Five Easy Pieces

Why Things Happen

For J. D. Riso


Why Things HappenI listened to the rain fall for hours

And read a mystery next to my cat,

Both of us dismayed by the dark, wet sky.



I listened and read and accrued the clues

Of how and who as to why things happen.

I heard rainwater scampering across


The roof shingles and into the gutter,

Tap tapping out alerts when it dropped with

Certainty, down the spout, draining the sky.


I turned pages, the cat stretched, and elsewhere,

Far away, sirens curdled the night air

And soured someone’s life, now, gone awry.


My Beautiful Life


Five Easy Pieces

I walked alone this afternoon.

October’s velvet light slipped through

The shade of a big leaf maple

And tattooed my arms with shadow.


Erratic winds stirred the branches

And a scattering of leaves fell

Like confetti before my eyes.


They danced minuets in rhythm

To the crosscurrent of the breeze

In their tan and crimson dresses.


They twirled in celebration

Of my life, my beautiful life.

And when the wind died, they stopped, as

I walked alone this afternoon.


Perpetual Autumn

“Just remain in the center; watching. And then forget that you are there.” Lao Tzu


Autumn VersesSummer dissolves in the weak sun of autumn.

Chores come due, and the pine and fir are split

And the soot filled flue is cleaned

And the wood stacked high

To the barren rafters of the shed,

Where spiders fed on October’s insects.


A dense cloud of leaves float over the fence

From the boughs of a neighbor’s black oak.

They twirl and plummet to the ground

In the shaggy frost of early morning

And nest on stones that surround the laurel

And the trunk of the white bark cherry.


I gather up the fallen debris and

Arrest the disorder with symmetry.

I quarrel against the icy chill,

And the bedded stems that resist the rake,

And the whorl of leaves that escape its scratch

To scatter outside my custody.


Some hide in the skirt of the burning bush:

The clutter of perpetual autumn.

Others flutter away, dried and brittle,

Propelled by the wealth of winds that hone

And shape the land to the silent river

Where the blue heron glide and fish alone.


The Towhee


PoetryNeedles of sleet fell all throughout the night

And the towhee pecks at the hardened crust,

Seeking the moist carpet of leaves below.

But it is too deep. Only the memory

Of his stutter step foraging remains:


Of hopping ahead and jumping backwards,

Of when he tossed aloft the ground cover,

The turning of each leaf, shoving, pulling,

And searching for the mysteries beneath.

He’d been so happy to be that busy


With the bounty of everlasting work,

Patient in the quest for a tiny seed,

The egg of an insect, a spent morsel.

He flies to the white paper birch and joins

With the juncos and the chipping sparrow


Perched in the ribs of the tree’s skeleton

Under the grey breast of the winter sky.

He waits for the promise of tomorrow,

In the biting wind and the falling snow,

Warmed by the forge in his colossal heart.


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