27 August 2012

53/100: Ah sadness... ah joy!




It is 5:30 in the morning. Crickets sing their melancholy, and the open windows let in the cool, darl air. In less than an hour, my son's alarm clock will begin to play whatever rock music plays at this time of the morning. He will tumble from bed, silent, unused to the dark, unused to the gentle prodding from bathroom to breakfast table to backpack.

After my son trudges up the hill to the bus stop, I will wake my daughter, wrapped mummy-like in blankets with dolls and stuffies. Her body will feel warm, and I will have the urge to lie beside her. She has more time to prepare for the bus that takes her away most mornings for the next nine months to school.

A bittersweet day. This has been a good summer--even I found the time to slow down--yet I welcome the return to schedule, to routine. And this morning, as every morning of the first day of school, I will find myself weepy-eyed as the yellow bus pulls away from the curb. Peace...

23 August 2012

50/100: Half-Way Hump



Today marks the half-way mark for 100 Days of Summer. When I joined this celebration of summer, my intent was to post an observation a day. My focus would be on describing place, focusing on use of the sensory details to invoke the felt reality of a moment in each day. Easy, I thought.

No, not easy. Time snuck up on me most days, as did "obstacles" such as trips without internet access, work that felt relentless, and the happy visit of the muse that caused (happily again) a rush of writing on my novel. In addition to being a mother, a wife, a professor, I am a student, and the summer coourse entailed reading a book a week, along with attendant homework. Finally, I did not want to present some half-assed piece--the words, the images, the thoughts and stories of my fellow challengers (yes, I have read these on facebook, and marveled) are too beautamous for me to sully.

But... even though I have not posted every day, I have written every day, and these observations have found their way into my other works. I am working on a larger piece that backfills using these fragments from the past 18 days and will, in my own time, present it for public consumption.

100 Days of Summer has yielded a tapestry of beauty and feeling. I have enjoyed the journeys.

My favorite post to date? 19-25/100: A Week of Summer Sounds. A feast for the ear.

Peace...

08 August 2012

26-32/100: SCRATCH and SNIFF


Day 26: Tomato leaves as they brush against the skin of your hand.
Day 27: Coconut oil and sweat on a sweltering beach.
Day 28: Ozone in the air after a thunderstorm rolls through.
Day 29: Char from burgers on a neighbor’s grill.
Day 30: Brown sugar and cinnamon melding with peaches in the oven.
Day 31: The chlorophyll of freshly mown grass.
Day 32: Cantaloupe on the way back from the farmer’s market.


Another sensory compression. Try to describe smell without using the word 'smell' (or any of it's synonyms). What scents do you associate with summer? Peace...

30 July 2012

19-25/100: A Week of Summer Sounds



Day 19: The cicadas' thrum lulls me into afternoon.

Day 20: Lawnmowers whine, incessant bee-buzz of summer shearing.

Day 21: An ice cream truck circles several streets over, a lonely calliope of sound.

Day 22: Ocean waves crash on wet sand, a dull roar; louder still, the boom of thunder.


Day 23: The thwup-thwup of thousands of tires traveling homeward over the bay Bridge.

Day 24: Pop! Fizz! Soda bubbles tickle my nose, rock my mouth with commotion.

Day 25: Quiet fills Sunday morning streets, everybody everywhere but here.

25 July 2012

18/100: Re-Cycle (Retread II)


Rubber shards litter the highway
more than I remember.
Perhaps it is the economy
driving truckers to a cheaper tire,
or maybe it is our green mentality
re-using a resource until it blows.

17/100: Outside Starbuck’s on the Way to Work (Retread I)


Every morning he’s there, his cart heaped with bags, staring at our coffees and scones. I always step around his mess, head to the hospital to crunch admissions, discharges, deaths, but today my iced caramel macchiato feels heavier, his eyes harder. I hand him my drink. He shuffles away, not even a thank you.


22 July 2012

16/100: Road Trip



The road beckons.
From Baltimore to DC, to visit with family 'in town' for a conference.
Hotel pool, free coffee and mini-Danish; children frolic, high on sugar and an empty pool.
The drizzle relents.
A stroll down 12th Avenue, skateboarders jumping stairs 8 at a time.
Lunch of salad, flat bread, cookies.
Dorothy's ruby reds at the American History Museum.
Lemon water ice.
Hugs at the top of 12th and K.
From DC to Baltimore.
The road beckons.


20 July 2012

14/100: How Do You Like YOURS?


Sliced and salted, white bread toasted, extra mayo?

Diced, dashed with balsamic and olive oil, extra virgin?

Pureed, a shot of icy vodka, crowned with a celery stick?

Tossed into a pie crust and baked with fresh mozzarella and fresh basil?

Eaten fresh off the vine, still warm from the sun?

Tomato. Summer is here.

17 July 2012

13/100: On the Corner on the Way to Work

Fifteen seconds.

Waiting for the light to flip.

Cars fly twenty over, a hospital zone. A lanky young man, pants hanging low hips like a magic trick, bops to his silent music, fingers clacking, knees bending.

"X-rated, x-rated," another man, this one silver templed, peddles boosted nips of high-octane booze.

Across the street, a woman wavers. Already you can fry sunny-side ups on asphalt. She crumples, implodes inward slow-mo.

Cars stop. The white walking man says walk.

I cross. A half-dozen attend the fallen woman. The pusher makes a sale, and the bopping dude vaults through the cross-walk, a gazelle on speed.

Fifteen seconds on my way to work.

Peace...

15 July 2012

11/100: Pooped

We had us a shin-dig last night, a garden party complete with daylilies, a guitar-cello duo, antipasti (cheeses, prosciutto, fresh tomatoes with basil, tiramisu), vino, and, of course, fiori!

Much fun with friends, but now it is time to rest. Peace...

10/100: DAMN BUG


Look.

Closer.

See that bug right there? On my Asian pear? That is the best thing China has sent us since the whoopee cushion--not! Stinkbugs. They ravage the garden in spring and summer, feasting on soft fruits and vegetables, leaving behind a taint of yeast that makes the produce ferment from the inside out. When the weather cools, they head indoors and nestle among wool sweater (they prefer cashmere and merino), leaving nasty stains.

Birds snap these critters up, and some say cats find them rather tasty, but there's more stinkbugs than birds, it seems.

Here's hoping we get at least one Asian pear out of this summer. Peace...

13 July 2012

9/100: DRIP

Every day you Mama flirts with Constantine in this goddamn market, maybe he you daddy. But you lick you ice cream, little pink tongue like a cat’s, flick, flick. Lick fast, girl, the heat’s gonna melt it. Like summer’s melting me. I ‘member when I ate ice cream with my mama. Ten years? Twenty? Dunno how old I am, but I ‘member how the cold creamy freeze my brain. What? You holding that cone out for me? Spit rushes, my fingers twitch close, and you jump, drop the damn thing, laughing at me scooping the mess off the sidewalk, all greedy.

***

Friday. Payday. Everyone out at Lexington Market, chomping on peanuts, drinking malt liquor wrapped in brown paper bags, kids in strollers licking ice cream. Originally Published in Dog Days of Summer, an anthology of 100 word stories pulled together by Michael Solender. Read on for more summer heat. Peace...

8/100: Butterfly Bush



The butterfly bush
persists through summer
swelter, surpassing
lilies blooming but
for a day;
the garden peaks,
a memorial.


12 July 2012

7/100: Joy


Baltimore feels 10 degrees warmer than my home on the outskirts. All that asphalt, the tall buildings of glass reflecting sun and heat, the lack of shaded green.

But Baltimore has coffee shops, and nothing beats summer's swelter better than iced coffee.

Today, I went to my regular Starbuck's and ordered a venti iced with milk, unsweetened. The cashier waved her hand when I presented my gold card.

"On the house," she says. "Rather, on the anonymous customer who paid for your coffee."

Turns out the gentleman who produces the Grand Prix in our city drops a hundred when he visits this particular Starbucks. Thank you sir, whoever you are--you made my day, mine and quite a few others who received complimentary drinks. Peace...

10 July 2012

6/100: Moon


I captured this image last October. Fog rolled in, the moon tangled in branches, and I remember thinking of a good friend of mine, living over the Atlantic, and wondering if the moon he had seen seven hours earlier was the same. Peace...

5/100: Down the Highway

We spent the day in the car, my family and I. We passed fields of rain-soaked Golden Burley and acres of soy, replaced by stands of loblolly pine and creeping kudzu. Further north, truck stops and strip malls, half-empty, replaced nature. Outside of Emporia, Virginia, the sulphur smell of a dead swamp filled the car, with each occupant pointing fingers at the party guilty of imparting such stench. Chicago filled the speakers, good things in life take a lot of time, and the car flew under cloud-studded blue, the temperature never cracked 90, and it seemed we could drive forever.

Peace...

09 July 2012

4/100: OASIS


By nine in the morning, the temperature hit 96 degrees. The small breeze felt earlier sucked into the vortex of heat. Sprinklers whish-whished the canna lillies and other plants sweltering in perlite-packed pots. In the fields, daylilies, thousands of them, their leaves withered yellow, mustered another step towards life and offered up their blooms.

Peace...

08 July 2012

3/100: SWELTER




We barrel down washed-out asphalt. The mile ahead shimmers and buckles. A white humid haze covers baked fields, the red dust lofts behind plows churning up futility. Our passing whips the leaves of trees, their silvered undersides turned up as if in prayer. At the exit ramp, crepe myrtles drip red.


July 7, Day 3 of 100 Days of Summer.
Paint the town red.
We travel south, in one of the hottest days of the summer. Peace...  




06 July 2012

2/100: LONGING


Night. Cold as ash, cold as ocean deep, come, collect me: cells, bone, teeth.

Creep beneath moon snarled
in shade of night, primrose,
jasmine, sickly scent seep
under borders brambled
vigilant heart keeper:
through garden bare
of heliopsis, daylily,
glory of morning
prostate to light.

Come.

Collect me.



July 6. Day 2 of 100 Days of Summer.
Out like a light.
My imaginings of a night garden; fragments of living in a night world.
Peace...




05 July 2012

1/100: Currants



Currants. Tart bomblets burst on your tongue, juiced into jelly, chiffon pie, sorbet to reset your tastebuds. Eat them--quick--before the catbird makes his feast. 


July 5. Day 1 of 100 Days of Summer. 
Paint the town red.
Indeed. Let's start in the garden. Peace...

01 June 2012

Mama Nature

There is nothing more humbling than Mother Nature throwing a tantrum. We spent a good thirty minutes in the basement last night, waiting for the red square on the weather channel radar to move east. Tornados had touched down throughout the afternoon and evening in the surrounding counties, so we took the warning seriously.

An inch of rain later, we emerged, unscathed. Peace...

25 May 2012

Berries



Between the rain and the busyness the past 2 days, I had not gotten out to pick the strawberries. Tonight, I did. The leaves brushed almost up to my knees as I waded into the thicket, chucking those that had begun to rot and plucking those in crimson splendor. I ended up with two gallons, even after tossing the berries in salad and wine and atop ice cream. They went into the freezer, to be made into jam later this season. Peace...

22 May 2012

The Music!

I am always slightly cranky before going to a school concert--the crowds, the heat of the gym, the noise--but as soon as the music teacher lifts his baton, the children bring their instruments to their mouths, a magical peace fills the room, my soul.

Peace...

21 May 2012

For Judy

I remember more than twenty years ago when I lived in Boston and the phone rang. It was a woman, a girl really, who was in a Master's program in Health Policy at Harvard. She was a pharmacist and had heard of me, also a pharmacist in graduate school, through a mutual friend.

We had talked a few weeks ago about collaborating on a grant proposal. We emailed about having drinks next month at one of our professional meetings, as we do most years. We would meet for an hour to share gossip, to commiserate over the travails of the Ivory Tower, to talk about our 'kids'--my son and daughter, and her two show dogs.

Judy died yesterday in a head-on collision when another car crossed the median. I will miss her sincere laugh, her kindness, her passion for research and scholarship, her red hair noticeable in a crowd. Peace...

18 May 2012

Tonight Tastes So Sweet

A long week in a long month in what felt like the longest spring. Tonight, hanging in the hammock, the cool air around me, tastes sweet and deserved. Peace...

17 May 2012

Pomp and Circumstance

Tonight I hooded my former doctoral student. She amazes me, her quiet fortitude and persistence. From China, she lives the American dream--highly educated, newly married (to a newly-minted doctorate), a tenure-track position in a up and coming School of Pharmacy, and they just bought their first house.

I learn so much from my students, and from JJ I have learned patience and to never stop striving. Peace...

16 May 2012

Sweet Singer

For weeks my daughter has been angsting over her solo in the school musical. She often freezes when onstage with a group, but tonight the director handed her the microphone and she opened the song, with a voice sweet and pure and honest.

Almost made me cry.


Peace...

15 May 2012

Day Under the Quilt

Woke up with chills and fatigue so strong I went back to bed after drinking my coffee. I can't remember the last time I took a sick day. Peace...

14 May 2012

14 Full of Graces

1. The river birch throws dappled shadows, branches dancing in sunshine.
2. Chinese wisteria corkscrews around the railing, a cacophony of purple and green.
3. Strawberries lush green, fruits budding white.
4. The catbird sings from the Asian pear tree, eyeing the robin's nest.
5. Clusters of currants hang with promise of red.
6. Lilacs, a froth of pink and lavender.
7. The hummingbird whizzes past my head, dive-bombing for nectar.
8. Rhubarb grows hale and hearty.
9. The air smells of cut grass, that fresh chlorophyll smell.
10. Far-off, a chain saw buzzes.
11. Maple seeds whirligig, a flurry of pink and green.
12. Tomato plants in their pots droop from lack of rain.
13. White butterflies flutter around the iris, nature's kites.
14. The hammock swings me in the breeze, clouds pass on their way to the next garden.


***

14 graces for the 14 days of missed posts. Observations from yesterday, a day spent in the garden. Whew! All caught up.

Peace...

08 May 2012

Yikes...

So much happening I forgot about this alter-bloggo of mine.

I owe like 8 posts. All that poeming pooped me out. Peace...

30 April 2012

When Spring Comes Around



When spring comes around
tractor beams of sun
rub out winter white
the pitchfork turns
leaves molted a season ago;
all returned to humus
energy for the coming light.

Birds darken the sky,
replace blue with grey
and the lonesome cry
of gathering, and in branches
and under logs mossed velvet
life scurries awake,
erasing slumber.

There comes a day,
just one, when tree limbs
stretch to clouds, shake off
their grey and cerise buds
unfurl to peculiar yellow
green before fading
to drab, the burnt-out
monochrome of summer.



***
Prompt=fading.

And like this month of poeming, winter fades to spring, and soon, the heat of summer. Peace...

29 April 2012

Mortality



What trouble this body
poor vessel for my soul,
and tawdry, wet
with dirt and sweat
and more, secrets
from the deep, moored
in corpuscular rafts
swirling in circles,
held in by skin
a tangible thing,
and common: mere
cells, bones, teeth
grafted into some
present-day urn.
 

And when the vessel
cracked--a gasp
of blue turned red,
surrendered to earth.




***
Prompt=line from another poem. Peace...

28 April 2012

WEEDS

 

You tell truths
the way an Englishman
keeps a proper garden:
boxwood-rimmed
white-fence trimmed
to contain the fruits
and keep out the rabbits.

But, like a rabbit,
I persist in digging
under fences, carving
through hedges
to reach tender leaves
of daylily and sage,
rhubarb and thyme,
only to wallow in
tangles of chickweed
and dandelion
creeping over all.




***
Prompt=problem. These days I struggle with dual demons: garden weeds, and understanding how a person can lie with conviction. Peace...

27 April 2012

the trouble is this body


my skin cannot
contain my spirit,
my bones cannot
maintain my position,
my blood cannot
feed far or full enough,
my muscles cannot
move my ego,
my nerves cannot
implement my will,
my heart cannot
leverage my love.

what trouble this body,
poor vessel for my soul







***
Prompt=the trouble is (blank). Inspired by my yoga practice, coupled with general strife and approaching a new birthday. Peace...

26 April 2012

ANT

Once upon
my time
you stood
mighty,
a mastodon,
able to carry me
and mother
over mountains,
across years
mine-strewn.
Now, rendered
to bones and skin,
wizened from
weeks of radiation
beamed through
your blood,
you stand
weaving,
brave
ant you are.





Prompt=animal. Inspired by my father and his journey through cancer. Peace...

25 April 2012

FENCING


We go at it
with our bladed weapons
foils stashed under tongues
epees hidden in our hearts
brought out only under
extreme duress
when the parry fails


We circle around it
each spar a prick
in this verbal blood sport
and wait for the other
to yield right of way
but neither awards
the other the point.



Prompt=sport. Inspired by an argument. Peace...

24 April 2012

APPLE CAKE

Today I baked an apple cake
three apples firm, not bruised.
New crop apples,
you would have said,
best for eating out-of-hand
but all I had in stock

It is the dice of apples
that makes the cake;
too small and applesauce,
too large and teeth break.
You supervise even now
your admonishments louder
than the radio’s bray.

Flour sifts, ghost veils
brown sugar churns
with butter, nuts cracked
chopped for adding later.
For crunch, you said,
bones of the cake.
Collected, the cake settles
into its greased glass pan,
baked until the apples soften.

Baking apple cake reminds me
of mountain afternoons
walking through sweet hay
fields to orchards, fallow
now, and frost-bitten,
wizened apples hung
still in cider-spiked air.
We carted our rare prizes
in brown burlap, bundled
in your lap, by your feet.
The truck bounced down
the rocky hillside, you laughed.

Later, with apple ache
rounding our bellies
I cut into the cake
still warm, vanilla ice cream
puddled on our plates.





***
Prompt=love poem. Peace...

23 April 2012

MORNINGS AFTER


Mornings after the fire-fight,
mornings after the last words flung
careless buckshot memories.
Mornings after the plates shattered,
the glasses fractured, words razored,
all thrown at highest pitch-- irrevocable.
In the mornings, after the bottles
get rinsed in soapy water, dropped
in recycling bins, regrets well deep
and darken what remains.
We always regret the mornings after;
why do we repeat the nights before?



Prompt=mornings. And yes, this is a fiction. Peace...

22 April 2012

Bullied in the Bible Belt



Every Monday
you brought your Sunday
finest to the bus stop:
harsh words, hard fists
inflicted on the infidel
who kept Jesus
in her hope chest—
along with a copy
of Anne Frank
and a sugar-
sweet stopper
from a Drambuie bottle—
and who prayed
at night between
bed sheets to
whoever listened.

A good Christian boy,
you went to church,
then spent your Mama’s
tithing coins on gum
and candy, spent
your envy on those
not forced to make
the Sunday commute
to a cross-covered
space, spent your
fear on those
who believed
in a different fashion.




Prompt=judging poem. Being beat-up by the good Christians at my bus stop in the 6th grade because I did not go to church formed the foundation of my non-theistic philosophy. I find it ironic that I fell in love and married a man who is a Unitarian Universalist minister. Peace...

21 April 2012

A MINISTER'S WIFE

Sundays when I sit
in the front pew
and listen to the words
a path to God
your hundred eyes
bore into my back
steel pinions
a butterfly to velvet.





Prompt=under the microscope. The prompt could as easily be: in a fishbowl. Peace...

20 April 2012

Let's drive north

past the exit ramp
that returns us
to the formstone
bungalow all shady
with pin oak
and diapers, soiled
plates and the
neighbor’s son
dealing dope
on the corner of
Church and School.

Let’s drive past
the ramshackle five
and dime now
a dollar general
and the Purina plant
where horses burn
to chow and glue
and hope exits
at the five o-clock whistle.

Let’s drive north
where air moves
dustless, stars break
through god’s detritus
let’s drive until
the asphalt peters
out the sun kisses
the ocean green
and baptizes us.



***
Prompt=Let's ____. Somedays I just feel like driving until the road ends. Peace...

19 April 2012

This, a Life Event: or, When Cancer Invades a Child

This, the seashore:
scallop shells, soft
serves swirled high
in cake cones, sunburn,
swimming pool, your son
splashes, then wades out
shivering; his stomach
aches.

This, the sudden cry:
splits the night,
breaks the dream,
tomorrow’s scavenge
hunt of shells and sea
glass broken, tumbled
tears that contain
memory.

This, the hospital:
hushed murmurs,
latexed fingers prod,
prick, neat white coats,
white cells dry up,
tubes tether your son
to machines, to
life.

This, a life event:
an event that alters,
an event that mutates,
crushes and bends
futures. God is not
at the sea shore, not
at hospital; God plays in
details.



***

Prompt=life event. This inspired talking to a friend whom I had not seen in more than six months. Since we had last talked, her young son, now ten, was diagnosed with 3 forms of renal cancer, two rare. I cannot even imagine the horror, the pain; this poem tries to recreate what happened, if for no other reason than to understand. Peace...

18 April 2012

CRABS

Here in Baltimore
they eat their crabs
steamed in Old Bay
pepper-hot so they can’t
taste the sweet
of the meat

dumped on newsprint
covered tables
a tangle of legs and claws
wooden mallets
pummel fat blue bodies
dusted with boil...




***

Prompt=regional food. Yum? Peace...

17 April 2012

SUBTERRANEAN CEMETARY

If you press your face
Against the glass
Of the subway heading south
In the last car
With lights dimmed
And if you stare
Hard into the tunnel’s black
Against the wall hands
Grab at sparks
Flung off the third rail
Eyes stare back, hard.




***

Prompt=sci-fi or fantasy poem. I do often wonder what lives in the Baltimore subway system. Peace...

16 April 2012

AT MILEPOST 33: A Memorial in 10 Parts

iii.
The sun burns a hole
through blue sky,
waves churn grey-cold, a wintry coffin.
By the time we gather one mile
past the ramp, the sea mirrors
sky.

iv.
The wind lifts
sifts you fine between our fingers;
you want to leave.

With hands lent-like
we walk our paths
salt spray on our cheeks,
hearts to burst, we scatter
you, a final wish.

v.
But I cannot let go.
I have regrets.
I have memories.



***
This, three parts of a ten-part poem taken from parts of five other poems, and re-assembled with linking language. I wrote the five poems over the past 3 years during and after my father's struggle with cancer.

Prompt=mix-up poem.


Peace...

15 April 2012

POEM FROM A SOLDIER IN AFGHANISTAN

At night, perched in the Pamirs
high above the Pech
the air thins cold
and vision is possible:
you seek the slash
of poppy orange in grey rock,
yellow gleams from copses
of holly and cedar,
the silver of wire lining
the goatherd’s path.

The thin cold air
magnifies night-sound:
the snap of twigs, the soft
snap after the bullet
slashes air, the snap
and slap of gear
buttoned on and down,
magazines loaded,
soft violences masked
by mortar thrum.

In the cold night air
dark stretches and thins:
tracers limn clouds, yellow
dust balloons behind ridges
illuming villages
on fire, rockets explode
and reflect in the Pech
red and black streamers,
some reverse fireworks,
some strange awesome
terrible celebration.



***
Prompt: use these words in a poem: slash, button, mask, strap, balloon

I have war on the brain: I am reading it, writing it, all to make setting (hopefully) believable. This is where the prompt took me. Peace...

14 April 2012

THE WATCH

After the wolves killed the sheep, then the children
I fled the backcountry; without cricket and tree frog song,
the silence grew too deep.

I packed light: food for a lifetime, clothes and boots,
all the guns, a photo of my love, sewn into the pocket
over my heart, the audio of our poetry...





***
The first two stanzas of a doomsday poem. Feeling prose-y today. Peace...

13 April 2012

BEHIND

On the street
before me a man
dragged his right leg
behind, a blue plastic
bag banged against
his thigh, the bottle
of malt sloshed
against his jaw
slack as the waist
of his jeans
sunk lower
and lower
with each lurch
more chalk-dusted
buttock revealed
I did not want to look
but could not help
myself or him,
or the shame of it all



Prompt=unlucky. Inspired by a man stumbling down the street, just as this poor man. I am so lucky to be who I am, to have enjoyed the privilege I have. Peace...

12 April 2012

Something About the Uniform

compels some to pump
a hand, grasp a shoulder,
offer a hug,
whisper thanks.

Others hurry past
with bowed heads
as if straw stuffs the suit,
the jacket but a prop.




Prompt=Something (fil in the blank). Since I am writing war, got a uniform in mind. Peace...

11 April 2012

AUTUMN AND ALL

Across the river from the nuthouse
under the gush of grey
sodden sky flirting with the
sun—a fickle breeze tumbles
autumnal leaves through the last gasp
of meadows, golden and rusted

brambles and milkweed
the glimmering of winter berries.


***

Prompt=season. Inspired by William Carlos Williams's SPRING AND ALL. Peace...

10 April 2012

At the edge of the wood

There is a tree
at the edge of the wood
silver-bare bark
hole-riddled, branches
twisting toward clouds,
the only green
mistletoe hanging
from highest limbs...


...I wait for my son
to finish his day.
When the school liberates
the children, a rush
of black and blue, a blur
of chatter, small panic
worms under my ribs
until his gold mane shines.


***

Prompt=tree and/or forest. This inspired by the struggle of all children to belong--and to individuate. Peace...

09 April 2012

UNDER THE TREE AT LEXINGTON MARKET


...You lick your ice cream, little pink tongue
like a cat's, flick, flick. Lick fast, girl, the heat

gonna melt it, like summer melts me...


***

Prompt=shade/shady. Shade made me think of heat, of obtaining relief. Peace...

08 April 2012

STEEPLE

Sunday morning before church
you wrenched the last
small bits of care
and flung them,
indifferent,
to the floor.

In the tremulous light
our son stacked one block
atop the other.
We watched until
the tower wobbled
and you walked out.



****
Prompt=rejection. Happy Easter all.

Peace...

07 April 2012

transplant

when the specialist arrived in his shiny white jacket the room stilled, a sterile still life colder than the air used to keep the bleating machinery needed to push red cells through my arteries, to gush antibiotics into my veins like city hydrants when summer swelters hot from the pavement, to keep tiny engines from shorts that would gum wires and tubes and send electric shocks down lifelines to the system--my system--and when he shook his head, his mouth a hyphen, the air grew colder yet and my heart heaved into a pulsing mass of valves and vessels, one last gasp before it puttered into a puddle of tissue necrotic and grey, of hope gone south with the geese


***

Prompt=communication between two people with no words said.

My attempt at a prose poem. Peace...

05 April 2012

THE ROPE

It was ordinary rope
the type used to bind parcels to carts,
or carts to horses.
You thought nothing of it,
I am sure, when you left
your crooked house
down the steep wending steps
through the iris and gladiola,
to the dirt street and Sir’s house
to mop his floors, polish
silver that saw you
reflected, blond and worn...


***

Prompt=a person, place, or event that happened before you were born. This first stanza relates the suicide of my great-grandfather, an immigrant from Finland. He and my Mumu came to the United States and settled in Massachusetts with little more than the shirts on their backs. She worked as a maid; their son, who had tuberculosis, died two years later. My grandfather found his father swinging from a beam when he returned from school. Peace...

04 April 2012

100% SPRING

Robins scurry after grubs
bunnies hop under shrubs
trees leaves flutter, yellow-green
daffodils bow in the warm breeze
puff-white clouds bring April showers
to sprinkle on bright spring flowers
rainbows stretch across the sky
pollen gives us itchy eyes
the sun sets on a perfect day
paradigm of a true cliché


***

Prompt=100% _____ (fill in the blank). Got a little silly, such a fun, frivolous day (I am on vacation after all). Peace...

03 April 2012

16 DAYS

If I could peel away time
each second a papery layer
I would go back to the moment
sixteen days ago when you
were settled into the hospital bed
white sheeted, stuffed kitty-corner
in the downstairs spare room
and the hospice nurse
showed me how to peel plastic
from patches and crush
pills fine as ash...










Prompt=apology poem. Inspired by my father's entry into home hospice two years ago and my regrets in not helping him to end it all. Peace...

02 April 2012

STORM


Ceaseless, snow drifts down
shimmers pure on starless pine--
a choir of silence.




Prompt=visitor. I chose an unbidden spring storm. Peace...

01 April 2012

THE MINISTER'S WIFE PENS A SERMON

You call this timbered space
a church, yourselves
congregants communing
as one to find a One

but behind your crooked
smiles, your hoary handshakes
stand adultered hearts
and gluttonous envies

...

April celebrates poetry, and so shall I. To mark National Poetry Month, I write a poem every day (as I have for the past 5 years) and will post glimmerings here. Join in the fun, leave a line or two in the comments. Perhaps I shall fashion a posey of them all at the end of the month, a communal poem of sorts. Peace...

31 March 2012

Blueberry

Felt a little sad.
So we threw the kids in the car and went out for a proper dinner.
Calamari, bangbang shrimp tacos, salmon, arctic char, and coconut custard pie. Oh my.
And one of these delectable martinis.

A pleasant evening with the best possible company. Peace...

30 March 2012

29 March 2012

Bluster and Blossoms

The wind came from the east this morning, scattering pear and cherry and plum blossoms, a spring storm.


Peace...

28 March 2012

A little wine will do ya

as will a little whine.

sometimes the best medicine is dinner and drinks out with a friend or three.

peace...

27 March 2012

Singing in the fog

Walking down the foggy street towards my office, a baritone singing Old Man River, louder than the clatter of the market, the whine of traffic. I never saw that man singing, but the tune played over and over in my head all day, and made me smile.


Peace...

26 March 2012

Too Much

Mondays feel too much. Too much to write, to think, too many emails logpiled in the inbox, too many students with too many questions. No other day feels too much, only Monday. Why?


Peace...

24 March 2012

Rain, rain

Your sweet patter lulls me to sleep, makes me dream sweet.




Peace...

23 March 2012

Early Spring

The first asparagus poked through sometime between yesterday afternoon, and this. Usually my favorite vegetable makes its first appearance the last week in March. We shall be in our dinner glory in 5 days.



Peace...

22 March 2012

Big Umbrella

I like to think of my purpose in life as holding an umbrella, tall and wide enough to include most every person, every thing, every viewpoint.



Namaste...

21 March 2012

Hump Day

Heading home, the middle of week done. Enuf.


Peace...

20 March 2012

Harbingers of Spring


Daffodils.

Rhubarb bushing out.

Robins pecking at the ground for grubs.

Cotton sweaters.

Stuffy noses, itchy eyes.

Strangers who smile.

First burgers on the grill.


Yes.


Peace...

19 March 2012

Just What I Needed

That small wedge of fudgy brownie... just what I needed this afternoon. Thank you to whoever made such deliciousness and left them in the kitchen for all to enjoy.

Namaste...

18 March 2012

Morning Ghost

This morning fog enveloped the neighborhood, a thick soupy white that veneered my skin on my morning walk. Birds called from trees I could not see, and it seemed they were calling for lost friends. The corner streetlight appeared from the white, an ancient lantern, a ship lost at sea.


Peace...

17 March 2012

Luck

I find it funny that today is commomerated by all things green and the drinking of beer when, in fact, Saint Patrick drove snakes from the island of Ireland. It still is not clear whether the snakes were the literal animals, or the pagans that had occupied Ireland before Christianity.

At any rate, a day to remember my Irish roots, as well as drink Irish pear cider with friends. Peace...

16 March 2012

Holes

There is something pleasurable in the ardor of digging holes in the garden. Peace...

15 March 2012

Ides of March

Today is the birthday of Benjamin Michael Taylor, one of my dearest characters. At least, this is his fictive birthday; the Ides of March are so fraught with tragedy, as is much of Ben's life. I created him on January 2, 2006, but he had been present in my mind for some months before.

Today he is 32. So young. I wonder if he is still living in New Hampshire? I wonder if he is still alive? Peace...

14 March 2012

So Far So Good

Today is over. Now, another wait, though the first test looks very good. Peace...

13 March 2012

Waiting

One more day. Tomorrow I have some medical tests, the possible results of which make me rather anxious. It is the waiting, though, that makes me panicky, the not knowing.

Namaste...

12 March 2012

Crocus in the Sidewalk

On the way to work, in between the emptied Vodka bottle and the spent condom, a small wee crocus wedged its way through a crack in the asphalt.

I wished I had my camera with me.

Namaste.

11 March 2012

Spring = Sore Tushy

And arms and legs and shoulders and thighs.

I had an appointment with a personal trainer/physical therapist. He made me do 30 squats with weights. A variety of upper-body exercises, with weights. He pushed on the base of my spine and found out the left side of my pelvis is 1/3 inch higher than the right, so he yanked on my left leg while I coughed and voila! My lower back pain almost disappeared.

I may not be ready for bikini season, but at least I will be able to fit into last year's granny suit.


Peace...

10 March 2012

Spring = Yardsales

Which means the house empties of husband and children early. An hour of quiet before class. Bliss.



Peace...

09 March 2012

Yoga Is My Saviour

Being in the space, in the quiet, focusing on the breath and making it slow. down. reminds me to not let life carry me away in a tumult of worry.

Writing is my other Worry-wort Anonymous crutch. Of course.

How do you let go of anxiety?

Peace...

08 March 2012

The Doc is In

I often find myself frustrated by the health care system: the costs of the service, the costs of the time waiting for those services, the inability to get access when needed. But today, when I required an appointment much sooner than later, a new office found time for me this morning, examined me with courtesy and respect, and provided the follow-up care I will need.

I remain anxious about this new medical malady, but at least I have confidence in the providers who will care for me.

A well-run medical office is worth more than all the health care reforms imaginable. Fix inefficiency, rudeness, and service, and satisfaction with our health care would rise exponentially.

Peace...

07 March 2012

Hump Day

The best part of this day is that it is over.

And that is enough.

Peace...

06 March 2012


A glass of wine,
a shared meal--
the power in these
are their power to heal.


I went out with a few colleagues last night after work. We tend to be a stuffy bunch, wrapped up in our insecurities, not trusting the other. But wine loosened the tongue: we learned a bit about each other, we relaxed, we laughed when the bathroom stall door locked one of us in (I won't say who).

It was a nice night. Maybe wine drinking should be required for all workers, everywhere. Peace...

05 March 2012

Mind the Gap

It has been a week since I posted at this blog, and for this I apologize. Blogger acted up, blocking me for a few days. Then, I got sick with a nasty cold and barely found enough oomph for waking up. So rather than try to make up the last 7 posts, I'll make a clean start now.

I hope the past week kept you well.

Peace...

25 February 2012

Stoicism

We are not disturbed not by events but by the views that we take of them. ~Epictetus

24 February 2012

Calm Soul

Calm soul of all things
make it mine to feel
amid the city's jar
that there abides a peace
of thine I did not make
and cannot mar.


Calm Soul of All Things ~Matthew Arnold, 1822-1888

23 February 2012

Winging Home


The only thing that feels better than leaving on a trip is returning home.


Peace...

22 February 2012

Sing it baby!

"We're all bozos on the bus until we find a way to express ourselves."
~Steven Tyler (American Idol, 2012)

Peace...

21 February 2012

Mama Mia

Sometimes nothing is better than eating dinner while watching jeopardy with your mother.

That's how I spent my night -- and you?

Peace...

20 February 2012

19 February 2012

Snow

Yesterday, we were promised 3-5 inches of snow. Today, that hope fled south with the storm system. Instead, warmish wind and partly cloudy skies, made the day feel like April, but still, I yearned for the patter of icy flakes on my face, the hush of the world wrapped in white. Peace...

18 February 2012

Blue Sky

The sky bloomed brilliant blue, the air smelled of turned earth, the bird calls sounded of possibility. Peace...

17 February 2012

16 February 2012

Honesty

Sometimes being honest hurts more than the consequences of a lie.

But at least when I am honest I can sleep.

Peace...

15 February 2012

The Inbox Never Empties

And that is okay. Today, my inbox screamed 'empty me'. So much to do. And then, when I finally had two hours carved out, I received an email from an editor at the New York Times to pontificate on a subject near and dear to my heart ==> how to curb prescription drug abuse.

So the inbox remains full, but sometimes flexibility means more than getting stuff done. Peace...

14 February 2012

Bleeding Heart

Today, on this day of love, my front garden shows the barest disruption of earth where the Dicentra spectabilis will erupt in a few weeks.

Happy day of love. Peace...

13 February 2012

Diamond Dust

The day spent reading my manuscript, polishing it even finer, readying it for agent consumtion... I should have diamond dust embedded on my fingers.

Namaste...

12 February 2012

Stories

I spent the afternoon reading stories from my textbook, all homework, and feel moved by the beautiful words wrought by Joyce Carol Oates, Denis Johnston, ZZ Packer... all stories to aspire to, stories to remember. Peace...

11 February 2012

10 February 2012

Donut Lady

Today while in the salon, a small lady with unruly silver hair pushed her walker into the back room with the shampoo sinks. The hairdresser helped her into the seat, washed her hair, and then they both disappeared to another room.

Twenty minutes later, I saw her, head tightly rolled into yellow, green, and pink rollers. She sat under a hair-dryer, the kind with the bowl you sit under, eating a cream-filled donut and reading a magazine. Her right foot tapped to some music only she heard. She so enjoyed her donut.

Peace...

09 February 2012

Cusp of a cold

There is that time between health and not where you feel heady and acy and not quite yourself.

Today was one of those days.

But I got through it.

Peace...

08 February 2012

Floating

The danger of conference calls is the temptation to multi-task. This morning, while listening to disembodied voices echo in my room, I checked emails. I had to put my phone on mute when one email, from an agent, requested the full of a manuscript.

The rest of the day I hovered an inch off the ground!

Peace...

07 February 2012

Ho Hum

Sometimes, nothing exceptional happens. Today was such a day, and that's okay. Because the flip side is something awful happens, and that did not happen, either. Peace...

06 February 2012

Riding Home

A woman on the metro rested her head against the seat, eyes closed, a smile playing on her face. The sun slanted low on the horizon, and the shadows of buildings and trees passing by dappled her face. I wondered what she was thinking, wondered how she achieved that grace.


Peace...

05 February 2012

Winding Down

There is a melancholy to Sunday evening: the end of time together as a family, of the luxury of unscheduled time. Peace...

04 February 2012

Smell of Snow

This morning, walking the Homewood campus devoid of students, the trees pocking a solid grey sky, the air smelled of snow. I have wanted snow, a good dusting to cover the world, to walk with fat flakes melting on my cheeks. It was 50 degrees, so I figured the smell drifted on wind hundreds of miles away, from some place where the air shivered.

Later, waking from a nap, the air full of swirling white. We hiked the woods, tasted icy delciousness on our tongues, warmed up later under fleece.

Mother Nature is a fickle being.


Peace...

03 February 2012

Shaking Stuff Up

Today, after a meeting, rather than return to my office I sat in the student center with a cup of Earl Grey and read several scientific articles. The low hum of conversation, the light streaming through the window, the warmth of the tea all made my head buzz with new ideas.

Sometimes it helps to shake up routine, change route--surprises happen.

Namaste...

02 February 2012

While in Savasana

Eyelids heavy
on my face,
my back and arms
and legs melted
into the floor
like butter.

The thin wail,
an ambulance rises
over the flute
swirling in the dark,
through the gentle sighs
of whales: water,
light of air receding,
the heavy feeling
of sinking.

This is what flickered
across my mind; this
is what I remember.


***

I love the half-sleep state of savasana, the way your body and mind go limp. The wail of the siren juxtaposed against the music of flute and whale call sounded poignant, perfect accompaniment to a movie scene. I thought of someone sinking in water. This, of course, made me think of a story.


Namaste...

01 February 2012

Smile

When your child smiles while in the midst of music, it makes you smile, too.

Last night my son performed in his jazz band, and watching his head bop to the beat and enjoy himself provided the highlight of my day.

Peace...

31 January 2012

Sunrise

The sun breaks
over the tree line
dripping yellow yolk
on sky still white,
a fitting beginning
to the ending
of this river.





The last small stone of 2012--or is it?

May you travel your river of stones with grace, with joy, with peace...

30 January 2012

Street Art

Pigeon droppings
and rubbed-out
cigarette butts
spatter black asphalt,
a cacophony
of tan and white,
a reverse Pollock
of sorts.


Peace...

29 January 2012

Blink

I am not sure why
this morning I notice
the angling
of my daughter’s
cheek, the lengthening
of her legs,
the blond softness
adorning my son’s
upper lip.

But I do,
and it tastes
like good coffee,
sweet and bitter.


Peace...

28 January 2012

Into This Good Day

The espresso machine
wakes up louder than me;
with a shudder, the boiler
warms water, steam pops
the filter, a low-pitched whine,
and coffee streams with a hiss
into waiting white cups.

Work finished,
the lights blink off
into daytime slumber.


Peace...

27 January 2012

Barometer

The wind pushes dark sky
warm and swollen
to make room
for the brittle sun,
to ease the clouds
clogging my head.



Namaste...

26 January 2012

Pre-Dawn Peace

I cup the morning
quiet much as I hold
my breath on
the inhale: close,
rare, anticipating
opening doors,
feet on stairs
signaling the slide
to the day.


***

Peace...

25 January 2012

Listen Up!

Sometimes
my children
actually hear
what I say
like tonight
over fish
sandwiches
when the son
hugged the
daughter,
and said
sorry.



Namaste...

24 January 2012

Wake-Up

My morning coffee
tastes smoother
stays warmer
in the old
stoneware mug
created when
I was young,
forgotten
until found
in the yard-
sale bin.



Peace...