I’ve read this somewhere before

March 8, 2018 § Leave a comment

what first got my attention

when looking for the spark

that lit the pyre of generational change

was something

buried in the footnotes

a few lines

a few names

temporary list



born into expectation

eventually breaking

free from that control

the eyes of the outside world

slits of derision

stiff of neck

folded of arm

“what could they possibly

know… these…”

it is only the same action on repeat


never has this before

or travesty of non compliance

or futile

can you honestly say you can’t understand

the newly risen speaking in the old tongue

as you did

when stubborn minds

barred the gates to you


(c) 2018 Fred Whitehead



November 17, 2017 § 2 Comments

I hear them as soon as I turn off

the engine

they are letting me know they have impatiently awaited my return

I open the door to the coop

and scatter grain

the two hens left

set to work

talons charting their world with lines

cut in freshly strewn straw

undaunted by memories of the sister

abducted by a fox the night before


the best that can be said of memory

is that it mellows disillusion

blurs equivalency

no need to know the reason

why visions of togetherness

and loss are

beaten from the same clay

I watch them as I repair the fence

glad they

at least

avoided the hunt

and silently wished that

should I perish away from here

my bones would be gathered

and brought to this ridge

like Yeats’ disputed return to Sligo

and interred

somewhere out back of the house

the spot

marked by a fruit bearing tree

or a bush full of thorns


being the last judgment

regarding my demeanor

(c) 2017 Fred Whitehead

again Ariadne 

October 25, 2017 § 2 Comments


    from the bow

        saw her reflection in the river


I could disassemble myself he said 


       throughout the years

every particle of the original 
convincing myself

I’ve not become different 
              the whole while

              a ghost of a voice 

whispers about distinctions



                 vast and
still I would only be able 

             measure the distance

             between us in nights
   their numbers alone

setting me to contemplate

vaulting the rail 

       making for 

       any shore

       that will have me
(c) 2017 Fred Whitehead 


October 17, 2017 § Leave a comment

it’s not so easy a matter as

clattering about in a box

           taken down only

           when mystery elbows

           curiosity into action
you have to want to dig


cutting through roots thick and ancient
a lifetime of dirt hauled to the surface 

to be sifted by others
hands bloodied inevitably

an ache that will not subside 

whether you unearth

yourself or not
most likely you will 

     (in the end

invent sense for clues

that make none

hoarding youthful trinkets 

rewriting history 

for the unsmiling 
(c) 2017 Fred Whitehead 

on the day she left

May 29, 2017 § 3 Comments

do you think she dreamt of owls

as the taste of monoxide played across her tongue?

feral child

what was it you heard while 

catching spirit when others would not
                 singing the herald wild
the language of

the earth
the only one she cared to understand 
(c) 2017 Fred Whitehead 

there was no one at the boarding house 

March 29, 2017 § 2 Comments

waiting for him
when he came in

from mapping the terrain
he meant to mention

that he had been painting himself 

into mountains 

                with pigment ground

                from headstones 

                and fingers dipped in rain
he stood half in the door

with eyes seemingly 

cleared by isinglass
even before he turned them

to capture the

                  melon dusk

he had just the right phrase

to describe the color but

there was

no one

around the fire

to make a fuss
he waved his manuscript in the air

looking for an honest review to hire

fifty four chapters 

breaking down a method he derived 

for cleansing himself of grief
no one was there to deny its depth

so he considered it a success 

put it on a bookshelf

and went back out

to see what the clouds believed 
(c) 2017 Fred Whitehead 

an unfinished poem

March 7, 2017 § Leave a comment

I wondered what had happened

the way one listens

for the crackle of dawn

bursting through clouds

like a giggle through

a gap toothed smile
it doesn’t matter how many nights

are spent placing Polaroids as poultice over wounds of youth
you will always lose a little blood
(c) Fred Whitehead 

utterances from the dark

March 2, 2017 § Leave a comment

as we try to breach fortifications
you dive behind relentless drapery disallowing any contraband sunlight     

               passed from

               smugglers hand to

               smugglers hand
bouquets and bottles are left for

guard dogs of your endless night

to sniff and piss on
we hear you pleading for a way 

to tap into maddeningly elusive mania

how could we not

the mourn is relentless 
we’ve no summation for

this repetition 

can find no correlation

between strangely

unhinged episodes

and the beautiful results 
we want to travel with you 

try to walk with you on

the waters

of your Galilee

it just laughs and consumes 
outside your wall

we try to comprehend

your mutterings as transcribed
we ultimately fail
but we listen
(c) 2017 Fred Whitehead 

a day in February

February 25, 2017 § 2 Comments

a day in February
isn’t usually this warm 
I am below a struggling sun

thinking of the instinct of birds 

and arranging plantings in my head 
I hear the oratory of my granddaughters 

as they stage one of their melodramas

in the leafless copse

at the back of the yard
I move some rolled up fencing

from this place to that

for no other reason than to temporarily 

placate an itch to be the in the garden

and to be

in some small way

of purpose 
I follow their song as they weave

among the trees

envious of their innocence 

as they spiral outward
ignoring for now

their lodestar 

as it beckons their attention

from the edge of forever 
(c) 2017 Fred Whitehead 

Some of my books on Amazon. One is a collaboration with David Rothbart 

February 8, 2017 § Leave a comment