Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Finally Enjoying Summer Vacation

I know I shouldn’t gloat. Most people don’t get 8 weeks off for the summer. As a teacher, however, I really believe it makes up for the grief we have to put up with from administrators, parents, and students for the rest of the year. Therefore, I’ve learned to savor each day and make it count. Last week I took the family on vacation to Pigeon Forge and Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which for me isn’t really much of a vacation now that we have an infant and a preschooler [Didn’t get to stop at Hill-Billy Village this time around -- Shucks! (see May 25th entry)]. They had fun, so I guess that’s what counts. This week, though, has been wonderful. This morning, for instance, I got up at 6:30 and fixed me breakfast – grits, toast, and coffee. Then for the next two hours I listened to public radio while writing and revising some poetry. I made breakfast for my daughter, who woke up wanting to watch Barbie Rapunzel. Then I cleaned the kitchen, straightened up the house, and washed a couple of loads of clothes while the wife tended to our newborn son. By that time, it’s late morning and I’m ready for whatever the day has to offer. Of course, by middle of August I’ll be going stir crazy, ready to get out of the house and back to work. But that’s six weeks away.

Friday, June 22, 2007


A Vexing Conundrum

so much depends
on what?

and who left the
wheel barrow

out in the rain

red while they sat

dreaming of chicken

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Yusef Komunyakaa on Poetry

One of my favorite contemporary poets, Komunyakaa has some very astute things to say about modern American poetry, about what it is and what it should be.

"There's a sameness about American poetry that I don't think represents the whole people. It represents a poetry of the moment, a poetry of evasion, and I have problems with this. I believe poetry has always been political, long before poets had to deal with the page and white space .... [I]f you were to take many magazines and cut the names off poems, you would have a single collection that could be by any given poet; you could put one name on it, as if the poems were all by one person. True, a writer can say almost anything in America and have it completely overlooked, yet I think we should have more individual voices."
from "Lines of Tempered Steel: An Interview with Vincente F. Gotera," Callaloo 13:2

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

I Didn't Teach Her to Catch Fireflies

At least I don't remember. I was busy enough teaching her to use the potty last year and brush her teeth, that I can't rightly recall. Yesterday evening I was watering my garden when my 4-year-old daughter ran in front of me, trying to get under the sprinkler. I didn't want her to get wet and dirty in her good clothes, so to get her out from under me I told her to go catch fireflies. I pointed toward the edge of the yard, where it was shaded by the woods. The lightning bugs were just beginning to blink. She took off down the hill, hunching low and looking in the taller grass with her arms outstretched. No sooner had I watered a few tomato plants when she came running up to me. "Look what I caught, Daddy!" She had not one, but two little fireflies in her hands. She even had her hands cupped carefully enough not to squish them. I told her to point her finger up, and we watched them climb to the highest point of her hand before taking flight and disappearing into the growing darkness.

Monday, June 4, 2007


Illumination, To Everything Turn

Light is given out in unequal measures,
doled out hastily and without favor.
It is taken back sometimes just as quickly
as the setting sun or a final breath.

It screams through morning curtains,
cold, hungry, and wanting to be held,
sings with the sweetness of a mother’s caress,
and dances from windowsill to front porch steps.

The warm air holds its reflected glow,
sunning bicycles in the front yard,
burns red as a scraped-knee afternoon,
as driveway stones sweat in the humidity.

Serendipity is the cool kiss of evening,
while amber rays wink around tree branches.
It sifts through rusty back porch screens, and rests
with content like old lacquer on ladder-back chairs.

But the rising moon has a sad green glow,
shining through door cracks with a wave of dismay.
It washes cold around the footboard with deference,
and as the tide retreats back from where it came,
it settles on the skin like a froth of quilted lead.

in The Broad River Review 37 (Spring 2005) 71.