Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Mother's Smile

My Mother's Smile

I don't know how, my mother says
When told to smile for the camera.
The truth is, she doesn't like the way 
She looks, so in pictures, she mostly stares.
Somewhere, un gros chien noir
Walks across my grave.
Ghost of a smile, that shadow on her face.
Truth is, she is no laugher. Never was.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Fractured light
swans along the hills,
Leaps and ebbs
like feathered fire.
Knee deep in wooded awe, 
we peer into the lapis haze above.
Divine artist, roaring 
down the corridors of time
burning cold as serpent's scales,
Your hands, your brush, they crackle.
Touch you, and we burn;
Look on you, we stay.
You charm us with your song,
Asking nothing for our passage 
but our love.

Thursday, December 4, 2014



Under the moon of the fairy night
When the days are short 
And the stars are bright,
On a puff of air and a sea of red
They rend the veil
From the Land of Dead.
Before, behind, betwixt, between,
In the nether world,
They bloom unseen --
A ghost, a thought, a root, a stem,
A silent bud,
An unsung hymn.
Shake off the veil and beat the drums!
Let cymbals play, 
For angels come!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sing Thanks

Sing Thanks

Little creature on the tree,
Are you thinking thanks like me?

Sow and reap, cook and stow,
Washing dishes as I go,

Wondering when I see,
Feathered wonder on the tree,

If you remember, if you know 
Gratitude from long ago

For the good gifts God does bring?
Lift your throat and with me sing.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Long Way


Today, the road is muddy,

I recall it smooth, 
But was it?

Always there were stones.
I bear them in my flesh. 

See the blue 
Under ropey skin?

That's hope I carry with me.
Who says you can't go home?

Photo prompt
Thanks, Tess!

Sunday, November 16, 2014



When words have gone
And brushes dried up in their jars,
I play the cards.
Where nothing matters,
Nothing is at stake.
When the cards are bad,
Just shuffle.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Child of Time

Of time
To me;
Fresh faced child,
With me
Once again.
Apple cheeks grow thin,
Bright eyes dim,
Child of mine,
Don't run,

Tuesday, September 30, 2014



You are framed in finest gold;

Brilliant pigments run you through.

Ancient beauty, but not old --

You are framed in finest gold.

Swirled and flourished stories told

By the manuscript of you,

You are framed in finest gold,

Brilliant pigments run you through.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Light in Darkness

This is something I've wanted to draw/paint since I recently read a passage in a Louise Penny novel that uses the image of a moth's battering itself against a porchlight. It didn't occur to me to write it until I saw a prompt at d'Verse Poets. I still will draw it. That's next on my list. Meanwhile:


As for the Light in Darkness,

it's only just

a bare bulb promise

against which the lonesome soul

taps and taps 

her insistent longing

in an inevitable song 

of the night.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


I give the earth,
indescribable as it is,
soft words
to catch the hem
of these wide cotton skies.

What else have I to share?

I am small and simple
as the prayer I breathe;

Even the ivy sings more sweetly.

Little art I own
to claim my place
that I should walk rightly
in this vast and wondrous world.

My words, soft as air,
are the humble gifts I offer.
Poor widow's mite,
what else have I to share?

Friday, August 22, 2014

If they gunned me down

Photo from Internet images. 

If they gunned me down,
ripping through my head,
would they leave me there
for dead, afraid my years would
would snatch them up?
Is walking in these old white bones
crime enough?

Everybody knows how they are.
I'm not prejudiced, but...
old white women, capped
and dyed and tucked!
You can't disguise deceit.
They're Dangerous, not Us.

Would they let me bleed,
if they gunned me down
because I'm white and old?
Would I lie there dead and cold,
and would they ever see
a human heart shot through?

If they gunned me down
If they gunned me down,

I saw this quote on Unvirtuous Abbey: "For those who say, 'I'm not prejudiced but...,' Let us pray!"

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Circa '62

Circa '62

Through a trapdoor
down steep stairs
on the dirt floor,
beside some dusty shelves, 
it stands: a rusted can 
as tall as we are tall.
Even with the cover tight,
the odor fills the room,
and in the dim light,
we swoon in yeasty haze.
We fill our cups
and dare to tip them up,
secret in our ways,
these heady home brew days.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Peace Song

Peace Song

Someday, we sing of peace
as shadows sing,
as wind.
The cherry blossoms still;
yellow birds sit branches.
Heaven holds its breath.
Someday, we sing again
of peace,
as shadows sing. 
As wind.

This poem is written on the 69th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. God help us.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Prompt, Me


Write about the stars, you said,
The Tour de France, how music looks
If you can see the sound.

I draw short rays, points of dust,
A spiral then a snail
Atop a bug. And clouds.

I've settled now,
Into this sack of bones. Where I want
Is where I go.

I can no more prompt me
Than I can stop the sparks 
In the eye of this winged pig caught in a net 
Of my making.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Prayer of the Soil


Let me not be rocky ground,
parched and cracked, burned by sun
green then yellowed, bitter, brown,
all good intent, but fallow, shallow.

Let me not be choking weeds,
grasping, climbing, blocking sun
roots that run, smother seeds,
thick and high, but sticking, pricking.

Let me, God, be fertile soil,
tilled and plowed, enriched by sun,
abloom with wheat, embody royal
Word made flesh to flourish, nourish.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mourners Come and Go


come and go,
come and go.

The ones I know
sit alone in
separate rows.

We're all of us
alone as we come
and as we go

to and fro,
to and fro,
alone, alone,

all, all alone
as we come,
as we go.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Morning, Royal

         Photo credit unknown Internet source. (Please let me know if it is yours.)

Morning, royal
the finest time of day.   
Sitting at my work,
I watch and wait
for the world to show her
magic: trees not trees
and then, they are.
Looking from my book,
already I see leaves
now greenish,
in the time to form these words, 
now golden glow.
Alchemy: darkness into leaden grey to gold.
Above the hills, azure sky.
Time for me, too, to turn,
my finer self dissolved by morning light, 
into baser things:
earth and air to
breath and blood.
Transmuted in the dark,
I turn, return, to clay 
in brighter light of day.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What Lingers


What lingers

When all is said --

Not words or even breath --

When all is done --

Tools in the shed,
Crusted Gloves 
Drying on the shelf --

Creation, dying cell by cell.
Even pruning
Asks too much,

When all is said.

When all is done --

This shell.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mother's Day

Painting, Mary Cassatt

"Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
"  -- Kahlil Gibran

This poem is for my children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, those who have flown, are testing their wings, and those still in the nest. I love you all. 


Your breath on my cheek
My neck, cold when you leave

My arms, suddenly light,
Raised in thanks and praise.

I learn from the birds.

Relentless in their task,
They feed their young until at last --

I shade my eyes 
Against the endless sky

And watch you fly.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One More Day

Blue as the sea, Sierra Madres rim Bandaras, bay of flags. 
Mist bruises the mountains not yet burned by sun.
Time for us to go, even though the colors hold like glue; 
magnolias and wild flowers beckon.
One more day, you sing. 
One day more I sing in chorus.
In days, the sea will be a spectre,
pirated colored glass the only reminder of paradise,
fossil, flesh, and sand.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

How to Read a Poem

What I want to say is
you can't rinse and stack a poem.
You have to let your hands
slip across the page.
Wrap the rhythm round your fist
and plunge into the lines.
Turn the words until the stains
of last night's tea are gone.
Get between the tines.
Feel the sharp knives inside the soapy sea.
Wash, rinse, and hold it to the light.
Let it shine like finest crystal.
I want to say
a poem must be scrubbed
before you place it on the shelf
like last night's news. 

Rub it. Read it clean;
Read it, feel it, repeat.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


This poem was written after one glance at Odilon Redon's "Mystery" and as part of the IGRT challenge by Hedgewitch to write an ekphrastic poem on one of Redon's works. The lamb in the poem is from both the painting and an experience shared with a dying loved-one who asked, "Who is that man over there?" When asked what man she meant, she pointed to blank space and said that man with the sheep." She was a lifelong Catholic. She "should have" seen a man with a glowing heart. She saw lambs. Mystery.


the final mystery
hanging on the wall

a man
a lamb
a cup

a man with a lamb in his hands
a man cradling a cup
like Lazarus, a man raised up

around my neck
upon my wall

that man 
that plan 
that mystery

Thursday, April 3, 2014

What the Net Holds

“the tongues of dying men / 
enforce attention like deep harmony.”
                                                                   —W. S. Shakespeare

One final time, we wait 
for you to speak the truth 
we know you knew.
Your dry tongue clicks,
lips like gaping fish.
Not air you strain
from or to, but the wish 
to speak of beauty, harmony, 
and truth. Too late.
We come too late in the day
for you to say, and yet we stay
suspended in the possibility
that the air we breathe
has molecules of you
dissolved and thrown 
against the deeply mortal reef.
When finally we leave,
our nets are filled, heavy with
the poetry we seek.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

How the Peacock Got His Tail or The Night Has a Hundred Eyes, a Hundred Eyes, but None Do See

In mythology, the story of Zeus, Hera, Io, and Argus is a tale of lust, trickery, death, and honor.  In brief, jealous Hera turned Zeus's lover Io into a white heifer and set the hundred-eyed watchman Argus to guard her. Hermes, a god known for trickery, lulled Argus to sleep by playing music on a reed and by telling monotonous tales. Zeus was able to recover Io, and Hera placed a hundred eyes in the tail of her favorite bird in tribute to Argus.

This tale of the tail is written for the April 1 d'Verse prompt to write about an animal. That's my recently created artwork up there, so I have peacocks on my mind (obviously). Why? I don't know. Why not?

How the Peacock Got His Tail
the night has a hundred eyes, a hundred eyes, but none do see

One hundred eyes to guard the prize,
But every eye did close.

As Argus fell to Hermes' spell
That lulled him to repose;

And Zeus did laugh to take the calf,
Sweet Io, from his queen;

The watchman gave his life to save
Hera's pride supreme.

And Hera, moved by gratitude,
Although the fight she lost,

Placed the eyes to memorialize
Poor Argus and the cost.

The peacock's fan, to modern man,
A thing of rare beauty;

In ancient days, a tribute made
To eyes that no more see.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Me, You, Mockingbird

Much Madness is divinest Sense to a discerning Eye ~ Emily Dickenson

Sometimes a poem means just what it means. This is inspired by the Wordle of We Write Poems, a play with sound and sense.

in the Madness Woods,
across the Rabbit Blue 
far beyond the Melting Wind,

"You, me, Mockingbird."

It teases life again, 
faint and growing thin:


Monday, March 17, 2014

Caterpillars drop from trees

Photo of African Emprer Moth caterpillar taken by Lillian Reddy; borrowed from (and poem inspired by) Kerry O'Connor and Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads

Caterpillars drop 
             From trees,
                Curled with hope
                          And possibility.
                            Watch your tread;
                             Even one less
                          Is one too many.
                      Even one moth
                  Less is chaos, 
              A kingdom
Of infinite loss.

Friday, March 14, 2014



After, suddenly, 

Cotton in the ears,

underwater bottom 


Stopped clock, 

empty house,
Absence quiet.

Transcendent, ascendant

chrysalis quiet.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On being a poet

On being a poet 

It's awful, having nothing to say,
To sit silent like a toad,
Breathing in and breathing out.

Yet how pleased he seems
To sit, sun and shadows,
Breeze to stir the reeds.

Look how his sides heave,
A bellows of deep rhythms.
Nothing in the bright bead eyes

Of shame or want. No whipping 
For missed flies, regret or condemnation.
Only is. Only am. Only he,

Uncensored by his mind,
Free to breathe. Little Buddha, 
Free to be. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Old Wounds


Old scars if rubbed
Will scab and bleed;
Old aches return
With pressure.
A wounded heart
Of anger freed
Heals and breaks
In equal measure

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snow Day

Snow Day

Again, the call disturbing fitful sleep.
The ground, the whole world,
White and swirling.
The children, swaddled, nestled, snug,
Turn in dreams,
Their math the geometry of crystals,
Their compositions written in the sky.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Honk If You Love Jesus

Honk  if you love Jesus

From Heaven, it might sound 
like bleating sheep;

Up close, a gaggle of geese,
warning one another.

Right here, it is the horns 
of locking cars, testifying

that we store up earthly treasures 
against the dangers of church parking.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Wonder is Not a Disease"

Photo taken from Facebook page

I've been reading a little of the writings of Alan Watts, 20th Century philosopher. I won't try to characterize him or his thinking here, as his beliefs and teachings are too complex for this space and time. You can find much of his work on the Internet or as curated by his son, Mark Watts.

This poem is inspired by a phrase from his writings.

" wonder is not a disease"

In this sac of blood and bone
is wonder,
budding like a leaf, 
whole and green.

This bursting, if not soul, 
what then?
Not rudimentary output,
hair and and skin.

The universe, at once
strange yet familiar,
is self-contained;
imagination blossoms from within.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Natural Shocks

natural shocks

indignities of the body,
leaks and runs
and crusts,
shameful, smelly fissures, 
wheezes --
this is just
another fiery engine
that clicks and steams 
and rusts,
a clock that's sprung,
a race not won,
an hourglass of dust.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Newness of the Year


Your promises are small
And easy,
Golden sweet as honey,
Strong as tempered steel.
One I choose to follow:
Be still. Be still. Be still.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Time reclaims all work

Photo prompt  The Mag

Time reclaims all work

See,  in the breach
a  green, springy thing,
stronger than the prairie,
more tenacious than a tree.