Archive for March 2022

Early Morning Poems

March 25, 2022

Here are two early morning poems–one written yesterday, the other today–the mood lightened by frogs!



I get up taut
with what might go wrong, where
I’ll fall short.

It’s too easy to come up with

Meditators focus on the breath
but I resort, in the pre-dawn dark,
to actual prayer—in part
because it feels faster—

Big suffering in the world,
but my mind reverts to small
acts of kindness, what’s reachable, like the window
across the room, the door

It opens to a rush of air that pushes against me,
through me, but this is how air is, it doesn’t wait
for us to decide
what to do with it.


March Morning 4:30

I open an early morning door
to a frenzy of first frogs, 
flubbing, flabbering, the darkness rubbery
with rebirth, rapidfire gulps of
“let’s get going, gals” and,  I guess,
guys too.

A dog barks; everything awake
and determined
to make the most of it.

Cold at the door—yet I stay,
listening away my hesitation at the hour—
insomniacs can feel guilty
for just giving in—but as I listen, life’s not
about me—how


Same Sun

March 21, 2022

Same Sun 

I am told that when my grandfather went back to Sweden,
after fifty years gone,
he pointed up to the sky.

“Same sun,” he said,
and his brothers, looking up, nodded, knowing they’d have
that sun—even as they did not see each again.

There’s a morning moon today, brilliant, though just
past full, and I think of my grandfather, only now I think
“same moon”,
imagining it shining
over the world, in swathes of abandoned sky
above the Sudan or Rajasthan—the way
the moon glows
over a desert—
through grey black screws of smoke in the Ukraine, 
a hard chill in Red Square,
by the dome of the Capitol, my hometown DC,
and reflected in so many tides
of so many
wine-dark seas. 

I can see it too
in the cores of trees that have fallen
across this road, the  trunks sawed through, pushed
to the side, the rounds at the wood’s heart bared—

and in the oh’s that a baby’s mouth forms, rooting—this picture
in my head—

I knew my grandfather, but can’t really remember him (or only as I’ve seen him
in photographs), he having a heart attack
when I was making my own oh’s, those
of a toddler—

There’s so much suffering in just having a body—
yet, people add to it, heap it on, as if to cause suffering in others
somehow allows them to control it
in themselves—

same sun.  


Another draft poem—yes, it could use more time!  But writing and posting quickly is lifting me up right now and I hope of interest to you.  Thanks.  (All rights reserved in poem and pic, as always. And sorry that I am using drawings from my own archive–they are not always exactly right for the poem!)

Mid-March in North Country

March 20, 2022

Mid-March in North Country

We are in the brown season here.
Winter wilting; my husband no longer even trying
to enforce inventory control—(that, the rule
of using up the old
before starting the new.) 

So, I reach into the fridge
for one of my two open almond butters, also
a peanut butter, started (nonetheless) yesterday—
sometimes you just prefer peanuts—

A cancer patient is sleeping
down the hall. I have learned of late
that you cannot fix someone, make them happy,
you can only try not to make them unhappy,
or more unhappy—
and to comfort, keep
them company—

I could expound, but this brown season
doesn’t brook more redundancy—
all those taupe barks on ochre fields, 
brown bared earth—

It’s a landscape that doesn’t bother
to assert its right-now beauty—
though it’s there all right, a backdrop
of birds back, great tan puddles pearling
lengthened light.


Another draft poem of sorts. Bear with me! I think of myself as more of a prose/fiction writer, but am in a hard place for extended narrative, so am returning to poetry–and have decided just to post rather freely, even if some things could probably use a bit more editing! Thanks much for your visits and kind comments. Have a good day–

ps – pic doesn’t fit so well, but is one of mine. All rights to poem and illustration reserved.

pps – this is a poem, i.e. somewhat a work of fiction–people in my life are remarkably happy even under difficult circumstances–

One Scene in Kiev ICU

March 19, 2022

One Scene in Kiev ICU

I see a video of a family in a Kiev ICU, after
having been shot
by Russian soldiers, after having been told
by a Russian soldier
that it was safe to cross
some corridor,

the teen daughter especially wounded
because of throwing herself on top
of her little brother,

but what is perhaps
most remarkable about this particular video—well, the daughter, the entire
family—is also the laughter in the room
that happens when they are visited
by Zelensky—there are certainly also tears
in all corners,
but together they laugh at some small  joke.

Zelensky triggers it, with a smile that you know he must
enforce on himself, though it seems unforced—one can’t help but think
of the discipline that smile takes, even as it works, 
expanding onto all the other faces in the room, like the swell
of a wave
or heart. 

And when he gives the girl an armful of white flowers—
he somehow manages to extend the bouquet in a way that says—“this
is for you,
I know it is not enough,
that it might seem trivial
in the face
of your suffering—“ 

And yet that silent admission, that near embarrassment,
somehow untrivializes
the flowers,
boosts them into the gallery
of meaningful gestures, the long history
of homage—the flowers, already so beautiful—

how do they still have flowers like that, I wonder,
with all going on; how do people still
make such flowers happen–


A bit of a wierd draft poem about the civilian casualties in Ukraine, and a visit by Zelensky to the ICU.

Bad Night

March 17, 2022

Bad Night

A sick-to-your-stomach night
after the world accuses you
of wrong. 

They’re wrong,
but still all night—maybe because
you actually told them they weren’t right—
whatever you have ever done
that could be thrown back at you
is thrown back at you. 

You are not the kind of person who is energized
by attack; you are a woman of a certain generation,
certain age—when others rage
you blame yourself, this is how
you were raised.

So that, by the time the moon shines through
the western window, pulling at a body heavy
with the wish for rest, 
you get up,
knowing that same body, that womanliness of a certain age
and generation, can make
extremely good tea, which may somehow
releaf you. 

You smile at that little pun—
it’s already working—


Draft poem not for St. Patrick’s Day! Maybe I can come up with one of those when feeling better. Have a good day! (As always all rights reserved.)


March 16, 2022


After being woken early by the ring on a monitor
at the other side of a cancer patient, who is
in pain;
after the temp is taken, the meds given, 

I step into the slippery cold to see a moon, which is not floating
on the single dome of cloud that hugs, like a fantasy of snowcap,
a low mountainside
on the opposite half of this valley.

No, the moon does not float
on that cloud, above that mountainside, but seemingly holds
a fixed place, more solid than either cloud
or mountain, looking

as  if it were not suddenly full, though I swear
in the course of this one night
it has rounded,
and as if it were not setting, which it does,
on that side of the sky.  

Rather, it glows with certainty; it feels as if it were a sure thing, the one
sure thing,
even as I know that when I go out later, which is now, 
it will be gone.

Also not gone. 


I am thinking of getting back into poetry again.  Here’s a draft poem written this morning.  I’m not sure I have a great pic for it, the mountains in this pic based on a Chinese painting, which are a bit more vertical—have a great day—

(As nearly always, the illustration and text are mine. All rights reserved.)

Making Small Art in Troubled Times – What One Does

March 14, 2022

It is so hard these days to think of doing art work, if one’s art tends towards the personal; if, it is, you know, “small story” work—work about a couple of lives or some incidents whose political importance is not particularly apparent.  

Or, if, for example, it is work for children—work meant simply to entertain, to help little kids get through an itchy moment, or to bed. Work that simply says that silliness is fine, sweetness is fine; work that is, in other words, kind of cute.

It is hard, that is, if you make the type of art I do—PLEASE READ MY BOOKS BY THE WAY!—.  I feel like there are political implications in my adult books– Nice; Momoir, Maybe; No River, and even in my new book of stories – Who Are You Kidding?  but the political stuff is arguably subtle. The books are stories of small lives, individual lives. 

As for the children’s books that I have written (GET THOSE TOO!), they are mainly about sound, color, letters, numbers, rhyme. 

How does one justify making art about things like that in the face of ongoing events in the world, and in the country?

The candid answer is that one simply makes the work one makes.   There is stuff that just comes out of your fingertips, and though you can try to slant that stuff—you can read more—think harder–edit pointedly— the work is based on what comes out.  (At my age, I kind of believe in accepting that, if not truly honoring it.)  

Frankly, it is hard enough to make your own work—practically impossible to make someone else’s.

This is not to say that I don’t believe in growth.  (I believe in growth!) 

Still, it seems (in my case anyway), that I’ve been given a particular kind of gift, and I mostely accept that.   That’s the thing about gifts–some people get socks—others, search lights! (The very very lucky get ponies, but let’s put those aside for now.)

Still, even with some self-acceptance, it is hard to motivate one’s self to do one’s small work in the light/glare of suffering, and anxiety. Hard to motivate one’s self too when there is also so much division.  (Shouldn’t you be busy trying to persuade someone of something?)

I try to remind myself how much pleasure/peace one gets out of simply reading (and even re-reading) small life things—I do anyway—mysteries, picture books, satirical fantasy.

And then I simply go back to the notion that you make the work that you make—

In any case, the above is some of the work I have been making lately—a yet-to-be-finished picture from a yet-to-be-finished picture book tentatively called Bug Cars.  

Have a great week. 


Please do check out my books, available at these links on Amazon, and Blurb.


March 13, 2022

The above is my drawing of a kind of wooden gargoyle in the Metropolitan Museum’s Oceanic collection and a sketch of a John Singer Sargeant portrait (also at the Met.)  It was made in a wonderful zoom drawing/art history class I am taking with Peter Hristoff of SVA, and Alice Schwartz  (a curator at the Met.)

I post it, because I like the drawing, but also because something about it—maybe the anxiety on the face of my version of the Sargeant and the uncertainty, and fumbling, of her hands (again, only in my version)—seems to go with present times.  I think, honestly, that the Oceanic figure may be as much a figure of protection as war—but in my version it doesn’t focus on protectiveness!

Stay well.

Sudden Upheaval (Imagined)

March 12, 2022

The sudden upheaval; you realize that you should have kept that packed bag by the door, the one the experts advised. You grab your computer, thinking life’s work, photographs, and then are suddenly sad again, in your panic, sad again, that your dog died some years ago—you can’t help but think you would have proved your loyalty to her, to her and to life, that you would have held her against your chest, ditched the computer. So, the sad flash says, trying to make you feel better, that you, at least, would have valued life. 

But your heart is a bird.  As many clean underwear as you can push into your pockets.  Those mittens, no, those. Several fists of socks and two odd ones that lie like lost tongues, so lone that you cannot pass them by, one beneath the chest of drawers, one in a corner. 

You ponder, beneath the thumping, a change of shoes but shoes are too heavy, but none of your shoes is truly reliable, but they’re too heavy, at least, you have a toiletry kit. You make yourself not sort though it but do stick in a fresh box of neosporin, a soft cardboard of bandaids, hoping it’s nearly full, don’t check. 

You suddenly want to take, though it is ridiculous, though it could be useful, though it is ridiculous, though it could really really help you, a small silicon tea kettle that you brought up to your bedroom some months ago, that is still just sitting there, that squishes almost flat. Yes, it needs electricity, but how can you live without tea, it could also boil an egg, you justify, and as he calls you, you push it into your pack and race down to the kitchen to grab two stacks of tea bags, and trying not to fumble in your press, press them into a small plastic, your head immediately turning to what else, but– 

“we have to go,” he insists, two small metal tubes of nut butter, thanking God for the company that packages the stuff that way, as you scan the cupboard for long-life milk you already know you don’t have–

“really,” he insists.  

He wears his biggest winter coat, the one with the fur about the hood—you wonder whether he won’t be stifled by such a heavy coat, then see the two of you curled beneath it on the ground, the grass ochre, he tries

to smile.

You haven’t consciously thought that you are each taking the other, but that thought is outlined by that small smile, which he extends now beneath the worry like a hand. You don’t even whisper yes, but hurry, yes, knowing that he’s right that you must leave now, that you cannot take any more.


The above are simply thoughts. I cannot bear to think of what it must be like to flee if you are part of a couple or a family and cannot all go together (though of course this happens all the time.)

The drawing is a recent one of mine; it doesn’t really fit the subject, but it does have a corner of exit road.

Ongoing (March 4)

March 4, 2022

I knew there was a reason I don’t much like the idea of nuclear power plants. They can try to safeguard them from human mistake, but not so easy to safeguard them from human craziness.

The picture above is older, not made with Ukraine in mind, but I remembered it today, what with the Russian attack on the large Ukrainian nuclear power plant at Zaporizhizhia, which included a specific attack on the protective housing of the plant, setting it ablaze. It’s a horrible kind of blackmail–give in to us or we will destroy Europe. Praying that some sense prevails there, some care for human life and for the life of the planet. Thankful that Biden is not a madman, though hard to know what can be resorted to other than the massive sanctions (that he has already been spearheading), and time.