Writing Desk

Category: Poems

Simple Poems Composed in the Morning

My sleeping old dog:
He’s dreaming—who knows what dreams?—
On the kitchen stairs
While the rain rattles the house.
How lazy, how free, how nice.

Draw the curtains closed!
The day has overripened.
We are tired as dogs.
We try to think of sweet things
But all we know is good night.

Cough spittle cough sneeze!
There’s a nip in the night air
And my bones are cold.
Cough spittle cough sneeze shiver!
Is this old body really mine?

Hanging up lanterns
For the winter-solstice feast,
I pricked my finger:
It was the sharp, angry jab
Of a frozen five-point star.

A sad face is nice,
A happy face is nicer:
Think of it like this—
The empty room is peaceful
But the full house glows with light.


Three Brown Cats

Fast and silly poems, written just to write something!

Three brown cats
wandered into the kitchen:
I don’t know where they came from,
but when I gave them a saucer of milk,
they lapped it up with glee.

The tulip said to the crocus:
“You’re getting very tall.”
The crocus thought and then replied:
“I rather think I’m small.”

When the daisies decided to bloom,
I was already born
and half-way to finding out
the secret of love.

Elizabeth is a friend of mine
Her soul is like a child’s:
She likes the ants, the birds, the trees,
The oceans, and the wilds.

Two Lullabies and a Prayer

Little child—little child,
Are you sleeping now?
Little child—little child,
As the lights go down.
Lovely child—lovely child,
It will be all right.
Lovely child—lovely child,
With this lullaby.

The moon is waking from her sleep
And singing in the light.
She picked your nightgown from the heap
…….Pulled it o’er your head
…….Tucked you into bed
And looking at your pretty face,
Whispered you “Good night!”

Wonderful Lady,
Please hear my plea:
I am a wretch
Long waiting on thee.
These are my flowers,
Given to bless;
These are my sorrows,
Please put them to rest.

Poems Written in the Airport

Written in the airport while waiting to go back home.

Joy, joy!
All the pretty buttercups.
What fodder for the mama hound
And all her little pups!

You’re not my favorite pianist.
You’re not my favorite poet.
You’ve missed the mark in sundry ways–
I love you but I don’t know it.

How to tell a robin
From a turtle dove?
Just hold their feathers in the light
And pray to God above.

The Last Hyacinth of Spring

The last hyacinth of spring bloomed today,
Like a child born beautiful and sad.
I look back on all the joys I’ve had—
I sit with them, remembering, and pray.
Why is it, dear, that you never could stay?
Was it my poems that made you mad?
Or did I simply never make you glad?
I thought I could chase your demons away.
But, dear, how the time likes to pass us by.
Soon the rosebushes will be in flower;
My hyacinth will live, and then she’ll die
In her gloriously appointed hour.
What sadness in her death, and yet, my dove—
What longing, what sweetness, and, oh, what love.

Trees at Night

The candle in the church
is glowing yellow-bright.
What about the lonely trees
in open fields
that shiver through the night?
How cold they are,
how distant from the light.

Odds and Ends

Hand-scrawled in a journal quite a while ago.

A man and his boat went to sea
…….to sea
(Oh, his boat he called LUCY LOON)
But the sea was as green
As the split of a pea
And his boat was shaped like a spoon.

If Tim likes Sally
And Sally likes Pip
And Pip likes Mary Lou,
Then all the math
In all the world
Can’t tell them what to do!

Window flash in a cupboard house
clamoring, cupped in a covered door
carrying the cold to a careless couch
collecting cobwebs from off the floor.

What a ghastly wall!
…….What ennui!
I stared at the space
for half of a day —
…….What a waste!
Not a whit I saw
but a cob of dust
and a piece of the wind.
…….What a place!
I’d forgotten my name;
oh! even the fly
disdained to be so disgraced.

Waiting for the Harvest

How long can we hold out our hands, waiting for the bread, or the rain?
Our faith is getting thin, like the last scraps of cloth cut from the weathered kite.

Where are you blowing, Brother Wind?
You have taken our clothes away. It’s too cold to stand here idly.

Where are you going, Sister Road?
You have tired us with walking. We don’t know the way.

Our faces have turned gray—they long to be touched
By light.

The cherries were picked from the tree a long time ago.
We are waiting for the harvest now.

We are waiting for the blossoms to break upon our darkness
And unfurl.

Planting Peas

We planted the peas
In summer and spring.
The rain came down in silver drops,
And you and I would sing.

We planted the peas
In winter and fall.
The snow fell hushed upon the roof–
We didn’t speak at all.

Silly Amusements

Oh ho! the bear
has climbed Aunt Francine’s
cherry tree—

What will we do
if he breaks the bough
and tumbles free?

(On the sticking of a truck outside our house, in the middle of the street.)

The truck is stuck—
What a muck!
My friend Chuck
Made a buck
By unsticking the old stuck truck!