Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Long Live The Pencil

I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but after speaking to an Apple Support person for forty minutes I am exhausted.
Give me a pencil and paper. Do away with passwords, security questions, and emails. Let’s return to the Pony Express era and letters sealed with wax.
Instead of enjoying the wild card game I am entrenched in verification emails, multiple verification emails, and requests to assure that I am who I say I am.
And who is the person on the other end of my computer who decrees whether my password is strong enough? Is there a troll sitting inside my computer? A tyrant who says—rejected, use numbers, symbols, at least two capitals and one lower case letter.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

No More

last box
but I said that yesterday
one lost packing tape
one fourteen inch desk caddy
in one thirteen inch box
build a tent over the protruding
drawer, a yurt, a chuppah
for a new beginning
I need extra cardboard 
to cover the corners, butwhat
a question remains
what's really in each box?

Monday, October 05, 2015

Before Moving In

we measured walls, windows,
where doors intruded
and drew it out on graph paper
taking care to use a ruler
to create straight edges
we measured bureaus, bookcases,
a bed, a dining table, and tables
to hold lamps, books, and a cup of tea,
we checked the closets, the place
to put a toothbrush, whether our
big pot fit, the view outside,
and where to sit to read
we dimmed the light in the kitchen
until it barely lit up the counter
at home we measured the length
and width of bureaus, one bookcase,
a bed, the dining room table, side 
tables, and made little graph cutouts
to move around the graph paper rooms
seeking a perfect fit 

Saturday, October 03, 2015

The Beat Goes On

You can't expect perfection when you pack, especially if some items go into storage while others travel to your new location. 

Then there's a third pile which I dubbed junk or Good Will. Actually that makes four distinct piles. Errors happen, despite great care and meticulous organization. 

Perhaps the organization needs some tweaking. Today I discovered that a new pair of golf shoes had disappeared, vanished, evaporated.

The junk man came on Thursday and on Friday we made yet another trip to Goodwill. 

My investigative nature, as well as my reading of convoluted mysteries, prepared me to ascertain the answer to this conundrum. The golf shoes are gone. 

Perhaps the junk man's wife wears the same size. May she hit the ball long and straight. Or some woman walks into Good Will, buys the shoes,and embarks on a successful career on the LPGA  tour. May her wins be many.

Now that I'm viewing my magnanimous side the loss of the golf shoes feels less traumatic.  

Friday, October 02, 2015

Letting Go

Twenty-three years ago I bought a seriously warm coat. Save for three days when the temperature dipped below zero, the coat spent its life in my closet.

Why keep it?  Nostalgia?

I recalled buying the coat in Provincetown. That was the weekend I braved a stiff wind, wore heavy wool socks, and thick wool hats. I also pulled the scarf I wore around my neck-- high enough to include my nose. 

Nostalgia lost and the coat joined other clothes. 

If the temperature dips below zero I'll wear a sweater under a jacket. You gotta take a chance in life.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Another School Shooting

more shootings
more dead
more headlines 
more vigils 
more questions
more headlines
more shootings
more dead
a loop repeats
a möbius 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Some states have state flowers, state trees, and state animals. Hawaii's official state fish is the humuhimunukunukuapua'a.

New Mexico opted for an official state question, " Red or green?"

Nebraska's official soft drink is Kool-aid.

The  District of Columbia while not a state refuses to let that get in the way. Their city council chose an official dinosaur--capitalsaurus. 

According to those who know the choice is obvious. A bone from this dinosaur was initially discovered in 1898 by sewer workers. 

But in 2011 the state of Utah declared an official state gun. Within two years Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania followed.

Legislators in each state argued against the gun as a symbol-- noting the insensitivity of its selection.  Their voices were silenced by the majority.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The Push Cart is a Truck

 is the junkman
 the modern peddler
who once roamed
 new york shouting
cash for old clothes?
 is he the peddler
who resold clothes
 to the poor
his push cart piled
with used clothes
selling a shirt
for fifty cents ?
where will the junkman
 sell my pile of
unwanted items?

Monday, September 28, 2015

Trash or Treasure

The detritus of thirty- two years
piled into a mound in my basement
awaits final arguments-- redeemable
or useless, of value  or deemed junk,
resurrected from oblivion,
or beyond a second chance,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Art of Moving

Empty boxes from the liquor store
     Large sheets of newsprint
          Strapping tape, packing tape,
               masking tape, scotch tape
                    Scissors, box cutter, clips
                         A wide black marker
                             My name printed
                                  top and side
                                       as if I'll

Friday, September 25, 2015

Belated NPD

I missed National Punctuation Day by one day. Yet, I don't want to miss celebrating; therefore, this post is a belated National Punctuation Day.

If you participated in the paragraph writing contest the rules tested your knowledge of grammar and punctuation. Write one paragraph, maximum three sentences, using thirteen punctuation marks.
Apostrophe Parenthesis
Brackets Period
Colon Question Mark
Comma Quotation Mark
Dash Semi-colon
Exclamation Mark

They did leave out the interrobang. That's a question mark and exclamation mark-- side by side.

I rather like the percontation or rhetorical question mark. That particular symbol, proposed by Henry Denham in 1580, as an end to a rhetorical question lasted less than a century.

And today we watch as adherents of the Serial Comma, known as the Oxford Comma, argue with the modernists who desire an end to the comma before and when listing three or more things or people.

Incidentally, the hashtag wasn't always called a hashtag. It's original name-- octothorpe

Thursday, September 24, 2015

2007 Journal Entry

All finite things reveal infinitude.
-- Theodore Roethke

So why did I copy that particular line? Perhaps because it makes me think and puzzle out my own meaning. As a reader that's all a writer asks me to do, linger, ponder, make the writer's words my own. Decipher a meaning for myself.

Thinking that way reminds me of another line from my 2007 journal:

A leaf must fall where its roots lie. My roots are here.
-- Qui Xiaolong

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Change of Address Needed

attached to magazine subscriptions,
health and dental plans, doctors, myriad
organizations, insurance for cars,
insurance for house, tethered to gas
companies, electric companies, and
water bills, and don't forget voting
registration, tax bills, the U.S. gov't,
schools, pensions, anchored to the
internet, cable, phone

in bonds to art associations, libraries,
openings, places you give, places you
don't want to give, people on lists,
credit cards, junk mail, catalogues,
town hall, political parties, the cemetery
where I pay for the upkeep
of my grandmother Yette's grave
handcuffed to Toyota and Subaru
and their recall notices

shackled, manacled, fastened

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Clean Beginning

I'm creating a new persona
My avatar will not collect anything
She'll pass up bargains and two for one items
She'll fill up one sketchbook before buying another
My anima will be content with traveling light

Monday, September 21, 2015

Going through an Old Address Book

Copying An Old Address Book

B: Joyce Blackwell who worked as a bouncer and fell in love with the bartender. She sent her a dozen roses with a card from anonymous.Joyce lived in one room in a hotel where the ceiling cracks dropped chips onto her bed. I met her at a writing conference and loved the way she chose her words and spoke her truth. I wrote to her for months until she moved to San Francisco. One day she grew too tired to continue and my letters were returned.

C: Miriam C. who lived in a world where reality and fantasy had soft boundaries. We hiked parts of the Appalachian Trail while she told stories about trails she had hiked all over the world. Once she called me at 3:00am to talk about cows.

G: Holly G: whose partner of fifteen years fell down the stairs and hit her head. Because Holly wasn't family she couldn't give permission for the doctors to operate. The hospital contacted her partner's brother After she died Holly became an advocate for equal rights.

H: My cousin Bobby H. who never forgave the family for not attending the funeral of her son who died of AIDS. " He used a bad needle." He converted to a church offering healing services that gave him hope and grace. Bobby died of a cancer that spread throughout her body.

L: Linda L. Who flew in from Rome to attend the Feminist Women's Writing conference in upstate New York. She taught English to Italians. We went swimming in a lake and swam until the sun dropped into the water.

M: Lynn M. who wrote poems on napkins and then read them at poetry readings when they appeared in journals. She lived in Vermont and wrote poems about the earth and about women " straining to be authentic." I remember the slab of bacon she cooked over an open fire.

P: Melanie P. who worked in New York City. She fell in love with a woman from Utah who owned a cattle ranch in the shadow of Bryce Canyon. Within months she moved from the city to the land of canyons and wrote poetry tinged with the dust of the red rocks.

T: Deborah T. Who published a chapbook of my poems on cream color paper.

W: Leslie W. who traveled to Somerville from Louisiana. She couldn't stand the cold and after one winter went back south even though she fell in love with Cambridge's folk scene.

Z: Irene Z. who owned a bookstore in Ithaca, New York where she sold coffee mugs that said, So Many Books and So Little Time.

I can't forget the woman who wove baskets from wood splints she prepared or the woman I knew who had a story accepted by a prestigious journal. Her talent disappeared in a bottle.

And then there were names and phone numbers of people whose stores have dimmed or disappeared.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Moving Blues

twisting the sheets
spinning  from side to side
conjuring up to do lists,
a rolling carpet
whose end juts
precipitously beyond
my eyesight

Friday, September 18, 2015

Lighten Up

Each time I've thrown something out it's akin to slimming down. I carried too many things on my back. Now the two overstuffed chairs, an old bookcase, several tables, a checker table with dog scratches are gone. Downstairs an iron skillet that hasn't seen food in twenty years joins three plastic bags filled with items no longer  necessary.

And there's still more to shed. Before long I'll be light as a reed.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Why Am I Saving One Sock?

On the topic of leading an unencumbered existence--a life where you're not dragging empty cans attached to a cord behind you heralding your entrance and departure. No matter how many things I've given away or bartered, there are more.

No headway, no matter how many boxes I pile one on top of another there are more items for yet another box. How does one reach that unencumbered state?

I'm even appalled by the number of socks I own, even orphan socks.

But maybe we collect things as a " lock against oblivion."

Anne Carson is not referring to the things that surround us, but the words are apt.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

What Happened to the Bulkhead

After looking at album after album of scenic photographs, I'm tired. During the past two hours I've hiked in Utah, climbed through the wild flowers at Mt Rainer, even stood and listened to Hillary Clinton giving a speech in Seneca Falls, New York. It was summer and 93 degrees. She wore a beige jacket and didn't look bothered by the heat and the sun bearing down.

Finally I stared at myself at the age of three . Who is that person? And why don't I recognize her at that age. The black and white tones faded. The other two children are unknown to me, yet here we are all seated on a bulkhead waiting for the future.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


I need an angel,one who figures out how many books fit in a carton before the bottom of the carton bulges and possibly releases its load of books onto whatever surface is below and I need to know how to pack the China cup my mother bought from a man who insisted it was true fine porcelain painted with flowers one saw in the royal garden although he never told us what garden and then my glass Mickey Mouse bank must arrive in pristine condition because it was a gift from my father the last day he drove his light tan car when he was tired and still fighting the cancer that invaded his lungs even though he never smoked or even tried a cigaret because he found the aroma distasteful and on that last day of driving he told me that he wanted to buy me a gift but couldn't drive further than the  all purpose supermarket where you could buy an assortment of knick knacks for every taste but mostly aimed at folks who liked kitsch which I wasn't fond of but when I looked at how worn out my father looked I quickly scanned the first shelf and spotted a glass Micky Mouse bank, picked it up and said I've made my choice and actually it reminded me of a large plastic pig bank I owned and my grandmother supported with money right after her social security check arrived and if my father was surprised by my choice the only thing he said when we stood on the checkout line was "Here you take the keys, I can't drive anymore." 

Monday, September 14, 2015

To Keep or Not

As the moving boxes encroach on space
they force  chairs to sit upon one another 
As their stacks grow higher
I begin to wonder about the art
of letting go and I start to eye
everything with discernment
Why do I need this I ask myself
Any smidgen of hesitancy, any body
movement that lacks a pervasive yes
means no passage, no new place,
I move the rejected items to a corner
where they face a bevy of questions
Are you yellow, underlined, surrounded
by a muster of outstretched hands?
Do you sense the change at your heels?
I offer my apologies to a ceramic rooster
who spent  years staring at a killdeer
flaunt his stuff,  I offer my apologies
to five handblown glass inkwells
where words will remain in empty bottles 

Saturday, September 12, 2015


Today David Ortiz hit his 500th homer, I packed six boxes of books, I gave fifty books to the library for the library sale, and we emptied the loft.  I saved sixteen books to take with me to our " short term" rental. The loft has been emptied out. Now on to the second floor. We need to keep track of where all our boxes and pictures are stored. Without a " map" we won't find our gear.

Today I realized that I'd almost rather rid myself of many things instead of packing them. Away with all the extraneous. Simplify, simplify.

I'm set to go through all photo albums and trim down the redundant snapshots. How many photos do I need of spindrift or lava balls?

Even with all my hacking away the stack of packed boxes grows. I guess I must become more ruthless when it comes down to leaving a light footprint.

" Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints."
-- Chief Seattle

Friday, September 11, 2015


Just when I thought that my journals were all read and either saved or discarded I unearthed a few more. This afternoon we carried all the books down from the loft and created piles in the dining room. I discovered more journals.

From Robert Pinsky, "The writer's dread of making another tombstone..." First, you need a publisher and then you print several hundred copies. Then you hit the trail-- bookstores, cafes, and you hope some folks buy your book before it hits the remainder pile.

As I read this journal I know it will not end up in the pile of discarded books. For it is in this journal that I wrote about a couple who celebrated their life by walking in the Gobi desert. She was 60 and he was 74. This was not an amble in the desert. They walked 1600 miles on foot in the summer.

Besides I love the soft cover and cream and white paper.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Seeing Clearly

I'm delving into my torn out journal pages and immediately confronted with the line-- the action of inaction. I've been there. It's the place where I go back and forth, but often stay in that space rather than move forward. There's action in inaction. So much goes into staying put.

Alicia Ostriker notes that " the philosopher sits in the desert, and sees that it is a garden." The arid stretches and hot temperatures may blur vision.

e.e. cummings wrote, " May I be I is the only prayer-- not may I be great or good or beautiful or wise or strong." The rub-- we may spend years finding the I.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Note and Quotes and Writers

Then I found myself immersed in quotes about writing. I know why I copied down Gerald Stern's line, " The book begins on a park bench and ends in a bus station." Those words remind me of the importance of place. Every story needs to have its feet solidly standing in a place, a setting. A Central Park bench, a train station in Slovakia.

Also, Stern, reminds the writer to gather momentum. Don't become bogged down in the minutia and forget to keep moving the story forward.

Then there are titles. I love this one: Walking with the Wind.

Someone said that "in order to write, you have to be willing to be disturbed." That's so true. You begin to write and the words take you places you didn't intend to visit. The whole world tilts.

Simone de Beauvoir wrote " that in order to create, we must be deeply rooted, not living on the periphery." Occasionally when I sit down to write I find myself going places I didn't know existed in me. Then I must follow.

Here's an unattributed quote, " ...ruptures are the most interesting part of any text, that in the ruptures we learn something new." The dictionary tells me that a rupture may be a breach, a severance, a rift or it can be something that tears, snaps, bursts. If everything in the story moves along, as if on a conveyor belt, and nothing happens on that passage it's dull and probably unbelievable. Even in the most bucolic setting thunderstorms appear, water enters the basement, the tire is flat, you miss your flight because of a fight.

Do I dare disturb the universe?
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
--T.S. Elliott