Friday, August 31, 2012


On this last day of August and the (almost) unofficial end of Summer I send you this poem written on the last day of our stay in Union Pier, Michigan that Summer of the year 2000. 

Last Day

Blue jays on the porch!
A bright red cardinal lands
on the roof of the house
next door and sits there
in all his glory
fiery and masked.   
Finches flit
in and out of scrub brush,
all one witness of this holiness,
this natural world
we’re giving up soon.  Later, when
the stars fill the sky like distant
lights we’ll take our last walk
on the beach.  We’ll notice the moon
once again
sailing out above the black lake, above
the earth, among the constellations:
Orion, Cassiopeia, Centaur, yet,
unlike a whole priesthood of sky watchers
before us, we will not know
what we’re gazing at in that raw hole
shimmering, studded.  We’ll only grasp
the fortune of our short lived expedition
and lament our imminent loss.

Monday, August 20, 2012


This fall do something for yourself: take a class! You have a choice between writing or literature.  You have a choice between nonfiction or travel or fiction.  

1.  Creative writing workshop I
starting Wednesday, September 19th - 7 to 9 pm
meets every other week
8 sessions: $200.00

     This workshop focuses on narrative nonfiction including personal memoir and travel but all genres are welcomed.  Class includes writing exercises, discussion of writing techniques, critiques of participants' writing, and discussions of published works.  If you are interested, send me a message for more information.
(This group is filled now.)

2.  Creative writing workshop II
starting Wednesday, September 26th - 7 to 9 pm
meets every other week
8 sessions: $200.00

     This workshop focuses on narrative nonfiction including personal memoir and travel but all genres are welcomed.  Class includes writing exercises, discussion of writing techniques, critiques of participants' writing, and discussions of published works.

If you are interested, send me a message for more information or to register.

3.  See the World; Write the Story: Crafting the Travel Essay
starting Thursday, October 18 (class will not meet Nov. 22)
6 sessions: $170.00

The Newberry Library, 60 W. Walton, Chicago

    This workshop is ideal for travelers and writers. Whether you plan to publish your articles or not, and whether you travel to the other side of the globe or simply to another neighborhood in your city, this seminar will teach you the basic skills and secrets of a successful travel essay.  It may be taken more than once.

To register online go to:

4.  The Harlem Renaissance
starting Tuesday, October 2 
6 sessions: $380.00

The University of Chicago Graham School

The Harlem Renaissance was an intellectual flowering that fostered a new black cultural identity in the 1920a and 1930s.  Black media, jazz, art, and literature flourished.  Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, Zora Neale Hurston are some of the best known writers of the movement, but visual arts were also crucial in creating depictions of the "New Negro."  The white establishment became fascinated with the Harlem Renaissance, but for the artists themselves, acceptance by the white world was less important than, as Hughes put it, the "expression of our individual dark-skinnes selves."

To register online go to:

5.  Crafting Stories from Real Life: Creative nonfiction
Class will be offered online through Loyola University of Chicago's School of Continuing and Professional Studies.

Check their website for more information:

If you have any questions about any of these, feel free to contact me:  

Take a chance: register!


Monday, August 13, 2012

From the "Union Pier" poems:

Rainy Day

All morning the wind
shudders the windows, pushes
a curtain of water against
the glass.  Outside
each creature cowers
in its shelter.  Inside I
listen to the furious
lake and the death-cries
of the wind while words
    one by one
          across the lined pages of
my notebook, its blue covers
thick and velvet-soft.  There is
something desirable
about rain and
the solitude it brings.   The possibility
of hours of un-
interrupted reading; an entire day
devoted to shaping a poem, carving each word
out of the void or simply plucking one
out of the hundreds lined-up at attention
like good little tin soldiers in my brain.

the sky
spent of its passion, serene
after thunder, I walk
into town, a book under my arm,
wet grasses brushing
against my bare legs, crisp air
and vivid blue sky
all the creatures out
again -- 
a red-headed woodpecker
who dives noisily against
the dead high limbs
of a sycamore tree,
its curling bark exposing
the whitish-brown trunk;
a cedar waxwing, his cinnamon
crest darting
  in and out
            of a drenched thicket
of red mulberry leaves, quick
bursts to snack on flying
insects.  I
prefer a cup of coffee, a slice
of peach tart at the Pumpernickel Inn.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

From the "Union Pier" poems:

From the city

friends from the city
come to visit.  Proudly we
show them our beach, our birds,
the trees flanking the house, a canopy
of oaks and elms, pines and lilac bushes
in the backyard, the wildflowers in
the front.  We name each one: white
trillium, false solomon’s seal, dame’s
rocket.  They are impressed.  

Later, I chop onions, slice tomatoes, wash
green lettuce, shave carrots, their orange
shards gleaming in the royal blue
salad bowl.  The grill spews smoke 
and the smell of barbecued chicken
fills our nostrils, waters our mouths.  We 
gather around the faded wooden picnic 
table, sip cold beer, tell jokes, tell stories of
joy, of fear, of a shared past and a propitious
future, our lives held together somewhere
between our throats and our bones by
an invisible wire, pulling our breath, our words.

Hours later, the clouds, squeezing out  
light, turn pink and blue, turn dark.  When 
the sun has finally dipped into the lake, 
our friends return, 
we stay.

Friday, August 3, 2012



This morning’s task: to identify the trees
in the neighborhood.  Plucking a leaf
or picking up one off the ground I
observe closely its shape
  ovate or oblong
       its margins
  toothed or smooth
two or three lobed.  I gaze at the leaf and
skim the guide to find its match – back and
forth, back and forth:
is it a red mulberry or an American sycamore,
        a northern red oak or an American elm?  
Wandering the dirt paths in search
of natural knowledge can be a solitary
enterprise, unless you count the squirrels
and crows, the occasional possum, all
the birds.  I find this solitude addictive,
dangerously appealing, tempting me
to avoid human contact.  I force myself
to fight the seducer and find my way
to the intersection of Townline Road
and Red Arrow Highway, the only corner
in town that bristles with action:
the Country Kitchen, the Pumpernickel
Inn, LaDuke’s Ice Cream and Confections,
the grocery store, the bakery, the auto
repair shop.   The sun shines
hot and bright this morning.  It’s gonna
be a scorcher, the round lady in
the coffee-shop exclaims as I walk
in.  And I am grateful for her words.