Winter Fragments, 2018

Last winter, I would wake up, feed the dog, make some coffee and then sit on the couch for about an hour and look out the window at the snow and the cold. Here are a few unpolished poems that I wrote on those mornings.

I like winter running

when it’s cold
and clear and not
windy. Today it is cold and
icy and very windy and
I don’t like it.

W ind: blustery
I ce: abundant
N ight: interminable
T rees: bare
E veryone: miserable
R unning: impossible

Did you know that it’s easier to run on ice than to walk on it? Running outside in the winter has taught me this, although I’m not willing to prove this claim today.

W hat’s a thing I don’t like about winter?
I ce. It’s okay in a rink but
n ot on the sidewalk.
T errible! Hiding beneath the snow at the
e dge of the driveway
r ight where I least expect it.
s now is fine.

S now, I
l ike.
i t’s a nice decoration for the trees
p retty
p ure
e verything seems fresh
r enewed. but ice?
y uck! I despise the anxiety it generates. making me feel

s o vulnerable unable to avoid
i mpending
d oom—a sprained
e lbow or
w rist or
a nkle if I’m
l ucky, a displaced
k nee cap if I’m not
s o lucky.

snow-covered paths

snow-covered paths
come in many forms
there’s the light dry snow
like powder
barely there
soft silky slippery
it usually conceals
I look for the tell tale sign
of a extra long footprint
on the sidewalk—
someone has slid here
their heel traveling
quickly across the concrete
I hope they didn’t fall
there’s the deep snow
several inches at least
just after falling and
before shoveling
that’s difficult to trudge through
and so deep—
maybe up past my shin?
there’s the hard crusty snow
it’s been there awhile or
it’s been frosted with ice
that came after the snow
this stuff makes a nice satisfying crunch
when you walk on it


while others hibernate
hiding away from the
dark dreary days of December
and January and
worse yet February—
so short yet unforgiving
and merciless in its delivery
of subzero mornings–
I celebrate the
cold white quiet
not silent but subdued

This morning’s view

a white so white
it’s almost blue
or the slight feeling of blue.
Is that what happens when
snow is new
pure still perfect?
No sun yet or ever today
but the hint of blue blinds

winter comes

winter comes
when winter wants
winter stays
longer than winter should
winter whips up
arctic air

I love the cold crisp air

of an arctic blast
which cleans out my lungs
and makes 35 degrees
a few days later
feel almost balmy
like spring is coming
or winter’s leaving
and reminds me that being
warm while walking outside
is a thing that I will get to do
in a few months and very
occasionally on a mild winter’s day

the sad little cherry tree

early morning but
not really that early
just still dark
because it’s early
winter the window frames
a blue hued view
of a towering evergreen
and a deck
freshly painted with
white snow
and some bare branches
on the sad little cherry tree whose
sad little cherries are
littered on the lawn
waiting for the dog
to devour them when
she runs outside to
chase the squirrel
I listen to the weather forecast and
words like wind chill
below zero temperatures
bitter winds
warn me to
stay inside
and I do.

faulty forecast

another storm
narrowly avoided
early forecasts had predicted
5-8 inches of snow
sub zero temps
lots of wind
it’s 20 degrees colder than yesterday and
I can hear the wind blow but
where’s that snow?
a no show as usual
I should be relieved and
I am but still
I wouldn’t mind watching
some big fluffy flakes floating
down from the sky
delivering little crystal bursts of joy
or at least distraction
as I sit on the couch
waiting for a girl to get ready
to go to school

the gloom, the moon, a cartoon

it’s not right
waking up before
the sun
with only the moon
for light
today only a sliver
not enough to cast a shadow
but just enough to conjure a memory
of the Bugs Bunny cartoon—
the one where Bugs gets stuck
hanging off the moon
and yells “get me outta here!”—
When it feels like 25 below
and it’s still dark
even though it’s almost 7
I want to yell that too
and maybe I do
at least in my head
and then I imagine
somewhere warmer
and brighter
and better than early morning January
in Minnesota

early morning melancholy

early morning sitting
on the couch waiting
to wake up
I hear noises
the staticky hum of my son’s computer
the roar of a distant plane
the traffic a mile away
the resigned sigh of my dog sleeping
next to me but wanting
to be chased
the heat kicks in
a car drives by
I sip my coffee
I lose my words
and my will
to move
and I wonder—
is this what it means to grow old?
to wake up every morning and really have to work at
wanting to do anything but go back to sleep or
sit and stare blankly at the wall as the light
slowly gradually almost imperceptibly
enters the room?

january weather

cold really cold
really really cold
really really quite cold
the threat of big snow
a dusting
cold really cold
really really cold
above freezing
midday melting
midnight icing
morning mayhem
cold really cold
really really cold
really really quite cold

12.4 inches of wet messy snow

the snow started
and didn’t stop
for almost a day
12.4 inches
of wet messy snow
blowing and soaking
faces and socks and pants
but turning into a rare day off from school
and beautiful pure sheets of snow
that turned into thick slabs of perfect white
when snow-blowers cut through them
driving around at night
the white still sparkling
I saw a fir tree
expertly decorated with snow
put just so on this branch and that branch
it looked like a little porcelain tree
you might see at a christmas store
the day after it snowed
it was sunny and blue and not too cold
a perfect day for being out in the snow
I saw a family cross country skiing
in the street

winter solitude

I like the solitude and slowness of winter
it’s not isolation—
we’re all still here but by
necessity or lack of energy or
the numbing air
we move slower
more conservatively
we speak sparsely
we settle
letting things happen
being content to sit


Listen. Shhh. Do you hear it?
A bird chirping in the cold.
Does it think spring is coming?
Oh that sound! Spring!
But it’s only February 13th.

Sunday morning sitting

the window is white
not from new snow but the light
which lacks any blue
and seems almost gray
I watch as the sad little cherry tree
sways in the wind then stops
motionless for the moment
until the wind picks up again
thin brittle branches flutter
what a dreary feeling February morning!

F ollowing
E very
B right, sunny, above freezing day the cold and gloom
R eturns or remains? having only been briefly hidden
U nder the promise of spring’s early
A rrival that is always
R etracted revoked replaced with more cold—Oh how I
Y earn for warmer air!