Archive for February 2016

Hole In the Heart

February 25, 2016

 Hole in the Heart

The other kids in that family
wore clothes that bore the limp
of hard wringing, their mother’s scrubbed
shouts, homemade
spaghetti sauce, but little Dolly’s pale dresses glowed, ruffles tottering
so sweetly about the hem, pink smocking–Dolly for Dorothy–which was why, she thought,
the saddest bouquet at the funeral parlor gathered rosebuds,
their card embroidered pink, the word

Her lips a rosebud, though her mother looked almost
as waxen, there at the back
of that dark room, her nose pinker and somehow longer
than she’d ever seen it, as if beginning
to melt, though how she saw
Mrs. K she wasn’t sure,
she tried so hard
not to look at anything, embarrassed not
by the face of grief but by ongoing
life, her own skin the rough smooth peel
of unripe fruit, the only crimping at the knees,
the imprint of grass stain.
They’d been so afraid of laughing, going in,
as if it were something they were doomed to,
she and Celeste, and when they stepped outside,
they walked wayward in the sun’s
blind daze till Celeste, who always knew best, said,
“I thought sure you were going to–”
and she protested, “no, I wasn’t–”

Drafty poem for With Real Toads open platform.  Pic is mine as well as poem, all rights reserved. 

After E.E.

February 20, 2016


After E.E.

Cummings wrote of one
as this snowflake alighting
upon a gravestone.
My one
will more likely be
a flake of ash
and whether it ends up on a gravestone
will be all one
to me, but oh let it
alight first, let there be



Draft poem for the wonderful Kerry O’ Connor’s micro-poetry prompt on With Real Toads, with special focus on E.E. Cummings poem “one this snowflake.”  Photo is mine;  all rights reserved (and also to poem, of course.)  Thanks!

Somethings Shocking

February 19, 2016

IMG_3627 (1)

Somethings Shocking

You will die
as will everyone
you know

even the people you don’t know

the children you so love

their children

all the people on this train, the blur
of the train
just passed–

at some point everyone everywhere will lie
mouth agape
even if only
a gap in ash
a swill of sea

someone (if the deceased was lucky)
will beg that mouth to speak,
to forgive, please to just
release them

also to stay

Draft poem for Mama Zen’s prompt about something shocking on Real Toads with word count of 77.  Pic is mine of an ancient Egyptian piece in the permanent collection of New York’s Metropolitan Museum.  (Unfortunately, I did not get the dynasty!)  All rights reserved. (Ha.)

This has been edited slightly since first posting, and since all the comments!  (Agape was ajar.) 

somewhere I have rarely

February 17, 2016

 somewhere I have rarely

somewhere I have rarely
travels a two-lane road
there heaven’s leaven with clean white sheets
though time is crooked and bowed

the bedstead’s kind enough for pine
though the floor is scuffed with pacing
and oh we’re tired and–oh–sore
no matter what’s up-facing

still we try–we too–to find
sunlit in a forehead’s shine
a window to tint lidded eyes
so the mauve inside’s not grief

there oatmeal’s creamy without milk
our skins as smooth as laundered silk
(though hard as knead)
(though hard as need)
(though quite bare-kneed)
(though barred and kneed)

and the warmth that warms to wilt those sheets
where night and mauve and knees do meet
lulls merged lanes and lipreads smile
till time itself lies down a while


Draft poem for Real Toads Open Platform.  Heavily influenced (ha) by the reading of somewhere i have never traveled by E.E. Cummings posted by Kerry O’Connor at Real Toads. 

The pic is a water color of mine, recently painted.  It doesn’t go so well with the poem (and has no elephants or little dogs, which is rather new for me) but still–all rights reserved. 

22 Below This Morning But Rising

February 14, 2016


22 Below This Morning But Rising

Sun as bright as ice,
we think it must be nice.

but cold
like a bell dome,
clamps down,

we the clappers dangling
by breaths like wires wrangling
so many layers wrapped

that we trek loggily
glasses so foggily

that we can’t see through
to a view anyway
only the white and blue
of a planet that this clear day makes clear
wasn’t truly made
for our

trying to get back faster
than ever,
we find–



Another little ditty for Magaly Guerrero’s prompt on Real Toads about not trusting the cannibal.  It was 22 below this morning but this pic is from last year (though similar frost appeared this morning –I just didn’t get a pic.)   This has been edited slightly since first posting. 

I Used To Call It Benares

February 14, 2016



I Used to Call It Benares

Then there was the man
who made me want
to swim out into the Ganges,
though my first trip to Varanasi
had included a boat ride
by a floating dead cow, its ribs picked
to a flicker of flesh
by what I poetically want to call
carrion crows.

But he was cool (the man)
and I was not
and it was hot enough in Varanasi that visit, the smoke from the funeral pyres
something we black-coughed regularly, he wanting
to see, and other

that in the heat of even
the non-burning ghats, in the ochre orange
of the non-embered steps, the banks
of beggars and those
who could unclothe without revealing
anything, I swam out far enough
to reach ripple,
and though I pressed my lips tightly together
in a way that we were not
for long–or maybe, honestly, too long
for it was a relationship that ever
took me
to a brink–I have never
felt water so silky at any other time
in my whole life.

I still can feel
its caress on my lightly haired arms, the way the drops glistened
against a sky stranded
by heat, dust, smoke, and a pulsing
certainty, or will
for it–

how to survive this something one spends years
trying to learn, accepting too
a beauty–

Very much of a draft poem for Magaly’s prompt on With Real Toads, 

As a process note, Varanasi is one of the most holy Hindu pilgrimage cities in India; and the Ganges, a river that runs through it, is considered a holy river.  Ghat is the sanskrit/Hindi word for river bank, and is what the various parts of the banks of the Ganges in Varanasi are called; these include Manikarnika Ghat which is a cremation ghat, also called the burning ghat.   Photo is by my daughter, Meredith Martin. 

The poem has been edited since first posting and is still (probably) in progress; as I’m still not happy with the close–agh–but don’t want to “unpost” at this point.  

Train Stopping

February 13, 2016


Train Stopping

So much depends upon
your smile
towards the woman standing just across
the mid-door stretch
with teeth like a board fence that have seen
a snow drift
who asks how many stops
to Ossining.

Your inner slog slows
to a sharp blur of bars
and barbs, bricked-up blocks along the tracks
that mark the prison SingSing, her long hair thick
as a knit cap about her head, her bangs a fringe thick
as crochet, and you, conjuring an image of inmates with visitors
on their laps under shared
tube lights, say, softly, I don’t think this train stops
at Ossining, what you need is to change
at Croton-– and she, with a voice husked (you’re guessing)
by smoke, nods, oh yeah, oh yeah, I mean, how many stops
to Croton, and you try for a count but also not to make
the smile too shiny, not wanting to be fake, as if you could modulate
chapped lips into some
sort of balm, though the woman is shiny enough,
a bangled sequinsed bag
beside her little black purse.

Every once in a while as the train tugs on,
the two of you smile sheepishly,
you still standing at the mid-door
because to stand in a train feels like a little bit of freedom
in a life of desk-sit,
and she, in a seat by the aisle, both of you sharing something about being women, the river
gleaming, until,

Croton next, she bundles to the opposite door
the dangling hood
of her stiff wool coat spangled by the fall of that freshly-
washed hair, and something softish sounds.
You, wanting her not
to be the one to bend down,
lean over for it.

You dropped, you say,
a penny, reaching fingers purposefully heedless
of the smeared linoleum, and she says, from the opening door,
wait, is it heads?
and you, peering urgently into the worn
copper, say, no, tails.

She laughs, husk wide,
leave it, and, as you stand again, she turns you a face bright
as the door’s blue draft, you’ve been the one happy person I’ve seen on this train all day, she says, and you who haven’t actually been happy
at all,
suddenly are.

Well, thank you right back, you say, not knowing how else
to express that.

Very much of a draft poem, sorry for length, for Fireblossom’s (Shay’s) Prompt on With Real Toads, to write a poem beginning with William Carlos’ Williams famous first line about the red wheelbarrow.  Photo mine, taken from Metro North Hudson Line.  (This poem has been edited a little since first posting.) 

Swing Low, Suite

February 10, 2016


Swing Low, Suite

Toes high, knees low,
arms that pull and pull and pull–
look at me, I’m flying

Sky high, arc slumped,
legs that pump and pump and pump–
look at me, I’m dying

Unhinging every minute’s wings,
in and out of strife we swing,
one more breath marks one less breath
as we criss-cross, tossed, this heath;
mind all dart like swallows’ swoop,
mind all droop like pigeons’ roost;
feathering high, free-fall low
with arms that tethered yet do pull–

Very much a draft poem. Not sure I can call it a sonnet, but it does have fourteen lines.  Linking to Real Toads Open Platform. 

Pic is mine;  all rights reserved. 

I will be very involved in work stuff the next couple of days and may be delayed returning comments. 
Very much a draft poem, written this a.m. Not sure I can call it a sonnet, but it does have fourteen lines.  Linking to Real Toads Open Platform. 

Some Words/Phrases I’d Like to Coin As I Age

February 7, 2016


Some Words/Phrases I’d Like to Coin As I Age

Harmomnemonic: tune that helps us remember something; i.e. who we are.

Noosetalgia: what hangs us up in the past.

No-wince situation:  better than many alternatives.

Self-bleaty:  oh, please!

Memammaries: thinking about them hurts the chest.

Musicafeelia: somehow makes it all better.

Sighlense – also useful.


Very much a draft poem for the wonderful Kerry O’Connor’s Flash 55 Plus prompt on With Real Toads to write a 55 word poem. The plus is to use a word that may not be translatable.  Kerry gave a wonderful list of non-English words, but I thought I tried to come up with some of my own, beginning with a riff on mnemonic, an aide memoire. 

Just about my favorite Harmomnemonic these days is Paul Simon’s American Tune.   Below two alternative versions of the same song.


Depressed Poet, Winter Field

February 6, 2016


Depressed Poet, Winter Field

Wraith stalks would loom
over the field
like widows’ weeds
if last year’s hay
were earth’s spouse, and “widows’ weeds”
did not mean rough cloth, but whatever stands up
in loss.

That none of these “ifs’ are true,
yet also are,
is what keeps someone shaped like me
walking this field,
this earth, this rebirth.


55 words (plus title) for Kerry O’ Connor’s prompt on With Real Toads.  Kerry’s prompt talks of using words without direct translations–I wasn’t consciously thinking of that when writing this poem, but perhaps it sort of fits.  Sorry if I owe people comments–a very busy time, but will get to you. 

Pic is mine (as well, of course, as poem).  All rights reserved. k.