Poems That Trigger

    Outside reviewers, for the most part, have given favorable reviews of my poetry. They do, however, seem to see much more in it than I see. Once in awhile, though, I stand back a step or two and look at it with a somewhat objective view.

    I try to write simply in a straightforward manner, capturing images that trigger my imagination. Primarily, I write imagistic lyrics, relying on evocative details and metaphors that evolve as I work, and that give meaning to the poem.

    To me, a successful poem triggers a reader’s imagination or recollection and is jotted down in a journal in whatever form that suits the reader. And, sometime in the future, this note is incorporated into something larger.

For fuller discussions of my approach and of “The Commute” and “Sarabande,” see “Backstories” in Reimagine: Poems, 1993-2009. “From Rockport Bridge” is excerpted fromThree Views of the Skagit River” and was published in The Storytellers (SunPorch Productions, Bellingham, WA, 1994). I read the original poem for North Cascades NP Earth Day & National Park Week at the USNP interpretive center in Newhalem, WA, on April 20, 1998.

    Although these poems are very personal and can be read metaphorically, I hope that they trigger your reimagination.


        The Commute

During an early dawn commute
in the after-fog of a summer storm

north of Calgary

through a windshield blurred with road oil

I see tire skids in the gravel

plowing ruts to the brink of a ditch


a deer half-buried in turgid muck

belly up

neck twisted

one bulbous eye staring into cattails


I drive on

Calgary, Alta.; 2002






The sun rises in Seville,

echoes Lorca’s daybreak,

dances in orange parterres,


glints Faith’s smile

into barrio shadows,

the sultan’s chair,


and filigreed portico.

Little bees collect

honey on bitter orange


petals, drizzle

golden dew on

Andalusían tortes


and bittersweet preserves

on breakfast toast

of Oxford dons.


I look away and rest

my eyes on gold,

ochre, and snowy white.


Carmen pirouettes

from the “telly.”

Her sensuous notes

infuse me with


“Love is a bird,”

bitter oranges are sweet

when the tune is played

upon a blue guitar.

          Seville, Spain; 2000


Fom Rockport Bridge 


I stand on Rockport Bridge,

This sunlit winter day.

My eyes follow the Skagit

Past Washington Eddy

To Eldorado’s glistening ridge.


 For a fleeting moment, I see

Snowy ridges, glacial slopes,

Alpine lakes, and hanging valleys,

Traces of ice from eons ago.


Framed by cottonwoods and purple hills,

The road edging Mount Sauk

Scribes the river,

Gently washing pebbles

Beneath a winter sky.


Travelers pass me

In eagle search,
Skimming the view–:

A ferry barge,
A cedar canoe,

Our log cabin—

Artifacts of my youth.


These incidental visitors

Will never hear eagles call,

See black bear fish,
Trout rise to the fly,

Witness stars outshining the night—

All that I see from Rockport Bridge.

Rockport, Washington; 1994

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