My daughter Kate is a senior at Wilson Hill Academy, an online school she’s attended since ninth grade. Once a year, Wilson Hill students and families attend an in-person event called LINK where they have field day competitions, awards ceremonies, and graduation. This week, we’ll be traveling to Colorado to attend LINK and my daughter’s graduation ceremony.

It’s common to hear people say graduates are about to “spread their wings” and fly off on their own for the first time. This made me think of a poem I wrote last year called “Sparrows.” In this poem, watching some birds leads me to reflect on the human condition along the lines of Jesus’s words in the Sermon on the Mount: “Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?  Can any of you add a single hour to his life by worrying?” (Matt. 6:26-27).

“Sparrows” is in my new book, Shadow and Memory, now available on Amazon.


Sparrows popcorn around
a parking lot,
sometimes pecking at bits
on the ground or
bow-twanging into the sky
on built-in fletching.

I am convinced there is no gravity,
only worry.

I want to be like the sparrows

and full of springs.

Shadow and Memory Now Available!

I’m pleased to say that my third book, Shadow and Memory, is now available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. This book represents an interesting juncture for me. As I explain in the book’s introduction, I’ve been in a season of leaving what is comfortable for me as writer: trying new poetic forms and reaching for language and imagery beyond what comes easily for me. I’m not always sure what I think of poems when I finish but I think I’m growing. That’s the main thing, I suppose.

I hope you’ll check out this new book. Like my other books, Shadow and Memory contains free verse and formal poems (i.e. sonnets, haiku, etc). Below is the title poem. It is my third villanelle, a tightly structured form of 19 lines. I find difficult forms really engaging; the limits of the form are like a box, and to fit in it I have to think outside of it….if that makes any sense 😉

Shadow and Memory

We live with shadows, vacancies
of definition, light, and hue,
where each thing casts its memory.

The slack and spreading hand of tree 
shade lies in the grass, still and mute.
We live with shadows, vacancies.

Rorschach-birds ripple over streets,
dominoed building shade lands askew,
and each thing casts its memory.

On the green sward of cemeteries,
graves cast their shapes like lots just strewn.
We live with shadows, vacancies.

As the late sun bleeds out and reels
on the horizon, it looks back to 
where each thing casts its memory.

Our silhouettes lie at our feet
and share our steps, however few. 
We live with shadows, vacancies,
where each thing casts its memory.


I’ve mentioned that odd thoughts stroll through my mind and into poems; or I get in a mood and write a quirky poem. Last weekend, as I was falling asleep, the first six or seven lines of the poem below jogged past. Then I couldn’t fall asleep (cue a sigh and throwing up my hands). When I write after being whisked through whimsey it doesn’t always make sense…and yet it does…and I’m not sure which is more worrisome 😉 But sometimes you just have to go with it and have fun 🤡👽🧟‍♂️


All week long I’m too tired to get up
and all weekend long I’m too awake to go to sleep
and all the rest of the time
I’m half awake or half asleep
or in between
eether and iither,
Eeyore and Igor,
a head-hung donkey, 
a mad-scientist’s slave,
both hunching beasts of burden,
so on a scale of
munching thistles to robbing graves
I’m undead 

The Rhythm of Shadows

Today, I set up the Kindle version of my third book, Shadow and Memory. As I’ve mentioned, I’m hoping to self-publish it this month or next. A proof of the paperback will arrive this week so that I can make a last check for errors. I am in the home stretch!

When putting together a new book of poems, I typically look at titles of poems that will be in the book, and use one I like for the book title. When selecting the title for my third book, the poem below was a contender. I guess either way, the word “shadow” was going to be in the title.

The Rhythm of Shadows

Shadows sprawl lightly
across yards and streets.

They won’t get up
‘til noon

and they’ll lie down again,
by and by,
before I’m home from work

where I often find myself 
looking at clock hands
and contemplating
the rhythm of shadows

at once moving and still,
trailing the sun’s
slow, wind-milling rays.


My third book, Shadow and Memory is almost ready to self-publish. One of the poems in it is entitled “Cityscapes.” It is a four-part poem that records my impressions of a city our family visited last fall.

Urban areas always make me think of Yeats’s poem “The Second Coming.” One of the lines says, “Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” The poem suggests this feeling of falling apart is because we are spiritually adrift, lost. This is how I always feel in cities—as if the unraveling of humanity is happening all around me. “Cityscapes” is essentially a set of scenes that express this feeling.

Below is part one of “Cityscapes.” If you like it, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Shadow and Memory when it comes out in the next few weeks!



Driving through the city,
the frayed edges
of our social fabric 
dangle everywhere:

a woman who’s a bramble 
of raspberry split ends
staggers behind a wire cart

a stringy looking guy
swiping at the air under a bridge
unravels into sentence fragments

people using cardboard signs
to pan for gold heartstrings 
hang around intersections

sidewalks evaporate garbage
wheels shred retread
and the whole scene starts to revolve

until the streets slither overhead
and skyscrapers are steel tatters
hanging in a starry void

A Clergyman Is as Useless as a Cat

At the end of 2022, a friend asked if I would like to read a book with him: Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton. I had read it about 20 years ago and loved it so I readily agreed.

Orthodoxy chronicles Chesterton’s return to the Catholic Church after wandering the wastes of intellectual modernism. Chesterton is a master of pithy quips and turns of phrases; Orthodoxy is full of both. His ability to say something that is at once whimsical and profound is unmatched. Often, I found myself shaking my head at the ridiculousness of an analogy only to find myself nodding as the truth of it dawned on me.

One such whimsical statement was, “A clergyman may be apparently as useless as a cat, but he is also as fascinating, for there must be some strange reason for his existence.” This inspired laughter and the cat poem below. Readers will find this poem in my third book, Shadow and Memory, which I plan to self-publish in May or June 2023. It will also be in the cat chapbook I hope to self-publish later this year or early next year.

A Clergyman Is as Useless as a Cat

A clergyman
is as useless as a cat.

He might not lay around all day
but he prays around all day.

He doesn’t claw your favorite chair;
he closets your favorite charity.

He might not chase string
but he strings chaste people
(well, mostly chaste people)
together in marriage.

We’re grateful he doesn’t shed
(except the occasional tear),
and that he keeps a collection box
instead of a litter box.

But we only marginally prefer
his cantorwauling
to caterwauling.

As it is next to godliness,
clergymen are concerned with cleanliness,
though without all the licking.

Clergymen stalk about
in soundless penny-loafers,
sometimes startling you from behind
or pouncing out of nowhere
if you try to slip out unnoticed
after church.

On balance,
it’s debatable how useful
a clergyman is.

Yet when he raises his hands to bless
or pauses to lean into the pulpit, 
when his soul and body 
are folded tightly together in prayer,
a hush can fall
like the moment a gift is unwrapped
and you are rapt in mystery—

God leaning down
to whisper a secret
just to you,
a secret you might tell

if the cat hadn’t
got your tongue.


Mozart’s Requiem is a deeply profound piece of music written for orchestra, choir, and vocal soloists. I have loved it since high school. A requiem is a Catholic funeral mass with different sections that help worshipers meditate on realities of the Christian faith related to death. Themes include eternal rest, God’s wrath, final judgment, and salvation through Jesus’s sacrifice. Mozart’s treatment of each section is breathtaking—at times restful, terrifying, poignant, and stunning in its beauty throughout.

This Requiem was commissioned by a man whose wife died. But according to Mozart’s wife, Constanze, Mozart began to believe he was writing it for himself at some point during its composition. Mozart did, in fact, die before finishing the Requiem. One of his pupils, Franz Sussmayr, brought the work to completion.

Recently, I’ve been listening to Mozart’s Requiem quite a bit. At one point, I decided to read the text of the mass, which I hadn’t done in a long time. As I was reading and listening, I thought I might write some poems based on the text. This wouldn’t be a translation or rehashing of the text but my poetic interaction with it.

Mozart’s Requiem has 14 sections, so when I’m done I’ll have 14 sections in my poem. This is an ambitious project but one I think I am up to (provided I don’t die before completing it, LOL). As I’ve noted before, I don’t read or write long poems as a rule. But I’m getting around this with my Requiem poem since it will be 14 short poems 😉

Below are two sections from Mozart’s Requiem I have finished poems for. To be clear, these aren’t my poems below, just samples from the text of the mass itself.

Introit: Requiem

Grant them eternal rest, Lord,
and let perpetual light shine on them.
You are praised, God, in Zion,
and homage will be paid to You in 
Hear my prayer,
to You all flesh will come.
Grant them eternal rest, Lord,
and let perpetual light shine on 

Rex Tremendae Majestatis

King of tremendous majesty,
who freely saves those worthy 
save me, source of mercy.

New Song

On Easter, Christians often greet each other with the exchange, “He is risen!” “He is risen, indeed!” This expresses our belief that Christ’s resurrection is a fact—a fact assuring us death is not the end of our story, individually or as a community.

“New Song” is a poem in my third book, Shadow and Memory, which I expect to self-publish in May or June this year. It is an abstract presentation of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, and celebrates the renewal He brought to everything. Happy Easter!

New Song

Stretched and
held taut

corkscrew-twisted until
song wrings out 

until blood drips into
the pool of the cosmos
with xylophonic tones
whose ripples 
surge into waves
that roll away 
like stones chased by
and angel-fire


a new song


Today marks the beginning of Passion Week, the time when Christians remember the days leading up to the death of Jesus on the cross and His resurrection after three days. “Passion” comes from a Greek word conveying the idea that one’s senses are pushed to their max—and even past. “Passion” can express any extreme experience—pleasure or pain. In the case of Passion Week, the agony of the cross—which pushed Jesus’s senses past their max—is what is meant.

The truth of Christ is not outwardly beautiful or polished. To embrace Christian belief is, in some sense, to embrace the cross of Christ and the death of Christ as our own (Luke 9:23). This is the narrow gate leading to life because only if we died with Him will we also live with Him (Matt. 7:13; 2 Tim. 2:11).

Below is a poem I wrote called “Artless.” It seemed a fitting poem to post at the head of Passion week; it attempts to capture something of Jesus’s cross and our participation in it. “Artless” will appear in my third book, Shadow and Memory, which I plan to self-publish in May or June 2023.


Truth is rough-hewn

To touch it is 
to feel the thousand barbs
of this splintered life
pierce your grasp

to feed yourself 
to crossbeams that bite down
and drag you through streets
graffitied with your blood

to beg the question
as rage-hammered spikes
punch chunks of your hands 
into the wood

Part of you
will always be in it

even when they take
you off of it

and put you in a grave
where you will finally
(they think)

Lawn Gone

Since I posted a poem about my daughter last week, I thought I’d post one about my son this week. Like last week’s poem, “Lawn Gone” captures my reflections about kids growing and reaching maturity.

Speaking of reaching maturity, I am excited to say my third book, Shadow and Memory is finished. Yesterday, I started the self-publishing process: designing the cover, writing an introduction, and converting the manuscript to book form. I am looking at an April or May release! “Lawn Gone” will be one of the poems in this new book.

Lawn Gone

My son plays in the backyard 
every day
and always in the same place;

he’s left a dog run
of dead grass and dirt
in that spot.

For years, I got after him about it,
trying to make him aware 
of his effect on the lawn. 

Then he turned 10 or 11,
and I quit.

Any victory would’ve been
pyrrhic at best.

when I see that bare patch,
I remember a child
is growing there.

the grass will fill in.

I won’t reseed.

Whenever I can,
I’ll visit what is left
of that empty place

until the grass 
covers it again.