Were it not for the wind
Were it not for the clouds
Were it not for the timing of the storm
As it beat against the window
Breaking the seal
Light flickering freely
in the darkening room
Catching the side view
of the dream that danced
about the ceiling of my mind
As the tiny bat flew in, frightened,
then perching behind the valance
only to be shewed out by a creature
One hundred times its size
waving a fire poker as if crazed.
Were it not for this,
the meek would be feared.
Example: that time I punched
Michael in the stomach
as we stood in the line
for the drinking fountain.
My second grade teacher,
Mrs. Brockhart, said I shouldn’t
have done that, and perhaps
I would not make that mistake
again if I lost my recess privilege.
I wanted to assure her that
it was no mistake, but she
assured me it was. After all,
I had no reason to be upset,
even though he had pulled the hair
of the girl in front of me,
and then turned to call
me a fat retard. A retard.
Inevitably, it happens. Not planned,
Not timed, no forewarning.
Much like the time
I left the cover on the old
warped the steel
and felt like a heel. After all,
electric stoves with covers
were new to me, and I was too
embarrassed to ask–often the cause
of some mistakes. Like, the time
I told everyone they would
get paid the daily rate–
because everyone worked
on the same thing
on the same day
only to be told
some people were worth
less–boy was that a shock.
They do not happen daily, but
usually when I am in a hurry,
like when I hit the tree as I
backed out of an unfamiliar,
mountain driveway. That mistake
precipitated a lie, which often
is the case when mistakes
are made. Oh, and the time
I told a student he was special,
which ricocheted into weird,
again moments. There was also
the time I turned down
the job at a high tech firm.
That little doozy cost me plenty
when their stock went public.
And then there’s this, a poem
which reminds me of my past
mistakes and doubles down on
crawl that confession back
off the page, or just-forgive-yourself,
will ya? moments. For these,
I will have a hard time
hiding, ignoring, denying,
or simply accepting that
mistakes make life thick
with feelings. That socking it
to a second grader isn’t the
end of the world, but better
helped me define myself.
That fender-benders can lead
to new cars sooner than planned,
that encouraging special students
is okay even if they don’t get it,
that turning down a job
for the right reasons can lead
to a different kind of wealth,
That learning I liked poetry
while reading during recess,
and then writing a poem
fifty years later,
can dull the sting.
Laptops attract gnats at night
if the window is left open.
Once a moth entered,
like a cat burglar, but I caught it
dancing around my screen,
vying desperately for my attention,
or maybe, just wanting to
go through the illuminated pixels
to the daylight of tomorrow.
Maybe the moth wanted
to be the subject of this poem
that was supposed to be
about my mother,
It’s Mother’s Day after all.
But I can’t write something
that really captures my love
like Billy’s Lanyard did.
No, I am not about to detail
all of the perfections that she is.
That, of course, would take
volumes–and who has space
in the day of Marie Kondo
for volumes of anything,
even my thoughts of my mother
or our trips to see the world?
Traditional women model, lopsidedly,
perhaps, the heart of the home through
meals and hugs and bedtime stories.
Modern women model, lopsided though it seems,
the value of education and applying knowledge
for societal influence and our collective betterment.
Mothers model both. Their children, reared with empathy,
kindness and grace, watch and learn
as the bread bakes, the kettle sings.
These women show their Anthonys or Athenas
how strength of mind is as valuable
as strength of will or heart.
These Modern Mothers are heroes
Doing more than ever before
For their children whom they adore.
For my friend and colleague, CB.
Capped off by the blinds, the view
from the bedroom window slightly
better than the view from the office–
Whirlwind of wonder as the sun’s
corona blazes down finally
on this spring Saturday of COVID 19.
And the child splashes through
her sprinkler with her beach ball
bouncing down the driveway.
Unaware, wave after wave of new protocols
and worries that threaten life
and livelihoods, the children splash
Of course there is a live broadcast
of the poet sitting behind his cluttered desk
beside a window, Strunk and White,
or is that Spunk and Bite, propped up
literally over his shoulder. Literally.
And I, for the love of God,
cannot write a single line
without misspelling a word
or forgetting the stanza form
I am hoping to capture.
He just laughs and says,
“Be well.” And the world,
hunkered down like in the age
of Blitzkrieg or Sherman, again
sits silent awaiting his return.
I, then, mull over what it means
to write something of value,
something about love in
the age of COVID or why
our dog thinks he is royalty.
He being the dog, the Min-Pin,
who barely escaped the lethal
dose and found his way to ruling
our world, jealous only of the poet
and the toddler who take my time.
I thought it was a squirrel peeking
through the shutter slats;
but upon closer looking,
I thought I saw a cat.
It wasn’t any feral type-
perhaps no cat at all.
It may have been an opossum,
nude tail bearing all.
The strangest part of seeing
whatever it may have been
was the tiny cap upon its
head, a wee cloth bag
slung across its back–
with a curled, red ribbon trailing.
So, what happens to the rhyme
You ask? It will pop up here
or there. It is not about the
form so much, but the rabbit–
or the hare that scampered
from my window sill
at Christmas morning’s light
and stole all nostalgic
thoughts and dreams of singing
elfin mice. Those reindeer hooves
upon the roof, those Sears
and Roebuck toys, the advent calendar
ajar, all candy now enjoyed:
That smell! Oh my! It must have been
that nasty skunk outside
who peered within, then seeing us
let out his heavy sigh.
He left a stench that’s hard to miss
Impossible, for sure. And then I thought
of one more think–an unthought thought
in years: the skunk as oxymoron–
Its perfect stripes delight us,
despite its strong parfum.
Perhaps it wants a lovely home
like mine with kids and gifts
To celebrate and sing within, perhaps
he saw our tree and simply wanted in!
Pampered. That’s what it conjures.
Resting on the lap of an elite-
Nibbling on goose pâté-
even the accents are somehow absurd
Robed in holiday pooch wear
After having been bathed in
an oatmeal and lavender bath.
But not our dog. Hound that he is,
he bays at the skunk who has
waddled through the fence,
scent and scat trailing.
Our dog, now riddled with aged bones,
gray from brow to the tip of his tail-wagging.
bones, shaking from the cold of old age
with his litter mate, more sprite still dancing
beside him unaware of his teetering steps.
He bickers with her over meal scraps, and steps
unaware, through their excrement.
Then sleeps, for hours, in their doghouse
no longer afraid of the noises the rain makes.
And oh, how we love him.
He is a mess. He is the country we live in.
He has camped with us, and cuddled.
His youth fulfilled our young dreams.
But now, it is time to rest.
Too old to save–
but never too old to cherish.
A million words define the silence
as heat stoked winds circle within
canyon walls, broken by weather,
turned into stories in dancing firelight.
Ute and Navajo spirits lift us
into the night sky where we become
the constellations our grandparents
taught us about eons ago.
Red rocks form eerie faces
Reminding us of distant places
Familiar yet foreign in their grimace
or their sorrowful smiles.
Like the woman who lost her child
while washing her linens in the Colorado.
He toddled off to catch a lizard
and became an image in the clouds.
Pedals tiny, bright, veined with light,
catch my eye amid the green
In momentary pause I click the pic
and capture a unique bloom
forgotten or unseen till now.
Like so many children whose
adult eyes go unnoticed.
I see you.
Seldom do snowflakes slip down our cheeks
nor icicles, rigid and clear, dangle from our eves.
But long, winter shadows don our hallways,
bending with late sunshine or moonbeam glaze
the figures we all recognize as each other.
Each silhouette, advancing in from the lot
or retreating to find its way to an evening
of rest, burdened or buoyed by the youth
that we serve, lifts my holiday spirit
and graces my work day like the perfectly-
piped, royal icing on the gingerbread house
of my childhood. No trinket can say
what only deeds can prove–I couldn’t
imagine working here without you.
May festive holidays and peaceful sleep usher
out the old and bring you joy in the New Year.
Have you heard the greatest of news?
It’s a gift sometimes dismissed:
Families, dear ones, even with their
Eccentricities, are forever.
Despite the distance, disputes,
dogged death that interrupts them,
Families, quirky and complex,
are made in the simple offerings
A phone call, a drop in, a plate
of baklava, or note from a friend,
A quick cup of something warm,
a photo on the Facebook page,
A long planned trip or a spur
of the moment jaunt south–
Each text message, or cameo
of Dad’s fish or sea-life sighting,
Each political difference, each
popular song about loss or love.
Each child’s first step, each cousin’s
first child, grandchild, marriage or divorce
All, every moment, make our families
similarly stellar and chaotic-
All, happily ours. Thanksgiving tables can
happen all year. May feasting begin again.
People on summer vacation
shoot the moon at the Amtrak;
Oh, to be rafting down the Colorado.
Of course, their moons are white.
One drunk kayak-er motions
to his girlfriend to join him.
She declines and blushes as she
moves into the brush to hide
from the eyes of the rail passengers.
Fly fisherman cringe as the train’s
horn responds to the engineer’s tug,
to the waves, and to the intersections.
Fleeting images from the trip back
East. Odd as it is, no one says,
“On the trip back West.”
Where the sun and the moon
set, and where one’s shorts
are kept up around one’s waist.
“My name is Jack,” he says
with confidence that his is the best
name ever. And why not?
“I was in the Australian outback
with my granddad last winter,
and now we are on our way
to ride a horse through the Badlands.
We have a Tesla and a BMW.
I love to fish—caught a Trigger fish
in Oahu two weeks ago. I’m nine.”
“That’s a lot of privilege
for one so young,” I say.
“And I love to travel,” he adds.
As we speed down the tracks
through Colorado’s Red Canyon,
he chatters, oblivious to my wonder.
And it’s the day of the protest
about children escaping oppression
only to be separated from their
mothers in our foreign land
for which they hold so many
dreams about shelter, food, and water.
I drove up on my first day
in the Chevy my parents
helped me buy.
Unaware that in minutes
the lot would be filled with
Mercedes, BMWs, even a Ferrari.
The drivers were sixteen—
Their cars costing more
Than my annual salary.
Three decades later
I still drive a Chevy,
and they think I am like them.
He spent his money earned while a Marine in Vietnan on a 1971 Landcruiser; drove it off the showroom floor.
Thirty years later, he spent
his inheritance restoring it
and cruzin’ the West side.
His sister bought a BMW
before dying of breast cancer
days before her grandchild was born.
The ah-ooga horn bellows
when he ventures near
a pasture of grazing cattle.
Indifferent to his disturbance,
they chew their cud and shake their
heads at the human obsession with horns.
And I wondered about the depth
of the canyon below us
as the Zephyr picked up speed.
And the Charles River lit up
with July fourth flares,
and cheers for the Republic,
And children wept for their
lost parents, and veterans
wept for their lost innocence.
And the cars sat in the driveway
of the privileged, hard-working
men and women of America.
Gone are the days of milking the cow
at dawn, baling the hay ’til sunset,
lumberjack breakfasts and skinned knees.
Lost are the chalk hopscotch games
and long walks home from our primer
school, the Ninety-One in Canby.
As the sunrises again, the waves
feel unnatural and distant.
Connections weaken as the broadband
signal strengthens, and the book
gives way to soundbites.
The whirling dervish spins
until his costume peels off
exposing the wolf that gobbled
up the grandmother.
That coy pose, shoulders raised,
wrists and itsy palms upturned
little petal curls at her lip corners.
And grandpa fawns, his voice changing
in ways it hasn’t in many years.
His heartstrings about to amputate his pinky.
He had not imagined the bond, her unconditional love,
amazed daily at her flirtatious coos–
His steep conditions have not yet applied.
“Laagi, laagi, laagi,” echoes as she
tuddles down the hall,
lips puckered for the goodnight kiss.
He has forgotten his disappointment
about her gender–and he knows now
that he was wrong to feel that way.
She growls and lays her head down
on his chest.
Masters sculpt with words
crafted by eons of use–
a poem or song, some float or spin.
I , too, select a phrase,
turn it, build a thought
brick by muddled brick–
And the foundation,
forged by strong ideas,
and stronger sentiment
Raised with perfect syntax,
concrete the musings
in the soon-to-be
lost annals of time.
People, like pebbles, dot the shore
as sand decapods barrel roll in the surf,
little legs crawling through the air,
unaware of my giant self casting
shadows on the curling waves.
I walk alone with my toes
popping the foam bubbles
remembering small moments
of my life where my legs
and mind crawled in vain.
Moments washed over by powerful seas,
I then tumble toward tomorrow
wishing mostly that my shell, like
the pebbles in the surf,
will withstand the ebb and flow
of the rising, swirling tide
And become polished
What worry must there be that
a proposal to eliminate AR-15s
from the hands of 15 year-olds
might create a constitutional crisis?
When did 15 year-olds need to carry?
Much like the argument that
my one year old has with me
when I pull the electrical cord out
of her mouth–even when it’s not
plugged into an outlet.
Or the time I did not allow her
to fall off the couch when she was
just learning o crawl. Heaven have
mercy on me, she wailed. And the
daggers in her eyes were sharp.
But everyone thinks I did the right
I am the adult. If I had allowed
her to fall or electrocute herself,
I would be culpable. Ah, you say
the couch didn’t make her fall
or the cord didn’t cause her
brains to fry–we shouldn’t
outlaw the couch or the cord.
But, couches and cords are not intended to kill.
We need couches and cords.
Wandering from Red Sea to Adriatic,
crossing Asia Minor, heading West,
aiming for the meridian and hoping to return
a day earlier than I had planned,
I ran headlong into the truth,
which seemed to be dodging me
and the rest of the world
for some time now.
Traveling alone for centuries,
bargaining with only what I had,
a pound of Fresno peaches and a pack
of frozen anchovies, oh, and two pieces
Sacher torte wrapped in wax paper,
I offered them all up for a surety.
Crossing paths with pundits of every make,
marveling at the mavens and savants
of science and sinistery scattered
throughout the lands and upon the seas,
I craved only that moment of knowledge,
that unmitigated exactness of fact.
Instantly, however, I found myself tethered
to a shopping cart at the checkstand
in a Silicon Valley Safeway, staring
straight away at a tabloid that stated
what I had hoped was a lie:
a charlatan had control of my country
And like the old lady that swallowed
a horse after downing several other
I died, of course.
Seems silly to squander a penny
On popsicles, popcorn, and pie—
But spending a moment with you,
Chatting about the kids, breaking bread,
Even bemoaning the evening news
is worth every penny, nickel or dime
As holiday cheer fills the air,
I linger at the cusp of times
Reflecting on little ones who age,
At the innocence of their youth.
I think of this institution’s walls
And the stories of its hidden truths.
As celebrations give you pause
For reflections on the year gone by
I hope they bring memories erased of sorrow,
Supplanted by joy and abounding
Happy Holidays to you and yours
May the New Year be kind, and like
the toddler sharing his dripping
cone, be genuine in its gifts.
Keep going, shine on and rep the word
As another round of days unfurl
Adventures vast and desserts sweet.
Peace in slumber, joy in days,
ride the wind of dragon wings
across the shores and surf.
Rest in friends and lounge in laughter
until the candles tint the air
reminding all of times we share.
Happy Birthday, friend!
Often, we ask the children their preference
then overrule their choice
out of our own fear of being judged.
The celebration calls for the wearing
of unicorn dresses with rainbow leggings—
at least in her mind. Please let her wear
that unicorn dress before it no longer means
magic, before conformity fills her mind
and brainwashes her soul.
But no, the pink dress with daisies
must be chosen–as is appropriate.
She still sparkles , the cutest girl in the world.
But the unicorn tulle and matching striped tights
with toes painted like tiny yellow hooves
and her golden alicorn headband sit crumpled
on the closet floor until finally, like the belief
that she is one with these majestic, mystical beings
get packed away–
so adulthood begins–
at kindergarten advancement.
Something in the night awakens
when the children sleep deep
down into the caverns of their dreams,
when I wake to the bullet whizzing
and constant tapping of the media’s
microphone pointed right between
my eyes where the sleep should be.
I hide my discomfort and constant
yearning to sit quietly away
from the anxiety surrounding me.
What have we come to? Where
hides the solace? From whom
must we run tomorrow, from
whom must we risk our love
of life, of liberty, of peace of mind.
A lizard crosses my path
scurries up the ailing redwood
finding a niche to hide within.
Can we no longer laugh about
what seemed innocuous before?
No. We cannot. Only politicians
deride freely. Faith becomes
an act of courage, the cherry
blossom a reminder of what
It rarely rains when I visit Sedona-
Snow, yes, that happens from time to time,
but rain, not so much
Despite that, the earth is ready for it–
the smallest gullies and large washes
wait for the gushing with a perpetual yawn.
The flowers stay fetal and curled
Until the drops turn to rivulets
And trickles turn to torrents.
And then, blooms open as the sun
Bursts from behind its cloudy curtain,
Within in a time lapsed moment, water
vaporizes into the blue skies.
I climb a small red rock hill and listen
to the Native flute in the distance.
Eating breakfast this morning I looked
at my bowl of Cheerios, the aged cereal of toddlers,
and thought of you. You came to mind
when I passed Falcon Ridge Drive yesterday, too.
Of course, while sewing I looked for that
tiny angel doing the two-step on the head
of my straight pin as my ear swiveled to catch
a Thelonius Monk tune coming
from my neighbor’s window. I remember
that it was that tiny winged-bugger
who prompted me to head to the south end
of Long Island a few years ago where
you and I sat at a lunch table with your fans
and ants and writers who thought heaven must
feel better than this, but not much.
I wonder often at the genius of you.
Reading, observing, then writing, finding
the twist, the wit, the silly-billy truth.
And me, the wannabe, who smiles
knowing that confidence makes the man
and you have rarely lacked that,
or so it seems, as you speak to thousands,
silently chiding the cats who pursue poetry
but who have not yet mastered prose.
You dog, you. Already beautiful as you
pen the next poem and ride the next wave.
Happy Birthday, Billy. You are
one for the ages and you, sir,
have made all the difference to me.
Each morning dew or sunlit hue
Invites a thought of gratitude
A simple note or selfless deed
Reminds me of the friends we need
A friendly face in every place
Keeps me mindful of all grace
Your presence here imbues my life
With heart and smiles and giggling light
For all the words that might be found
There’s not enough to go around
May Christmas cheer your every mood
And laughter lift your solitude
That peace and love will fill your home
And memories comfort when alone
It may just be work or daily strife
But you contribute such good to life
My wish to you and those held dear-
a peaceful break, a joyful year.
As the Mississippi River slices, sometimes a mile wide,
through the green fields of our southern states,
or the upheaval of the Rocky Mountains,
higher and more crevassed than
the Appalachians to the east or the Sierras
to the west, scar the plains,
Just as the Pacific currents swirl
to unfathomable depths, the voids off the continent’s shores
teem with life unknown. While above, lightning bolts
split the spacious Montana sky, and rains
pound rivulets in the already furrowed farmlands
where the amber grains will again wave in spring,
we hope and are thankful.
Just as the feeling of disconnection
polarizes our people–people, not unlike
the Wampanoag and those Puritan immigrants,
who all wanted something better for themselves,
their children, their neighbors–but perhaps
have forgotten because of the distance forged by words,
that our histories and our futures are bound
we hope and give thanks and pray.
Poems hide in school desks and annuals, scribbled
or crafted by boys and girls, bakers or bards,
praising fathers for fatherly things, which
may make this poem redundant, or at least unnecessary.
But it must be said: Great fathers got nothin’ on my dad
(Billy Collins, you must forgive the vernacular).
And everywhere Fathers and Papas and Dads
excel–it’s like half the adult population;
doing things right by their children.
Grand fathers, they are. Those who fought in great
wars, those who raised children alone, those who
sacrificed, toiled, and loved beyond measure,
like my grandfathers, Louis and Homer.
I did not know them, but I think I actually do.
I see them in the eyes of my father when
he hugs my daughter. I see them in the eyes
of my husband when he loves our son.
I know my grandfathers when I see kindness
and wisdom in my uncles and cousins,
when I hear the stories about cooking or fishing,
building things or fixing cars.
Grand fathers raise up grand sons and we,
daughters, sons, wives, husbands, all,
pen our utmost thanks, have a barbecue (or tacos),
and anxiously await….the dubs and cavs.
Plans and poems change when a game 7
happens on your Sunday.
Because we met you then, and knew for sure,
despite your crooked bangs, your wrinkled clothes
in a green lawn bag, we loved you. Your tiny teeth
and hands, happy about seeing our pet
Deer and raccoon; ours because the river
flows through our yard like our love
never ebbed for you with your tangled
words and constant gaze, your “I do it,”
Phrase; we loved all of you. So fierce
your independence, so honest your tender care
of small creatures and even adults who had somewhere
wronged your youth and robbed you
Of some part of life only to leave you
the special gifts that we so fortunately
will have a lifetime and beyond to cherish.
We proffer our love in exchange for your
Perpetual silliness. Our coffers overflow
with your bright lit soul, reminding us
that your birthday is coming soon–
Oh happy day! When you were five
We were born, too. We, who are your parents,
worry about your future but know
you are kind, contemplative, and careful;
we know you can do it. We have seen you
In perfect form from the day we met you.
So, into adulthood you go. May you forever
know that there is no gift we can give that
can rival the gift you have brought to us,
when you were so young.
Happy 18th Birthday, Breanna! We love you.
Mom and Dad
Simply put, I cannot fathom
the fortitude needed to fight
for causes that matter more
than what I fight for: freedom
to speak my mind regardless
of politics, absent pretense.
Like yesterday, when the cat
teased our Beagle by lounging,
legs stretched out over the quilt
on the back of the sofa,
within a foot of the sliding door.
She was a mean tease, and I just watched.
Or this morning, as I entered
the office and no one sat complaining
about the elected stewards of our lives,
about their failure of forethought,
about the cost of their concerns.
My silence shattered my senses.
This weight is not the weight
of matter. These trials, trite
or troubling, can compare not
to the tirades of poverty,
abandon, or hate. Yet I feel
buried beneath them.
All conflict sits incongruously
in the back pocket of my jeans;
the desire to speak stifled
by some fear demon, who perches
like a medieval dragon and whispers,
“Cats are just that way, get over it.”
I threw it off the cliff
and watched it curl on an updraft
leaving me yet again
clinging to the safe side
Two years ago I sat alone
in a coffee shop in NoHo
dreaming about writing,
scratching out the screenplay
Like etching a straight pin
across the surface of a balloon,
anticipation and ideas began clawing
my upper palette forcing me to mouth
Story lines and characters
rich as fabled producers in fur coats
lining the boulevards and quoting
the very lines of my mind
Two thousand keystrokes each hour
page after page of internal creating
mustered my courage until the wind’s lift
caught the edge of resolve
And that cautionary urge returned
as the hour to depart approached
and the muse of my soul retreated
as I dared to cast you in that film
And still the pages sit in a binder
On top of old jeans and covered
in layers of insecure dust
waiting for the wind to lift them up
Bring on the storm clouds, my friend.
I’m ready to throw you off again.
On we rush to New Year’s open doors
Hurried by the dropping ball atop
towers of brand names and amid throngs
of tourists from Earth’s every curved corner
And yet, we are unaccomplished
in our resolutions of peace and pounds. We weigh our thoughts on the scales
of global injustice and pardoned dreams.
What is it that keeps us hopeful
from year to year? Is Pandora still locked away in her spotified box,
beating her beatle drums for release?
With only a handful of days to go,
will the spice cupboard finally be cleaned and the dog bathed? Will the old plastic
lids and their mismatched bowls unite?
If we were to start walking toward Mecca,
will we arrive by sundown? Can iris grow through a blanket of snow?
I hear the kazoos warming up.
Petrichor, fall’s denouement, presages
El Niño and our holiday eve’s peeling bells.
The hindsight on a pyrrhic year, reflecting
riparian beauty amid harsh new histories.
And then I read, “write as if you were
talking to your friends.”
I am not sure why
yellow leaves make me smile
nor why rainbows surprise me.
Why it hails and how that differs from snow
always baffled me in first grade,
but my fourth grade teacher,
Mr. Hanson, taught me about weather.
Now I just smile in awe.
I often feel that way at this time of year–
The wood stove warmth and our Siamese
Spice curled up nearby also
remind me that my favorite season
just in time for Christmas.
Driving the back way through the parking lot near the apartment,
I saw a woman who was walking directly into my path.
I figured I would have to press the brakes to let her cross,
and I was annoyed.
She was a few years older than me, her gray tufts
framing her slightly wrinkled face, her head crowned with
a red knit cap. I considered how she so boldly wore
a red jacket, red pants, and sneakers.
She was spry as all get out, you could tell.
The spring in her step not matching the early hour
nor my sedentary, half groggy brain. Her arms swung
a simple, but light rhythm as she moved.
I slowed, wondering if she was fast enough
to cross the road before I met her. If we reached
the crossing at exactly the same time, I could
see her eyes and maybe know more about her.
I proceeded on, but for a moment a tree
blocked my vision, I was surprised to see
she had retreated, turned around and headed
back from where she had come.
Sad that I had been annoyed, I wondered
about her life, her secret, her energy–
so positive even from a distance.
We would not meet, but I was happy we did.
Lights come in all colors and shades
And hues—And lights come in circles
Like the stoplight’s green and red.
Highlights rise above, while spotlights
point out what we should notice,
And sunlight illuminates and warms.
The light you bring every day of the year
Is, however, much like the candle of yesterday
Cheer: it twinkles a smile sheds light on the truth
And reaches the soul of our most lovely youth.
That’s what it is, a Soul-light of sorts!
It’s the very essence of bright and serene—
You calm and add value when things
Sometimes feel dark—and yes you are
Valued for your quirk and your spark.
Merry Christmas to you and to all
whom you love.
When I looked out the window this morning, the cat looked with me and mewed. Leaves bustled everywhere and a squirrel jumped from a high limb to the neighboring tree. "It's Thanksgiving, you see," I said to the cat, who mewed again. Either her voice or the realization made me think of my grandmother's cat. My grandmother had seven children. They all married, save one. Some married twice. Bucketfuls of grandchildren and barrels of memories washed over me. I give thanks daily for my simple life and all the good that comes my way; but I have learned a different lesson as I age: thanks alone is not enough. Ancestry aside, if I squander that which has been gifted me, being grateful means little. So, I set to work, cleaned the dishes, prepared the food,
paid the bills.Tomorrow I will wash clothes, make the bed, send a note of gratitude, change the litter box again. Then, I said, I will try my best at everything else. The cat mewed. Outside, wind warned the squirrel about life's fleeting nature, about how important it is to get those ducks lined up in little Martha Stewart rows. The thankful rodent, believing, ran down the tree trunk, right into the jaws of the hungry coyote. Thanksgiving? mused my prose-loving cat, who often knows me better than I know myself. "Don't be a wise-ass," I say. "Poetry is supposed to be profound."
Leaves litter our yard while I
Contemplate the chaos in the news,
Illogical random acts and words,
that seem to chip away at our fiber,
igniting the tender tinder of our collective selves.
Does the roaming coyote know about
the bombings? Do the blue jays worry
about the faith-shaken? Does the wind
cry or simply dry the tears of the bereaved?
A million leaves keep falling in the breeze.
Tricolor hues light up while media spins
political views; I walk out to the river
and gaze up the valley at the fall colors
twisting play-wistfully high in the treetops.
Within a moment I forget
how utterly fallen I felt at the news.
When the towers went down,
I was not afraid. Just like with this.
There is not fear, but sadness–and shame
for the unkind reactions of the masses
and the murderous actions of misguided men.
And the wind rustles the bay and walnut limbs,
and I move about my yard unscathed
in utter tranquility that so often is taken
for granted by the millions who raise their fists
and shout, “Revenge.”
As I turn to retreat inside, my beagle
howls and the pondering squirrel
Weather tight conduit
A real situation here
Press the wires gently
Good afternoon, passengers
No one is flying the plane
That’s the wrong one
If it’s not done right–they will get you for everything.
Here comes the…
I think we are about to crash into the sun.
Is that right?
How does anyone know what not to do?
Getting older pretty much sucks
Unless, life began poorly,
a dearth of necessities and nurturing
and general human hardship
improving it over time.
Like me, for instance.
I came into this world
to parents who loved me,
grandmothers who guided me,
siblings who played with me,
eggs for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch,
hamburger pie or Vince’s spaghetti
for dinner. Lots of cousins, a horse and barn,
oh, and the darn chickens and rabbits,
and even a cow at one point.
It was a pretty miserable beginning.
And then, I had to go to school—
college even. And Europe. I lived there
for awhile. Oh, and I had to parasail
once and scuba dive. It was pretty
Of course, I then had to get married,
buy a house, raise a kid, adopt a kid,
get dogs and cats, build a career
doing something I loved—see how it’s
all building up to that sucky part?
Now on the eve of 53, I still have
loving parents, a good husband, kids,
and oh, those grandkids, siblings, cousins,
fond memories of those iconic grandmothers,
friends, a bucket full of experiences
that make every day richer—
like seeing Casablanca after studying
the script for a week or cresting
Haleakala after watching the lava
spill of Kilauea.
Jay bird, jay bird, sittin’ on a limb,
He winked at me and I winked at him.
I picked up a rock and I hit his shin,
Sez he: “You’d better not do that agin.” (Ira Ford)
Daddy went a-huntin;, Daddy shot a bear;
Shot him in the ass, and he never touched a hair. (Bayard)
Jaybird, Jaybird, sitting in the grass,
Jaybird, Jaybird, sitting in the grass,
Jaybird, Jaybird, sitting in the grass,
Wiggle-wiggle went his tail, poop went his ass.
And the song continues throughout the hours,
Reminding me of fowl and feathers’ power,
You depart, remnants of your ruckus remain.
I spy the trees through the fallin’ rain.
Come back, little bird, and sing again.
I’ll throw another rock at your shin.
I’ll be nice and you’ll just sass,
I’ll toss my bleeding heart at your ass.
Strip mall glass reflects
my weaknesses, displaying
my pain in public, exposing
my fallibility, my humanity.
Rivers of salty tears etch
stains into my freckled features,
my Estée Lauder wrinkles
my L’oreal auburness.
Who is it that can so turn
my strength to sadness, sapping
my good intentions by wielding
words tainted with honesty?
Was it Odysseus who heard
the siren or fought apathy
of the Lotus flower? Am I
as weak as the blinded Cyclops?
What truth will your tale
bring down? Whose words
swayed you into believing
that my words were lies?
How swollen that sense of self.
How embattled my sorrow.
No salve will remove these scars;
You cut the core of me.
So like Socrates I question:
What can I learn when next
approaches this opportunity?
Turn back across that bridge–
Become a salt pillar else.
Make room for new. For more.
pants too faded, too tight,
too juvenile, must go
to the dustbin.
But the overcoat, full length,
forest green,long and wool,
warm enough for snow storms
and early Sunday morning
Straßenbahn rides–it must go.
The scent of old town Freiburg
lines its pockets. My coming-of-age
memories whimper as I bundle them all
off to the thrift shop, two pfennig
in the front pocket.
teases the tender heart,
tricking me into believing
that feelings can be forgotten
that daggers can unstick us.
I walk the shoreline,
sand gritty on my souls.
Everywhere beauty fills me
as gulls kaw and tides rise;
I see your spectre in the
breaking waves. I search,
my eyes burning from
the vibrant sun.
And tomorrow arrives just
as yesterday did–quickly,
quietly, while my back
was turned away and I was looking
hard over the horizon
for what I thought I saw.
The path is long
Lots of things to see and do along the way.
You never know what awaits around the next corner,
when you think you have it all figured out,
the path turns into ocean or air,
the way requires different vehicles
and navigational tools.
and always patience
for the becoming you.
Birds perch in my open window
Chirping hope and eating flies
Finches, Juncos, Jays, arrive
Sipping from sills and teaspoons.
Marooned in my mind, ruminating
about my last encounter with you.
Advertising fills the sidebars
of the internet pages
reminding me that you left me
with no forwarding address
and I cry every time
your name appears
because you died right before
my eyes and I could not
stop the blood
words rip me wide open.
Your words that leak
through the pages
of my screen and scream
“you do not matter to me.”
Tucked behind two booths brimming
with aged dishes and doll heads,
sat a shrine to Hollywood’s Elmo.
You know, the famous Elmo Williams
who staged the battle scenes
for Tora Tora Tora.
Oh, you don’t know?
He won an Oscar for editing High Noon.
the Eastwood classic.
What? That doesn’t ring a bell.
You must be young.
Orphaned at an early age
Williams, created an impressive
resume, lived abroad
for much of his life,
really hit the big time.
Now, his biography sits
on a painted shelf
alongside some storyboard
sketches from another film.
His hat hangs lifeless
in a corner booth of the antique
store in Brookings.
When Ginsberg walked the supermarket
aisles with Whitman, and Ferlinghetti
printed Howl despite or because of Allen’s
inability to use Sunday School speak,
Poets heaved enlightened sighs
and pressed their pen to paper
with a universal squeal of freedom
that sounded something like
a profane yawp.