Winter Showers – #poetry

When the rain starts again, comes the relief. The relief of being loosed
from months of being careful-so-careful about how long
you let the water run at the tap
or linger in the shower.
When the rain starts at last in November,
you can forgive the desertlike stinginess of September,
thumb your nose at the fiery threats
of October.
You can smile at the sight of reclaimed waste
water spraying its broad horizontal arcs
through vertical winter showers.
And the cows look, well…
When the frogs start their horny chirping,
you all are.

Written sometime in the early 1990s

Aftermath – #poetry


leaning birches


Now, walk up the road, to see what’s what.

And yes,
Everything does look like it’s had the shit torn out of it.

Because it has.

Five major winter storms in four weeks.
Two of them coming
after the official start of spring…

I remind myself, this is New England.
These things can happen.
Especially in the so-called, alleged spring.

There are plenty of pictures and stories
to prove it.
A whole forest leveled overnight is nothing
to take as a harbinger of
The End.
It happens more often than you’d think.
More often than we
remember, short



fallen snapped off trees


Winter was kind to us
Until March.

Then came the surprise fury, the dumping of meters of snow.
Refreshing our memories of an Earth we ignore, till
she demands our full attention
for a day or two.
The takedown of trees and lines and power, phone and cable television,
all the ballast of our modern lives.

The chain snapped free of the anchor, just as the wind picked up.

Any chance of us getting off easy this year
Was gone by the third storm.

The only consolation being that the snow covered up the damage it had done.

No more.

No, here we all are
in our dead, twisted, contortions of devastation lite,

tired, what with everything
that’s going

But still knowing full well that we got off easy,
that a lot of those trees could’ve fallen the other way, and hurt us
much worse than they did.

I, for one, have a hard time saying “snow storm” without preceding the noun with an expletive adjective.

Fucking snow.
Fucking storms.
Wrecking our recollections of that vibrant autumn that got a late start,
but still rewarded us with so
Canceling out the promise of Spring – right around the corner, we’d
hoped – after such
a bitter
couple of months…
Dragging our thoughts from anticipation
to immediate exigency,
our cabin-fevered minds kicking
and screaming like kids who can’t get on
the ride they love most
because they got there 10 minutes after the gate closed.

True, clearing fallen limbs and filling out insurance forms
is a far cry from not getting to ride the teacups,
but still.
Bruises, lacerations, pulled muscles, and a monster
burn pile stacked on the far side of the yard
have a way of affecting the mind
as well.

Eh, never mind.

We all know this is the price we pay for such beauty, as we reckon
with nature’s less welcome interruptions.

We’re all adults here.


I’m glad that shit’s over.

Road-killed frog


And up the road I go. No heavy jacket needed today. But then again,
not a light windbreaker, either.
We’re at that point where the roads are wide enough to comfortably walk again
without getting run over,
which means you warm up quickly — long strides, pumping arms — and then
half a mile later, you’re stripping off

Chill wind on my neck — Should I have worn a scarf?
Hot gusts rising from my torso as I move, mixing with the cold.
I should not have. I’ll be fine.

But never mind me.
Look around.

The forest… the woods… Oh…

Splintered, frayed, stripped, bent, flayed, snapped, crushed, battered, lost, dwarfed, amputated, ugly.


Amid this musty, dusty stack of kindling we used to call the woods, the sound of spring peepers echoes,
their guttural chirps filling the enlargened air that used to be crowded by
living, growing
tree trunks.

Frayed, snapped-off toothpicks of once-towering Ash, Hickory, Maple, Pine.
The frogsong rings free, where it used to bounce off all those hard spaces.
They seem now both
and more
than I remember in past years.

And in the vernal pools, growing trees look all the more precarious,
their days numbered
knowing what we know about trees rooted in soggy ground
when the winds pick up.
Vulnerable as the road-killed peeping frogs who just wanted to cross
the asphalt ribbon of death
to do what they do in the spring season.

The warning signs for drivers to slow down seem no more effective
than our expectations
of what should happen, weather-wise, in March.

Against the backdrop of pattern-defying weather,
I turn the corner of the road.

Past the burned-out shell of a house that once stood here.
Car coming….
Step off the road and in
to what used to be the widemouthed entry of their driveway. Look around – look around.

has been here with the mower.

It wasn’t this clear last fall.

Maybe the original owner finally wants to sell the place.
the town has complained about the mess.
something new will be built on that spot before long.

I should see piles of deer droppings.
But no.

broken-down garage


A rustle behind me.
I turn and wave to the neighbors across the way
watching me
from their darkened screened-in back porch.
If they wave back, I can’t tell.
Too dark on the inside.

Seems they’re keeping an eye on this place, perhaps to buy it.
to figure out what the heck is going on over there with all the brush and small trees disappearing from the lot between
when they leave for work and when they return home in the evening.

Each day, a little bit more is gone, as though
the shoemaker’s elves got bored
making shoes
and decided to clear underbrush instead.

Now step off
the road and onto a path leading back into the conservation lands. Through woods blasted lower than
they were last time I was here.
Falling branches,
felled trunks,
logs blocking the path,
some of them sawed off,
others broken.

Someone has put in a yurt on their field, with a small shed beside…
it looks like maybe a chicken coop on wheels…?

Amid the storms’ devastation, new construction is like a stable armistice, bounding
the arboreal battlefield
just beyond the rock walls,
spelling out how we still go on, no matter what.

A yurt’s easier to put up than a house.
Quicker, cheaper, in some ways
just as good.

And you can do it.
So, some do.

fallen trees


Clouds are coming in.

I’ll have no shelter till I get back home.

Turn, put the path beneath my feet
and the deadfall
behind me.

Return to the road.

Turn back towards my house.

Whatever has happened here in the last month has happened many times before, and it will keep on happening.

Keep walking.

Accept what comes next.


April 8, 14, 15 2018

Change of season, change of pace… and using it well

Nauset-Light-BeachI almost drove out to Nauset Beach today. It’s an amazingly gorgeous day, bright and sunny, not a cloud in the sky. The perfect sort of weather to head to the beach.

Nauset Beach on Cape Cod is about 2 hours from my house. 2 hours and 4 minutes, according to Google Maps. And considering I was up early today, and I didn’t really have any hugely pressing duties that MUST be done today, I figured I could drive the 2 hours (and 4 minutes), arrive before noon, eat the lunch I packed, walk the beach, explore the areas that were carved away by winter storms, and get back home no later than 10 p.m.

It’s Saturday. If the day runs late, I can always make up for lost sleep tomorrow.

That was my thinking, anyway.

herring cove sunset
Another amazing sunset in Provincetown

When Laney and I were out in Provincetown, a few weeks back, we chatted with someone who lived in the area who told us winter storms had carved huge chunks of land off Nauset Beach. There were sections blocked off. Caution tape up. Facilities that weren’t accessible. I wanted to stop and take a look on our way home from P-town, but it was a rainy day, and we just wanted to get down the road. So, I didn’t get to take a look.

Woody dune growth, with their roots all exposed. Bunches of this had uprooted and were lying down the beach a ways.

I’ve been  feeling disappointed about that, because while I was walking the beach at Herring Cove towards Race Point, I saw so much erosion, it was crazy. It was — as the fellow we’d chatted with put it — “like the hand of God reached down and just scooped it all away.” Dunes were eroded so far down that driftwood buried for many years was exposed, poking out of the side of the washed-away dune, a foot or so beneath the surface where the grass was growing.

Parking lot erosion @ Herring Cove North
Parking lot erosion @ Herring Cove North

Half the parking lot was cordoned off, because it wasn’t safe to park there.

A lot of the parking lot was just gone.

Massive swathes of asphalt had been undercut and just buckled and fell away… then washed on down the beach. Or out to sea. There was a lot of asphalt unaccounted-for.

The asphalt looked like it had melted on someone’s dashboard

And up at the bathhouse area? Well, that beautifully constructed deck and walkway leading down to the beach for folks with limited mobility… that’s gone.

Dune erosion – near where we used to build our fires

The spot where Laney and I built many a beach fire, not far from the end of the walkway? That was gone, too — as though it had never existed.


And even more remarkable — all those colorful stones and pebbles that have been the hallmark of Herring Cove South… gone. Washed out to sea. I think they got washed away a couple of years ago, but this year, it was even more noticeable… perhaps because of all the dunes erosion.

Damage to the stairs at Nauset Beach - no, this isn't my picture (click the image to see a gallery of pictures)
Damage to the stairs at Nauset Beach – no, this isn’t my picture (click the image to see a gallery of pictures)


So, of course I wanted to get a look at Nauset Beach! It wasn’t enough to look online. I wanted to stand there and look at it – in person. I wanted to feel the sun on my back, the wind in my face, the sand under my feet. I wanted to hear the splashing of the surf, the calling of the gulls, and spot the occasional beach walker bundled up against the wind. Maybe I’d get pictures. Or maybe I’d just stand there and look at it, shaking my head. I wanted to see for myself what the hand of God had been up to, and marvel at it, just as I’d marveled at the damage at Herring Cove.

There was just one problem. I was bushed. I’d had a pretty long week, and I sorely needed to catch up on my sleep. Nothing kills a weekend more than being dragged down by a sleep deficit, and I’d actually been planning to catch up on my ‘zzzs’ today — and tomorrow.  And nothing turns a 2-hour drive to the beach into a chore, like being tired. I actually did pack a lunch and was almost ready to go, but really, I was way too tired to do anything.

So I went back to bed.

A couple hours later, I woke up and looked at the clock. I could still make it to the beach and have at least 4 hours of daylight to enjoy. On the beach. Seeing the sights. But was it worth losing all that time to driving?

Not really.

Long story short, I made the best of my time at home. I got my yard raked. Dead grass has been pulled up to make room for new growth. Leftover leaves have been removed from the garden areas, and the deadfall in the front yard has been thrown into the woodsy no-mans-land between my house and the neighbor’s. The chokecherries that have been encroaching on the pines in the front, as well as getting a foothold all along the front stone wall (nasty thorny bastards!), are now trimmed back and tossed aside. And the trees that sprouted a few years back and were starting to get a foothold in places they shouldn’t be, have been cut and piled in the side woodlot.

And so, for me, spring has officially begun. With work. And with plenty of time to think. Yard work is a kind of meditation for me — a moving mindfulness practice that always brings new thoughts to mind as I tend the land around my home. Some folks hate yard work, but for me, it’s a reminder of just how fortunate I am to live where I do – and how I do. It gets me thinking. As I rake and collect and toss and mend, it frees up a whole lot of ideas that normally don’t come to me.

This year is seeing a lot of changes for me. People are moving in and out of my life. I’m losing people I care about, and I’m gaining new people whom I will eventually care about. My work situation is… well… interesting, as we go through a merger that has a lot of people asking a lot of questions, without many definitive answers, yet. And my own focus is shifting more squarely toward my writing and publishing, as I dig out manuscripts I started years ago… then put aside to tend to the day-to-day.  There’s a lot of decent material there — at least five full-length works that are “written” in my head, but still need the words on paper. Novels. Essays. Philosophy. A play. And yes, some poetry.

As I was hacking away at the chokecherries, it occurred to me that although the books awaiting my attention are all about different things, they’re essentially about the same topic: Change. How we handle it. How we prepare for it. How we avoid it. How we embrace it and manage it, or fight it every inch of the way.  What it brings to us. What it takes from us. It’s all about change, with me. And it has been for many, many years.

So, that was a productive use of time. I got my yard tidied up, and I got some good revelations. Sure, I would have loved to see Nauset Beach and how it’s weathered the seasons. But I was welcoming my own new season.

Right here, at home.