Some people need a lens to see the world through. I’m one of them.

Without glass, everything is out of focus. Without the lens, memory fades.

This piece of magic will hold sight for you, and sound. It’s your eyes and your ears.

The editor will tell the story, weave together the memory as you saw it.

A new angle and everything is new.

Different light, different scene.

Without the lens, it’s all a blur.

Look through the lens, and see.

“The Earth is Art, The Photographer is only a Witness”
-Yann Arthus-Bertrand.


Meadow Pond

In a dip at the edge of the hayfield on the top of a hill
past the rippling grasses, thigh high
and the grasshoppers and katydids humming away this warm summer evening
past the open sky and distant hills
down into the side of this small prairie
is a pond.

Small pine trees planted around it in the shadows. Reaching rays of orange sunlight shifting through the trees, their leaves the dark green of deep summer. Night comes closer here on the cool Northwest side of the hill.

Silent slice of sky in the grass, still reflecting pool. Glass broken by the toes of waterbugs, skimming the surface, leaving ripples in their wake. On the far side of the pond, a fallen aspen reaches out over the water, half submerged, half child’s jungle gym. White and black bark, shimmering leaves in the slight breeze from uphill.

Deep woods beyond the manmade pool, beyond the cliff that supports its downhill side. Ancient hemlock. Darkness and shadows and nightfall, wood-pewee, pine boughs and needles over the soil.

Like the dragonflies, I hover by the water.

Only One Story

I’ve long been a proponent of cranking out words and upping your word count. That’s what writers do, right? Keep writing, and you’re bound to come up with something good among all those keystrokes.

This approach definitely works sometimes and for some writers, but there are other approaches too, and these can be refreshing. I was talking with a writer friend recently who reminded me that some writers have a limited number of stories inside them. Indeed, many authors like Harper Lee of To Kill a Mockingbird fame only published one book, and found success.

It was a relief to me to consider the idea that a writer has a limited number of stories to tell. After my first NaNoWriMo success, I’ve been disappointed with my other attempts partly because I see myself telling the same story all over again. But perhaps this isn’t a bad thing. Maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s because that one story is my story. Maybe it’s my only story. And that’s all right.

Lesson of the day: don’t force it. Sometimes, forcing a story or word count is helpful, but in the end, writing has to feel natural to read natural. You don’t need to write a billion words to be a successful writer, unless that’s your thing. Only one story told well, in a way that pleases you, is enough.




Candy for squirrels
oddly shaped rock
hope in a shell
tree in a century

the cap is a whistle
if you know how to do it

the bottom is a pinprick
when grasped too hard

together in great numbers
they’re natural ball bearings

just a seed
in need
of soil and sun


RedCrest Blackbird

A stiff tail of inky black feathers keeps this chicken-sized woodpecker upright on the ancient stump. Powerful jerks of its red-crested head send old bark pieces sailing down to earth, fifty feet below. Its pecking is slow and methodical. Its toes are reptile’s toes, clenched like a lizard on peeling bark. Its wings are jet black lined with cotton white. Its wingflaps are sudden and decisive, either extended in stroke or retracted mid flight. For such a large bird, its landings are elegant and graceful. A grown Pileated never misses its mark.

White fuzzy beard under its chin as this male looks over my head, aware of my presence, contemplating flight to greener pastures. He launches himself and glides with the slow heft of America’s largest surviving woodpecker. He flies into the gold morning sky, through single digit air with snow sparkles twinkling in it like magic, and alights on a willow a hundred feet away, only a silhouette.




Write it Out

When the clouds have gathered and the sun won’t shine
and the power’s gone
and thunder is rumbling
grab a pen
and write it out.

When everything sparkles with new fallen snow
a million diamonds
cleaner than stardust
grab a keyboard
and write it out.

When seagulls take off
with your hat
and your lunch
and your sandals
and your notepad
reconsider feeding the seagulls
grab some driftwood
and write it out.

When you have no pen
or paper
or keyboard
or sand and driftwood
go shopping
then write it out.


The Last Straw

There wasn’t anything special about it in particular. It was like many others of its kind, having a cylindrical shape with an accordion bend about four fifths of the way up its torso. This straw had green stripes longways down its pearly white sides. (Many of its kin had red.)

Yup. This was the last straw. I saw it only briefly, in somebody else’s fingers, surely destined for a long and illustrious career carrying liquid contents from cup to pleased consumer.

Alas, it was the last straw.