Home Is Where We Start From

Three days into spring break, I find myself on a windy hilltop, alone and reading poetry. At my back is the high outer wall of Rodborough Fort, a well-kept castle of indeterminate history or function, not open to the public but apparently available to lease. I text Timmy a picture of the castle and the…

{The Love Song Of} 2 & 33

  I owe a lot to T.S. Eliot and Taylor Swift for these lines, composed on a walk today with Luci. I’m emulating another favorite, Billy Collins, master of the birthday poem. It was a poetic day, rich and splendid, worth sharing.   Let us go then, you and me, where the autumn blazes bright…

#Vanlife, Real Life and Roads {Taken and Not}

Oh I kept the first for another day! But knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. Robert Frost, from “Road Not Taken” A few weeks ago I taught Robert Frost’s “Road Not Taken” to my class of juniors. It went predictably, a conversation that I’ve had every…

Windowsill

Compared to a handful of brilliant students and colleagues, I write poetry with neither frequency nor remarkable talent. Still, sometimes, every other year or so, it happens. Because sometimes prose would take too long, and there are moments that require only a few words, written over and over again. This week has elicited many moments…

Hearing The Bells

I heard the bells on Christmas Day Their old, familiar carols play,      And wild and sweet      The words repeat Of peace on earth, good-will to men!  And thought how, as the day had come, The belfries of all Christendom      Had rolled along      The unbroken song Of peace on earth, good-will to men!  Till, ringing, singing on its way, The world revolved from night to day,      A voice, a chime,      A chant sublime Of peace on earth, good-will to men!  “Hey, this is a song!” I hear it half a dozen times as the eleventh-graders walk into class and pick up today’s reading, Longfellow’s “Christmas Bells.” “‘I heard the bells on Christmas Day,’” the first student reads aloud, then exclaims…

Weight, Wait

I’m a riddle in nine syllables, An elephant, a ponderous house, A melon strolling on two tendrils. from “Metaphors,” Sylvia Plath It’s one of those poems that I have almost memorized by accident, Plath’s “Metaphors,” a “riddle in nine syllables” I’ve set to many classes of eleventh graders. “What is she talking about?” I’ll ask them,…

East

Five years ago, I left the Pacific Northwest. I was alone and excited, seeking adventure and responding to calling on this quest eight thousand miles east. In a few weeks, I’m going back, married and expecting a baby, but with the same sense of calling and adventure as I retrace my steps back to the…

Waiting for Spring

  This is the spot:—how mildly does the sun Shine in between the fading leaves! the air In the habitual silence of this wood Is more than silent: and this bed of heath, Where shall we find so sweet a resting-place? William Wordsworth, from “Traveling” I walked the woods for months, looking for it. In the…

Places as People

And having answered so I turn once more to those who      sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer      and say to them: Come and show me another city with lifted head singing      so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning. Flinging magnetic curses amid…

The Learn’d Astronomer

When I heard the learn’d astronomer, When the proofs, the figures, were ranged in columns before me, When I was shown the charts and diagrams, to add, divide, and measure them, When I sitting heard the astronomer where he lectured with much applause in the lecture-room, How soon unaccountable I became tired and sick, Till…