Q 30


Once I could find silver
coins in the cash drawer,

charms to protect some
disappearing beauty

made too tender
for a hard world.

Q 26

Tree Whose Portrait I Could Not Afford Even At Clothesline Art Sale Prices

Once upon an Interesting time
the navel of the universe was a tree.

It bided those times in a speck of unused parkland 
behind Father Ryan High School

midway from Baptist hospital
to the Temple of Athena.

The tree was neither grand nor small,
choosing to go unnoticed during interesting times,

but the hollow in its side—not wound, but
ornament—invited introspection,

messages, benign nightmares, cookie-baking elves,
smiles, confidence, confession.

Q 22

My *Goldfish*

I attempted to be clever, metaphoring 
my loving friend, life's light, saving part
of my being—as a goldfish. I went on
about goldfish as something others can
maintain, having made them in droves.
I said that when goldfish had come my way
they languished: I lack the gold thumb.
And some had in fact been something else.
Betas—accustomed to life ornamental,
alone—or piranhas, dipsomaniacs, even
more difficult fish. And there was the fear
of loving then finding the goldfish kaput,
glowing essence gone to green waters,
and nothing left but to bury or flush. But
all that was a failure. My Love
is nothing like a fish.
I also tried and failed
with the mixed blessing
of the internet.

Q 23

Highland Rim

Little gray birds drop as if they were shed leaves caught in the cypress trees,
but then they recover their youth, pause, and rise lightly away.

The man who owned this house before us outlined the property with cypresses:
taller, dense varieties border the north. The ones near the road are deciduous.

For a man from mountainous Eastern Europe this flat ridgetop hayfield might
have felt too exposed. He planted walls for the winters of home.

My decades of ever-brightening Nashville made crowded night skies a revelation.
There were constellations on the horizons, not just spare dim stars right overhead.

I've been here some years now, and cypress trees fill out and grow tall.
My starlight horizons have narrowed and host scores of small gray birds.