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Monday, December 7, 2009

How a Poem Takes Me by Surprise

I've been doing 100 days of twitter-poems on my poetry blog, since December first. It's a great way to keep my creativity flowing, and my mind on poetic possibilities, while disciplining myself to write creatively every day.

We had some news this week that shook my family, and challenged our faith. My new sister-in-law, Julie, is pregnant with my baby brother's first child. She learned Thursday that she has a tumor that will require surgery to remove part of her jaw and many of her teeth. They will reconstruct with hip bone. This is doubly scary knowing the threats such a surgery could pose for the tiny baby she carries in her womb. She is being advised not to delay the surgery until the baby is born in May, because of the risk of very aggressive cancer.

With these thoughts in the back of my head, I set out to spend Saturday afternoon with Larry. As we drove about town, several images, and sensory experiences caught my attention, so I jotted them down on a scrap of paper in my purse. If you'll indulge me, and keep reading, I'd like to share some of them with you, and how they came together as a very short, very powerful poem. (At least it feels very powerful for me.)

Larry shot a U-turn on 51st street about four o'clock Saturday, and across the street, an apartment complex caught my eye. The walls were pale yellow, and because of the angle of the sun, two bare trees were silhouetted against the walls. It was a striking image. I found it difficult to discern where the tree ended and the shadows began. I jotted down the phrase, "tree shadows climbing walls."

As we turned the corner and headed to pick up some things at Hobby Lobby, I heard Rod Stewart on the radio, singing "Wake up Maggie, there's something I'm trying to say to you..." I imagined a sleepy headed girl, and wrote down the phrase, "Maggie sleeps on the radio."

After lunch we decided to go to a movie, and were moved and inspired by "Blindside." On the way home, I had a voice mail from Mama in which she repeated a conversation about the many miracles our family has experienced in my lifetime. I had a sudden urge to go home, and sit at Mama's table. I jotted down the words, "I believe in miracles."

At home, things started coming together, and as I played with phrases and counted characters, the image of a tiny girl asleep on the radio reminded me of first "the Littles" and then "Gulliver's Travels." I recalled that earlier in the day a friend had mentioned Gulliver, and the image of a huge man tied to the ground had tucked itself away in my head for later.

What follows is the poem that I posted just before I packed a bag and headed up the highway to Mama's house, for the rest of the weekend. It was good to be home and bear the weight of hoping for miracles and answers with those I love.


Day 5

tree shadows climb walls
as Maggie sleeps on the radio
I’m a Lilliputian believer
in miracles and Gulliver



Even when it seems like the whole world just keeps going in spite of the darkness that's falling around me... though I feel very small, I believe in hope. I believe in miracles. I believe in something bigger than I can even imagine, a giant, Gulliver-sized answer from a God who loves.

I hope this poem encourages you to write, to create, to play with words, and to believe. There is much to believe in.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

One Hundred Tiny Poems

As I was finishing up the Poetic Asides NOVPAD challenge, and tweeting about it on Twitter, I discovered a new challenge. "London Word Festival presents: One Hundred Days To Make Me A Better Person. ONE thing done ONCE each day for ONE hundred days."

I realize after my consistency (or lack thereof) with the NOVPAD challenge, one hundred days will be a stretch. Writing pulls creativity, and lately my energy has been lacking. But I also recently discovered a little thing called a twit-poem. (search #twitpoem on Twitter)

140 characters, including spaces, in which to wrap a bit of poetic beauty or humor. I can do this. So, if you're interested in 100 days of me bettering myself through four poetic lines, check out my poetry via the link above, or follow me on Twitter. @TaunaLen

Monday, October 5, 2009


They sit in a circle, in the middle of my living room, a motley crew of people, all smiling at me with strained looks on their faces. It isn’t my birthday, and nobody yells “Surprise,” so I’m not really sure what to make of it. I stand there in the doorway for a second, while nobody speaks. They just stare at each other, waiting for someone to say something.

There is an empty spot on the loveseat, so I make my way to it, silence as thick as mud around me. My footsteps shuffle on the parquet floor, and as I sit, the cushion makes that strange whooshing sound that only happens when there is no other noise in the room to drown it out.

I turn toward my husband, and arch an eyebrow at him; but it is my youngest daughter sitting on my left side, who speaks up. “So, you’re probably wondering why we’re all here, Mom.” She laughs, a little too loudly and busses me on the cheek. “It’s just that we love you, Mom… and we’re worried about you… all of us.” I glance around the room, at the faces staring back at me, wondering what in the world she is talking about.

My mother sits in a straight-backed dining chair, near the fireplace. She isn’t frowning, but she isn’t smiling. She has that look like she has an opinion, but it isn’t her place to speak up… yet. I recognize it from times past, when one of us kids would argue with our spouse in her kitchen, or at the dinner table. I know she’s thinking something, but she’s holding her peace.

My dad is here, looking uncomfortable, and probably wishing he were at home, in his recliner. Across the room from them sit my two girlfriends… the longest standing, still active members of my writer’s group, and next to them is my high-school English teacher, Mrs. Lea. What? I thought she died years ago, but here she is, sitting in my living room. She just smiles at me, and says nothing.

My older daughter and son are looking expectantly at the younger one, waiting for her to finish, so, I turn back to her, and nod. “Um… yeah, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Can you enlighten me, please?” She opens her mouth to respond then abruptly closes it, tears springing to her eyes. With a pleading look, she begs her father to come to her rescue. He does, taking my hand and starting to speak.

“I’ve been concerned since you ordered your sixth dictionary or thesaurus or whatever in the past year and had it delivered by UPS. I mean… how many reference books do you need? Your choices are starting to wreak havoc in our bank account and honestly, between the letter magnets on the fridge, the white boards covered in multi-colored post-it notes and the magnetic poetry word stones… I’m seeing a pattern emerge, and I think you’re addicted, Honey.”

My youngest daughter chimes in, picking up the thread again. “I used to love playing Scrabble and doing crosswords with you, but now it’s just…. impossible.” It’s the quietest I ever remember her voice being.

My mouth falls open, I am speechless, and in shock. Looking around at the circle of faces, I can see that nobody is surprised; in fact, everyone looks as though my family is accusing me of stashing methamphetamines in my underwear drawer---and they believe it.

Beside my husband, my oldest daughter takes her turn. “You’ve been posting a word of the day on Facebook for more than six months. Six months, Mom! Day in and day out… doesn’t that sound like a problem to you? Every time I login, I have to see that, and worry about you.”

Across the room, Mrs. Lea clears her throat and speaks up in her quiet voice. “I feel responsible, in part. Though you know, my dear, you should really face this like an adult and take responsibility for yourself. I realize I encouraged you back in high school. You showed such promise, and I was sure your curiosity was healthy---indicated that you had a future. I just didn’t ever expect it to go this far.” She purses her lips and nods to herself while I sit here feeling like I’ve lost my mind.

My quiet, soft-spoken son speaks next, and his eyes glittered with tears. “I found a stack of notebooks in your closet, Mom, all of them full of pages and pages of words… so many words… I just can’t believe it.” His voice cracks and he looks away, overcome with emotion.

Next, it’s Mama’s turn. Her commanding voice carries across the room and I feel it deep down in the pit of my stomach, like when she used to call me in from the playroom, using first, middle and last name. I knew she was serious then. Now she coughs and begins with “Well.” I turn my eyes toward her, a look of incredulity on my face. “Perhaps I should have made you play outside more… not given you books so soon,” she says. “I was just so thrilled when you began reading at such an early age; but didn’t I always teach you to respect words, TaunaLen? Didn’t I model balance and moderation?” She shakes her head sadly and sighs, while a little part of me wilts inside.

I glance across the room at my girlfriends Lynn and Lisa, hoping that they, if no others, will help me out. After all, they’ve been meeting with me every Monday night for nearly two years… writing, discussing words, stories, the aspirations and dreams of writers. If anyone gets it, they do. Lynn keeps her head down, her mouth closed. Lisa looks at me, sheepishly. “I know; but I’m getting help, too… we both are. She looks to Lynn, then back to me. “…and this is about you… this is your intervention; but we’ll be there with you, to get you through. We’ll do this together.”
Finally, my eyes fall on my father’s face, searching for something, anything to get me out of this nightmare. He has the same, uncomfortable expression, and I just can’t bring myself to draw him into the insanity. Instead, I sit staring at all of them like they’ve been replaced by alien life forms. The clock on the mantle ticks in the silence, and after what seems like an eternity, I look up at it. The face reads, 11:11 a.m. I giggle and repeat to myself a phrase my kids used to say on just such occasions. “It’s eleven-eleven, make a wish.”

I squeeze my eyes closed, breathe deeply, and whisper. “Please, get me out of this rabbit hole, and back to reality.” Counting to ten, I open my eyes, and I’m alone in my library, sitting in front of a blank page on the computer screen. Sunlight streams through the window, and steam rises from my cup of tea. The reality of a thousand words, waiting to spill out on the page has never looked so good.


prompted writing from www.writingfix.com. A cup of Words Writer's Group, 10/5/09

Monday, September 28, 2009

Playing with My Words

(Click to enlarge.)

Word Cloud generated from www.taunalen.com.

Make your own with the Wordle Application at www.wordle.net.

Monday Wash Day, Tuesday Ironing, Wednesday Sewing...

In the past few weeks life is beginning to return to normal, and I'm thinking more about what to write on my blog. Searching through one of my actual pen-and-paper journals, I found a page I'd tucked into the back cover that Mama gave me a few weeks ago. She told me she'd been inspired to write about the changes that sneak up on you as life progresses, and after reading, I got her permission to post it here.

So, today, Mama is a guest blogger, and here's a journey into her mind. I hope you enjoy.


I have spent the last forty-two years, trying to keep my house clean. I did a load of laundry every day, and two on Saturday. I washed two loads of dishes every day. There was dusting to do three times a week, the floor to sweep & mop every day, bed linen to change twice a week, trash bags to be taken out twice a day, and then deep cleaning at least once a week. You see, I had anywhere from one to four of my children in my home for all of those forty-two years.

Today, I do a load of laundry every four days, one load of dishes every other day, sweep & mop every other day, because there is very little traffic in my home. I dust once a week. I still change the bed linen twice a week, but instead of four or five bets to change, now there are only two. The trash fills up about once every other day, and the deep cleaning needs to be done once a month. As you can guess, my children have grown up and left home to start their own families and clean their own homes.

But as happy as I am that we ahve raised four children to be happy, successful, thriving adults with thirteen wonderful children (my grandchildren) and one more due any day now, and one grandson (my great-grandson), I sometimes wish they would come by more often to make a messy home again.

A parent's goal is to have their children grow up, find their special mate, build their home & family, and live a productive life. But oh, how we miss the busy, chaotic life of all our little chicks under our roof.

Of course, one of more of my "babies" is here almost every day, but gone are the days of a busy, active family, days of scheduling everything around school, extra-curricular activities, part-time jobs, and homework.

Would I want them back here on a permanent basis, absolutely not!! They are living their own lives exactly the way they should. Plus, I am older now, and probably too tired to do all that cleaning every day. But, now and then, I get a little nostalgic, and wish it could be the way it was before, even if just for a short while.

Even so, looking back, I am so aware of what a blessed life we have lived and are still living. Thank you Lord.

for more from and about Mama, check out these links: She Heard It On the Cash Cab, Forty Years Ago Today, and I'm a Word Hunter.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh Autumn, Where Art Thou? -- A Re-post

Oh Happy Day! It's the first calendar day of autumn. Now I know that can mean any number of things, depending on where you live. Here in Oklahoma, it will likely still be summer-hot and humid today, or summer-rainy and humid. I long for temperatures in the fifties and sixties, and will probably work up a good sweat in the eighties, instead. But, the calendar says it's autumn, and I'm in the mood to celebrate. Things are still hectic at my house, new job, new schedule, new excuses for not writing nearly as much as I'd like. I think a re-post is in order... so here's one from October, 2005 -- just because I can't wait for cooler temperatures. Happy beginning of Autumn (or Indian summer in Oklahoma). I hope you enjoy.


He’s coming. I can feel it.

I have had a life-long love affair with Autumn.

As September draws to a close, the temperatures begin to tease me. The still warm days are occasionally interrupted by a cool breeze, or a chilly evening, --- The problem is that it never lasts long. Just when I think I might throw open the windows and air out the house…the thermometer creeps up over eighty degrees, and summer lingers.

And though summer hangs around rather longer than she is welcome, I know her days are numbered. Eventually she will have to sleep, and then Autumn will finally blow in on the breeze.

He will bring me mementos --- all the sights and smells of fall. Wet leaves, logs burning, the scent of rain on the air, hay-rides, county fairs, pumpkins, apple pies, squash and high-school football. He whispers on the wind, and in my ears I hear… “Look, I’ve set the horizon on fire with red and orange, brown and gold. There’s a chill in the air, let’s go for a walk."

What is it about the crunch of leaves beneath my feet that makes me feel as though everything is absolutely beautiful?

So I linger in the evenings and watch the sunset. I shiver slightly, and pull on a sweater as the stars turn on their lights, one-by-one. I listen to the sounds of fall, and already, it is a bittersweet moment.

Because I know…

Autumn never stays long in Oklahoma. He floats in on a breeze, plays with my hair, and my heart… He whispers to me of steaming bowls of stew and chili, happy family gatherings and holidays…I almost believe he’s going to stay a while… but in little more than a week he has left me again.

The color fades.

The temperature falls.

Winter begins to announce his arrival, and dear, sweet Autumn slips away when I’m not looking….

And still, I love him.

Friday, September 4, 2009

My Mommy You'll Be...

In honor of my 42nd birthday, my youngest daughter, Jericho is guest blogging for me today. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did.



“I’ll love you forever,
I’ll like you for always,
As long as I’m living,
My Mommy you’ll be…”

As a young girl, I remember a book I’d always ask my mother to read me. It’s about a young boy growing into a man, and throughout his years, his mother would come into his room, crawl across the floor, and peek over the edge of his bed. If he was really asleep she’d pick him up, no matter his age, and rock him, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, as he slept. She’d always sing this song, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

As he gets older, moves away from home, and has children of his own, she never ceases. “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” However, my favorite part is the day she calls him and asks him to come over. He walks through the door and she starts to sing, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always…” But she can’t finish, so her son picks her up, sings, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my mommy you’ll be.”

Afterward, the son drives home, and stands at the top of the stairs for a long time. He then opens up the door to his newborn baby girl’s nursery, picks her up and sings, “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.”

(Read the book online: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.)

“I’ll love you forever…”

My mommy turns forty-two today, which is twenty years older than my sister, and twenty years younger than my grandmother. I’m currently nineteen, and when she was my age, my mother learned she was pregnant with my sister Sarah and her twin Amber. I don’t know how I could have handled the news. I would have had to give up my dreams, as an aspiring film director. She was an aspiring writer. For almost twenty years, my mother put her life and dreams on hold to raise three beautiful babies (if I may say so myself) my sister, Sarah, my brother, Jotham, and me, Jericho. Not only did she raise the three of us, she also helped raise my step-brother, Tyler, and my step-sister, Tiffany as well. Yet, her amazing abilities didn’t begin there. A year older than I am now, she lost one of her twins, Amber. Again, I can’t even begin to fathom, losing a baby girl at my age. Yet, she remained strong. She put her life into mine and my siblings', and she raised us extremely well. For that, mommy, I’ll love you forever.

“I’ll like you for always…”

When my mother was young, she was of course a special child. My grandma tells me of times when she was younger, my mother refused to go anywhere without a hat. Whenever she couldn’t find a hat, in what I’m sure was a mess of her room, my mother would grab her sand pail and wear it atop her head. No matter what my grandma said, Mom would refuse to take it off. Before long, of course, my grandmother would just let her travel around in her sand pail.

This is just one of a few things I’ve inherited from her. Like me, when she was younger, opening Christmas or Birthday presents, with a bow, my mother would take them & stick them on her head.

“As long as I’m living…”

My mother is probably the smartest person I know. Currently if she really wanted to, my mother could be a MENSA card carrier. When she was younger, my grandmother got a call from my mother’s teacher. Mom was a bright, exceptional child, well above the rest of her class. There was a day the teacher gave her two pieces of paper with homework on the front and back. My mother threw them away. The next day, he gave her more, two pieces of paper, double sided with homework. This time, my mother took them glued them together and filled out only one side of each.

Several years later, my sister recalls her elementary school informing her that she had been accepted into the Gifted & Talented Program. Not knowing what it was she told my mother, who of course was ecstatic. In the years following, my brother and I also were accepted, which of course caused my mother to beam with pride.

“My mommy you’ll be...”

I cannot think of anything more I’d like to say to my mother than, I love you. Happy Birthday Mommy.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stopping Time - A Repost from 2008

My family is still dealing with the trauma that nearly took the lives of my sister and niece, and one of her little friends. Life is slowly returning to normal -- as normal as court hearings and police interviews and nightmares can be. It will be a long road, and I know any positive thoughts, prayers and good wishes will be appreciated.

Meantime, I've decided to post another old entry. In the spring of 2008, I wrote about my Treasure Box. Here's one of the pieces that came of that exercise. I hope you enjoy it.


Monday, May 19, 2008
Stopping Time

As I continue to sift through my treasure box, I hope to write about some of the things hidden there. The following is an example:


What is it about a stopped pocket watch, a wristwatch with a dead battery, or a grandfather clock in a dark hallway, covered in inch-thick dust?

I have an affinity for time-pieces, a room in my house where the walls are covered by bookshelves and clocks—pendulums swinging, soft ticking echoing off of the ceiling and sliding down the walls to the hardwood floor. I like that time is measured, meted out…that if I’m waiting for something to happen, there is a moment, when it will, and when the preceding moments are counted down, that split-second of realization will arrive. That thought helps me be a bit more patient, to hope knowing the moment isn’t always somewhere out there in the future…it must get closer, it must finally arrive. So, the whole working, ticking, functioning timepieces thing makes sense to me.

Then there are the broken watches, the dead battery timepieces in my treasure box. What do they represent? I think maybe they are mementos of history. Moments past, marking a lifetime, mine, or someone else’s, when something significant happened. Those moments when everything changed. Or when time was frozen, as by a photograph. I think a wristwatch that is forever stopped at 1:37 may be a reminder of the very moment when someone said “I love you”, or the devastating news was delivered to the one whose heart would be forever broken. There’s significance in these frozen hour and minute hands, even that second hand that is normally in perpetual motion, is beautiful stopped on that tiny second line between the nine and the ten on that tarnished silver wrist watch.

I am, I guess, a lover of minutes. All of them. They are the things that make up a life, a relationship, a memory. I guess the moments past are as important to me, as the ones yet to come…those seconds of “appointed time” that I am waiting to see come to pass. I am a child of time, and cannot imagine timelessness. I need these markers, to tell me where I’ve been, and where I’m going.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Branches On My Tree - Repost from 2007

This weekend has been traumatic for my family, and though everyone is fine, I'm exhausted. I'm doing the family thing, and will hopefully be back to writing later in the week. In the meantime, here's a post from two years ago. I hope you enjoy it, and hug your family members close, hold them a little longer. You never know.



Friday, October 19, 2007
Branches on My Tree

Some of you may remember in my list of 8 Random Topics about Me preliminary post, that I listed the fact that I am the oldest child of three.

Actually, I’m the oldest of five, if you count the two sisters my mother didn’t give birth to---the two siblings who didn’t share my childhood.

It’s a strange thing, to have sisters who didn’t grow up in my home but are still a piece of my family. I grew up with three parents who were always a part of my childhood. We never said “step-sister” or “half-brother”. So, instead of a mom, dad and step-dad, I had one mother and two fathers, and I was very happy in spite of the divorce that came when I was nine. It was hard on my sister and me. But we adapted. And we were loved.

It wasn’t long before my second dad came along and married my mom. Soon after my little brother, Derek was born. But before Derek, my other dad brought us a sister, Angela. She only came on weekends, but she was just the cutest thing, and the three of us had so much fun. After a while, she stopped coming. We really missed her. A few years after Derek was born, my first dad remarried and had a baby girl, Natasha – the cutest little baby I’d ever seen. I was a teenager, and I loved babysitting for this beautiful, dark haired child.

So, I am the oldest of five.

My brother Derek, who will be thirty, next year, talks with me often about the wonder he finds in our family tree---the people who came before us with dark, thick hair, or freckles, or high foreheads, and how he can see them in himself, his sisters, and our children. How his love for the woods and the water must be a genetic predisposition, passed from a great-great-great-grandfather who spent his life among the trees, listening to the voice of the wind in the branches.

Derek is eleven years younger than I am. When he was very small, he started calling me Bubba. It’s an unusual nickname, borrowed from a little friend of his who used it for her older brother. Though he’s been six-foot-something for nearly fifteen years, he’s always been my little brother, It’s odd, now, to look at him and see a man who’s not only “full-growed”, but whose face is painted by the life he’s lived.

Derek is a man who stands for something, no matter the cost. He believes in love even as his heart is healing. He can make you laugh in about three seconds, and sing a song that would cut right through your soul. He’s a loyal friend, and someone I’m better for knowing. And even now, when the phone rings, and I hear, “Hey, Bubba, I love you.” I’m the happiest big sister alive.

Before Derek came along, there was always my little sister. Alissa is three years younger than I am, but I can’t remember a time when she wasn’t my playmate. We used to dump all of our toys out and scatter them about our tiny bedroom. Sitting in the empty toy box, we’d sail away on a ship to Africa, or drive a bus to school. We could make believe like no other kids we knew. Summer afternoons were spent at Mimi and Grandpa’s house playing outside with all the neighborhood kids. We’d put together a talent show and rehearse for hours. As twilight would fall, we’d drag the adults out onto the lawn and perform in the front porch spotlight. We were such a hit!

For my sister and me, things were always a competition. We argued over chores and the television. I remember throwing a peanut-butter sandwich at her in the heat of the moment, and a plastic dinner plate on another occasion. Somehow as we grew older, our friendship became more and more of a rivalry. I wasn’t thrilled when she joined the choir after me, or when she got a job at the Sonic where I worked. She didn’t like it when everyone called her my sister.

When I got married and started having kids, and Alissa soon did the same, we quickly realized how amazing it was to have each other as friends. My sister never met a stranger. She’s the kindest, most generous person I know. She’s an amazing mom and wife, and when her husband did a tour of duty in Afghanistan, I watched her hold everything together, manage the household, her job, and their finances, while sleeping alone every night in their bed, and praying every day he’d come home safely. Watching her through all of that, I knew---she was my hero.

Looking back, I still sometimes feel like the oldest child of three, and I often wonder what I missed out on with Angela and Natasha. As an adult, I’ve had the chance to get to know Natasha better. She’s a really beautiful and fun person. And though I don’t know Angela that well, I wish we’d all had the chance to share toy box adventures, and long conversations walking home from school together.

Childhood passes too quickly, and a kid can never have too many siblings to share it with.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

She Heard it on the Cash Cab

Sometimes a topic for a blog post comes on the morning news, or from a book I just read, a movie I just saw, or a conversation I had in the checkout line at Wal-Mart. I can’t count how many times though, that a subject has come to me via the ringing of the telephone.

Mama called this morning.

Mama is a thinker and a language lover. She loves to call me and report on the latest grammatically incorrect roadside sign, or some mispronunciation she just overheard in the truck stop restaurant. She wonders what cows say to each other, and how places come to be named Toad Suck, Arkansas, or Bucksnort, Tennessee. She’s an idea person, and I love her for giving me so much blog fodder over the years.

This morning she called me and said, “I knew you’d want to hear my important news. Y’all have thought… (Mama’s from Texas, and she has a license to use the word Y’all, it hangs on the wall in her laundry room.) “Y’all have thought I was crazy all these years, but I’m not. I have proof.”

You see, among the myriad of conversation topics Mama and I enjoy, one is her interesting, and sometimes peculiar way of looking at things. For instance, Mama subconsciously counts her steps when she’s working on some mindless project, like carrying in several bags of groceries or folding the laundry. Mama and Daddy travel a lot, and she says she catches herself lying in bed in the hotel rooms, counting the ceiling tiles; and when it comes to the volume on the radio in her van, or on the television, she likes to make sure it stops on a multiple of five, like thirty. “If thirty is too loud,” she says, “I will bump it down to twenty-nine, but I don’t like to.”

I remember sitting at Mama’s table over coffee recently, discussing the fact that she has always assigned gender to numbers. Mama sees numbers in male and female, and has since she was a very young child. You see, in Mama’s mind, even numbers are decidedly female, especially 2, 4 and 8. The number 6 is usually female, though she clarifies that 6 is rather tall and athletic, maybe a bit of a tomboy. Conversely, the odd numbers 5, 7 and 9 are male, Mama says. The number 3 she’s not certain about---perhaps he’s gay, or another one of those tomboy types. That covers the numerals 2 through 9, and as for the 0 and the 1, Mama says they are each genderless, though she’s not sure why.

So, I’m sitting at my computer this morning, browsing my blog roll, and wondering what to write about when Mama calls to prove to me that she’s not insane. “I was listening to the Cash Cab on the television this morning, and I heard it. The question was about the theory that numbers have gender. So I looked it up on the computer…” (That’s Mama’s way of saying she googled.) “…and it’s called the Pythagoras Theory.”

Pythagoras said that even numbers were male and odd numbers were female. That’s not exactly the way Mama sees it, but if you’re assigning gender to numbers, like a sixth century CE Greek philosopher, that has to prove something, doesn’t it? Even more interesting, says Mama, is the idea that
The number 1 was godlike to Pythagoreans, and the number 0 did not exist – so neither is assigned gender, further confirmation that she has not lost her marbles.

I have to tell you, I’m relieved that Mama called, and not just because I needed a blog topic today. You see, last weekend my husband and three adult kids, and I were making a road trip. My oldest daughter Sarah was in the middle of the back seat, when she saw me adjusting the volume on the radio dial. I stopped on 45---because volume adjustment is governed by the unspoken “multiples of five” rule. Immediately Sarah called to me over my shoulder. “Um Mom, it has to stop on an even number!” Because I love my children, I sacrificed, and dropped the dial back down to 44, but I will tell you, it bothered me for a while. Before long, I kicked it to 50, and everyone was happy.

So, if Mama’s numeric gender assignments are the sort of thing that makes a Greek theorist like Pythagoras a genius, then I can assume that my peculiarities with numbers are just evidence of my own dizzying IQ.

In conclusion, neither Mama nor I is crazy.
She heard it on the Cash Cab!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Happy Birthday Julia Child!

If I’d known earlier, I might have baked one of the few cakes I make completely from scratch.

Seven sticks of butter…Julia, would be so proud!

You know, I’m not big on spending hours in the kitchen---playing with recipes and discovering new techniques---but I did go out with my girlfriends last night and see Julie & Julia. What a wonderful film! It was ‘based on two stories’. The first of course, is the wonderful love story between Julia and her husband Paul, and how Julia learned to cook. (Wow, what an understatement!) The second story is about a woman named---you guessed it---Julie Powell. She’s a writer, a blogger, and evidently, a very good cook as well. Though I’ve never tasted her cooking, I’ve seen her blog, just this morning, and she’s witty and clever, and real.

So, I watched this great story unfold on the screen last night, and there were many things that spoke to me. Julia was an awkward, larger-than-life woman, more than six feet tall, and millions of people loved her in her lifetime---still do, five years after her death. (She died August 12, 2004, just three days shy of her 92nd birthday.) Yet, what struck me most was the way her husband Paul loved her. There are letters he wrote to his twin brother; and from these letters, we see a man who adored Julia, laughed with her at her quirks, and encouraged her to do what she loved, though the task seemed daunting. The movie was so good, I’m borrowing the related books from my library, and probably ordering my own copies soon after.

I laughed so hard watching this film, especially when Paul wrote to his brother about Julia’s shocking exclamation about hot cannelloni she’d just plucked from boiling water. I won’t spoil it for you, but let me just say, the closing scene made me cry. If you love food, or writing, or both, you must see it. Upon exiting the theater, the girls and I headed to the Starbucks at Barnes & Noble and I bought a lemon baby bundt cake to bring home and share with my husband. I only ate a few bites, but it was delicious. It reminded me of my Mimi’s lemon pound cake.

We recently had a family reunion and to cover costs for food and such, we auctioned items we’d made or inherited from Mimi and Grandpa. When I was young, Mimi hand wrote a handful of her favorite recipes on index cards and gave them to me, and each of the granddaughters to follow. Therefore, in preparation for this reunion, I scanned those cards and created a digital scrapbook, with the recipe cards slipped under bits of digital-ribbon and old photos and the text of the recipes on facing pages. Scattered throughout the book are five, short pieces about my childhood memories of Mimi, one of which I wrote the day she died, and read at her funeral. Mimi passed away in April of 2008. The book is something I’m very proud of, and it was a big hit at the auction.

I’m thinking I want to dig out Mimi’s Lemon Pound Cake recipe, and adapt it for mini bundt cakes. That means a trip to Wal-Mart. I hope they carry the right pans. I’m inspired to set the world right for at least a few minutes, baking in my kitchen with Julia and Mimi. Then while the aroma of warm lemon cake fills the air, maybe I’ll read a bit from “My Life in France.”

Friday, August 14, 2009

Chasing Ghosts - A Short Story

The yellow lines unfurled before Jeanette’s Impala like miles of ribbon in a summer breeze, but there was no breeze today. Sweat trickled down her neck, and soaked into her collar. The hot air pressed in through her windows tasting of dust and leaving her eyes gritty, her throat dry. “Damned air conditioner.” She muttered as she scanned the roadside for a gas station, or restaurant---somewhere to get in out of the heat.

Ahead she saw a neon coffee cup. Bold, blue letters spelled out ‘cafĂ©’. As she pulled off the road, gravel crunched beneath her tires and she slipped the car into park. Turning the key, she leaned back against the headrest, closed her eyes and replayed the conversation. “I just need to go, Michael. I can’t explain it. I mean yeah, things have been rough; and I honestly don’t know whether it’s worth fighting it out. The two of us are making each other miserable. But this trip isn’t about us…it isn’t about you.”

A blast of cool air hit her as she entered the quiet diner, her eyes adjusting to the shadows. The waitress behind the counter pulled a pen from her dish-water blonde hair and a pad from her apron. “Come on in out of the heat, and grab a seat anywhere you’d like, hun!” She followed Jeanette to the corner booth, her sneakers squeaking on the tile floor. “You look like you could use some iced tea. Sweet, or un-sweet?” Jeanette slid across the faded vinyl and nodded at the woman’s name tag. Linda. “Un-sweet, please. No lemon.” With a wink, Linda handed her the menu. “The blue-plate’s normally the best bet, except when Earl’s cookin’---which he is---and when Earl’s cookin’, you can’t go wrong with a cheeseburger.” Linda patted Jeanette’s arm, before turning. Jeanette smiled at the familiarity, and then turned to scrutinize her reflection in the window.

Standing in the bedroom doorway, Michael had stared the same way at her half-packed suitcase, asking, “Can you honestly say you’re not running from this, from me?” He’d sighed, annoyed when she didn’t answer. “You know we’ve got the counselor Tuesday?” Her response had been strained. “Michael, I don’t know. I just need time and space. I can’t breathe. There’s paranormal activity in Santa Rosa, and you know I’m on deadline. Call it a research trip.” She wiped her forehead with the flat of her hand, echoing his sigh. “I’ll be back soon, and we’ll reschedule counseling, okay?”

The clink of glass on the table brought Jeanette back to now. The waitress asked, “You decide on lunch?” Jeanette accepted the tea, and gulped from the glass. “That’s good.” After a second drink, she realized that Linda was waiting for her to order. “Oh! I’m sorry. I think I’ll go with the cheeseburger.” She was too exhausted to bother with the menu.

Linda arched an eyebrow leaning against the booth, “Looks like you’ve come a long way. What brings you to Amarillo?” Jeanette shrugged. “I’m headed to Santa Rosa, for research, writing about ghosts.” Linda brightened, settling into the seat across from her. “You know we’ve got ghosts in the Nat, uptown. She lowered her voice conspiratorially, though the diner was empty except for the two of them, and Earl. “I’ve seen them myself---a couple waltzing across that polished wooden dance floor all satin and sequins. Tommy Dorsey played the Nat, years ago.” She paused.

“And the cafe used to have a ghost. Not for a while now—but a pretty, little slip of a girl, no more than nineteen used to haunt the place. “Folks say she came in one night, put quarters in the jukebox, ordered a Coke, and ducked into the restroom. She just disappeared, never came back for that Coke. Shirley had the late night shift. She remembers the girl, because of the dandelion tattooed on her left thigh---you know, the white kind, with the seeds that look like umbrellas on the wind?

Nobody thought much of it until later. Old man Henderson drove by one night, and saw a girl at the jukebox. He called the owner and Sheriff Wallace, but by the time they came, the place was empty. Folks have spotted her at the counter sipping a Coke, and I’ve been here alone late, and heard the restroom door open and shut. Poor girl. Dunno why she chose this place, but seems to me, she was waiting for someone. I guess she decided life was short, and went on her way.”

Jeanette felt a chill, and took a deep breath. Linda frowned in concern, “You okay, hun?” When she didn’t respond, the waitress jumped to her feet. “Oh, listen to me---going on, while you’re starving for a good lunch.” Jeanette nodded vacantly. “I’m sorry… yeah, maybe food would help. I feel dizzy.”

As Linda headed for the kitchen, Jeanette raised the hem of her cotton skirt, tracing the outline of the tattoo on her right thigh. The dandelion was the exact mirror of Jackie’s tattoo, done on their eighteenth birthdays. The twin connection thing had always been true for them, like a sort of ESP. The night Jackie died, Jeanette had awakened screaming in her dorm, the sound of screeching tires echoing in her head. The news came hours later, but Jeanette already knew, she’d heard Jackie’s goodbye. Staring again at her reflection, she watched a tear trace its way down her cheek. After twenty years, Jackie was still sending her messages.

When Linda returned, she was surprised to find a gold band on the table, and a twenty-dollar bill. She stepped out into the bright August sunshine and shielded her eyes from the sun, watching the Impala disappear over the shimmering horizon. Trudging back into the dark diner, she sank into the empty booth, and took a bite from the cheeseburger. “Yep, I’d have to agree. Life is too short.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Kindred Spirits and Connoisseurs

I want this book.

I'm waiting until payday, hoping I'll remember to order it from Amazon.com's used book sellers, before all the paycheck is spent and I have to wait until I remember it again. Surely I'm not the only one who does this?

I read the above excerpt and think yes! This Tom Robbins is obviously someone who thinks like me. Look, there's proof, he keeps a green-labeled bottle of Anais Nin locked in the cupboard, and likens his writing to a juggling act. I get it! He gets it! I must own this book! (I must also seriously consider the possibility that I over-use the exclamation point.)

I had a similar reaction to Roy Blount Junior's Alphabet Juice: The Energies, Gists and Spirits of Letters, Words and Combinations Thereof: Their Roots, Bones, Innards, Piths, Pips and Secret Parts, Tinctures and Essences; With Examples of Their Usage, Foul and Savory.

Sure, the fact that I identify so readily with these two authors --- that my heart sings and celebrates their grasp of language, and the skill with which they make amusing playthings of words --- may simply prove that I'm a creative genius who is only one strong breeze away from falling completely off my rocker, but hey, it seems to work for them.

So, why not?

And if you think of it next Monday, please remind me to order my copy, before the paycheck runs out. I'll be forever grateful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Insult to Injury

gaping wound in me
invisible seeping blood
pain so constant seems
normal, easy to forget
this is the real reason
I have no more strength
why I cannot breathe
carrying it for so long
I don’t recall the blade
or hand, the original cut

I neglect to bandage it
no time to heal no caution
no protection in the storm
until one careless word
a strike that bites and cuts
I can’t even discern intent
awash in pain, defenseless
I curl, drenched in blood
can’t stem the flow how
can a heart bleed so much

will no one notice this
bleeding broken piece
of me spilling out?
must every one smile
and blink and nod
and keep walking past?
will you ask whether
you slipped and cut with
your sharp edged words
perhaps even apologize?

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Woke from a nightmare
Unable to find sleep
Staring back into the face
Of arrogant silent darkness

My heart pounds in my
Chest a hundred questions
Refusing to release me
Back to resting quiet peace

The tannic acid taste of
Fear fills my mouth like
Coppery pennies sucked
By a childish tongue, bitter

Can't shake this feeling of
Dread, of loss, of absence
abcess something missing
in myself, was it ever there?


I wrote this just after midnight, on my cell phone. Woke up with that irrational fear that attacks just after you've drifted to sleep and could swear that you're still awake, except for the feeling that something is coming at you through the mirror on the wall. Didn't go back to sleep for a couple of hours. I'm amazed it still reads in the light of day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Waiting for Rain

I sat on the porch last
night for an hour watching
the lightning chase itself
across the sky.

The sticky heat clung to
me like a bed sheet
the strong storm
creeping over the
horizon toward me.

Promising rain and
coolness it lingered
long before it ever
delivered too long
as a trickle of sweat
slithered down the
back of my knee.

I watched and waited,
and longed for you.

Occasionally a breeze
would tousle the tops
of the trees, and tease
the flag on the flagpole
but it would peter out
before reaching my skin
and I'd beg in a whisper
"Come on... rain!"

The wind grew stronger
tangling my hair against
my shoulder lifting the
heat from my skin
before letting it settle
again like a blanket.

On the edge of my chair
face toward the sky
I waited impatiently
for the first cooling drops.

As the first one struck
the ground at my feet
I stepped into the yard
raising my arms
to embrace you.

Faster, harder they fell
splashing against my
skin like kisses, on my
arms, neck, cheeks, eyes.

Open mouthed I caught
them on my tongue while
the wind whispered in my
ears, your voice, your words.

I stood this way until the rain
soaked through my clothes
and drenched my skin
damp hair clinging to me
the wind making me shiver
with your delicious touch.

I watched the clouds blow
slowly past, thunder rumbling
in the distance and whispered
a request to this wind and rain
to this storm on it's way to
where you are---please carry
messages of love from me.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Winter Sleep

coldness of silence
without a coat
wind gusting wildly
skin stinging icy red
with every breath
my chest cries out
in agonized protest

curled into a tight ball
I shiver, shudder wait
tempted to let winter
lull me to sleep, escape
trying to convince self
it is short term, temporary
soon the sun will come

aching for the drip, drip
thaw of springtime light
and the growing warmth
of morning when I hear
the voice of truth whisper
that the ice is gone and
winter just a nightmare

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Walking Wounded

life is having
his way with me
while I tend wounds
and pray for rest
this game is no fun
hands tied this way
behind my back

my world is spinning
out of my control
I am defeated by
not a full frontal
attack I can defend
a team of snipers
at every new turn
unexpected angles

life thrusts and parries
taunts me with laughter
I am weary to the bone
Tired of waiting for
the next advance

I have no strength
to lift or hold these
weapons any longer
as this legion tramples
me an army of one

I cannot breathe
or hear the sounds
of coming rescue
I have hoped will echo
rising over the hill
they may be too late

I face these demons
life has assigned me
on my own clinging
to the hope they will
at least leave me
to rise once again
after he’s had his fun

Monday, July 6, 2009

Table for One

the table was spread
a banquet for one
the finest of china
silver tableware
sparkling in reflected light
from great candelabra
and she took her seat
her bare throat cloaked
by the finest lace
the rustle of silk
echoing in the room
above the muted strains
Chopin’s Prelude in E minor

the fork and spoon like
weapons clenched in her hands
and the first bite tasted
of salty tears, bitter herbs
the fresh earthy scent
of slow walks in the rain
picnics shared on the grass
the neighborhood dog park
with the irritating yip-yip
of a Yorkshire terrier
peppered throughout

the sauce bore hints
of the first song
first dance, first night
in a darkened room
and the slam of the door
echoing through the night
when he finally left

a course of sorrow
both sweet and pungent
she washed it down
with tannic regret
an acidic dry merlot

the sun broke the clouds
made It’s journey
toward the horizon
of the waking world
splashed through the pane
and blanketed her lap
she drew a deep breath
and with it possibility
a spoonful of delight
filled her mouth and soul
enough hope to press on
and as she pushed herself
from the banquet table
stood to make her way out
into the bright morning
the tightly twisted knot
of hate began to unwind


a course of sorrow
a spoonful of delight
a knot of hate

New Angle

the world around me
wants to tilt and
coffee cups and keys
chairs and shoes
and ideas set in stone
want to slide off
their firm foundations
want to slip into a void
of confusing questions
darkness beyond black
I cannot ignore it now
this shaking up of
all I thought I knew
I cannot curl into myself
hide inside imagination
I need a rope a lifeline
someone’s hand to hold
someone who recognizes
a bit of me in their self
sees their self in me
while the world around me
shifts and sets it all awry


you can hold a breath
you can let it out slow
exhale, oh so slowly
you can well imagine
that you have control

you can fan yourself
scrap of folded paper
swishing to and fro
a flick of your wrist
an artificial breeze

you can stand atop
the highest hill
turn your face to
the driving storm
and beat your breast

you can open your throat
pull air into your lungs
and use it to power
your passionate cries
shouting your pain aloud

yet you cannot tame it
this wild, unruly stallion
you cannot break it
as it goes galloping
over the endless earth

better to surrender yourself
throw open all your curtains
unlock and raise your windows
spread wide your arms
let down your tangled hair

embrace the feral wind
and surrender your will
to it’s untamed fury
embrace its true nature
and you will surely fly


A Cup of Words (Monday, July 6, 2009)
Prompted by the following last line:

“For now she knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air you could ride it.” ~Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon (1977)

Friday, June 12, 2009


My Dear Pen,

My beloved vessel of ink --- life's blood and nourishment to my heart and soul.

I confess.

I've neglected you. I have not been following you. I have not even held you in the warmth of my palm. I've let the things of life crowd and choke me, tie my hands and keep me from writing real, honest, blood-letting, soul-washing, spilling of words onto a page with you.

I confess.

I've reached for other implements: a chewed, dull-tipped pencil, a scratchy, skipping bic, a sliver of sidewalk chalk. I've written, I've forced weeks worth of poetry, clever disjointed parts of fictional stories and scenes, and they have been the flavorless mush on which my disillusioned soul was fed.

I confess.

I've lied to myself and said that I am writing -- see, there's the proof. Words on a page, words that someone who didn't know me might read and smile upon, and even praise. I've written, half-heartedly, half-heatedly, lukewarm piles of phrases and bits of fluff.

I confess.

I've been afraid, my pen -- too cautious to trust you to lead me through the emotional upheaval in my own life, in my own heart. I've pretended that I didn't need to, didn't want to spill those words and try to make sense of their meaning. I didn't want to make them permanent, send them out into the universe. Even though they're private, locked away in my journal, writing them gives them substance, and means I have to answer to them.

I confess.

I did not trust you.

I repent.

Today, I will write. I will let those words and emotions, those hopes and fears, flood the flat, white landscape of this page, and know that as I cling to you, my trusted friend, the lifeline that will keep me from drowning will be the obsidian ink that flows from your body.

I believe in you.

And so, I begin.

Friday, May 15, 2009


An old poem from my journal, written on March 13th. The prompt was, in fact the number 13, and because my step-daughter's birthday is March 15th, the ides were on my mind. Here's the edited and polished version, for what it's worth.

thirteen March
and the days
march on
moving toward
the ides of
ancient history
toward infamy
betrayal of one
who believed
himself beloved

and you my friend
loved companion
will you conceal
your heinous intent
will you injure in
the coming hours?
I mark the calendar
pages as they turn
ever nearer the
ides of yore – do you?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Not All Those Who Wander are Lost

Found this entry in my journal from back in January. It fits exactly how I feel today:

Not All Those Who Wander Are Lost

There's a quote in one of the Lord of the Rings books, that I love. (google search produces:)

He used often to say there was only one Road; that it was like a great river: it's springs were at every doorstep and every path was it's tributary. "It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out of your door," he used to say. "You step into the Road, and if you don't keep your feet, there is no telling where you might be swept off to."
The Lord of the Rings
Frodo about his uncle Bilbo Baggins, Chapter 'Three is Company'.

I like the idea of not keeping your feet and being swept away. I suppose free writing is sort of like that. You step onto a path and follow the stream of words that fly from your pen, or your fingertips, and in the end, when the flow subsides, you find yourself in a place you didn't anticipate...if the free writing is really free, and you write for long enough. I'm energized by that sort of journey.

It's like dipping your bucket into a stream and filling it up, then upon tasting the liquid inside, you find it's the flavor you least expected, chocolate, or raspberry or honey lemon tea. There's a flood to be swum (is it swam?) and the best I can do is just dive in and ride the current.

I spent much of yesterday floundering about near the shore, and that caused me problems when I needed to write something specific...when I needed to be creative and work on projects that lie waiting for me to pick them up and continue. Today, I'm hopeful that I can find that channel that will carry me swiftly into a place where I've not been yet.

I want to wander in the midst of the river and find myself...not lost but found.

Some days, writing seems like a whirlpool, going in circles, and getting choked by debris. But then there are days when you can break free of that swirling, go-nowhere current, and just rush headlong in the direction of the rapids.

I long for that rush.

I think maybe the structure of a schedule is making me stutter, instead of trusting the flow of the water.

Today, I hope to abandon myself to that tide and see where I end up. I look forward to an interesting ride.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 30 - Farewell

farewell to the
twenty-nine odd
voice mail messages
the mountain of bills
growing on the
counter alongside
dishes from some
teenage apparition
evidence of their
nocturnal raiding
in back of the fridge

farewell to the
alarm droning every
morning in that
obnoxious tone
the snooze bar
teasing, eight more
minutes of respite
before the buzz
interrupts, demands
wakefulness now
mandatory attention

farewell to the
dandelions, crabgrass
creeping, climbing
backyard jungle
the syncopation
drip, drip, dripping
from the leaky
bathroom faucet
the protestation of
the squeaky hinge
on the cabinet door

farewell as I cruise
wind buffeting my face
tires singing out
against the highway
shimmering heat
rising between
me and the sunset
freedom beckons
bid stress goodbye
greet the horizon
and chase the road

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 29 - Never

this is the song
that never ends
in a city that
never sleeps
oh never mind
it’s never too late

it will never fly
It will never work
never happen
never say never
never walk alone
will we never learn?

the never ending
story of never
never land
I’ll never grow up
I’ve never been
kissed--not like this

she never smiles
tomorrow never dies
this will never do
it never occurred
to her to never
a woman’s work
is never done

the sun never sets
I’d have never
believed it
it’s never too early
for things that
never were
they never looked
so good
I never knew
it was never enough

it’s now or never

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 28 - Sestina

Spring winds warn it's time, to make a long trip---
urgent message sent by wizened wizard.
I spy him wrapped tight, clothed in blue toga;
birch staff held aloft, drenched by driving rain.
The moon above is a silvery ellipse,
silently he shouts my magical word.

A certain power surges in the word;
magic shouted loud, an ancient cantrip---
to arc upon sound waves elliptical.
Young and old alike speak so wizardly,
syllabic power to incite the rain,
while unawares hide wrapped in wet togas.

Magicians all love to give thrills, to gas.
Proud orators too, fill the air with words,
soak the listening, watching crowd like rain,
soar on wild applause. Psychedelic trip!
They close their eyes tight---think themselves wizards,
with saucers that fly, cavort in ellipse.

Of punctuation, oddest is ellipse,
like freshman at prom, dressed in white togas,
filled both with teen angst, and tech wizardry,
versed in hip hop rhyme, writing urban words.
Text and chatspeak fly, while staid grammar trips.
Structure overflows, awash in this rain.

Sitting windowside, skies proclaim hard rain.
Clouds dance over earth's slow curving ellipse.
Storms may well cancel my make-believe trip,
from middle nowhere---to Saratoga.
I hope against hope, await weatherman's word,
watch like Dorothy's traveling sales-wizard.

Maybe I am her, off to see the Wiz---
beg a long weekend, escape from this rain.
Courage, heart, brains are granted at his word...
Note how that line ends with hopeful ellipse?
I think I may don, shiny black toga,
wave bon voyage and enjoy my road-trip!

Send me on a trip! I beseech, Wizard!
Attired in toga, I"ll dance in the rain,
ride this earth's ellipse. Speak that magic word?

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 27 - Longing

ocean floor
dark and cold below
ocean waves
dance above
swimming in between I long
to surface for air

tossed around
like a tiny craft
on the sea
of my life
by great waves and stormy winds
I’ve lost sight of shore

how I need
a lifeline secure
pull me in
hold me tight
rescue me from threatening sea
wrap me round in love

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 26 - Miscommunication

can you
hear me now?
faulty connection
dropped call
talking to
dead air
how’s your
your perception
did I lose you?
are more bars
in more places
really that good?

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 25 - Event

chrome and leather
shining in sunlight
low rumble of a thousand
engines clear their throats
raise their voices to sing
an unexpected carol
music thrumming deep
vibrates through my body

awash in a sea of people
riders, soldiers and toys
strapped to handlebars
stacked high on trailers
tucked into saddle bags
bungee tied to seats
and the ride is both short
and longer than I expected

spectators line the streets
waving from the curb
leaning over the bridge
I’d not planned to be
In a parade of celebration
overwhelmed by camaraderie
a combined sense of love
for the road ahead and giving

Christmas toys for tots
Santa’s philanthropic helpers
A procession on choppers
racers and touring bikes
bearing colors and tattoos
this too is holiday spirit
wrapped in tinsel and bows
chrome and leather

Monday, April 27, 2009

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 24 - Travel

blood flows
stream flows
river flows
clouds blow
breezes blow
winds blow
birds fly
bugs fly
kites fly
lizard creeps
baby creeps
ivy creeps
horses run
deer run
children run
engines run
life moves
moves, moves
why am I
standing still
wishing I
could go?

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 23 - Regret

the form is Roundeau

she won’t regret, her imperfection
submits to her own soul’s inspection
believes that life’s both sweet and tart
maintains an outlook that is smart
she’s honest with her own reflection

in spite of mistakes and rejection
she gives herself love and affection
and follows the path of her heart
she won’t regret

the hour has come for circumspection
she’s ready for her resurrection
her soul cries out for a fresh start
the well worn pathway to depart
she ponders a change of direction
she won’t regret

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 22 - Work

*the form is: Villanelle

I think sometimes, this is too tough.
When minds don’t meet in the middle.
I wonder when enough’s enough.

We just can’t agree on this stuff.
Your point of view’s such a riddle.
I think sometimes, this is too tough.

You think you’re just calling my bluff.
The same old refrain on the fiddle.
I wonder when enough’s enough.

Before we storm off in a huff.
I say compromise a little.
I think sometimes, this is too tough.

Let’s not growl, our voices too gruff.
Before our two hearts become brittle.
I wonder when enough’s enough.

Hide mercy or peace in your cuff?
I’m really not seeking acquittal.
I think sometimes, this is too tough.
I wonder when enough’s enough.

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 21 - Haiku

seventeen succinct
syllables to describe my
utter exhaustion

must start the engine
desperately chase yellow lines
‘til I catch my breath

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 20 - Rebirth

now my toes just
touch the water
sitting ‘side
a tranquil pool

should I slip
beneath the surface
let the water
drag me down

do I trust myself
swim beneath these
blue green waves

‘til I kick in
break the surface
gasp for air

or perchance
I’ll find courage
plumb the depths
yet unexplored

push myself
beyond my limits
learn a whole new
way to breathe

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 19 - The Stranger

Prompt: anger

anger is a stranger
in these hours
of contentment
though I knew her
all too well only
three days ago

when hormones
were at their peak
no words of reason
could quell ire
prevent displeasure
boiling over the edge

splashing words
scorched your skin
livid scarlet wounds
begged soothing balm
of sincerity, apology
offerings of peace

in time clouds
scattered on the wind
frustration scudded
making way for love
in the shelter of you
anger is a stranger

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 18 - Storyteller

Prompt: Interaction

ancient ritual
carried forward
in the eyes
in the voice
of the storyteller
children circle
squirming bodies
pounding hearts
racing chills
plot and drama
conflict and surprise
twilight stage
fireside or bedside
stories unwind
breathless voices beg
just one more

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 17 - All I Want Is...

all I want is
this red pen
and a scrap
of paper and
plenty of ink

that’s all
I need
to get by

these and a
bit of hot tea

all I want is
a bit of hot tea
a china teacup
a pretty saucer
a dollop of honey

this red pen
and a scrap
of paper and
plenty of ink

that’s all
I need
to get by

these and a
really good book

all I want is
a really good book
with a twisting plot
believable characters
and a lamp so I
can read until dawn

a bit of hot tea
a china teacup
a pretty saucer
a dollop of honey

this red pen
and a scrap
of paper and
plenty of ink

that’s all
I need
to get by

for now, but
can you come
back in a while?

I might think of
something else
but so far
since you asked
these are
all I want

Friday, April 17, 2009

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 16 - Pick A Color

angry red rash
of questions
itchy, blistery
on pale skin
ivy, oak
poison oil
why, oh why
every year
pink tinged
on bleached
muslin sheets
little relief
for folly of
yard work

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 15 - Altered Title/New Poem

(from Winter Syntax by Billy Collins)

Spring Punctuation

vernal breezes
like commas
sigh and pause
through branches

late dandelions
explosions of white
exclamation marks
strewn across lawns

great raindrops
splatter windshields
perfect periods
making statements

waterlogged worms
in roadside puddles
parentheses left by
recent short showers

neighborhood cats
tiptoeing through
damp green clover
question mark tails

poetic lines wander
barren of symbols
as punctuation spills
into spring afternoon

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 14 - Love/Anti-Love

Gerber daisy

slowly plucked


petal by petal

to satisfy

question du jour

love---love not

love not---love

answer is the same

as tomorrow

and yesterday

we do so love

Gerber daisies

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 13 - Hobby

yes, she has a hobby

is collector, connoisseur

of trinkets, baubles

she hides them away

in corners, drawers

pockets and shoe boxes

making connections with life

bit of faded ribbon

unthreaded from baby’s dress

tightly knots a golden lock

wispy infant curl

locked in a jewelry box

scrap of an envelope

faded scrawl of ink

in her grandpa’s hand

before he was grandpa

love tucked inside

to grandma, just a girl

now tucked into a bureau

a pebble—tiny, grey stone

worn fingertips smooth

plucked from holy ground

when lips first met in kiss

is worn like a badge

inside lining of her coat

fragment of English verse

lines of poetic rhyme

from flea market book

scribbled on a post-it

now call pocketbook home

she is a connoisseur, collector

of significant ephemera

she hopes her memories

will connect her with others

instead of collecting dust

when she’s finished writing them

Monday, April 13, 2009

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 12 - So We Decided To...

so we decided to ride
down the road so wide
while the spring night died
and the crickets cried
at the song of our wheels
asphalt at our heels.
the horizon steals
color from today’s light.
I’m holding on tight
to my modern day knight.
on a bike we take flight
the yellow line in sight
unfurling ahead of our tires.
we both saw the fires
burning fields like liars
devouring the grassy truth
that life consumes your youth
and leaves you long in tooth.
but tonight we don’t mind
the smoke that tries to blind
as we race ahead to find
escape from the daily grind
and if we’re so inclined
we’ll pull over and we’ll eat
at a diner on some street
tucked away somewhere discreet.
we’ll share desserts so sweet
while the waitress calls us cute
and we map the scenic route
as we ride in hot pursuit
of some fresh new way of seeing
the life we share agreeing
that riding the wind is freeing
and at least for the time being
we’ll spend the night sight-seeing.
maybe find each other there
in the smoky evening air
the wind tearing through our hair
as a springtime ride we share.

*the form is skeltonic verse, named after the poet John Skelton (1460-1529)

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 11 - Object

there’s a small brass key
bound round her neck
by a delicate and knotted
ribbon of scarlet thread

she fingers it against
her pale ivory skin
a lost and faraway look
in eyes like summer grass

as a stranger I watch her
peering at her as though
through a window on the
outside looking back in

and I ask hypothetically if
my stranger self held the key
what secret thoughts could I
unlock with a twist of my wrist

what memories would come
spilling pell-mell from the box
of treasures and baubles
and trinkets that is her mind

what does she keep hidden
in her most secret place
locked away safely there
where she goes to find solace

the mirror window reflects
distant eyes back at me
and those slender fingers
still fluttering at the key

in my separate, alter, observing self
I hide that I know what I do
that the truths inside her box
of treasures are mine as well

I watch and wonder at the smile
that tugs at the edge of her face
will she risk all to whim and chance
and give over that tiny antique key

not daring to breathe a moment
I hope beyond hope for some sign
some flicker inside her emerald eyes
that she’s ready to live for today

while I watch, entranced by the
dance at her throat pale fingers
on antique brass and scarlet ribbon
I breathe softly and whisper ‘let go…’

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 10 - Friday

Just in time,
for a quick road trip.
Let’s celebrate spring together.
Love is in the air, blooming on the side of the road.
It sounds in the hum of the tires against the pavement as the radio plays out loud.

*Fibonacci is a fairly new poetic form, based on, you guessed it, the Fibonacci sequence:

and so on and so forth...

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 9 - Memory

our first kiss was soft and warm
enhanced by a springtime wind
it felt like a gathering storm
our first kiss was soft and warm
as love began to form
I hoped it would never end
our first kiss was soft and warm
enhanced by a springtime wind

*triolet is the poetic form used here

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 8 - Routine

She boils water for morning tea.
setting out her favorite red cup.
She hums just a little off key,
wondering if the day will warm up.

Setting out her favorite red cup,
she drops the teabag in.
Wondering if the day will warm up,
she decides it’s time to begin.

She drops the teabag in.
Honey she stirs with a spoon.
She decides it’s time to begin.
She hopes for a poem by noon.

Honey she stirs with a spoon.
The blank page is staring now.
She hopes for a poem by noon.
The cat interrupts with a meow.

The blank page is staring now
She hums just a little off key
The cat interrupts with a meow.
She boils water for morning tea.

*This poetic form is 'pantoum'. Give it a try, it's like a brain-teaser for poets.

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 7 - Dirty / Clean

Dirty >>> Clean











Friday, April 10, 2009

Poem A Day Challenge - Day 6 - What's Missing

it hits me

out of the blue

sitting at my desk

and a memory

transports you

right back here

to me

I can hear

your voice

echoing in the hall

your laughter

your footsteps

on the hardwoods

I can see

the sparkle

in your eyes

your smile

the trail

of belongings

you always left

scattered around

I wouldn’t mind

tripping over

your shoes

or gathering

your books

for just a few

more days

having you

in the house

I wouldn’t complain

if you stayed

out too late

forgot to lock

the front door

if you misplaced

the little stuff

you borrowed

or forgot to put

away the milk

if it meant

I could enjoy

a few more days

before you went away

and left me here

missing the you

that is missing

from me

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