About Me

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As the poet-in-residence at EcoHealth Alliance, my verse these days finds inspiration at the intersection of ecology and public health. For my dissertation at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, I'm reappraising the sonnets of E. A. Robinson. Additionally, I teach English at Münchner Volkshochschule, lead the literary circle at Amerikahaus, and tutor composition at LMU's Amerika-Institut, where I also curate its "Fortnightly Poem".

20160527

The World Is Too Much with Us

by William Wordsworth

The world is too much with us; late and soon, 
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;— 
Little we see in Nature that is ours; 
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon! 
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon; 
The winds that will be howling at all hours, 
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers; 
For this, for everything, we are out of tune; 
It moves us not.  Great God! I’d rather be 
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn; 
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea, 
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn; 
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea; 
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.

20160526

Acquainted with the Night

by Robert Frost


I have been one acquainted with the night. 
I have walked out in rainand back in rain. 
I have outwalked the furthest city light. 

I have looked down the saddest city lane. 
I have passed by the watchman on his beat 
And dropped my eyes, unwilling to explain. 

I have stood still and stopped the sound of feet 
When far away an interrupted cry 
Came over houses from another street, 

But not to call me back or say good-bye; 
And further still at an unearthly height, 
One luminary clock against the sky 

Proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right. 
I have been one acquainted with the night.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20160525

A Miracle for Breakfast

by Elizabeth Bishop

At six o'clock we were waiting for coffee, 
waiting for coffee and the charitable crumb 
that was going to be served from a certain balcony 
like kings of old, or like a miracle. 
It was still dark. One foot of the sun 
steadied itself on a long ripple in the river. 

The first ferry of the day had just crossed the river. 
It was so cold we hoped that the coffee 
would be very hot, seeing that the sun 
was not going to warm us; and that the crumb 
would be a loaf each, buttered, by a miracle. 
At seven a man stepped out on the balcony. 

He stood for a minute alone on the balcony 
looking over our heads toward the river. 
A servant handed him the makings of a miracle, 
consisting of one lone cup of coffee 
and one roll, which he proceeded to crumb, 
his head, so to speak, in the clouds
along with the sun. 

Was the man crazy? What under the sun 
was he trying to do, up there on his balcony! 
Each man received one rather hard crumb, 
which some flicked scornfully into the river, 
and, in a cup, one drop of the coffee. 
Some of us stood around, waiting for the miracle. 

I can tell what I saw next; it was not a miracle. 
A beautiful villa stood in the sun 
and from its doors came the smell of hot coffee. 
In front, a baroque white plaster balcony 
added by birds, who nest along the river, 
I saw it with one eye close to the crumb

and galleries and marble chambers. My crumb 
my mansion, made for me by a miracle, 
through ages, by insects, birds, and the river 
working the stone. Every day, in the sun, 
at breakfast time I sit on my balcony 
with my feet up, and drink gallons of coffee. 

We licked up the crumb and swallowed the coffee. 
A window across the river caught the sun 
as if the miracle were working, on the wrong balcony. 


Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20160524

Sestina

by Elizabeth Bishop

September rain falls on the house. 
In the failing light, the old grandmother 
sits in the kitchen with the child 
beside the Little Marvel Stove, 
reading the jokes from the almanac, 
laughing and talking to hide her tears. 

She thinks that her equinoctial tears 
and the rain that beats on the roof of the house 
were both foretold by the almanac, 
but only known to a grandmother. 
The iron kettle sings on the stove. 
She cuts some bread and says to the child, 

It's time for tea now; but the child 
is watching the teakettle's small hard tears 
dance like mad on the hot black stove, 
the way the rain must dance on the house. 
Tidying up, the old grandmother 
hangs up the clever almanac 

on its string. Birdlike, the almanac 
hovers half open above the child, 
hovers above the old grandmother 
and her teacup full of dark brown tears. 
She shivers and says she thinks the house 
feels chilly, and puts more wood in the stove. 

It was to be, says the Marvel Stove. 
I know what I know, says the almanac. 
With crayons the child draws a rigid house 
and a winding pathway. Then the child 
puts in a man with buttons like tears 
and shows it proudly to the grandmother. 

But secretly, while the grandmother 
busies herself about the stove, 
the little moons fall down like tears 
from between the pages of the almanac 
into the flower bed the child 
has carefully placed in the front of the house. 

Time to plant tears, says the almanac. 
The grandmother sings to the marvelous stove 
and the child draws another inscrutable house.


Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20160523

Old Men Pitching Horseshoes

by X. J. Kennedy


Back in a yard where ringers groove a ditch, 
These four in shirtsleeves congregate to pitch 
Dirt-burnished iron. With appraising eye, 
One sizes up a peg, hoists and lets fly—
A clang resounds as though a smith had struck 
Fire from a forge. His first blow, out of luck, 
Rattles in circles. Hitching up his face,
He swings, and weight once more inhabits space, 
Tumbles as gently as a new-laid egg.
Extended iron arms surround their peg
Like one come home to greet a long-lost brother. 
Shouts from one outpost. Mutters from the other.

Now changing sides, each withered pitcher moves 
As his considered dignity behooves
Down the worn path of earth where August flies 
And sheaves of air in warm distortions rise,
To stand ground, fling, kick dust with all the force 
Of shoes still hammered to a living horse.

20160520

Song of Myself

2

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes, the shelves are crowded with perfumes, 
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it, 
The distillation would intoxicate me also, but I shall not let it. 

The atmosphere is not a perfume, it has no taste of the distillation, it is odorless, 
It is for my mouth forever, I am in love with it, 
I will go to the bank by the wood and become undisguised and naked, 
I am mad for it to be in contact with me. 

The smoke of my own breath, 
Echoes, ripples, buzz’d whispers, love-root, silk-thread, crotch and vine, 
My respiration and inspiration, the beating of my heart, the passing of blood and air through my lungs, 
The sniff of green leaves and dry leaves, and of the shore and dark-color’d sea-rocks, and of hay in the barn, 
The sound of the belch’d words of my voice loos’d to the eddies of the wind, 
A few light kisses, a few embraces, a reaching around of arms, 
The play of shine and shade on the trees as the supple boughs wag, 
The delight alone or in the rush of the streets, or along the fields and hill-sides, 
The feeling of health, the full-noon trill, the song of me rising from bed and meeting the sun. 

Have you reckon’d a thousand acres much? have you reckon’d the earth much? 
Have you practis’d so long to learn to read? 
Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems? 

Stop this day and night with me and you shall possess the origin of all poems, 
You shall possess the good of the earth and sun, (there are millions of suns left,) 
You shall no longer take things at second or third hand, nor look through the eyes of the dead, nor feed on the spectres in books, 
You shall not look through my eyes either, nor take things from me, 
You shall listen to all sides and filter them from your self. 

Walt Whitman

20160519

Song of Myself

1

I celebrate myself, and sing myself, 
And what I assume you shall assume, 
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you. 

I loafe and invite my soul, 
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass. 

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air, 
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same, 
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin, 
Hoping to cease not till death. 

Creeds and schools in abeyance, 
Retiring back a while sufficed at what they are, but never forgotten, 
I harbor for good or bad, I permit to speak at every hazard, 
Nature without check with original energy. 

Walt Whitman