#fullmoonsocial Penumbral Garments


Penumbral Garments

You turn your blonde head away from me

where I can still see the shadow on your cheek

My naked eye is always looking for your tender skin under all of those garments made in the east

the search for you is never tiresome as the loss we turn away from

or as weary as this pretending that you don’t have a dark side


what will not be found

Forty one autumns are not enough

to hold the hand of someone I love

while the trees take off their golden

robes and shake out the poems they

have been writing over the seasons past.


It is an interruption when the landscapers

rid of the fallen leaves before every single

shape and color are read, like they are throwing

Robert Frost into the trash just before he chooses

his path.


Forty one autumns will not be enough to catch the

early sun setting over Appalachia or to light cedar

logs for a fire under the constellations while my dog

sits quietly, staring into the naked trees,  looking

for the sound of what we have found and what we are

still looking for.

[Mother’s Day] Vanishing Tracks (II)

Translations from the English

Note: This is one of a series of poems for my mother from my book Vanishing Tracks. A Tibetan Buddhist teacher I knew used to say that if you imagine that we are all born again and again, then even the person who seems to be our worst enemy was at some point somebody’s mother, and recognizing that possibility can make us treat our fellow creatures, human and otherwise, with more compassion. While I post this poem today to honor my own mother, I also honor all mothers, and our memories of them, and their important place in our own identities, no matter how many (or few) times we think we’ve been here before. //JSS


Vanishing Tracks (II)

What is resilient in us is resistant to memory
When the memory goes she will be some other self
Still resilient to the sailing light and shadow
And hungers and exhaustions…

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Before The Persimmons Became Ripe




I went hiking today to escape you.


Down the trail I was greeted by a dog with your name.


Made my eyes sting.


A sweet scent caught my nose and reminded me to breathe.


A boy said “It’s the persimmons!”.


I told you I wouldn’t forget you laughing under the persimmon tree.


How that early fruit numbed my mouth and made us into children.




Where Hidden Things Go

The black cat and I sit several yards  from one another,  both eye level with October’s Friday the 13th.


He sits like a reflection, a parallel thought that I’ve just been permitted to see.


His eyes are summer’s

last green hiding place; I envy the way the emeralds translate his intention.


He turns his gaze away toward a sound I cannot hear. Is he weary of being a martyr for superstition?


Then, black as hidden light and silent, he ushers summer backwards around a lost corner so that he doesn’t cross my path.


In his place I see the shape of a voice I know but cannot name,  a memory that has no memory and will later carry itself around lost corners unnoticed yet missed.




to ye poets that keep the light

he will keep writing the moon

to its fullest paragraph;


with emapthy he traces the round light of loving in dark space.


i am sure i feel a caress of moonbeam writing his mantras down my spine


while shadows stretch out over the night like cats in an alley that no one walks through after dark.

the bears i always dream about

You were the only person I told about the bears.


My ear on your chest heard someone waiting to listen about the dreams.


Your arms were the strongest arms I’ve wanted to hold me and the stronger to push me away.


I told you about the bears hoping you weren’t one of them.

the cars going by

the june stars are suffocating while

i lie supine in an almost dark room listening to the street refuse to sleep


the mountains are far from here sheltering everyone or everything that i left behind


And i lie so still trying to hear a whippoorwill beyond these streets


I raise my arms toward the ceiling and the artificial light that seems infinite spreads across my forearms in a way that makes me cry


If i imagine hard enough,  my skin is Carter’s Lake on a summer night spreading across the darkness to reflect the moon


by a sea

some are sun people gold,  skin of mamma’s pearl and coconut; they diggin up sand for a castle.


seaweed people washed up on a beach too, skin of fishin hooks and broken shells; they ain’t gettin no castle.


we are all fools of the tides, always  afraid of what time it is or what is comin for the lives we’ve made; our nude skin shivers at the things that could wash us away


but off in the distance, the white waves roll and never stop.