Tuesday, November 29, 2016

christmas 2016

on soft days,

when the wind wraps itself around me,

bringing with it the echo

of Christmases past—

the sound of children laughing, or

a breath of new puppy smell,

or maybe even a hint

of ginger cookies baking

in my mother's oven—

on especially soft days,

i remember to believe

—Leslie Young, 2016

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


there is rust
in the garden.
i can see it clearly
from my kitchen window.
the iron angel still flies,
but her wings
are oxidizing badly.
and the links
in the chain that holds up
the world—
that fragile blue sphere
of glass breathed
from the heart and lungs
of some unsung
the links in the chain
that holds up the world
are threatened by
the blight.
they persevere.
i am a witness to their
valiant fight against
the power of the elements.

i am a witness.

—Leslie Young, 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

drinking tea in the garden (1933/2016)

Did the German people do
what I'm doing, today?
Did they sit in their gardens,
drinking tea and
surrounded by light?

Did they watch the cat
sleeping in the sun as
the honeybees plundered
the pink lantana?

Did they listen to the white ducks
chuckling and the chimes singing and
the happy morning chatter
of the sparrows in the pines?
Were their hearts breaking, too?

What did they do?

When did they say to themselves—
It's time to act!

Was it when the first boxcars showed up?
Was it that late in the game?
Were they drinking tea in the garden
all that time?

"There must have been a moment, at the beginning, where we could have said—no. But somehow we missed it." —Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Saturday, November 12, 2016


On most days,
Wind is master of the garden chimes,
a tender or tyrannical
conductor, depending on
his mood.
But today, Wind
is making music elsewhere—
leaving Sun to his own devices.

Now the glass is molten
once again. 
Sun, feeling artisanal
and requiring neither
blowpipe nor fireproof gloves—
simply trained his gaze 
and remade the chimes
in his image.

Sunday, October 30, 2016


while we sleep amidst
the mundanity of life
the sublime unfolds

Monday, September 19, 2016

on walking the dog

Lady, circa 2010

This morning I put down my phone
and went for a walk.

I used to walk often, with the dog—
her compact chestnut body leading the way
to every irresistible sight or scent
or sound.

We used to stop together,
I, at her command,
experience having taught me that
her moment of reflection could become
also mine—

a time to watch the pond weeds
dress themselves for fall as
the cirrus clouds danced across the sky—

a time to stand in the misty rain
on a gray winter's day
and note the astonishing whiteness
of an ibis on the wing.

I miss those walks,
those moments that became
days that became weeks and months
and years,

marking the changes in us both
as we comforted ourselves
with each season's familiar cadence.

So, this morning I put down my phone
and went for a walk.

The dog would have been proud.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

paper chains

They sing in the autumn breeze,
circles of glass and childhood
memory, like
the chains we made with paper and glue,
rings of color building
and building
until the magic of them
could take you anywhere,
grant any wish,
even the ones where
your parents would stop fighting
and the cat wasn't dead
and this Christmas would be
happy. And
though you secretly know
the truth,
when you walk in the garden
in the early morning
and the light makes them come alive
the magic still

Saturday, August 13, 2016

in which the cat rescues us.

With a few intriguing manners
and a tendency to purr,
the cat has managed 
to rule us all.

It was her master plan, no doubt,
when we rescued her—
a soft and yielding bundle
of tabby stripes and gangly legs
and a voice any Siamese would envy.
(We found that out later.)

Last night
as I walked back to the house
from taking the trash out to the curb,
I saw the cat silhouetted in the lighted window—
looking like a picture book where
all the homes are filled 
with light and warmth 
and love.

And I thought, the cat did that.
The little tabby cat who used to be a stranger,
made our house 
a home.

Friday, June 10, 2016

an informal treatise on the nature of ducks

A family of mallards
has taken up residence
in the garden, amidst the creeping
and the green hawthorne
where the black snake lives.

It doesn't seem like a
wise choice of
but then mallards are not exactly

They are, however, genial,
also punctual—
marching in each morning
on their marmalade feet,
emerald feathers slicked and glossy,
ready for the ladies.

They are two brothers,
playboys, I suspect—
but sometimes their sister tags along.
Or is it their sister-wife?
You never know with mallards,
and I never ask.

They stick around for
and sometimes they
fly over the fence to visit
the city ducks
with their virgin white

I guess I should tell the neighbors,
but I figure everyone needs
a walk on the wild side,
now and then.

Monday, May 23, 2016


my ear is ringing.

my ear is ringing, and

the raven sounds his dire warning

from the pine tree in the garden,

where he waits for the unwary chickens

next door to leave their eggs


my ear is ringing,

and a jet whines above me,

above the white plaster ceiling 

and the curling roof shingles

and the cannibalistic raven 

waiting in the pines.

my ear is 

ringing, ringing, ringing,

inside my head inside

my house

beside the pine

under the late spring sky where

the raven 


Sunday, May 1, 2016

a poem for my brother

This poem is for my brother,
who called to wonder why
I haven't been taking pictures lately
and if I was still


So here I am, brother,
still holding the camera you gave me
and keeping my eye out for light,
wherever it may find me.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

e.e. cummings on the secrets of living

“may my heart always be open to little
birds who are the secrets of living
whatever they sing is better than to know
and if men should not hear them men are old

may my mind stroll about hungry
and fearless and thirsty and supple
and even if it's sunday may i be wrong
for whenever men are right they are not young

and may myself do nothing usefully
and love yourself so more than truly
there's never been quite such a fool who could fail
pulling all the sky over him with one smile” 

― E.E. CummingsComplete Poems, 1904-1962

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

spring revels

yesterday the trees 
danced chastely
in their new spring green—
until the lowering sun
painted them with
consuming fire

Friday, February 26, 2016

of black holes and other matter

Black holes are real, they say;
they've proved it now.
How they bend the fabric of space and time
when they collide;
their siren songs luring the stars
to endless sleep—
while down here, in the dust
and infinite solitudes,
we hold on.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

self-portrait in my mother's mirror

The reflection is mine,
yet I see her there, too—
shimmering across
the beveled edges of her mirror,
the one she left to me.
I see how her spirit dances close,
stopping to brush my cheek
and maybe chuckle with delight
over the horn rimmed glasses
so much like hers.

("They look good on you!")

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

storms on mars

sometimes i am alive,
but not living.
sometimes i'm
but not alive.
"yet not i, but christ lives in me."
does he?
there is faith, but it falters
in the wake of
in the everydayness of being
but not living.

there is no dearth of
rich and full of happy laughter,
of love and friendship and
it's more like i'm short-circuited,
like aliveness
zaps in and out depending on
the current state of the
power grid,
or the tides, or the moon,
or the storms on