Monday, June 29, 2015

The Small World

I love serendipity. Today we stopped for a haddock burger and shared a table with two other people.

Imagine this-- the man was originally from New York.
"Where?" I asked.
" The Bronx."
"Where in the Bronx?"
" 181st street just off the Concourse."
" I lived on 176th street. "

We both remembered the Paradise Theater, Katz deli and pastrami sandwiches.

Imagine that. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Redefining Antique

It rained today and we headed to an antique store. This wasn't a high priced glitzy store. One hundred individual collectors of " vintage" items shared two floors of a wooden structure in need of paint and some shoring up.

I loved roaming about-- not as a buyer, but as a photographer. Imagine discovering items we threw out or gave away thirty years ago. 

What's obvious is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015


I recall a festival at Harper's Ferry.

An elderly man played a hand made hammered dulcimer. His hands blurred when he moved from string to string.

Ten African-American women from the coast of Georgia sang spirituals. And the ring of listeners began to clap to the rhythm of their music. 

Amazing Grace sung a cappella. With the last notes still ascending ,amens were heard as we raised our hands in prayer and awe.

Friday, June 26, 2015


What a day. Blessed with sun and love. Blessed with hiking trails, snack packs of nuts and love. Blessed with friends, pound and a half lobsters, and love.

Blessed that today in every state, city, town and hamlet of our country gay and lesbian men and women may marry. 

Blessed to know that young people who identify as gay will not need to fight this battle. 


Thursday, June 25, 2015

After a Long Walk

A thin breeze barely disturbed a still ocean
Colored lobster buoys bobbed up and down
keeping pace with an ocean's heartbeat.
I open my book and begin to read

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Maine Vacation

After five hours we cross the bridge, we're 
almost there. Fir trees on a spit of
land narrow into  pine needle church spires.
Rock  outcroppings stacked on top
of one another ascend into the sky.
It is low tide and the ocean keeps receding. 
Before I crossed the bridge time had 
its own agenda. No time for staring at the 
shade of ocean water or the thin line 
where place  and ocean meet. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Next Year

How can packing become a matter of taking everything because you might need, want, use the item?Will the heat necessitate a cool outfit, but suppose it gets cold-- then what? Better bring something for the cold. Do you think you want peanuts when you hike? Do I want crackers for a snack?

When I look at the car, seats down, stacked to the hilt I wonder if I'll use half of what I bring. Each year I promise myself that I'll cut back, refuse to take an extra of anything, practice moderation, and each year I throw caution to the wind and take more than I could ever need.

I have enough books to read for weeks, a new sketch book and pens of every conceivable width. Flex nibs, stiff nibs. Cheap pens, fountain pens. Pencils. An eraser.

Suppose I erase my long list and start a new short list.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Found in A

Wrecking Yard,
A Razor Wrapped in Silk
Sin and Syntax
Beasts of the Southern Wild


Book Spine Poetry

Wrecking Yard by Pinckney Benedict
A Razor Wrapped in Silk by R.N. Morris
Sin and Syntax by Constance Hale
Beasts of the Southern Wild by Doris Betts 

"Since 1993, artist Nina Katchadourian has been sifting through library collections and remixing their holdings in a delightfully unconventional way. Her ongoing Sorted Books project constructs irreverent, humorous and witty sentences by arranging a stack of books so that their titles can be read from top to bottom or left to right."

Maria Popova

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Powerful Words

We read of the victims. We listen to relatives and friends speak, we hear their stories.

 And we hear the words, I forgive you. What powerful words that can only come from that deep reservoir of faith. 

Those words change us. Now how do we move on? What are we called to do ? To be? 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Hard Copy

Why do we speak of where we want to go on vacation, the new restaurant, our pet peeves, what is next on our want list, when Rome is burning?

Most of us move on quickly. The tragedy yesterday wilts while newspaper space awaits the next tragedy. 

Yet the underlining causes don't go away with rhetoric and nothing else. They simply fester.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

A Prayer

                  Shooting at Historic 
                  African-American Church

We lost our way
and this labyrinth,
layers of privilege
tiers of believing
that it isn't my
problem, it's the other--
the red-neck, the 
Conservative politician,
the fundamental snake-
handler, the other
We forgot to look 
in the mirror, to check
our language, to look
at our neighborhood,
to ask who sits at our table
For awhile we'll mourn the
nine senseless deaths of 
 people at a Bible study
 people talking to God
people listening for God's whisper

What happens now?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Just Today

                                     the mysticism of daily life
                                           --Karl Rahner

Two deer run across a busy road
and disappear behind a bank

A  Pileated Woodpecker drums
creating a background for song birds

       The corn silk smell of mushrooms remind me of corn stalks
       in Upper Sandusky and a sign announcing the future home
       of a Noah's ark replica to be built right in the midst of a field of corn.

Aromas attach themselves to memories
and draw them out

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Pond

A heron poses for the photographer
A model remains fixed  under a
graphite line or a hatched ink mark
Weeds hear the wind and sway
A frog speaks to the sibilant sound 
The sun pokes pinpricks of light 
Is this the way of design or an innovation

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Riff

What happens now is past the moment it exhales. And yet the interval contains a beginning, middle, and end. I put on a pair of roller skates, tightened the clasps until I felt the push against my bones.

 I raced the wind down
an alleyway picking up
speed while I heard my
heart beat, a drum roll
spelling disaster

Before I hit the gravel I knew the end. The doctor picked out the gravel and washed my face with antiseptic. He couldn't stop himself from reminding me of my foolishness. Didn't he know that I kept step for step with the wind until the end.

In those few seconds
I flew over concrete sidewalks,
past white lace curtains,
and heard Thelonius Monk
playing  "Brilliant Corners"

Notes taking off, dizzy improvisation soaring

A Pond

A heron poses for a photographer
A model remains fixed under 
a graphite line or hatched ink lines
Weeds hear the wind and sway
A frog speaks to the sibilant sound 
and the sun pokes pinpricks of light 
Is this the way of design 
or does the universe ad lib

Sunday, June 14, 2015


I recently discovered Judith Kitchen after reading an interview conducted in October of 2012. She died in November of 2014. I never had the opportunity to attend the Rainier Writing Workshop that she and her husband ran at Pacific Lutheran University. Nor did I ever read her books.

After reading the interview I bought one of her books ,used, but looking new. I started with Distance and Direction because the essays, her main focus, dealt with meditations on place and on memory. And I find myself exploring how the past is in the present and how place lays an indelible mark on a person.

After reading one hundred and three pages I want to read everything she wrote. She's a master of the right word, of metaphors that breathe life into the image, of saying something so powerful that I put down the book to think about her words. She reminds me to value each word, to turn words over and over seeking what's beneath and above, letting them expand and deepen.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Time refuses to recuse itself
or slink backwards, or move
beyond its consigned shape
Even when it slows down or
speeds up it's an illusion
fueled by desire

Friday, June 12, 2015


Poems painted with Krylon spray nozzles
stream across the city, background music
thumps out of boom boxes
Pigeon coops on the roof where the woman
who only ate Campbell's Tomato Soup raced
her birds and cooed them to sleep
Poetry printed on heavy paper, then pasted inside
subway cars next to the advertisement for night school
Graffiti confined to walls blessed by landlords
as long as paint doesn't drip beyond
Pigeons still catch the light and fly
synchronized flight patterns over the city

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Hole in One

I watch my ball take off,
flying erratically, a bit to the
left and then it drops without
rolling, and I wonder how
to alter my swing, to push
beyond my limits. I conjure
the perfect swing, the long
meandering roll avoiding
rocks, dips, and long grass
until it rises to meet the green
and continues to the flag
assured of finding its place
Then with a flourish it drops

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Not Too Grainy

Some say that looking through a viewfinder allows the photographer to hone in on a subject and develop an intimacy with that subject. I think that while it grants the viewer a close look it also may remove context.

Without context the weeds may have fascinating lines and undulating shapes. Context determines the larger story. Weeds in an abandoned yard, or a run down playground,or along the edges of a pond tell three separate tales.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

The Place of Shalom

Finding your shalom
under the detritus of the past
requires shedding layers
I remove a coat, a scarf wrapped
around my neck, throw garments 
Into piles, a soft edge sculpture--
a performance piece, 
Graffiti  on subway walls
My tag on a heaven spot
straddles Manhattan Bridge 
An aerialist hovers beneath
suspension cables,
and stretches

Monday, June 08, 2015

Putting Together an Inanimate Object

Surrounded by manuals
explaining how to avoid pitfalls,
poor results, unexpected outcomes,
and how to redeem an erroneous mistake
without starting over, satisfaction
guaranteed or money back
This is not a golem

Sunday, June 07, 2015


 collections of photographs,
rocks found on hikes, some
labeled in indelible black ink,
half-finished sketch books
with ideas drawn in graphite
a drawer of ball point pens,
replacement cartridges for  pens
no longer owned, postcards from
a time when we wrote to friends
on the back of photographed scenes--
boxes of slides in carousels
pebbles picked up on a California beach
where driftwood logs rested in the sand--
some part of life rests in the minutiae

Saturday, June 06, 2015


Just by happenstance I found the Lincoln Center Memorial Concert commemorating Pete Seeger and Toshi Seeger. I've only listened to half a song by Judy Collins, but it catapulted me back in time. When you walk in the midst of time all you can do is enjoy the moment. When looking backwards that time acquires perspective.

The first time I heard Pete Seeger in person he appeared at Queens College during Academic Freedom Week. I sat on the floor and listened as he sang about freedom, injustice and ticky-tacky boxes. I knew that I didn't want to be a cookie cutter graduate living in a house that looked the same as my neighbor's house.

I knew that I wanted to carry a banner for freedom and justice. it's easy to sit on a gym floor and sing ballads promoting everything that's right and good and universal.

 I did live in houses that resembled my neighbor's home-- and I did march, and I do miss singing  songs of protest, songs that sent a whole generation marching.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Happy Anniversary

How do you measure love? It's not in candy bars, flower bouquets, or Hallmark cards--nor in Tiffany hearts, front row seats, or serenading violinists.

It's in the everyday: sharing the minutiae of what happened when and then what transpired. It's knowing that that other person not only wants to hear your words, but really listens when you talk. It's laughter. It's sharing.

It's wanting the best for the person you love, wanting that person to be the person they want to be. It's not being afraid of holding up a mirror.

For me it's everything from sharing snacks of peanuts while reading, to planning a trip, to going on a photo jaunt, to wrestling with what it means to be a member of a faith community, to talking in bed even though you spent the day together.

It's about caring deeply and being present. It's about the goodnight kiss and the kiss before you leave the house.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

On Writing a Mystery

What is there about mystery novels? Do we want to pit our skills against the fictional detective or ordinary citizen who always happens to find herself in the vicinity of a body?  Not any body, but one that demands an investigation.

Are we engaged and emboldened by following clues, second guessing, eliminating potential suspects, and setting up a thesis?

Occasionally I think that I'd like to write a mystery, but I'm squeamish.  I don't cotton to the cozy mystery where the murder takes place in three lines and the body discovered in two lines.

I notice that many writers take advantage of an area of expertise and create a mystery around that knowledge base. We have mysteries where the detective creates quilts, drinks different types of tea, knits, repairs old Victorian houses, builds doll houses, is the owner of a coffee house, bakes sweets, or or or...

Should I create a special needs teacher who talks about dyslexia and syndromes and spectrums and the teaching of reading? How will I find murdered subjects for my stories?

Perhaps I'll stick to following red herrings and attempt to find the culprit before the author reveals the end.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015


A white horse
bent down to nibble
grass and a yellow flower
His eyes closed
in a zen meditation

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

One Person at a Time

Why do some of our candidates for president think that making fun of people is acceptable?
Why do some people who call themselves Christian forget that it's all about loving — not about relegating some folks to other?
Why do people take on a mob mentality and join in laughter when ignorant racial or gender related comments are made?
Why do we teach intolerance by our actions?
Why do we line up on either side and forget to listen to those on the other side?
How can we change—all of us?
When can we engage in real dialog that involves deep listening?
What will it take to say no to the gulf between those who have too much and those who have too little?
How can I change?

Monday, June 01, 2015

A Way of Praying

                                                  Yet: through the ages,
                                                   the fingering of small beads
                                                   is nothing unusual.
                                                         —Barbara Mahany

To cross a stream step on flat stones,
count them like rosary beads—
each one a piece of the water's story
Collect pebbles washed in water colors—
store them in your cupped hands
They turn into light-shifters
when moistened with light
Find shells with holes, string
a shell, a clay bead, another shell
Create a necklace to wear—
finger each shape before
dancing like Miriam
offering praise