Saturday, November 10, 2012

Reasons for Staying Up Late

to curl up with the cats
in the bed of stars
that have drifted through the ceiling 
to listen to coyotes
converse with the moon

to breathe in the intoxicating smell 
of the night blooming jasmine
drifting in the window
that calls me to dance
through the backyard in my nightgown

because my midnight muse
has arrived
carrying a basket of words
that must be used before dawn 
and because you are asleep
and waiting

and because nothing
is sweeter than returning
to the curve of your back against mine
to wake to the orange hush
of morning together

Wheeled Home

I want a house with wheels 
not a trailer. 
I don't care for trailers.
I lived in one once.

It made me feel untethered  
as if  I was in a silver boat
that was landlocked yet somehow drifting  
I was lost but I didn't want to know it.

I want my house to be the house
I live in now but with really 
amazing wheels,  and also a rudder
so it could  go in rivers, oceans even.

I fell in love with my home slowly
it was like an arranged marriage. 
I loved my old neighborhood 
and my old neighbors.

I  didn't want to move but one day 
the love of my house 
and my yard knocked me down.
We have a passionate affair now.

I want it to go with me everywhere.
So my house will sprout wheels 
and a rudder and sails but not wings. 
well, maybe wings, too, why not.

The  house will go 
wherever I want
Italy, Lake Como, perhaps,
and the African plains,

the moors of england
to be with the wild ponies again
the streets of Paris,
and to shanghai for dinner.  

I will be far away and home too
and the cats 
will look out the windows
puzzled but content. 

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Monarch Grove

they soar like tiny winged cathedrals
their windows open to heaven

an infinity of butterflies weave themselves
through the Eucalyptus trees

filling them with a quickening light 
the smell around us in mint, honey, and pine

the clouds are so far above
we live only in sunshine

a kiss under a Monarch cluster 
a butterfly kiss,

the world contains everything 
in this moment and more

we are royalty
counting our sudden wealth, branch by golden branch

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

October at the Grocer's

and so 
it was just one of those 
full moon days when the loonies 
were out and  busy practicing their looniness
so, so, so
be bold if you want to

do more than  think about 
kicking the butt of the horrible 
woman next to you in the ten item line
the one who  is sneering  and  loudly 
counting your eleven items, twice 
be kinder than you want to be,
no kicking.

be wise as a serpent 
be  gentle as a dove

take the 2 oranges out of her 
clenched fists and begin juggling 
them, concentrate very hard 
until the oranges
become  bumblebees, 
that flitter and buzz and dive bomb
before settling into the nest 
of her witchy hair
there to make sweet honey
of  her frazzled life.

and that man who insists 
on throwing outrageous numbers 
into his cell phone. holding captive 
the deli line with his million dollar deal
give him a necklace of linked sausages, 
bratwurst would be best, 
and dance him down the aisles
until he promises never to use in public
the words merger or stock shares
ever, ever  again, 
and heads for produce 
doing a soft shoe.

take the little boy in the giant red 
shopping car that is crashing 
against cartons  and over feet
and place his harassed  mother's hand 
in his and count to ten 
 they will  next be seen 
 flying over Aspen 
singing about  golden leaves
and having more than enough time
for everything under the sun

invite the irritable  butcher to lay down
his knife and stuff himself 
full of candy corn and licorice 
until he becomes a  large round
Halloween pumpkin,
winning 1st place in the show,
before retiring to the garden 
of a family of five, 
whose youngest child 
and he laugh, great jolly  laughs 
that burst across the sky
and are often found 
giggling  into the falling twilight.

the soul is here for its own joy 
the poet said
help it happen daily 
at a grocery store near you.

Monday, October 22, 2012

the sky paints itself without a brush

without a sketch

as the sea with no conductor
plays both allegro and grave

love can be so spare,
desert sun, dry bones

yet sometimes,
soft winged, ocean mist

lapping waves
before the undertow,

the sky makes it look so easy
the capitulation,

heaven's bow to night
knowing darkness lasts

only until dawn sings in the day
perhaps love is like gravity
let it go,  let it go, to fall exactly where it should

all the crooked things shall be made straight

the prophet, Isaiah,  proclaimed
ah but the devil is said to hate a crooked path
as always preferring the obvious 

we  yearn for an easing 
on our single minded journey  
a  straightening 

 yet the bump, the twists, 
the hairpin turns 
are the trip's  intake of breath 

 children yelp in  joy
on roller coasters roads
urging their father to drive faster

each hill a swoosh
and swivel 
of celebration

as each pebble in your shoe 
on a woodland walk 
is a little reckoning

let heaven be a holy mess
streets not paved in gold
but pot hole lined and limitless

View Through a Plane Window

Is  this sky or ocean,  
a rush of frost white waves 
or clouds? 
At 60, I'm  an over eager child
puppy limbed, 
in my desire
to jump into the beyond.

The plane my diving board,
I become a winged creature 
in these cold heights.

Am i hearing the persistent 
thrum of jet engines in my ear
or is my own propulsion unleashed

No one sees me 
there are no startled gasps
of delight or of horror.
The pretzels are still being served
to seat 43 d.

A tawny heat rises
from the hills below,   
hills that wait like sleeping lions.
I want to curl among them,   
watch  the horizon scatter
as night approaches
and the sun catches fire.

No one has discovered 
I am gone.  My seat belt 
is unbuckled.  My reading glasses
have fallen to the floor.

I am following directions 
that disappeared one night
long ago and are now
imprinted on my palms.
A  map I had never forgotten
only neglected
to remember.


sweet grassiness of rain,
spring's breath
swelling  in the shadows
the sky shuddering 
and the patter of each  raindrop
sweeping into us

later, above blue
and now bluer and you 
and I shy and shyer 
than the eyes
of the meadow greening 

some moments 
or years from now
I will breathe 
into memory 
and the quivers of night

shall pass and somewhere 
you will be moved into dancing 
and I too
and that will mean all 
and more 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Slightly Higher in Canada

call of the goose, bereft,
his mate 
somewhere over 
the moon and gone 
o lord, she can't get no higher 

then  its stumble flight 
nip, nipping at shadows
plotting revenge 
on the wind
and the flirtatious pull,
of the stars  

spellbound it is-
- thunderstruck 
this bird, 
one toke over the line 
wings akimbo

did you mean to shoot straight 
take a drag 
collect your prize 
it leaned into the bullet 
didn't it ?

Queen of Sheba

aptly  named feline,
you  lie in sleek ,
black beauty across my chest,  
lowering my blood pressure, 
by the steady thrum of you.

Or so I have been told.

My  heart beat eases into  
a slow, steady rhythm 
as the rumble 
of your ferocious purrs 
softens into an almost unvoiced whisper.

Yet, your partly 
opened claws 
on my throat 
dare me to move 
and disturb our newly won peace.

Bella, lovely as midnight
Let us doze the soft afternoon away. 
You,  in regal splendor
I, your humble human, 
depending upon you to forget

the jungle  in your bones,
and  remain a sweet
mountain of peace 
upon my sleeping chest

Lowering my blood pressure 
or so I have been told.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Flying on Love

Your laughter spills into my soul
The cadence of it makes me whole
I'll fly with you up through a cloud
We'll dance the moon around
sing until the sunrise
beckons us back down
then home on the last moonbeam
with pockets full of stars and dreams
and nothing shall we lack, my love
Yes, nothing we shall lack

Museum Reverie

Sculpted muses circle in dance
celebrating spring perhaps or love.
It's so often about love.

Creating shadows,
illusions so beguiling
I dissolve into them.

Shadow sides of sculpture
intrigue now
far more than their stone progenitors.

This after I discovered
Rodin's disembodied spirits
hovering on a wall in the Legion of Honor.

My mother in her final illness
studied the shadows
of tree branches swaying on her ceiling.

We learned together what shadows
could teach, that we walk in light and shadow,
shadow and light.

I watch as phantom giants
slide off their pedestal, gray becoming
the color of creation.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Crimson Angels (after Chagall's Falling Angels)

If the sound of blue violins is drowned
by the staccato march of booted feet,

we have only ourselves to blame.

Perhaps if we read the newspaper backwards
or visualize the world as an anagram.

It would all become clear.
We can only wish.

If wishes were horses than beggars could ride.

To a faraway land
where armies carry only bread,

bread that melts on our tongues
until our mouths fill with peace,

with green rain, with sorrow redeemed.
But today crimson angels fall, and we wait.

Green Plants Dreading Your Feet (after the signs of China and our esteemed poets)

I like your smile but unlike you put your shoes on my face.
The road not taken.
Your careful step keeps tiny grass invariably green.
Little drops of water, little grains of sand
make the mighty ocean and the beauteous land.
Show mercy to the slender grass.
The quality of mercy is not strained.
People, flowers and help each other in breath,
if you pluck off the flowers
and break off the branches
Woodman, spare this tree
you will reduce your life at the same time.
A thing of beauty is a joy forever.
Protect a piece of green leaf
and dedicate a share of love.
I think that I will never see a poem as lovely as a tree.

Learning Spanish

My r’s won’t roll, they stumble.
My n’s don’t flow, they crawl.

Vowels can’t make the needed pirouettes
from familiar English rhythms;

they crumble to the floor holding their toes.
Yet, I try, driven to read Neruda out loud,

to hear the beauty of his soft vowels
each speaking their own name.

Slow progress but progress comes.
I eavesdrop on Spanish conversations.

Words rise upwards like bread.
Some I am able to eat. They taste of ink and

and paper and honey, curl under into my pores
waiting. Sometimes now my r’s do roll

one day the n’s did flow
carrying me with them on a silver stream

before I hit the dam of self consciousness
and landed on the shore.

But each day, each lesson, something
is happening. My lips are remembering, my tongue

glides when it needs to, hitting the back
of my teeth to make the perfect Spanish d.

Words pour into a cup of learning
I drink and drink and want to drink more.

To the day I will be drunk with success.
Ah, that will be sweeter than any sangrĂ­a.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


On explaining the Word to my Enlglish as a Second Language Students)

When a word
becomes so real,

you feel it,
know how it smells, tastes

if it is warm or cold
you own it.

a longing, bittersweet

for grandmother's bread,
for lavender scented sheets

for a sleeping baby's head
warm on your shoulder,

an ache for a long lost home,
an absent love

a world that exists
in an enchanted snow globe

and no amount of shaking
will ever bring it back.

Grandmother's Laugh Rises Upward

Kneading poems,
I fold in syllables that slide like honey
from my fingertips.

The spirit of Anna,
sits, watches,
whispers instructions,

her warm Ukrainian accent
in my heart.

"A pinch of wit,
not too heavy on
the handling,
light, easy."

She begins to sing
an old folksong,

on a sun filled ledge,

"The poem,
a slice
of peace," she says,

with expectation."

Water and the Word

In the beginning,

Miss Marshall. second grade.

The poetry book falls open to Old Ellen Sullivan.

You should hear
the slapping and the rubbing
and the muttering
and the steaming and the splashing.
The dark clothes dripping
and the white clouds fluttering.

Syllables bubble, bubble, bubble,
torrents of words,
ripple over my feet,
my desk,
my pencil.

Miss Marshall waves goodbye
as she turns the page.
She knows what to expect.

I swim now
under stars, hung
by eight drunken sailors.

Filter that starlight someone please!
The heart can't take such beauty straight.

Evening always shimmers so
before it attacks on soft feet.

Twinkle, twinkle, little star.

How I wander as I wonder.
I float simply, simply float
in a sea of happy lies.

Who can build the biggest castle?
Stack word upon word, upon word,
tiny towers of Babel.

Words fall
blossoms all
sweet and fresh and fluffy.

I am the one you see swimming
in and out of pockets of light.

Whole Rivers of Light

barely visible on this gray rimmed day
just under the farthest cloud,
the one full of rain,
there is a hint of blue.
If I listen carefully,
I can almost hear it
splashing past the outer perimeters
of heaven.

Blue sings
with a lilting soprano;
there are days
it even laughs out loud

but gray never lifts its voice
even though it is kin to silver,
which whistles whenever it can
or dances gaily upon the waters.

I wonder some day
if I should make my peace with gray,
but its silence as it broods
threatens like a petulant lover.

So I wait,
because of that azure sliver of sky
wait for the pouring forth,
somewhere there are whole rivers of light.

On Remembering

A path
beyond red, beyond fire,
spread its lovely fingers.

I was eight
summer was cresting
in the world and me.

Most of the time
I walk through the world

but some days, I remember
until my chin glows.
I'm buttercup yellow, sated.

Playing With Poetry

Today my poetry has decided to play
to wear short pants with a pea-shooter
in the back pocket
to throw pebbles on hopscotch squares.

It doesn’t want to be pregnant with meaning
It doesn’t know how a poem
can even get pregnant.
It won’t today.

Today it uses exclamation points like crazy!!!!!!
It has never heard of Ashberry, Berryman,
Pound’s Cantos or Canterbury Tales
and wouldn’t know language poetry from alphabet soup.

It thinks obscure verse means something naughty
and is not about to get its mouth
washed out with soap, again.
Not today.

Tomorrow, my poetry
may rise, stretch
and think important thoughts
It may have a grand vocabulary

use majestic metaphors
and alliteration with alacrity.
But today it plays hooky,
dances the hokey-pokey, stands on its

head and turns somersaults.
Tomorrow may be different. It may grow-up,
sweat, swear, rework, revise.
I hope not. I like my poetry today.

My Love for You is Infinite Blue

blur and scattering of skies blue
Chagall take away my breath blue
sweep me through the clouds blue
Rothko blue fading into blue
sinking into blue sighing
rising into blue
dark deep El Greco View of Toledo Blue
on days without you blue
through love soaked rain
days when I can't see the blue except
in your cobalt blue kisses, blue
true, true, true blue
infinite blue, blue,  infinite blue


The sky rains
words today, they
fall silently

So, I say
I'll make me a poem.
Which word
goes first?

Quite audaciously,
with its tinselly smile,
flies backwards
into waiting hands.

I want my poem
to be
spare, light,
its own weight.

is destined
to seek out its

in my unwritten ode
to the bewildering
present of poetry

I woke,
not knowing
would gift
me with
lyrical surprise,
with sultry syllables.

I am fiercely

Prayer for the Wounded

The rain fell and left
and rises again as a gray mist
covering the orchard behind our home.
This brooding sky troubles me.
I want sun or rain,
the eyes of heaven weeping
or crinkling in laughter
not this relentless staring,
this vacant God.

Out of the mist a deer
with a broken leg
limps to the edge of our lawn
and curls up in a bed of pine needles.
Our eyes meet through the window.
I try sending inter-species vibrations
across the glass.

Coyotes lurk behind trees
and tall grasses, ready to cull the weak.
Bold enough to come in our yard by day
wild banshees into the night.
I cast the coyotes as villains
in the story of this deer's life.

I want to open my back door,
walk through the damp grass
and sit beside the deer.
I want to run my hand over
its flanks and sing prayer
into an indifferent steel sky.
But at the sound of the latch
the deer would struggle to its feet.
its fleeting peace would splinter.

On days when color lies dormant
in the soil when prayers
stick to my tongue.
I cannot laugh or weep.
I can only stand watch.

After Reading the News I Fall Into a Book of Hours

The darkness,
always too visible.

Will the pen ever really
be mightier than the sword?

Till then I will wait
perched on mortared hope.

Praying simply,
simply praying.

Matins, Lauds, Prime,
Terce, Sext,

None, Vespers,
Sweet Compline.

Breathing in a world
of parchment peace.

While pestles grind and grind
honeyed words, divine,

and colors bring echoes
from our earth that sing

songs of saffron,
madder, cinnabar,

leaf of gold
pitch of pine,

azurite and malachite,
sepia, and lac.

* The book of hours is the most common type of Medieval illuminated manuscript. It contains prayers, psalms and illustrations.

Friday, April 1, 2011

When I Tasted Color

A golden sunflower
began the remembering.
I lived then
for a moment
in the childhood place.

Red was the fire from a match
in my mouth.

Once I swallowed
the yellow of the sun.
It flowered in me,
planting seeds.

The sharp scent of pine
or breathing in
new mown grass
rolled green around my tongue.

Grandmother’s freshly washed sheets,
pulled the taste of white
from basement to kitchen
from kitchen to basement.

Sipping ice cold water
from a Christening cup
was silver.

Brighter than any blueberry
blue bounded from
a moonlit lake
staining my lips.

One day my mother
handed me a box
of Crayolas.

So many choices,
so many ways to be orange.

I never tasted color again but I know,
once I swallowed the yellow of the sun.
It flowered in me planting seeds.

Petal Poet

(Ode to a hummingbird in flight)

your shimmering wings
poet's rhythm

I soar too

dive into the honey
of crimson words

their promises of liquid peace

phrases make me buckle
for a moment

before I center myself
in a convenient participle

perhaps I am too hasty
the hallowing of a heart

cannot be hurried
even the wind must wait

I close my eyes, shadows walk
into themselves

soon I will fly with you
into avenues of marigolds

until then I will hover here
where sunlight beckons

or perhaps skip backwards
into the fickle moon

The Girls Next Door

Daisy, flutters from shoulder to shoulder,
a miniature referee.

Six years old, I am visiting the "girls next door," Mae and Bess,
gray- haired, bespectacled eighty year olds.

In their kitchen, the warmth of hugs, chocolate milk, oatmeal cookies.

Then as we settle - arguments-

that whirl around and around the room like garish feathers.

Anything, a source for disagreement,
weather, news, neighbors.

Daisy's work begins, a parakeet
with the mission of a dove at a table

filled with bickering and cookie crumbs.
I sit entranced by the commotion,

lulled by the rhythm of voices that nurse conflict
like the lips that are nursing the dry martinis

that fill their glasses, listen
to the frenzied warble

of a small yellow and green pacifist,
who tries again and again

to whistle down peace.

To Count When Needed

I swim as a fish
in a forest of fish
bubbles of laughter, then blinking
under the warm hat of the sun
a splendoring day.

Later to remember,
I stuff in my pockets,
the loose change of joy:
a sand dollar, a shell
and a starfish.

Cotton and Spirit (for my writing group)

As women for centuries before us
wove stories into fabric, we now
in a circle of language, gather poems.

Piece together shadows of memory;
layer the tenuous texture of adjectives,
stitch in the pure geometry of nouns,
the swirling pattern of adverbs.

Verbs push and pull
their way through our creations.
We bind truth with myth;
line it with stiff shouldered sorrow,
fasten on falling down happiness.

Then pull the cover of poetry over us,
as our grandmothers once did
with quilts they fashioned
out of cotton and spirit.

A Metered Life (after Heather McHugh)

Search through nouns
plow through verbs,

stirred, stirred, shaken
by word upon word.

Fly too close to the beginning
toy have to fall

so unwieldy
this hunting for self in rhyme.

If I bring forth meter
in a broken forest, will they hear me.

Can you see me
in the midst of these dangling participles?

I fear I might
ignite in similes

ablaze, ablaze
in metaphor.

To My Daughter on Her Wedding Eve

Once upon a time
rock candy belly laughs
and  questions

What makes
tumbleweed fling itself
across a  painted desert?

Who placed
freckles on the
silver moon?

Why must
yellow jackets stings
hide in tender blossoms?

Do an orchard of deer
really sing
que sera sera in the tall grass?

Aladdin's lamp still shines
Is it too late to go back?
not if the genie  is with you

Make 3 wedding wishes today
all will come true
you stand  there

Radiant in a lavender dress
announcing you are  a princess,
no, a queen, both  beautiful and strong

Yet one who will still gladly count
the  freckles
on that same childhood moon

Or capture the stars
that fall this night
into your wine

Those who love  can suspend reality
replay time, this moment
those before,  those that follow

This very night you and your love
can decorate  the evening sky with
blue neon lights and wedding bands

Those who love you
hand you the  ladder

To My Cat Clementine By Way of Apology for Keeping Her Indoors

Golden eyes blink into green,
breathe leaves, breathe soil, breathe,
a reminder of touching earth
light, light, lightly before one pounce,
then another. Head bumps, nuzzles, bumps, nuzzles
an open window. More green waits, whispers
just beyond. A tattered screen, a vagrant moth,
puzzled cat, bewildered moth, both
flying, flying, wanting out.

Yours the world until betrayed
by a bobcat, beautiful in form
dangerous in intent, ambush-
while you were lazily
pursuing a cricket, the chain of life
violent red on a sun covered day,
a well placed shoe on the bobcat’s hide
sent it scurrying, later your wounds
splashed crimson on hallway walls.

Now you are a window ledge cat, growing
a belly, eating grass from plastic pots.
Paws touching only wooly
carpet, cotton mouse and our bellies rounded, too.
Trying to catch flashlight beams you fail,
like trying to catch sunlight, impossible.
Never mind, no fear now.
You will live long between wood and brick
if not upon the earth.

All of It (After Frank O Hara)

O dolphins, stardust, root beer floats
I adore you opals, tumbleweeds,
piccolos. O gummy bears, O tangerines!
Everything we receive, remember, dream
or dare. All that jolts or tames us.
All the daily flotsam of life
woven through waves and forests
deserts and hilltops.
All of it and blue.

The Song (after The Song of Solomon)

Before a word is on your tongue,
it flies from my mouth in praise.

On my lips syllables lie crimson
before their slide into your waiting hands,

you tell me they taste of oasis,
sweet water, poured wine.

My skin beneath your fingertips
is transparent, the rivers of my veins

run with truth. You read my life in them.
The sound of your heart echoes in my breast.

My breath is in your lungs, yours in mine
we breathe each other.

Was the tree of knowledge forbidden
or did we just dream it so?

The wisdom of creation mantles our shoulders.
We have always been completely whole.

Sing me into your night
and I will sing you into my dawn.

Honeyed figs fill our mouths each morning
there are no serpents here.

This has always been Eden.


I was keeper of the lost.

I turned my pillow to the cool side.
My parent's voices swam in and out,
darting minnows in a silver stream of sleep.
Talk of an illusive search for the right job
after forced retirement for disability.
Roaming the country, no place quite right.

Then dreams, images of clothes gravitating,
swinging onto hangers,
sliding over chairs. In a vast mystery,
like Twilight Zone, father’s favorite show,
clothes shifted in the dark.
They must have. I searched for them each morning.
Maybe a sweater gone AWOL.
Or shoes madly tap dancing,
shuffle, step, kick, hop, step
like Mom on the kitchen floor, spinning defying
the newly waxed surface. A shirt, starched stiff,
bouncing from the lid of its Samsonite barracks,
My mission each morning at every motel
and I was proud. Giddy even.
To open drawers. Explore closets.
Peer under beds. No matter no one remembered
unpacking suitcases that night or ever.
Except for cotton pajamas that Mother folds each morning
into pristine bundles. Orders from headquarters.

Before breakfast Father checked the odometer,
recording miles in a brown leather log book.
My older brother shoulders bowed,
lugged suitcases into the crisp salute of morning.
At seven a.m., precisely, to the bugle call
of  Let’s roll, the open road stretched before us.
On the hour, out of the car, family jumping jacks
on a mirage covered highway.
I loved mirages, counting them as father did miles.
Collecting them like ladybugs in jars of memory
where they sang lullabies only I could hear.

Noon sharp a stop for lunch. Five-
a motel with restaurant attached,
one that served beef vegetable soup,
very hot .Television: Gunsmoke, Rawhide
or Wagon Train, pioneers that never did arrive in California.
Always stuck in Nebraska or Wyoming.
Or Twilight Zone on Thursdays. Mother hated it,
took a walk with her beige cardigan
buttoned tight against the dark. Lights out at nine.
Master Sergeant diligence prevailed.

In my postcard album each new motel
looked strangely like the last,
so that they all seem
to be the same place
with the same possibility of loss.

Contemplating Light

How do I tell my teacher
I need to swallow sunshine
in great greedy gulps.

Miss Kulp, blankly white in her correctness,
tries to help the new girl, the military brat,
watches me throw lunch away
day after day, calls my mother.
“Why don’t I eat?” she worries

We live in our temporary home,
a shiny silver trailer,
after yet one more move to the chilly
frost of a Pennsylvania winter
where we float on a sea of happy lies.

I want only to return to Florida.
Where sun cascades over my desk
and Miss Lopez’s olive skin spreads
a rhythmic heat over us all.

School there was my safe harbor,
ruled paper, swaddling clothes
assignments read, my lullaby.

Now we put on a play, The Solar System.
I ache, ache to be the sun,
to be gobbled up by that warm yellow felt.

Then a class vote to assign planet parts;
the favorites go quickly.
All that is left in the end,
the tail on Halley’s Comet and me.

So, the tail and I meld into one,
streak across the stage,
in a stream of humiliation
and cold tinseled light.

Nothing is warm again,
until the day we return
to the place I belong.
The land where the St. Petersburg Times promises,
“If the sun doesn’t shine today
The evening newspaper is free.”


Sometimes a hermit I would be-
who lives beside the sparkling sea
And sleeps on quilts of eiderdown
Who never, never, goes to town-

And keeps her heart encased in glass
So all life's pain goes sweeping past.
And is untouched by hurt or sorrow,
Ah, yes, I'll dream again, tomorrow.

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Gather a bouquet of stars
Arrange them by size and clarity
Shiniest in the back
little ones hugging the sides
Find the perfect setting
to let their light cascade
New star blossoms will spring up
if watered daily with
harlequin tears.
This bouquet should keep
or until you stop
believing in magic.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

To All the Poets We Have Loved

Their words dance
on the page and we

can only bow
in poverty

to words that cut
into our life

with such a tender
little knife.

So retiring
to a taunting bed

we read
into the night instead

tasting second hand,
you see

the beauty
of that poetry.

If perhaps,
their words held less.

We might have tried
but who can guess.

We were defeated,
lost you see

By their damn,
dancing poetry.

An Exaltation of Larks

I  wake extravagantly happy
singing nonsense songs to my cats,
laughing  into my morning coffee.

Giddy over nothing;
a simple intake of breath
and spring daffodils makes me dizzy.

April rain courses through my veins 
like wine.
I am stumble drunk on joy.

Allusions to Angels

Angels sit for hours burnishing
the hard ore of death
an alchemy that illuminates
for some a golden passage
for others only a divine comedy,
with no last act, only the closing of
a heavy red curtain.

The little boy called to his
mother every night,
“Why do some people
Say amen and some say ahmen?”
He only asked when the last
story was read and she
was half-way down the hall.
She never had an answer
other than “they just do.”
Even so he was satisfied
and could sleep in the blanket of night.

Angels dance on the head
of a pin. We would hear them
if we could bear it.
But we turn from their dark mercy,
the healing waters they offer, we refuse
to pour, it spills from earthen vessels
and is swallowed by the sun.

The little girl ran after her brother
I love you, I love you she called
As he ran down the front steps
I love you, I love you she said when her father
left for work in the morning. Her small
face crumpled when they didn’t hear.

Words were amulets she sent in their pockets.
Without them no one was safe.
Such a big burden for such a tiny girl.
Better give it to the angels, her mother said.
They will drink our fear if we let them.
Is it sour? the girl asked.
It tastes of iron and salt. Her mother replied
And is bitter beyond any words I possess.
Best give it to the angels.

Holy Book

Water becomes wine and is sated.
Swords beaten into plowshares
till the rocky earth.
Dry bones dance, their fingers castanets.
A world becomes a sea of water,
few float to the top.
A mustard seed
becomes promise.
A fig tree withers.

Cain becomes the other.
Black as night.
We turn away.
Wise men turn East.
Traveling in caravans with spices for a babe,
incense for funeral cloth.
Angels announce glad tidings,
Swinging their swords,
once plowshares, and strike.
Golden streets burn to ash
under your feet.

Find which way
the wind blows,
the Spirit will carry you,
Humming Psalms of forgiveness.
Before the fall.
Before the fall.

An Excuse for Charging Headlong Into The Chagall Museum Without a Ticket

the walls were singing a cappella
I was blind with color- color blind

it was the blue, the bounteous
bountiful blue and oh, the burnt sienna

I think that I will live forever
I know that I will live forever

someone tie me to a steeple
my bones have disappeared

if I fall down to weep
surely the angels will understand

forgive me, I never knew what
it was to be so porous

and yet so full of light

A Gathering of Stars

At the poetry workshop,
a woman arches her finely tweezed brows,
and states emphatically,
she hates sentimentality in poetry.
She especially dislikes
the use of the words, gather and stars.

I immediately want to write a poem
using those two words
in a totally unsentimental way.

The stars gather as if to assassinate the night,
one begins.
The gathering stars foretold the coming of Armageddon,
predicts another.
When stars gather, love's falsehood shines bright.
sounds a third.

I love stars and the word stars.
For that matter,
I love sentimentality
Every so often
I want to wallow in pure bathos.

Turn on a Lassie rerun,
watch Audrey Hepburn kiss
George Peppard in the rain.
Sing songs from Oklahoma
to my glowering, unappreciative cat,
the sullen emperor of the kitchen.

Wrap myself in my grandmother's afghan
sit under the evening sky
watch stars gather
and write.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Snapshot, Cheyenne 1957

My mother's face folds into laughter.
For now she's coasting on life.
I'm hamming as usual,
Mom's fun kid; my brother's the serious one.

The two of us stand in the forest
the night green pines firm behind us.
Mother is taller than all the trees,
her head touches the sky.

Wearing someone's oversized clothes,
I'm six and goofy,
my body curls into giggles.
My grin is Wyoming sky wide.

Cloaked in my mother's exuberance
I draw her zest over me, inhale it.
Just as she inhales my desire
to be her laughing child.

Throughout life we breathe each other
over the hard places
until we can exhale on the other side.

A camera presses time like violets
Fifty years later,
that moment lies in my hand.
Happiness is thick on my fingers
dripping from them like honey.

The Laramie River flows
through my veins
illuminates bone and marrow,
until I can see, see through myself
see just how it works,
this thing called joy.

While the branches sing,
sing with the mountain wind
a requiem mass. This cannot last.
Nothing no one lasts.
But wait simply, simply wait.

There is always, always, a return.

One of These Kids Is Doing Her Own Thing

When her lucid heart
Was finally in tune,
She threw her fears away
And went tap dancing on the moon.

It seemed so strange, so odd
The gathered crowd would say
And so they fumed, and gasped and yelled.
To see her act this curious way.

Perhaps theirs were the hearts
So sadly out of tune, so wrong
Turning possibility away,
Afraid of the lure of a siren's song.

And so while they so righteously
March lockstep to convention's tune,
She's listening to her own sweet song
And still tap-dances on the moon.


May charms, a lyrical wrinkle
Snowflakes dancing with misguided rhythm
Into the small heart of spring.

Winter clapped three times
Then turned around.
How strange to forget its own demise.

Never mind, snowflakes are lying
On your wind tossed hair
I, too, applaud.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Homage to Paul Klee

oh klee, dear Paul Klee
your paintings really make my day
make my year too maybe
oh man!  they set me free.
If I could write a music score
I'd do just that and more and more
if I could choreograph a dance
ah no, won't take that chance
I'll take my crayons out, then you'll see
just what your colors do to me.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Writer's Block

Smetana's Mouldau playing
drowning the click, clack of the Smith Corona.

Two streams, one of fire, one of ice,
a metaphor with two hearts.

A kettle shrieks,
a cup of tea.

Soft raindrops as expected
just before the rapids.

The poem laughing
before the string snaps.

A flood, ink black.
Dissolve into white

into white, into white.

St. Augustine, 1962

My brother and I wear cloaks of civility,
our restaurant manners, only a fraction short
of the regimented square meal
my father learned in the military.

I bite into the sour crunch of dill pickles
that wrestles with the bland indifference
of American cheese in my grilled sandwich.

A family that mirrors ours, except for
the chocolate color of their skin, enters.
Their little girl, scarlet ribboned
pigtails dancing, considers
the odds of winning a prize
in the gumball machine
that stands sentry by the door.

I imagine their day unfolding like ours,
a climb up Spanish steps into history,
an afternoon washed in sunlight,
building replicas of forts with wet sand.
Now, a family dinner, a magnolia scented evening.

The restaurant owner oozes his way over,
smiles, secures maroon ropes
across tilting aluminum stands.
"Sorry, he says we're closing."
The father, jaw clenching, points
to the sign that reads HOURS 5- 9 p.m.
It is now 6:30. "Look,” the owner stammers,
“I don't want any trouble.”

We're almost finished,
anticipate hot fudge sundaes.
“Let’s go kids." My father tells us.
“Seems families aren't welcome here."

He flings money on the counter
his Master Sergeant glare dares response.
I reach for my mother's hand;
watch gumball prizes
tantalizingly near,
urging risk.