Saturday, August 31, 2013

if a smile could speak

Too sparse the days when visage calls,
so often rare , ‘tis such a waste.

I’m always here, in constant wait,
but fear your heart does quite forget
the comfort and the power I bring
to you and those for whom I shine.

The youthful you did know me well;
and reveled in my fairy form.
You offered up my soulful birth
without restraint to everyone.

Then the uttering tongue took hold
and adolescence urged you seek
the edge that cuts and bites and wrecks
and leaves destruction in its wake.

Remember me when days seem bleak,
for I am joy personified.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

haiku: abbey

ancient stone abbey --
relics of wood and paint,
echoes of prayer

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

haiku: everest

the mountain stretches
beyond a blue horizon,
seeks the face of God

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

haiku: northern lights

Behold! northern lights –
aurora borealis,
nature’s neon night

Sunday, August 25, 2013

bitter from sweet

The burgers sizzle on the grill
while I down swigs
of a cold beer, enjoying
the sensation;
he grimaces as his goes down –
"too bitter,"
he complains with a frown, but I
like mine that way.

Flames leap and lick
as smoke rises
and conversation flows from work
to rebuilding
the deck to next week’s grocery
list to nothing
of importance, until finally
we settle on
when we should purchase a smoker.

Though I have lost
the taste for meat, this game and fish
craves a new tool for preparing
his spoils – one small
purchase that polarizes how
little we have
in common. I smile, recalling
when differences
of opinion and politics
would vex me, give
me cause to second guess my vows.

But I mellow
as hair turns gray and nipples turn
south and tastes turn
to bitter from sweet – for aging
teaches that mouths
in youth too hastily speak,
and I find sustenance
in one neither poetic, nor
artistic, nor
even philosophical for
that matter, but
in one who just simply loves me.

Friday, August 23, 2013

coffeehouse crisis

What if Joe Foxx is right in You’ve Got Mail?

If a person can
for two-ninety-five get, not just a cup
of coffee, but an
absolutely defining sense of self –

what, exactly, does that
say about me? Am I incapable
of cultivating

committed relationships? Does it mean
I am weak-minded
if I happen to like variety?

If I am defined
by what’s in my cup, I must think this through...

The choices are vast:
tall, grande, venti; non-fat, low-fat, whole!

I need a coffee
that says I am not just any woman,

that says I am fierce in the boardroom, a force in the bedroom,
gentle on the eye.

I need one that says I am low maintenance.
So there go my half-cafs,

along with the soy, sugar-free lattes
and cappuccinos.

Iced drinks are definitely out! I’ll just order mine to go:

double-shot Espresso Macchiato,

bold and confident,
cuts to the chase and has a smooth finish,

– quickie in a cup.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


“Chocolate is the devil,” he says.
Then I must be hell bound.

My wanton lust for cacao bean
leaves reasoning unsound.

She beckons in the black of night
and when the skies are blue

to altars brimmed with pastries sweet
and coffee drinks imbued.

I genuflect in reverence
while all the while, I know

her siren songs and fragrances
will soon my soul o’erthrow.

These scales, they tip t’ward gluttony;
alas, my mortal sin.

This wantoness cannot be quenched
when chocolate lurks within.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

well we don't have to be so pissy about it (reprint)

(from Simon Says, January 19, 2010)

I am happy to report that our cold weather let up this weekend. We enjoyed temperatures in the sixties, and Simon finally got to go outside for a walk. He loves walks. He loves slowing to sniff and nibble, and he loves bursting forth until he reaches the end of his leash. He loves walking in circles around bushes and trees and lamp posts, winding the slack in his leash around each new object of his amusement. And he loves it when I walk around said objects trying to unwind his leash...because all the while, he has tracked my circling steps, rewinding his leash in the opposite direction.

Walking (and playing) in the park is a lovely pasttime for both of us. But getting there has become another experience entirely. Simon is now six times larger than when he first rode home in my lap, and he just doesn't understand why sitting between me and the steering wheel now puts both us and those around us at risk. Unhappy with his new riding arrangements and unable to express himself with words, Simon now expresses his bladder all over my cargo floor.

While I should be annoyed with Simon, I find myself waxing philosophic about how humans communicate and relate frustration. What if we ALL responded to life's irritations by hiking our leg? It is perhaps in better form than succumbing to road rage or hurling obscenities at grunt-level, customer service reps. And it would have been kinder than when my husband, waving his arms wildly, exclaimed with biting sarcasm, "Oh my God! The world's coming to an end!" (We couldn't agree about soup ladles...freakin' soup ladles, and while I was trying to map out a plan B in my head, he got pissy all over my feelings.) Today, as I consider the absurdity of all these situations, I prefer the puddle every time.

Human beings can be truly awful; it is in this that dogs are superior. We have opposable thumbs and command the spoken word, but dogs are far more civilized. We store up and unleash our worst behaviors upon those who love us most. Dogs know not to bite the hand that feeds. We are often calloused and petty; they are innately intuitive and loyal. Zen-like, dogs know how to live in the moment. They live for love and affection. And they don't know the first thing about biting sarcasm.

Sunday, August 18, 2013


The tulips have bloomed
their first time

this season, peeking

from under meaty leaves.
Each morning

they yawn and stretch
slender necks

toward Heaven –
sending up silent prayers.

Ah, to be young
and full of wonder,

to greet each day
with head held high,

to have no motive
save seeing the sun.

Friday, August 16, 2013

a valediction to petty slander

This is my missive to the throng
of those who think to slander me –
with ill-conceived heresy
flung childishly along.
Your surly mess, your tantrum song
reveals your shallow poverty.
Does petty incivility
feed egos? Make you strong?
If I've failed to meet expectancy,
fallen short, or missed your mark
and given you an axe to grind,
then try some common courtesy!
Seek the source and there embark
upon your need to speak your mind.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


around the corner
in my mind’s eye
sits a house with white shutters
and three small porches
where I sit
sipping Malbec
while Coltrane croons,
where I swim in your eyes
and in the velvet of your voice,
where I whisper
dark secrets and dreams
from my past
while you caress my arm
with the tip of your finger,
where you trace my lips
with the edge of your thumb
and cup my cheek
to draw me close
for a tender kiss,
where I melt
in that which is you

Sunday, August 11, 2013


Nelly Belly waits in the kitchen window,
expecting your return.
Swishing and twitching, her tall
marks the somber cadence
of a pitter-patter heart –
each beat a whisper,
“You are gone. You are gone.”
If only we could help her understand
that which is difficult for us.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

she thinks of dreams at twilight

When twilight comes to nestle at her door
and bids her lie, to settle into sleep,
she thinks of all the dreams she had before.
Her youthful dreams and schemes were filled with more
than laundry piles and tiles still needing sweep.

As twilight comes to nestle at her door,
the children tippie-toe across the floor
at hours when they should be counting sheep.
She thinks of all the dreams she had before
and wonders what else life might have in store.

While waiting for her evening tea to steep,
the twilight comes and nestles at her door,
stirring within a yearning to explore.
Of all her schemes, which ones might she still keep?
She thinks of all the dreams she had before.

With hair turned gray, she can no more ignore
the wrinkles ‘round her eyes she slowly reaps.
When twilight comes and nestles at her door,
she dreams to think of all she did before.

Monday, August 5, 2013

cowboys and indians

Let’s play Cowboys and Indians.
You wear the bandana
and carry the pistol
loaded with red
paper strips that go, “Pap!”
I can wear the feathers
and carry your paw’s axe.
Then I’ll dance and chant
and say, “How!”
‘til you take my teepee
and tie me up
under that there feeder
hangin’ high
in Maw’s tree. Later,
let’s go swimmin’
in Johnny’s pond
and catch tadpoles.

Let’s play Cowboys and Indians.
I’ll wear the ego
and carry the sickness
that wipes out your people.
You teach me
to plant corn – help
me survive the winter.
Then when I have
no more use for you
and your savage ways,
I’ll take your land
and make you my prisoner,
an example
to all who follow –-
wretched “heathens” I can hogtie
in the name of God.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

not a young buck anymore

We camped for the night at Powder River
with nearly five hundred head needin’ water
and ate beans and threw back moonshine
from Earl’s still.
That shit burned like hell goin’ down,
but I never let on.

A few good swigs, and I was up
for ridin’ that new young bronc.
Jed bet me twenty
I’d not make eight.
So I wrapped that rope ‘round my fist,
said “I’ll take that bet!” and dug in my spur.
There on that cold, hard ground,
even my underwear hurt.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


Bellies stuffed, we gather 'round
the antique grand where I composed
ditties in childhood. Leona plucks
ill-tempered keys, their intermittent plinks
piercing lyrics from “Somewhere
Over the Rainbow” as I listen
from my corner of the bench.
She and I are performing, once again
at the Metropolitan - the best kind of frolic
for a woman of eighty-three - bridging four
generations with a song. This brood
is our audience, donning
best behavior for the occasion
until she takes out a handkerchief,
blows her nose casually, and tucks
it away. “Aren’t those your panties?”
I squeal. She blushes and explains
how holes render them unfit to wear
but good for noses. Repurposing things,
my great-grandmother is once again
a problem solver. (And those men said
the lumber yard was no place for a widow!)
Each act of self reliance, I feel, is a message
for me to be a strong-minded woman.
A strong woman is an independent
woman. Strong women are able
to care for themselves when men don’t.
Remember the time she chopped the
trunk with an axe to get those car keys.
Remember how he defied her
to drive those children around all day,
and remember how she did it anyway, her red,
Irish temper streaming from the roots of her hair
to the slim fingers wielding that axe.
I too have this plucky, Irish gene,
waiting deep within,
growing impatient and ready.
East of her house, the train whistles
down the tracks where I once laid
pennies. It’s pulling heavy loads
of coal for its journey north. Oh, how I long
to hitch a ride in an empty car and hobo
from stop to stop, seeing beyond these red clay
hills of Cohutta, but it fails to kneel and crawl,
so I can climb on its back for the trip.
Clackety-clack, (pause), clackety-clack.
The cadence echoes 'round the bend where I fish
at the hatchery, strangling minnows with my fists.
I am left behind to find my own way,
to follow the echoes of a dream
to defy these naysayers with my own Irish hands.
“In time,” I say,
“time has a way of working things out."
For now I am a mother,
and fleeting feet tread quickly.
So play me another song, Leona,
and sing its lyrics in that crackled vibrato,
thick like tar.
Then, let me say, “Good bye,” this time.
I was too young the day your music stopped.