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.


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

29 April 2012


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



You tell truths
the way an Englishman
keeps a proper garden:
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


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

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

25 April 2012


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


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 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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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

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

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.

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.


15 April 2012


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


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


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


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


...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


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


07 April 2012


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


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


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


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


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


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...