Thursday, June 18, 2015


Whatever possesses birches to undress
in the dead of winter, to stand
in the woods all solitary and come-hither,
their papery spice-colored layers wavering
in the wet, weighty breeze?

The peeling layers go on revealing
what's underneath until it seems
there are more layers than there is tree.
A tree half-peeled is no less a tree,
any underbark revealed is nearly healed.

Copyright Jean Monahan

Thursday, January 08, 2015

When Hell Freezes Over

When Hell freezes over we can walk on it,
clear to the other side.

For once, the waves are still,
the air clear of frost. 

We have no idea of future,
no hunger for the past.

At last we can see ourselves
inside the frozen glass.

Here, the eyes lined with forgiveness,
Here, the heart cracked open by love.

Here the dreams we did not have.
Here, faith. Here, the second chance.

Too soon the bonfire's built.
Flames lap heaven's gate.

Arm-in-arm we skate,
over the breaking ice.

From Believe It or Not

Monday, December 01, 2014

Search Party

A foreign tourist was reported missing in the volcanic canyon Eldgjá after she failed to return to her tour bus. She had changed her clothing during the stop and her fellow travelers did not recognize her; nor did she recognize the description of herself. She took part in the weekend-long search before realizing that she was the one “missing.” Iceland Review, 8.28.12

She went looking for the one who was missing.
The brightly weak afternoon light
panned all live and inanimate shapes
sieving finer and finer golds from deep red-browns.
She kept her head down
in case a key, a ring, an earring,
bronze moss rubbed wrong, the living nap
imprinted with a misstep.
She had so little to go on: a woman, young,
dark-haired, not from here.
All weekend they walked the old wounds
of the volcanic canyon.

If you must search for yourself
go missing in a place where fire and ice
carved battle scars in water and rock.
Venture up to the impassable place
where water falls.
Make no assumptions about who is lost.
Examine the terrain as if your life depended
on it: not the fissure, the molten,
but long-cooled evidence
of who we've loved and what we’ve seen,
the black glass, that mirror too dark to read.

The Believer  May 2013

Thursday, August 21, 2014

September 7 reading

Concord MA

Trinity Episcopal Church in Concord invites readers to its Sunday morning adult forum, Trinity’s adult education program, which will meet at 9 a.m.

Friday, August 01, 2014



Yes, it’s happened, again: We’re rich.
November’s cidered daylight
has brought the world into deep relief.
I can see the neighbor’s fence
plastered with yellowed sweet-potato-vine leaves,
unpicked Concord grapes
still plump on the vines.
Every changed leaf begins to glow
in the soft rain that’s started to fall --
apple yellow, old gold, orange, scarlet,
forsythia's surprising bright green --
even the crumpling ferns
standing in the side yard
sound a purple note.
You can't stop the great colors of change.
Right here, even now, the old world
makes way for
the new.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Tearing the Stars Apart

It starts with a twist of arm, such a small part
won't be missed, there are so many outstretched
arms, all arms and a mouth this holder on
of sand and rock, stronger than a tide. 

A yank and the starfish departs, leaving us
the opposite of empty-handed. The prize
for an almost-stolen embrace is a hand full of loss,
what can be replaced, or if not replaced, survived.