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In the Shadow of Mount Umunhum [Jun. 26th, 2017 07:03 pm]

If there were a shadow to be found
this afternoon, which there is not.
Anyhow, today is the kind
when shade provides little relief,
sun so hot my eyelids feel scorched.
This heat wave has lasted a whole week!
All I want to do is get outdoors
on days I have off, but as my brain cooks
in the cauldron of my skull,
I realize a hike was a bad idea.

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Strawberry Season Back Home in Vermont [Jun. 17th, 2017 12:27 pm]
Viewed by a Guy Who Now Lives in California

After a long winter and a wet spring
when sunshine was scarce enough for concern,
the first strawberries of summer are here
to be enjoyed during a brief season.

A friend share a photo of them online:
plump, sumptuous, red as rubies
but more precious due to the way they nourish
those who waited through months of dreary weather.

Their profusion in California -
huge fields along the coast by Watsonville,
sold at grocery stores almost year round -
seems outlandish to someone from Vermont

          and makes me forget how sweet this fruit can taste
          when it is only on hand a short while.

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haiku for Issa's birthday [Jun. 15th, 2017 01:26 pm]

The sun is hot -
a crow hides in the shade
of a persimmon tree.

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Farmers' Market [Jun. 11th, 2017 03:39 pm]

There is no map of the Farmers' Market.
Every Saturday, the arrangement of stalls
is different, so you need to figure out
where Radical Roots sells baby carrots;

you must search again for where Evening Song
displays arugula and pea shoot greens,
where Three Bears Bakery has ciabatta,
where Whaleback Vineyard offers apple wine.

Some would call this an opportunity
for a planner, or a cartographer,
to help shoppers locate the goods they seek -

but I value the weekly change in landscape,

            how the path you choose through the vendors
            lets you discover for yourself a prized find.

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Compost Bin [Jun. 5th, 2017 05:53 pm]

for Abbey

You told me you want one for your birthday,
though I have to say it seems an odd gift
to present you with a receptacle
for containing the waste from your kitchen:
your crushed egg shells and moldy orange rinds,
used-up coffee grounds and bell pepper seeds,
corn husks and basil stems and onion skins.
But anyway, I did get one for you.
Think of me when it comes time to turn over
the pile of rot, mining the barrel
for fresh mulch to spread throughout your garden -
and maybe think of me again at harvest
when you gather your strawberries and mint,
your tomatoes and lettuce and beans.

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Agility [May. 21st, 2017 12:34 pm]

You look it up in the dictionary,
expecting to find there a description
that matches what you saw earlier today
when a sparrow flew down from a tree -
how it went nimbly between the branches
then fanned out its wings once it got clear of them
and traced a spiral to the ground
where it landed with the grace of an angel.
The definition you read is brief,
even terse, though it does include the terms
you use to speak about such motion,
and as you consider this word's origin,
you start to wonder if perhaps it came from
someone's need to tell of a bird in flight.

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Stargazers [May. 11th, 2017 04:53 am]

Freshly cut from a local greenhouse,
their aroma perfumes my apartment -
nectar with a hint of cayenne -
a scent that takes me back to childhood
when they grew in mom's lily garden
below the stone wall in the back yard,
proud stalks of them among Turk's cap
and other Asian varieties,
buds that happened to mature each year
in the middle of summer
right as the Perseid shower began -
petals open on a humid night,
a dozen upturned blossoms
watching meteors streak across the sky.

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Cows Blocked Our Way [May. 4th, 2017 11:14 am]

A herd of cows blocked our way down the hill,
strewn across the path as if they were boulders.
Since a barbed wire fence stretched out to either side,
there was no going around them.

Spooked by their number, by their restlessness -
by the sheer muscular bulk of each one -
we stepped back up the trail to consider
an alternate route toward what lay ahead.

Just then, an older gentleman approached
and strolled right through that mass of hooves and fur,
whistling to himself as he went by.

The bovines parted like the Symplegades,

        so we hurried over the cattle guard
        before they closed in again behind us.

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Madeleines [Apr. 26th, 2017 01:39 pm]

for Justin

Those little sponge cakes shaped like scallops
are my brother-in-law's favorite cookie
and I think about him at lunch today
as I order two of them for dessert.

In the kitchen he shares with my sister,
I recall seeing him zest an orange,
mix it with honey and eggs, then fold in
dry ingredients to form a batter.

Later this week we will talk on the phone
with each other from across the country
in honor of his thirtieth birthday.

Powdered sugar clings to my fingers.

            That citrus-tinged confection reminds me
            how I miss my family being nearby.

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Pig On The Loose At Night [Apr. 22nd, 2017 08:01 am]

They were on their way home from a concert
in the middle of Vermont after dark,
when a strange phantom materialized
at the outer reach of the car's headlights.
As it approached in the opposite lane,
the ghostly form was soon revealed to be
a huge sow trotting north on Route 7
with a very worried look on her face.
A pig on the loose raises some questions -
especially one of her size and gait
on the run at night, nowhere near a farm.
But she went past them without incident
and they firmly agreed with each other
that she might want a few answers herself.

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