Category Archives: Write Eejit


The man who balanced stones
took them home to bed with him, you know.

He rolled them under the covers
and ran the soles of his feet,

callous by callous,
over the fissures and dimples.

He knew the landscape of limestone and slate,
the terrain of every one of those globes of granite,

each freckle and glint of mica,
his namesake; and god knows the hands,

the great gulfed hands of a wall builder.
By day he pawed those bed stones of fieldstone

eyes closed to a flicker of emotion
and a slow sweet smile as

he found each one’s sweet spot—
the point at which it rested in perfect balance.




fortress, tree house, throne
toe holder, ship’s mast
staircase to the heavens
galleon of the woods above
tentacle crawling roots below
battle scarred silver hide
xylem and phloem
carrying fingerprints
of centuries, absorbing
earth and air, detritus
one fleeting moment of many
flickering image—
ghost at the back of an eyelid—
the chestnut mare
scratching her rump
against a beech sapling
green with fast flowing growth
on a June evening
in a cloud of golden gnats
and her tail swishing
from side to side
the memory ingrained
in a low-slung limb
a moss saddled horse.



IMG_8222I close my eyes and listen
To the impeccable silence of a January day.
Only it isn’t silence,
Just absence of human noise—
Except for that one small propeller plane
Droning across the blue sky.
The breath-fogging air is filled with bright pockets of sound.
In front of me the rapid flutter of chickadee wings,
Followed by a shrill chirp announcing safe arrival in the spirea bush.
Behind me a hairy woodpecker’s rhythmic rapping
Up and down the trunk of the maple,
Probing for insect larvae stunned into stillness by the cold.
Above, one long keening call from a red-tailed hawk,
A triplet of croaks from a raven,
Their swirling flight paths intersecting over my head.
In my right ear, a squirrel rasping the shell off a black walnut,
In my left, the wind riffling through a cluster of persistent oak leaves.
And let’s not forget the cat,
Mewing around my boots,
Complaining of hunger
Or boredom
Or both.IMG_8086


Maumtrasna Mountains, Co. Mayo. Ireland

The oak root
Stopped me in my tracks,
Rearing out of the bog,
A creature of fantasy.
Sentry from a long gone forest
Mowed down by ice-age
And time,
Buried under eons of sphagnum moss
Rush and sedge,
Silt from mountain streams—
sandstone, granite, the odd fleck of gold.
All these and more swaddled its limbs,
Blocking out oxygen
Bathing it in tannic acid,
Preserving it:
Bog monster.


Maumtrasna Mountains, Co. Mayo. Ireland




DSCF5353I want to carefully carry with me—
This basket
Of precious eggs.
Every one has its own space
In my heart.
But sometimes
I worry
That my attention
Will slip,
I won’t give each
The time it deserves
To turn and caress
And be mindful of,
That I will jostle the basket
And let one slip.
I want to swaddle them
With soft grass and feathers,
Turn them in the direction of the sun,
Breathe love and understanding
Into their souls.
Hover over them,
Keep them safe.
But like the hen
Who leaves the nest
To stretch her legs
And scratch for worms,
Knowing there is always
The possibility of the sneaking weasel,
I too must learn to let go.


IMG_8743My foot rock, rock, rocking
Mimics the lift and drop of waves.
Breeze in the walnut leaves
Sounds like the hiss of surf,
And a car passing on the road—
Wind in the rigging.
Where is the keening of gulls
Tumbling through the salt air?
Replaced by a cricket in the stone wall
And a bullfrog over the road in the pond.

Sudden screech of blue jays
Sounds a false note,
Arresting my downward spiral.
A drama fit for a king plays out.
Ten seconds and the act is done.
Attack, plunder, infanticide,
Distraught phoebe’s screech
At the sight of their nest
Dislodged from the eaves.

My head sinks back down,
Eyelids grow heavy again.
Dip, dip, dip.
Consciousness hovers like the yellow
Swallowtail over the dame’s rocket.
Swing gently into sleep.



DSCF5033It’s a tough time of year for me as a writer. Yes, I have spring writer’s fever and  I’m itching to explore new projects, and eager to finish revisions.  But I have one big problem. My brain needs sugar! Like the hummingbird  who flits from flower to flower to satiate his unending need for nectar–they consume half their body weight in sugar each day– I too need to feed the receptor in my brain that’s drawn to nature. Here are a few of the things that keep me from putting my butt in my seat on an hourly basis.

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My garden is constantly beckoning through the window.

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And then there’s the woodland and the hedgerows . . .

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And the wildlife . . .

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What’s a writer to do, except–

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
–Robert Herrick (17th century)



IMG_8696Not many things give me nightmares, but poison ivy—Toxicodendron radicans—is one of them.

I didn’t even know what the blighter looked like when I started gardening in New York’s Hudson Valley. Vague ideas of Christmas card’s wreathed in leafy loveliness came to mind, and I imagined some minor skin irritation akin to the hives from a stinging nettle. Boy was I in for a shock.IMG_8704

One night I was awoken by an intense itching on the insides of my arms: I’d met my nemesis. But this noxious weed wasn’t going to get the better of me! I put on my armor—heavy-duty gardening gloves, long-sleeved sweatshirt, jeans, and boots—and waded into battle. I even went so far as to ditch my old clothes once I’d beaten my enemy into submission.

It didn’t help. The urushiol—the toxic sap of the plant—worked its way under my defenses. I looked like a burn victim, with oozing bandages swaddling my arms and shins. And don’t talk to me about the excruciating itch that made me tear at my skin like a mad woman.

DSCF4693I tried every remedy in the almanac—oatmeal baths, jewel weed, calamine lotion, cortisone, baking soda, bleach. Yes, you heard that last one right—neat bleach! They all worked to a degree. But the bottom line is that once the angry rash and blisters appear, you have to resign yourself to three weeks of hell.

So it’s no wonder that walking past a lush patch of poison ivy on the roadside is enough to give me sleepless nights. And when a seedling dares to rear its not-so ugly head in my garden, it makes me break out in a cold sweat and reach for the Round-up.

Recently I learned an even more disheartening fact: A study by researchers at the University of Georgia found that poison ivy is particularly sensitive to CO2 levels, greatly benefiting from higher CO2 in the atmosphere. Poison ivy’s growth and potency has already doubled since the 1960s, and it could double again once CO2 levels reach 560 ppm David Templeton (July 22, 2013). “Climate change is making poison ivy grow bigger and badder”. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

So, unless you fancy a post-apocalyptic world over-run with vast jungles of poison ivy, curb your CO2 emissions!  DSCF4702