Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Slippery Slope

Parashat Yitro

You shall not covet...
     Exodus 20:17

That's it
God warns us
When you start wanting
what someone else has
When you begin to spend time
checking the other for fine clothes,
toned skin with no lines, three bathrooms
in a big house, all the baubles and bells
When you spot the gold teeth
and cars with all leather seats
When you want what others have
you're heading in the wrong direction
God warns us

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Day 30 Thirty-Day Challenge

Out of Control

when the wind snatched
a piece of paper
out of the woman's hand
she chased it down the street
the wind cajoled and teased
until the paper spun
out of control 
and the woman gave up 
I mourned
the lost stories 

Friday, January 29, 2016

Day 29. Thirty-Day Challenge


grass takin' a turn around
and showing some green
while the weather flirts
with unlikely warmth
the kind that knows it's
only for a few days
until cold sets in and
chills the color out again
it's the time of waiting
waiting for bright hues
waiting for daylight to stretch
waiting to hear a serenade
of crickets, waiting to plant

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Day 28. thirty Day Challenge


If you wait long enough everything repeats itself-- or a version of the past. I've been listening to the Serial podcasts while I walk on the treadmill. Yes, I know that this is long-form story telling and it is based on a true ongoing story.

The producers and the reviewers point out the episodic qualities, a full season devoted to one true story and the large audience that waits each week for the next episode.  They are hooked. I am hooked.

Forgive me if I point out some similarities with the radio shows I listened to when I was a youngster. Both the now and the then stories relied on paying attention to a story without any visual clues. I was glued to my radio to hear the story-- rapt attention and nary a blink of the eye. Yes, they were not true stories, but they captivated their listeners. You conjured up the setting from the clues. I created pictures of the characters in my mind.

Is it that the gizmos and tech toys can't meet all our needs.? It's a relief to find out that so many people were mesmerized by a story told without pyrotechnics.

Years ago I waited to hear Tonto say  kemosabe when he spoke to the Lone Ranger. Now I wait to go on the treadmill and listen to the next episode.


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Day 27 Thirty Day Challenge


Once I waited  five hours
to see Maya Plisetskaya dance
Swan Lake at the Met
If I close my eyes
she turns into the dying swan
and I return to the theater
to the day when I waited five hours
to see a a stage transformed
into a place of possibilities

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Day 26 Thirty Day Challenge

The Rya Rug

Every evening my father combed
their rya rug until it loosened
stray strands and held its shape
They never owned a home before
He loved the bright kitchen
with its array of overhead lights
Illuminating a small kitchen table
where he drank Postum Coffee
and my mother drank instant coffee
diluted with hot water and milk
They never owned a home before
When I use a carpet sweeper
on our new wood floor or wipe
up splattered water, I see my father
comb the sea green rya rug
until each strand untangled itself
Then he sat and read


Monday, January 25, 2016

Day 25 Thirty-Day Challenge

It Isn't Your Grandmother's Food

If you wait long enough some things you thought were good to eat become suspect. Every week another item makes the list of yes or no. And some items become cult foods-- kale. Kale has attained King of the Hill status shoving broccoli one step lower.

Once upon a time I saved whatever part of the onion I had left after making a salad, but then I read that saved cut onions are a source of food poisoning. So now I've been purchasing the smallest onion. I pass by those large sweet onions with a longing and yearning.

Chickens are suspect. What about their eggs? How is my fish caught? Poles? Is my tuna can BPA free

Now I'm drinking Almond Milk. I felt good about that until I read that it needed to be Organic Almond Milk. On and on.

Don't eat wheat? Rice is suspect because of arsenic. Ah-- what have we done with our food supply?

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Day 24 Thirty-Day Challenge

Parshah Beshalach

...for God thought, " If the people face war, they
may change their minds and return to Egypt."
     Exodus 13:17


After the escape
after the pursuit
after they really left behind
their status as slaves, of waiting
for the next burden, the next  curt word,
they wanted room to breathe, a place
where they walked with long strides
They chafed under difficult conditions
and wondered if they should have stayed,
but they complained with their own words
unfettered and raucous, but still they questioned

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Day 23 Thirty-Day Challenge

A Given Day

Sun melted ice,
 a moving rivulet
inching down the asphalt
joins other tributaries
from the neighbor's driveway
A braided communion of water

Friday, January 22, 2016

Day 22 Thirty Day Challenge

Upon Re-Reading

I found an old journal and spent an hour reading the words of my nineteen year old self. On some pages I really liked this person, on other pages I wondered who I was and just caught glimpses of me. My memory of several events differed from my journal entry. 

How many times does an event alter? Remembering is falling down a rabbit hole. Each time you try to climb back up you take a slightly different route.

This remembering is a fictive trip.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Day 21 Thirty-Day Challenge

Winter as Usual

Is it hype?
Is it science?
Is it a fair possibility?
Do they ever know?
Is this their job?
These shamans who predict. 
These magicians who consult
 weather patterns, these seers who superseded
 the farmers who read the weather,
who consulted the clouds,
listened to the wind, and asked
for divine intervention.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Day 20 Thirty Day Challenge

Sated on Politicians

Are purple potatoes purple all the way to their center? If not I feel cheated. I expected the inside to match the outside. It's akin to politics. They say one thing and mean another thing. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Day 19 Thirty Day Challenge

To Know Another

Today I drew an aardvark
and discovered an aardwolf
I expect the two know one another
or is it akin to someone saying
Do you know my cousin Clyde?
He also lives in Brooklyn

Monday, January 18, 2016

Day 18 Thirty Day Challenge


to eat ice cream in your car
when the wind howls
and the temperature
is below freezing
requires imagination


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Day 17 Thirty Day Challenge

The Metiorologist Reads Computer Models

The weather is traveling
 from way out there, from
a land once farmed by homesteaders
who watched the sky to read the weather
who knew drifts silo high
who heard the hard winds drifting 
across the plains in winter

Soon the snow will pick herself up
and travel east, stopping along the way
to gather herself before she sidles
across concrete and asphalt roads

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Day 16 Thirty-Day Challenge

Parsha  Bo

          You shall tell your child on that day,
          'It is because of what the Lord did for me
          when I came out of Egypt.'
                           -- Genesis 13:8

Remember this Story

 waters turned to blood
frogs swarmed the country
bugs crawled over the land
covering everything in their path
wild animals went on a rampage
a pestilence struck down cattle and wild horses
an agony of boils infected people and animals
a hail storm descended with ferocious winds and
 lightning split the sky apart and danced
on the earth like a fire gone amok
locusts, so plentiful that they denied the sun
and ate everything green
darkness descended so impenetrable
that it seemed like a burial
and the last plague must be a metaphor not a reality
for all the first born of the Egyptians were struck down
only then did Pharaoh agree to let the Hebrews leave
he chased them out of his land
with bread not yet risen, with sleep still in their eyes

remember, God says, to tell this story
to your children forever

Day 15 Thirty Day Challenge

Inertia as a Reaction

to procrastinate
doesn't mean to refuse
to do something, to turn
your back on the task at hand
It is instead a response to time
and to gain control of when
When to respond and when to wait

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Day 14. Thirty-Day Challenge

The Grace of the Ordinary

A thin veneer of ice edges out to where
a heron balanced stock still last summer.
Cat tails edge the pond      I hold a small twig
and coax a lotus pod toward the shore. When
dry I shall shake it and listen to the seeds'
rattle,      a  Singing Bowl for the winter.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Day 13 Thirty-Day Challenge

“As if you were on fire from within.
The moon lives in the lining of your skin.”
― Pablo Neruda

The Sun's Rhetoric

ice cracks beneath the sun's stare, crystal blades of glass
undress at noon, my words once dormant ignite on paper

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Day 12. Thirty-Day Challenge

The difficulty that accompanies you is less like the dark than a trusted lantern to see your way by.”

― Eudora Welty

Difficulty comes in many guises. For me it's tangling with a garage. For some folks, at least those used to having a garage, backing out and entering are simple maneuvers.

Each time I enter or leave the garage I insist on having someone lure me in or lure me out. The person who has this unenviable occupation looks like she is guiding in a huge jet.

And I'm never certain that the door is really going to follow its appointed path.

But my real difficulty is one of navigation. And my trusted lantern is that person who stands there encouraging me to enter and occasionally signals me to the left or right.

Tonight she asked, " How much longer will you need a guide?" I want to say, " Forever".

Monday, January 11, 2016

Day Eleven Thirty-Day Challenge

Be Yourself

Dare to wear green hair and hoop earrings
Dress in plaids and stripes,wear thick soled shoes
and agile tights, carry chalk and write pithy sayings-
modern day aphorisms on buildings while declaring
that you carry pixie dust for those occasions you disappear

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Day Ten Thirty-Day Challenge

Let Go of Certainty

I like to know the weather
whether I'll need an umbrella
or if a torrid spell of heat
means I need to buy a fan,
one that stands and turns
it's head half way around
I like to know if the stocks
are up or down and should
I hold or sell and when to
begin to panic

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Day 9 Thirty-Day Challenge

Creativity Needs Free Movement

We share space with others, ordinary space, space not limited or defined, narrow and precipitous space, negative space, and the wide expanse of space. In some places space is gracious and expands, in other places we have filled the space with cement, asphalt, construction materials, and the debris of projects either finished or dormant for years. Those places that refuse to cede any more than what is required, continue to harbor immensity, a tolerance for stretching beyond boundaries.

Even amidst the hoarding of space, the infringement of space, there's still a space that can be held beyond the defined space. Creativity needs to push out against self-created barriers. We carry this space with us-- always. Sometimes it needs priming. Often we need to open the windows.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Day 8. Thirty-Day Challenge

Parsha Va'era

Moses Asks, Pharaoh Refuses

it didn't  matter what happened even when it seemed like the seams split apart and the only thing to do was to agree, to stop changing his mind, but even when the discomfort became unbearable he only agreed until everything stopped yet it isn't as if we don't understand Pharaoh's agreeing and disagreeing because we know how easy it is to squirm with discomfort and promise anything to make it stop and once everything ceases we alter our words as if we don't recall the past

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Day Seven of Thirty-Day Challenge

SASE   Self Addressed Stamped Envelope
                       Courage doesn't always roar...
                                 --Mary Anne Radmacher

sent out a poem
somewhere west of the Mississippi
sent out a story
without a stamp or envelope
just traveling through space
used to get back a response
in an envelope licked shut
watched my poem spread its words
on cream colored paper
before I slit that envelope open
now I open a response
sent through the air
with no time to dream before
I know the answer
no time to inhale

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Day Six of Thirty-Day Challenge

Self-consciousness is the enemy of art...
--Ray Bradbury


looking over my shoulder
reading my words, word by word
getting in my head, asking questions
Did you mean what you wrote?
maybe I need to change the words,
alter their meanings, find a safe
place to bury edgy words,
alter, shred the story into words
wrapped in a plain brown wrapper

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Day Five of Thirty- Day Challenge

Play it Again

Be not afraid of absurdity. do not
shrink from the fantastic.
-- Isak Dinesen

I'm ready to leap into an unknown world
where corners alter and angles melt
 where what happened yesterday becomes today
and you get a chance to set the scene again
and replay it over until all the dialogue fits
into a scene you design and play all the roles

Monday, January 04, 2016

Day Four of Thirty-Day Challenge

The Perfectionist

Can't start because
everything isn't just right
corners tucked in, pencils sharpened
Ideas pricking away, but suppose the
ending gets lost, or refuses to surface
Imagine a story wandering for years
How about my drawer full of poems
sharing their metaphors in a tight space

Sunday, January 03, 2016

Day Three of Thirty-Day Journal

Dare to dream extravagantly
Walk past boundaries, beyond the chalk line
and let words tumble onto a page
Hang on to the thread, push past the first draft
and dig beneath the exterior to find the story
Don't stop until you reach down
and spread the words out, gather them,
add words and write the story

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Day Two of Thirty Day Journal Challenge

The prompt asks the question and I respond. " My creative flames are fanned by..."

Does it sound simplistic when I state that I'm off and running when someone posts a challenge/-sketching, reading books in a certain order, books about specific topics. I am drawn to, lured by the challenge to learn perspective drawing or writing form poetry. The trick is to sustain the flame and move beyond the flame.

So who inspires me? All those intrepid souls who set off on out of the ordinary endeavors. Pushing boundaries. I especially enjoy it when, in the midst of rowing the Atlantic or engaged in some other dangerous task, they keep you posted. I have endured the bites of insects and snakes as well as suffered through heat and frozen in the cold. I've been dehydrated and close to frostbite on all my toes. And I've had these experiences through books.


Parsha Shemot

          "Come no closer! Remove the sandals
           from your feet, for the place on which
           you are standing is holy ground."
                      Exodus 3:5

God spoke to Moses
from a burning bush
Was it a deep rolling sound
or a quiet whisper, so silent
that only Moses heard words?
Just suppose God bent down
and spoke, just suppose
God told you that the very
place you stood turned holy
Maybe God points out the spots
but we don't hear his voice
Take off your shoes, listen hard,
God's got orders for you.

Friday, January 01, 2016

Day One of Thirty-Day Challenge

I've started a thirty day journal challenge. Usually I try to stay away from prompts offered as part of someone else's pre-determined plan, but just having moved and the beginning of a new year I found myself reined in by the theme of daring.

It's daring after thirty-two years of living in a condo to purchase a stand alone home. Now that's daring--beginning a new chapter without any real sense of how to take care of a house.

The first prompt asked the writer to list achievements. At first I sought out synonyms and those were absolutely of no value.

Take the plunge—publishing a small press journal with Michaeline. We received a Cultural Council grant and the magazine was accepted by the Journal of Small Press Magazines.But the real coup was when the Boston Public Library ordered a subscription. Maybe some friends asked for the magazine. Several years after that the postal service increased their rates and we tired of an all volunteer magazine so we disbanded the magazine after six issues.

Later on we published two stand alone journals —Friends drew submissions from thirty-eight states and about ten countries. I loved the stories and the stories behind the stories we published.

Perhaps the achievement—although I find that word overbearing—happened in school. I taught middle school learning disabled students for thirty-three years. Most of them came into my program reading three years below level and unable to write a proper sentence— let alone a paragraph. I ran a separate Language Arts program for those students. Occasionally a student needed a private school placement, but those placements were few. Everyone learned to read.

And we read what was of interest. One group read agricultural manuals and recipes because two boys wanted to be chefs. One of those boys received a full scholarship to The Culinary Institute of America. He's a pastry chef at a major New York hotel. We also read magazines devoted to snowboarding and skateboarding—whatever motivated you to learn. And the boys, they were mostly boys, also devoted hours to learning to read using the Gillingham method which relies on a strict application of the rules of phonics. At the end of the year their accomplishment was celebrated with the PPP— Phonics Pizza Party.

"Order whatever kind of pizza you want." I'd say. "You guys earned it."

Then in the order of achievement—keeping up this daily blog.

The next prompt asked me to connect the dots. The thread that runs through has to do with writing and reading.