Archive for July 2022

No Shortcut

July 28, 2022

No Shortcut

It took her some time to realize that she could not stand upon the bridge she was building.  That is, she could not work on unsupported spans while standing, even kneeling, on the bits just laid.  

She could not stop herself from trying though—from jabbing cantilevered planks towards the other bank, aiming for some depression in the rock or dirt, trying, at least, for a moment of teeter. Until, at last, came the collapse.

She tumbled then into what was turned out to be only a gully. Yes, she was bruised, even bleeding—a rivulet down one knee, a a pinpoint bloom on the other. Still, it wasn’t so bad. 

But it did make her understand that there was no short cut for bridge building, that she probably had to start from below, to step in all those places she’d hoped to just pass over.

Being someone who read the news each day, she couldn’t help but think about how this might apply to people. She realized then that you couldn’t—at least not successfully—just shove a plank over them, or push a rampart into their sides.  People didn’t like planks, ramparts, not just pushed into their sides.

But how then would you go about it? 


A sort of little story for today.  Have a good one. 

After the Storm

July 26, 2022

After the storm

The morning, washed, but still July’s,
feels like a flannel just retrieved
from the air fluff cycle—

soft, humid, warmish, but not
like something baked
in Auto Dry.

And not linen, not silk, and not percale—

The clusters of faded roses bob like babies
on the breeze’s knees;
the leaves wave
at me.

while last evening’s tempest
feels like the tantrum
of a mother who’s simply had it, 
been pushed way past
her limit, finally, cried heavily,

and yes, here she is today, 
soothing us softly, here she is—
back to something sort of like
a norm, but maybe she needs some help
maybe, you know, we should think about her
for a little while, actually do something. 


A poem I wrote yesterday after major storm clearing a bit of the heat out.  Cooler yet today.  Have a good one. 

Dream Morning

July 24, 2022

Dream Morning

The  lawn mowed professionally of late, I notice
how robins, who I always thought bobbed (as in,
hopped), actually walk with the quick two-step
of a keystone cop, or a migrant
from Benny HIll.

Only now I see—the short grass shows all—that this morning’s robin
also hops.

I wonder then if anyone knows the reason
why robins sometimes hop and sometimes walk,
and whether, if I watched them for a long time—probably years—I’d understand it—

Or maybe robins just sometimes likes to hop and other times
to walk, sort of like my dream self last night, when I, in the guise of a young girl, ran away
from a yoga school—it wasn’t a class but a whole
school and an incredibly cliquey place—though first, I went to tell them,
the teachers and all
the hip students,
that they would never
see me again—

As I left, I skipped—
out through an amber hall towards an
emerald night,
until I noticed this other girl (one of the super hip ones)
following, and turned towards her,
so that I had to skip backwards to keep up my

She’d been sent, ostensibly, out of concern that I would harm myself,
or at the very least, fall
into harm’s way.
Though, of course, there was also an element of control—
the school did not like anyone
to abscond—

But I told her that they didn’t need to worry, that I wasn’t
actually going to leave home, at least not yet,
that I was only
leaving them.

In the dream, this announcement was kind of a surprise for me
as well as the other girl,
my declaration inside the yoga school had been
so extreme, so animated
by rejection that I too thought I was skipping away
from all I knew; that I too worried
about coming to
some harm.

Now, a gold finch, actually lemon yellow, darts in a zing
of small bell curves, towards the black-eyed susans, which
are truly golden, also brown-eyed,
and I notice that the robin’s now bobbed elsewhere,
and also, that the leaves of the trees just across
caress the light breeze like fingers assessing
a precious fabric, and I think about breezes
of light, as if the light were flickering through the leaves,
only truly, it’s the leaves themselves that flicker, while the light,
despite its endlessly moving arc, is quite fixed
in the moment.

And I am so happy that things are not always
as they seem and that my dream self
did not leave home, not yet anyway.


Another drafty sort of poem!  Have a good week!


July 23, 2022


Nose knocked off, chin slightly
abraded, the flow of her robe stanched
mid-stream, plein air below the lap—
but the essence of her intact,
the essence

How alive she is, her neck so long
and strong, jawline lifting, a lilt
to her lips (though she’s part
of a grave marker), and an archetype more
than a portrait. Still, her shoulders are a certain woman’s,
her face one person’s.

The fingers of her hand curl
towards the jut of mouth/chin,
as if to help her to think, to remember,
in the way hands do. 

The blank eyes half look over at me,
feeling my stare,
but she is determined
not to be disturbed—to think, to remember—
yet even through that marble composure,
I feel her telegraph: “don’t you have something
you should be thinking about?”

I am embarrassed, not sure of what to say.
I look harder, knowing that she gives me something,
but I don’t know what
to call it.
It makes me come outside at last,
to sit myself in the plein air, the flow
of here and there, 
and, for a minute, to think
and not think,
to remember
and not remember,
and then, to smile, that smile in spite
of everything.  I can feel the lilt
in my own lips. 


A sort of draft poem for a Saturday morning, based on looking at a Greek sculpture, a marble stele (grave marker) from the 4th Century B.C.  A quick drawing of it above—doesn’t look Greek at all, I know!  But I don’t want to infringe copyrights!

Here’s a link to a photograph of the actual sculpture I’ve been looking at (thanks to Alice Schwarz, curator at the Met, and a co-teacher with Peter Hristoff of a drawing/art history course I am taking online at SVA.)

As It Happens (Fire)

July 21, 2022

As It Happens  (Fire)

The gods are determined
that we should learn our lesson:
that the cup we are drinking from
is already broken: that is, that nothing can be held forever,
not whole, or not, at least,
as is. 

The fire was an exuberant teacher,
though it did not care
about method or reviews; there were no sample
exercises, no walking us through
the steps. It focused only
on what it did, which was to burn red, burn black,
burn hot, burn fast—it was totally
in the moment, as it were,  

while we, who were learning about impermanence, yet again,
kept telling ourselves
to stand back


Sad fire yesterday, but, wonderfully, no person or animal hurt.

A Dobbs Poem

July 19, 2022

A Dobbs Poem (One of Many) 

I get it.  
As a child I too wished
that my mother didn’t work. ( I mean,
at a job.) 

But what I really wanted
was not for my mother not to work–all mothers work–
but for my mother to just
be quiet, to not complain
about the house (how no one helped her);
to not go on about money—
(because she made some, she seemed to feel
she should have a say in how it was spent.)

I just didn’t want to hear her voice sometimes,
especially the way it sounded when she thought
that she had rights, or when she knew
she had opinions.

I mean, a part of me was also proud of her:
that she asserted rights, that she spouted
the many ways in which she seemed so free,
compared to the women on our block
who did not work at jobs, who seemed so stuck
in their houses.

But if only she’d just
be quieter.

So, I get it.  People can talk of babies all they want—
who doesn’t love
babies?—but a lot of what they really want
is for women to just
shut up. 

And in this culture (whether it’s fair or not)
people who make their own money
are harder to just 
shut up
(even if they don’t make
that much money.)

What so many want from women
is dependence, and if that means destroying
young children, whose dependence has already been
abused, and if it means destroying women who are sick
with the child their bodies can’t carry, so
be it. 

For, if only women’s bodies can be controlled,
that will surely
control their tongues.

But here’s the thing—my mother
would not be shut up (believe me, I know).
So, here we go;
here we go—


Thanks be to my mother and so many many like her who were feminists before they knew the word. I have written many Dobbs poems, so far.  They are not so good—I am just too angry—but I did finally want to get at least one of them out there. 

After Reading Another’s Poem Posted For Bloomsday

July 16, 2022

After reading another’s poem mistakenly posted for Bloomsday

I once visited Joyce’s Martello Tower
the place where he and Kinch ate breakfast,
I always think of the cream in the milk that they poured
into their tea and imagine its paisley
in my own; I too use whole milk, un-
and there I saw a woman (though it was December)
just stepped from the drink, meaning
the Irish Sea, rosy as damask, she rubbed the the apples
of her flesh so as to shine them. All she wore was
a two piece or maybe really just bra and undies, and a grin
as wide as a lifting tide. 

I swim myself, Decembers—
I call it swimming, what I mean is that I take
a plunge and splash into frigid waters and then
come out grinning, grabbing a towel
as bright as a cloud, my skin scoured
by the cold and the rough terry, 
saying yes to everything. 

But the crazy thing (now that I have thought
all of this through) is that, although the poem I read
this morning was posted for Bloomsday,
today is July 16, not June,
and so there was no true call
for this memory of bright waters
and grinning flesh, but there it is,
and yes, I still say, yes.


Haha.  I confess to often using the Writer’s Almanac as a jumping off place for my own poem, in the mornings, and today, there is a mistaken post for Bloomsday, June 16, which is the day in which James Joyce’s novel Ulysses takes place. Anyway!  (The picture is some approximation of Joyce’s tower at Sandycove, Dublin—you’ll have to picture the woman from the poem!) Have a good day!

Waiting for the Moon

July 15, 2022

Waiting for the Moon

My heart hurts
when I read the news,
so I try to think of how
we waited last night
for the moon. 

In the mountains, it took years
to appear. 

Dew dampening our blanket, we reclined
on two lawn chairs, you insisting on reaching
over to me, though the freeze of the metal armrests surely
pierced your sleeve.  You don’t have to, I said,
but you said you didn’t mind.

We had done other things while waiting—
the dishes, the counter tops, running out every other task
to check the sky, but when (sigh) it was more than forty minutes past
the internet’s appointed time for moon rise in our state,
we simply sat out there, you saying,

But the moon did not come soon, and so you warmed me with
your arm, and we gazed at the stars in the still-dark sky, some
bright , some (very far) like the pinpoints of a possible
quilt, a couple actually airplanes—all would be just crumbs
in the Webb photographs, I thought, so
tiny, when still,

the moon wouldn’t come, and something huge
and round on one side shot through my vision
like an epiphany, brilliant and sure
but brief enough to let me know that you have to keep looking
if you want to see, and then, suddenly,
a searing rose gold curve burned at the crest of the hillside you
had predicted and I had thought was too far
to the South—

It was so bright we wondered if we should look at it
straight on
but we did look at it,
until the entire shining circle topped
the hill, the trees at its base outlined
in crimson. It had a rather sweet face shaped
by craters and its own mountains, 

and I said, very cold, despite the blanket and
your arm, I think that’s it for me,
and you said, yes, and as we went inside, back
to the kitchen sink, you bemoaned the state of
the world, and I said that we were too old to try
to fix it, that I just hoped we’d have no tragedies
at the ends of our lives, and you said you simply hoped
that we would commit no
your own kindness about the only thing
you can control. 

I think of this as I read the news this morning
that so hurts
my heart; that the moon did rise,
and of all the stars
in the meanwhile. 


A too-long poem for today, but there it is!  Am recycling an old drawing, that doesn’t quite fit, but close—it was a much darker sky last night when the moon finally appeared. Have a good day!

In the way that

July 10, 2022

In the way that

In the way that the sun still lights the sky
when it has sunk below
the opposite hill,
and the moon as white as a cloud
in the still blue,
so, you hold me
in my own heart. 

In the way that tree limbs
make a porthole,
an “oh” in the high green leaves
to the other side
of the valley,
to all that
so you watch over me
hardly seen. 

And I—what
do I do for you? 
Give thanks.


A kind of quick draft poem—I’m not sure this drawing works, but one that I had!  Have a good week. 


July 9, 2022


I look at an early Degas, and realize that the light shining
through a crack in the door
is a stripe
and the gauze curtains of a window
reflected in a mirror at the back
of the practice room
are simply a wispy rectangle that is, in fact,
on the surface of the canvas, not at the “back”
of anything,
though the piano is definitely
a piano, and the top hat, a hat,
and the dancers as real
as any dancers, meaning
pretty unreal, especially since you can’t, you know,
hear the scuff and pound of feet
that typically reifies their steps, lands, leaps. 

It is a golden room, more ochre than yesterday’s dusk
when a peach swallowed the sky, the fields, the house, even
the garage, and the taillights of a car driving beneath darkening trees
accented the whole
as perfectly
as the violin case in the Degas moves our eyes
to the center of the dance floor
and I thought
why doesn’t someone paint that car,
those tail lights? Our own moments of glow
museum-worthy, at least worth
looking at. 

Yet we/I hold ourselves apart from so many
moments—from taillights bright
as rubies, and peach skies that are
so brief—
We don’t even rehearse, simply hold
ourselves in reserve, waiting for a mirror
to fill the foreground, and for light from a crack in a door
that we keep quite closed.

But (in the middle of these woes),
the morning, this very morning, smiles
its hello’s,
and the painting (exasperated) says to keep
on my toes,
and time, cutting in, gives me another chance
at the dance,
so many stripes
of light.


Another poem for today, based in part upon an early painting of Degas in the Metropolitan Museum, called the Dancing Class.  (The link to the painting is there.)  It is something I looked at as part of a wonderful drawing class taught by Peter Hristoff, an artist/professor at SVA, and Alice Schwartz, a curator at the Met.