Posts for June 29, 2016


Visiting my great aunt in West Virginia

The house was stark. Clean, but threadbare.
No books, few pictures, minimal furniture.
The conversation was the same. 
You would not have found it creative or inpiring,

until you walked through the pantry 
orderly row upon row of canning jars
tomatoes, peaches, pickles of all kinds
green beans, squash, chow chow
saurkraut, apple butter

lovingingly stored and displayed
here lie her true wealth and color.

Passing this to the back door
the tiny lot crammed with plants
vines climbing the fence
tomatoes carefully staked
every spare scrap of dirt planted
flowers peeking between the collards.
Here she beamed with pride, proud of the profusion

Leading me back inside, I saw a doll placed high up
I asked if I might see it
I could look but not touch – this was the only doll she ever had
Her father gave it to her when she was 42. 


A Revisionist History in Five American Sentences

He painted over her eyes, thinking the portrait could no longer haunt him. Not understanding that the haunting of his heart was only in his gaze. He cut her out of the picture, forgetting that doubled the absence. At last he consigned the pieces to fire in hopes of leaving nothing. The smoke was not the source of tears, of gasping for breath around her eyes. 


Going to the Movies

                                       Going to the Movies

Hiding in the dark with a bag of popcorn
no one can find me
perfect freedom
the antidote to boredom
the ever-ready vacation.

It’s like going to church
in the dark womb of the theatre.
I’m reverent in my attention,
schooled in a broader world.

A devotee since childhood,
I would skip the annual circus,
to sit close in the dark,
a boy’s arm around me
even then the juices flowing,
the saliva-driven urge to merge.

An alternate reality available
for the price of a movie ticket.



I haven’t visited Lexington Cemetery since my folks died,
a couple of months separating their deaths,
but this morning, as I prepared a rhubarb tart

from a cookbook in translation, Tante Heidi’s Swiss Kitchen,
I noticed Pop’s handwriting in German in the left margin
and Mom’s annotation in Italian on the right.

When I was little, the biggest argument I remember
was about discussing the meal too much at the table.
Would Mom be surprised at how we suppress our impatience

when our daughter walks us through details of a dish
she’s prepared? Or would she be annoyed
that we do for our children what we were unwilling to do for her?


One Man’s Romance

Love it when I see a girl like her
Walk into the room
Who shares her magnificent slender shape
Exuding femininity in rose blushed cheeks
With dark hair cut short, black glasses or no.
The rush always hits me hard,
Just one moment I wonder
Could it really be her?

I remember her beauty so very well
Made me go blind unto the world
Especially in the photo of her in a flower bed,
Daffodils had nothing to say.

But it never really hit me
How caught up I was in the charm of her
Until I heard a voice just like hers
From an unexpected source
Speaking lighter fluid on the flame,
My pining for her,
An attraction that grew into
Attachments I hold so dear,
Being able to say that for the briefest of moments
Beyond the initial shock of identity
That I did love her with all of my heart.
But I know how radical that is.

To the giants who share my blood
And the way I used to think
Let this be the new voice of judgment.
Nothing is going to change this change
So you might as well accept
I love pink lipstick smiles
I love short skirt struts
High heels highly appreciated
If no one admits the appeal
Of a girl, beautiful
Challenging social norms
And being who she was meant to be.
Perhaps I should say hello

Because I’m in love with saying
I’m in love with her.
I don’t care what anybody else says
Because I am my own man
This was my romance and
Even as we have parted, I hope and pray
That she will be happy always,
For it is the least that she deserves.



In the midnight hour
Grows the perfect poppy, look
Smooth, subtle, its petals

Unfolding wisdom
We must not pluck flowers
A poppy picked shall die

Foresight abandoned
Cut, she cries opium tears
Withers for man’s greed

Find the path, witness
Worry not the time it blooms
But for whom

Steve Cummings


Thugs and thieves
The President called them thugs and thieves

I’m a poet – I know some thugs and thieves
This is what they do

They repeat this until they get arrested, serve their time, get released

And start again


But they never explo’


This Morning

Deep evergreens loom
Busy birds and lowing cows
Not a cloud in sight
Fresh mown grass warm beneath feet 
Crisp lemonade tart on lips


Public Enemy

Public Enemy

I apologize
if I crossed
a line

a song, on
your wall.

I didn’t
we weren’t


Steve Cummings

Love song

I don’t have to climb the highest mountain
I don’t have to swim the deep blue sea
I don’t have to tend the garden

It is more than this

I’m not leaving tomorrow
I’m not going anywhere next week
I know I’ll be here forever but

It is more than this

We’ve had some riot times
We’ve had some quiet times
These times they are the best of times but

It is more than this