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

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

More Notes and Quotes

More quotations discovered while discarding papers, journals, and a gallimaufry of notebooks.

Ann Lamott's definition of prayer speaks to me. She says that " Prayer means that, in some way, we believe we're invited into a real relationship with someone who hears us when we speak in silence." My grandmother spoke to God as if she was talking to a friend, a good friend. " So," she'd say," Mrs. Rubin's knees hurt her and she stands on her feet all day. Maybe you could help."

Certain writings speak to truth, or truth as it is perceived by the writer. Dogen writes, " The moon does not get wet when reflected in the water nor is the water broken or disturbed by the moon's reflection."

It's like a koan. Do not rely on logical reasoning, relax into the image and the paradox.

"Live the question, God whispered."

Monday, September 07, 2015

Notes and Quotes

I am shredding and filling up trash bags with anything that looks as if I'll never look at it again. Journals filled with copious notes stand like recalcitrant children daring me to throw them out.

Noteworthy quotes were copied and the rest of one journal thrown out. Hemingway said that " what you leave out of a story is perhaps more important than what you put in."

Someone , I didn't get his name since I tore the page out, said that paragraphs are like furniture. they can be moved about. That, I read, is permission to tear out pages-- so much is redundant. Have I repeated myself? Think in propinquities.

Proust said, "The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes but in having new eyes." As I scan the pages I wait until some line turns neon lemon and forces me to attend. The rest of the words turn to dross.

The depth, writes William Matthew, is in the surface. Now there's a line to ponder. Add that to Flannery O'Connor's line, The writer operates at a peculiar place where time and place and eternity somehow meet. The problem is to find that location.

Between those two thoughts fifteen pages of skirting around the problem with no attempt to understand the link between these lines.

Just when I thought I might attempt to write about that surface while seeking a location with no latitude or longitude I came across a quote from the pen of Richard Zimler. God, he writes, comes to each of us in the form we can best perceive Him. To you, just now, He was a heron. To someone else, He might come as a flower or even a breeze.

Yes, I recall climbing Old Rag Mountain with three friends. At the top we read Psalms. This place, said one friend, feels Holy. We all agreed. A place to enter into worship.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Contemplating a Move

I'm simplifying down to the bare nub
not even a trail, an ash
but then I can start all over
collecting, building towers of paper
until it's time to simplify again
rather like letting the ground remain fallow
for a year before planting again

Friday, September 04, 2015


the doors now close,
locks work, the toilets
don't move, all outlets
function. debris is gone,
and I've checked
everything on the
punch list, all done
the picture hangers remain
while pictures wrapped
in bubble wrap wait
for different walls,
the philodendron waits for sun

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Kentucky Clerk

What's so hard to understand
what's so cryptic
so hard to realize that
we want you to be who you are
warts, blemishes, scars and all
but you just can't make your own rules
when you work for the boss
I want you to keep your beliefs intact
because I believe you have a right
just find another job

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Are the Greeks Right

Suppose you left ten minutes later
or you turned right instead of left
decided against stopping, walked
at a different pace, met up with a friend
or chose another route
Suppose the story ended earlier

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


I'm a pack rat, yet on occasions I am ruthless about simplifying. This is such an occasion and everything is fair game. One of the first items to go-- my button boards. Four large bulletin boards with buttons-- political, sports, idiosyncratic slogans, logos from businesses. At least five hundred buttons ended up in a large trash bag, along with the cork boards. I saved five buttons-- a 1980 Gay Pride Boston button, a 1983 Stepping Out With Pride button, a 1987 Out for Good button I bought at the Washington March, a 1989 Stonewall generation of Pride button, and a small purple " It's a Nice Day to be Out button." Everything else ended up as collateral damage.

Then I decided to throw out twenty-two years of monthly book club newsletters. Once a month I'd go down to the local franchise copy store and run off twenty- five copies of the newsletter. Collate, staple, mail. Then I saved each newsletter, twenty-two years-- in a binder, never to be read again.

Nothing is sacred, everything can be sacrificed. If it's too heavy, too old, too, out of date. Euphoria sets in as item after item lines up to be tossed into the wastebasket. Once beginning the euphoria, fed by larger piles of "to go" items, gains momentum.

Still more to do...