Excerpts from the Black Basic Book Journal

I’ve used journals to record thoughts and work out poems, plays and others writings ever since high school. After one is full, I usually revisit it several months later and find little bits that hadn’t made it into a finished piece of writing, but still grab my attention. Not quite hidden gems, but shiny, interesting objects nonetheless. I type them up in the order found, and find myself with a list of writing prompts, images and bits of dialogue which almost always lead to several new writing pieces. Here are the excerpts from a journal of almost two decades ago, several of which have since found their way into poems as well as my travel memoir, Vagabond Song. Several are still waiting to find their poem. Let me know in the comments if any of them inspire a writing idea for you.


The first time I saw the ocean
was the first time the ocean saw me.
We were both surprised.

When I was a child
I pulled a flower from its stem
And after all these years
I’m still trying to put it back on.

They counted the years on crow feathers
Each generation a whole bird
flapping against the sun
calling rainclouds into being

We’re coming to a time
when schoolchildren use brown and grey crayons
instead of green and blue
to draw a picture of the earth

“Hey man, how’s it goin;?”
            “Ugh. Dyin’ a thousand deaths, man.”
“Well, you can’t get born without dyin’ first.”


All patriotism is fascism.

My day begins like a broken toy
or a bottle of rainwater
No one in this town has had a good idea for years

One hundred roosters
and not a single crow
that’s the kind of day it’s been

The mosquito bite on my ankle
is more real that God
but nobody writes psalms to an insect

I sold my soul
for a cut-rate epiphany
and now my hopes are sinking
like Ophelia

When you smile you change the weather.
But not always for the better.

All stories begin with a good pair of socks

Posted in poetry, Writing | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Birthday Poem 2019

The ospreys have returned
to their stick nest
by the ballpark

The light on the
snow/cloud shrouded Crazies
is miraculous

The river wants a canoe
The sleeping morels
sing quietly in their dreams

The crimson buds of the maple
are telling that same
old story once again

Posted in poetry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Birthday Poem 2018

Birthday Poem, 2018

Walking the ancient buffalo drive lines
rough dating the rows of rocks
by the presence or lack of lichen

At first we only hear the Sandhill Crane
A voice as prehistoric
as the greygreen-laced rocks

When it breaks from the brush
below us from where
the land slopes down to the creek

we freeze to watch
the power strokes of wing
that push the earth away

We feel ourselves descending
as the great bird rises
The earth becomes less in its departure

But we – a cousin who’s more a father
a friend who’s more a brother &
a poet turning 50 – become more

Posted in poetry | Tagged , , | Leave a comment