“For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it”

– Amanda Gorman, final lines of “The Hill We Climb” –– inaugural poem 2021

Someday we will have a poet for a president and her name just may be Amanda Gorman. This day, poetry is reviving, healing, and calling for our better selves. This day, poetry is infusing the dawn of a new Presidency with Amanda’s call: “We will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one.”

In that spirit, I offer poems from my morning journals of the last two months. Always unfinished. Always an exploration.

When you meet the
whiskered stare
of one river otter
peering from
a silvered cascade,
Do not blink or
the gift will vanish
with a slick ease
where trout and caddis
muscle in fluidity

January 1, 2021

Remember when we could erase the chalkboard?
New day. New mind. New Years
Facing this blank wall.
Draw a white spiral
Ride the widening circle
Yearning for galaxies
and a return to the center

No turning back
Time passing
Be the snail instead
Crating her spiral home
like we bear memories
Casting away the old shell
When time comes
to make room for the new

Face the chalkboard
Trace the letters
you once wrote there
Calligraphy under fingertips
Revealing only the
faint outlines
of what still soars


Ocean waves diamond
the beach in radiance

This sky that arcs
in a cerulean swash

signals five pelicans
to passage in a peloton.

You fling our mother’s ashes now
as she flung our father’s then

Reunion. At last. Love
never to be parted
just beyond Serenity Point.

Our salty tears flow
and merge with infinity.

This sea like the woven
aquamarine shawl
I wrapped around her body.

Our parents are flying away,
pelican wings softly touching.


A salute of juncos
Bird tracks
Cartwheeled on falling snow
Dancing across ridges
Enfolded in sunflower ray
Forests will whisper
Goodness that’s deep-rooted
Heartfelt prayer among elders
Immensity swept up in
Jeweled dew drops
Kindred beings of the silken orb
Love is always circular
Measure flour generously
Name what rises on
Ocean swells rocking seals
Piano crescendo of keys
Quivering like aspen leaves
Remembering the way
Sunshine brilliants this day
Touch as forgiving as moss
Union of ecology
Vibrant pulse beating
Wings of kingfisher
Xylophoning over cascades
Yodeling riffs of poets
Zen of living

Jean’s Place

Coyote tromp
Turkey-toed stomp
Snowshoe hare leap
Elk highway
Bobcat tread
Our boots imprinted
upon this parade

This inhabited
Never alone

kinglet notes
fret the treetops
Redtail skyway
Vole subway

Practice the
Animal saunter
Every track
in snow
a page to turn,
mystery novel
finely plotted
Why stop

Finding Flair (my first Villanelle form)

The scatter of quail in the air
Quick! Grasp one escaping bird
Like an artist dipping her brush with flair

Her palette is the forest bare
Every leaf, needle, and branch a word
A scatter of quail in the air

Raven’s eye a glossy black glare
His perch so royal above the absurd
The artist who dips his beak with flair

Time. At last. Rise from my chair
Open the door to fly undeterred
Scattering quail into the air

Lone cougar leaves her lair
Crouches, gathers and stirred
The artist who dips her tail with flare

Seek raven croak. Cougar pounce. Blare!
Words are strongest among the feathered and furred
The scatter of quail into the air
Writer dipping her pen with flair.

First Street Rapids Notes

Heron hunkers on fallen log
Tucks one foot up so cozily
Mittened in feathers

Reflection. Meditation
River philosopher spears a
winter breeze

Canada goose flaps wings open
like bellows

Cheep chirrup of robin cabal
Seet seet seet of waxwing trio

Come, sing the trees
Sing the whirlpools
Sing the sunshine
into all who shiver
in shade

Junco chases junco
Wild dash through thorny rose
leafless tangle
Flight a scribble of
vanishing stanzas

Goldeneye clouds by
Waggles a webbed foot

Kingfisher churrs and purrs
Fluffed up on tree perch
This heart song

Nouns as verb series

Slipping trail, skidding feet
How to keep balance
Where there is so little control
Except this one glide
to safety


Casseroled, mugged, and racked
Potatoed, carroted, and crumbed
The Kitchen takes matters
into her hands

Potted in saucepans and cast iron
Freezered by berries
Clasping summer light

Countertopped drumming
Teapotted whistling
Wine glassed humming

Reciped by
Handwritten cards
Stained with chocolate

Choreography of concoctions
Sonorous and savory
Honeyed in dreams
Baking desire in the
Sourdough rise

Charcoal tree sentinel
Bears woodpecker holes
Stores carbon

Better than medicated
When mind clears
Space opens
To the dedicated

Like elk breathing
through nostrils
Blustery snort
Quail fluster
from our yard
in the steaming

Black Labrador curled
by woodstove
Head on paw
Bookended by
her humans
One in rocker reading
The other
cross-legged on floor writing


If I were the
serotinous cones
of a lodgepole pine
waiting for fire

I would know patience
How to seal in
the seeds of the future

To abide in blizzard
In wind and drought
until searing flames
open my scales

Reborn in embers
Phoenix sprouts
from the ashes