Passing Through

I see a man
on the side of the highway,
his backpack leans
just like his gait,
and what he shoulders,
it’s from a lifetime,
the road is heavy
beneath his weight.

I see the prison,
a crystal skyline
sets fire the valley
despite the rain,
and thirteen prisons
they line this byway,
I hear their shackles
inside my brain.

I’m driving home,
I’m driving home,
it’s way past midnight
I’m wide awake.
You’re all alone,
You’re all alone,
and that is something
I just can’t shake.

The night is thick
with weary travelers,
each tiny light
under the moon,
and we are lonely,
our pockets dusty,
yes we are only
passing through.

And from the lamppost
a banner’s waving,
beside the barbwire
and guard tower city,
as I drive under
it says please come back
for more good fun
in Canyon City.

Dublin Sunrise

It does not matter that you
had not met before,
you know each other now,
and like the River Liffey
that flows blue
into the Irish Sea,
so have you come together
from your many
scattered sources
to this wild night, dark
and damp beneath
the waning crescent
of a disappearing moon,
and you would stay,
yes you would stay
with these fine
familiar souls
as song and lilting story
dance you round
the fire’s bones
until the Dublin sunrise.

The Little Cheese Shop

The only thing
more scrumptious
than the dairy mosaic

stacked haphazardly
to perfection
is the red-scarfed woman

behind the counter,
her face swallowed
in a smile, she slices slivers

from inexplicable blocks,
laughs at your ecstasy
and at your goat-barn

astonishment. She offers
tastes of secrets
that come from deep

under the ground
and expounds
the mystery of accidents,

like the blue fungus
that appeared in a vein,
and the fact that two

weary travelers
have wandered
into this wooden box

of pure delight
in a small Irish village
one parish away from Boston.

And when she wraps
your handmade treasure
in white paper and says,

It is because
you have
so much joy,

you know that this
is the meaning
of your life.


On the greenest green round
the Ring of Kerry, you forged
your way to a mighty post
above the wild sea, and you built
your fortress here.
For two thousand years,
the walls remain, stone stacked
upon each tilted stone
like treasured stories. There is a soul
left between the spaces – does it still
belong to you?  How many rocks it took
to protect the things you loved,
high blockades against storms so cold
they took your breath away,
surrounded by the ones you cherished,
though you never felt so alone
inside these weathered walls,
you ate and dreamed and watched
the battered shores of Derrynane,
a solitary sheep standing at the gate
like a sentry. What did you leave behind
to make this place?  Perhaps
the road was not what you expected,
and you heard strange tales
of great beasts from the sea,
only to discover that it was you that hunted
your own soul in the night.
And still it stands, your lonely tower,
west of west on an Irish hillside,
as the wind whips off of the Atlantic
and whistles through these spaces
like a prayer.


I have done my clinging
to the wild rocks
of the Atlantic,

made my shell
to withstand fierce tides,
the strong stuff of bone.

Love is a riddle
with the answer inside.
I am young and ancient,

salt and cell,
I offer you a taste
of what is in me,

current and swell,
morsel of an understanding
excites and terrifies,

you cannot deny.
It takes courage
to hold something so delicate.

I have no pearl,
though there are secrets here
within each fold

and ripple.
Open your lips
to the living ocean,

swallow me
until there is nothing
left between us, and cast my shell

into the never ending sea
where everything
and everything began.