Sunday, April 30, 2017


I am grateful to live
In a Walmartless town,
Where neighbors still know
one another by name,
and stop in the street to talk,
and might know and give a damn
if you’re sick, or hurt,
or maybe just lonely.

Saturday, April 29, 2017 a happy place.

My priest surprised me last Tuesday,
  as I was digging in my garden
while the ground was still soft
after all the rains we'd had.
He brought a magazine to show me,
with an article about a poet we both love.
We sat with my wife and talked
about healing and poetry and short stories,
about Mary Oliver and Flannery O'Connor-
the sort of spiritual direction
even a doubter can use.
When he left, we stopped on the porch,
looked out over the town. "That is lovely,"
he said, "That is marvelous,"
as we stood together in that happy place
before he was gone.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Some days...

Some days, you can’t see far, maybe half-way down the block, but you know the bakery is still down there, and you know the way before you see it. When you get close, you can smell the bread.

Some days, you don’t see much past the page you’re writing, so you write that one, and by the time you’ve finished, the next one emerges. Today, on page 129, Marjorie is writing a story, Schroeder is making an omelet. Ray is in Arizona, talking to Mattie at Standing Stone Gallery. Jane McCarson just fell down a well. It sounds worse than it is, probably saved her from a worse fate.

No telling where we’ll all be tomorrow. Life goes on, and if we’re lucky, takes us with it. Meanwhile, here we are. We could do a lot worse.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Earth poet...

My cousin in Bowdoinham (that other Henry Mitchell writer) who visited us in Tsaludiyi a couple of weeks back, sent us this splendid book of poems by Gary Lawless. Lean and clean, spare and sharp, muscular and musical, redolent and rooted. It will resonate with any youns who live close to the ground. Maybe when I grow up, I might learn to write poems like that.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Look and see...

It is impossible to accept that climate shift is a myth when every time I walk out into an April day, I see things flowering on the mountain four or five weeks ahead of their bloom-time when I first lived here forty years ago. I'm not a scientist, but I have eyes to see with.

People swallow the anti-earth propaganda of the Trumpites because, inexplicably, they find it easier to believe the Fox News app on their i-phone than the testimony of the planet that sustains them.

That's what happens when you don't pay attention to your life.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A real treat...

When I forage in the kitchen, I really should wear my glasses.

ME: "Those little cookies your cousin Gail brought us are really good, spicy, crunchy, not too sweet like most cookies."

JANE ELLA: "Those are dog treats, for Simon."

Monday, April 24, 2017


Clarence takes his regular morning walk through the neighborhood, meets an old friend he doesn't recognize...

Rain has chased me out of the garden as many days as not over the past week, given me excuse and time to start more short stories. When I have about a dozen, I'll let them sprout and go back and grow them out. It's like starting seed for transplant. They'll know when they're ready.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

...a cherished notion.

When I was young, I cherished a notion that by the time I was this old, I would be a lot more dangerous than I am. But I turned out as harmless as the day.

Every day, I write a little bit, tend my garden, walk with my dog, complain to my wife, gossip with my friends. Either they all love me for it, or they are just good souls being merciful.

Whatever it is, I'll take all I can get.

Saturday, April 22, 2017


Every day shows to us a thousand faces, friends and flowers, creatures and curiosities, siblings and strangers.

If we stop to notice, and see, and listen, we can know them all,  and find more than a few to appreciate and admire.

Hate and animosity are immediately apparent to an indifferent mind. Love requires intention, and attention, and time.


Friday, April 21, 2017


Driving a lot less these days; walking is safer for me and everybody along my way. And the more I walk, the less I want to drive.

Life on wheels is too loud and fast to see much beyond our intention to to get somewhere we are not. Traveling afoot, you don't move faster than you can see. The world deepens and expands. Adventures multiply. Everywhere you go, you get ambushed by quiet joys and small glories.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


Money is green, and the Atlantic in a storm. So are Granny Smith apples and fresh spinach. I've seen the sky glow green at dusk in winter. Then there is the woods' April Green. We only have it for a week or so, until it lifts in a morning mist and is changed into another green entirely.

Summer's green is lovely and rich, but April's green is delicate, tart, infinitely variable, and sublime.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017


Whenever we are frightened or discouraged by all the horrific nonsense going on in our country and our world, it might steady us to recall that these old mountains sheltering our wee place were greening in the spring eons before we ever came to them, and they will be greening still long after all of us are gone and forgot. People come and go, but the earth remains and the seasons roll on in their appointed order. The creeks rise and fall with the rains that come when they will, and the laurel blooms without our permission.

The first Word was not ours, and we will not have the last word, either. Our lives were never up to us, and that is reason enough to be glad in these interesting times.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Donnie and Frank...

Walking up Church Street on a recent Saturday night with my favorite brother-in-law, I tripped over an idea for a short story. I let it simmer in my head for a week until the next Saturday, during a hour's wait in Asheville, I started writing it down. The working title is Donnie and Frank. Donnie Brookshire opens the story with, "I never meant to hurt nobody. We was friends. The pistol was all I had on me so I shot him. Frank dying was up to God."

Monday, April 17, 2017

Seasonal routine...

Been writing in the summer office lately. Letting the novel rest for a couple of weeks while I work on some little stories. All my completed short story manuscripts are dancing in the dragon's mouth, i.e. submitted to editors. I need to have a couple in the chamber should I be obligated to fire off a round on short notice.

Yes, I can write better on my feet

Sunday, April 16, 2017 the wild corner.

After more than a year on the mountain, we thought our wee yard held no more surprises for us. Then one morning last week, we found these in "the wild corner" (Zone 5 to permaculturalists).

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Good advice...

My father and I never got along. I don't think he ever guessed how much we had in common. One day I told him I just didn't like him. He said, "If somebody doesn't like me, I consider that a serious flaw in their character."

It sounded like good advice at the time, and nothing has happened since to change my mind about it.

Friday, April 14, 2017


They greet us pilgrim strangers in their woods
And lift their guileless faces to the Light
And raise such blameless praises heavenward,
Would break us, tried we say their holy words.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


On Palm Sunday, we gathered here and shouted "Crucify him" and prayed for Donald Trump. James, our priest read to us poetry by Mary Oliver and told us, "Leave some room in your life for the unimaginable."

I'm good with that.