rising from my head.

21 Aug 12

Evening Poem iii

Over the wall
and thru the trees,
the sound of angels
floats between the cars
swimming toward home
in the waning sunlight
of a late summer afternoon.
Only when passing thru
the gate and looking
'cross the street
do I see the church,
doors open,
choir practicing
the language of redemption
on this mid-week eve.

22 Aug 12


I lost a pen
on the train,
an umbrella,
a walking sticking,
charcoal gray beret;
somewhere gathered
in a loss bin I have not found yet
they keep each other company
while I hurtle on the morning express
leaving bits of myself behind
that I hope to pick up again
in the evening rush
a dwindling assemblage
that fills my backpack
and pockets
that I cannot reach bottom
with my hands.

27 Aug 12

Back to Top

Morning delay

The flip-board turns over
a yellow "plus tard"
and we who huddle
in the rain
under black umbrellas
do the math
and type the news
with one hand
into phones to those
who wait
as we do
gaining idle time
for hope
and poetry

31 Aug 12


I stand up from my seat
in the middle of the train
and look back and forth
at the lines that have queued
as the doors are opened,
and they are the same size,
they move with the same slowness
of the morning before the coffee
so like a squirrel on the roadway
I lean left and right and left
before the commitment,
the position
and the vote;
then leave this busy transport
for the moving stairs
and buses waiting
for their destinations

31 Aug 12

Morning Poem xiii

The train is nearly empty today,
a scattering of commuters
who do not have a holiday;
young and at a silicon valley start-up,
we joked about bankers hours,
bank holidays,
and working thru lunch;
we bragged about first to arrive
and last to leave--
time had a redemptive taste;
but here in the bank capital
of the old world
there are no bankers
riding with us;
even embassies are closed;
and the pride of youth
replaced with a sigh of envy.

6 Sep 12


I am captivated
by the video of the lyre bird
in the rain forest
and the sound of the chain saws
he has reproduced;
this could be a poem
about conservation,
and the threatened lyre,
but it is the sound
of falling trees
to the left
and to the right
that has me holding
my breath
feeling the heart jump
against its cage;
being the last tree standing,
whistling the warning
to those who stand behind.

15 Sep 12

Back to Top

Morning Poem xiv

Two white patches
simple white folds of cotton
hidden inside the waist
of an old pair of jeans
hold a stitch
in the palms of their hands
where frayed belts loops
pulled from their seats
have been re-anchored—
all this I notice
in a blink
while getting dressed
in the morning
and through a life of days
imagining your hands
pulling the threads.

22 Sep 12

New thoughts

Sometimes these wise
and jagged Alps
hold early clouds
in the hollows
of their palms
new wisps of thought
that the sun will soon
burn away,
lift them
into an obscure sky,
but for now
they edge across the rise
like thumb prints
to be studied
and given names
of criminals

26 Sep 12

Back to Top

Morning fragment

Our sunflower shower head
has soft nibs of gray
on a sky blue face,
each streams the morning down.

2 Oct 12

The dream about forgetting

Frozen before her high school locker,
the combination
having left for another day
white numbers
on a black dial
march on with a turn
of the wrist
this one tuning knob
standing between the one
who is always learning
and all the things
that sit on hooks and shelves
from yesterday.

5 Oct 12


I am fascinated
by the names we give
to things that breathe
and hold their breath,
the little titles the bring them
to us in a portrait frame,
a day dream,
distraction positiva.

And what to make of a man
of letters,
the groups of twos or threes
tagging along after a signature?

I sometimes wonder if a poet
is an interior designer of letters,
arranging the furniture
of what we've sensed in the core of things;

but when I received your morning letter
of the sights you saw from your window,
as I read a continent away,
I finally understood
and knew my name.

10 Oct 12

Morning Poem xv

The fog is a drop cloth
east of the Puget Sound
and the silhouette of pines
are dark and quilled,
not yet with their telltale green;
a sunrise is starting up the band
of flight,
casting a faint glow of pink
between the trees.
This is the early morning,
something I often miss;
and all the aspirations of the day
are breathed in and out
with our own fogs
and shroud of hues
about to focus on the canvas

11 Oct 12

A Sheaf of Poems

He called it a sheaf of poems,
naming the gathering
that itself calls
into being
as surely as voice
in the darkness shouting
"let there be light!"

This portfolio of bits
is folded into the pocket
before stepping
from the train;
and pulled out
another morning
when sighting
something crying

for a name.

20 Oct 12

Back to Top
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