Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Small poems: end of the year

faux woodstove surprisingly I do feel warmer

your footsteps overhead my favorite sound

morning walk counting steps counting breaths losing count

found: 2 lost mittens one purple one black

just me and my yellow shovel then along comes a crow

relief      finding a tissue in my coat pocket when I need it

she and I and the last two bowls of holiday soup

football game muted she dozes

from across the room your gentle snores

reminding myself I am only me

not for another year pumpkin pie

tomorrow I will wear striped socks this is all I know

over the long weekend we have both gotten blinder, deafer

stretching my ears for birdsong

anticipating snow I gather a pile of un-read mystery novels

every day waking to irises painted on my bedside table

my sister alerts me to a PBS special our shared nostalgia

grandmother's spoons I could use them if I polished them

my old jewelry box filled with toothpicks moving on

crossing an old bridge I can't ignore the rusty patches

morning walk welcoming the solstice exhale

at the window all afternoon lazy and content

yesterday is (almost) forgotten now here comes the sun

grandmother's photograph sometimes I forget to look

dust! impossible to blame the sunlight but still . . .

you wrinkle your nose this new tea is not pleasing

Buddhist monastery plastic orchids in window boxes

my neighbor's leafless tree adorned with Mardi Gras beads

flickering lights in my neighbor's window — remember fireflies

December 25th hour after hour candlelight

silent street no bells no crows

for this one day disconnecting from the world re-uniting with myself

10 minutes from home surrounded by a different silence

all day alone with a book and a strand of new/old pearls

with no effort something tight becomes something loose

singing a sweet song about my amygdala-dala-dala

embarrassing to admit: stargazing makes me nervous

early winter recipe for a plum pudding I will never make

narrow path stepping aside to let the old runner pass

this long red light enough time to inhale winter

what will I learn next — basket weaving? archery? the art of letting go?

what if I had had a brother — what then?

late afternoon too lazy to move from chair to couch no need to move

nothing is meaningless not even this empty pen

jump-up-kale so much like baby palm trees my neighbor's winter garden

this life every moment every moment every moment

paper and ink hold the mysteries   writing in the dark

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


A few years ago I spent a feverish few days in the public library and at a couple different used book stores, pulling books from the shelves, opening to random pages, letting lines call out to me, and creating what I called "Assemblages" — joining the words of one author with another. Now I can't remember if I ever shared these ... and I want to .... so here they are.

this night
silent as a stone
   suddenly — a little rain —
   what now?

Robert Hass, Praise
Leah Goldberg, Selected Poems

under the big sky
stars, like astral flowers
rise out of time
one more, one more, one more, much more
how patient they are

Robert Hass, Praise
Leah Goldberg, Selected Poems
W. S. Merwin, Finding the Islands

the ancientness of forever—
only the echo remains
and the mirror, frozen in a dream
there is something
to be said for silence

Robert Hass, Praise
Leah Goldberg, Selected Poems
Nikki Giovanni, The Women and the Men

daybreak — so loud
calls at the window —
I know it’s you
you were always 
so shy

moon shadow
at an open window
just before you leave
sometimes I remember you
sometimes I can’t remember

W. S. Merwin, Finding the Islands
Edna St. Vincent Millay, Selected Sonnets
Grace Paley, Fidelity

open your hand —
what do you see?
an ocean thirsty for pearls
write your secret name on the rain
do it now

Audre Lorde, Undersong
Rumi, The Essential Rumi

between morning and night
never enough 
years together
darkness covers everything —
in the end, I want nothing

Audre Lorde, Undersong
Rumi, The Essential Rumi
W. S. Merwin, Finding the Islands

alone in the shadows
float orange, yellow, gold
this endless night
calls me out: lonely

Audre Lorde, Undersong
Rumi, The Essential Rumi
W. S. Merwin, Finding the Islands
Sylvia Plath, “The Disquieting Muses”

February morning —
an hour in warm rain —
find nothing, imagine nothing, fear nothing
a mountain —
ancient as time

Jane Austen, Persuasion
M. C. Richards, Centering
W. S. Merwin, Finding the Islands

listen —
this moment
turning to snow
who can remember yesterday?

Jane Austen, Persuasion
M. C. Richards, Centering
W. S. Merwin, Finding the Islands

remember one day —
the sun’s birth
the language of dance

name everything —
stars, plants, trees

forget everything —
all sound

stop going around and around

W. S. Merwin, “The Unwritten”
Joy Harjo, “Remember”
Gertrude Stein, “The teachers taught her that the world was round”

nothing is unlikely 
your perfect mouth folding down 
the crescent moon

turns out to be story 
one tear, alone, in this box

open the night window 
spill your secrets 
visit the snow one last time

Tom Wayman, Carol Ann Duffy, Shara McCallum, Christina Pugh, Charles Simic, Wesley McNair, Lisel Mueller, Kati Kapovich

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Drama in the Kitchen

My mother cuts a slice of French toast into little pieces and places them on a plate and puts the plate in front of me where I sit at the small red formica table in the middle of the kitchen.

To the left of the plate is a glass of orange juice, made from a can, you just add water and stir or shake. My mother likes to shake.

To the right of the plate is a glass of white milk. My mother knows I hate white milk. I only like chocolate milk made with Bosco. My mother doesn't care what I like. 

So I spill the glass of milk on the floor and while she mops up the mess I wrap each piece of French toast in a napkin, which I know is an excellent disguise.

Then I drink the orange juice. It makes me feel like summer inside.

I get up from my chair but my mother says SIT DOWN. She says I have to unwrap the French toast and eat it. I wonder how she could possibly know what I've done. Is it true that she has eyes in the back of her head, like she says?

Maaaa, I wail, it's time for Shari Lewis.

Shari Lewis. The beautiful red-haired woman on the TV. With her friends Lamb Chop and Charlie Horse and Hush Puppy. I don't want to miss a minute of the show. Who asked for French toast anyway?

I say it again, with more feeling, in what my mother calls my Sarah Heartburn voice. What is she talking about?

Maaaaaa, please, Shari Lewis is on.

The hell with Shari Lewis. That's what she says. Can you believe it? Me either. I cannot believe it. I just cannot believe it.