Cascading Home


I learned about this form of poetry, the Cascade, from Kat Myrman. With a three-line stanza, and capital letters representing repeated lines, the form is ABC deA fgB hiC. (I have also seen this done where the repeating line is the first line of the following stanzas rather than the last, now that I think of it.) Naturally, I chose a seven-line stanza because I am a bloody showoff. Don’t go there, people, or at least not without stretching out first.


Home is the place where you write your name

In the dust and it remains your name,

Your dust, your cat’s pawprints telling the tale

Of small peregrinations, domestic pilgrimages.

All the books are yours. You have read them all.

You make your way from room to room in the dark

And as day recedes, your bed embraces you.


In other places, you wander, a stranger

Unremarked and nameless, a cipher

To those you pass by, who do not think

To wonder about your loves and dislikes.

They have their own shopping lists of worries.

Out in the world, you are ever nameless.

Home is the place where you write your name.


The geography of naming is such that

Your name points the way back to your birth

Or rebirth. Tell me who you are and I will

Point you toward the river whose water runs

Through your veins, calling itself blood.

Drop your name down a well or toss it

In the dust and it remains your name.


The story of your life would require volumes

Or a skilled raconteur with a very long string

Tied end to end and woven into itself,

A cat’s cradle of intention, obstacle, outcome,

And the serendipities that every life engenders.

Come to the window. Trace out your tale in

Your dust, your cat’s pawprints telling the tale,


Which would include a heroic company of friends,

Sister travelers, the wise one, the warriors,

A ring to find, a cup to destroy, some evil

To overcome, and now and then a resting place

Like this homely place, a place to pause between

The small battles and the long weariness

Of small peregrinations, domestic pilgrimages.


Returning home to your bed, your armchair,

Your cat sleeping on all the notes you took

On your travels, you settle in almost as if

You had never left. But now you see it

Anew: You have chosen every picture that hangs

On the walls. You have sat in every chair.

All the books are yours. You have read them all.


All of it is as familiar as your own hands:

Small and compact peasant hands that belie

The spectacles and teeming brain, the sword

Hanging over the fireplace. You can lay your hand

On any book you want at a moment’s notice,

Predict the pattern of new spring leaves in the window.

You make your way from room to room in the dark.


At dawn, both sun and cat pat your face,

Clamoring for your attention. As the sun passes

Overhead, the light turns this way and that,

Caressing doors and bookcases, chairs and the cat

Who stretches out in the bright patch of carpet.

In the afternoon, he ambles over to welcome you back.

And as day recedes, your bed embraces you.


Art by Laura Wilder.

The Donuts of Our Discontent


So the other day my pal, HeyLookAWriterFellow, wrote about Unfortunate Donuts and even illustrated it amusingly (he is one of my favorite contemporary artists, along with Laura Wilder, Anita Munman and Berkeley Breathed). This got me thinking about Perfect Donuts that I have eaten (all two of them) and set me up for the 7-Eleven’s 50-cent donut deal yesterday morning, which led to the glazed donut I ate half of yesterday and am finishing today, because no one should eat that much sugar in one day if there is absolutely no chocolate in it.

One of the perfect donuts was a coconut-covered jelly stick. I ate it in Cranston, Rhode Island in about 2001 or 2002. The other was an all-too-brief Starbuck’s creation, a rectangular blueberry-raspberry jelly-filled perfect balance of starch, sweet and salty goodness. Naturally, after only about two months, they stopped making them. Probably the gods complained. They just HATE it when humans create something perfect.

How do you write

a poem about a donut

you ate a decade ago,

how do you recall

the texture on your tongue, the zip

of sugary goodness, delicate

balance of salt and sweet, the color of jam

moistly melting


And now I have no idea how to end this….

Illustration by Mike Allegra 2016.