Thursday, December 5, 2013

New Poems

New Poems

© Copyright 2013
E. G. Happ
Nyon, CH 1260

All Rights Reserved



New Poems is a title of its own demise.  But it is also one of hope.  That there are new poems to write means there is living, seeing and breathing in to do.  New poems become old poems and eventually gather dust.  I read through the old work and like a cabinet-maker, I see the knots and the splits from dry winters, but I also feel the oil of them, running a hand across their worn words and turns of phrase.   Here are the furnishings of the senses.  Come, sit, have a coffee and croissant.  Brush the crumbs into your palm, dab the napkin of the page to your lips.

Dec 2013

Back to Working Chapbooks


The following is a working edition of a chapbook.  The poems are dated as reminders to me about when they occurred.  Expect changes as I edit.  I welcome your comments. Please let me know which poems you feel are strongest, and which need to be retired.  Send comments to fairfieldreview at hpmd dot com (with a wink to the SPAMers :)  --egh, 6 Dec 2013

6-Dec - First draft of poems written at the stations, along the morning paths.
7-Dec - Added additional Jul-Dec poems and rearranged in chapters
8-Dec - Minor edits
2-Oct - Minor edits



Noon at the Apartheid Museum 

I walk through a country's soul--
there are voices
there is pain,
unbearable pain
and it is borne
and only at the end
is there justice
Reconciliation is not easy
it is not fast
it is not soon 
but it comes;
it comes 
like a rain
that starts with a few
drops on a face
then like tears
a washing
a flood 
a beginning.

Dedicated to Nelson Mandela, 2018-2013,
who died last night and inspires anew

14 Nov 13 and 6 Dec 13

Giving thanks

The early light
is grabbing the snow topped Jura
and against the grey-blue sky
they glow with the new day.
"Come see this," I say, "they are glowing."
"Yes," you reply, "they do that every day"
"But it's the first time today."
And even though this day of thanks
came last year and the year before
I am grateful
and feast on the image of life
these old mountains hold in the palms
of their hands.

28 Nov 13


The six peeled pears
blushing from the steamed rose'
in which they bathed
wait patiently in the white bowl
standing proud in a circle
with their little brown stems
curled off center;
you arrange the foie gras slices
on each plate,
the toasted round of fig bread
standing as a shade
against the naked pear
which has backed up in modesty
peering over its shoulder
at this patron of the art
who has just sighed
at the simplicity of this opening
that begins the feast.

29 Nov 31

Preparing the first course, Thanksgiving

Before I Remember

With a flap of the white sheet
I remember my mother
standing in the yard
on a spring or summer day
draping it over a thin braided line
and clipping it against the breeze
with wooden pins she grabbed
from a dish set on a folding chair;
this must have been a day before
dryers and softener sheets,
before the quick alarm
buzzing that all was done.
I don't know why I thought of this
when I awoke and looked out
at a new autumn sky
with the high gray clouds
hanging as if they had been
pinned to the Jura
and I aching for the breeze
of your morning sigh
before you awake,
before I remember.

8 Oct 13



Morning Poem xxvi

At the end in the road,
where the village square opens
and the steps are few
a sky of such blue beauty
makes me stop
and lift up my head
in all my regal virility
as if this curve of light
had the laugh of youth
and my step had the feathers
of spring

30 Jul 13

Why I believe in second chances

The bus shakes and rattles,
angling its way up the steps of the side roads,
morning sun slicing this way
then that--
everywhere there are the tall cranes
with their long arms and counter weights
their shadows whipping the bus
with jagged stencils of black and grey
and then they are gone;
stepping off through a wheezing door
the blue sky calls,
and this morning
even the clouds have fled.

31 Jul 13

Morning Poem xxvii

The trams with their rails above
and below
navigate in this in-between world
of what sparks our passions
and grounds us;
this morning with the sun
toasting early
all the drive is to stop,
and step off
the servant steel
to the Jardin de Paix
where there are frogs waiting on lily pads
for the chorus in which you have a part
to begin.

6 Aug 13

Morning Poem xxviii 

She sits at the edge
of the Main Street tables
at Apunto
silver hair coiffed
by the low sun,
smiling with a hint of slyness
as if she knows something
that we who walk with sprite steps
toward the train that never waits
have not yet seen,
that is as elusive as blue sky
on a rare crisp day in August
that frames each stone
on this cobbled way.

12 Aug 13
Rue de la Gare, Nyon

The stillness on the pond

The sparrows come to the goldfish pond,
stand on its stone rim
and lean into their reflection
taking in this liquid glass;
the light from the midday sun
and the stillness on the pond
presents them with an image
that is only theirs,
one where they appear
to lean into a kiss
as the master avian
grips the edge
and bends for a drink.

12 Aug 13
Jardin de la Paix, Geneva

Good news on a lily

At the other side of the goldfish pond
there is a sudden to-do with the urgent
sound of fish vying for some morsel
that is not apparent.
There is no one else tossing bits
of sandwich bread into the school
and my tuna-fish Bagnell is long gone.
I get up and walk to the other side
to see what all the fuss is
and see a bit of crust my neighbor
flicked into the drink
that landed on a lily pad;
how these amber denizens
got the good news is a mystery
but they are knocking on the leafy roof
as if the world were balanced on its stem
and with the persistent hope,
the promise of its body
slides off this heavenly perch
and enters their shallow pool.

12 Aug 13 

Mid-day absence

The monster green John Deere mower
sits silently on the corner of an estate lawn
half mowed at noon,
the gardener on the freshly smooth turf
asleep under a warm sun
arm canopied over his eyes;
this is a lunch I do not know,
but curious, I stop to take a photo
with my phone
and save it away on a corner
of Oblivious and Main

15 Aug 13


It is already late in August,
the autumn whispers
in the early day
before the sun is high;
what was slowness
of a summer
is now a quickening,
not yet the alarm
of winter's night;
in each moment
there is a knowing
that the fire is waning
that the fire is waiting.

27 Aug 13



Poetry while waiting

Poetry while waiting
for the morning train
is an in-the-palm reading
with a tiny screen
windowing into a world gone by
of an oiled wooden desk,
a piece of paper lifted
from a drawer,
a pen freshly inked
pausing over the paper
as the writer looks up
to a clear-story window
at the ceiling's edge
that has flickered some light
on the ceiling as the willow trees
in front wave with their metronome
of music about to be played.

31 Aug 13
Somewhere in Tuscany

How fragile we are

The street musician
sets his chair next
to the palace gate
where the acoustics are moist
and the evening shade is quick.
those who are weary from the galleries
and long walks on narrow stone streets
have come to sit alone on old steps and listen.
The reverence in their silence
is a gift of sacred places
as his gentle guitar echoes
"this fragile earth,
our island home"

5 Sep 13
After dinner, in Florence

Waiting for the boat

Waiting for the boat
in a small seaside town
basking in the sun
and feeling the late summer breeze
arrive early
before the sun dunks into this
confluence of blue
where the sky has also made
its arrival known by knitting
into this Mediterranean picture
just where the distant sail
has sketched from right to left;
the horn sounds as all eyes
look down the steps
to where this vessel makes its port
where we walk across on dry land

Sun 1-Sep-13
Cinque Terre


Under this sun
of a late August day
in the village on the coast
there is not a thought
that does not evaporate;
the skin tightens with the salt
from a whisper off the sea
and even the air for breath
has the taste of baking;
a walking stick prods the cobblestones
as if they were coals
and walking the fire
were invitational;
were it not for the cherry tomatoes
you popped in my mouth
that reminded me of sun
and heat and earth,
I would be dreaming

10 Sep 13
Remembering Cinque Terre

Morning Poem xxix

I am riding between the first class cars
sitting in the conductor's fold-down seat
with the baggage I've maneuvered
just enough to make for leg room.
staring into the blue panels with
three or four coats of paint
I ride with the sounds,
the roll of bearings
the jiggle in the door
the occasional whoosh of passing
trains and stations
the flute of the brakes
the chime of the announcing
that we've arrived.

16 Sep 13



Evening Poem iv

Hundreds of white flies rise from the lawn
as the sun slices low across this valley
and illuminates each as if spores in the wind
if they are called by the night
they glow with anticipation
rising up the meet the inky heaven
as it rolls down like a river.

23 Sep 13

Evening Poem v

The bus trundles by the old wall
high above the bending avenue,
the turning leaves hang on spindly
branches leaning over the stony limits—
how can one be brave without the roots?

Walking through the halls of shops
and restaurants dark
between the lunch and dinner hours,
reminds me of the platform for the trains
so empty at mid-afternoon it feels
everyone has left the city.

The security agent waves the camera phone
from my hand;
I slide it into my pocket and turn
as you walk through the detectors
and into a quiet of your own,
your tears fresh on my lips.

I am making my own quiet now
a place where no one else enters,
where only you are the echo
that runs across oceans,
that whispers my name.

7 Oct 13

Pillow Talk

I take off one shoe
then the other,
and think about how
one moment follows another.
these are not put back on
and laced up in the morning.
they fall like snow on the pond
and disappear.
yet I see them now as if new,
the memory is never past.
I remember our first kiss
as if it were about to happen,
and I anticipate.

8 Oct 12


It is
one of a dozen words
she has learned
before her second year,
"up" she says with the sign
of two arms stretched
into the gathering in
that I the occasional grand-pa
have been entrusted
"up", she says with an urgency
of wanting to be held
"up" to see a world below
from a high branch
in an ancient tree
"up" to spark a love
that would defend against
all manner of monster
"up" to remind me what
a simple holding creates
the bond on which
we rest, the hands
that will not let us fall.

11 Oct 13
For Anna

Anna at 20 months, Cincinnati, OH

Evening Poem viii 

This lobe of moon
points west across
a continent and ocean
to where I imagine
you are waking
to a sun half a day
and yet as I trundle
across this campus
on a chilly night
in the midst of October’s
I am walking with you
closer than a hundred
and steps can
ever reach.

15 Oct 13
St. Charles

Morning Poem xxx

Grey morning blowing
through the mid-autumn trees,
the shimmering cymbals of leaves
shaking loose from their limbs,
the air chilled enough to make
me huddle in my coat;
soon the day will begin
and there will be the cacophony
of speaking as we all take our seats
but for one more minute
I can sit with the trees
and think of you leaning
into me.

16 Oct 13
St. Charles

Morning Poem xxxi

The early light is dancing
with the autumn leaves;
the flutter in the heart
of the tall trees calls,
and I am holding you
as surely as the sun
holds each yellow and red
maple, oak and beech 
hands that are open with a painted palm
that the early light has grasped
and will again
and ever do.

20 Oct 13
Sunday in No. Stamford

Evening Poem ix

The gardeners were here today
with their trimmers and rakes;
now each bush and hedge
is coiffed, precise as a clock
in a Swiss station;
they left exactly at six
with branches tied to a narrow
trailer with blue elastic straps
as the sun set behind low clouds
at the valley's edge;
tonight we set the clocks back
and the days will seem to shorten,
pruned back to the early spring
as we rake up the minutes
like leaves and take them
in tall bags to wait at the corner;
in the unraveling of the wee hours
before the Sunday sun creeps up
I imagine your hands rubbing
your sleepy eyes, the early morning
tussle of your hair,
and the press of you
when I gather you in.

27 Oct 13

Morning Poem xxxiii 

This must be a gaggle of kindergarten kids
huddled on the other train platform
with their yellow yokes and tethers,
diminutive backpacks,
winter coats;
their teachers barrier them
from the edges
herding them into an early circled form
and wait;
the train will come
and unfathomable adventure
but for now one boy points
to the autumn tree
with its circle of red and yellow and some green,
his arm and finger piercing the mundane
that is never mundane
with an urgency
to look
before the moment falls.

1 Nov 13


The yellow maple leaf cartwheels 
across the littered lawn 
as if on a rail into the garden 
so this gust of late autumn wind 
grabs all in its path 
and has us searching for the sheltered side 
in parkas with fur trimmed hoods 
turning anywhere but straight 
into to this crescendo that shakes 
the trees until every leaf drops and dances. 

24 Nov 13 



Walking from the plane in Nairobi

Lightening flashing in the distance
yet no thunder sounds--
too far away,
so far I’ve come

the night haze hangs
in the street lamps
and though the driver knows the way,
I am lost

it is late
and somewhere
south of this equator
you have not woken yet

sometimes I am weary
of the travel;
the exotic becomes a way-station
and I have yet to sleep

the rain comes
slowly as a train arriving;
I dream of an umbrella
and you leaning into my kiss

10 Nov 13, 16 Nov 13

Noon at the Apartheid Museum ii

I walk through a country's soul
there are voices
there is pain
unbearable pain
and it is borne
and only at the end
is there justice
reconciliation is not easy
it is not fast
it is not soon
but it comes
it comes
like a rain
that starts with a few
drops on a face
then like tears
a washing
a flood of beginning

13 Nov 13

Evening Poem xiii

Sitting in this terminal
that seems at the end of the world
I begin the journey home;
tomorrow you travel with the sun,
and as this planet spins
our paths braid again
like the travel from Paris
and between the coasts
we return
slower than the lightening
but as sure as the thunder
we return

15 Nov 13


Hints of Winter

Morning Poem xxxiv 

As the train pulls into Coppet 
there are glimpses of the Jura 
through the narrow streets; 
the clouds of days are lifting 
and have left their early winter dust 
as white laced cards 
that say you were here 
a season ago 
and returning 
in the hints of days. 

5 Nov 13

Evening Poem xi 

In a window beyond the white stucco wall 
a couple sits at a table; 
I see above his shoulders 
and half her face, 
but it is the top of the olive oil flask 
with its curved spout 
that commands the center between them, 
and I imagine from his intent look 
that the talk 
is of the events in the news 
or something during her day 
and that at any moment 
he will reach for the tall glass 
and pour just a dash 
of extra virgin oil 
on whatever dish is set 
before them 
that I cannot see. 

6 Nov 13 

Evening Poem xii 

There were fewer stars tonight 
as I trundled the garbage bag 
down our little street, 
the dipper's handle was gone 
and the north star had bedded down 
behind a wispy cloud; 
I wonder how the ancient mariners 
navigated on such a night, 
guessing how far it must be 
to that next point of light 
and knowing home was half 
a world away 

7 Nov 13 


The hound I just passed 
tethered to the chair of his master 
who sits just outside the door 
of the tiny cafe 
where I buy croissants-normal, 
has his nose to the breeze 
that wafts in like a slow 
news day 
from villages beyond this campus 
whose little town will be quieter 
like the pause in this hounds sniffing 
as I enter his stream 
swinging my petit bag to go. 

8 Nov 13 

Morning Poem xxxv 

The wind blows through the underpass
as a constant cello with a long bow;
a lone violinist plays a sad largo tune
from one of the masters I do not know.
and the gust of air becomes still;
people stop in their morning rush
and breathe in the sighs and sways
of the artist who plays for coffee.

25 Nov 13

Evening poem xiv

"I've got an old John Deere tractor and it’s got plenty of rust,
But inside it runs like a top." --Don Henley

Listen to that engine purr
there's a sureness to that hum
of gears turning 
and valves lifting;
this is an ear that knows.

Never mind that the shine is gone
and a feebleness has entered the looking glass;
this top can spin forever;
see that wobble now off its center?
Momentary! It will be back!

There is still a gleam in the eye
chin lifted and a step forward;
hear the music in the wheeze
the idle humming before the drifting
off to sleep.

26 Nov 13

Evening Poem xv

It is the first night I can see my breath
wisping out like the curve of smoke
from the chimneys in the distance;
a late flight whines overhead
as it makes it's climb with heartthrob lights
flashing on the wingtips;
I hear the gurgling of the fountain
somewhere to the left,
and over rows of shoe-box houses
a train leaves the station;
at the turn there is the sound of shutters
clapping at the day's end
and on the main street with its perfect
cobblestones there pass solo
shadows in dark coats
without a sound.

3 Dec 13

Morning Poem xxxvi

The utility truck comes towards us
with it yellow cab and yellow flashing lights--
there is no siren for the downed wire.
The cherry-picker bucket sits on its
long arms folded, waiting--
all is to the ready;
as our bus turns left
and the truck turns right,
we go with intent
of reaching our destination
and making a change
that shines a light
on some corner of the world.

5 Dec 13 

Back to Working Chapbooks
© Copyright 2013, E.G. Happ and The Fairfield Review, Inc, All Rights Reserved

Document last modified on: 12/06/2013

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Bellagio Poems

Bellagio Poems

© Copyright 2011
E. G. Happ
Nyon, CH 1260

All Rights Reserved



One of the things I learned as a poet was paying attention to things that grabbed my attention—things that moved me and made me want to rewind and be in that moment again—something that writing poetry allows me to do. Yet the insight I gained was not as much that poetry could capture and re-present moments, if-you-will, but rather knowing when it will happen—whether a concert, a good homily, or a poetry reading—I go with the expectation that something new will transpire to trigger my creative side. It’s as if I go to these places with pen in hand, ready to write.

Similarly, I've found that my thinking about problems and new ideas gets better when I’m in dialog with other creative and bright people. There is something about the give and take of conversation, heightened in debate, which ratchets up my thinking, makes me more reflective and engaged with the subject matter in which I’m immersed. This is most true for me in the question and answer time after a presentation. The expected and unexpected questions are often a time to reformulate something, to say it in a new way, to bring in some of the banter to make it better. The bonus is that I can seek out those places where this happens and go like the poet with recorder in hand and an expectation.

This kind of “talk--to-conclusion” (or to “talk to better questions”) is a milieu for thinking that I learned early and have been reminded of at important junctures in my life. The notion that I can expect to co-create with new and old colleagues is a form of collaboration that for me forms a basis for much of my work.

When I came to Bellagio in the fall of 2011 as a resident practitioner at the Rockefeller Center, I came with the expectation that the nascent ideas and objectives that I had about collaboration would develop here. I knew this was a place of incomparable beauty, offering the serenity to reflect and write. But it was not the setting (and certainly not the food) that was the creative catalyst.

Given past experiences, it should have come as no surprise that the conversations would be such a rich source of thinking about collaborations. At Bellagio there is a broad mix of people from countries as far apart as China, Denmark and Nicaragua; and from backgrounds as varied as ecologists, journalists and videographers. We meet for meals and presentations, for drinks before and after dinner, and for the occasional excursions into town in search of the cuisine of the region. Every week some of the group was leaving and new members arriving. One of my colleagues called it the “conveyor belt of Bellagio” the on-and-off overlap of our terms that relentlessly brought something new. I met people who I will count as colleagues and friends for years to come. The conversations with these brilliantly diverse people, not only improved my thinking, they changed the path of my work.

Accepting the letter that arrived from New York some sixteen months ago, I had the sense that I’d arrive to write all those threads left dangling in a busy world, to reflect in weeks what was often a minute here or there. To know the places and times I come alive, expecting a new horizon, a new vantage point and even disequilibrium brought about by the give and take, the push and pull of a dozen points of view the people who come together in one place—even unwittingly— can become partners in a collaboration to help create something new. To these Fellows, I dedicate these poems.




The following is a working edition of a chapbook of poems. The poems are dated as reminders to me about when they occurred. Expect changes as I edit. I welcome your comments. Please let me know which poems you feel are strongest, and which don't hold a candle to the rest (and need to be extinguished.) My sense is that there are perhaps 3 good poems for every 20 I write. Send comments to fairfieldreview at hpmd dot com (with a wink to the SPAMers :) --egh, 16 Sep 11

4-Oct-11 - Added 3 new poems (24-26) and picked some favorites.
5-Oct-11 - Added 2 new poems (27, 28)
8-Oct-11 - Added 2 new poems (29, 30)
10-Oct-11 - Added 2 new poems (31, 32)
11-Oct-11 - Added the introduction and new favorites
24-Oct-11 - Made a few minor corrections based on reader feedback (thank you) to "From the Summit" (8) and "Morning Sip" (21)
17-Aug-13 -  Created a copy of the manuscript for easier reading and mobile support.

Favorites - the ones I still like in the morning are:

5. To the Heights of Serbelloni
8. From the Summit
14. Under the Wisdom Tree
15. Learning from Flies
18. A Book of Poetry
19. Long Shadows
23. Setting
24. After Reading Collin's "Roses" for the Third Time
26. Serenity
27. Smoke
29. Hydrofoil


First Days

Morning Poem (1)

I come to sit under an ancient cypress
that twists from the cork of its ground,
and in its way bursts
with a green effervescence
toward its heaven;
the stone bench beneath
is cool and damp and the breeze from the lake below,
so slight
it requires staring
at the new tips of uncut
shoots from the hedge
with new intent—
something this cypress
has done for many days
since the mason placed the iron rails
between the stone columns,
and the gardener
on his knees with trowel
in hand turned a twist of dirt
for just this opening.

16 Sep 11

Forgotten (2)

Having read from the backlit screen
For too long last night,
one connection leading to another,
One story recalling one more;
The morning alarm disturbs a dream unfinished,
Which I cannot remember now
Save there were three characters,
And I had only talked with two.
Now standing in the shower
With the row of shampoo bottles
We lined up on the tile sill,
I decide which one to use,
Step out of the shower
With a twist of towel
And realize in the mirror
I left the bottle unopened,
Like the third person in the dream ,
And in a haste for breakfast
The clock already chiming
halfway to close,
I imagine eggs and bacon
That may have been left behind
By those who woke much sooner.

16 Sep 11

Strangers (3)

Here in this place
I come as a stranger
with intent,
to dip into the warm waters
of conversations
That grow from why we're here
To hear pieces of the studies
Of which I know nothing,
But have read a quote in somewhere,
Enough to spread the wings ignorance
Like fly paper
Waiting for something
To stick.
But it is the stories that
Are the beads we string along a common thread
Where we don't know how this piece
Will come out,
But trust it will reach
A silver clasp.

16 Sep 11

Chiesa di San Giacomo (4)

On a wooden bench
thick with cedar slats
my back to the old stone wall
of Chiesa di San Giacomo,
the fountain barely trickles
in the piazza;
above green and gray shutters,
some open, some closed;
when the church bell bursts
as if played like a trumpet
to a count of three and one,
for a moment
the people clustered as grapes
around small tables along Via Roma
look up;
one lifts a glass of wine.

17 Sep 11
At the church at 3:30 PM

To the Heights of Serbelloni (5)

On the stairs
to Villa Serbelloni
one has the sense
of ever reaching,
of all the non-arrivals,
each turn
by yet a greater one,
so that one cannot
put down the pen
as if reaching the end
of the poem,
but rather writing first lines
again and again.

17 Sep 11

Climbing (original) (6)

The world
five inches
at a time
can be grasped—
but, oh,
there is always
another step

17 Sep 11

Climbing (as Haiku)

The world five inches (5)
at a time is grasped— but, oh, (7)
always one more step (5)

17 Sep 11

From a window (7)

Clouds catch in the creases
of the Como mountains
and hang like smoke
on the roofs of northern houses;
the summits hide
under hats of gray,
backlit by the sun,
trying valiantly to push through.
Such are the ideas
for today,
lost somewhere in the gray spaces
between a fog and clarity
of thought.

18 Sep 11

From the Summit (8)

I climb to the ruins
on the point of Bellagio
where the wind buffets
my coat as a sail.
Last night the cold front chased rains
and as the thin air chilled
it left a coat of snow
on the upper Alps—
a white shock of hair
on the horizon,
reminding of winter’s nearness.
Sitting on an old stone wall
I ache for the height
of depth;
I start to see
that what comes
after a climb of many steps
is the all-of-a-sudden
change in wind
and the front that blocks my view
blows through until the sun
once again teases
my eyes.

19 Sep 11 AM

Late Afternoon (9)

The late afternoon sun
caroms off the lake
in billiards of light;
the sycamore bumpers
just enough to angle rays
left and right
with the shifting breeze;
every edge in these random
cliffs and rounded crags
funnels each wave
of lake and cloud
as if they were going
“this way”,
to this end,
to the valley that flattens
to the plains of Piedmont
and then the sea.

19 Sep 11 PM
From bench one (again)


Middle Days

Gam-ma Duex (10)

Walking from the town
to the iron gate
before the hundred stairs,
we see an orange cat
like our gam-ma
sitting on the landing—
a deeper shade of rust,
with thicker fur
and wise green eyes,
he is younger—
yet when we stop
and meow as if to say hello
in cat-o-nese,
he rolls on his back
to show his soft underside,
yielding to the master
who has deigned
to stoop and pet his tufts of hair,
just as gam-ma does
a country away
in another time and place—
and I think about this openness
to whatever the encounter will bring,
this yielding to the measures and spaces
no matter which landing
sits before us,
which gate
has just swung open.

22 Sep 11

Ginger (11)

In our first summer
we discovered a small ginger plant
choked off from the sun
straining underneath the creeping blooms;
I remember clearing the growth around it,
and placing a plastic flower pot
whose bottom I removed
around the nascent plant
as wall to keep the world at bay—
here you will grow unimpeded, I thought.

Sitting on an old wall amid the ruins
at the apex of Serbelloni,
taking in the sun and shade
as I write,
I have the sense of ginger
with all that covers and intrudes,
held just enough away
the sweet essence
of a verdant pen
spills upon the page.

22 Sep 11

An Opening (12)

Here and there
hang tarnished chains
of varied links—
so the Villa window frames
with their small brass hooks
can be restrained
for their opening—
and as the evening wind
there can be no sudden shut
that rattles brain and glass,
but a holding open,
an allowance,
an invitation;
that what blows in on the wings
of arms outstretched as shutters
and cannot be held at bay.

25 Sep 11

What is within a reach (13)

I remember an old friend
passing on the folklore
of the distance runner:
to run within your breath;
now years later, I stop
on this path of a hundred steps
to catch my breath.
Looking up at this group
of random cypress,
their tops seem out of reach;
yet just this morning
from the balcony
before my quick descent
into the rings of land and lake,
I could reach down my hand
and touch the crowns of blue
that hovered on their finger tips
and mine.

26 Sep 11

Under the Wisdom Tree (14)

Under the wisdom tree,
the statue of Pan is silent;
his flute ever poised upon his lips
as if waiting for the measure
when he comes in with first notes.

A fountain of three strings trembles,
gently plucking the pool beneath its feet;
and in the distance behind me,
the mid-morning sun pushes
over the mountain chop
and makes the lifting fog glow
a yellow-pink.

The lake shimmers
a silk veil in the breeze,
ferries make their way
from town to town,
leaving a streak of finger paint
to show their sending port,
on the hillside are dots of roofs
and bright stucco walls,
catching the upper rays of light.

Here under the ancient cypress,
two-note birds call from tree to tree,
and in this shock of abundant life
the air is chilled,
the bench damp with evening,
Nothing is the same.

27 Sep 11

Learning from the flies (15)

The flies have each picked
a pane of glass
on the tall window
of my room
and do what flies will do,
as if each strip of molded wood
were a fence
to mark their dance into the void
that keeps on pushing back.

Outside across the lake
lies Varenna,
bounded by clusters of pink houses
and yellow inns
under hats of orange tile;
a stream of cars and ferries
make their way to and from
its rising portals.

The flies move so slowly now
as if spent in the tracking
of the haze-clothed sun,
somewhere that’s oblivious,
just beyond a flies reach,
just beyond Varenna.

28 Sep 11

Each a fruit (16)

We go back to pick the swollen pears
that hang on branches bent
almost to the ground,
as dangling arms of sapiens,
knuckles brushing the plethora
of green weeds and grasses gone to seed.

The mosquitoes hover ankle high
and wait in silent pause
for a shorts-clad leg
to amble by.

Now another day,
the bites swell red
and seem to move about
when I rub the salve in circles
on parts behind, that bend to where
I cannot see.

28 Sep 11

Shower (17)

She showers in the corner—
not the corner of the salle de bain,
but the corner of the shower stall
with its staggered sliding doors of glass
and single spot light overhead,
recessed in a ceiling that seems a score away.

In this country of Da Vinci, one would think
someone would design
a showerhead that would rain
to where you wish,

to where she does not need
to stand on the tile border
back to the corner
so the warmth that is the morning call
can run across her shoulders

not in an act of withdrawing to some dark recess,
but adapting to all that’s different in this place

29 Sep 11

A book of poetry (18)

I read the poems
so briskly in the morning,
the pages flap in the turn
of wind;
I imagine a poet’s pen
scurrying to keep up,
no time for an ex
that takes out the word
just used, which doesn’t quite fit
at this turn in the poem;
no time for the dot on the eye
or even the ing at the end
of this begin.

What was he thinking
from this poem to the next,
perhaps over a cappuccino,
a long hot bath,
a walk with the dog
along the river mentioned
in this stanza coming up?

Late at night, with insomnia
dancing at the edges,
I read more slowly,
drifting down the deep river
to an inky sleep
and forget,

putting the bookmark
between the same pages,
so in the light of dawn
I may go back,
and gallop through its day.

29 Sep 11


Final Days

Long Shadows (19)

The long shadows
paint a beginning
and an end;
a sun pushes off the mountain crags
and dazzles the wakes of silent wind;
on this late September morn,
all the white flowers on the oleander tree
turn east with ears straining
for a word or wish;
this is a time to write something down,
while it’s fresh and new,
with letters floating across the page
in little wakes of silent wind
to find the end in the beginning,
to travel east to west.

30 Sep 11
At the cave chairs

Evening’s place (20)

The arms of the old wooden chair
left out since yesterday
carry the damp night air
to my arms that rest
in its gentle curves—
I am embraced
by the evening
that passed before
and rested here,
until I rose and came
to take its place.

30 Sep 11
At the cave chairs

A morning sip (21)

A butterfly is pumping nectar
from the oleander that has brewed
throughout the night—
a morning tea perhaps,
with a dash of honey
to lift the spirits
as it flits away.

30 Sep 11
At the cave chairs

A Child’s Table (22)

I come to the children’s table,
the name I’ve given the stone slab
with the low benches,
so that sitting with an open book
upon its top,
my chin is inches from my pen.
And I wonder about the gardener
who placed these moss-stained planks
of gravel and cement—
what was he remembering?
did he have an extra child’s bench
that needed a table home?
Or was this an invitation
to return to early years
when a sense of play and wonder
tumbled in the fresh cut grass,
imagining a tractor tilling
as it rode up and down
the rise and fall
of this verdant knoll
that looks upon the lake below,
toy boats leaving dazzling wakes
in the late day sun,
and if you make the sound
of engines whirling
with an avid brmmmm,
they skip along the top
of barely ripples
and fly to ports in foreign lands.

1 Oct 11

Setting (23)

I don’t think
I will ever tire of setting suns—
those little deaths
that come upon the lake
and splash with life
as toddlers in the shallows;
yea, they come with wings
that lift and soar
even in their ebbing—
oh to live
and like a light of burning amber
go out behind the silhouettes
of Alps
and name
upon the wind.

2 Oct 11

After Reading Collin's "Roses" for the Third Time (24)

I go back
to read the second stanza
for the third time,
wondering how it is
that my mind wandered
off the page again,
and I have no idea what I just read,
not even the last word.
Where exactly in the poem
was there a semaphore,
clicked down
to indicate the track change
to the local rail
where people are lining up
on the platform
anticipating the doors to open
when they get on
and I, again, get off.

4 Oct 11

To Chevrio (25)

We have not gotten very far
on the hike to Chevrio,
the small mountain village
with the trio of cell phone towers
to which we're homed;
and already I'm breathing hard,
the relentless path of old stone stairs
rising up to an elusive attic
with antenna on the roof.
At this early turn
from the basement gravel,
a spaniel behind a fence
that's laced with morning glories
in all their shocking blue
is huffing out his notes
of "you are here",
while I curse the landing
and grey stone floors

4 Oct 11

Serenity (26)

Above the wishbone of this alpine lake
when the wind is held
like a breath before the dive,
there is such a quiet
that the mountains in their distance
press upon you
and hold you clenched
within this openness--
a single speed boat throttles up
and races for Varenna,
a hidden train slows for its station,
one bird twitters twice;
then all are gone--
the sounds of sighs
as I write this down
are all my own.

4 Oct 11

Smoke (27)

There is something burning
beyond Pescallo
near the awnings of the nursery;
the white smoke hangs
in the cypress and evergreens
along the lake--
this is the fabric
of disrupting thought--
that somewhere in the midst
of a bucolic scene
with all its peaceful knowns,
there is a prophet
setting fire to some assumptions,
some thread that held the cloth
now unraveling
like leaves falling
from the autumn oak.

5 Oct 11

Beauty (28)

Two butterflies
who meet by chance
twirl as dancers
who for years have practiced
such a move,
in mid-air
without the ground
as if they've done this
all their fleeting lives.

5 Oct 11

Hydrofoil (29)

Just yesterday
a group of writers
was lamenting the brevity
of tweets,
the stunted notes
of modern
"look at that"
and "here I am."

skimming along the surface
of the lake
from Como to Tremezzo,
I fall asleep

and miss
the cliffs and towns
that anchor the mirror
of this body
which I'm told
is the deepest
part of Italy.

8 Oct 11

Confession (30)

Of all the artwork
in this Duomo
at the edge
of Alps and lakes,
I take pictures
of the ceiling,
the inside of this dome
that is an egg--
something waiting to get out.

Wandering from the altar
through confessionals
where pilgrims kneel
and the purple drape
is pulled aside,
I see the priest
nodding with each "si."

Then I notice
near the door
the stars of gold
between the arches
holding up this heaven.
Yes, I say,

8 Oct 11

The Light Has Changed (31)

Four weeks and we have traversed
the heavens from summer to fall;
today there is snow in the Alps,
the lower crags and cliffs
glow a cooler shade of white
as the sun comes up
and the shade of night
falls into the lake.
The light has changed
and I think in shades of grey and white,
the ash and manna
flake upon the page
and I brush them into words
before they melt.

9 Oct 11

Last Sunday (32)

After the sun
went the way of every end
and the moon hung high
above the southern leg
lounging toward Lecco,
every ripple
carries its knowing
to fade off
on the shore
where dots of light
call from distant lands—
soon we will be there
looking back.

9 Oct 11

© Copyright 2011, E.G. Happ and The Fairfield Review, Inc, All Rights Reserved

Poems In Transit

Poems in Transit

© Copyright 2012

E. G. Happ
Nyon, CH 1260

All Rights Reserved


We met briefly after church one day and did what poets often do. We talked about our writing. He had a dry spell and I was writing poems on trains and buses, commuting to work in Geneva. He had just finished a long battle with the New York college where he teaches and was drained; I was looking for a change of jobs and the poetry was therapy. What would I call a book of poems written while commuting, images flying by the window, awaiting the station of noticing, where thoughts get on and off? "In transit" he said. Yes, that will do nicely, and we agreed that life was train and bus, inherently transitory. Poets can do that, speak in metaphors and cut to the heart. Here are the sheaf of poems --from October to October to October, as the leaves that fall from trees also remind us of the life that comes and goes-- that came to be, somewhere along the path from Nyon to Petit Saconnex, and back again.

October 2012



The following is a working edition of a chapbook. The poems are dated as reminders to me about when they occurred. Expect changes as I edit. I welcome your comments. Please let me know which poems you feel are strongest, and which don't hold a candle to the rest (and need to be extinguished.) Send comments to fairfieldreview at hpmd dot com (with a wink to the SPAMers :) --egh, 20 Oct 12

20-Oct-12 - First draft of poems written while commuting and traveling.
17-Aug-13 -  Created a copy of the manuscript for easier reading and mobile support.

Favorites --the ones I am currently attached to-- are:

  1. Journey 
  2. Early Morning 
  3. Lights left on 
  4. Things Seen Twice 
  5. Morning Poem iv 
  6. Address book 
  7. The Appointment 
  8. Passing through 
  9. Cold Frame 
  10. Summer roll-out 
  11. Signature 
  12. When to write a poem 
  13. Waiting for the train 
  14. Periscope 
  15. Loss 
  16. Lyre 
  17. New thoughts 
  18. A Sheaf of Poems

In Transit 


He asks,
how do you journey into a poem?
do you pack for summer or winter?
is there a sign-post or a map—
perhaps a crossroad?
will we be counting steps 
at night
or driving in the rain?
I like how this billboard
appears out of nowhere
with its jingle of endings—
what's that about? 
we've had to slow down here,
pull to the side of the page,
while all these other words
go racing by 
as he looks up at clouds
sticking to the fingers
of an ancient oak,
she kisses his cheek,
and says, come, 
take my hand. 

22 Jan 12

Autumn Sun

Driving west on the Merritt
in the late afternoon
the sun washes everything
to silhouette,
the light dancing off
bits of chrome
and hatchback glass
like a jeweler's torch;
if it were not for the patch
of trees
between the Ridge Roads
yielding the vision of the shaded,
I would not see the burning
maples waving me
to exit here.

16 Oct 10

Morning Sun

The bus slices through
the morning sun
as the houses and shops
dice her hooded stare;
cars still asleep
in their blue-lined places
wait silently
fresh from the evening
the frost on their windows
glows silver 
backlit from gold
that passes here.

29 Oct 10


For the first snow in the valley
there is a dusting,
an airbrush touch of winter,
a dab of alpine blanc;
everything hums the same bar
in a morning etude,
the rows of gamay vines
are the strings,
the pines a row of trumpets,
winter cabbage timpanis,
willows winds,
even this silver frame
that rings the train window
is my companion,
has caught a bit of the manna
as if to hold it up to my mouth
and whisper "eat"

26 Nov 10


I remember his hands
reaching under the ball of roots,
finger nails ringed with the loose loam
as he lifted the mellow mums
from the hole he dug months ago.
Now with frost looming in the morning forecast
they need to be moved inside.
This void in the earth
where once there were leafy stalks
reaching to the heavens
calls out to me.
This vessel of fertile ground
where earthworms dangle
and a few fallen leaves
leave whispers in their wake
sings a song that tugs
at the roots of me,
reminding me that just yesterday
you boarded a plane for the east
toward where the sun sets
as I rise
and ache to be with you.

29 Nov 10

La Neige

The lights of the station
are dodging through the flakes
shifted from an unseen baker
perhaps thinking of a baguette 
or boule...
For now we are the cold table
and thoughts of a warm oven
giving rise to an aroma
that would lift a soul
through any storm
are somewhere else,
perhaps at the chocolatier
about to drop a dollop
of semi sweet truffle…

I am reminded
I have not yet eaten
and the train is late

30 Nov 10


Riding into an impressive sunset
the western ear-lobes of the Alps 
cast in a yellow-pink glow,
listening to the taps of a lingering sun,
Mount Blanc tres blanc
in the sights of a lingering sun;
and all this day-after winter beauty
is not as stunning
as it would be
if you were following 
the point of my finger,
I the capture of your eyes,
and the gush of wondering wind
as we say together, "look!"

2 Dec 10


At night 
the tall thin bamboo
sway in the stifling breeze,
waving me back to my room
where the cool breath of AC
fogging the glass 
perched on the bridge
of my nose,
taking me back
to a cold eve
on the other side
of the world,
just nights ago
when the bamboo
shivered stiffly
in the blowing snow;
and it is ever a wonder
how something as simple
as a gangly green stalk
takes me back 
to somewhere else
that I had forgotten
or lost in the every-day,
that now stands out
and shakes me like 
an outstretched hand.

4 Dec 10 from KL

A purple purse

She tells me of the purple purse
passed one-to-one
at the offertory,
something singular
amidst familiar words—
but hearing this,
my mind wanders
to silken altars
and a hue that glistens
even before
I run my tongue
across the pursed lips
and feel you arch
up in a gothic rise
as you begin 
to sing the two-notes
that begin the sacred
journey that will ever
be a mystery.

5 Dec 10

White bridge in a park where we are guests

"...our hearts are restless till they find rest in Thee" --St. Augustine, Confessions, Book 1, Chap 1

In the beauty of a foreign land
a simple bridge of whitest cloud
and an echo of a parasol above the two
who have paused in their journey
to look down to waters that flow
from east to west;
I am reminded that we
are strangers here, 
aching to be home
even as we rest in a familiar bed,
an arch above what passes by--
and as we watch and wait
a new home comes to us
with a belonging that can only be
the whitest gift,
and our ache becomes the greatest joy.

12 Dec 10

Morning Poem

I go through the door
and there above the fountain
raining light from a window
a star of a hundred crinkled eyes
watches me
shrug my knapsack
and fish for my gloves,
pushing back against the grey
morning and melting snow
the music of the water
gurgles in the stone white basin
under a trickle of sun
here on my street
on my path
at my door.

21 Dec 10 

Morning Poem ii

The sun slices
the finger lake
with a knife
of burnished brass,
as if to divide
this from that
like a fence
or a closed mind
that does not
argue with itself,
a peace that is fleeting
and disturbed
by waves
that cut the calm
as a storm
or a dawning

5 Jan 11


The lights parade by quickly,
a window at a time
to the left,
and slowly
in the glass
of the train door
arcing back;
so much depends
on where you look;
this lake-blue bag
in the reflection
from the strangers seat
across the aisle
is so luminous
it must be holding stars

6 Jan 11

On the Train to Genève

Vast tufts of fog
are lifting from the lake,
the morning sun
climbing over the Alps;
we hurtle through one
then another:
one town yawning in yellow,
the next squinting
in the mist;
reading this morning
a short bio of Doctorow,
I wonder how the story
will unfold,
the headlights of this
train lapping up the rails
to Genève,
and I,
facing the rear,
back to the wind
seeing what already
has gone by,
am full of hope.

7 Jan 11

Music on the other side

Two musicians are playing fervently
on the tram,
while I, standing on the platform,
glass doors closed between us
hear no sound
save the whoosh of the cars 
behind me
and the idling engines
of those stopped
like me
at the light
across the way.
An old man
with sunken cheeks
stares emptily
from the train-car,
oblivious to the music
that wraps him
as a swaddling cloth.

7 Jan 11

Early Morning

Before the light
has spilled over the rooftops
and through the frosted glass
the crows are at a beginning
or an ending--
it is hard to tell
in this darkness
that is passing,
in this dawning
that is knocking
once more on the drum
of my ear
like a lamentation for the night,
a calling for the sun.

12 Jan 11


A news paper,
pastry dunked,
drawn cigarette,
glowing phone—
each has hands
one after the other,
on the platform
for the morning train

13 Jan 11 

Missed Train

Running across
the street
before the light
bounding up
the stone stairs
to the train
whose doors
have just closed,
finger extended
to the point
of light
that flashed green
and then went out,
the car
lumbered slowly on
while I like a dock
swayed behind .

14 Jan 11


We leave before lunch
under a round blue sky,
jet trails
crossing it as etchings
in a crystal salad bowl;
the trio of chimes
on the regional to Brig
announce the stops:
Gland, Morges, Lausanne--
and then Montreux—
down the steps
after steps
to the Lake
where one
after another
photo continues
the poem

15 Jan 11

Passing by

The row of cars
next to Trembley Park
are covered in frost,
each a shadow,
dark in the slice
of sun that wraps
around them.

17 Jan 11
On the 3 bus, Geneva

Lights left on

Someone left the moon on
last night;
we stood at the bedroom window
and marveled at how bright
its fullness was,
the clouds from the snow squalls
lit up as linen under summer sun
were its unwitting curtains;
but now having pulled aside
the kitchen drape
before the coffee drips
its morning melody,
la lune stares
from the other side
of heaven
and I hear my father 
say to turn it out before
I leave the room.

21 Jan 11 


The wind is whipping to the west
with the fury of a front marching through
without regard for who stands shivering
in its wake;
were it not for the blatant blue sky
and sun pulling itself up over
the clouds wrapped around the mountain,
we would think this was a winter storm
standing with our backs to the gusts
we line up on the platform
like crows upon the wire
confused about why the trains
are stalled upon the tracks below

21 Jan 11
Waiting for the Nyon –Geneva train

Clarity of Night

Even the lesser stars
are out tonight--
those finer points
that reveal themselves
in the clarity of night--
"sleep on it"
my friend imparts,
it will be clear in the morning;
and "put a pad and pencil
next to the bed
so you won't forget,"
having etched it 
with a stroke of midnight
clear upon the bleach-white page;
I think I'll stand out here
in the cold buff of a January night
and hold my fingers still
in the ebony gloves
that keep me from finding
the edge of the page.

24 Jan 11

Commuting with Heaven in my Hand

Sometimes the connections
run together,
the green light at the corner,
the train pulling in
as I step onto the platform
and the bus waiting at its stop--
it flows as a current
one into another and another
and I in my inner-tube
of pen and paper
take it in
as it comes,
thankful for the rare moment
of startling grace

26 Jan 11


I read that Merton
died in the tub
fixing the fan,
as an experiment gone bad
or a sentence;
and yet doing the work
of mystics,
noting from where
the window blows
and to where it goes;
as the splash of water 
I imagine
when he fell
into the final awakening
that stops us cold. 

31 Jan 11

"In 1968, at age 53, [Merton] died by electrocution when he attempted to adjust an electrical fan while stepping out of a shower. " --Dr. Mardy

Things Seen Twice

An early day frost
on an early spring day
is a tease,
a "not yet";
the sun winks
between still sleeping trees
under a crisp blue sky,
fog puffing from my mouth
as I walk briskly by,
taps me on the cheek
and says:
there are parallel universes:
this one in which I walk
and the other 
I imagine walks with me.

9 Feb 11 


The wall clock is learning to dance:
one-two, one-two;
the full moon trips through the low
clouds over the lake,
and the walk-light hobbles off and on—
so much for the smooth passing of time;
I feel its constant stutter 
as a hur-r-r-ry up
there is work to do
and it’s not what's tugging
at my finger tips. 

17 Feb 11

A Dose of Frost

Frost on the railroad ties
have a rhythm,
a dose of cold at a time;
I prefer those icy places
in my life
where upending is a step away
with wild greens--
a chilled salad, if you will;
and a rain forest or two,
with lions and tigers and bears,
oh my!--
even if poking up through grey rocks
like crocuses on the hillside
not yet lime 

18 Feb 11
Waiting for the 8:50 train from Nyon

Listening to the news from trees

The chorus rises each day,
new voices fresh from the south
gather on still bare branches
and sing with an excitement
not heard for a season,
becoming the great comma
in our melting.

18 Feb 11

Morning Poem iii

It is snowing lightly
on this promenade
of gray street lamps of threes,
in front of shops not yet awake;
a few passersby
wrapped in scarves
and woolen hats
are not quite to where
they are going;
the snow dissolves
before it touches the cobblestones
that crunch under my steps,
the salt and sand lingering
from the last time;
I think of these elements
as I arrive
at the next hotel
and I want you to know
the door opened
as I reached for it. 

1 Mar 11
Budapest, Hungary

Morning Poem iv

Four days before the bell
of spring
light rain barely makes
opening the umbrella
worth the extra hand; 
I wheel the luggage to the train
and climb the short steps
lugging and balancing
bag and backpack and the canvas gardener's bag
you packed with lunch and snacks;
on any other winter day
this would be a grey and gloomy ride,
but there are things opening up
on every side,
and this field we just hurtled by
glows with a fresh coat of green
as if the artist were up all night
broad brush in hand
an endless bucket of verdant oils
at his knees,
highlighting with determined strokes
what I would otherwise miss. 

17 Mar 11
On the train to Zurich

Morning Poem v

I am traveling past the vineyards,
the pruned and twisted trunks still bare,
belie the emerald grass
that is out in front by days;
and I remember walking with you
along the gravel path among the rows
of sycamore trees, trimmed
to the shoulders before the winter frost,
now at attention in wait for a sign
that this yearning like a candelabra
aches for the match;
it could be a day
in a summer twice before
when I would wake to the tiny light
hinting on my phone
and I'd search as we did just yesterday
for the tips of green
among the black and white
of letters on the page.

27 Mar 11
On the way to the airport, Geneva

Low White Clouds

They've gathered around the green mountain,
a wisp of a necklace,
like I remember near the western bay
in February
when the rains broke
and the late light
touched up the darker clouds
that had moved on,
and I take all this in
from a train that lumbers east
past lime-leafed trees
and fields rowed with
straggled vines of new antenna
and I wonder whether all this verdant
sees the traveler whisking by.

29 Apr 11

Address book

Seated on the roundabout bench
with the tree shading the indoor perch,
an old man leafs through an address book
a page at a time,
as if studying all the faces
called up by the names and numbers
written there--
some in blue, some black, some grey
with smudges where some digits
were erased and the new penciled in.
And I am in the traffic
eddying around his island clump of stones,
passing before his eyes
and behind his shoulders arced
over his hand that has paused. 

3 May 11

Morning Prayer

Silent in the last seat on the train,
alone in a two by two, sits a priest
or pastor--we cannot tell;
and he is staring into nothing,
with a set and dour expression
devoid of joy,
nary a whistle,
not even the motion of an eye.
Perhaps he is in prayer,
or pain;
we cannot tell,
perhaps should not tell;
and yet 
how the large silver cross
around his neck
catches the light
dances on its chain
sings for a word.

9 May 11


Digging deep into my pocket,
searching for my memory stick,
I confirm what others have said:
there is always more in my pockets
than meets the eye;
it makes for delays at airport screenings
and fumbling for the key
to unlock the door at night.
I touch each item 
with the blindness of a new born mouse
burrowing into the familiar,
looking for the one sense 
that will bring the source I seek;
but I do not find it.
Taking out the wallet and the pocket knife
I whittle down the options
until the silver curve of its hinge
and dangling broken chain
on my fingertips
bring the "aha" I've found you!

10 May 11

The Appointment

The train drifts into the station;
it is painfully slow today,
the large iron wheels squeal
as the brakes are applied
by the careful engineer
with the reflective sunglasses;
one by one the cars ease by,
passengers in prayer to whatever befalls their laps;
it is not their stop.
and on a day like any other day
I get on
and wait for the pull
of the large red engine,
the engineer's hand nudging the throttle

26 May 11


is about knowing
where to stand.
This train slips into its place;
the doors to the empty car
open at the red mark on the platform
and this car after its journey
stops at the stairway
to the bus
that waits for only seconds;
and if by chance
there is a seat free
at the front of the #3
getting off at the chosen stop
allows crossing the street
before it pulls away.
All these minutes string together
adding to a start of day
when the office staff
expect my walking through
the door
from one world to the next
each day a little death,
[each day a new beginning.] ?

1 Jun 11


When I first see the old man
seated on the other side of the bus,
I think he has a scooter,
three wheels, folded up--

I imagine all the wheels-to-go
in our travel through this galaxy,
the many under this aging bus,
the bicycles I dodged
outside the station,
The cars parked as wings along the avenue--
All rest on tires wrapped around a core;
the scooter twins
race past our windowed doors,
the skateboards that have moments
of sudden flight, 
the wheels and cables that carry
the gondola aloft,
even the gray ones
on this gents folded walker,

But what stops me in my tracks
are the ones on the gears of the plane
that will touch down
as you arrive

3 Jun 11

Morning Sounds

The electric bus
moves with a whir and a whine
like the small mixer 
before it dips into the bowl of nuts;
at each stop
it sounds as if the plug was pulled.
the softer whoosh of the AC
enters overhead;
the hills create another sound,
something like a muffled two-tone siren
and at the top, the air brakes exhale
before it moves on--

all the time I am transported back,
and oh, how I long for you to stir--
the morning sounds,
with eyes still closed,
reach out for a morning kiss.

6 Jun 11


In a letter to a friend
I note how impatience has changed
with the flapjack flip of the decades;
I was so impatient for success,
independence, the finer things,
a kiss,
buttons popping like corks,
writing with possessed fury,
aching for inspiration.

And now
I am impatient with all the things
that do not matter,
endless meetings of recitation
the rows and columns
of made up numbers,
the little fears of making budget,
and the performance review

Give me passion,
time to think,
raucous conversation,
vignettes of silence,
a sip of wine,
a phrase of touch,
and the notice
of the board that tells me
your plane has arrived.

8 Jun 11 


There are little lights
on the side of the hills
rising from the lake,
and through the morning mist
they catch the sun
and send it back
with a calling:
“there are windows here”

4 Jul 11


In the morning
there are small clumps
of dirt everywhere,
as if horses clomped their shoes
on the walkways
at midnight
before retiring to the barn;
even the platform
at the station
is spotted with telltale traces;
there is a field
pocked with shoe-prints
as if a quarry;
after the concert
rang its final note,
the caravan passed
this way,
and as prophets,
left small tracks
of an earthy song.

21 Jul 11

Morning Poem vi

Lone red engine sneaks through the station
on the far track,
before the express squeals
between us, 
then another,
each in its own way telling me 
that distance is relative 
to the breeze in its wake 
that turns my neck,
a soft pant of morning air
as if you were here 
on the near side of the bed,
and slowly roused,
we leave this station 
of sleep 
coupled at the lips. 

16 Aug 11

Morning Fog

Heavy eyes in the morning sun squint, 
the haze lay heavy in the lake, 
coddled in the Jura and Saleve;
what is awakening is slow,
before the second cup of coffee,
the fog lifting,
shaken out,
rolled up 
as if sleep can be shelved,
clarity willed,
love called to your side 
out of thin air,
across oceans
and time itself.
I will sleep more tonight,
more in its gift 
that comes rolling in
when it will. 

17 Aug 11

Passing through 

The announcement comes seconds before 
the Lausanne express 
rockets through the local station,
it's red and white sleek skin 
blurs by with fleeting weight,
its double-decker coaches 
holding the morning passengers
set on their ticket's destination--
we see none of them 
in the blink of passage; 
if there was a child at the window waving,
I can only imagine
if she sees the blue in my eyes

18 Aug 11

Summer Storm

You can feel it approaching,
the storm in the distance,
wind's breath picking up,
articles tossed about,
the dimming
of the lights, 
the urgent whispers...
the accelerating of time,
rushing over the cliff,
the drawn out moan 
around the trees bending, 
the drops of rain on the forehead,
and the flash of light,
the rumble in the loins,
the coming of the deluge, 
the steam rising from the streets.

22 Aug 11

Out of the Fog

This morning
Lac Leman
is a cappuccino--
its top 
a frothy milk
as if it's been poured
from heaven
and settled in between 
the Alps and the Jura
waiting for a sip of sun
to dispel 
its cloud 
of knowing

12 Oct 11

Out of the Fog ii

It is a grey morning
as the green express
races west along the lake--
this is the season
when Mother Nature
takes down the comforters
left on the upper shelf,
shakes them out
and covers the cooling waters--
I remember a pet hamster
under the sheet, a fleeting lump
searching for the edge of the bed
when it poked its nose out
into the morning sun
just beginning to camber
over the curtain--
my train pulls into the station
a lump at the end of a journey
I imagine I will feel even
when you come to open
the door

16 Oct 11 


Hurtling to Manhattan—
there is no other word
for the roller coaster
of a New York yellow taxi—
no one yields;
a merge is a jostling,
everyone in the funnel
of a narrowing to the tunnel.
This is what happens to time
when we start with the end
in mind,
no opening up,
no yielding
or running the roller coaster
in slow motion in reverse,
an un-hurtling
that jostles the mind.

19 Oct 11

On what saps my energy

On the 3 bus 
on a Monday morning
I can hear the sucking sound 
of the milking machines
before I arrive;
we learned in Gruyeres
that the wildflowers
on which the cows feast daily
provide the distinctive flavor
of the cheese,
that ageing concentrates and hardens;
yet the milk here has turned
and the cows have lost their way;
the floor is covered with a dozen hoses, 
all sucking the air 
out of the room.

24 Oct 11

The pull of fall

The workers
in the bright fluorescent green
and red jumpsuits
are competing with the leaves
they rake over curbs
and walkways—
fallen and swept away,
the evidence of turning
fades as quickly
as a flick of the wrist,
a wave of the arm,
leaves billowing to a pile
someone comes later
to pick up.

31 Oct 11

What would have been

Eight open cars
of a slow freight train
are pulled into Nyon station
filled to peaks
with sugar beets.
I take out my camera
as the morning train to Lausanne
pulls in between us
and all the sweet promises
that wait,
slip away

2 Nov 11

Morning Poem vii 

In the early fog
a tall legged crane 
with white rim glasses 
is standing on the balustrade 
along the country road 
watching the morning rush 
without a turn or blink 
as if we are fish swimming by 
with eyes gleaming 
and he is coiled 
in the wait .

3 Nov 11


I pass by the chocolate shop 
on Grand Pre 
and wonder how long 
it can survive 
in a world where cutting 
appears to be the only creative act 
that's how Americans
now look at the world: 
what can we do without,
as if the editor in us 
chops words here and there 
until only punctuation
and we ache among 
these breadcrumbs
for meaning, 
for hope 

22 Nov 11

Patisserie a la Gare

She has reached the head of the line 
and now faced with the hundred morning choices 
at the glass counter of this patisserie
she leans back and surveys the plenty,
points and asks about this one 
and that;
what is simple 
becomes complex,
rich with possibility
she says,
"I will take that one"

1 Dec 11


I skim through the book of poems
looking for a line that catches the smooth
stone of my eye
as the water grabs the edge of a flat stone
skiffing across the lake top
which I in a crouch have thrown
this is not what these learned minds have sought—
a reader on the shore
a random wind
driving up a word
like a hungry fish
waiting for the flitting eye of a dragon fly
to pass low enough as pause 
it can be snatched to the belly of a poem
and taken down to the depths
where there is the digestion to a little death.

31 Jan 12

Nail in the Face

He announces the trick
to an audience
who’s been laughing;
holding an old oak-handle hammer
and a ten-penny nail,
the kind carpenters
drive into a row of two-by-fours
before hoisting up the wall—
you have to give him his due
as he tilts his head back
and bangs the nail 
into his right nostril.
and I wonder where this idea 
rose up like a bubble in his head
that he’s now likely burst,
as we look on gawking
with that kind of cringe
that says “why?”
just before he takes his bow.

4 Feb 12


"It is the star to every wandering bark" Shakespeare, Sonnet 116

She is a sower of wishes
With a wand for a hoe
A star for its blade
And this air of magic,
Something out of a Disney
With a bit of bippity. bobbity boo,
and pumpkins become something that transport,
Like the soup she whisked out of found items in the fridge;
There is such a creative act,
Not in what she does
As much as who she is becoming;
That is a magic
I never tire of tasting.

14 Feb 12
For Shirley on Valentine’s Day

Cold Frame

I remember the long planks
of grayed wood
and the old windows that lay
on the weathered frame;
those were the early boxes of spring
where seeds were sown
before the last frost
by my grandfather,
long gone to his own frame
in this earth,
walking the rows,
lifting the windows like a god,
checking for the tinge of life,
calling the dormant
to rise again.

18 Feb 12

Wind chime

The wind chime wags
it's steely fingers
from somewhere above
this narrow street
where I have turned
to walk another path
to the bus that waits--
and I am gathered in,
feet planted,
head tilted back,
eyes up the facade
to where it shimmers
in the morning light.

20 Feb 12

From the train, while pausing at Coppet Station

The field has been stripped
of its eggshell bed sheets
by a sun that climbs over the alps
earlier each week
and now on the mattress of earth
there is a hint
of a raucous green
that is always at the beginning
and yearned for ever since. 

21 Feb 12


He waves his hand above his head,
breaks the beam
that opens the door
and walks through.
Out on the street
a troubled women
in a crumpled grey coat
raises her hand
and makes her plea en Français;
he does not understand,
she waves it off,
tries English;
He's heard the lines before.
She's lost her ticket,
needs help getting home,
"Could you spare some change?"
He reaches into his pocket,
comes up empty,
She is polite
waves goodbye;
the door whisks close.

1 Mar 12

The Tenor

The Italian tenor past his prime
stood next to the conductor
and with a wave of arm outstretched
strained to put
the accumulation
of his weight
to push the tenor's note,
wiping the sweat from his face
between each measure
with a large white handkerchief
waving a truce with the years
once ago
I was a bamboo
of boy, cool and quick
to wave with the wind;
now I am the man
who blots his face
arriving late for the morning train
and squints to see
the conductor
coming down the aisle.

15 Apr 12

Morning Poem viii

Winter wakes up
and realizes spring
has taken over the food bowl;
there is howling with the wind;
one has his back up
with no letting go;
tulips bend and fold,
even the grass shrinks;
but I refuse to wear a coat;
in the ides of April
is the story
of a hope
that ever rises.

17 Apr 12

Morning Poem ix

I've started three poems
and none are finished,
each having a turn
on something seen,
that just passed by,
having altered my path
if just for another step.
and in each I wanted you
to see it with me,
to stop and gasp
another breath
to feel the warmth
or chill when something
tickles a spot on the back
of the neck or thigh.
in all there is an ache
that reminds me of a vase
that sits and speaks with me,
this vase that once held
a freshness of daffodils;
this vase that is you.

18 Apr 12 

Unfinished Poem 1

This became two poems....

I am reading about wimp verbs
while walking with progress
through the gate
and up the path
to work;
it is spring
and I should be idling,
owl-ing my neck,
stature-ing with the horse chestnut trees,
still lime green
with white stars of spores
about to nova,
catching passage
on the sunlight
politicking thru
the limbs
shaking their fingers
at me 
like an old witch.

18 Apr 12 

Unfinished Poem 2

A wing of a bird
graces the gateway path,
left behind
(I imagine)
by the large angora
who lives under
Annex II;
I am stunned
that this freedom, this flight
ripped from the very core
of what makes a bird a bird,
has fallen
before my uprightness
of step after step,
and I grieve.

18 Apr 12

Unfinished Poem 3

The spores are floating down
like jellyfish of the air
this sea of spring
that is rife with birth
flexes its fingers
of white against the hues
of green;
even the grey of the passing
cloud that unburdens itself
has a wail of one
that is coming into
this world,
one for which we hope.

16 Apr 12

Morning Poem x

I've started three poems
and none are finished,
each having a turn
on something seen,
that just passed by,
an has altered my path
if just for another step.

And in each I wanted you
to see it with me,
to stop and gasp
another breath
to feel the warmth
or chill when something
tickles a spot on the back
of the neck or thigh.

And in all there is an ache
that reminds me of a vase
that sits and lies with me
this vase that once held
a freshness of daffodils;
this vase that is you.

18 Apr 12 

Washing your hair

Washing your hair
in the morning
is a reading of history,
much of it is familiar
at least in its qualities,
and occasionally there's a bump
blemish and tender spot
that reminds us of something
encountered that didn't move
as much as us
and if vigorously shaken
the yolk inside
will separate and
we need to think hard
about what the connections
were before we did this;
but in the rinse
is a clarity
a smoothness
that is refreshing,
in a fog of little sleep
there is a new awakening.

29 Apr 12


I have time by the tail
and though I wring out
each wonder
that pulls me back
to what just was
so I can see a second time,
still it pulls
and with heels dug in
I pass the signs
that announce each destination
as if it was the last.

2 May 12 

Morning Poem xi

The trickle of eau potable
runs from a brass spout
as if there is no end;
there is no "off",
no tap;
like the Alps
that ever feed it,
it simply is.
and as I cup my hand
to catch its fresh coolness--
in this wasteful foolishness,
like a lover.
I imagine drinking
from the tree of knowledge.

15 May 12


In the early morning
those who walk toward me
have the sun on their faces,
as I study them--
a reflection;
some looking down
to this white granite pavement,
some looking up
radiant and squinting,
and others looking straight ahead
as if through me;
together, all have seen a burning bush
I cannot see;
but I have seen each face
as if a mirror

15 May 12

Two sides of spring

The snow on the Jura
recedes like a hairline,
a rolling back to move
on to a nascent season,
so unlike our human condition
where hair is left behind
in the reprise;
in some springs the snow lingers,
there are cold days in May,
but there is always a summer
to put it to rest
to usher the wild things

18 May 12

Idle Talents

Copper pots hung
on the peg-board
gleam in the morning sun
like idle talents;
there will be no simmering
in store windows
no trial mix of spices
and tasting 
until something new
wafts from the cauldron;
ah, but they shine
and catch the passing eye. 

18 May 12

Summer roll-out

Summer sneaks up
like a old Chevy full-size
on a slight hill
whose parking brake
has been released
and in neutral
with a idling driver
begins its drift backward
just enough
so its startled guide
stomps on the pedal
for an abrupt "wait!"
"I’m not in gear yet!"
the beaded sweat
on the brow
after racing thru spring
has not yet begun its slow roll
to the chin
and loosened collar.

26 Jun 12


Between the large
pale glass smooth tiles
of a washroom,
an author has left 
his name on the sliver
of grout that divides
tile from tile,
as if in the depth
of a book spine
holding page from page;
were it not for the date
appended neatly with its dashes,
I could have sworn
I heard someone whisper

8 Jul 12

When to write a poem

When the Regio Express
throttles through the farms
and vineyards thick
with nascent clumps of fruit,
from vacation
to the city
each row of bush and tree
even the corn,
anchored in its field
lean with
the midsummer puffs
of wind
and point this way;
for the return to what was vacated,
feeling the weight of the body
and the breathing
just before the waking,
just before the alarm.

16 Jul 12


On the morning train
after the summer solstice
the sun slices the car in two
and I am blinded;
I cup my hand around the phone
that has become my early paper
to create a fist of shade
that makes the text appear;
and I think that this
is what the writer does,
dims the light a bit
so the news that washes
past us like a river
stands up in the current,
hands crooked around its eyes
looking for us on the shore.

17 Jul 12

Evening Poem

There is that point
after the sun has set
when the blue-grey glow
before the night rolls overs
frames the rooftops 
and trees
as the silhouettes
they are
when we close our eyes

26 Jul 12

After the gardener

The side of the hill 
the bus ambles by
holds the fallen 
of the tall grass
left by a mower 
I imagine a gardener
gripping with long arms,
feet anchored in the rise
reaching out to the walk
below and gathering it back
into him,
a breathing out and in,
the dull blades whirring
and whacking all that stands
up, surrenders
and dares.
For the passer-by
there is a silence,
the tall blades 
of grass gone brown
laying intertwined,

31 Jul 12

Evening Poem ii

On our street
there is a pub
at the corner,
the laughter rises,
wheels of the bags
pulled from the Gare
chatter on the cobblestone;
and then there is the bend
in the lane,
this narrowing
where all the sounds
are squeezed
from the night
and the stars
wait patiently
for that look
that only comes
from stopping
and angling the chin
up as saint
and sinner
that makes every worry
a bit of pollen

6 Aug 12

Waiting for the train

People standing randomly
on the platform
hunched into papers
or phones, thumbs dancing
backs to the approaching train;
walking thru this forest
is not to see a single eye
in a sea of morning people,
no one speaking,
no one touching;
we are reluctant pilgrims
and the paycheck calls

9 Aug 12

Evening-morning poem

I pause at the turn
late in the new evening,
stare up waiting
for the fleeting flash
of the burning dust
from the tail of an ancient comet
brushing the night with hints
of its being,
the fingers thru my hair
as I tilt in hope
thankful that the night is clear.

In the morning, I pass
the shock of sunflowers
in the shadows
against an old stone wall
angling their necks
so their faces find
their echo somewhere
over the roofs;
it’s coming,
and they are expectant
like a star-gazer
in the dark.

14 Aug 12


Is this lone sunflower
just outside the shade
of a tree,
turning so slowly,
with the slog
of an August sun,
a periscope
on the deck of a silent ship
cruising below the grass,
a submarine crew of roots
and captain earthworms?
If you pause long enough
you can feel it move 
beneath your toes,
you can see the waves
and the ears of a cruiser cat
bob on the horizon.

14 Aug 12
For Holly and Ingrid


The jackhammers begin early
silencing the morning doves
they stutter into concrete
walls to make a new way,
a portal that was not there before
but now lets in the early sun
that comes up over
the east roofs
looking for an opening

15 Aug 12

Two Frogs

Two frogs floating
in the shallow pond
for the same piece of bread
bump noses
and miss the morsel
that sinks to where
gold fish start a feeding
and the frogs
watch in disbelief.

15 Aug 12
For Holly and Ingrid

Morning Poem xii

The cool mist peeks
around the shower curtain,
jitters in the early sunlight
radiating from the high window;
it will be another hot day
late in August
when hot days will
and mornings shimmer;
the drops beam down 
from a sun-flower shower-head
and I swear there are wisps
of steam rising from my head.

21 Aug 12

Evening Poem iii

Over the wall
and through the trees,
the sound of angels
floats between the cars
swimming toward home
in the waning sunlight
of a late summer afternoon.
Only when passing thru
the gate and looking
'cross the street
do I see the church,
doors open,
choir practicing 
the language of redemption
on this mid-week eve.

22 Aug 12


I lost a pen
on the train,
an umbrella,
a walking sticking,
charcoal gray beret;
somewhere gathered
in a loss bin I have not found yet
they keep each other company
while I hurtle on the morning express
leaving bits of myself behind
that I hope to pick up again
in the evening rush
a dwindling assemblage 
that fills my backpack
and pockets
that I cannot reach bottom
with my hands.

27 Aug 12

Morning delay

The flip-board turns over
a yellow "plus tard"
and we who huddle 
in the rain 
under black umbrellas
do the math
and type the news
with one hand
into phones to those
who wait
as we do
gaining idle time
for hope
and poetry

31 Aug 12


I stand up from my seat
in the middle of the train
and look back and forth
at the lines that have queued
as the doors are opened,
and they are the same size,
they move with the same slowness
of the morning before the coffee
so like a squirrel on the roadway
I lean left and right and left
before the commitment,
the position
and the vote;
then leave this busy transport
for the moving stairs
and buses waiting
for their destinations

31 Aug 12

Morning Poem xiii

The train is nearly empty today,
a scattering of commuters
who do not have a holiday;
young and at a silicon valley start-up,
we joked about bankers hours,
bank holidays,
and working thru lunch;
we bragged about first to arrive
and last to leave--
time had a redemptive taste;
but here in the bank capital 
of the old world
there are no bankers
riding with us;
even embassies are closed;
and the pride of youth
replaced with a sigh of envy.

6 Sep 12


I am captivated
by the video of the lyre bird
in the rain forest
and the sound of the chain saws
he has reproduced;
this could be a poem
about conservation,
and the threatened lyre,
but it is the sound 
of falling trees
to the left 
and to the right
that has me holding
my breath
feeling the heart jump
against its cage;
being the last tree standing,
whistling the warning
to those who stand behind.

15 Sep 12

Morning Poem xiv

Two white patches
simple white folds of cotton
hidden inside the waist
of an old pair of jeans
hold a stitch
in the palms of their hands
where frayed belts loops
pulled from their seats
have been re-anchored—
all this I notice
in a blink
while getting dressed
in the morning
and through a life of days
imagining your hands
pulling the threads.

22 Sep 12

New thoughts

Sometimes these wise
and jagged Alps
hold early clouds
in the hollows 
of their palms
new wisps of thought
that the sun will soon
burn away,
lift them 
into an obscure sky,
but for now
they edge across the rise
like thumb prints
to be studied
and given names
of criminals

26 Sep 12

Morning fragment

Our sunflower shower head
has soft nibs of gray
on a sky blue face,
each streams the morning down.

2 Oct 12

The dream about forgetting

Frozen before her high school locker,
the combination
having left for another day
white numbers 
on a black dial
march on with a turn
of the wrist
this one tuning knob 
standing between the one
who is always learning
and all the things 
that sit on hooks and shelves
from yesterday.

5 Oct 12


I am fascinated
by the names we give
to things that breathe
and hold their breath,
the little titles the bring them
to us in a portrait frame,
a day dream,
distraction positiva.

And what to make of a man
of letters,
the groups of twos or threes
tagging along after a signature?

I sometimes wonder if a poet
is an interior designer of letters,
arranging the furniture 
of what we've sensed in the core of things;

but when I received your morning letter
of the sights you saw from your window,
as I read a continent away,
I finally understood
and knew my name. 

10 Oct 12

Morning Poem xv

The fog is a drop cloth
east of the Puget Sound
and the silhouette of pines
are dark and quilled,
not yet with their telltale green;
a sunrise is starting up the band
of flight,
casting a faint glow of pink
between the trees.
This is the early morning,
something I often miss;
and all the aspirations of the day
are breathed in and out
with our own fogs
and shroud of hues
about to focus on the canvas

11 Oct 12

A Sheaf of Poems

He called it a sheaf of poems,
naming the gathering
that itself calls
into being
as surely as voice
in the darkness shouting
"let there be light!"

This portfolio of bits
is folded into the pocket
before stepping
from the train;
and pulled out
another morning
when sighting
something crying

for a name.

20 Oct 12

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