Saturday, June 12, 2010

Tenth Anniversary Dance

He tries to sneak up,
but she can smell him coming,
his workout complete.

She knows that he's there,
but he likes playing this game,
so she ignores him.

Giving him her back,
she's slowly unbuttoning,
fanning his desire.

Now he's against her,
his maleness encompassing--
he's her entire world.

He kisses her neck,
his prickly whiskers scratching
away her layers.

His hands come forward,
her hands reach backward for him,
all part of their dance.

Family Life

Saluting stiff-armed,
her twelve-year-old son calls her a Nazi,
his words like acid in her face.

Her daughter, seventeen
and bent on going to hell,
keeps still behind her closed door,
making pretty incisions
and humming softly.

Marie sighs and quietly shuts
her own bedroom door.
Curled on the bed,
she reads the crumpled collection
of meaningless words once more--
her husband's terse goodbye.

Five Haiku

Elegant Bandit
Oh Great Kiskadee,
lemon-yellow vest, black mask,
elegant bandit. 
They are not mourning--
sentimental more than sad--
pink-gray wistful doves.
Voracious eater
becomes delicate sipper
with rice-paper wings.
Palm on cool granite,
she feels the earth's steady pulse
and forgets herself.
Red top-knot ablaze,
piliated woodpecker
pounds tamarack tree.

Thursday, May 20, 2010


I became less than a stranger,
easily left behind,
an impetus
for your departure,
a muse who inspired
your plans
of solitary devising,
carefully polished in your mind,
savored by a heart
that no longer knew me.

As I shuffle through
the scraps
of what you left me,
I think I see
you watching,
and then the image
the way a light bulb does
as it ends its earthly life,
a burst of brightness,
leaving me startled,
that I’m alive.

Vulture Haiku

I've recently fallen in love
with haiku. So elegant,
such an economy of words,
so Zen!

I love it so much, in fact,
that I've compiled five of
them here together to be read
either as free-standing haiku, or
as a five-verse poem.

What better subject than
the much-maligned vulture
for my haiku-ish debut?

* * * * *

The despised vulture
soars high like the noble hawk,
dines on his leavings.

Hawk likes his dinner
to be fighting for its life,
scared and protesting.

Death is delicious.
Tasty decomposition,
the vulture's delight.

They were made without
feathers on their bony necks--
their eating messy.

They rip and wallow,
rotting flesh so delightful
to hungry vultures.

Bon apetit!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Unfinished Obituary

My first today
with no tomorrow.
The clock is broken,
no time left to borrow
a half-cup of hope,
a dash of compassion,
something to wear
that's not out of fashion...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Montana Memory

The summer sun dapples the forest floor,
piercing through the pine and larch branches,
warming the blanket of needles,
inches deep, releasing the aroma
of slow coniferous decomposition.

The air seems thick, as if it harbors forest spirits,
invisible, yet palpable. Suddenly, everything
goes quiet.

The familiar rustlings of mice and voles,
the comic scolding of squirrels,
the hammering of a piliated woodpecker,
the ongoing conversation and song
of smaller birds, the buzzing of horseflies, all stop dead.

There is no crash of deer through the brush as
they bound away, white tails waving good-by,
no stirring of rabbit in the dry grass.

The logging trucks, with air brakes like jackhammers,
have gone quiet on the road far below.

Familiar landmarks shimmer like heat waves,
and shift, just enough to let me know
there is magic here,
waiting to warmly enfold me,
to keep me---forever.

For a moment, I want to stay,
to burrow into the sweet pungency
and rest, time suspended. But,
then I feel a tingle on the back of my neck,
a stirring in my gut.

I turn slowly, afraid of what I’ll see,
not expecting bear, or cougar, or even gentle deer,
but something that shouldn’t be there---
a door, perhaps, or an empty chair, or something dark.

Completing my rotation, I see only the sunlight,
the trees, and dappled forest floor.

My heart pounds in the silence.
I feel that I am about to learn a secret.

I run all the way back to the cabin.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Poetry Parade

This poem is dedicated to all my fellow poets on a poetry forum I participate in. Some of the devices used in this poem, such as the throat clearing, the dashes and ellipses, are things that have been criticized by our peers on the forum, thus earning a special place in this poem.

A-hem! Dearly beloved,
we are gathered here together...

the oh-so-solemn traditionalists,
whose poetry smiles not,

the love-so-true,
sky-so-blue crowd,

the subtle ones who reach out,
grab your heart
and shake your psyche,
with their streamlined genius---
their words tenderly polished,
or cruelly pointed,

a brooding youngster or two,
whose words amaze,
even as they try to slink off the page,
their tails between their legs,

the ones who come from
the open wound school,
whose pain pulls you in, every time,
for an empathetic wallow,

a brilliant one or two who make you feel
that you're not quite brilliant enough,
to catch the tail of their high-flying kites,

and the one, missing the poetry step
on the ladder of his DNA,
who wanders in one day
and starts splashing through
the slow-moving currents of
the poetry forum,
with poetry so bad that
even the harshest critic
finds compassion lurking in his heart
and refrains from making comment...

We all come together here
in search of that elusive
perfect turn of a phrase---
the sweet embrace of poetry
our innocent pursuit.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

A Matter of Taste

Peacocks posing prettily,
preening periodically,

prideful, plumed, poetically parading,


they don't taste
like chicken.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Yellow Rose of Texas

McAllen, Texas, just eight miles from the Mexican border---Today I went out in my back yard, where most of the plants are either dormant or dead due to some very un-typical cold weather last month. All by its lonesome, one "mid-winter rose" was blooming. Bright lemony, buttery yellow, it was opening itself up to the February sunshine, where it basked all day long. This is my first post on this blog that is not a poem. However, I believe this rose is poetry enough! Enjoy! And, by the way, Happy Winter!

A poetic tribute to this beauty is sure to come. I invite all my poetically-inclined friends out there to submit their own "ode" to a rose!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

A Day in the Life of Patches

Patches is a pampered pet
but still one of the boys.
He's got two good buddies.
Here's what he enjoys:

He rides with his friends
in a dapple gray car.
It's quite a short trip,
town's not very far.

He needs lots of room,
so he sits in the back,
as he and his buddies
head for a snack.

They go to the drive-thru,
like regular folk---
cheeseburgers and fries,
please hold the coke!

They eat their lunch
then drive around town.
Patches likes the view
with the top down.

They see dogs in cars
while they're out on their lark,
but Patches is cool---
he'd never bark.

When they get home
they watch the TV.
Patches likes westerns,
as you soon will see.

His friends take advantage,
and make him their lackey,
"Patches, get me a beer!"
How very tacky!

Patches never complains
doesn't give any lip,
hoping they'll give him
just one little sip.

There's a loud ring.
Patches answers the phone,
but he doesn't talk,
he's not verbally prone.

A few beers later,
they put Patches to bed.
He pulls up the covers,
all the way to his head.

Patches had a long day
but he's not what you think.
To see more of Patches,
click on this link:

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

the poetry makers

I think of them as tiny people
that I carry around in the pockets
of my mind
along with lint
rusty paperclips
missing buttons
and small change from a misspent life

they tiptoe through
the disorderly conduct of my thoughts
collecting bits and pieces
of people and places
books and songs
comic strips and movies

things that drifted into
and out of my life
a hastily discarded feeling here
a long-forgotten idea there
possibilities scattered like ashes
in the rubble of my regrets
all shaken, not stirred, with a few missing links
that came from who-knows-where

day in and day out
for over sixty years
the greedy little scavengers
followed my sloppy thoughts around
happily hoarding
whatever I left behind
like tiny little pack rats

somehow they knew I needed them
stuck as I was
at the bottom
of a cracked glass
filled to the brim
with the stuff of exquisite isolation

so, now they clamor for my attention
eager to give me back all those things
lost in life's translation
a word here
a word there
grain after grain of hope
their gift to me
I think I'll call it poetry...


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

winter in McAllen

(click photo to enlarge)

on one of those
rarest of days
in McAllen, Texas
when winter
has descended
ever so briefly
on the town

leaving lush
tropical plants
burned and blackened
(like no summer heat
can do)

the air is palpable
crisp and
deliciously cold
on church-going

(the church-goers
all safely bundled
against any more
serious exposure)

the sun still shines
(brighter it seems
than in summer)
and flaunts itself
high in the sky
well out of
winter's reach...

* * * * * * *


(click on photo to enlarge)

his black is the black
of the beady eyes
of well-loved
but long-lost
childhood teddy bears

shiny as if
he'd polished each hair
in the early morning
promise of the day

a lustrous compilation
too beautiful
to be called
merely a "coat"
much too elegant
to be called "fur"

the envy of
the prince of darkness
Ben is dressed
in a garment
fitting to his station---
the cat who came
to visit
several halloweens ago
and decided not to leave

he condescends
to appear
from his private feline
hiding places
only when
the laundry
(especially the white
is done
and warm and
on the table
waiting to be folded

because of his beauty
(and great conceit)
Ben never imagines
that this blatant interference
with the hoped-for
household order
may not be
happily embraced...

* * * * * * *

Sunday, January 10, 2010

origami birds

like a second-hand
found trampled
on the floor
at an estate sale
her pages
are folded back
upon themselves
over and over
like so many
origami birds
without flight
without life

words trapped
inside the creases
and folds
her clumsy hands
trying to shape
a sanctuary

refuge somehow
turned to jail
home-made solitary
confinement with
no escape
no parole
crumpled paper birds
crushed against the bars...

* * * * * * *

turning seventy (or not)

This is something I wrote when my friend, Linda Sue, was 55 (more than a few years back) and her son, Erik, was 15. My view of 70 is much different now than it was at 50!

do you realize---
my dear girl
that when your son
has doubled his age
you will be seventy?

he will have a wife
(or not)
several children
all tow-headed and lovely
(or not)
and you will be seventy
(or not)

you might be dead instead
and flying freely among the stars
or riding without a saddle
in a flea circus somewhere
grinning and singing
and leaving the ghost of joy
in your wake

something for the living
to catch in their hands
like fireflies
and crush to their hearts
in remembrance of you

(or not)

you might be alive
and sitting with me
somewhere between
cat spring and utopia
before a dancing fire
smiling at the memory
of all those times
we killed ourselves
using only pens, paper
and dark imaginations

happy now
that we never really
took the leap
or took ourselves
too seriously

your hair a sterling silver
mine dyed a rusty red
we'd breakfast on blackberries
that the bears had overlooked
and wait for your son
and those tow-headed
kids of his
to come knocking
on our door...

(or not)

* * * * * * *

Saturday, January 9, 2010

twitter speak

Twitter is one of the most popular means of "social networking" these days. In case you haven't heard, any message you put on twitter has to be 140 characters (including spaces between words) or less. A while ago, someone asked "tweeters" to submit poems that fell within the 140 character limit. Here are a few that I came up with:

life can be joyful
life can be sweet
it's much better shared
so you might as well tweet


life can be cruel
life can be bitter
for some comic relief
i'll see you on twitter


perhaps i don't know you
and we'll never meet
but i still love you
so just watch me tweet


here's some advice
that bears repeating
if you want to be cool
you'd better start tweeting


life's not too bad
but it could be sweeter
i fell down the stairs and
broke my damned tweeter!

* * * * * * * *

Friday, January 8, 2010

fall into winter

day breaks gray
fall's gentle chill
hardening into
a bite
by three pm


summer finally rests
curled up
cozily somewhere
with a good book
or on vacation
on the world's
lower east side...

* * *

lurks always
behind the facade of
spring and summer
and even brother fall

jealously demanding
angry at being
the least loved

stretching out
icy fingers
to grasp at
happy hearts...

* * * * * * *

the god of winter

It's very cold in deep south
Texas tonight---a place noted
more for its totally uncalled for
summer heat. They say it may
freeze tonight. The following is
from another winter here, eight
years ago.

I rush from my car
to reach the refuge
of my cozy little house

wind blows coldness
up against my soul
layers and layers
of clothing
skin and bone and fat
no defense against this
biting visitor

trampling downcast leaves
beneath my feet
golden yellow
mottled brown
discouraged green
I hurry up the path
but still can't help
but notice

the butter yellow
papaya flowers fallen
sadly to the ground
potential destroyed
fruit unborn
sacrificed on an icy altar
to the cruel god of winter...

* * * * * * *

she held her god so close

(click photo to enlarge)

she held onto her god
with a simple faith
and abiding trust
that withstood everything
the world had done to her

she was battered
and scarred
and had even lost
large pieces of her self

yet she never wavered
in her love of god---
it was carved in stone

others looked on her
with pity---
she seemed to them
a tragic victim---
and they
looked away
never seeing
the sweetness
of her smile
as she held
her god so close...

* * * * * * *

This charming (but crumbling) monument is in one of the small cemeteries along the highway between McAllen and Rio Grande City, Texas. In case you can't tell by the photo, one of her legs is missing and the object that she's clutching is a broken cross.

These old grave yards are filled with a wide variety of fascinating monuments, ranging from the simplest possible wooden cross, to large concrete guardian angels, and everything imaginable in-between.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

doing dishes

This was inspired by a friend, a much older woman, who had endured a fifty year marriage. She had a bit of a temper, and there were just times...well, when she found it extremely helpful to hurl a dish against the stone wall of her little house. She told me that she'd buy cheap plates at the thrift store, just to have them on hand for this purpose so she wouldn't have to waste her good ones.

go break a dish
go throw a dish
against the wall
and let it shower
you in a satisfying
barrage of destruction

you can't take your life
(or your marriage)
and hurl it with all
your might
against a wall
or throw it over a cliff
or put it down the garbage disposal

so, go throw a dish
or two or three
or more
and enjoy what you can...

* * * * * * *

best friends

and so they jumped
off the golden gate
knowing they'd meet again
maybe in hell
maybe in a movie
or maybe in a book

like thelma and louise
they were outlaws
but just hadn't broken
any laws yet
except the unwritten law
which says
you must be good girls
you must be bland girls
you must be
life support systems
for the only thing you own
that really matters

and so they jumped
off the golden gate
leaving giant bras
and licorice cats
and fountain pens
and plastic dishes
and old old dolls
and mountains
of things behind them
their legacy of things collected
piled up around them
as the emptiness stayed
inside them...

* * * * * * *

Back in 2002, my friend Linda Sue,
who lives at the opposite end of
the country, and I exchanged a ton
of emails, playing with poetry, testing
our wings. We both bought and sold
things on ebay, like the things mentioned
in the poem and we were both inveterate
collectors of all manner of junk! Neither one
of us ever intended real suicide.

for a connection

daunted by
the empty expanse
of a book
i'm supposed to fill
i realize
that i've become
a creature
of the computer
addicted to sending off
bits and pieces
of my small
knowing there's
a human heart
waiting somewhere
to receive them

before i wrote
only for me
thoughts committed
only to myself
words arranged
like so much
of my accumulated
treasured junk
in a way
pleasing only
to my lonely eyes
meaningful only
to my solitary heart

remembered images
feelings pushed down
dredged up
words playfully
put down on paper
a childish amusement

in love
with the shapes
crafted by
my own hand
pretty flamboyant
letters boldly
across the page
pledged to
staying the same
witnesses to
my having been

but now this
creature i've become
has thrown over
her own pretty hand
in favor of
thoughts and words
dancing merrily
across a screen
blurted out
for someone else
her own posterity
sacrificed gladly
for a connection...

* * * * * * *

This was inspired by a
lovely blank journal I
received as a birthday gift
several years ago. I confess
that it's as empty as the day
I received it.

blankety blank

blankety blank
blank email
i feel like an oracle
trying to discern
the meaning
from a plain white page
without benefit
of a safety net
or those helpful
little marks
very much
like these
that make meaning
so much more clear

my mind is cloudy enough
my spirit in question
how can i guess
from all the things
to guess about
to wonder about
to ponder about
in this world
and the mysterious
world of e
what meaning is meant
what message is sent
by a blank page?

am i to cast the runes
stir the leaves left
in my cup of tea
rattle some bones
and throw them
at the screen
to read the message there?

what o what is meant
when blankety blanks
are sent?

my powers are great
i know my vision
ranges far
but how o how
to know for sure
what's really in the cards
when those blankety blanks

* * * * * * *

(This was my response to a blank email I received from my good friend, Mary Ann back in 2002. She subsequently filled in the blanks).

preparing to leave me

the old, old woman
my friend
forgets to remember
more every day

talking like dreaming---
scraps of what's real
all stirred up
with things
that never were

doves in her mind
beating their wings
the pieces of her life
the sticky notes pasted
on the woman
she once was

she talks
and talks
her strong contralto
now breathy
and wavering

a haphazard tear
forms and rolls
ever so slowly
down her velvet cheek
once artfully painted
now exposed

her pride put aside
her wispy white hair
glittering silver still
hangs lank
and unattended
like a garden
of memories forgotten

she looks at me
and clutches my hand
for a moment
as if to anchor
us to the present

then she tells me
about the friend
she once had
a long time ago
never suspecting
that I'm the one
she's talking about

"oh, the times
we had together"
she says
her eyes young
and bright

i nod and
i smile and think,
"oh, the times
we had together

she loves
my memory
but she doesn't
know me
i've been fixed
in her mind
in another time

i mourn her passing
even as she talks on
to leave me...

* * * * * * *


i like to look at
all the old dolls
with glassy eyes
and fixed expressions
pretty dolls
once loved
for their beauty

cold dolls
without life
they started out empty
but somehow
as the years went by
they absorbed pieces
of the souls
of the ones who
loved them

and now
deep inside them
hidden safe from human eyes
they guard
a spirit of their own
a composite
of the little girls
grown old
who had to leave them

* * * * * * *

Monday, January 4, 2010

the poetry closet

(click on photo to enlarge)

i opened the door
of the closet
taking care
not to awaken
the sleeping voice
of a rusty hinge
making sure
there was nothing
too dangerous
lurking outside
waiting to
snap me up
crush me
grind me
into pulp
in the grip
of yellow teeth

my hiding place
was dark
filled with the
musty odor
of poems
too long
held inside
and the
dusty air
made it hard
for me
to breathe

through the
tiny opening
i quickly noticed
that there
seemed to be
nothing or no one
paying the
slightest attention
to that
closet door

so, with only
the slightest hesitation
i threw
the door open
letting the light
pour in
on me
and the
dusty treasures
i had guarded
for so long

then i stepped
in the most
determined way
out of that
(or had it
been a prison?)
and came
out of the closet
at last...

* * * * * * *

Sunday, January 3, 2010

green stamps

she dreamed of redemption
wondering if she could
dig out all her old memories
(nearly forgotten
in a drawer somewhere
and discolored
with age
some of them stuck
together in layers)
and like so many
S & H green stamps
put them all together
in neat little books
and trade them in
for something better...

* * * * * *

For of those of you too young to
remember, green stamps
were given away at grocery stores,
gas stations, and the like back in
the fifties and sixties. People
saved them up and redeemed them
for all sorts of useful (and not so
useful) things.

roses again

her petals had fallen
but her spirit still rose
at the drop
of a leaf
the flight of a raven
the scent of wood smoke
through her soul

the chill of autumn
promising more
the turning
of seasons
reminding her
of seasons turning
the passing away
of summer's dubious gifts
and resurrection
of calmness
and quiet

rose hips
promising more
roses would bloom
and then blow away
petals dropping
spirits rising
roses again...

* * * * * * *

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