Archive for April 2013

Dance Dance Resolution

April 30, 2013


Dance Dance Resolution

No more waiting
to waltz, delaying
fandango. Time’s wasting without
your hand about
my waist. So,
memento the moment;
let’s go all creak
in the knees–you, me–one two three
one two three–


Here’s a little draft ditty (draft, because I keep changing it) for dVerse Poets Open Link Night. 

Congrats to all those who wrote a poem a day for National Poetry Month!   Or even a poem every other day.  Good job.

P.S. – as always, unless otherwise posted, all the visual aspects of my post – drawings, photos, pachyderms–are under my copyright and all rights are reserved. 

Red All Over

April 29, 2013


Red All Over

Why is it we don’t sing
the reds of spring?
The coral carmine nipples
that lip each/every twig,
the rust pink kisses puckering
grey limbs, the mountainside’s tipped
April in the Catskills–
(Who knew?)


Here’s a kind of silly poem for I don’t know whom– it is gloriously red up here in upstate New York – every deciduous tree you can see (practically) tipped with a deep pinkish red.  Hard to photograph but pretty cool, pretty pretty.  

After Scout (In To Kill a Mockingbird)

April 28, 2013


After Scout  ( in To Kill a Mockingbird)

So, I had an older brother who could qualify as Jem–with dark hair at least and a crinkle of dubiety about the eyes and we lived in what was kind of the South and not far from a road where all whom we called colored back then lived–they probably lived in lots of other places too–but this was the place we knew and it was poor, the houses broken, hung with crack-slat wood, dark-windowed, and when they de-segregated the schools, I was determined to be, you know, Scout-like, Atticus-like, and also like JFK==noble, right and true, meaning welcoming, meaning especially nice–cause I was pretty darn sure it would be hard to walk down from that road (it was called St. Barnabas) to our new beige brick school with its white and pink mosaics along the side, and so I did my best, and maybe because of that, or  maybe not, a group of black boys from my class followed me home one day, and they were boys – we were nine or ten back then–my neighborhood the opposite direction from St. Barnabas, with their arms cartwheeling legs, and laughing tattered strut, so wild, I think, because they were nervous–I sure was–not just because their mocking me was so raucous, neon-toothed, but because as our way deepened  down my street, I realized that I’d never seen a colored person there my whole life long, except for a worker maybe–and Kevin who was a beautiful coffee brown with eyes even more crinkly than my brother’s always seemed the leader, so I turned, though I’d been pretending they weren’t following me, and told him maybe they’d better get home.

But Earl, who was tall and skinny and the darkest person I’d ever seen, with a sweet big-curvy smile that beamed like a moon at night, even with his mouth closed, just twisted while Kevin thought, and  grabbed out of my book bag, the handle sticking out, my blue plastic hairbrush, and after one froze beam, as if he didn’t know what he dared, patted it upon the top of his short black nap, then stroke stroke stroked, then held it way up high as if I’d try to reach for it, though I don’t know that I did try, ‘cause we were in my next door neighbor’s yard by this time, the lawn they kept mowed short, right next to a groomed magnolia, and it wasn’t a yard people walked across, there was a narrow sidewalk to the door, a white-sloped curb upon the street, and a part of me–all that niceness–just felt punctured, sunken flat, because I wasn’t actually sure whether I could use that brush again, while another part arched crazily with fear — for them–and shock–for me–having never thought of my street in just this way, as either a place where they might come, or a place they might be hurt, glad too suddenly that my brother wasn’t there, that no one was, no one who might see/do something different than me, though there was sure nothing much I could think of–and then they turned back, Earl tossing my hairbrush down, and I just stood there.

The bristles stuck up from the mown lawn in rows of clear knobbed spikes, like some strange imitation grass, something dropped by, you know, a spaceship, on reconnaissance.


This is a draft prose poem written for Kerry O’Connor’s prompt on With Real Toads, to come up with something relating to Harper Lee and To Kill A MockingbirdTo Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favorite books and movies even as a little kid;  my admiration for it has not lessened with age. 

On a Trip Once

April 27, 2013


On a Trip Once

Increasingly, I don’t believe in ecstatic experience–
to me, there is ecstasy
and there is experience;
ecstasy that bit where you feel
the wonder of your connection with all
beingness–the velvet purr
of digging your fingers
through a time-mulched fern-feeding log,
and experience–when you understand,
hungover and with bug bites fisting
your wrists, that you too will swell
and rot, your particular beingness decay, bones

Still, certain moments well,
sparkles on a stream, for no reason–random sun–
I stand in one, on a concrete step
before a white-knobbed sink, which in turn fronts an open window
in the Majestic Tea Room, Mumbai–
Bombay then, and hardly majestic–
though high-ceilinged and robins-egg, the pale blue
blurred by warmth and fans and waiters with their beautiful
dark-hollowed faces, long-fingered
hands–and, just outside the window
and on his own concrete dais,
sits a pan seller, his betel nut grated in small tins, and in a larger can, a soak
of green serving leaves, as tensile
as young skin, and wafting up, not the smells
of the street, or worse of side walls sometimes in India, but the sweet scent of his
rose chutney, and I wish never
to stop washing my hands, not because they feel grimed, but because the sublime
is hard to find, and somehow it is here–was there–
flickering along the wilt of peeled window frame and in the searching fragrance of
jellied rose, the ecstasy of the quotidian caught
in the trappings of the exotic, there, on that sink’s step, no longer concrete
but like the peated log, something mind sifts,
wonders at, tries to connect.

Here’s a sort of a poem for my Poetics prompt on “a trip” on dVerse Poets Pub. I’m hosting today and would love to see you.

The above photo is by Meredith Martin (my older daughter). It doesn’t really have anything to do with the poem–a pan seller is a person!– but I think it’s a fun picture of India.

Process notes–“pan” is a concoction made sometimes with betel nut, sometimes without. It includes various spices, like fennel, and a sweet rose chutney (made from the flower), all wrapped in an edible green leaf, forming a small stuffed triangle. The pan sellers in India used to make each pan by hand, sitting on street corners or in little booths with an array of spices and tins. Nowadays, a lot of the pan seems to be packaged.  (The poem above should probably be made into two very separate poems some time!  But this is how it came out for now.  It has been edited since first posting.)

Sijos To Cherry Blossoms and After a Trip To A Poor Place (And Flash 55)

April 26, 2013


Sijo on the Question of  Cherry Blossoms  (Explaining to A One-Time Neighbor in Brooklyn)

See, Joe, I don’t know much about the flights of cherry blossoms;
They snag me plain affixed, winkle breath into their twigged still pink,
Even curbed, they’ve got me–’cause you see, Joe, sigh, Joe, that’s just how it is.


After A Trip To Some Place Poor

I put seen suffering in a box, over to the side somewhere,
But veined-wrist hands push through the cardboard flaps; faces peer in patches;
Stares angle corrugated edges, won’t be squared; find me.


The above are two sijos – a Korean form with three lines, each of 14-16 syllables, for a total count of 44-46.  There’s a lot more to it (that I’ve undoubtedly failed to incorporate.)  For a great article, check out Samuel Peralta’s post at dVerse Poets.

The first one, with the expanded title, is also 55 words!  Tell it to the G-Man.

Thinking of End of King Lear In A Backyardish Way

April 24, 2013


Thinking of End of King Lear In a Backyardish Way

Never, never, never, never, never
tugs at my eyes, the retinae hung
with ropey cords; those I’ve loved/lost
rumpled cloths
upon those lines, stiff
as boards now, frayed
capture-the-flag wisps.
I want, foolishly, to weep them back
to softness, only the never in which I live
makes tears dry down, allows just
the collapse of salt,
the damp evening grass that lapped
imprints of even tip-toed steps
silted over. Though clumped sand seems stuck
in off-kiltered hour glass, still and ever,
it runs.

I am calling them all drafts for the moment for too many reasons to delineate. (One is that I am back in States, but still not home1 And not with my own computer.) This draft poem written for http// prompt re Shakespeare (whose birthday is in April.)

Jet Lag (draft poem)

April 23, 2013


Jet Lag

4 a.m. as I slither lumpily
between time zones, bumpily
siding you, my belly against your–
rumple-y minutes spent
in the dim between shadows, your shoulder blades
scything sibilant sleep breath, my wander attempting
to synch with the sounding board
of your sinewed back, but
I’m back, I want to whisper you; you


Another draft poem! Ha! Again, I’m not sure picture goes with it, but it is a photo of a light sculpture by my husband Jason Martin.

Will likely link this one to dVerse Poets Open Link Night.

On the Way to the Airport (draft poem)

April 22, 2013


On the Way to the Airport (In Kerala, India)

Our driver says, “so your problem, home, all finished?”
as we look out at palms
on water, women in burqua
on sidesaddle, motos and
rickshaws, and after one slow roundabout, a grand filigreed
church, Catholic, its forefront embroidered
with maroon and gold umbrellas shading
the spillover, and “oh,” I say, “you mean in
Boston?” And “Finished, yes?” he repeats,
and I try, “Yes, I guess. I mean, they caught
the guy,” not knowing what else to say, his face
beaming with the pride
of arcane sympathy, and we hear the music now, as we drive,
emanating from this side of the church, music that chirrups
like a Bollywood dance number, and my daughter mutters
something about the aim of amplification here (to reach as
far as it will go, no matter)
and also something about
Miranda rights, and I feel the harsh prickle on the skin
that I’ve lived in for so long, the skin made smooth
and supple (so it thinks) by civil rights, but also flash the headlines
of amputations and that lost child’s gap-toothed smile, but mainly my mind
circumnavigates its wish for something, whatever it is,
to be done right, the music still reverberating
over our overpass, and over people on the street below too
people buying, you know, betel nut
on the corner, and grams of fried
snacks, cellophane gleaming its pink mirrors
over the golden morsels, stacks of light,
shadow, refrain, a flak of debris
at the sides.

Here’s my first attempt at a poem in a while. I am not sure what it means. I am back in the U.S. now. Thanks so very much to everyone for your kind comments during my trip to India. I really appreciate your support.

The photo above doesn’t really go with the poem, but was a bit tired to get another one.

Security Check

April 21, 2013


Lost whole post just now which makes sense. It was about the one thing one does not want to happen at a foreign airport.

Have your daughter randomly selected for total security check.

Thankfully not so bad as it sounds. They let me keep her company, which meant getting searched too. And in India, Searchers for ladies are ladies. Ours was super elegant as she pulled out every pair of dirty underwear and bagged toiletry, every item in fact from our tightly Packed bags.

We did not get upset though and all was very cordial. And once past it, i was able to find an Agatha christie at one of bookstores. Nothing like a mystery that has a solution for calming nerves.

Leaving (With a Pool)

April 21, 2013














We have graduated to jasmine. And Christina has been allowed to operate the food processor.

This means that we have definitely moved up a notch or two in the small steamy world that is Fort Cochin. (Or Fort Kochi, under its its original Indian and now official name. Many names of places in India were re-transliterated a few years ago – so Cochin became Kochi – Bombay – Mumbai – Madras–Chennai.)

But the reconfiguration I am talking about now is ours, moving from mid-budget (and rather heavily laden) backpackers to lap-of-luxury (and packed light, considering) travelers.

In other words, we’ve sprung for our last night or so in India, meaning that we now have a room in a top hotel “with a garden view” complete with freshly-pressed kimonos, straw bedroom slippers and jasmine blossoms gyred upon our pillows. (Due to the off-season, there is a thirty percent discount.)

Being India, there are a ton of crows that hang out by the pool–we have a pool!– often resting on shower head, and in the late afternoon–we are just by the harbor–there’s a build-up of fishy smell–but the water is clear and blue and chlorinated, and it really is quite nice.

The move-up in cooking occurred at the Flavour Cooking School, where Meera let Christina go hands-on with the blender. (Almost every dish involves the blending of a “paste.” )

So we are almost gone. Before I signed off from India – and who knows if I will, as we have about a 24 hour journey ahead of us – I wanted to make all kinds of point about safety and misogyny, and the difficulties and wonders of travel here, but there is no time to make the points clearly. So better to just post some of the last day’s photos.

They include: our hotel–crow and cat–, Meera Leo and Christina cooking in the dark (during a power outage), the cook at our hotel taking us back into the kitchen on discovering we were interested in cooking, people pouring out of the Catholic Church – many more on the shady sides, and various family members of Sabu, our driver from Munnar.

PS thanks so much to all of you who have followed this trip. I’m sorry for my disjointedness. I really appreciate your support. Must run now.