Ask the Dictionary

From Enough For a Book, published in 2016.


Ask the Dictionary

Definition of
Bone Folder:
the author of the sharp crease in the paper
the result of the guy falling from the scaffolding.
the paperwork for helping a fish out of his ribs.
Bone folder. Is that what you wanted to know?


They Will Have Their Own Lives

From Generous With the Details, published in 2017.

They Will Have Their Own Lives

The margin line
running down the side of the paper.
The words wander
they want to edge right up next to it
Stray over, even, if I don’t watch out. Against the rules.
I hold my pen
with a firmer grip and watch
as words continue to issue out
lining the paper. I am not sure
if they are my words or if
the pen has chosen them
or if
they were already on the paper
and the pen is just now
uncovering them



Now That I Know

From Spring Cleaning, 2015.

Now That I Know

I was surprised.
I had had no idea of how
to bring about
an alteration in the circumstances
confronting me.
Finding that it was as easy as having said
No more
delighted me.
At that moment
I understood that
I would do anything
in order to maintain
this exquisite sense of menace

Clay Tile Frightened Fat Insect 2011 small

Clay tile, 2011. Frightened small insect.

Manners of Speaking

From Spring Cleaning, 2015.

Manners of Speaking

Discover evolution gone wrong
the first time you slow down on the road to find your way
in unfamiliar streets during rush hour.
Regression to
a direct form of communication bypassing the manners
painstakingly learned in childhood
will confront you
You won’t even have to put on your glasses
to see that the invention of the car
was not necessarily a step forward in
advancing human behavior
Of the good sort,
I mean.

Clay Tile Happy Person Driving a Car 2011 small

Clay Tile
“Happy Person Driving a Car”


Your Heart

From the collection Picture Making, published 2017. The three photos served as the inspiration for the poem. For more information, look here.

Your Heart

Pages in a book
each one with a set of words settled in together
holding each other up through bad times
occasionally dissatisfied with placement or juxtaposition but
what a party it always is when someone drops in to say hello.
The only thing is, visitors never stay long. Always just passing through
like the pens
the typewriters the computer programs
the brain
that wrote these words and put them here
all long since separated and gone on to somewhere else
but these words –
you can riffle the papers all you want
shake the bag of personalities up and down and over
skip ahead, look back –
you’ll find your friends here
the re-reading of their familiar faces
as satisfying as opening
the door of your own home
the view spread out in front of you
and renewal.

4/24/16 for 4/23/16

Note: I don’t know what happened to the photos that belong with this poem. Sometimes things get confused.

You can fill in your own images here today, I think.


There Are Other Aspects to Consider

From Autumn Opens a Door, 2015.

There Are Other Aspects to Consider

The dictionary lies open
on its stand underneath the window.
The exposed pages are dusty. No one
uses this book anymore. A collection of words
you can put your hands on and it goes weeks without
consultation. It hurts me. I turn the page to release
a new set of words.

I read a column
of the words I have just liberated.
I whisper some of them
I pay my respects to this book that
holds the
thoughts yet unformed
of every one of us
and I hope
it is enough.

Dictionary in front of window, Chestnut Hill Collage Logue Library, 2017.