That’s The Way The World Goes Round



Virgil Would’ve Dug John Prine

I sit behind this bar of Oriental design

listening to clever lyrics of John Prine

about a guy with muscles in his head

that had never been used. Rather

than practice law, Virgil instead


labored eleven years on Aeneid

translating prose to poetry, then

beseeched Augustus to burn his imperfection—

the greatest work of literature

produced by Roman civilization.


I sit behind this bar tracing

koi fish and water lily

imagining Virgil in the 21st Century

lifting a line from John Prine

that’s the way the world goes round.




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Carnival Evening

Ekphrastic Poetry – A poet’s reaction to a work of art. Through the imaginative process the poet reflects on a painting or sculpture and narrates, free to amplify and expand its meaning.

From the InsideOut Lansdowne Poetry Walk hosted by the Lansdowne Free Library on October 8, 2017, and led by Leonard Gontarek, Philadelphia Poet Lauriate Finalist and author of six books of poetry.

Carnival Evening by Henri Rousseau
Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 11.55.29 AM

Carnival Evening

by Jim Brennan


Ivory yolk in a cast iron skillet

deafening as a Youngstown southbound,

an orchestra tunes a thousand violins

lone hyena cries in the wilderness

piercing silence like a scalpel.


Chalk sail on a black lake

boney fingers of the dead wake

poke through a sea of cotton

white light sears the naked eye

seduced by the solar eclipse.


Full moon stronger than gravity

billions of crystals scatter

like infants, like cherubs, like jesters

earth reincarnate

pristine, trackless.


Stardust explodes from a black hole

slits tissue like radiation

full moon shines blind

and a fading voice sings

Where Are the Clowns?



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“You never slow down, you never grow old.”

– Tom Petty, from Mary Jane’s Last Dance

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 4.15.50 PMTom Petty
October 20, 1950 – October 2, 2017

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Feast – A Tribute to W.S. Merwin

“When a poem is really finished, you can’t change anything. You can’t move words around. You can’t say, ‘In other words, you mean.’ No, that’s not it. There are no other words in which you mean it. This is it.” – W.S. Merwin


What runs through mind, Your Highness,

as you balance on a single stilt

stuck into the marsh like a spear,

S-shaped neck thrusting from battledress

as you waylay in the wetlands

before fanning your five-foot wingspan

and sweep above the treetops scanning

for prey under the surface 100 feet below.

You slice thin air with your orange bill

skim clear glass like a flat stone

jab your dagger under darkest blue

and soar back into the autumn sky

searching for the silent meadow

where you glide to a flawless landing

bow your glorious down

and feast like Royalty.

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Hiking on Two Feet

About forty miles from the Maryland state border in Pine Grove Furnace, PA sits a stone building built more than two hundred years ago as a grist mill that now houses the Appalachian Trail Museum. The museum is near the midway point of the Appalachian Trail and thru-hikers traditionally stop and celebrate by attempting to eat a half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting at the Pine Grove General Store.



Appalachian Trail Museum, Pine Grove Furnace, PA

Adventurers who follow the white blaze from Springer Mountain, GA to Mount Katahdin, ME earn the right to be called a thru-hiker of the Appalachian Trail. The white blazes are the white paint brush strokes that mark trees and boulders the entire 2,081 miles of the trail. In rare areas where the trail dissects a town, hikers have to canvas telephone poles, buildings, street signs, and even sidewalks for white blazes.



The White Blaze marking the Appalachian Trail

Midway marker on the Appalachian Trail. 1,090.5 miles north to Mount Katahdin, ME, and 1,090.5 miles south to Springer Mountain, GA.IMG_6127

Many thru-hikers consider Quarry Gap Shelter the nicest shelter on the Appalachian Trail.



Most shelters on the trail are rustic three-walled structures or lentos, sturdy buildings constructed of logs to protect travelers from the elements.



Trekking from Pine Grove Furnace to Maryland marked my first trek on the AT without my hiking partner Bella. I’d scattered her ashes from a couple of overlooks we regularly hiked to and during this hike I wrote Hiking With Two Feet to commemorate the many miles we’d put in together on the trail:

Hiking on Two Feet

haze lingers on the Susquehanna
hydrogen, oxygen and dreams

of timber hauled by horse-
drawn wagon a century ago

to construct shelter along
a mile-high ridge

rapids gurgle and flush
through leaves of maple

mist lifts your wet tongue
strokes my face, I wake

fasten my backpack
and follow your paw-less lead



Crossing the Pennsylvania-Maryland state line

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Mind of an Orchid

“After all, I don’t see why I am always asking for private, individual, selfish miracles when every year there are miracles like white dogwood.” – Anne Morrow Lindbergh


Mind of an Orchid

maybe it’s better she can’t speak

hanging there like a chandelier

above men with pumped chests

celebrating pedestrian achievements

splitting the atom and autonomous cars

the proliferation of apps, duh!

20 million years after a miracle

discovered in Miocene amber

the blossom of an orchid



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Naked-eye Eclipse at Militia Hill

“Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better.” – Studs Terkel

Going to watch the first total solar eclipse in nearly a century without protective glasses is like going to a concert without tickets and no scalpers show up, then learning that the party is in the parking lot. Militia Hill is typically quiet on a weekday, but on Eclipse Day 2017 the parking lot was full, the observation deck buzzing, and the lawn sprawled with people on blankets and beach chairs. Eclipse watchers shared their excitement, stories and solar glasses, and one ingenious gentleman fixed a piece of milk container plastic to his camera as an observation tool. Militia Hill may not have been the observatory in the Franklin Institute, but it was definitely more fun.

Eclipse Haiku

Wake 20/20
Naked-eye eclipse
Kaleidoscope dreams

For those who missed the eclipse because of lack of protective glasses, I offer as a public service the Seinfeld method for viewing the sun with the naked eye:

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