Archive for August 2014

Trying Hard Though/ Roadside

August 28, 2014



Trying Hard Though

I’d like to be–
a breath of fresh air,
drink of cool water,
fireflight encirling warmth, nights.

I’m more likely–
a breath of cold water,
drink of end air,
night flight, circling–

Meaning, if you would find me, seek,
the sodden, panting, extremely late,
still warm–


The above is a poem about what makes me weird for Mama Zen’s prompt on With Real Toads.  MZ, the mistress of the verbally distilled, limits the poem at 46 words.  Writing this poem led me to the longer one below–sorry to try your patience, but if you are interested, it seemed to me the better poem–  Unfortunately, the pictures I tried to get of what I describe below did not work out–they needed to be videos taken from a moving bicycle–something that is well beyond my pay grade!



What I like about myself–
that I bow to the shadows of crickets flickering on the tar,
when the sun shines at just the right angle,
the whir of my bike stilling
by the lithe field.

What I don’t like about myself–
that I see shadows everywhere.

What I like about myself–
that I think about that dance of grays
for days afterwards, that I think too of the field–
how the grass rippled like a stream,
light sparking in the dry darts
of thoraces.

What I don’t like about myself:
that my brain feels
like crickets scampering.

What I don’t like about myself:
as many things as there are crickets
in the field.

What I like: that, for a short while, while the sun shone
at just the right angle,
my mind wheeled in sync
with singing legs.



ps–I will be without Internet for the next few days so will not be able to return comments. Will respond when I return.

Pared Down

August 24, 2014

Pared Down

So, what if, in those days
when Despair walked her like a dog,
heeling her sternly,
one of those cabs she dashed in front of,
not exactly on purpose, but not looking both ways
when faced with any chance to dart away–
to bypass the silver flash of plate glass, to out-dive the splash of yellow
under white-skied sun, to feel, for a moment, lucky–
what if one of them had, in fact, crashed
and Despair smashed
into the tar, and even though lashed
to her same stretcher,
had ended up as hospital offal,

Would she then, after the long recovery,
the fitting of fiberglass or steel, the pairing
of the prosthesis–
would she then, nights,
after its pegged bulk had been unbuckled, bedside,
long for you–
I’m talking to you directly now, Despair–
Would she feel, in the flat vacancy below the sheet, down comforter,
your abscessing absence–
Would she, wakeful
in the ache cast by your phantom, prop herself up,
and not quite able on crutches to feel her way, still search
by window’s glow, 
some bottle of balm or pill–
something that might kill pain
from afar, a heat-seeking missile

And what if, by some strange happenstance, you, Despair–
that limb that is so much a part
of her given form–were restored–
the despaired-of calf reattached, the rank ankle knobs
Would she now dog you? Trot gamely by
your re-joined gait even as you heeled her sternly,
after, that is, you held her close–


Here’s a sort of poem for the “play it again, Sam” prompt on With Real Toads, hosted by Margaret Bednar.  Margaret gives a choice of certain past prompts–the one I chose was by Kerry O’ Connor to write a labyrinthine/mazelike poem (hopefully influence by Borges.)   The picture is another recycled one, I’m afraid–called “between a rock and a hard place. ”  (All rights reserved, as always.) 

To Do

August 23, 2014


To Do

I make such a todo
of the to-do
that I don’t make time
to be.

To be or not to be, ponders Hamlet.
Don’t be a do-bee, responds me (after Miss Connie).
Dooby dooby doo, croons Frank Sinatra.

Frankly, my dear,
though I don’t always like his style,
Sinatra probably said it best;
for Hamlet doesn’t even make it
through the play,
and Miss Connie (of Romper Room)
never actually said it
my way

For there’s naught quite like
a dooby-do
when you just don’t know the words–
(so much so absurd)–
when you strive to do
what you want to be
and not to be
what you do,
when your face surprises
in mirror’s light,
when your shadow seems
yet stranger in the night–
when the world swims by
in grey-green glances
stillness swarming
insect dances–
so many many hums,
and you’ve got
to sing 







A draftish sort of poem for a prompt by Fireblossom (Shay) on With Real Toads to write something involving lists.  I mean dooby here solely as the dooby that goes with doo!  I wrote the poem last night and have probably over-lengthened today–originally ending with good old strangers in the night, but that seemed a bit grim. 

Have a nice weekend, and check all the great posts at Toads. 



PS – both drawings are recycled, but old favorites–all rights reserved.




Pps– I have edited since first posting .


August 21, 2014



This is the First Day of the Rest of My Life.
Determined not to live it in the blue light
of a computer screen,
I grab my notebook and
what turns out to be
a leaky pen.

This is the First Day of the Rest of My Life,
but already my fingers are blotted bluer
than the dawnish morn (this being the First Day
of the Rest of My Life, I’ve gotten up early)
and I’ve smudged the down comforter
with indigo.

I tell myself that anyone who will live like I will
in this, the Rest of My Life,
will, of course, have bedclothes stained
with ink and, probably also, tea,
but that feels depressingly like
the rest of my life, that is, the spotty part that came before.

I try to block out the smudge
with my notebook–for even at the Dawn
of this energetic, disciplined, real-world Rest of My Life, I do not have the vim
to get up and wash my hands, much less
the comforter–

Rub my fingers along the white pages,
but their blue-lined grid is stolidly oblivious,
the ink already too embedded in my skin
to rub off.

A lone cow lows
out the window,
somewhere down the valley,
but beneath the same pale sky.



Here’s a sort of poem posted for two prompts–though I don’t know that it’s quite right for either.  One is from Victoria C. Slotto on dVerse Poets to write about patterns in our life; the other is Susie Clevenger’s post on With Real Toads, to use a Native American springboard–in this case, the line–“Listen, or your tongue will make you deaf.” – Tribe Unknown.  I don’t know how this came from that, but I think it arose from the idea that the big change would be just to look out the window in the morning with neither pen nor keyboard.  

The drawing above is an old one, and because in black and white, I did not include the blue smudges!  

An other trinity

August 17, 2014


An other trinity

Three is thee
and me and the other
me, which occasionally equals
more–that is, when Other You comes to the fore, slips
through the door, pours itself
into that “now” so full
of you, me,
and Other Me.  Yes, I
know it’s not fair.  Other You too should
feel free to be here, should know that space will be made
in the shaded crook of my breastbone
(or hers), but don’t you see–
I only
have two arms, and one must
keep hold of that Other Me, which means
I’ve only the one side left (or right).  So…sorry–
hope you understand–um–and You too–
whom I do love truly.
(So does she.)


Here’s a “triquain,” for Kerry O’Connor’s prompt on With Real Toads.  This is a new form with a syllabic breakdown of lines, developed by Shelley Cephas.   I think this one would be “triquain swirl.”

The rather silly drawing is mine–no good eraser handy! so sorry for the smudges–but you probably get the point.

“Nice” Blurb – Plea for Help

August 16, 2014

PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover


As some of you may know, I have been working in an increasingly desultory fashion on the publication of a new novel, called Nice. (I say, “increasingly desultory” as it has become harder to work on this project the closer it is to completion.)

Unlike my first published novel, Nose Dive, which is a comical young adult mystery (and a lot of fun!), this is a serious novel, with an intense and, I hope, emotionally affecting, story.  It is about child sexual abuse; it represents years of work.

I think it really is a good novel, though I’ve worked on it so long it is hard for me to still look at it.  I am super happy with the cover picture, which I did myself.

Here’s my quandary–the sales information!  The little blurb that goes on Amazon and elsewhere!  This kind of thing is so darn hard for me that I  can hardly squeeze something out.

So what I am asking for–I don’t know–ideas==approval==is the below horribly embarrassing?


It is summer, 1968–Martin Luther King Jr. shot in April, Bobby Kennedy in June–“what in the world is happening to this country?” Americans wonder. 

It is summer, 1968, the civil rights movement in turmoil, the Vietnam War escalating, but Les, a ten year old suburban girl, has been trained to be nice.

Her teenage brother, Arne, on the other hand, aims for rebellion.

But they are kids, it is summer, it is 1968, and what they both truly want–aside from world peace–is to be a little more cool.

Then a distant relative visits, a cool cat, rebel of sorts, childhood favorite. 

“What in the world is happening?” Les wonders, as the unthinkable does.  

“What in the world is happening?” Arne wonders, as his sister changes, as he too is faced with a darker picture of growing up–

Their story traverses the landscape of country, family, heart.

Since posting – B. Young made some very useful suggestions and here’s a whole other approach:

Nice is a story of child sexual abuse and its aftermath.  It takes place in the summer of 1968, the U.S. reeling from the April assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the June assassination of Bobby Kennedy, the escalating Vietnam War.  It is told from the points of view of a ten year old girl and her teenage brother, each separately finding a voice in the face of personal and political disillusionment.  


Better?  Too terse?  (I was going to add in here a very horrible joke, but cannot in the face of the terrible loss of Robin Williams this week.)

Any ideas?  Should it be more direct?  Less direct?  Should I just press approve/publish!?

The book will be issued by my own imprint, by the way, which is BackStroke Books, and when I do press publish, it will be available on Kindle and in paper.  I will let you know when.  I am aiming for cheap pricing so I do hope you’ll be able to read.


August 15, 2014



One’s heart is broken.
One’s heart is a well that neighbors call down,
searching for a lost child,
the mother held back
in the house.

It is a white frame house,
where someone paces kitchen
to living room,
a swell below the door sill
where the floors meet.

The heart looks out to the horizon, worrying
as night falls,
as the lawn that turns to field that turns to sky
turns to cobalt,
though the heart loves
that deep blue;
though the heart, when it can breathe,
loves blue.


Here’s very much of a draft poem for Herotomost’s prompt on with real toads in honor of Leo, to write a poem that comes in like a lion, leaves like a lamb.  I’m sorry I’ve been a bit behind returning comments.  This has been a very job-intense summer for me.

P.S. – photo is mine–all rights reserved, as always.

Pps have edited since first posting.


August 13, 2014



Wings ring my temples.
At times, they flap,
their great éclat emulating
the birdheart’s elation with just beating.
Other times, they balk,
become a hulk of blind raptor,
shafts splintering eyes’ dim.
Worms, as if they were thoughts in seeded earth,
interlace the frayed feathers,
try to seize space,
make a way for creased daylight,
but all those mites that birds are prey to
suck at these ribs
of clay–

Noble flight winds down
to dead buzz,
éclat clatters,
but the heart hears only
that it’s beaten.

Here’s a sort of poem for Grapeling’s Get Listed prompt on With Real Toads, Grapeling (Michael) posts a word list related to the film Dead Poet’s Society, and writes a lovely piece about the sadness around the death of the wonderful Robin Williams. (Check it out!)

I’m not sure the picture above is quite finished, but it is one of mine. All rights reserved.

Ps this poem has been edited since first posting.

The Way To Davy Jones Locker (On Dry Land)

August 9, 2014

The Way To Davy Jones Locker (Even On Dry Land)

Scull it all–
row row your boat,
never trusting
fate-willed float.

Bind your spine.
Cast off bend.
Steer your steeled keel
here to when.

Thresh the currents–
chop chop chop;
bail seeped null
without stop.

Flesh may melt;
bone holds on,
knotted digits
gripping yon.

Though waves are big
and we are small,
though even stars
hear orbits’ call,

locked in salt,
these oars we pull–
scuttled, scuttling,
sculling all.


Here’s a rather weird take on Margaret Bednar’s prompt on With Real Toads to write a skeletal poem or a poem inspired by skeletons/fossils.  Margaret has some great pictures on With Real Toads but the above is my own drawing.  All rights reserved. 

PS I have changed the title since first posting. 

How It Can Be (Not Such a Nice Microcosm)

August 8, 2014


How It Can Be

She cried so hard face hurt,
loss pulling skin
as if cheeks were limbs,
brow tied to ropes
that warred with bound chin,
as if pain rode horses,
each chained to its own course,
all whipped.


Here’s a belated and rather gloomy draft poem for Brian Miller’s micro poetry challenge on dVerse Poetry Pub–40 words or less–this just makes it with title.  (Granted, it’s not such a good title, but it does fit into the prompt!)  

p.s. drawing is mine, though an old one that doesn’t quite fit.  All rights reserved, thanks.