Wednesday, July 31, 2013


... and be led forth with peace...
KJV. Isaiah 55:12

spin the globe
place a finger
on a latitude
on a longitude
who lives there
is it a place of tall buildings
or a place of openness
a place of peace
or a place of discord
who can release
the years of strife
the worn out phrases
of them and us
who can consent to be led
away from arid places

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


And all the people gathered
themselves together as one man...
— KJV Nehemiah 8:1

who started the talk
collected every breathe
encircled the people
who picked a place to gather
who chose a voice
to speak for all the people
men and women
who felt a yearning
who released a spirit
a thread that connected
all the people
that day

Monday, July 29, 2013

You Got Something to Say

Another way to release something is to fling it away.
Before you think that's foolish.
Consider other ways.
Don't even think about burying it.
Even if you dig deep it can't be covered and forgotten.
Forget about turning away and making believe.
Grace is what you're looking for and it isn't found by closing your eyes.
How about just saying whatever it is you want to bury.
I expect that once it's out it won't feel so heavy.
Just take a deep breath and let it out.
Keeping a secret from yourself isn't going to make it disappear.
Let yourself go.
Make an effort to shed light on what you're carrying.
Never think that it's impossible to move beyond.
Only realize that there may be some follow up.
Perhaps you'd rather continue just the way you're going.
Quick, make a decision and act.
Recognize that nothing disappears.
Stop procrastinating.
Take the plunge.
Unburden yourself.
Validate who you are now.
Wake up and move forward.
Xanthippe's spirit will prod you to take a chance.
You can be free.
Zambra dancing will break out when you release your secret.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Little Things

Any concern too small to be turned
into prayer is too small
to be made into a burden.
--Corrie ten Boom

do you pray while on your knees
or when you're sitting on a wood chair
or do you let yourself sink into comfort
on a tufted rocking chair cushion
maybe you pray while
you do dishes
washing away what's left over
scrubbing until smooth
maybe you close your eyes
and release a breathe slow enough
to outlast the second hand

do you speak out loud
or inside your head
do you wait for answers
or move on thinking
that God's timetable
needs some reshuffling

do you use church words
or your everyday voice
do you mostly ask
like unraveling a to do list

i like to sit somewhere quiet
and visit for a while
don't think i don't have my own list
some things just keep repeating
because i'm not sure God heard
me plain and clear the first time
everybody gets a second chance, even God

but i try to remember to say thanks

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Ronald Reagan garnered my appreciation when in 1984 he designated July as National Ice Cream Month. I missed National Ice Cream Day which is the third Sunday of July.

Frozen Yogurt may or may not be included . I guess that it depends upon who is determining what goes in and what stays out. Since they were initially created as an alternative to ice cream, the admission of frozen desserts may open the door for gelato, sorbet, snow cones, frozen custard, soy ice cream and sherbet.

I remember my mother buying me a Dixie Cup ice cream at Mr. Mancetti's corner candy store. When he handed you your Dixie Cup and wood spoon he always said, " Don't bite the spoon or you'll get a splinter in your tongue."

I'd sit on the stoop, take the lid off the cup, lick the ice cream off the lid and hope to find a new cowboy picture on the lid bottom. My favorite picture was of Roy Rogers. Every year Dixie released a few new movie star lids. I really wanted to collect two Roy Rogers, one to bring to school and one to put on my pillow.

Now I eat frozen yogurt, but I'm ok if the celebration this month is reserved for ice cream. Some day we'll have our own month.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Thirty Years Ago

Stews need
a bit of everything
snippets of herbs
diced potatoes
whatever's local
and sweet talk
to blend it all
to release a scent
recalled in memory
of a woman stirring
while she sang
a wordless melody
tasting and adding
to the stew
and tasting again
as steam filled
the kitchen
and drifted
in time

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Borscht and Beets

Ever have one of those days when you wear one blue sock and one black sock? The discovery happens hours after leaving the house.

Just washed socks no longer have mates even though you know a pair went into the wash together.

You're late for an appointment because your watch just stopped and gave no prior indication of a malfunction or a deficient battery.

You brought a book to read when waiting at the airport and realized you finished the book two days ago. The book you wanted you left in the living room. Now you'll wait two weeks until the murderer is caught.

Today I experienced one of those days. It started with rain I didn't expect and everything after that seemed to be one step to the right of reality.

But the beets I photographed looked delectable so that made up for the "slant" of the other parts of the day. Spending forty minutes manipulating beets for a photo op, setting up my tripod, thinking of light and shadows, meandering through thoughts of my grandmother's borscht released me from the ordinary day.

I settled into a creative fantasy where I photographed rutabagas nestled next to beets. I visualized capturing the dark purple band at the crown of the rutabaga against an earthy red beet.

And with those thoughts I realized soon it will be tomorrow--a chance to get it right.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Pushing Beyond

When are the risks too high?
Is it the physical chances, the daredevil pursuits? And what do we mean when we say too high? Some people thrive on living on the edge, always pushing against boundaries trying to expand possibilities.

I recall teaching several boys who lived on that lip. They believed that every trick on the skateboard a mere prelude to the next more difficult trick. They took chances-- catching "a thermal" when they caught the back bumper of a moving car and got a head start.

What's the difference between playing swashbuckler and pushing your limits?

Some of us will never take those dicey chances, but there are other areas that entail risk and hustling beyond perimeters. For me it's writing--and forcing a release beyond my own boundaries.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A Set of Directions

...Let the healing fountains start...
—W.H. Auden

Forgetting is easy, it's remembering that's hard
not because a mind wanders off and can't find a way back
and not because the years too far away dim
some things simply remain in an abyss, a crevasse
shake a memory loose, release it from the dark
and bring it up to the light, loosen the threads
and set it down next to the remembering that's easy

Monday, July 22, 2013

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

True fans remain loyal to the bitter end. They don't see bumps in the road as catastrophes, nor do they wring out cloths and bemoan the fates when runs are hard to come by, they persevere. I am not that type of fan.

I want wins. I want to see the other team trounced. When I spot weaknesses I want us to pounce-- but right now I see us decimated by injuries. Knowing that doesn't alter me. I am not that type of fan. I am not the fan that teams can count on for the long haul.

This is a character flaw.

Some flaws are benign. Others penetrate into every pore.

Oh for a release.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Words Fly

As a writer, one is obliged
to release her words, to let them live in the world on their own.
--Taive Selasi

Writing-- putting words out there is dangerous, exciting, and an invasion of privacy. Of course the writer allows that invasion when she touches upon what matters. What you write about, the words chosen, the distance the reader is allowed to get to the narration all take on a life both tethered to the writer and fully separate from the writer.

What an interesting word--obliged. Duty bound. Yes, once you've let the words out you're a stay at home writer. You don't tag along offering explanations of what you really wanted to say. Each reader reads her own story into the story you tell, the poem you wrote.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


I wonder
about this word release
the way it found me
as if it knew
I'd wrestle a meaning
turn it over, keep turning
until it comes back to me
holding a mirror

Friday, July 19, 2013

Don't Stop

... go to the lengths of God
—Pat Schneider quoting Christopher Fry
in her book How the Light Gets In

enter the spaces
chase the gap
even when the distance
widens over time
refuse to back down
and accept the silence
if the phone doesn't work
and letters remain unread
release the easy ways
keep moving forward
open another door
walk in and start over

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Entry Form Please

Today I read about a cherry spitting contest. Since I didn't have any cherries in the house I couldn't try to see how far I could spit a pit, but I expect it wouldn't be far. How many people swallow the pit before ejection? Too dangerous. One year the winner spit and released the pit into the atmosphere where it traveled over sixty feet before landing.

There's a high heel race of 80m. The last time I wore heels that weren't fat and low I was playing dress-up.

And in 1976 a pub in the United Kingdom sponsored the first toe wrestling competition. Big toes are locked together and with might and pure guts you attempt to force the other person's foot to the ground. It took such a hold, at least at this pub, that some folks applied to get it included in the Olympics.

Sprained ankles and broken toes occasionally occur in spirited contests.

When your eggs get old and it's not close to Easter you can participate in an egg throwing contest. The annual World Egg Throwing Competition is held in Swaton, England.

I especially enjoy photos from the World Beard and Moustache Championships. Some talented men, although it's not limited to one gender, often create iconic landmarks out of their beards. Imagine a beard in the manner of the Golden Gate Bridge?

There's even an Ironing competition. I try to iron as few items as possible so that wouldn't be a good contest for me to enter.

Why do we engage in so many contests? Hot dog eating, the ingesting of bugs, pea shooting, duck calling, whistle blowing, and in 2012 the 1st annual Wild, Weird and Wacky Street Signs contest.

The last contest is sponsored by Bridgestone tires. All you need do to participate is take a photo of the sign, send it in and wait to see if you win $500.

I once spotted a sign on the road outside of Upper Sandusky, Ohio—Noah's Ark Will Be Built Here. I never followed up so I don't know if they raised enough money. But there are a number of ark replicas here and in other countries.

In the Netherlands Johan Hubers built an ark 427 feet long, 95 feet wide, and 75 feet wide. It took twenty years and over a million dollars of his own money to complete the project. If you visit there's a petting zoo and a restaurant.

Of course there's always the Pillsbury Bake-Off Contest. It started back in 1949 with a grand total prize of $50,000. It used to be a yearly competition, but now it's held every other year and the top prize money climbed to $1,000,000. Changing times.

What doesn't change is the desire to be number one.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


standing in the need of prayer

Keep talking
until you know
you're heard,
don't swallow words
Keep talking
until you hear
an answer
Might not be what
you expect
Might be you need
to let go, release
the question,
move on
Maybe the question
won't be answered
this side of Jordan

keep listening
Real quiet
so you can hear

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Giving Up

Every child is an artist.
The problem is how to remain
an artist once we grow up.
—Pablo Picasso

I signed up for an imaginary trip to Australia. No passport needed. No packing. No airport hassle. For six weeks we travel and paint—except at home.

After I signed up I received a list of items to bring—watercolors, brushes—even bug spray to lend a sense of accuracy to the trip.I envisioned myself slathered with bug spray and painting at a table in my kitchen. Our first stop—Sydney and no jet lag.

A series of photos taken around Sydney appeared in the first lesson. Unless you had your own photos or express permission from the photographer only the displayed photos were available.

No instructions save that you weren't wedded to the entire photo—any part of the picture could be used for a water color painting.

Before beginning I looked up some information about Sydney to bathe in the atmosphere of the city. Then I got stuck.

Because it's hot today, I selected a photo of undulating rocks in shades of brown and in the background waves and spindrift. That's where I became stymied.

After twenty minutes of attempting to paint waves with foam, I gave up. I don't know what I expected, but this was frustrating. Maybe I needed some instruction on how to paint waves as they released spray. Maybe I didn't fathom why I was painting from someone's photos?

I carried my paints down to the basement where I store my art supplies and thought of how I like art projects that only require a minimum of materials and very little clean-up.

Monday, July 15, 2013

It's Hot

It takes a lot of courage
to release the familiar...
—Alan Cohen

It's a heat wave—the third one this summer and the humidity is listed as oppressive. Years ago the meteorologists reported the Discomfort Index which was simply a calculation of temperature and humidity. As a PR device it lacked any merit—at least for those places experiencing great discomfort.

Why visit a place marked with a high discomfort index?

Ridding our weather reports of that valuable marker is another reminder of how we shave the truth with words. Reporting the humidity and temperature as separate and allowing the listener to blend them together to get a sense of the feel of the weather is another refusal to state the uncomfortable truth.

Will I be any cooler if I hold each unit separately?

Now it is called the Comfort index and includes other factors such as the possibility of precipitation , how much if any wind, and cloud cover.

Today I watched a leaf attempt to flutter—unsuccessfully. Occasionally a cloud hid a relentless sun and the only precipitation was sweat.

Fortunately our weather person does say things like—oppressive.

"Most people are quite uncomfortable when the heat index is 70 or higher in the oppressive range."

I appreciate his forthright words even though he eschews saying "the discomfort index". Just tell it like it is. I can handle the truth.

Sunday, July 14, 2013


God doesn't give a gift without
giving an obligation to use it.
How one uses it, though—
that's where things get complicated.
—Christian Wiman

Isn't that the rub?

Yesterday a group of us celebrated a friend's birthday with lobster rolls at a local restaurant. Before we placed our order the waitress listed all the specials for the day, extolled a local beer and brought us all a tasting.

She asked if we wanted a happy birthday song and said that she always asked first because some people didn't want to be serenaded by an  entire restaurant. The birthday celebrant declined.

Not only was the waitress upbeat, but you knew she genuinely enjoyed her job. Her rhinestone tiara told the whole story. It sparkled. We also knew that she sang with the church choir—and played the guitar.

When she brought the desserts someone said, "Let's sing." She started and then said—"everyone join in and we did.You have to release inhibitions—

Her gift—certainly her voice, but it was the gift of being present that stayed with me—and the delight she showed with what she was doing.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Options Available

A cyber friend posted this on her blog:

The choice is always ours.
—Aldous Huxley

What does it mean to choose, to have a choice? It implies that there are alternatives and it's up to an individual to select one. It may mean to embrace or espouse one of the options. Choice suggests intention— or a deliberate action.

Implied in this is purposeful activity. Suppose that the choices available are unacceptable—then one is released from any obligation to choose. But no choice is also a choice and may have its own consequences.

Pastor Bonhoeffer, during World War II, could stay in the United States and ignore his conscience or return to Germany and most certainly face an enraged Nazi response to his words. Despite the certainty of dire consequences if he spoke out against the fascist regime, he chose to return to Germany.

What about the choices we don't make, but are fostered upon us by others. A child may be scarred by the choices an adult makes. A family may descend into poverty by the actions of the adults—or the circumstances at the time.

Yet, no matter what the circumstances we all face choices.

We can choose to inhabit a place where we don't forgive and then massage the hurt until its palpable. We can march in place—never moving a foot forward, simply hovering over the same words and actions.

To hang in the air vibrating between two poles,
to linger suspended between the aerialist and the ground,

to sit on a perch and watch is not an option

Friday, July 12, 2013

My Druthers

My druthers—what an odd word. When I looked up the derivation of the phrase I found out that Druthers was also the name of a fast food restaurant—now defunct. A bit more searching and I found someone who loved their fish sandwich—fried fish with three pickles between two pieces of white bread and smothered with ketchup.

Before becoming Druthers it was called Burger Queen. They changed the name because they sold other items besides burgers. There's one Druther's Restaurant left in Campbellsville, Kentucky. One restaurant unwilling to release the past, but its no longer a franchise.

I never ate at a Druthers or Burger Queen, but once on a trip down to Montreat, North Carolina we stopped for a foot long hotdog at a small family roadside grill. The dog sat in the longest bun—an inch on either end. I expect that extra length was needed because of all the fixings.

And when I was growing up in the Bronx we went to a local Chinese Restaurant on special occasions. Their menu offered a plethora of choices—if you chose one item from group A and one from group B it cost less than two items from group B. The selection process could take fifteen minutes—or until my mother announced two minutes left.

My favorite "defunct" restaurant wasn't a restaurant, but a cart that had a pot of hot jelly ready for dipping. The jelly man dipped apples on a stick into the hot jelly and the kids lined up to buy the apples. Sometimes he sold dipped marshmallows or figs. I loved watching him twirl the stick—spin it like a gyroscope— so that the jelly didn't drip.

You can still buy jellied apples, but I expect that a remembered taste might lord it over the present taste.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

There's Always Another Page

How is it that if one walks far enough in the woods
one eventually comes across the rusted frame
of an abandoned car?

While driving on back roads I've seen abandoned refrigerators covered with vines, trucks without tires, tires without trucks, and washing machines leaning into one another.

I've seen farms left unattended— released to the weather.
Tools deserted and left to rust.
Splayed fences keeping nothing in or out.

Lives don't end when something's been laid aside.

Dreams cast-off leave reminders.

Ted Kooser ends his poem "Abandoned Farmhouse" —
... Something went wrong, they say.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


Several months ago I wrote about a young man, a barista, at a local coffee shop. When I first met him he had quit high school, often spoke about taking his GRE, but never seemed to get around to actually sitting for the exam.

You couldn't help liking him—friendly, full of life, and a knack for having a number of friends.

Last summer after attending a rock concert and making some poor decisions he ended up having a seizure and severe complications. His body simply stopped working and he was kept in a medically induced coma.

The coffee house sold handmade  bracelets to help defray some of the medical costs. His friends went down to visit ,his family moved down to be close to him, and his partner didn't say ,"This is too much."

Whenever we went into the coffee house we'd ask, "How's he doing?" Weeks went by and finally some progress. There was no cognitive damage and his organs were coming back to life. When he first came home he couldn't walk and slowly with help he regained strength.

Today we went to the coffee house and there he was in line waiting for an orange drink. I hugged him and said he looked great—a little thin.

"I'm a miracle, " he said. "Everything is fine. I'm written up in the medical journals. I really should have died and I don't know how or why I'm alive."

We talked about what he's doing now. "I'm going back to school full time in the fall." He had gotten his GRE several months before the rock concert.

He spoke about his feeling that there must be some purpose to his complete recovery. "I don't know what it is, but I'll  find that purpose."

Not all roads lead straight to a destination, some veer, stop, start, and then move on. The universe has released him to find his own path and I expect that he'll do just that.

Purpose: intent, intention, meaning, design, heart of the matter.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Another Definition

Forgiveness really is so misunderstood,
as well as the power
it can release in an individual.
--Jennifer O'Neill

quack grass
witch grass
couch grass

twitch grass
quitch grass
scutch grass

wiry roots
laced in tight
gnarled clumps
spread, creep
until dense
strands poke
out, unwanted

Monday, July 08, 2013


I recently happened upon an odd website when I went looking for facts about hippos. Not only are they aggressive, overweight, given to unpredictable tantrums—but they are responsible for close to 3,000 deaths yearly.

The same site indicated that sleeping in a bed is not a benign activity, but one fraught with dire consequences. 1.8 million people visit hospital emergency rooms because of a fall from slumber to the floor. For 450 people the results are irreversible—death. I wonder if the statistics weren't quite as daunting when beds were lower. I am short and sometimes I feel that I am pole vaulting onto the mattress without the pole.

Russia has a problem with icicles. Falling ice daggers take the lives of 100 people a year.

If you take a nap in the proximity of an red ant hill in Africa and you're a heavy sleeper the ants may overtake you. Since some of the colonies count millions of denizens it's easy to see how the shock of so many crawling creatures may upset your equilibrium and send you into shock. However, only thirty people a year succumb to the ants.

What is one to do?

Thus far no hippos have been spotted in my neighborhood and my neighbors two cats spend their days hunting. The wild turkeys have not crossed the line.

If I eschew high beds and instead place a futon on the floor the distance between the top of the futon and the floor would not cause significant trauma. It's certainly something to ponder. In lieu of that solution I can move closer to the middle of the mattress and surround the bed with down pillows.

New England icicles can present a problem, but at the moment the heat precludes any rumination regarding icicles.

I've declared a moratorium on naps near ant hills.

I did discover that jelly fish are responsible for more deaths than sharks and falling coconuts take the lives of 150 people a year.

Cows cause about twenty deaths a year in the United States. And these are deliberate attacks, not errant deeds. Having grown up in the city I always thought that cows give you one impression , but there's another side to every cow.

So what does one do with all this information? Release it and move on—

Did you know that cliffs were safer than stairs. Oh what is one to do with all this knowledge?

Sunday, July 07, 2013

Orthography, Orthographie

Thoughts on Spelling following the July 4th weekend.

It's all about letters lost across an ocean or added when going the other way.

Colour loses its u when traveling from London to Charleston and becomes color. If you live in New England and add the u to Boston Harbor so that you write harbour are you donning airs?

In America you sit on an aluminum chair, but in England and France you relax in an aluminium chair. In fact anywhere in Europe you need the extra syllable. Is it that we are interested in the essentials and eschew additional accouterments?

Perhaps it's a way of being independent, not mimicking English history. Not everyone wants to be the "and Son" on the placard.

Let us follow Thoreau's advice to simplify, to release the nonessentials-- Our life is frittered away by detail...simplify, simplify.

Ah if it was so simple-- just lop off a letter. Trim down.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

No Ending

...the sheer release of being in the air.
--Transatlantic Colum MCann

I sat in my car and watched a man try and fit a brown bag filled with just purchased beer cans into a pouch hanging over the rear of his bicycle . The pouches on both sides of his bike bulged with cans.

When the brown bag tore he went inside the liquor store to get another bag--a larger bag.

He stood on the sidewalk and kept looking left and right. Perhaps someone he knew could help.

It's been quite hot for the past four days and his cutoff pants and loose shirt looked worn down under the heat's glare.

After a number of tries he balanced the bag on the bike seat and began wheeling the bicycle.

He then maneuvered the bike and his cache of beer cans down the curb and up the curb. He parked the bike in front of a local bar- saloon- and disappeared. Perhaps he hoped to find someone to help or maybe he stopped for a cold beer and a game of pool.

At that point my partner returned and we drove away. I never would know if the beer in the cans heated up , swelled the cans and burst. I'd never find out if he found a helper or if he simply spent the afternoon and evening in that dark space.

I spun a number of scenarios, but never found an ending.

Friday, July 05, 2013

The Gordian Knot

I have with me
all that I do not know.
I have lost none of it.
—W.J. Merwin

Isn’t it odd to contemplate that some things will always be alien—unknown, even when you’ve tried to understand?

I’ll never understand string theory, but that’s not something I carry with me thinking that in time clarity will burst on the scene.

It’s those things that rub and chafe skin that refuse to be lost or known—a satchel of unanswered questions.

Is it possible to release —be unencumbered, unbound—from what you do not know?

Thursday, July 04, 2013


At what time had her life
released its meaning?
Transatlantic—Colum McCann

Are we to think that at some point her life no longer had any meaning? Does one know the point when their life seems devoid of a text? Or does the marrow alter and we need to follow a new path?

And what constitutes meaning? The focus may shift. Perhaps watching the fulcrum loosen and needing to replace it with something else may seem too hard. Time takes on new dimensions.

Does this loss come suddenly? Why to some people and not to others?

How frightening it must seem to look in the mirror and find no reflection.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013


I just lost a document in the cloud. The promise of writing one place and finding your words somewhere else failed. It usually worked so I simply relied on faith.

Perhaps what I wrote didn't pass muster? Maybe some words need to be eradicated. Maybe I wrote words that had no gravitas. Yet all our words can't be laden down with substance.

Governments spend a lot of time spinning words. Maybe that's what I did. How responsible must I be with my words?

Certainly words slip out, words we want back, words that once released cannot be removed from memory, canceled or wiped away.

The words I lost on the cloud may surface or lose vigor. They simply spoke about the tendency of some news channels to focus on particular types of stories.

The bigger story is the cache of words never lost, always residing in someone's memory. Words can be a noose.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013


It's hot, humid and sticky. Why is it that when winter is throwing its might around and I wish for the summer warmth I forget that nice warm days also include the Dog Days of summer?

When walking this morning I felt that the heat hugged me with a ferocious tenacity. I did what everyone does when the weather doesn't suit-- I checked the long term forecast.

Isn't it common to check what's happening in the future?

Yet, who really wants the release of the knowledge of future events. Who wants to know everything that will happen.

The long range weather forecast indicates that the heat will continue through the weekend!

Monday, July 01, 2013

A Reservoir

The front page of the newspaper contains enough stories to tap into a reservoir of emotions. Sometimes I find myself reading something and tears well up. Am I so struck by the tragedy or so involved that I become the fly on the wall?

Reading a book or seeing a movie pull the reader or viewer into another reality. It's easy to be wrapped up in another story and begin to feel as if you're the eavesdropper, the shadow of the character.

The story draws one along and, for a period of time, your life is subsumed by the events. Instead of sitting in a chair you're there--whether that means close by or in space, now or hundreds of years ago or in a distant future.

But the newspaper-- that's a story happening right now.

And are the tears because we all own a reservoir of tears that rest well beneath the surface? The release of those happen at unexpected times. And they may not be tears at all, just a welling up that lasts for just a second or two. Then life resumes as if no crack appeared.

I think they are tears that seek a place to peer out before receding until the next evocative story. Their story rests in the reservoir.