For a while, in between novels, I was writing poetry. Here are four poems I'm especially proud of:


In the photograph I like best, I’m three,
wearing a felt hat with goofy feathers
that stick out like rabbit ears,

sitting at our dining room table, staring
at drawings in a book I can’t read
yet, pretending I can.

Just outside the thin white border, my sister
sits beside me, spelling real words, angry
at my copycat self.

My father hugs the camera to his face, tells
me to cock my head to one side, smile,
not blink at the flash.

Behind him, my mother loses patience
with me because I’m me, with my father
because he takes too many

pictures of me sitting at the table, though
this is the only one I own now, stuck on top
of others I found

inside a scrapbook: my father offering me
his hand as I take an uncertain step down
our long, narrow driveway;

my mother holding me in her arms, our bathing
suits and caps matching perfectly as we wade
into a crowded pool;

my sister and me on backyard swings,
gripping the chains as we pump our way
wildly into the future.

The Open Road

Cast Your Fate to the Wind in my hair,
Vince Guaraldi’s ecstatic piano chords
tumbling from the radio, punctuating
the rumble of glass packs on this royal
blue spring afternoon,

when my best friend’s convertible
zooms to eighty miles per
and careens along a deserted
country road; when the past is
as small as

the covered wooden bridge we tear
through, burning rubber, and the future
as infinite as the asphalt ribbon
of unknown we crave,

hardly grazing the pavement, because
we’re eighteen and we think we could be
brilliant, we could be tall, we could be
strong, we could be

A Brief History of Breevort Park

My grandson swirls down the corkscrew
plastic slide; he races across the patchy grass,
trailing spiky, bright laughter as he disappears
behind a hollowed oak. I chase after him
and run right into

myself as a young mother, lifting up his mother
under this tree, gnarled roots catching my toes,
tumbling us forward onto the dewy grass.
Oblivious, we pick ourselves up and hurry
toward the metal slide

where my father takes my favorite picture
of her. Perched on top, wool hat not quite covering
her curly joy, orange jacket zipped to the very
edge of her smile, she looks beyond the frame
and lets go.


Windows rattle at the thunder
of the hundred-year oak smacking
the cement, knocked flat by a heavy

and old age. Gnarled, craggy,
hollowed by squirrels, infirmity.
Giver of comfort and shade

the street, sprawled out
like an elderly woman, dress
accidentally blown above thighs.

black pith exposed, brittle branches
shattered, ant-infested. Well-
worn creature, older than the

where she lies, waiting for burly
removal men, cigarettes in
mouths, no love in hearts,

in hands too ready to
grind squealing limbs into
chips and carry away the

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