Snow at Night

I check under the streetlight whenever I pass the window,
the still night scene like a Hopper painting, tranquil and perfect,
or the set on a stage, ready for the players, the houselights dim.
I anticipate the first action of the play,
and I grow impatient--
the stillness, the leaden sky as the afternoon aged
weighted with promise,
the early darkness,
then suddenly a bit of movement under the arc of the streetlight,
I hold my breath and still myself--was that it?
then a pause, then again, at an angle, a bit of ash gently drifting,
and another, then two at once,
then five,
then too many to count, meandering,
all in the same direction,
appear in the streetlight's cone of illumination, then disappear.
I am transfixed
as the flakes simply continue as if without agenda,
my neighbors' windows are all covered,
lights and flickering TVs behind curtains and blinds,
I am the only one who has witnessed the beginning.



The Photograph

An ancient rambling rose
Spread her arcs of deep red blossoms,
Rich against the yellow painted wood siding
At the corner of the house,
A creamy lace curtain in the window just above,
All soft, washed by the warm, gentle sun
Of an early June evening.
I paused, considered, returned to the spot,
Coming back to capture the last of the moment
Just before the shadow of the house across the street
Crept up over the rose,
The siding and then the window
Revealing faded, peeling paint
And a gray, sagging curtain,
The rose but a clump of brambles
Among tall grasses and thistles.


Forever With Each Other

She still wears her hair long, with bangs,
slightly tinted the red of her teenage years, thought not exactly;
he still wears a t-shirt and jeans
even though he's a little thicker around the waist than high school,
because that's how they picture each other.

She still wears that shade of red lipstick
that was popular during the War;
he still has enough hair to slick back
with a few waves
just like their wedding picture.

To those of us on the outside looking in
it may seems as if they've missed a few decades
still dressing like the 70s
or the 40s
or some style entirely their own,
walking as if they still had the
balance and charm of youth,
but we're not in on their secret.

Somehow they've preserved that moment
of meeting in the hallway in high school,
or running into each other on campus,
or being introduced at a party,
and they still see in each other
what they recognized that moment
as if the decades still lay ahead.


Lucy

for Lucy

Your petite silhouette lingers
long, graceful legs tipped with soundless slender paws
the waving tendril of a tail curls in a perfect circle
as you pause in your eternal dance
and enrich my life,
awakening nascent creative visions
and laughter at the silly joy of youth,
yellow eyes illumining my world
leaving rainbows in your wake;
the images you inspired in your brief existence
erase the sadness of your leaving
and as I remember and render your antics
I can share you with the world.


Things I Found in the Woods

for Moses

Tiny rivulets of water released from thawing soil
flowing beneath last year's debris, trickling and gurgling all around
hurrying down hillsides before the freeze returns.

A cup-shaped fungus holding a tablespoon of snowmelt
for a song sparrow to sip, practicing its vernal melody
for the time when spring arrives in earnest.

Ferns, newly-green, draped on cliffs,
fluttering like garlands in the mild, caressing breeze
gathering a little nourishment to last the rest of the winter.

Fallen trees blanketed with bright green moss,
thick and lush already in the brief January thaw
filling a span of life in but a few days.

Four young white-tailed deer, capricious as the gusts,
feeling the flush of their first spring as adults
cavorting as if winter might not return tomorrow.

An understanding that life and love are cycles,
and that the moment must be taken for what it offers
even if what it offers is not what we expect.

A fraction of your dignity,
and the desire to walk with you to the end of the path
as you transition from this beautiful world into the next.


My First Decision

I am riding my little red bike up and down the street
in the sun I think it is July the black pavement
is a little soft and smells like asphalt down the street
it looks wavy above the surface just like the mirages
in the desert you read about I am the only one out in the street
I ride to where the hill starts on one side then to the
bend where I can't really see the house on the other
then turn around every time I go past the house I check
the driveway for the big light blue car with wings
on the back it looks like an airplane I've never
seen one close up from every house I pass I hear
the hushing sounds of an crowd and Bob Prince
I know his voice everyone is watching the Pirate game
on TV my mother father sister brother are in there in
the shade watching the game they cheer and yell and scream
when anything happens it sounds exciting but I don't understand
I'd rather be out here in the blue and yellow afternoon
riding my bike up and down the street forever
just the scent of a hot July breeze grass and sunshine
and the hushing sounds of the audience and yet
another announcer announcing another Pirate game
has brought this all back in a rush thirty-some years later.


Feverfew

Oh, I can't stop looking at all the feverfew
in my garden,
I just keep running from one cluster to another
those tiny perfect daisies
in umbels as if floating without stems
on waves of bright green leaves
the dots of dew flashing, sparkling
in the day's new sun
just arrived over the horizon
its color still warm and yellow
as if it's a cookie just taken out of the oven
and I have to look at all the feverfew
from every angle
until I'm done looking
and I discover I've forgotten all the problems of yesterday
and all the ills of the world that I feel the need to carry
and I'm laughing
and dripping with dew myself
and visualizing stunning works of art
and amazing poetry and prose
most of which will ever be realized
nor do they need to be
the inspiration only needs to settle into my soul in this early morning in June
and its glow will warm heart
and keep me laughing with joy
through the day
and the next
and the next.


August 28, 1941

Bits and pieces from The Pittsburgh Press, evening edition

1935 Ford sedan for $95.

'33 Auburn Sedan for only $5.68 per month.

Cary Grant's Mexican jaunt to invest $300,000 in silver mines there.

Fred Astaire is building a private golf course on his San Diego County ranch.

Steelers Make Guard Out of Dan Williams, Texas Tackle.

LifeGuard tires save lives, money, rubber.

America's snapshots better than ever--most of them made on Kodak Verichrome film--to those in Service, send the news of your new life in the Nation's service with the portable form of snapshots.

New York Central System, Travel in comfort, every Sunday to Cleveland $2.50.

Mt. Lebanon, New, 6 rooms, 2-1/2 baths, brick, large wooded lot, $9,600.

I can give you my word that Roosevelt, the man, has a deep personal hatred for war. Roosevelt, the president, has the task of carrying American Democracy forward under God against any resistance.~Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd.

Pirates Run Over Phillies, 12-2.

College days are with us again as students across the nation start cutting rugs and classes.

At the "New Carnegie Theater", Carnegie, PA, Cary Grant, James Stewart in "Philadelphia Story", also Cartoons and News.

Hitler's Broken Promises Occupy Nearly 1,000 pages in his own words: "My New Order" from Reynal and Hitchcock.

Ten Homewood children, between the ages of 7 and 12, held a lawn fete last Friday afternoon at the corner of Gettysburg and Edgerton Streets for the benefit of the Milk and Ice Fund. Today The Press received the proceeds, $3.57.

Among the novelty high shoes this season is one of black patent leather having bowknot patterns showing an underlay of white kid.

And when we witness the downfall of dictatorship--what then? A world union of self-governing peoples to guarantee and enforce peace.~Associate Justice Owen Roberts, U.S. Supreme court.

Today's newspaper boy--tomorrow's leader--When Robert S. Bogda, son of Mr. and Mrs. S. H. Bogda of McKees Rocks, finishes high school, he intends to go into the steel mill with his father. He is the junior merchant who delivers The Pittsburgh Press daily and Sunday to subscribers around Ridge Avenue. Bob likes to travel and also runs errands for neighbors to augment his fund for travel.

A program that is heralded as the world's first all-Negro opera will be previewed on KDKA at 8:30 tonight as Negro performers from all over America perform selections from "Celeste Aida".

Bellevue couple welcomes twin girls.


But did anyone see the storm darkening the horizon?


Valentine's Day

He doesn't have to give this gift to her
and she doesn't have to receive it
as she could easily feed herself
but she perches on a fallen branch
while he flies to the feeder
grasps a sunflower seed
and flies back to perch next to her;
they tilt their heads as if to kiss
as she accepts this seed of his love,
the bright red cardinal's first act of courtship
to his dark red mate
on Valentine's Day.


After the Flood

Dedicated to the people and places of the Chartiers Valley after the flood of September 17, 2004

After a day of rain
the creek has been rising
and by night it thunders down its channel
writhing around its curves like a medieval dragon,
pulling at its banks and anything overhanging,
carrying whatever it can grasp along the way,
and I have seen this creature before
in the creek's rise and fall,
now tamed by engineering,
filling its channel to the brim, then receding
each spring and summer
and not felt threatened but fascinated
by its power, power not of humans,
power to change absolutely to a form
unrecognizable from its usual character,
yet always returning to the quiet,
sleepy nature which I had explored from childhood.

But I am remembering another night
when the creek refused to stop at its brim
but spilled over and over and over,
thundering down all the hillsides came its sustenance
tributaries filling their valleys as never before,
rushing to join with the writhing creature,
mixing and turning and thrashing and smashing anything in its path
so drunk with its own power
that it forgot all those who loved it,
who lived on its banks and in its valleys,
listened to its soft murmuring voice in the darkness of a summer night,
but even as I pleaded with the creature to stop, it had gone too far,
my friend, my refuge, how could you betray me,
I knew that the creek would not listen,
it was no creature gone on a rampage
it was simply following its nature, and this one time
it defeated our intelligence with its simple power
and all our homes, possessions, lives
were nothing in its path.

The next day the beast no longer raged,
the sun shone and the air was mild,
and the autumn continued like any autumn before,
but we were changed, all of us,
the long journey ahead, longer than we knew
and our place here will never be the same.