Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Game of Dominoes

You think you're in control, but that's a fallacy. Move one piece and like dominoes everything tilts either forward or backwards. Say a word and it travels. The path may circle around and return to you, altered.

But write something down and it remains as you wrote it, no words transposed, no words eclipsed by other words. What others do with the words remains a personal voyage, but your words stand as written.

Best write in waterproof ink because the Internet may allow others to delete, alter, "fold, spindle or  mutilate."

Writing with a pen is organic. You think you're in control?
Be wary of smudges or slow drying ink.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter Crime

Paaskekrim, a unique custom in Norway, starts on Maundy Thursday and continues through Easter Sunday. It's the time to read mysteries.

 Television and radio stations plan special mystery series for Holy Week.

 Some people believe that the custom began in 1923 "with an advertisement of Gyldendal's publisher Harald Grieg."

The following appeared on the front page of a popular newspaper. "Bergen train looted in the night."

 That simple line was meant to lure readers to a new crime book by Nordahl Grieg and Niks Lie. It worked. By the next year the publishing house of Aschehoug began to hone in on Easter as a fit time for the publication of mysteries .

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Thoughts on Palm Sunday

My basketball acumen is akin to my ability to select horses in a race-- nil. In both cases I base my choice on name, geographic location, and in races-- the horse's colors as well as name. I do like purple outfits.

None of those criteria work well over the long term.

So what encourages people to fill out March madness brackets? It's just fun and don't we all love to see an underdog defeat the expected victor? We root for the 50-1 horse and the 15th seeded team.

Perhaps we're wired to hope that the unexpected happens. I think we simply want to see the feel good story, the fairy tale ending.

And sometimes I remember that we're all participants in that drama. I have a role, a part to play. I may not be able to select the winner of a horse race, or pick the right brackets, but I can play a part in the myriad of stories surrounding me.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Create Reality

Make believe that it isn't snowing
Make believe that the ground is bare
Close your eyes and envision flowers
I did see crocuses yesterday
forcing shoots through the snow
Imagine eating a fish sandwich,
and a swirled raspberry
and coffee ice cream cone
while seated on a picnic bench,
Make believe
But act like it's true

Friday, March 27, 2015

Decision Time

April is almost upon me and I need to decide what challenge whets my appetite.

Why join the Fake Journal Challenge and create a fictive character and keep a fake journal for the month of April?
Why Document My Life for 2015-- especially starting at the end of March?
Why move beyond the PAD challenge-- a poem a day written to a prompt?

Response: If I am to create a fictive character why not write a short story? Why not join the group that sends out a poem or short story every week?
Response: Where is the time to ponder and edit?

Response: The minutiae? Document the details of everyday? Or wait until a groundswell of august happenings?
Response: Why throw out what I truly relish for all these shiny new baubles?

Ah-- to loosen the pull of the other possibilities, to relish the anticipation of new prompts, to look forward to the way words signal one another in poetry.

Bring on April.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


...and let our minds
rattle our tongues.
—Mary Oliver

I love to copy down lines from a book. Often the line alone speaks to me—out of its context. The line acts as a prompt, it instigates, incites, sets in motion a scenario, a fictive world.

What a perfect verb—rattle. This is not a clatter, a hum or a tick, nor is it a rumble. I think of the rattle at the end of a rattlesnake's tail—those loose segments that quiver and resonate.

Thoughts and figments of conversations, Bach or bluegrass in the background, a half read book, the newspaper headlines, a friend asking for prayers, melting snow, the sound of walking up and down the stairs, a telephone call, a text, the way the barista said enjoy your latte, the homeless man walking past a line of cars with drivers waiting for the red light to turn green, or how the boy with pants hanging too far down rides his scooter on a railing, or how the old woman who sits in the pew behind you looks so fragile, or how the book you're reading speaks to you, or remembering—or just recalling yesterday or today's sun or the first crocus pushing through the snow.

Loose segments " rattle our tongues" — pushing past silence.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Tournament

We all have loads to lift
and wheelbarrows to tilt.
—Molly Malone Cook

just the way it goes
burdens hang on,
fixtures, attachments
worn or carried,
sometimes with grace
other times dragged
along with a weariness
that tires the body

just the way it goes
we jostle with loads,
play David to Goliath
wrestle with odds
keep getting up
and go at it again
and again
until we tire
and then begin again

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


Just a riff on photography when thinking of a group photography show. This poem, written in 2010 and recently revised, may also be included in the proposal.

The Photographer

A shut door
A half eaten sandwich
A conversation, with the next word unsaid
Half an explanation
Tomorrow never to arrive with the newspaper

A landscape blind
to the catastrophe arriving
after the town turns out the last light

A man leaning against a pole
unaware of the car ready to jup the curb

Dependent upon a piece of glass
The fish eye lens distorts the edges
The telephoto pulls the mountain into view

Explain to the viewers—
This is how it looked before the dust
buried the crops, before the earthquake
buried the people, before the snow melted,
You are seeing a piece of history
captured, manipulated, enhanced

The photographer documents the strike, the landslide,
the first day of school—
The children with distended stomachs,
The plight of refugees fleeing
The demarcation line
The portraits of leaders, tyrants, serial killers,
The marching band playing the national anthem
Before the football team takes the field

The lens stops the years
For a moment you're ten
Then at sixteen wearing a coursage for a junior prom
Here's a class photo
Remember that person on your left?
He died in Korea, Vietnam—Iraq

The photographer pauses, distills the moment,
Adds a viewpoint to a perishable reality—
And it haunts the soul

Monday, March 23, 2015

A Different Language

There's someone explaining something about roofs; however, it all sounds -- to my ears-- like a Martian is speaking. The speaker even has thermal photos.

Now he's speaking about air flows. Ice and water flows. You can feel the tension mounting since this will cost a lot of money.

Now they are talking about step flashing. Is that akin to flash dancing?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tell Me

The meteorological long term prediction for summer 2015 in New England is hotter than usual. The same meteorologist who predicted our snowy winter has, according to his figuring, a 75% accuracy rate.

Wizards, seers, fortune tellers. Omens. Prophecy. Oracles. ESP.

Who hasn't read the fortune in fortune cookies? Some folks play with astrology charts.

A friend of mine used Tarot cards to help her reach decisions. I once had a crystal hanging on a string. Ask a question and the crystal would rotate in a circle-- clockwise meant yes, counter clockwise meant no.

I'm not certain about maybe.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

The Result of a Long Snowy Winter

I roamed around the library. I roamed the fiction aisles starting with A. I began to look for an unknown author—not difficult. Another project—find an author I never heard of and select a book. This is not a random project. Start with A and continue to Z.

Create guidelines: under 350 pages, written in the last fifteen years, not a first book, check out a review (if any). Read.

Because I recently finished co-leading a workshop on Genesis and because I immersed myself in ancient history, commentaries, and the Bible for seven weeks, I wanted to read out of the box, past the proscribed lines.

Who knows what I'll find—perhaps gold.

Friday, March 20, 2015


We tell the story
from our safe side.
— Molly Malone Cook Our World

How difficult to move from the safe place to the one where loose figments of memory challenge an accepted story, one told over and over. How difficult to question your own story and quarter it with a different plot.

To stop and retell a story from another's perspective may include standing out on a precipice. Pick any tale and the ending may alter and plot events added.

Then, do you retell the story with its additions and subtractions, or do you move back to the safe side? The story isn't finished. It continues.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


a knot appears
and I untie it,
a rivet, headless
and pressed down
gives way, water
drips down a pipe
until it puddles,
the wind enters
the knot reappears,
gnarled and prickly

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Who Am I?

A prophet angers us by rejecting
our euphemisms and ripping off our disguises.
Run With the Horses. -- Eugene H. Peterson

Jeremiah , Peterson says, does just that. But, don't we all inhabit some disguise? Don't we all accommodate differing audiences? Video games encourage participants to create avatars.

I wouldn't wear my hardscrabble appearing jeans to church save to clean-up weekend.

It's the essential person beneath the exterior that can't keep changing like a chameleon. Do we say one thing and mean another? Do we roll out platitudes without thinking about what we're saying? Some politicians change their basic beliefs depending upon their constituency. These can be corrosive encounters for those who hear the changes.

Yet, to have my disguises ripped off instead of a gentle reproof.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Something about April brings out the desire to count her days—until May, because the winter is over, or just a shout for life and its quirks? April, not only is National Poetry Month, but also the Writer’s Digest PAD challenge. Write a poem a day. Or write a poem a day as a response to a prompt. Either way commit to the task and revise later.

In 2001 artist and teacher Roz Stendahl launched International Fake Journal Month ( IFJM). It took me until 2015 to discover the IFJM. Now I find myself contemplating adding my name to those who intend to select a fictitious character, alter ego, avatar, and write a journal entry for that character each day of April.

Along with the written journal the artist/writer picks a theme and illustrates that theme each day.

A tote bag of unused or partially used journals in my basement and several boxes of paints, colored pencils, and pens means I am ready—at least supply wise.

Then again, why not create a new April art or writing or art and writing Challenge?

Possibilities for April

•Read a book a day
•Write a poem a day using a different form each day
•Write an unsent letter a day
•Draw a self-portrait a day
•Write a prayer a day—a psalm

Monday, March 16, 2015

Don't Hide

Your silence will not protect you.
--Audre Lorde

don't think that you're safe
because you don't speak up,
blend into shadows,
refuse to take a stand--
If they don't like your color,
the way you slur vowels
or the smell of the food you cook
or how you look at your girlfriend
you may hear them coming--

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Directions for the Usher

hand out the bulletins
turn on the sound
get someone to ring the bell
count the people
did I count that pew twice?
dip the rice cracker in the grape juice
holy, holy, holy
go downstairs to the Sunday School
hold up five fingers, five minutes
before you come upstairs
holy, holy, holy
check the pews for forgotten bulletins
line up the hymnals for next week
what happened during the service?

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Lost Art of Simplicity

Simplicity is the ultimate
—Leonardo da Vinci

When I began to go through my art supplies I decided to separate them into those I've used recently, those I don't enjoy using and those I'll use some day. My pile of items used recently dwarfed the other two piles. Most of the items in the two largest piles dated back to workshops and classes.

Two years ago I signed up for a mixed media course. Over the period of three months I dabbled with an assortment of glues, sparkles, three different types of paints, rubber stamps, and wood boards as well as more traditional sketch books. By the last class I realized that I didn't enjoy the amount of clean-up required for mixed media. The bought items, neatly labeled, and stored in boxes went on my already crowded metal bookcase—now consigned to art products.

Going through all the items in this bookcase as well as two rolling carts, six drawers on wheels, and two hanging tote bags filled with sketchbooks filled me with dismay.

Yet, how could I rid myself of those colored ink pens from Japan? The writing on the barrel of the pen is in Japanese which lends an exotic allure to the pens. Keep.

And that's how it went. Item after item—potential. But tomorrow I intend to exist in that land of ruthless honesty. I know that I'll never use — but suppose I change my mind? Perhaps sophistication is out of the question.

Friday, March 13, 2015


While reading The Lost by Daniel Mendelsohn, a memoir of his search for six members of his family who were killed during the holocaust, I am painfully aware of lost stories that will never be told.

My grandmother Yette, my mother's mother, came here in the early 1920's." Grandma," I'd say, " tell me about your home in Poland."

"Nothing to tell. It's gone."

She spoke a combination of Yiddish and English and read the Yiddish paper. She drank her tea in a glass, crocheted lace tablecloths, read Singer's fiction in Yiddish, and thought that money should be shared.

I don't know the name of the town, how many people lived there, the local gossip, my grandmother's mother's name.

"It's just gone as if it never was."

It's true of all genocides.
Stories and voices muffled by horrific endings.

Thursday, March 12, 2015


Seek the shalom of the place
we inhabit and the people we are with.
-- Eugene Peterson

I'll not complain about the teaser this week. Warm temperatures hinted at spring, but March, a fickle month, fell back into more winter like temperatures.

Several weeks ago I opened this blog and one of my pieces, out of the context of the blog, showed up next to the name and face of someone I haven't seen or spoken to in over thirty years. Had she spent time finding me? That small connection was a gift-- especially because I know that may be the extent of the connection. Why complain that it isn't more?

Savor the unexpected and don't worry when it vanishes.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Signs of Spring

The melting of ice dams
A sign on the garden shop announcing an opening date
Clearing the parking lot of the local ice cream stand
Announcing the April Poem a Day Challenge
A woman seated outside a coffee shop drinking a beverage
A neighbor digging out two bushes
The sun gathering strength

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

A Visit to the Museum

Artists interpret our world in color, shape, line and image. The difference between pretty pictures and evocative works of art, includes technique-- and the ability to see beyond the outer layer.

I want to linger in front of a painting or photograph and wander into the picture-- beyond the frame.

Just the way a good book always relies upon my participation, I want the artist to speak to me.

Monday, March 09, 2015


We parked our car in the sun and waited until the heat burrowed into our winter bones -- and read. At first my jacket became too warm, then a flannel shirt, and then a vest. Each garment removed, tossed in the back seat--irrelevant.

Sometimes the universe knows exactly what is needed.

Sunday, March 08, 2015


You send them out,
assured that the address
is correct, but the answers
may be delayed, or not exactly
the wording you wanted
You repeat the same prayer,
explaining in great detail the answer
So it goes with some prayers
and then you change the request
because you see things differently
Maybe that's why some prayers dally,
--they wait for you to catch up

Saturday, March 07, 2015


I've consumed mysteries this winter, yet I still select the wrong culprit. Then again I don't read them with the same concentration I give to what one might refer to as literary fiction.

And that's too bad, because I expect that many a mystery is written as well as a book that is deemed literature. Many, well a number of , British academicians also wrote mysteries, didn't anticipate that their audience wouldn't accord their mysteries any less concentration then their ponderous tomes.

And it's difficult to set up a mystery and drop clues all about--then three hundred pages later gather them up and write a logical conclusion.

Since winter isn't quite ready to quit and I have four mysteries waiting in my bookcase, I will try and approach them with the same degree of concentration I read literary fiction.

Then and only then will I figure out who did it.

Friday, March 06, 2015

Only a Chain

Time must grow thick and merry with incident,
before thought can begin."
—Mary Oliver

Isn't that so. Memories distilled over time change their appearance. The roles we played alter and slide into a different place.

I recall a gold chain and a unicorn pendant that stayed in my jewelry box more often than around my neck. An artist created this one of a kind pendant—or perhaps this, the first, led to more from the same mold.

Smitten with unicorns, I owned calendars, clay figures, one metal unicorn,pictures, and a needlepoint copy of The Unicorn in Captivity—the original remained in the Cloisters in New York. I don't recall if I purchased the kit at the Cloisters, but I know that I worked on it for months.

The gold chain to the unicorn often disappeared, only to be returned later that day. I usually never noticed it missing unless that happened to be the day I decided to wear the necklace. Then, I became irate— "Just ask," I'd say. I'm not certain what I'd answer.

I still have the gold chain—a thin chain, too short for a turtle neck. The unicorn is gone—along with the clay figurines and the metal unicorn. The needlepoint no longer hangs on the wall.

Why, I wonder, did I place so much emphasis on a simple gold chain? That chain carried too much weight.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

An Opening Reception

looking at how others
see this world,
woven, dyed scraps of cloth
sewn together to form a pattern
flowers bursting out of a frame
lips that refuse to remain quiet
but not able to utter any words
images begging for viewers

Wednesday, March 04, 2015


I promised myself not to write about the weather, but it keeps popping up.

My dermatologist told me that the people ridding his house of ice dams did a good job until one of the ice spires fell through his living room window.

Standing in line in local CVS I overheard one woman say, "I personally don't know anyone who is not experiencing some leaks."

And I heard a TV newscaster say , " The water is pouring into my living room."

We need to hear from those folks who are completely dry, but then we'd think they were acting uppity.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

In Time

Monday, July 7, 2014
SALEM, Ore. — Oregon officials on Monday dedicated a memorial for the unclaimed remains of 3,500 people dubbed the “forgotten souls,” most of them former patients at the state mental hospital who became a symbol of the nation’s history of mistreating, neglecting and warehousing the mentally ill.

Their ashes
left in copper canisters
stacked on shelves
wait for a proper burial
Time and water altered
some surnames,
Corroded letters hide
who slept in this place
for a few months
or decades
Their stories now
interred in copper canisters

Monday, March 02, 2015

The Sun's Work

I look beyond today
to find days ready
to turn from this long cold
and deep snow covering
to a possibility of warmth
to a sun that burrows deep down
and touches bone and marrow

Sunday, March 01, 2015

Gather 'round

A speaker asserts something rather alarming with assurance and the audience assumes the accuracy of that information. The more authority vested in that person the surer we are of care exercised when vetting information. If it's a topic that's strange or esoteric we either naively accept the interpretation or perhaps question some of the assumptions.

This past week I listened to someone give an interpretation to an ancient event. Their explanation struck an uncomfortable chord--one part accepted exposition and one part flavoring to add to the overall discourse.

We know of newspaper columnists who bend a story or create a story out of whole cloth in order to augment a point or add to the emotional impact of their story? Occasionally the newspaper realizes that the story, while poignant and attention drawing, didn't happen or didn't quite happen the way presented.

The wont to add to something said or written to amplify the message is a lure. I can think of three local columnists who succumbed. They probably told themselves that the story was of such import that one needed a hook to make certain that their audience might act.

So when I listened to the speaker, I understood how one wants the crux of the story, the message, to impact the listener. But I couldn't accept the amplification.

Don't we all want to scream listen?

Just find another hook.