Tuesday, July 30, 2013



of Rembrandt hues
and Western skies,

golden. touch.

the world spins on,
and I can think

of nothing else.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

haiku: summer rain

after summer rain,
flower petals glistening,
nature's string of pearls

Friday, July 26, 2013

fall morning

Silent pasture, wet with dew,
awaits the morning light

as soft footfall finds its way -
that of a father,
and eager son,

before deer come nibbling
on tender shoots.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

narcissus: dead broke

Narcissus lingered long
before her mirrored self

reflected in a river's bed,
lapping, lapping all the while,

her thirst unquenched
as if some fairy spirit wept

and swept away the blinders
man had forced upon her,

binding up a young mare's heart
and fixing her eyes on work.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

chasing rabbits (reprint)

(from Simon Says, January 12, 2010)

We haven't had a winter this cold in twenty-something years, so when Simon first came to live with us, he shivered and shook. He shivered until his little body could acclimate to our thermostat setting (I think my husband was a polar bear in a former life). He shook violently when he slept. I thought he was having a seizure the first time I saw this, but the shaking stopped when I spoke, and that put my mind to rest. Now Simon chases rabbits. There in the warmth of a favorite, furry blanket, Simon drifts into a deep sleep. His four feet flop. His nose twitches. His cheeks puff, and once again Simon is fast on the scent of woodland rabbits, barking and tracking them to their woodland homes.

I love rabbits. I love their long ears and fluffy tails. I love to watch the wild ones venture from our woods to nibble on the tender grass. But I think I mostly love rabbits for the memories they bring, memories of a once-close friendship. Beautiful in spirit and authentic in Southern charm, Sondra was one of those people who made my life brighter. And...she loved rabbits. Throughout her house, there were elegant rabbit statues and fine rabbit paintings. Still today, I cannot venture into specialty stores and what-not shops without being drawn to their rabbit-themed merchandise. These things remind me of my long-lost girlfriend.

But I don't have Alice's tenacity or courage. Marriage and family and all Sondra's burgeoning family activies pulled her into a life of charity balls and European vacations, and I could not follow. I last saw Sondra in a dream after my father passed. Oddly, I dreamt it was she who had passed and I was attending her estate sale. That morning, I awoke with fresh, hot tears on my face, having wandered from room to beautiful room, having touched all of those precious rabbits with my fingertips, having found none I could afford to buy. Perhaps it was foolish of me to let her slip away. But if anything, I have learned to value my present friendships more. I am fortunate to have found two good girlfriends, gals with whom I can laugh and cry and rant and rave, friends who live and work and play on my side of the rabbit hole.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

the art of love

his hands fold her
like rice paper,
and she becomes
what he desires

as fingers glide,
and meditate
with every stroke.

she is because he does.

i long to be a swan
emerging with your touch,
to feel your hands,
precise and strong,
along my neck
and down my spine.

if only you
could think of me

as a thing of beauty.

if only you
would give me wings.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

silence comes

Silence comes

to fill
the space
where once

our laughter stood –

a presence in its own right
reduced to an echo
I strain to hear.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Mankind is but an ill-fated race,
learning nothing from the flight of Icarus.
Cast on throes of greatness, he assumes
he understands Passion, can control her,
but time and again he underestimates
her power, her hold over the human heart and faculties.
Overcome by vanity,
man grows blind to the obligation he owes,
corrupting his last godly pursuit, mortal
apprenticeship – master and creator.
Such recklessness has usurped nations,
brought households to ruin,
and will surely devastate you.

Heed she who transfixes the tongues of men.
Heed the carnivorous seed.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

low tide

I used the excess latex
and an old canvas to paint
broad strokes of blues and greens
in liquid swirls like waves, waves
washing me back to where I stood
knee-deep scooping handfuls
of sand and shells –

my own imperfect treasures
surrendered by the sea,
small reminders
that things broken
can still be beautiful.

Later, I hung
my work on the wall
next to the family photos, sure
I had somehow managed to capture
something inexplicable, something sacred.

What is it?
It doesn’t look like anything.

Friday, July 12, 2013

la tristesse durera toujours

If Milton was our Lord’s English voice,
were you the Master’s hand, painting Heaven
in a single stroke for the lost to see?
Why then be ill-content, disquieted
by a calling found in a pot of paint,
each sermon preached upon a blank canvas?
Yours was a gift of divinity borne
to a mind steeped in layman chaos, drenched
in linseed oil, crafting landscapes
until, painting self portraits, you captured
that physical witness of mania
lurking deep within. One truncated ear
announced to the world what the mirror
found in you; did your Gauguin see it too?
Asylum unburdened your Night, Vincent,
but dawn found you searching for more until
you put that bullet in your broken chest,
final landscape, stippling drops of red
upon a yellow field of silent wheat.

La Tristesse Durera Toujours - “the sadness will last forever”

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

haiku: fresco

fashioned for us in fresco
God’s almighty hand

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

haiku: cobblestone

cobblestone alleys
ribbon throughout Rothenburg
connecting castles

Monday, July 8, 2013

haiku: Gaelic tongues

o’er the mossy leas
and rugged hills of Galway
Gaelic tongues still sing

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Deep in the forest, a crimson eclipse
flashed in an instant, lit dark eyes ablaze,
igniting desire for cherry-ripe lips,
restricted his breath, arrested his gaze.
Collecting his thoughts, wide-eyed and tongue-curled,
he mapped out his plan, ill deed once forsworn,
to quench and fulfill his frenzy unfurled,
his wanton within, his hunger reborn.
Sensing his presence, the siren in red
quickened her footsteps, tapped toe over toe
down the stone path to the cottage ahead
and arrived on time, her fresh cheeks aglow.

Penniless grandmothers cannot replace
a passion like this, his lupine embrace.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

on patriotism and gratitude

(a letter written to a student, March 27, 2008)

Dear Erica,

Thank you for your letter of explanation regarding your choice to not stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. It takes courage to stand, or to sit in your case, for a belief that is rooted in reason and faith. In the scriptures, Joseph neither kneels before the Pharaoh nor prays to the Pharaoh’s gods. If in your spirit, standing equates kneeling, then you are a modern-day Joseph.

Please allow me to share my perspective, not because I hope to dissuade you, but because I believe this will allow us to learn from each other. My reason for asking students to stand is personal.

My grandfather is a WWII veteran and POW. When he was drafted (notice I said “drafted” not “enlisted”), he was at the University of Georgia pursuing a college degree, a degree he was never afforded the opportunity to complete. During his captivity, he marched two thirds of the perimeter of Germany and endured physical abuse from his captives. He drank broth (left over from foods cooked for the Germans) and ate bugs and worms to survive. He was placed on the firing line twice, and it is by Grace that he was not shot either time. The young college student who left for war is not the man who returned. And what little we know of his experiences is recorded in a journal he kept tucked inside the lining of his boot; he has never freely talked about his experiences.

After the war, my grandfather worked several mill and factory jobs and spent the better part of my youth as a security guard for a carpet mill. Every day, he carried a slice of cheese between two slices of bread and a thermos full of coffee for his lunch. He kept a garden in the summer to fill the freezer for the winter. He kept me in new tennis shoes and blue jeans. All he asked in exchange was that I take typing and business classes in high school so that I would have skills to fall back on (his Plan B for my future). He paid for my first car, my class ring, and my college degree (his Plan A). His dream of a college education was fulfilled through me. While I believe God called me to teach, I believe He moved and worked in my life through my grandfather.

Every day that I walk into my classroom, I remember that I am here in part through him. When I stand for the pledge, I stand for him and for the sacrifices he has made for me…and for this country. I ask my students to stand as an act of gratitude and appreciation…if not for the flag and our country, then for people like my grandfather and for their sacrifices, “that [we all] might live a brighter now.”

After the pledge comes the Moment of Silence. When I observe this, I remember my God. I thank Him for calling me to teach His children, for allowing me to serve in this mission field. I am clay and often stumble, but I continue to ask that He might “give me eyes to see, ears to hear, lips to speak, and a heart to feel as He would have me see, hear, speak, and feel.” I ask my students to be quiet, not as a mandate to worship my God, but out of respect for those of us who seek this silence.

In neither of these cases do I ask nor require students to speak with their lips, to place hands over hearts, to pledge allegiance to our flag, or to pray to my God. And in my spirit, standing does not equate kneeling. They are separate acts for separate purposes.

We stand when judges enter the courtroom. We stand when brides walk down the aisle. We stand when pall bearers carry a loved one’s body to its final resting place. At none of these times does man express allegiance. In none of these circumstances is one esteemed higher than one esteems his god or God.

While this sits well in my spirit, Erica, you must follow your own. Honor what yours compels you to do, for our God speaks to and through each of us in different ways and for different means. Please know that though I will continue to ask students to stand for the pledge, I will be speaking to those who have failed to really think beyond, “I don’t feel like it.”

Most Sincerely,

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

daughters of campo santo

Lost are the days when
once we sought
to shrink from our fathers’ shadows,
to welcome the sun.

Too soon, they think of leaving,
worn weary,
to rest in hallowed ground.

And we are left