Monday, September 28, 2009


I feel the rush of Fall here on The Mountain – it isn’t just the red and gold leaves strewn on the back lawn or the crisp, 68 degrees temperature; it’s the energy in my mind that tells me I have only a month left to finish writing a book of poetry before I leave for Louisiana where I spend the winter. The equation about books that I write is: I usually create at least one volume per season while sojourning in New Iberia, Louisiana, and one when I reside at Sewanee. This summer, I worked on two books, and the latest volume of poetry is forthcoming. It’s called RISING WATER, and some of the poems are those that have been sitting in a cardboard box for years. They were dusted off, revised, and put into book form.

There’s also a travel piece in RISING WATER -- a series of vignettes written while we were traveling in North Carolina and that were published on my blog, “A Words Worth.” Again, a painting by my brother Paul adorns the cover of the book, and my grandson Martin has tweaked the design of front and back covers. Darrell Bourque, Poet Laureate of Louisiana, provided a wonderful blurb for the back cover, and Isabel Anders, a fellow author here at Sewanee, wrote another gracious endorsement.

RISING WATER will be available at in a few weeks, or you can order a copy from Border Press, P. O. Box 3124, Sewanee, TN 37375. In addition to my blog, “A Words Worth,” Border Press has a new site at

Here’s a sample poem from RISING WATER:


In the chapel of unadorned white walls,
Mary Magdalene is contained in a frame,

safely hung behind the prepared altar.

We sit behind Sister Mary Zita,
a wizened Filipino nun in a crocheted shawl

who leans forward in the pew,
reading words in the Book of Common Prayer,

hoping they will release her from dementia.

We pray that the silver-colored organ pipes,
now silent, will suddenly make a joyful noise,

hear instead stories from the Old Testament
about patriarchs banishing Miriam

because her face turned white from leprosy,
and from the New Testament,

St. Paul holding forth:
we shouldn’t be concerned

about what goes into the body,
only about what we say to the brethren.

In unison, we chant the Kyrie Pantokrator,
“And now O Lord I bend the knees of my heart,”

suffering songs, misogynist readings,
and, finally, The Song of the Redeemed,

while Mary Magdalene behind the altar
stares unsmiling out of her frame,

too long implicated.

As we exit the gray chapel on the bluff,
we stop to view knock-out roses

withering by the cobbled walk,
a male gardener gently tending the flowers…

in territory female and divine.

P.S. I’m working on a collection of new poems and old short stories that have also been in a box for years. The book is called OLD RIDGES. Thank you for continuing to read and support my work.
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