Howdy, Hank

exactly what comes next? maybe it’s Chicago within multiple trajectories of impatience and boredom before connecting and charging ahead roughshod you take a swing, fan, and fan again in this curriculum of revelations from Old Friends everywhere standing on some pebble-strewn base of a mountain, watching a squall line of religious tracts form in oppressive humidity how am I to know this will play Boston, this season or next? maybe I’ll score, ah, yes, and speaking of Hope, give her my greetings the big picture emerges one pitch at a time, here come the Sox . whoops


Bienvenue, Val

the one who pushed has a brain tumor on top of four or five years of chronic, debilitating, undiagnosed intestinal pain, only in her late thirties I agonize over how to respond, wanting to run up to the coast and bring her back where she would at least have someone to offer care, while from the green valley a letter saying another’s on the way to Old Order Mennonite (unless, maybe, I’d go into dairy farming? Nah!)


Before naming the icon

drawing on banked experience and earnings, I deplete the rotting woodpile of any past, my flaking barn filled with scorched ore, my private cemetery of flickering weeds all ablaze banked coals blown to life, all reduced to uncommon metal ingots of no commercial value after which I’ll no longer be gnawing lawn furniture out on the road but holed up, frugally assembling and polishing double-edged maps and chronographs to fuel industry with some fork into prophecy or political revolution or Elysium or celebrity-bashing iconoclasm, I won’t be spooked by the alchemy of regret except, maybe children

How’s the coffee?

and now that Manchester isn’t quite the same the drive flew along trees past their prime yet beautiful in that chaste turning more shadowy and wintry the closer I got to home, a still full moon flirting with clouds during that final stretch of reggae beat back around to Worcester a few tears shed as I passed sparkling Baltimore in a twelve-hour trip taking a shade over nine but here they still haven’t fixed the dripping kitchen faucet


Nearly perfect eye-opener

from an unspoiled spot on Maine shoreline I’ve watched seasons, storms and calms both within and without, eaten wild strawberries, collected shells and rocks and bits of weathered lobster pots (in Baltimore, I’d retreat to a stretch along the rapids of Gunpowder River north of Sparks) bedazzled with premature color extended with near-perfect cool an eye-opener with a predominance of red luminous fragile fields of blazing our clear windows of gold and copper branches finally die and fall away and are grieved so that the new vision may emerge


You’ve got to meet Willow

Among the fascinating voices who show up regularly in my WordPress Reader is Willow Croft, “Bringer of Nightmares and Storms,” a writer included in an anthology of “ladies of horror fiction.”

Not to worry, her blog is gentle and warm as her she surveys the alt-indie world of literature and related arts, and from her shelf at Goodreads, it’s hard to imagine a more adventurous or prodigious reader. Better yet, she generously shares her discoveries with the wider world, often through their own voices.

One of her ongoing features is “Five Things Friday,” a handful of deep questions posed to the day’s selected writer. I was so honored yesterday, and I’d love for you to hop over to Willow’s blog to see the results.

There’s nothing generic in her five inquiries. They’re tailored to the day’s guest, and she does her research. Somehow, she homed in on the essence of what I do while also making me think about it in a fresh light. One of her points indulges in special interest of hers – food – but even there, she makes it personal to her guest, as you’ll see.

I’ll apologize for the length of my answers, but the questions were multifaceted and stirred up much more than I could possibly include. She was free to cut or condense, of course, but didn’t.


Willow herself is also a fellow poet, and that feeds into her compassionate curiosity.

Still, she’s surprisingly elusive in a digital age, even while being a comforting presence. Her blog, for instance, has no About page.

From the bits I’ve gathered, she grew up somewhere in the South, where she quickly resisted the enforced conformity, and recently relocated from New Mexico to Kansas, even though she dreams of someday settling in Scotland. Oh, yes, she also favors British spellings over American, as in “colour.”

I’m supposing she’s a water sign – Cancer, Pisces, or Scorpio. She claims to be middle-age, though I would have guessed a very wise late twenties to mid-thirties, based on her uninhibited tastes, and a cat lover.

A croft, by the way, is a small enclosed pasture, often with a cottage – and a resident known as a crofter. As for willows? How evocative – there’s water, after all, and resiliency.

A clue to her name and outlook may be this, from a piece she wrote for MookyChick: “Transform your backyard from a one-note turf lawn to a meadow-like garden that has a little something for every visitor; be it birds or flying insects and bugs. Avoid the use of leaf blowers, weed whackers, and pesticides in order to give nature the chance to tend to itself.”

Actually, that’s not a bad description for what you’ll see in her own work and life as well.

Communion with strangers

the mailman didn’t leave the stack in the hallway, as I had worried, but rather held it to give to me today (twenty-four pieces, which included one personal letter to me, from somebody amplifying on our Seventh-day conversation in North Carolina, or as he pronounces it, Nor’car’l’na, a personal letter to Iowa from another in Pennsylvania who must have his addresses mixed up, I’ll forward adding my own greetings; three magazines; my union newspaper; six bills; unsolicited junk including offers of wild credit lines if I accept more I’d be rich if I could reach the right country without extradition

As a zealous professional

so pleased entering my apartment to see everything tight, still in place, no vandals, though the temperature was 89 degrees, apparently the maintenance crew had come in and set the thermostat at 80 to get the radiators going and then left while ignoring repairs to one of those single joy-stick faucets that takes an eight-dollar washer kit to repair, I know, because the three-dollar one I bought had the wrong kinds of springs and plugs and doodads, and none fit


Construction report

behind plaster we rip from the kitchen crumbling accounts of protracted death Floyd Collins 15 days 1925 age 36 Sand Cave Crystal Cave Kentucky as published in Boston, accounting inescapably cold mud and implacable rock when my own parents were first walking, yet this story my mother related as if she were on the carnival rides of its macabre vigil but now we find nothing holding this roof to the walls so much callous indifference riding on the blind arrogance a foolish turn, perchance, or just dumb luck when it comes to catastrophe of course, I remember living on the roof of a cavern down in muddy Indiana

A few critical measures in compressed language

One test of a poem (for me, at least) is based on the qualities of good vocal ministry arising in the traditional quiet worship of Quakers: incantatory language and prophetic whirlwind. Unlike “slow prose” as a kind of sermon.

In vocal ministry, how often the message comes from within our current conflict or personal struggle!

Yes, we wrestle with God.

Poems and prayers you feel in your hands more than bounce around ‘tween your ears.

Moving on?