Category Archives: poetry

rolling through life with a plan


I pour a coating of salt on the table
and make a circle in it with my finger.
This is the cycle of life
I say to no one.
This is the wheel of fortune,
the Arctic Circle.
This is the ring of Kerry
and the white rose of Tralee
I say to the ghosts of my family,
the dead fathers,
the aunt who drowned,
my unborn brothers and sisters,
my unborn children.
This is the sun with its glittering spokes
and the bitter moon.
This is the absolute circle of geometry
I say to the crack in the wall,
to the birds who cross the window.
This is the wheel I just invented
to roll through the rest of my life
I say
touching my finger to my tongue.


—Billy Collins
from Sailing Alone Around the Room
      The Plan--Outside


“My business is words.”

There are so many ways to make a living of this life and never more apparent than when you are changing course and committed to chasing a dream. Your senses open. You hear the others’ stories with intention, every impression coloring the imagination. Interest becomes infectious and the conversations carry on longer and with a deeper timbre.

I may learn empathy yet.

Anne Sexton
More at

Tracking down a vague memory of a line of poetry about “making a living,”  I found this 1974 New York Times article and remembrance of Anne Sexton…the first poet I discovered on my own and whose complete works I read obsessively as a teenager.  What I was trying to recall, “Look, you con man, make a living out of your death,” was actually a line by Ernest Hemingway from A Moveable Feast which Sexton used as the epigraph of her last book before her suicide, The Death Notebooks.

The business of words for Sexton was only a means to the real living that consumed her. Raw and unreserved but sharpened to outline the clutter in her mind, you can’t find resolution or explanation of life in her “confessional” poetry. This was  her craft, the wake she left chasing the intangible dream of dying, the  product of making a living of her death.

Making a living of simply living is my intangible dream and for this go around, I am taking the chase to the sea. I can only imagine what may lay in my wake. Maybe even empathy.

Said the Poet to the Analyst – Anne Sexton 

 My business is words. Words are like labels, 
 or coins, or better, like swarming bees. 
 I confess I am only broken by the sources of things; 
 as if words were counted like dead bees in the attic, 
 unbuckled from their yellow eyes and their dry wings. 
 I must always forget how one word is able to pick 
 out another, to manner another, until I have got 
 something I might have said... 
 but did not. 
 Your business is watching my words. But I 
 admit nothing. I work with my best, for instance, 
 when I can write my praise for a nickel machine, 
 that one night in Nevada: telling how the magic jackpot 
 came clacking three bells out, over the lucky screen. 
 But if you should say this is something it is not, 
 then I grow weak, remembering how my hands felt funny 
 and ridiculous and crowded with all 
 the believing money.

with wind and water

Goat Rock Beach, California


If I am to move with the water, I must learn to feel the wind.
Just as children we would stand still as stone in the rushing river for fear of being carried away for knowing even stones are moved by the water.





      Two Stones In My Pocket — Neil Halstead

an orarian

what my wishes create
are small Italian voices
violins and the breeze
sketches by the seaside

while watching the weather



      Boots Of Spanish Leather — Bob Dylan

“The Parnassians” — James Merrill

Theirs was a language within ours, a loge
Hidden by bee-stitched hangings from the herd.
The mere exchanged glance between word and word
Took easily the place, the privilege
Of utterance. Here therefore all was tact.
Pairs at first blush ill-matched, like turd and monstrance,
Tracing their cousinage through consonants,
Communed, ecstatic, through the long entr’acte.

Without our common meanings, though, that world
Would have slid headlong to apocalypse.
We’d built the Opera, changed the scenery, trod
Grapes for the bubbling flutters mild fingers twirled;
As footmen, by no eyelid’s twitch betrayed
Our scorn and sound investment of their tips.

— James Merrill

      Everybody Knows — Leonard Cohen