Posted tagged ‘’


August 9, 2016


He husbanded her ash for years; when the wind blew, he’d place some,
as if it were pollen and he a reverse bee,
upon a plant or low-hanging tree, and wait, downwind,
for its caress.
He would feel himself then weeping
into her hands, though it would seem to others
(if anyone had seen) just wind in his eyes.

But he worried as he aged
that he was using the ash too fast, that it wouldn’t last him, or worse–
and this was worse–
that he’d been self-indulgent with his machinations, and that in his wish to hold on to her, he’d never let her rest, that he had wrested her from
the singular life of ash, one eddying release, the possibility
of well-spring–

So he took the ash to a lake she’d loved
and sat there with the box–he’d never been able to transfer her
to an urn, she hated the taste
of metal–
which held inside the tied plastic, and inside that, the ash,
just sat there for some time,

with no leaves that could blow, just lake, and ripples of lake,

until he opened the box, the plastic, dipping palms into the soft remains,

until, not even looking–late for a lakeside–he pulled off shirt and shorts, and rubbed the ash like some tribal warrior over his thighs and calves, his knees and the backs of his knees, arms and belly, chest and shoulders, neck and nape of neck, and
his face.

He did cry–for her, for himself, and for the ridiculousness of himself, standing there not a warrior, on even a beach that was embarrassed, and the tears made rivulets
in the tightness of drying ash;

and he looked down at his legs, his torso, at the hair that was flattened by the ash, and at the hair that sprouted through the ashen mats, trying to feel something other than
the crusted rim of his own skin

until, slowly, he walked into the water, which took him aback with its warmth–

It was water that still held the day, water that held him too now with the day,
water where grey unwound.


Prosish poem for Real Toads Open Platform.  I am also linking to dVerse Poets Pub, for Whimsygizmo’s prompt about blue (one suggestion: to write a sad poem.) Pic is mine.  All rights reserved.  


February 28, 2015


The passageway to warmth
is as wide as it need be–
the breadth of your body, the breath
of your body–
sighs sized to stretch us both
into foreshortened
a night narrow
as two spoons.

But when, feeling lone,
the brain becomes a dislocated bone,
when crevices hutch stone, darkness thickens
and even walls pass judgment,
one confuses ways-away.

Some mistake an unlit oven
for possible passage (the speckle
of its inner midnight misread
as splotches of star),
consider cuts channels, purge
as release, oblivion
a coveted tease–

when–I have to believe–
if time could just be waited upon,
warmth might alight in windowed panes,
great trapezoids of sun winnowed
from the meanest cracks,
brightnesses to bring us back
into blink and dazzle,
a radiance that lets us wear
its raiment as our own, quickening
whatever lists into its frame and, too,
what simply looks on.


Here’s a poem originally written for a personal challenge given to me by Corey Rowley  (Herotomost) on Real Toads, and posted there.  I have edited the enjambment a little and am re-posting on my own blog and also for dVerse Poets Pub open link day, hosted by the wonderful Claudia Schoenfeldt as Claudia and Brian Miller pass a torch at dVerse Poets Pub to Bjorn Rudberg.  Brian and Claudia have definitely offered a passageway to warmth for me in all their online poetic endeavors and have my heartfelt gratitude.  




January 23, 2015



We move at nights as if through sliding sands,
hands cupped.  They’re true sands of a sort–time’s grains,
brain’s siftings–what shifts down from the dreams we man,
woman.  We’re close, yet sleep’s a lonely lane,
feigns, only, a residing populace.

You kiss me back, when I kiss you, surfacing,
pacing contact like swimmers pace the turn,
churn, of head, the breaths in crawl’s spacing,
hastening–but slowly (for in these dunes,
moon’s dominions, all snails glue-footed)–to sink,
unthink, unlink, ourselves, slipping down,
‘round, into, oblivion’s sole skin.

Gingerly, we reach–when self once more floats up
cup-palmed–to catch, to hold–but soft– but softly–touch.


Here’s a sort of sonnet, inspired originally by the wonderful chained-rhyme Scrimshaw Sonnet, of Hedgewitch, Joy Anne Jones.  I am posting it also for dVerse Poets Pub Prompt, by the inimitable Brian Miller (!), called “breaking and entering” about using a form but also breaking the form.  In this case, I’ve used very poor slant rhyme at times, and there’s at least an extra foot or two in the last line!  Plus I’ve broken up the sonnet in an odd place–after the fifth line, rather than sixth or eighth.

This poem has gone through vastly different iterations.  The places that rhyme leads you are always quite surprising to me–and a few changes of words can and did lead to extremely different poems.  I’m not sure any of them quite say what I wanted!  Still, I rather enjoy following rhyme’s lead–it releases the mind from certain types of decision-making in a way that is quite freeing.  

I am actually posting this from an airplane–a long flight–so I am way too cramped to make a new drawing and re-did this pic I had saved.   I am not sure that the above really works–it’s supposed to be a couple lying down in bed!  (Perhaps moving through sand?) 

Give Us Our Daily

December 19, 2014

Give Us Our Daily–

Sure, I’d like to earn bread, writing–
but what I write for
is to b-read.

(Well, what I really write for
is to write more.)

But better read
than dead
which is what I would be
not writing.

(Being read is
the better bread
no ifs, ands or butter
about it.)

And so I knead and noodle,
breed words,
shape lines,
give rise to what is sometimes
admittedly half-baked
(always my wry
gets carried away),

feed too
on the b-read
of others, my dear

Here’s a very belated and rather silly poem for Grace’s prompt on dVerse Poets Pub about bread.  Process note-I think the word “companion” comes from the Latin, meaning someone with whom you break bread.  Thank you for being mine!

Ps slightly edited since first posting.

Subway Window

November 21, 2014


Subway Window

Old as a large lizard
and more cold, poverty
stalks the subway, careful
of the closing doors.

Older than a large lizard–
but it does not mind
the new bare-fangled, the evolved

So, the person whose body humps
like a triceratops turned on its side
just across from me
wears fake Crocs,
rimmed by the gaudy with which
manufacturers often brand
the cheap;

track pants of some newly-minted
fabric that, like the still-gilled climbing out
from undersea, doesn’t breathe right,
nor armor against the whip of wind chill,
at least a heavy coat, rumpled thick
as a hide;

but then protruding from khaki cuffs, I see nails
painted navy, and something about
their clasp of the bunched creases
of knuckle, lets me know she’s a woman.

And though she never turns
her head, lets anyone see
what’s beneath the ruffed hood–
still, the face of the face I trace,
a side of cheek roughed
by metal salt skies,
shows telltale softness.

I’d like to share something–
a smile, shrug, some complaint
about the crush, but she stays resolutely squared
towards the back of the car,

I try to see if she looks out
its bleared window, about
a foot away, out
to the flashes of darkness we flee
as we speed into
new darkness,
but what she sees
is very hard to tell
from where I’m sitting.


Here’s a belated draft poem for Kerry O’ Connor’s prompt on With Real Toads about Age and Youth, and also Bjorn Brudberg’s prompt on dVerse Poets Pub about de-familiarization.   The pic doesn’t really go, but there you have it!  


Somewhere a fly

October 29, 2014


Somewhere a fly

Somewhere, a fly walks face,
proboscis probing
like a dowser’s forked stick,
as it will,
the plain of cheek,
the ridge of nose,
edging tarsal lace
about the pit of mouth,
cutting a slant
through stubble.

Somewhere, there is a great buzz
over a bulged belly
and a foot that was pounded board
rots to punk,

and a person–somewhere, a person,
becomes less human–
and now, I don’t speak of the dead–
by pinching others apart
as if these others were
flies on the face
of this planet, plucking

would-be wings, hanging limbs
as things, targeting with slews
of water, currents
of all sorts; somewhere,
someone is
stomping, starving,
caging, stomped,

and maybe acts of cruelty
are all too human,
even children trained
in their commission, wires
strapped to small waists,

and that feels the absolute worst,
though, in the area of treating people
like flies, turning people
into fly fodder, it’s kind of hard to say missiles are better,

just because they don’t have waists.


Here’s a very drafty poem, for Gabriella’s prompt on dVerse Poets Pub to write about war.  I had some further lines about waste, but well, didn’t put them in, as the point seemed clear.  I find it very difficult to write about this type of topic.  

And since I am in rant mode:  in terms of  war (and other things of that nature),  I urge everyone to get out and vote. I also urge everyone to support voting, and to call out voter ID laws for what they are–acts of suppression.  I have worked at polling sites, and can tell you that it is not only hard for some (especially the poor, the old and the young) to get original IDs, but also hard to maintain a current ID, especially if you don’t own a car, have some instability in your residence or don’t maintain an independent home (because you live, for example, with family members.)

Also, I don’t buy this business about there not being a difference in politicians.  I agree that there is a lot of venality in politics, but that is not an excuse not to vote. (And not to take efforts to stay informed.)  There are differences in politicians; your vote does make a difference.   Ask any woman who has ever taken birth control or needed it, or any woman who has been habitually paid less than a man doing the same job (i.e. ask any woman.)  Ask any one, like me, who has been able to have major cost savings relating to children’s health care because of the expansions allowed by the Affordable Care Act. 

Finally, please in the midst of this, consider checking out my new book, Nice, which takes place in the time of the Vietnam War.PP Native Cover_4696546_Front Cover

Newsprint Past

October 26, 2014

Junk News Speak

Newsprint Past

There were times and places
when what you purchased
came wrapped in old newspaper
folded as neatly around–let’s say–
your nubby mandarins
as a steam-pressed collar buttoned
over an Adam’s apple,
only tied with a string
and covering everything.

At the end of shopping,
you might carry a stacked jam
like so many ironed shirts
tailored for people with trapezoidal
torsos, or if you lived in Great Britain,
fish and chips.

As you unwrapped
your fine print sacks, sitting at a table bare but for
peel curls, chip chips, you could, between whiffs
of orange or vinegar, peruse
an origami of ads, articles,
the snipped obits of those who some time recently
had died
and the whom they were
survived by,
phrases that kept
you company, quiet companions with interesting
while from outside,
came muted cries–
for those were also times and places
of open windows–not of anguish typically,
or not of extreme anguish–the crows of children
over rules, the hawking
of other vendors,
the banter of true bird, the
hum of machines
on the fly,

sweat nestling at the back
of your neck and inner arms, and,
if you were eating fish and chips,
probably also
your upper lip.

And, believe me, I am not in any way touting
those times –I am pretty sure
that while you were sitting there eating, some woman
in the background
was scrubbing pots, and some person of color
mopping stairs, and while there’s nothing wrong
with pots or stairs, scrubbing  and mopping,
they are not so great
as ultimate options, not to mention the fear stored in
closet shadows,
along with the broom handles, buckets, lye.

I’m just saying that newsprint seems a
helluva lot better to me
than plastic, no matter how
it’s used, and by plastic I don’t just mean
what now wraps all we buy,
but also what we see–that transfixed hair
upon the screen, the fake smiles,
smirks, the scooped pronouncements passing
as some synopsis of
the world’s long day, so much shiny
cheap, thin,
packaging, so much
to throw away.


This isn’t so much a poem as a rant.  I wrote it originally for Mary’s prompt on dVerse Poets to write about news – and am posting it on dVerse’s Open LInk Night

This is an old drawing, but seemed to fit. 


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!  

Walking With My Mother

February 1, 2014


Walking With My Mother

So, I have to go
right left,

she tells me–

you know, sergeants–they shout
left right–
did you ever think of that?
But I have to go–
right left–

This, after fracturing
her toe, the right-
most digit, left

To re-mind
herself, to keep right
her crabbed left step,
to keep up
right left
the forced march.

But I would like
to actually talk to her,
this short time maybe all we have
left, she murmurs–

To talk of longing–
you know how soldiers, she says–
and to talk of (right)

But I have to, she says
and right left, she says again,
for increasingly,
she must say something right–
her own words what her ears have

And, yes, I say,
though what I want is something
more, something like a blue bell
that could hold us as
a sky, roll us down
its sides together,
not need
the toll of words–
and she says, right
and I say, wait,
and she says, left
grasping her–
and right, she says
and we walk on
right left
trying somehow
to get closer.


Here’s a poem for my prompt on Repetition at dVerse Poets Pub.  I am also linking it to With Real Toads open link night.  It’s fresh off the press (my brain) more or less, so I’ll call it a draft for now, meaning that it’s still shifting around.    I am using my mother as a character in the poem–but please note that all poems have a largely fictional quality–and characters are used to some degree as archetypes. (Okay, mom?!)  

Here’s is also a reading of the poem for any interested:

Check out all the great poets at dVerse, and thanks much, as always, for your visit.  

PS = the picture does not really go with the poem, but I took it on a recent visit with my mom, and I like it.  


My Father (bedtime story poem)

January 23, 2014


My Father

My father knelt beside my bed; his round head
reflecting the bedside lamp with the look
of lighting within.  “And the genie,” he said,
“came out of a big blue jar.”  Not from a book
were the stories he told me at night.
Always of genies who were big-blue-jarred
and did fairly little, only the slight
magic of minor wishes, often ill-starred.
Though the stories were just a warm up to
the bedtime prayer.  “Our Father,” that would start,
then straight out head for “hallowed”, “trespass” too,
unknown words, to me a spell he knew by heart,
invoking, croakingly, a wished-for will
bigger than jars blue genies might fill.


This is a very old poem, a sonnet, that I am reposting (with some slight re-working) for the wonderful Brian Miller’s prompt “bedtime stories” at dVerse Poets Pub.  I am not at my best so may be slow returning comments, but will get back to people eventually, thanks!   (Yes, I know Pat the Bunny doesn’t really go with it!) 

I have gone back and edited the last line of this poem since first posting. I still don’t feel it’s quite right!  Agh!