Update: My Friend Rachel is an Award Winning Composer and My Poems Get to Tag Along

Way back in December of 2008, I wrote this blog post about how my friend Rachel Fogarty had used two of my old poems as text for a song cycle she was composing. It was a surprise, and I was honored that she’d think enough of them to set them to music; then later equally honored to hear them performed at a recital in April of last year.

Rachel sent me an email last night to give me another piece of great news — her song cycle won a national competition and will be premiered in Boston with the Boston Metro Opera for their 1st Annual Contemporary AmericanaFest in May! Details are here and here.

Rachel is immensely talented and I’ve always been humbled by her dedication — I’m so happy to see her being recognized and happy to be a small part of it.

For those wondering, the two poems in question are below.



One shoulder takes the weight
while the other rests in waiting
for the slow steady shift.

As midnight settles, a rusty halo
emerges around the Nashville skyline,
and the hour exchanges regret
for numb awareness and silver stillness.
There is the sound of the airport sleeping,
of Interstate 24 slowing its shuttle,
the dim arterial hum of a city in relief.

And there is the clock, aching to reset –
a muted shift of method from gear to rod,
pin to pendulum, pulpit to hand,
and again to a series of gears,
where the key is not and never was.
It divides by twelves and by sixty,
and rations to each arm
an emotion of precise mathematics –
driven, by design, to find an ending
and at once another stark beginning.

One shoulder shifts the weight to the other.
The coil builds tension, and aches for release.


Only Memory of a Family Vacation, Age Nine

A bright Georgia summer
and there’s heat rising off the asphalt
ahead, slurring the horizon
like oil in standing water,
the sprawling pitch pines
blurred together into dusty green
like their crooked limbs
have grown tangled together.
My father drives, keeps the window
cracked a half inch and the radio
hardly audible under the whitened rush,
the sound of motion.
My mother hums to herself,
holds a book about the apostle Paul
in her lap, knows that to read it
will make her carsick, but still holds it,
trusting in intention.
And I am in the backseat
of that silver station wagon,
seatbelt unbuckled, shoelaces untied,
again considering her Sunday School lesson
on how God was never born
and will never die –
and under the heat and the motion
and the weight of infinity,
I rest my head
against the window
in fear of disbelief.


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