John Ronan On Seamus Heaney’s “Digging”


A few days ago I read a glowing review of an Instagram poet, whose name I’ll not mention, which contrasted her writing to Seamus Heaney’s. In short, the reviewer complained that Heaney’s writing was too complicated, used too many words, and took too long to read. Yeah, I thought, but he never wasted one!

Needing an antidote to that vapid assessment, I found John Ronan’s essay on Heaney’s “Digging.” I feel much better now.

And here’s a recording of the poem.

Interview Up at The Quiet Letter

The Quiet Letter, a platform dedicated to contemporary literature, is based in India and operates from a small provincial town. Editor Pawan N. Hira recently interviewed me. The poetry world is indeed great and small, global and local.

Dobie’s Desk

Dobie’s Desk

Sitting at this desk, I wonder
whose words will emerge

from the stained wood,
its whorls and cracked surface

detailing a specific language
of the inert and precious.

Earlier I rapped the cistern
to verify water level,

and a week ago startled
a cottonmouth sunning its lengthy

self at the crossing. The door
just blew open, perhaps,

or a ghost wished to offer its
voice, neither malice

nor approval imbedded
in the gesture. History

shadows me despite my best
efforts. I walk, drink water,

write, think of friends left
behind or gone ahead,

reading between the grains
and dark spaces, looking for rain

in the blue, for light and benediction
and the secret poetry of furniture.

New Year


New Year

How transparent you’ve become:
even the leaves blow through

your pockets, and penitents
line up, awaiting the latest word.

Those who have, fear the most.
Each day collapses under its own

weight, rising again into the new.
Surgery brooks no illusions;

this house, too, will fail.
Owning little, I pour tea and wait.


“New Year” first appeared here on January 1, 2017.

Glass with Memory



Glass with Memory

When I remember you
glass comes to mind,
but nothing so transparent
as an unclothed thought

or warmth trickling in
through the pipes or
under the haze of
the second night’s sheet,

no two alike except
in appearance, but under
the lamp’s unconscious glare
I find warmth spreading

across the hard surface,
telling me all is
not lost, that smoothness
persists beyond our reflection.




“Glass with Memory” made its first appearance on the blog in February 2017, and was published in September in the anthology Texas’s Best Emerging Poets.


Originally published in 1987 in a short-lived publication called The Balcones Review, this is the opening of a longer work. Today, as I look out my window at that same tree, I hear the birds, no longer silent.




the wind is what
the stillness
desires to say
each instant
collapsing into itself
like a bud
to the seed

the birds in my tree
are silent
as echoes
before their brief
lives are

something thrashes
in the leaves
the feather
is not only what
it is

as the candle
is more
than flame
or a moment

to darkness

the question
is of clarity

I built a frame
but placed
nothing in it

the wind
blows through
quietly as if
between silences
there exists
only silence or

the familiar embrace




Scarecrow Remembers



Scarecrow Remembers

I recall nothing before my eyes captured
the horizon and the looped whorl of night’s
afterglow, the first crow-plumes
crossing from left to right, awakened to
everything but my history and what
preceded the morning. By midday
I had mastered the secret language of
corvids and learned to interpret the wind’s
folly. When the sun eased below the hills,
I divined the angle of declination and tilted
my head to true north, thinking this is my
calling, to point the way.
But how few
of us bottle our life’s cause to sip as
needed. Later my dark friends whispered
the truth, and we laughed among the
rustling stalks as I pointed the way
not to the Alhambra or even Wichita,
but to the choicest kernels. Placed here
for one purpose, another claimed me.
I am the future without past, the present
decaying, tomorrow’s joke, impermanent
and shadowed. I am anomaly, risen.


* * *

“Scarecrow Remembers” was first published at The High Window in December 2016.