Posted tagged ‘Flash Friday 55’

On the Second Day

January 3, 2014



On the second day

of the two-thousand-fourteenth year, the world turned,
two cities in Iraq, two boys in Elmhurst, burned:
others saved from ice–nice–though that same ice
was melting all too fast.

Tomorrow rises
too often an occasion for more ash.
Still, we prise the phoenix:
still, we prize the phoenix;
still, we believe
in phoenixes.

Here are 55 grim words (excluding the cheating title, which is truly part of the poem) for the G-Man.  (Galen–I know apologies are unnecessary, but I feel bound to say that I HAVE written cheerful poems of late, but none have been in 55 words.)

I refer in the poem to certain events in the news yesterday–bombings in Iraq and a terrible fire in Queens, as well as the saving of the scientists/tourists in Antarctica.

The first picture is self-explanatory–the second a lace of ice on a window.  It is now about minus 6 on our thermometer,  during the day, the temp got up to a high of about 1 or 2.  Beautiful but a little scary to walk around in–if you worry about things like the ongoing integrity of your cheeks or nose or even throat.  (I had not before realized how cold air can burn going down.)   I feel very lucky to be able to have the mini-adventure of going out into this cold, and the great blessing of a warm place to come back to. 

Almond Trees, Miltonian Self-Doubt, Bees, Flash Friday 55

March 29, 2013


Here are two poems about almond trees and bees  – one for Samuel Peralta’s prompt at dVerse Poets Pub to write a (sort of) Miltonian sonnet; the second (a bit more off-color) consists of 55 words for the G-Man.  Tell him I’m late as usual.

On the serious side, the number of bees in the U.S. has almost been cut in half over the last year.   No one is sure what is decimating the bees, but powerful new pesticides (neonicotinoids) are suspected.

Out a Train Window – Almond Groves

I took a heartsick ride through Italy
one spring, the words “no one will ever
love you,” my train of thought, a never
never chug.  But beside the track,  a tally
of pinks scoffed, as beauty does. “What  folly,”
signed fingered limbs, sure-blossomed, and whether
or not they truly cared, they severed
the bad me from the good, letting the woe-self free.
Little did I think then of how those almonds too
were tended–by the fussing strokes of bee,
the courtship of proboscis, the I’ve-won-you
of wing.  Oh furred intermediary
of the fruitful –where, bees, have you now gone to?

And here’s the Flash Friday 55:

Dearth of Bees

Almond trees, where are thy bees?
Thou cannot be
sans buzz.  Without fuzz
of their proboscides, who cocks thy
pistils, seeds thy nuts?
There are no ifs, ands, buts,
and though I seem to jest, I dirge
for their dear trespass sweetly
urged–oh life, where is thy sting?
Oh, bees, of thee I sing.

(All rights reserved in text and visual.)

More on Graffiti (Flash Friday 55)

February 22, 2013


70’s/80’s Soho/East Village Walls

Downtown so dim back then
that any pigment shone starry–
but they gave more than just
a break in grim brick –  SAMO’s
crown koans, Haring’s sweet-crawling
both dead before
middle-aged, like so many
in that drawing/drawn 80’s
NYC;  graffiti art leaves me now
disheartened, pains brain bit
at forehead’s wall.

55 late words for the G-Man.  The above is my trying-not-to-be-too-much-like-Keith-Haring-picture.

Still thinking about graffiti after the dVerse Poets prompt.  Graffiti art a bit sad for me, living in NYC in and out of 70’s/80;s–the age of SAMO (Jean-Michel Basquiat) and Keith Haring, both of whom made themselves known on the streets before becoming famous in the art world.  Jean-Michel died of a heroin overdose at age 27; Keith Haring of AIDS-related complications at 31.

One strange announcement in passing – this is my 1500th post on this blog.  A very great thanks to all of you who have read and commented.  Your support (and virtual friendship) has meant a very great deal to me.

“To Ed Koch” (and certain other New Yorkers)

February 1, 2013


To Ed Koch, My New Yorker Aunt and Plenty of Others

There was a certain old-timey New Yorker who wasn’t shy
of picking up a discard on the curb (hopefully, before
the dogs took aim)–maybe a chair, a table, even a whole city–
(what’s it to you, buddy?) –hoisting it
in their arms, cleaning, polishing, making it
something anyone could be proud of, love–


A belated 55 to Ed Koch, who like my Aunt, and many long-term New Yorkers, knew how to take something at a low and make it wonderfully special.  They furnished their rent-controlled apartments, and even their lives, and others’ lives with such things – making the discarded (or bankrupt) function!  Please tell it to the G-Man. 

I didn’t always agree with Ed Koch, but could not help truly liking him and being very grateful for the energy and devotion and unapologetic chutzpah he gave to NYC.  

(When Calm) Thanksgiving – Flash 55

November 23, 2012


(When Calm) Thanksgiving

I give thanks (when I think)
for having been loved
wholly, and for
(at least, at times) loving
wholly, a miracle
(holey holey holey) for
this moon-pocked
soul, a miracle
(wholly wholly wholly) for
this earthen-worn
heart, a miracle
(holy holy holy) that makes
even the most porous clay
stay flesh.


55 words for the G-man and for dVerse Poets Pub (being thankful) hosted by Samuel Peralta, a/k/a Semaphore.  Belated thanks to the dVerse community and the G-Man and the blogosphere and beyond!

Election 2012 – Call Me Trivial – Certain Things Swirl in the Brain (Flash 55)

October 19, 2012

Election 2012 – Call Me Trivial – Certain Things Swirl in the Brain

Dog on a fast car roof (hosed
through cage
at rest stop) does not speak
to me
of empathy,
nor does ganging tackle (with scissors)
of slightly-foppish blonde boy.

Guiding near-blind teacher into glass
Ha ha. Ha

You think
I’m not
being fair?
But it’s all
in good fun.




Above my offering to the G-man – 55 words without title .  ( And, yes, I know, I’m not being fair. And I’m sorry to offend- although these stories –all told of one specific candidate – do tend to stick in my brain.  But, sure, boys will be boys.   And, the dog – well – his name was Seamus – and hey, it can be darn hard to control a dog in a car on a long trip driving on fast highways, and I bet there are some countries people would like to tie on roofs.)

Have a great weekend.

Sometimes (Unsweetened) – Englyn unodi union

October 11, 2012


Sometimes (Unsweetened)

I sometimes understand that we’ll all die,
without last try-again.
No refill of siphoned sand,
do-over (do what we can).

And that I too, and all I love, will die.
And my cry does not call
like the mourning dove, a fall/
rise, but has no interval.

an Englyn unodi union


Here’s my attempt at an Englyn unodi union (whatever that is!), a Welsh form, for dVerse Poets Pub. Form for All.  For more info, check out the wonderful article by Sue Judd and Gay Reiser Cannon at dVerse.  All I can say is that it’s a syllabic form with a slightly odd rhyme scheme that probably works better in Welsh or in someone else’s hands. 

But since my two-stanza version has (with the title and little identifying material at the end, exactly 55 words, please also tell it to the G-Man.)

P.S. The photo is of the old Domino Sugar Factory in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  

Why I Cannot Vote For the GOP (For Lilly Ledbetter) – Flash Friday 55

September 7, 2012

Lilly Ledbetter – “It’s About Equality” (From The Washington Post)

Why I Cannot Vote For the GOP (For Lilly Ledbetter)

When I was three-months, my mother started teaching in a county where women with children under one year automatically received reduced pay.  Meaning that new mothers got even less pay than regular women (much less men).

In her/my first year, my mother mentioned me to no one, pretended I didn’t exist.

I exist.


The above (without title) happens to be 55 words (and a lot of suffering) so tell it to Galen, the terrific G-Man.  Lilly Ledbetter is a woman from Alabama who discovered after two decades of employment as a manager with a tire company that she was being paid less than male employees holding the same job.  She brought legal action to recover her lost pay.  After a ten year battle, the Supreme Court told her that her claims were time-barred because she should have sued her employee within six months of the initial pay discrimination (although she did not know of it for two decades.)  The first bill signed into law by President Obama was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009, which allowed a new statute of limitations to begin with each discriminatory pay check.


I am posting Lilly Ledbetter’s speech at the DNC below.  I found it very moving, as a woman, and also knowing my mother’s (and my) story. 



“Record-Keeping” (Huitain, Aging Brain) (Also Flash 55)

August 16, 2012



Aging brain blanks–record skipping a beat.
Do you, reading this, have any notion
what a record is?  (Was?) These super-neat
spun disks.  Blank aging brain jumps to ‘ocean,’
‘Bonnie,’ ‘sea’–the mysterious motion
of bringing back; and what does re-cord mean
but rebraiding the unmoored? Devotion
spinning us back from wayward to midstream.


The above rather odd poem is a huitain, an eight-line poem from the French (or Spanish) that follows a certain rhyme scheme.   I’m not quite sure where my aging brain has taken itbut I am posting it for a dVerse Poets Pub “Form For All” challenge hosted by Gemma Wiseman and Gay Reiser Cannon.  For more on huitains, check out Gemma’s article at dVerse.   (The picture was amazingly done on my iPhone, with wonderful Brushes App plus Hudson River.) 

Also, please, tell it to the G-Man, because the poem is, amazingly, 55 words!!!!!

Also, if you have time, check out my books!   Poetry, GOING ON SOMEWHERE,  (by Karin Gustafson, illustrated by Diana Barco).    1 Mississippi -counting book for lovers of rivers, light and pachyderms, or Nose Dive, a very fun novel that is perfect for a pool or beachside escape.

P.S. Not sure about that re-braiding – maybe plain old re-tying –

Flash Friday 55 – Short Short – (Teacher?)

October 13, 2011


As part of my (kind of random!) exploration of online poetry and prose sites, I am making my first Flash Friday 55 post, which is a post somehow indelibly connected to the G Man, Mr. Know-it=all, and involves the writing of a 55 word story.


When they were good, she let them
color around the Bible verses they’d
copied out.

When they were bad, she had them
stand before the class, and
slap themselves, exhorting as they lapsed
(second graders get tired),
“harder, harder.”

A God-fearing woman, she felt
called to teach them much; the fear part,
they learned.