Widgets The Good Place (Michael L. Umphrey on gardening, teaching, and writing)

"Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice. - Benedict Spinoza."


Living in Montana
     from The Lit Window (CSU)

I have crossed lives I wanted
and left them like adolescence
to be here.
                        At sunset I leave home
and climb and stand silent, layers
of dark gathering ways I’ve not yet been.
A hunted animal,
                                I am still, my skin
listening. In twilight, barbed wire
              The only map of here
is far away, forgotten in some file
in the fluorescent office
of a coughing man.
                                      A sudden elk
below me crashes from timber and pauses,
knee-deep in meadow, then leaps
soundlessly away.
                                      Perhaps unafraid.
The sky darkens and I linger
between the stars and the safe sparkle
of valley yard lights. If I could
I’d charm the cosmos, instead
of standing stilled, outside
a circle of wagons.
                                      I practice
not wanting luck, longevity, fairness,
success—not wanting what I can’t decide.
I pause at who I am. What—like a cougar—
shifts and tenses in the night around.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey
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2009 Michael L. Umphrey

Teacher Evaluation
     From The Lit Window

I am saying that whatever Frost is talking about
he is also talking about something else--the place
where at any moment we might find ourselves
choosing among many things who we are.

Janet looks out the window. I remember the first time
her eyes opened to my showing, the pulse
when the words became poetry--delighted seeing
through pure shock. She smiles now

the smile friends share amid the crowded blunders
they also share. Craig looks at her then at me,
frowning, certain more has occurred
than he finds reason to believe.

I read another poem, throwing gentle hints that work
and don’t work like so many brilliant flies,
cast in the mist happening between cottonwoods
at the river’s edge in a quiet, transient dawn.

At the back of the room the principal is keeping track
of how often I pause and whether faces look up or down.
The truth is such an absolute code I cannot help him,
knowing all his data can never break it.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey
(0) CommentsPermalinkPrinter-FriendlyE-mail this page
2009 Michael L. Umphrey

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