Joan Hofmann

Instructions for Living When dreads and annoyances aboundWhirling one into another ofConundrums, slumps and dire ends,When an anger of thunder menaces Or another phone call hailsDistress, loss or rage, on those daysIt’s easy to forget the generosityIn an acorn, the curved exquisite holdOf its sculptured cap set so rightOn the shiny brown shell surroundingThe nut itself, the core of it all. When you think you can’t hold upThere are too many needs not yoursRemember about moons and tidesCycles and circlesThe abundance of them in seasons,Families, politics, and body rhythms—That birds came from dinosaurs.

Possibility It’s a strange day: the fog changes everything.Thin leafless branches, red maple and yellow birch,Wing out sideways, scrawny fingerless reaches:A stalwart ambiguity in still verticalities.Mist hazes permission to me to linger insideCrowds out need for any pressing decisions.Stay here a while, it whispers, stay with us.I am coerced, ambushed by hundreds:Slim stalks, ringed in etchings of celadon lichenWhere I imagine myself one among themPulsing questions skyward—not so muchAbout the chickadees or even the woodpeckerDrumming attention. Mostly, about urgency—What are the necessities of this day? Simply:Consider possibilities, Nothing more.

You Said It’s Hard to Keep Promises It’s agreeable, this overcast sky today.Yesterday was a wait for a promised rain that waited until after nightfall to come,too light to be heard on the roof. I listened, and missed the poundingforce of calming energy above me.Still, I appreciate its presence.Misty as it is, it’s changed things: Swallowed the yellow pine’s pollen.Even more, like a soft sheet coverson a coolish night it adds just the rightlayer to the day, a soft muffling before the predictable bleating heat ahead.You didn’t keep the promise you swore.Like promised rain, I miss the suretya steady pour would replenish. Yet, I accept the delay of a spare drizzle,its drops catching prismsall around meand know I’ll dance in its shower even so.

Joan Hofmann serves on the Executive Board of Riverwood Poetry and was the first Poet Laureate of Canton, CT. Her poems have been published in anthologies and journals, including Forgotten Women, Rumble Fish Quarterly, Juniper, Bird’s Thumb, Spaces, Englyn, SLANT, Plainsongs, Plum Tree Tavern, Caduceus and Freshwater, and in three chapbooks: Coming Back (2014), Alive (2017) and Alive, Too (2019).