Friday, December 30, 2011


Photo: Joan Jett


She would, she says,
if she could do it all again,
be a rock star.
I can see it in the heels
she swears feel fine,
even when she stands all day.
It's in the spiky hair she wears,
the way she can dance all night
and drink me under the table.
Last year, she took voice,
thinking that the local stage
might be her place to shine.
Then life interrupted,
and she left that dream behind.
But if she could, she'd be a star,
Hit the road in a bus,
Live life hard.
She's Joan Jett.
Me? I'd be a gentle poet.
I haven't told her yet.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


There goes with me

A fair-haired girl
Whose apple cheeks
And almond crescent eyes,
Whose outstretched hand
And flat-footed hope
Perpetually beckon,
Leading through
And through
And out.

Monday, December 19, 2011



Empty yourself
So as to be filled
With Grace,
The undeserved gift
Of Christmas.

Old Wives Tales

photo - Lee Frielander

Mag 96
This little verse is a response to the Magpie Tales photo prompt at left. Frielander often uses shadow in his photographs. Join Tess Kincaid's other magpies here.

Old Wives

Apple peels and Letters
Teaspoons in a cup
Sleep atop a wedding cake
Count the buttons up
Rich man poor man beggar
Time, he is a thief,
Shadows to remind me
How futile to believe

Friday, December 16, 2011

Still Life, Vanitas

This photo is of a Vanitas still life by Abraham Mignon, a Dutch painter of the 17th Century. This style of painting often includes luscious fruits and flowers that, upon close inspection, aren't as inviting as they seem. In fact, they are teeming with insects and dripping with decay. It's the worm in the apple, so to speak, the grim reminder that we, too, will come to dust.

Not a very cheery start to the day. Sorry about that. They come when they will.


sickly sweet
and sticky
overblown and ripe
like bees buzz
the peaches
on this wall
like flies buzzed
when she died
like the skull
shines beneath
the waxy skin
like purple pools
beneath her eyes
like the days pool
in empty glasses
like the sand

Wednesday, December 14, 2011



How is it that we live
outside of others?

How can we show so much
yet be unknown?

My children do not know
the me they see here,

the one who needs to soothe
herself  with green,

just as I do not recognize my mother, 
who was the prettiest girl he'd ever seen,

swishing her skirts down St. Paul's streets,
licking on a ten-cent cone of cream.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Truth is No Stranger

Truth is No Stranger


Stranded on the shore
of a world she never knew,
longing like a lover for a sail.


The seduction of solitude
the final lover stretches calm
across the Gulf.


The water, finally,
the water fills her
like no lover ever could.

Magpie Tale

Sunday, December 11, 2011



In church
we touch,

hold hands,
sit shoulder to shoulder;

my foot
hooks your leg.

We touch.
In prayer,

we stand,
heads bowed.

I hold your arm
for balance.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Waiting Room

Finally, I join Magpie Tales, one of my favorite sites, hosted by the fabulous poet Tess Kincaid. Go here to read more poems inspired by the photo or to join the fun.


Like the skin I'm in,
You're for waiting,

Though weighty days
Sap your springs

And cause your back to sag.

It all comes back to waiting,
Though waiting seems eternal

And your living room now
Couches only this:

You never know the hour
Or the day

You'll slip your cover,
Eternally sprung away.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Dear Sir

Dear Sir
may i call you sir
or do you prefer
let me start again
Dear Barry
Dear little boy
between cultures
did you even imagine
sitting at grandma's knee
that someday you would be
the leader of the free world
you whose deep black father
never knew the chains
that held your brothers
did you find it hard
to walk the walk barry
talk the talk barry
to become Barack barry
when you were
dreaming your dreams
some would say
scheming your schemes
but we won't go there
sir we won't dwell
in the dark barry
thank God it's not about color
and if it were you are
the perfect blend
cafe au lait us and them
them and us one blend
that gives us hope that we can
yes we can overcome
the chains that hold us still
but now sir
Mr. President
it's another sort of chain
a chain of copper
and of nickel and of paper
a paper chain burning our eyes
burning down our homes
burning up our streets
burning up the libraries of the poor
so sir i write to say please do
sir if you can
you can if anyone you can
yes you can will you
would you please walk the walk
yes you can
and fix the faults
and put out the flames
and take away
these burning paper chains
respectfully sir
dear sir
Mr. President

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Crossing the First Bridge

Crossing The First Bridge

Clutch tight to your belongings
On the first bridge;
The wind will snatch them from you,
No matter how you hold.
You'll watch them float below.

Be careful where your feet fall
On the first bridge;
The boards will give beneath you
In splintery ankle holds.
Below, the water flows.

Watch out for other traffic
On the first bridge;
It will drive you to the edges
Where there is no rail to hold,
And then you'll know:

You are no longer crossing
The first bridge.


Sunday, November 13, 2011


Deceptive beauty,
Nothing soft,
You move me
With your hard bite,
Stretch me on the rack
Of your long vein;
I dance with pick and axe
On heaps of gob and slag,
Run barefoot
The wooden track;
With open mouth,
We burn the night blue black.


Thursday, November 10, 2011



words fail
this cold
rushing deluge

this drumming
rushing deluge

this streaming
sinking, sucking
rushing deluge

sticking, stitching
rushing deluge

running, ruining
this rushing

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Early Morning, Domestic

Windows. Look in. Look out. Reflect.
This is for the Jam. Better late than never.

Early Morning, Domestic

Reflected in the still dark glass,
Blue television light,
A bare bulb glowing yellow
Above a stove,
A man placing bacon in a pan.

Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, November 4, 2011

Men Leave

Men leave
by bits;
they scatter
everywhere --
rings and watches
coffee cups
keys and cards
on dresser tops
with old receipts
balm for dry lips
loose change
that piles and grows
on kitchen desks
unopened mail
empty packs of gum
and folded handkerchiefs
upstairs their socks and shoes
last night's book
yesterday's shirt --
they shed themselves
like skin.
Someday I expect to find
a finger by the sink
shinbones on the stairs
teeth and hair
on the bathroom floor
an indentation
in the empty bed.


Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, October 29, 2011



The power has been out here
Twice already.

I know I should be writing
While there's light.

I know I should be writing.
I never find the time to,

But still, I waste
A solitary night.

I turn the cards and shuffle,
Smack them down while thinking,

I know I should be writing
While there's time.

When Grandma lay here dying,
I used to hear her playing,

Shuffling through the night
Until she'd gone.

I know I should be writing.
I harbor no illusions;

I shuffle, and I play
This game alone.

And you, Dear Reader, shimmer,
Figment of my Fancy,

You shake your head 
At each cliche I own.

I harbor no illusions,
That my words somehow matter,

Witness to things
I think or feel.

Solitary writer,
I sit here in the darkness.

I sit here in the darkness,
And I deal.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

False Faces

Happy Halloween, everyone.

False faces

False faces,
they called them
when I was a child --
the masks we wore
for trick-or-treat.

I picture still
the piggy face,
my silky hair
in pigtails.

That was it;
that was my disguise.

If that was me,
that anthropomorphic thing,
I don't recall the choice --
choosing for myself
to be a happy little pig.

Perhaps I did,
but that's the thing
about memory --
it makes false faces
of the past.

I don't recall a voice
back then,
but that is not to say
I wouldn't, if asked today,
disguise myself
exactly that same way.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 18, 2011



I can't believe
How unobservant
You are,
He says.

The sky this morning
Rolls blue and grey
Except where the sun should rise,
Except where striations
Of purple, gold, and pink
Mute the light.

How could you
Not have noticed
That before,
He asks of something
So useful I cannot even see.

A tiny spider bounces 

The tightrope of his web
And hangs a moment upside down
To shinny past
A shining drop of dew.

You never pay attention,
He says.

To see the world in a grain of sand,
I tell him.

Meanwhile, the earth ticks
And spins around us
And holds eternity

In a web of many hues.

Saturday, October 15, 2011


Chris of Enchanted Oak is setting the pot to boil for making jam with a few choice words. Here's my contribution to the kettle:


Round the edges of my mind,
These ghosts:

All those uncles in undershirts
Drinking and laughing,
Then Mama wringing
Laundry out by hand.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, October 14, 2011

No vamos a ceder frente a los terroristas

I must have mice on the brain! In nearly 30 years of living in the country, I've had only one mouse in my house, and that was this week when a tiny fieldmouse ran in an open door. It was a standoff, but it was he, honestly, who left through the open door. Whew!

PS - if you don't believe me, I have a witness.

No vamos a ceder frente a los terroristas

It was a standoff
Of the rodent kind -
Raton de campo,
No bigger than my thumb,
Un bandido pequeno
With a tail like a sword,
And me, SeƱora de la Casa,
All giant legs and feet,
Like some towering statue,
More frightened, I am sure,
Than he.

What great cause
Has spurred this raid?
What urged this terrorista to scale
The steps and sneak inside?

I see his mousey compadres
Gathered round, toasting
And telling him heroic tales,
Tempting him with grain to be found
Inside the citadel.

So here he is,
Come in through an open door,
Looking at me like he's never
Seen a broom before,
And I, conceding defeat
To such a sight,
Open up the other door
And flee in fright.

Forgive my fractured Spanish. I studied French, but somehow, this little guy was a bandido!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Waiting for Billy Collins

Billy nearly made us miss the famous Willow Manor Ball. Seems he's after those mice again!

Waiting for Billy Collins

Somewhere in the house
He is chasing a blind mouse
With a carving knife.

He'll mince it into words
And the pauses he has heard
In his head.

The caesuras, he would say
In his professeuric way,
Tell us how it should be read.

Still, he's flying round the room,
Chasing mice without a broom
Trading verses with the dead

Till he leaves this worthy cause,
Takes a breath and takes a pause,

Fills the silences we've heard
With a poet's every word.

Sunday, October 9, 2011


This is for this week's Poetry Jam prompt to write a love poem.


You have slipped
between the creases

in my brain.
Most days,

if I even think at all,
there is no pain --

just you,
and the everyday things

you would do

the signs unseen
by anyone but me.

But today,
just the closing

of a door,
and you are

missing like you
never were before.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

On the Fence

You can't be
on the fence
with Jesus;

you gotta stand
on either side.
It's either/or;
it's neither/nor.

It's cherubs
on the ceiling,
or it's fire
beneath your feet.

It's morning's
shining glories,
or it's nightshade's
deadly vines.

Stay put,
you forfeit

don't stay,
you tumble
either way.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

These Eyes

     The Poetry Jam asks that we write about something that we once thought was a flaw but have come to understand as an asset. When I was younger, I hated that I was cursed with the ability to see all sides of an issue. I felt wishy-washy and weak. Today, I recognize my ability as an asset in working with people and mediating problems.
     I grew to trust my inner sight and understand that as long as I am true to myself, "I cannot then be false to any man."

These eyes

Argus had them,
Wakeful watch.

They curse me,
Two faced Janus.

I pluck them,
Lull them,
Scratch them out,

For only two,
Can move
In straight Lines.

These many eyes,
Plot all
The ground around.

Thursday, September 29, 2011



Like that old moon,
We wax and wane;
Just now, we're at the full --
A quiet night,
A glass of wine,
A story shared,
A happy life--
We glow and shine
In one another's light.
We wax, and then we wane.
At times, we're total dark--
A silent house,
What if, what now,
A distant look,
We wonder how
Light disappears;
We orbit separate spheres.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Last Supper

Last Supper

I found Jesus
in a corner
on a crooked wall
beside a locked door.
That is not to say
I hadn't found him before;
you know,
He's everywhere:
in every room
on every floor
in gilded glory,

but finding Him
in watery benediction
for friends and betrayers
like me,
stopped my feet
and caught my breath
and turned me sideways
as the wall
on which he hangs.

using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, September 11, 2011

War, Remembrance

War, Remembrance

So this is how it begins:
A rain of rubble
From the sky,

A field seeded
with grief,
A five sided fire.

Ten years and still
We strain to understand
A rain from high aeries,

Covering the country
In the silence of sadness
And grief.

How does it end, and when?
We turn again inward,
Searching our hearts

To discern how hatred
Rains like feathers
From the sky.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Blue Heron

Blue Heron

Every year, he returns, the old man,
Solitary, silent.
Just when you've forgotten he exists,
He's in the corner of your eye,
Houdini in grey cape,
Somber, regal, and forbidding.
He appears and we hold our breath,
Whisper to the children,
"Come and see."
A day or two he lingers by the water,
Head down, arms behind his back,
Lost in thought or memory
Of glory in the sun.
Sometimes, his long neck leads
As if he's moving toward the finale
And wherever it is he goes
When he lifts his cape and disappears.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Buttercup Sun Day

The prompt at the Poetry Jam is to write about things looking up. This instantly came to mind:

Buttercup Sun Day

When things look down,
Look up;

That's a yellow buttercup
Hanging in the sky,

A welcome to an eye
Attuned to looking down,

Where every smile's a frown,
And every lifted brow

Becomes a worried scowl.
Better up, my friend,

Than down, for in the end,
It's up where solace lies --

It's hanging in the skies.

- Posted by Karen

Saturday, August 20, 2011


Look at the rust,
How it spreads like lichens
Over overlapping tin,
Turning panels rich red
Brown and bluish gray
And dusty black,
Until it grits the metal surface
To coarse sand and turns edges
Toward the sun like petals.
See the rust
That trims the drying buds
Of roses silent curled,
Paper-veined and thin,
Self-contained and beaten
By the peeling brown.
Listen to the creaking rust
Of threaded cap and pipe,
Complicit as they hold to one another.
Look at your rusty hair
Gone thin and white, my skin
Blooming with the creeping rust of age.
See us turn toward the sun
And hold to one another, complicit
In the silence of our veins.

- Posted by Karen

Monday, August 15, 2011



It's in the way the rain falls
     in sharp, inexorable drops

until the world is long lines,
     stitching sky to earth.

It's in the driving needles
     that push hungry fawns to group
          and bed beneath the drooping birch.

It's in the urge that makes them
     nuzzle sodden earth, returning,

 little by little, through a new washed world
     in certainty  and wonder

in search of tender shoots.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Looking at a Photo of Robert Frost


 On Looking at a Photo of Robert Frost

Who would have thought
     that Frost,

who looks
      in all the books

like some grand father,

 who cleaned the spring
      in spring

and stopped in winter woods --

who, looking at this white-haired
     gentle man
would ever think
     that he,

 who knew that walls
     can't stand,

but built them anyway,

this white haired gentle man --

who would have thought
      that even he,

would be acquainted
     with the night

like me?


Friday, August 5, 2011


The Poetry Jam challenge is to write an elegy. This doesn't fit the bill, but it is about death, and I already had it in the works. Go to the Jam (click on the pic on my sidebar) and read more. For that matter, look below this poem for another about death. Cheerful, aren't I?

When I burn low--
Cooling off with age
So that the fires of life
Are full too strong to be,

When I am bent --
Drawn unto the earth
So that the narrow bed
Is all the world I see,

When I dissolve --
Sift away through time
So nothing else is left
Except what's best of me,

When I am loosed --
Clay begun to shed
So I am but a mark
In someone's memory,

Then let me sail alone,
Untethered by regret
Burning in the night,
Grateful to be free.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011



All around, the dead, they lay
In hillocks green, ‘neath mossy stone,
Unmarked, untold, forgotten now;
The trial, the strife, unmourned, unknown.
Interred here, the babe, the wife,
Sarah, Peg and Maryanne,
These least, they dwell among the best,
The ancient lords, the highest man,
Whose weathered crests, now ivy mocked,
Defeated stones on hummocks fall.
The honored place of weeds and green,
By nature claimed, is shared by all
In Glendalough, where servants lay
Aside of saints and lords and stones,
As all shall come to rest one day
Amid the ancient hills of  home.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


The creative Kat, Poetikat, who blogs here, is in charge of the Poetry Jam this week, and she's in full bloom, asking us to write about a flower -- only darkly. This may not be what she had in mind, but the jammers are a forgiving lot. You can find other poems here. Why not join the bouquet?


In the dark of the night,
In the glow of the moon,

When there's no one to care,
And there's no one to see,

She opens her heart
And releases perfume,

Turns her face to the sky,
Dances wild, dances free,

Sings a dark, secret song,
To the sweet, sultry air,

And makes love to herself
When there's nobody there.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Under the Boardwalk

Slap my paw, and say, "Bad Blog!" I haven't had time to spend doing something I love to do -- read and write poetry. As I've said many times, life interferes with living, and making a living...well, read the poem, and maybe you'll understand.

This is my contribution to the Poetry Jam. The challenge is to incorporate the first line of a song into your poem. This one happens to be true. You can find others here.


All week long, the boss sang
Under the boardwalk
While we carried boxes and arranged chairs
He crooned
Down by the sea
As we covered tables
With productivity tools
He hummed
On a blanket with my baby
To the whirr of projection devices
Laptops and camera fans
His tune carried us
Through the end of the conference
To where he wants us to be.

Friday, June 10, 2011


Cherry Jam, anyone? This poem is my contribution to June 13 Poetry Jam.

Faithful chef NanU is stirring the pot again, and this week's challenge is to choose a picture and see where it takes us.This one takes me back, back to an innocent time before I knew where else I'd go.

To read other takes on the Poetry Jam prompts, go here. Why not join the Jam? It's sweet!


I remember the longest branch
of the black cherry tree,

how we swung bare feet
to the music in our heads

and shot round stones
as far as we could blow.

I remember dreams we had
of the places we would go

and kisses in the leaves
as warm and sweet as summer,

as full of promise as the juices of the fruit
we plucked from that young tree.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Saturday Morning

Saturday morning,

 I close my eyes, and I almost hear
The sounds of children coming near;

I drink my coffee undisturbed,
Nowhere in this house, a word.

Out the window, a young bird

On the plum tree sings
Of feasts of grain and seed

Unaided by a mother's beak
Or hand or heart or need.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cutting Into a Sweet Pepper

Cutting into a sweet pepper
As red as blood,
I scrape the inner parts,
Spongy membranes 
With little seeds attached.

Hidden away inside,
In the lower chamber,
Like a secret heart,
Is a growing twin,
A perfect copy of the larger fruit, 
Clinging to the septum
So that it takes more effort than it should
For me to pry it loose.

I lay it on the cutting board
And tip it with my knife,
Almost sorry to have taken
Such delight in exposing
Something so safe, so private,
And so closely held inside.

Saturday, May 28, 2011



Cradled by earth’s soft arms
Against the common heart,
All parts are one --

Particle and part --

Stem and leaf and heavy head
Bending back, begin again

One  beating breast
One  spreading seed,
one spirit shared,

one universal flower

Monday, May 16, 2011

At Fourteen

Here's my first attempt since hopping off the Poetry Bus (now permanently parked at the magazine stand) and jumping into the Poetry Jam. The prompt is "thunder and lightening," two of my favorite natural wonders! Thunder and lightening may not remind you of porch swings, but that's where memory takes me. You can read other Poetry Jammers here. Why not join us with some jam of your own?

At Fourteen

Nothing was better 

Than a porch swing in summer
           With the rain pouring, pouring

And a blanket on my shoulders
            And me, pushing, pushing

And my voice singing,
           Ringing louder than the thunder

And my dreams dashing,
           Flashing brighter than the lightening

In the sky.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Stalking Eden

The dark shape circles high above;
Even from here, he looks a frightful bird,
Patrolling  boundaries, claiming ground.
Nothing stirs in the grass below;
Moles and rabbits hunker as the meadow stills.
Even the slippery snake slides along the bank
And dips into shadow.
How do they know that danger waits above,
That brooding patience wins?
And is it always so, that the rest of us,
Even those who give to others fright,
Eventually succumb, eventually become
Just part of last night's leavings?
And is there always, always overhead,
Some great and fearsome presence stalking Eden?

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The sound in the night

The sound in the night

that pulled you from your bed
that sent you creeping
stealthy, stealthy
that raced your heart
so that the quiet house
became a task you could not bear,
that sound, that jarring sound
that ominous sonorous thundrous sound,
that sound in the night
that set you weeping,
it was the other shoe that dropped.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


You never know what a spring day will bring. You may begin the day in sunshine and end in pouring rain; the neighbor's tree may end up on your roof or you may feel the gentle breeze like a caress. Spring is a season of excess -- of color, of winds, of floods. NanU the Poetry Bus driver, has asked that we write about," Excess. Of Far Too Much. Of Going Over the Edge." Easy peasy. Think: spring!

This poem (and pictures) depict two consecutive days last week. Perhaps you can see a little more in it, as well:


One day you walk
along the soft sand bed,
climbing over fallen logs,
tossing rocks and bits of glass
where they were left some time ago.

The next, the rains pound down,
the bank won't hold, it overflows;
the field is sunk in swift and rushing brown
that wipes away all the sticks and stones
you've ever climbed or you have ever thrown.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

After Gray Winter, Spring

 NanU is at the wheel of the Bus, and she wants us to talk about explosions. I've been assaulted with color, so this. You can read other poems here.

After gray winter, spring
erupts violet and green
explodes a golden flare
flashes blue as far as you can see
ruptures brown earth pink and purple
bursts hearts that drip magenta tears

Sunday, April 10, 2011

I Am a Crooked Line

Actually, I'm a bad blogger! I haven't been around to read anyone's poetry lately, and even though I have all sorts of excuses, mostly it comes down to allowing living to take precedence over reading and writing. Yet, I miss the community here. I can't promise that I'll do better,but I can assure you that I want to! Right now, I feel like a crooked line. (Thanks to Poetry Bus driver Dana Bug for that thought.) Read on to see to what dark depths it took me, and read here to see where the other bus riders are going.

Don't forget to check out the TFE's World's Greatest Blog! You'll find PB1 and soon PB2 ready for your reading pleasure!


I am a crooked line
Between life and death,

Nothing straight or narrow,
Though the tomb is dark.

Weeping, call me from this night;
Unbind, unwind the cloth.

I am the crooked line,
That runs from love to loss.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What is Beauty More?


What is beauty more
Than a reflection of desire,
A pool of light under the lamp
On a dark and lonely street?
What is a lovelier thing
Than that which completes --
The thought finished by a friend
Before your lips can form?
And what is truer joy
Than that which makes you cry,
A song torn from the throat
Of a bird who throws his heart to the sky?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Because I Must

It's nearly the end of March, and I haven't been on the Poetry Bus all month. The business and busyness of living have limited my writing and riding along with my poet friends. An email from the Bus Captain, the TFE, made me realize how I long to be among the great friends I've made here, and so I dashed off this little ditty (who uses that word?) because I must.

The bus is driven this week by Uiscebot, who gives us several orders for this week's poem. You can see them here or maybe just deduce them by reading the poem here...


He said,
You can't go
to the moon,
and I said,
Fly me.

He said,
You can't go
And I said,
Try me.

He said,
You mustn't
and I said,
Is it a crime?
Then give me
the time
to go home
and find
a poem or two
that shuns
the bright moon
or takes you away
to some other day
and to someplace new.

And he said,
That'll do.
Stop this right now
or I won't even link;
it's not worth the ink
or pixels or dots
it takes for Uiscebots
to put this drivel
on his blogspot.

So I sit idly by
and won't even try
to join this fun time
because I must rhyme.
Every time.

So there.

Now, go and read some real poems here. Enjoy the ride!

Thursday, March 17, 2011



Children in the water
laugh and splash.
They circle and circle
round and round
like sharks.
I am vigilant, on the edge.
Danger! Danger!
I hear in my head.
I scan the scene for trouble,
scout sorrows yet to come,
watch for the dreaded undertow;
I guard, ready to run.