When You Live by a River

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My poems do not try to be forms of self-expression. Rather, at their best, they arrive from an intense and compressed engagement with the world. They come with their own voice, but then it can take hours, days, weeks or years to find the particular form—each word, each image, each line—the poem wants.

One word
—one stone
in a cold river.
One more stone—
I’ll need many stones
if I’m going to get over.
Olav Hauge
(tr. by Robert Bly)

It is hard in our culture to keep the muse of poetry fed, because much of the world has been deadened, reduced to what is inert, measurable, controllable. But by this small gesture of attending to what is alive in the poem, we can hear the inner-ness of the world, let what is out there speak. As Stanley Kunitz said: “I dream of an art so transparent that you can look through and see the world.”

When writing, a moment reveals itself as three-dimensional, a room we can enter, look around, smell, taste, touch, feel and think. We often hurry through a day so that moment of arrest is a rare and lucky thing. Hopefully, a reader feels the same pause, the world before her plumped up and saturated from this humble but rigorous form of love.




My Mother’s Rosary

Paterson Literary Review – Issue 44, 2016.

My Mother Does Not Look Back

Paterson Literary Review – Issue 44, 2016.

My Mother Controlled the Weather

Paterson Literary Review – Issue 44, 2016.


One of Narrative’s Top 5 Poems of the Week
for 2010-2011; finalist in Narrative’s Second Annual Poetry Contest.

Learning to Eat the Body

Paterson Literary Review – Issue 44, 2016.

The Woman who Happened to be my Mother

Paterson Literary Review – Issue 44, 2016.

how do we bury the dead

Finalist in Narrative’s First Annual Poetry Contest.

The Man on the Backhoe

Heliotrope, 2004.


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