Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Winter Solstice

I’m intrigued by the Solstice. Though never officially diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder, my endurance and warm disposition are tested by the short days we get here, just below the 45th north parallel. Jimmy Buffet said it best: tempers in need of repair.

We like our stories with arcs and twists, and our universe delivers by tilting the earth so that nothing is ever the same. When it’s winter solstice here, which usually means things are cold and wet, the sun is directly overhead along the Tropic of Capricorn, places like Sao Paulo and Brisbane. What to do if you’re both fundamentalist (which I’m not) and light-loving? Thou shalt not covet those savory UVs. But we can’t help it. We like the light and miss it. And we can’t wait for it to return. That goes for all of us, pagans and Christians and everyone else.

It’s a well-trodden fact that most Christmas symbols were borrowed from folks who lived well before the arrival of the Baby Jesus. And though there’s some compelling evidence his birthday was actually in the spring, there were (and are) a lot of compelling reasons to celebrate it on or near the solstice. The ancients were used to gathering then anyway. Stored food didn’t get any better if you waited a few weeks. There was still plenty of firewood, and the beer and wine created from the last harvest was just about ready. When it’s that cold, why not stay indoors and celebrate?

I looked into traditions of earlier peoples. Many cultures – too many to list here - performed solstice ceremonies. Many contained common threads: eating, drinking, storytelling, hooking up, setting things on fire. Their motivation? Probably a superstition that the declining light might not ever return unless we (humans, or the deities we asked) did an intervention.

The Mesopotamians may have come up with the earliest version of the 12 days of Christmas. Their 12 day festival of renewal was celebrated for the purpose of helping the god Marduk calm the monsters of chaos for one more year. Wanna bet that some form of monsters of chaos has probably been translated into all known languages? Or that Mardak had kindred spirits in other places?

It’s not difficult to see how many of our current traditions (unity, giving to others, candlelight, feasting, evergreens) are modern versions of what our ancestors did before we had rural electrification or office parties.

And what did they do? Wiccans burned Yule logs to encourage the return of the light and honor both life and death. Scandinavian families placed all of their shoes in one place, believing that this would cause them to live in harmony for the next year. Romans honored Bacchus by (what else?) drinking heavily during their festival of Brumalia. The Chacoans (ancestors of the modern Pueblo people of New Mexico) gathered at the Sun Dagger site of Chaco Canyon and danced the sun back into their days.

No Christmas letter from me, at least not here. I love this day because it represents a convergence of so many things I appreciate: light, enlightenment, physics, forgiveness, redemption, boundaries, friendships, hope. But today, mostly light. I hope the light is shining where you are.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Imagined Stopping

We've had a few days of cold, enough for the water in the fountain to ice over and the roads to get slick. So be careful out there, okay?

Once I rounded the corner
saw your tail~lights through bluish steam
your tracks through drifting snow
halting at the aspens
I imagined stopping
to aim headlights at your bad luck
grabbing for a blanket
and hurdling toward your car

I heard my knuckles tapping
on your vapor covered window
hoping the only red I’d see is lipstick
that you’d still have all your life-signs
and my breathing could resume

These images I formed
because my mind's eye loathes a vacuum
I cannot picture blankness
when the story line’s unclear

I imagined stopping
while our narrative’s still forming
as our lives are intersecting
grateful I’ve got time to choose

Monday, December 5, 2011


The Teen-in-Residence is reading Whitman for a school assignment, which led to questions about Meaning. I don't remember much about Whitman but do remember connections to nature and changing seasons. With temperatures dropping into the twenties, our season is changing here as well.

That last remaining leaf
on the windswept, proud pin oak
has earned my full respect

With her pluckiness and grit
I’m pulling for her
hoping she holds on tight
to the only life she knows

And when it’s time for her to leave
I hope it’s on her terms
that the fall to earth is gentle
her only sound a joyful noise

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Office Hours

Not sure if I've ever posted this one before. My educator friends can all relate, it's something we've all been asked at one time or another...

When you asked me
if we covered anything important
I didn’t pause to wonder

I got into this work
because it’s all important

But since you asked
then yes
I imagine we did

We watched a bootleg copy of King’s I have a dream speech
took turns playing Vivaldi on the Stradivarius
correctly calculated the date of the rapture
made routine repairs to the space station
hosted a gymnastics team from Sweden
brokered a peace deal in Palestine
isolated the gene for breast cancer
produced an Oscar-winning film
blew up some shit in Chemistry
solved Fermat’s Last Theorem
created a masterpiece in oil

And did some prep for the final

Missed you

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Things that could have stopped me

A normal childhood
without pharmacology

Never learned Latin

My parents stayed together

Don’t own a tweed jacket

The voices inside my head encourage
but never scream

Incessant cries of the breakfast flock

Living in countries
where poets are killed

Time changes and the dark seasons

Red pen within

Friday, October 21, 2011

Celebration of Clay Art

This evening, I will have the good fortune of co-hosting an event commemorating a new collection of rare and valuable Northwest ceramic art. Every meaningful event in life deserves a poem...

Earth, long before us
alive, now and forever
today, source of joy


Friday, September 30, 2011

Narratives From Her Return

In loops reminiscent of planetary arcs
she’d sail to the far corners of the earth
then return for some respite and a soft, clean bed

While there
as here
she lit up doorways and gained favor
by learning the ancient greetings of her hosts
peering into their worlds through newly borrowed words

Once home, she’d unpack new stories
of long hikes, throbbing feet
and close calls
each one starting with a greeting of place

From the cabbie in Guangzhou
Have you eaten?

The warriors of Masai
How are the children?

In the rarified air of Bhutan
Is your body well?

And my favorite
from the Twi of Ghana
How is your soul perceiving the world?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Showering with Perseid

It's August so I've disappeared, on the bike for long pulls, in the kayak for long paddles, and writing without posting. It's catch up time.

This time is ours
but only while I’m kneeling
at her altar

Paddling through the blueness
of the deepest lake I know
precious time before moonrise
I feel her stinging sparks of light
assaulting every pore

Exotic sounding neighbors
with their names so unfamiliar
make me pause enough to wonder
if the Soho field is artsy?

Is Virginis Gamma blushing?

Does Elenin need a friend?

Half a world down under
just beyond my line of vision
there’s an unseen comet burning
on a mirror of glassy water
swirling dust across the outback

I still think of her at night

Friday, July 8, 2011

Rescue Team

God help me but the next time I see this kind of cruelty I may be forced to lose my sunny disposition and take up weapons...

My angel saw him first
fur coat and glassy-eyed
stunned by the heat
of that first scorching day

Blame my devil for hurling
the brick through your windshield
knowing the freedom
that broken glass brings

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Office Hours

Okay, the academic year is coming to a close, so what's a little cynicism among friends?

When you asked me
if we covered anything important
I didn’t pause to wonder

I got into this work
because it’s all important

But since you asked
then yes
I imagine we did

We watched a bootleg copy of King’s I have a dream speech
took turns playing Vivaldi on the Stradivarius
correctly calculated the date of the rapture
made routine repairs to the space station
hosted a gymnastics team from Sweden
brokered a peace deal in Palestine
isolated the gene for breast cancer
produced an Oscar-winning film
blew up some shit in Chemistry
solved Fermat’s Last Theorem
created a masterpiece in oil

And did some prep for the final

Missed you

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


On this beautiful day
draped in regalia
and the echoes of droning speeches
our story concludes
with the toasts we didn’t make

To that tease of a thesis
who kept taunting you
until the last possible moment
when she finally got dressed
and made it on time

To the lecherous advisor
who finally backed off
during your senior year

For the untold hours
spent holding hands
watching the IV drip
because her parents
wouldn’t understand

To the vapid electeds
who waited to undermine
higher education
until you walked

To the girlfriends
who used reliable birth control

For running out of champagne
before Gramps got too loopy

May we all die in the proper order
May our suits always fit so well

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Truly Alive

Ackkkkk! It's a beautiful day in our little town but the work was piling up so I snuck in to the office catch up on some things. Even so, there is nothing like a poetry break to invigorate the senses...

Through these high rise windows
I stare at the joy of smiling dogs
catching sailing disks
little ones practicing the May pole dance
runners with endorphin highs

There’s a woman today
who seems too old to swing
but she’s doing it anyway
getting really high

Her face is filled with joy
so much that I want to go out there
drink in her contagious smile
invite her to stop
so I can give her a big hug

The kind of hug that says
thank you for sharing
and steer clear of careers
where the only possible joy
is staring at verdant parks
at others who are truly alive

Monday, May 9, 2011

NW Poets' Concord

On Saturday I had the rare pleasure of attending the NW Poets' Concord in Newport, Oregon. In its third year, there were about 100 poets in attendance. It was a real treat to look around the room and note "I had a class from her" or "I just read his book and it rocked" or "he's the guy who sent me that one rejection letter last year." Oregon is a small, mostly rural state but we are blessed with an abundance of creative talent.

I especially enjoyed serving on a panel for a discussion about political poetry, along with Marianne Klekacz, at the invitation of friend and poet Catherine McGuire. It was our intention to stir things up and from every indication, we were successful.

Monday, May 2, 2011


April is over and with it National Poetry Writing Month, the challenge of writing a poem a day. I managed to write 40 original poems - still having trouble with directions, I suppose. I'll probably back off on the writing a little and do some serious re-writing, as most of these were written in less than seven minutes. Some are truly dreadful and others might look better with a good bath and a hot meal. We'll see.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ode to the Partners of Poets

We wake up and gently reach over
your silken bare shoulders
for the notepad that captures our dreams

When you’re thinking romance
we’re thinking Petrarchan sonnets

You rarely have our full attention
as we scribble on napkins
and read back snarled lines

As you hear our torrid Sestina
the one that makes your heart pound
you briefly pause to wonder
last Valentine’s Day at the cabin?
or daydream of the latte’ girl at Starbucks?

Once April arrives
you’ve already made a list
of good books and films
you’ll have to see alone

Our husbands, wives, and lovers
here’s to you
for all you endure

[prompted by Poetic Asides]

Monday, April 25, 2011

A Fine Line

[From a Poetic Asides Prompt, Falling]

Having survived the best and the worst of dreams
grizzly looking in the tent
nailing the Idol audition
naked dissertation defense
it took reading Ryan and Jong
a few months on the running trails
and the steadfast support
of family and friends
for her to learn the fine line
that separates falling and flying

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Unity Prayer

Based on a half-life of travel
long hikes from the vortexes of Sedona
to the wet cliffs of Moher
the top of the stairs at St. Peters
to the Tsing Shan Monastery

It’s abundantly clear:
we’ve the same dreams
the same hopes for our children
the same longing for the sacred

Whether searching for the elusive Kedushah
the baby Jesus or those ubiquitous purple Peeps
may we find the unity that was there all along

Let your many prayers flow together as one

Friday, April 22, 2011

Dream of the One Place

Based on a Poetic Asides prompt, one unique person, place or thing.

There’s this one place
first visited in a dream
where I can create what
I’ve been put here to create

Inspired by Elysium
it’s backed by the green peaks of Cascadia
plied by clean, flowing waters
swollen with urgent salmonidae
perched on a gentle slope
linking the new world and the old

The homesite well-built
with Walden-like basics
room for drama-free travelers
and filled with monastic quiet

My creative space has bookshelves rivaling Trinity
reams of receptive paper and infinite inkpots
one chair that makes me more clever
smells of leather and lemon oil
maps that don’t change every year

One point
one foci
one place

As the one who joined me
at the headwaters of this magical journey
step now into my dream
help me draw the maps and charts to land us there
to find our one place
where all of this becomes real

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lest Ye Shall Not

Based on a Poetic Asides Prompt, Message in a Bottle

To whomever finds and reads this
know that not everything you read is true.
Just because it’s on the web or reported as news
doesn’t guarantee it’s fact

If you’re opening this up on another shore
which would mean your own and not ours
know that we’re mostly a good people.
There are crazies everywhere
and it’s likely we have more than you.
Ours are just more visible and we always
have enough of them to export.

But for every Fred Phelps, Sarah Palin or Charlie Sheen
we have cities filled with caring and generous people.
For every distraught mother who drives her kids swimming into a fast moving river, there are twenty million good moms. For every arms dealer who beats plowshares into swords there’s a family owned farm helping to feed the world.

On the balance we’re a good people.
We help out when your city is flattened by an earthquake when it’s time to quash polio, when the wall of water sends isotopes pinging off the heavens.

If you only believe one thing you read today, let it be this. We are not as we sometimes seem, we are better.
Peace be unto you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cor anglais

She is to me as a soprano to the alto
of everything I am and anything you can name
but I am happiest when hearing her distinctive pitch.

Yet I know when it’s time to inhale
and when to find my own part
in this complicated score.

Maybe she’s more suited to solo.
Maybe I am more plaintive and mellow.
I appreciate the differences in our instruments.

Friday, April 15, 2011

About Me

This site may contain material objectionable to minors.
Click here to accept terms and enter.

Poet, singer/songwriter, lover, mother.
I’m intrigued by the creative process
especially lyrical poetry and erotica
but I suck at keeping track of what I’ve written.
Hobbies are swimming, learning foreign languages
and pissing off the radical right.
Love other people regardless of plumbing
or national origin.
I travel often between Sicily and Lesbos.
Don’t have a website but learning to tweet.

This is a profile poem describing one of the most famous classical poets from ancient Greece, after a prompt from Poetic Asides. Wonder if Sappho were here today, we might see something like this on her blog?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

How To Be a Total Drama Queen in the Body of a Young Prince

When you think emptying the dishwasher is so commoner and stomp a little to prove your point and when you do that muttering thing that has a high probability of containing the B word but it’s discreet enough to escape certain detection and when you get grounded from those frequent and meaningful conversations you’re having with your hundred and eighty three friends

What’s left but to plan your own death by a cause you can’t name, and to build a coffin with common art supplies like cardboard and poster paint, and craft a cute little headstone with catty little dig to go with your name, and then there’s the soundtrack for your service, and well-written eulogy filled with unflattering references to your parents for your best friend to read, because Man, he’s always been there for you

When the Dad from another century can’t suppress his old guy laugh and tells you to find your one point and move forward, you have to get even more furious and tell him that he can take his aging Zen self and try to be even more clueless

Doesn’t he know you’re the Prince? If he’s your Dad, then that makes him the King, shouldn’t he know that? This is serious

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Favorite Runner

Injury forces me to watch instead of run
so I get to cheer two thousand fortunates
suffer without me

When I’m out there myself
mind games help me forget the pain
today they’re helping me endure
the pain of envy

Today’s game:
spot my favorite runner
and forgive this but
there are lots of people in the running

I like the new mother of twins
pushing the jogging stroller
as she trains for the Mommy Olympics

There’s the curvy island girl
who’s bouncing a lot
but she’s got her iTunes working
and she’s bouncing out of joy

One guy is covered with braces and scars
and his pain is written all over his face
but he deserves at least one medal for showing up
and another for finishing

My favorite runner isn’t any one runner
it’s the group of older girlfriends
giddy with endorphins and friendship

I know nothing about them beyond their hats
which tell me everything I need to know
Fuck Cancer
and it may be one of them or all of them
who’s won that particular race
but either way it’s the kind of candor
that steals your breath away

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Four Twenty-Two

My every day has one minute like this
where I feel the warmth and presence
of these life-changing numbers
and pause the pause of a creator

I might be in a meeting
tapping away on a project
or sneaking a poetry break
but these numbers revisit each day

You, you’re in this moment
held up high
messy and proud
looking every bit a Mackenzie
I knew then a kilt
would suit you just fine

The prayers
don’t we remember the important prayers?
mine was quiet and quick
help me with this one
keep him safe and out of wars
we need all the help we can get
and we can’t do this alone

My every day has one sacred minute like this
where I honor these same frozen numbers
smile the same smile
savor the same high
pray the same prayer
love the same you

[inspired by Poetic Asides Poem-A-Day for Day 9 - Time]

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Cool things be happening

What is it about April? Days are longer. Things are blooming. Writing like crazy. Everyone I know is doing the same. From the smile on her face, even the letter carrier is probably writing and receiving sonnets. Okay, maybe it is the uniform.

Besides the poeming, I'm in this strange patch of time where I'm meeting lots of outstanding poets and getting some one-on-one time learning their craft. Check out Carter McKenzie (Out of Refusal) and Paulann Petersen (The Voluptuary).

These are the in-person persons. I'm also getting to know an online community this month. And they're getting to know me.

As I continue to write, I'm getting to know me too.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Warm For Her Form

So, it's April and that means National Poetry Month. Last year I penned a poem a day and the habit stuck, but the place I posted to is no longer. No problem, I found an interesting and talented community at Poetic Asides, and this will be my home away from home for this month.

Don’t chase after Sestina
she’s quite demanding
and you’ll never satisfy her

That Sonnet has a romantic streak
but don’t you see
she’s snooty and pretentious?

Ghazal comes from a good family
and she’s kind
but simple

You should spend some time
with the Tanka girl
she could make you very happy

In my culture
we’re taught to heed the advice
of Grandmothers and Aunties

But even so
I find myself mentally undressing

Inspired by 2011 Poem-A-Day Challenge Day 6 "Don't (blank), (blank)"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Without This Me - 2011 Poem-A-Day #3

A world without this me might welcome a that me
a substitute version accepted by all

His rigorous workouts and modeling tight briefs
would conjure up images slender and tall

Talent with numbers might make him a banker
if coupled with ethics you’d welcome his kind

If he could pass the bar you’d want to have his card
when you were injured or some other bind

Were he a diplomat, strong and courageous
he’d build a world that’s more kind and diverse

If he had gotten some classical training
he’d be more likely to write better verse

For all the conjecture, I’d rather not think about
untimely leaving or false warning signs

A world without this me would go on revolving
the same as for anyone reading these lines

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Spending my Saturday in a workshop

Today I'm hosting a workshop for authors called Fooling Around With Words, so named for the just completed April 1 events. Right now, enjoying a session on blogging by talented poet Larina Warnock. Later: reading by Oregon's Poet Laureate Paulann Petersen.

What got me here

So let the punishment begin. I participated in National Poetry Writing Month last year by writing a poem a day throughout April. The habit stuck and I'm back for 2011. We may need some more coffee.

She came to our town to read
so I picked her up at the airport
drove her everywhere
had cappuccino
squired her to the reading
she actually used the word squired
when she signed my copy of her book

That night she killed
that’s why we chose her for this
after dinner with friends
and a lot of fine wine
she held forth on her life
how she knew early on
it was the only thing
she was called to do

It hadn’t clicked at first
she spoke of the first anguished years
shoe boxes stuffed with nasty little letters
from vapid little editors who didn’t get her
and when someone asked how she kept going
I will never forget when she said
she knew deep down
she was writing damn good poems

And this caused me to wonder
what manner of faith each of us brings
to believe the same things about each other
with or without stuffed shoe boxes

[From the prompt by Robert Lee Brewer to write a "what got you here" poem]

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Calligrapher's Anguish

What are the kanji
for flotsam and jetsam, and
where is my family?

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Les Quatre Cents Coups

There’s a universal roughness in the urchin years
a stark collision of freedom and neglect
that cuts across continents

Street-smart lads learn early on
an uncanny knack for reconnaissance
spotting weakness like distracted parents
slipping away unnoticed and nicking
everything from typewriters to fresh milk

Even the Amish let their boys run wild
these scenes recur in Stanley
Cherry Hill and Hampton Park
but nowhere better than 1950s Paris

Are we shocked?

Do we miss it?

Inspired by Poetry on Wednesday prompt for the classic 1959 French film Les Quatre Cents Coups

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


His room was his room
until it was invaded by a shrieking little alien
disguised as a newborn brother
and then it was their room
an experience he’d cite years later
when holding forth on the topic
of birth control

The next twelve years were okay
except the times when his girlfriend would gaze
over his shoulder at the ceiling
and wonder what their own place would look like
which lasted exactly until he left for college
packing his dreams
but leaving her there

Nobody has personal space in college
except for ninety minute favors
so somehow he survived

No young faculty have their own office
even the rock stars
so he suffered the cramping and clutter
until he got the one little office under the stairs
and even that seemed like redemption

Then he got his own space
in his own home
and for a guy who liked to name things
that’s the only name it had
not the den
not the manspace

Set up as a study with weights
it had a nice chair and all the right tools
and it worked swimmingly well
until he forgot everything
he ever believed about birth control

But he found fatherhood to his liking
though his son was quite different than him
the mutant actually liked studying
and excelled at homework
meaning the den was taken over
and it was time to move again

Picture his exile:
the smallest room of the house
a feng shui disaster
but his precious ego
was tempered by the knowledge
that far better writers gave their lives
to work in much worse surroundings
and he’d do well to get over it
to thank his blessings
and get back to work

Inspired by Poetry on Wednesday prompt 22
The only peace that can be found is in the smallest room in the house

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rock and Roll in NZ

I’ve been hearing from colleagues (higher ed folks and poets) about the 6.3 magnitude earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand's second biggest city. Sadly, this most recent earthquake (there was a whopper last September) hit during the middle of the day, causing plenty of damage, injury and loss of life.

I haven’t heard of any fatalities or major injuries within my circle but the news is still flowing in. Along with the rest of the world, our thoughts, hearts and prayers are with those people in Christchurch - especially those people still trapped in buildings and those waiting for updates about their loved ones.

For those wondering how they can help, the International Red Cross is always a good bet at We helped with Haiti and will help with this one.

If their poets and sports teams are any indication, New Zealanders are a resilient lot and they will come out of this tragic situation with courage and grace.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Failed Entombments

There’s a grim finality
to having your body
lowered into the ground
but failed entombments
happen sometimes
and when they do
they make for high drama

When the Chilean miners
facing depths of their own despair
defied death and rose
from their underworld graves
we found ourselves cheering
for their girlfriends and wives

and when Yeshua Ben Yosef
rolled the stone away
from his pre-ordained crypt
it gave us the plot twist
all new faiths require

Nothing says surprise finish
quite like reversing a death
we thought was foregone
when we feel the power
of that first grateful breath
and accept the odd gift
of a rare second chance

inspired by POW Prompt 21 with the full knowledge that this one will be all over the map.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Writer's Road Trip

Just returned from the South Coast Writers Conference in Gold Beach, Oregon. Met lots of memorable writers and characters, and came away with two notepads filled with ideas and possibilities. One of the highlights: meeting Naseem Rakha, author of The Crying Tree, and discussing the ways she makes her readers swoon. The pen (and word processor) are well rested and ready to resume...

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Echoes of James Dean

The way you moved still hums

The lines you delivered still echo

Your dreams were ours, magnified

Thanks for helping me get teen anger

After a film festival in your honor, wow

Tears for your death pre-dated my time

But for a few seconds, who knows what might have been?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

A New Day on the Nile

When the price of wheat
is only the beginning

when a hungry girl finds strength
to raise her fist

when the boy leading his donkey
says enough

when grandmothers reject the fear
they’ve endured

when horses slow their pace
while entering crowds

when uniforms on clotheslines
stay un-ironed

when the harmony of sisters
blend as one

when a kiss gives thanks
for restraint

when every prayer
for every god is heard

when the sun comes up
and everything has changed

these things will mark
a new day on the Nile

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Oh Hide Those Hills of Snow

April, hide your hills of snow
they’re bursting from your frock

The customers who frequent here
quite often stare in shock

We’re here to serve mint lattes
not to bend and pout and wink

Forget how tips grow bigger
when your customers see pink

Inspired by POW prompt 19 from Shakespeare’s Measure for Measure, Act 4 Scene 1.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Goose at Counting Zeros

I was never swayed by numbers.
our mutual rejection drove me straight
to the arms of letters, who embraced me
after no more than that first glance

I saw numbers make classmates cringe
especially the negative ones
while letters yearned to live together
performing acts of creation
forming words, then sentences
then stories that made me smile

As a young athlete, some numbers made us
weep and slam locker doors
while letters formed the language of learning
and winning when it was due
We earned and wore ours with pride
and yeah, they got us the girls

Numbers told the cost
for rites of passage in a world
filled with cannibalism and greed
and when we got the bill and learned
how even the sacred can be counted
our burdens got heavier

When we added letters after our names
in hopes of changing the world
it made for a magical passage
through new doors they caused to open

In the smelly, dusty marketplace
numbers made some people whores
desperate to steal from neighbors
sell flour sacks filled with stones
dance like exploited chimps

Too many numbers betrayed
grandmothers in mournful stories
of working at the drive-up window
discarding their dreams
slinging freedom fries

Being a goose at counting zeros
hasn’t left me lacking
I’ve seen numbers corrupt others
while letters save the world
and having felt the difference
I never had to choose

Inspired by POW prompt 18, what are you a goose at?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Our Own Paradise

When I won the sperm lottery
privilege was mine
that was my car pool, the front of the line

They taught me football
piano and drums
some taught their daughters to primp and to come

None of this was real
but yet it all was
none of this was real
we had no way of knowing

Everything held together
in a pause within the sea
held in the sweet coastal heat between you and me

We had been given
our own paradise
nobody warned us of the pain or the price

None of this was real
but yet it all was
none of this was real
so why didn’t you tell me?

Shouldn’t we ask for more than this?
Haven’t we already got more than we need?

Shouldn't we have asked for more
any more
any more than this?

Maybe cool shade trees
sorghum sweeps
and a little happiness?

Provoked by Rallentanda’s Poetry On Wednesday #17 prompt of Clean Straw for Nothing by George Johnston.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

All I Know

I endured underwater
for a hundred million years
under a shimmering inland sea
then tectonic might enough
to birth sapphires and raise high peaks

My leonine people grew strong
repelling plagues of criss-crossing crusaders
Darius and Alex
Ghaznavids, Mongols
Timurids, Persians
all learned how every foot of ground
is like a well of steel

I’ve endured the most recent lot
Brits, Pakistanis, Russians, Talibs
and Americans with their idols
porn, iPods, fast food, drones
and have to wonder
don't their leaders learn?

So as you look ahead to leaving
and there is no doubt you’re leaving
just remember
endurance is all I know

[Inspired by Poetry on Wednesday prompt #16, Endurance. I missed you all and look forward to resuming relations with this esteemed group.]

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Only Stones

It’s impossible to imagine
the time and pressure needed
to create these smooth
round stones

More patience than I have

More pressure than I’ll ever know

Sure, they’re only stones
but they’re impressive
and they inspire me

Sunday, January 2, 2011


The final grain of sand
clings to the smooth shoulder
of the hourglass
as if to halt time
or to make it beg

Lately that’s how life feels

It takes courage to defy gravity
but a grain of sand perched alone
can’t feel the power of community
or the velocity of a stone

Saturday, January 1, 2011

How My Year Began

My year began with water
gentle mists soaking green tufts of moss
rising streams taunt but never threaten
clouds who say because I can
birthing small agnostic rainbows

My year got better with a visit
from the fat squirrel couple
still pretending that they’re dating
she still laughs at all his jokes

Had I read the news
it might’ve caused a dismal start
so I set aside the papers
longed for news inspired by dreams

We’re asked to pause this day
feel the pull of our reflections
not the kind that killed Narcissus
but the kind that give us hope

Could this be the one day
when I cast away chimera?
Start the year by understanding
I’ve more power than I know