Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Apprentice


there are no recipes

just songs

passed from bird

to bird


the air...

Sometimes it’s good
to rise with the sun

to be
in that extraordinary
of the not yet dreamed

grouper crowding
with nothing
but the slippery sky
on their backs

carrots glisten,
parsnips drowse
ripe bellies of beets
swell on bleached boards

In the palest
of times
I cradle the blade
sweeping the dark corners
of your mouth
happy to be
a beginner

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Fancy dresses

Growing up poor. We bought our everyday clothes at fire sales—literally— rummaging through items stacked high on collapsible tables, choosing by discount, condition and fit. I well remember the aroma of smoke and the feeling of being tucked inside a warm roasted peanut shell.

Our fancy outfits we found on Tremont Avenue, a boulevard festooned year round with Christmas lights waiting for their time to shine. We purchased these frothy delights with crisp bills, passing our dreams softly from palm to palm. We wore our fancy dresses often, celebrating every thing.

Fancy dresses

navy jackets
proofed by fire
heaped on table tops
with grasshopper legs
we thread
the wooden buttons
sideways through loops
to keep the cold out
smelling of roasted peanuts
smoke still rising

fancy dresses
pure spun sugar
funneling late afternoon sun
through softshelled
We wear them
to school plays
to the RKO
screening of Spartacus
the first day of spring

Written for OSI prompt, "fancy".

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Portable Feast

“I believe that if, at the end of it all, according to our abilities, we have done something to make others a little happier, and something to make ourselves a little happier, that is about the best we can do. To make others less happy is a crime. To make ourselves unhappy is where all crime starts. We must try to contribute joy to the world. That is true no matter what our problems, our health, our circumstances. We must try. I didn't always know this, and am happy I lived long enough to find it out.”
Roger Ebert

"Life is never fair. ... And perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not."
Oscar Wilde

“Cooking is maybe the purest expression of love in the sense that you always cook for the other.”

Jacques Pepin

That’s the thing about writing. You can decide how much you are willing to disclose. And Roger Ebert could have easily continued to telegraph his reviews without baring his soul.

When I first saw Roger Ebert’s new face, I was in shock. Since his reviews continued to illuminate the films I watched, I assumed the generous jowly guy giving out the stars had remained the same. What I discovered instead was that cancer had radically altered the topography of his physical body. Radiation left his chin in ruins the blade was unable to restore.

Consequently, he has lost the ability to speak, but not to write. He communicates via a computerized voice system and blue post it notes. He continues to write 5 to 6 cinema reviews per week, and is actively journaling on an award winning blog. Since his diagnosis, more than five hundred thousand words of inner dialogue have poured out of him.

Though he takes his nourishment through a tube, he hasn’t forgotten the joy of food or the camaraderie of eating. His most recent book, "The Pot and How to Use It", is a paean to the communion of breaking bread.

I lost my first husband to melanoma. He died at age 30, after putting up a valiant battle. He wasn’t ready to die. When I read the Esquire article about Ebert’s buoyancy, I began to wonder about the wisdom of “waging war” on disease. For one thing, it distracts us from living. For another, it gives the disease a monster status, which I don’t think is helpful.

Whether you view an invasive species as the enemy or not, I have come to believe that you must humanize it, embrace it and recognize the ways in which you are the same.

a portable feast

they are cells
that have gone mad
for life
you must know
this feels.

a profusion of leaves
scales a wall
each birth
than the

blue papillon
casting shadow
on shadows
the sky

Written for OSI prompts, "champion" and "grace".

Sunday, October 10, 2010

she is feral

she is feral

she is smooth

a gem

tearing down love

wild in bloom

rushing home

Written for OSI, "lonely" and Sunday Scribblings, "essential".

Monday, October 4, 2010

all that was

all that was

all that was
has been

that valedictorian moment
delivered neat
in a sweated glass

the sensible career
a ghostly frigate

all that was
has been

the moon
was my purser
your legs sprouted grass

a flock of nameless birds.
backward stroking
oaring deep

Written for OSI prompt, "try".

I am an overachiever. Not by choice, birth order or even temperament. It was a condition of survival.

Nourishment and protection were offered in exchange for a measured amount of success. You would feel it hard on the knuckles when you overstepped that invisible line that kept moving.

For this reason, “try” is a loaded word for me. I struggled with whether or not to publish this piece and once published, to explain it.

Steeping myself in your poems this week, I decided to push my inhibitions aside. As the sky slowly clears, I continue to discover what it means to try life openly and with a new depth of view.

Friday, October 1, 2010

the 31 Balboa

This is a poem about impermanence, accommodations made gracefully, the tangled beauty that emerges. A large portion was gleaned from early morning trysts with a grove of cypress at Land’s End, San Francisco.
The 31 Balboa is a bus route that threads through numbered avenues--1-48--lost in time and chilly fog. Bait and tackle shops, a 50 year old Japanese ice cream parlor, the eight dollar haircut, bald crushed velveteen seats in the Balboa Theater. The reference to Officer Keller has to do with Sea of Love, Al Pacino’s 1985 comeback about the implacable hunger for connection and implicit perils of opening up.

Nothing is so strong as gentleness and nothing is so gentle as real strength.
-Ralph W. Sockman

the 31 Balboa

wrapped in
ribbed knit navy
the anonymity
of fog
a wash
in postwar ramblers
thin fading rays
of love

we are all of us
running from
some thing
the tail
of the barchans’
break loose
of their pockets
of the hands
they have changed

in the rain soaked
breath of morning
we glide in a
slic of dreams
Officer Keller
to a spree
we all agree
was committed
by somebody else

the distant
click of tile
to formica tops
my one wet eye
ticks off
the stops
from here
to land’s end

dark eyebrows
a tenuous sky
crusted arms
icy winds
the sheared face
of cypress
slopes to the sea
intricate lace
lies below
your gaze.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

a wicked good wind

a wicked good wind
bostok and cappuccino
mornings like this

written for Haiku Heights, "bliss".

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Raining Tree Road

"Even a child with normal feet was in love with the world after he had got a new pair of shoes."
— Flannery O'Connor (Everything That Rises Must Converge)

This past weekend we stayed at a neighbor’s cabin.

It was pure bliss to be out of range of motors and cell phones, breaking news and well intentioned calls. We did not have internet service; I apologize for not visiting. I have read everyone’s poems upon returning and enjoyed them immensely.

There was a crystal clear lake with a pair of resident loons, diving, cavorting, rearing, flapping, walking on water. Their eerie wails and wild tremolos awakened something wild in us. Ruby throated hummingbirds perched on the rims of deep bowls, bulking up for September flight. Capricious skies, a special reserve bottle of wine, Flannery O’Conner and Verlyn Klinenborg, Beethoven’s middle quartets (we always travel with music). We were in good company.

A profusion of images emerged, all clamoring to be seen.

Raining Tree Road

It rained hard
while we slept
in soft beds

soft we sink
into mud and moss
a continuous
surrounds us

coral mushrooms blossom
on crumbing bark
the blackened leaf
curls into itself
like a fist
tender tendrils
with life
insisting on itself

this is not our world
of gardens
with planned
successions of blooms
the polite clatter of heels
post modern
masterpieces hanging
in dimly lit rooms

it rained
as we slept
on our soft beds

and when we awoke
nothing was the

Written for OSI, pensive.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Verde que te quiero verde. Verde viento. Verde ramas.
Green I love you green. Green Wind. Green branches.
- Federico Garcia Lorca, 1899-1936

What kind of times are they, when
A talk about trees is almost a crime
Because it implies silence about so many horrors?
- Bertolt Brecht, To Those Born Later

A tree does not move unless there is wind.
- Afghan Proverb

An ancient oak tosses her green body. Clouds gather. She breathes her love in halted air. The sky opens. Acorns drop. The larvae of moths live in them. Jays and squirrels collect and cache them. Some are carried in the intestines of animals. Others germinate, becoming the forest’s understory.

A darkened sky: no
time for parables. red oak
sighs, acorns scatter.

written for One Single Impression, beginning
and Haiku Heights, struggle