Austria by Train (Poem)

Austria by Train

This train is clean and cool.
It rocks back and forth, reassuringly.
Calm lullaby, a soft day, the earth green
With the ashes of my ancestors.

A separate poem: the train is hot,
The mouths dry, so many bodies
Together packed
For transport. A separate poem:
Those who escaped, my friend’s
Grandmother giving birth in a plane
From Vienna to Shanghai.

How to separate? Politics slide back.
All that’s missing today is the moustache.
This train glides through pretty towns.
I write in English. All grows green
Over the German tongue.

(Originally published in Voices de la Luna, on 2/15/2018, Volume 10, Number 2)

Lost Fire (Poem)

Lost Fire

Have it your way:
And freeze it in the snow.

Classify, divide.
Or lump these words
Together on a slide.

Remove poetry to one side
So listening silence
Is nothing.
The nothing that is.

Nothing that is not there,
A hymn in the air.

Blown wind that winds
Through the double helix
Of our creation,
And back again.

No sound.

Don’t tell me.
Vibration without

A noiseless crackling.

(Originally Published in the Wallace Stevens Journal, Spring 2018)

Rising Up

I posted this today, in a slightly different form, on my company blog:

On Monday, my nine year old son’s school, the only non-profit school for highly-functioning autistic students in the North Bay, burned to the ground in the Northern California wildfires:

I consider myself extremely lucky to work from home as a remote worker, since my son literally has nowhere to go to school now. He is at home with me, and as I work, he does school work that I assign to him: math, science, art, and reading.

The air quality is very bad, so he cannot go outside to play. His afterschool program near our house is still open, and he has a few hours to play with his friends indoors there, at least. We hope that his school will be rebuilt, which will require funding and time, and that in the meantime, he will soon be provided with another adequate school placement.

For now, given what has happened with the wildfires throughout California, this is a teachable moment in our home, too. Since the company that I work for allows its employees volunteer hours, my son and I spent this morning purchasing needed supplies and bringing them to the Equine/Large Animal Evacuation Center at the Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo, CA. In addition to people, animals large and small have been displaced, injured, and even killed by the Northern California wildfires—and by the other recent wildfires and natural disasters throughout our country.

As we picked up the supplies for the horses and other large animals, the sun glowed eerily red in the sky. The sky grew whiter and whiter as we drove closer to the wildfire areas, offsetting the once golden hills, now scorched black.SELRES_4e6d9d4a-6ac9-44d9-b0b0-8f2743e48754


My son said, “The sky looks whiter than a blank canvas.”


The smoke and ash had turned the sky white, whiter than a blank canvas. Destruction can be that turning point—whiter than a blank canvas—where we rise up, create, and rebuild. As long as others rely on us, that is what we will do. Like the founder of my son’s school so poignantly put it, “we will rise up out of the ashes.” We will be the Phoenix, rising up to provide service to others, those who need it the most.