The Alchemist


Within each leaf, the gas and water take
up power from the vigor of the sun
to spark a sweet reaction, as they make
the basic sustenance for everyone.
The chemistry is almost that profound
when I knead flour, milled from cereal,
with water, yeast and spices to compound
a loaf of carbohydrate miracle.

I’m certain, like a crocus in the spring,
as I take elements of earth and sky
to form a paste I fondle with my fist.
I let it rest and rise and then I bring
it to the oven’s heat. A plant am I,
that manufactures food of cloud and grist.



The skin is firm and smooth against my touch,
the color flushed in orange red and rose.
There’s no aroma I detect as such
until the outside’s cut to court my nose.
The surface first resists incisive teeth –
I’m hungry, so I push into the peel.
I penetrate the fruit and find beneath
the skin and flesh a heart as hard as steel.

I woke too weak today, so full of thirst
and shaky that I blamed the glass of wine
I drank last night as encore to the first,
but water didn’t quench that dearth of mine.
Instead I found elixir in the clean
insistent substance of a nectarine.

Western Fare

western fare

She steps outside at 3 this afternoon
upon a sidewalk carpeted with leaves,
observing that the winter’s coming soon –
it’s suddenly too cool for T-shirt sleeves.

An apple is reducing in her hand
as she ingests each tart and crunchy bit.
The flavor satisfies a mouth demand
she didn’t know until she tasted it.

The foliage is dappled as it dies,
and two-toned is the McIntosh she eats.
The colors frolic under autumn skies
but soon the rain will rinse the dusty streets.
Tradition may link promises to spring,
but Western fall betokens watering.



At one end of the bridge in her backyard,
she’s eating weighty cherries picked today
and quickly rinsed before they made their hard
and swollen, tartly sweet-fleshed, sun-plumped way
inside her mouth. She stops to gaze at one:
a globe of purple warm upon her palm,
its roundness highlit in the midday sun,
its brimming ripeness packaged like a bomb.

She wonders: is there any way to paint
a cherry so, to use pastels or ink
or film, to capture deep along with faint
and make it sparkle right? She doesn’t think
a picture shows the wonder underneath:
the pop that cherry makes between her teeth.

Fat Club

Fat Club

I speak for every female ever fat
in mind, in mood, in belly, butt and thighs.
Presumptuous pronouncements are my chat
and this apparent fitness my disguise.
For I am fat in memory and fears
beneath the slender shape I work to be,
and I remember all those hateful years
when I felt thinner than the truth of me.

I speak for every look at form and face
we give ourselves, reality or role,
and emphasize the quality of grace
that lets us see the myth of self-control.
But most of all, I open mouth to tell
the awful loneliness of feeling well.



I made a chowder for the family.
I served it to each person with a roll.
When Danny saw the steam, he questioned me:
Why does it tumble upward from the bowl?

He let me look through eyes not twelve years old
at something I see often and ignore,
for now I note that till the soup grows cold,
through evening light the steam appears to pour
in upward tendrils almost perfect white,
in billows ribboning and curling gray,
like cigarette smoke climbing to a light,
like fog reversed and rising from the bay.

His question gave a blessing to our group:
The miracle of steam above the soup.