For Wendy



Sagacious peach!
Sturdy in her mud-caked boots,
her white hair – a dandelion mane,
she walks, alive with the riotous laughter
of water running over stones,
among the wisest of the
willows that grow along
the banks of Redwood Creek.

Oh! Patron Saint of nettles
and Dharma transmissions,
champion of the lowly springtail,
keeper of the soil’s dark secrets,
we beg her – do not leave us to a world
of watery tomatoes!

Instead, across an abyss of
time and hard memories,
she calls the Seneca Nation –
guardians of the Western Door.

Though wary of our West Coast ways,
they teach us the wisdom
of the three sisters:
we learn that to save the bear bean
the squash and gourds,
the Iroquois corn,
is to save ourselves.

As we stare at each other
in the dappled plains of understory
we are invited to dance
beneath the coast live oak
with the Hamadryads,
losing ourselves in the absurdity
of old limbs and stiff backs,
rolling our ankles on acorns.

In the borrowed words of Alan Chadwick
Wendy tells us, her unruly students –
The garden makes the gardener;
the farm makes the farmer

And we whisper back –
And so patience and noble heart make the teacher.


A Wine Country Murder Mystery in Three Parts

For the most part, I love to read and write poetry that can be read aloud. We are reading Billy Collins’ Ballistics in my poetry class at the moment. I have listened to many recordings of Collins reading his work; he has a totally deadpan delivery, which works well with his style of writing. Collins really loves to play with words and language; I understand his humor and playfulness have hurt him in some circles, circles I will try hard to avoid.

In the spirit of playfulness, the following is a murder mystery set in the California wine country in an historically ambiguous and rustic past. The clues are in the homophones.


Continue reading “A Wine Country Murder Mystery in Three Parts”