Tanka: Joni Mitchell in Saskatchewan

Joni, a soulful
girl, she watched the trains approach
and depart, or pored

over the Sears Catalogue.
(She called it “the book of dreams.”)



Paris is Raining

Water is raining down Montmartre, rivulets leaking to the Seine. Josep feels like a martyr, the slow torture of wet feet. The stitching of his leather shoes is rotting; that’s the kind of winter it has been. Paloma hugs his left elbow with her two impatient hands and leans her head on his shoulder like Suze Rotolo as they go freewheelin’ to déjeuner. Little birds scatter from a puddle, a flurry of wings, les oiseaux she says under her breath, in kinship. She could live on bread and butter, and strong coffee, bien sûr.


Paloma and Josep sit silently, side by side in a black car, each watching a world blur away through tinted glass. Her hands worry in the nest of her lap like brood mates. His spine is a ramrod. The world is desultory, patches of olive and dun and abandon. Her ring is a dew claw — functionless, prone to catching on things, to getting caught.

Josep Is Away

Paloma is crossing the Pont des Arts. They took down the iron grillwork and the thousands of love locks. The brass Abloy with J+P scratched into the side. Last fall they locked it beneath the third streetlamp and tossed the key in the Seine. It is too hot for September, 30 and humid. Paloma stops, scratches at the bandage wrapped around her left wrist and hand, pokes her fingernail under the flesh-toned wrap and rakes at the skin of the back of her hand. A pigeon flies off with something in its beak. She is staring into the water, how it flows around the footings in ripples that are never urgent. Beyond the shadow, the surface of the water is too bright, full of sky and clouds.

A reprint for Catalonia

My love poem for Barcelona, first published at The Camel Saloon in 2011.


The first coffee of the day – to live again!
To the Museu Picasso one last time to see Las Meninas,
the Old World painted new.
Your mouth was too sexy, Barcelona, the curve of your hips
was Monjuïc risen from the sea.
The preterit tense happened one time and ended.

Siesta under the singing fountain. Another cup.
What happened to that poet who said your eyes were blue
as the sea, your breast white as the rising moon?
I could tell you I was the sea that cradled your body
floating between salt and sun,
the moonlight that kissed your bare breast.

We came from the ends of the Earth and met in the middle.
I stood tall as the church spire in the Gaudi sky.
You ebbed and flowed and moved me like the moon
pulls the tides.
Our love was graffiti painted red and black by Miro.
We danced until dawn raised its weary head.

Mackinac Sky


A fall morning on an island in a great lake
beneath heavy clouds, the layer we see
and more, unseen but surely felt, stacked
like pancakes on the horizon-rimmed plate
of the world.  Fresh wind dissolves the clouds
and the midday sky is a heartbreaking blue.
Then sunset, clouds building again, beasts
lumbering across a desolate plain, the colors,
a palette of Wedgewood, egg yolk, lilac and
rose petal.  One gull cries and wheels and banks,
how small we feel, a fleeting melancholy
resolving into a dark field lit by tiny stars.

The Morning After

Another storm last night —
thunder explosions and rain
bulleting the metal roof.

I followed the trail
of red-brown feathers
through the long wet grass

but didn’t find the rest
of the rooster.   Maybe a hawk
took him, more likely a fox

or a lone coyote. This world
is an over-ripe apple cleaved
into predator and prey.

The morning sky is latticed
pink and blue.   When
did I become a man

who sees every blessed sunrise?