Tuesday, January 31, 2017


I am setting out on a voyage
without a true north, with
parameters that lack clarity
and I will need to rely on
people whose names,
are not yet written
in my address book
People who speak
a language I will learn
I haven't signed up,
nor requested membership,
but find myself initiated
into this journey where
I can't see the shore

Monday, January 30, 2017

The President is the Dragon

I am against you
    Pharaoh king of Egypt,
the great dragon sprawling
    in the midst of its channels,
saying, " My Nile is my own;
     I made it for myself."
             Ezekiel 29:3 NRSV 

He wields a pen to dictate
edicts, uprooting order,
displacing families
A puppeteer
playing with lives
creating his own
reality held together
with lies

Sunday, January 29, 2017

After a Meeting

White privilege
class privilege
put blinders on words
Assumptions happen, then
disconnects and outrages
We speak a different language,
our lexicons formed on separate
streets, mine in a city crowded
with buildings where the aroma
of my neighbor's corn beef hash
mixed with my grandmother's gefilte fish,
where people carried their garbage
to the incinerator, where the insurance
man came every week to collect money,
where when it was too hot to sit inside
people sat outside on folding chairs
or sat on the fire escape until they
caught an evening breeze,
where some people flew pigeons
from rooftops, where my mother
had a two dollar a week
Christmas Club Saving booklet,
where my father said you didn't buy
anything until you had the money,
where my grandmother believed
you always gave change to someone
who is standing on the street
holding a cup, a sign asking for help
It's a different language
than the words spoken by someone
cradled in white privilege or grown
accustomed to that place over time
My language is not your language

Saturday, January 28, 2017

We Will

Who will stand with those who carry
all they own on their backs
or bundled in makeshift bags
Who will stand with those
who hunger for left overs
Who will stand with those who seek
a safe and warm place to sleep
Who will stand for those who fear
the sound of gunfire,the
wounding of the innocent,a bomb
hurled into a crowd of people
Who will stand with those who use
their body to shield children
We will
We will stand down our leaders
We will demand that our voices be heard

Friday, January 27, 2017

A History


streams backwards
past parents
past grandparents
beyond our counting
beyond family trees
back to the early stories
that pass from voice to voice
that are smoothed by retelling
that grow by added details
by hands that hold them
and pass them on
stories that are bone told
that take up a home
deep in your marrow
stories that define
stories that are worn
beneath your clothes
stories that cling
whose contours
travel with you

Thursday, January 26, 2017

After Listening

we need to rage
and then to act
we need to weep
and then to speak
we need to dig deep
to uncover the reasons
behind hate, behind
erasing the other,
we need to ask hard
questions and look
into our souls
to discover who we
may call other

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A to Z

it looks as if we're heading for a tumultuous time and sending letters to representatives, marching, making phone calls while helping get our concerns out there does not alleviate the deep seated fear of where we are heading thus other ways of dealing with the situation is necessary and those are of an individual nature and mine is falling back on the alphabet which was the first thing you learned as either a sing song rhythm or magnetic letters on the fridge and then in a more studied fashion they were taught in school so taking that as my first step i decided to read through the alphabet but not necessarily in a A to Z order as long as by the end of the year i had read an author for each letter

i surrounded this with additional parameters which make the search for authors more intriguing which translates to my not selecting any author prior to arriving at the shelf assigned to a particular letter and at that point arbitrarily taking a book off the shelf and looking through the first few pages before deciding to either accept or reject the book based on this brief encounter

after spending thirty minutes at the library i made several discoveries regarding the selection process

given the height of the top shelf and my short stature i automatically eliminated the top shelf and then because the lower shelf required me to either bend in half or sit on the floor i neglected the lowest shelf which left me every shelf in the middle where i hoped to find books written by unfamiliar authors where i did find two books but not on the A shelf but on the B shelf and i am about to embark with the author juliana buhring on a solo bicycle trip around the world in 152 days and over 18,000 miles

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

An Alternate World

"Don't just stand there looking dejected, depressed, unable to get out of your own way."
" If you can't reach the light fixture do something creative."
" Pile up books that you no longer want and see if you can reach."
" Take care which books you choose. You don't want to stand on poetry books."
" Really, why are you elevating yourself on a three volume set of Ruskin?"
" Don't you have any respect for the past?"
" Select that shelf of speculative fiction. We're living it."

Monday, January 23, 2017

After Hearing Good News

the world tilted my way
gravity kept me tethered
while a soft snow fell
and skeleton trees
waited for spring
i glimpsed spring today

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Which Story

Waiting is arduous
breeding conjectures
with different endings,
stories that become

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Boston Women's March

People crammed together
on subway platforms
wait for a train

They stream out of Park Street station
and enter Boston Common with their
pink hats, signs, plastic bags, pockets
stuffed with water bottles, energy bars,
and whatever else satisfies
Hand Painted signs dot the landscape
Love over Hate,
A Women's Place is in the Resistance
My Vagina My Choice
Mom He's That Bad
Same Shit Different Century
Two gay guys carry small Pride flags
I tap one on the shoulder,
"Do you have an extra flag?"
and he digs into a pocket
We exchange thumbs up
Marty Walsh revs up the crowd
and we hoot, applaud, stamp our feet
Speaker after speaker
Senator Warren excites thousands
with promises of fighting for everyone
Maura Healey says, "We'll see you in court."
and even the trees shake with
the sounds of the crowd
It takes over ninety minutes
for the crowd
to leave the commons
to join the throngs outside
to march
to have a say

On the train back
I talk to a woman
who grew up in Manhattan
and we remember the rush hour,
a woman joins in and tells us how
the Japanese have subway pushers
who corral riders into full cars
Two other women
who have just met
speak about funding cuts

And women marched
across this country
across the ocean
A pink hat revolution

Friday, January 20, 2017

In Just a Few Words

I write texts
those impersonal notes
that we toss off to say
Where are you
I'm waiting at the restaurant
Want to catch a movie
I'll be late
Texts for me are bits
of information
A quick way to stay informed
Emails are longer
more detailed, perhaps
more personal
I prefer longhand
without the quick send
but I'm willing to adjust
to you wanting texts
those short notes
often with attached
symbols, internet
notations that shorten
the need for words
lengthening the gap
inviting a smiley face
to be a third party
so I'll send a text
add a picture
and wait
for a response

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Another Universe

reality alters when looking through
a window distorted with raindrops
a rain that pounds the earth
straight lines change into curves
patterns form on blank surfaces
add footnotes to signs
what is-- no longer remains trustworthy
wipe the rain away and glimpse what
is usual, comfortable, solid
but once the rain fills the glass again
the world becomes a strange place
filled with uncertainties

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

We Need a National Eeyore Day

Today is National Winnie- the -Pooh Day-- celebrated on A.A. Milne's birthday. Several decades ago I purchased a set of the classic books . At that time they came in a red slip case. Today you're apt to see the characters drawn in a Disney style, but the set we owned had the original illustrations.

Over the year we read and re-read the stories and bought a stuffed Pooh Bear and Eeyore. Michael, who lived next door, owned a Christopher Robin doll. Some days Christopher, Eeyore, and Pooh were called upon to reenact the latest story-- often with some modifications.

Given these uncertain times who wouldn't want to cuddle with a plush Tigger or Winnie-the-Pooh? Perhaps we need Eeyore-- the gloomy fellow.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


years ago a poet said that words held power and to wield words meant taking responsibility for how people read those words and to believe that it was the task of a writer to speak truth even if her words made people uncomfortable and so we come to a time when writers of all ilk and that means more than journalists need to write about what is happening in our country and poets with their ability to refine each word and to create metaphors and language that leaps into images have always been able to write poems that bring the truth of what is happening to the foreground

the horror of war in Randall Jarrell's poem " the death of the ball turret gunner" brings a visceral experience to any reader...a soldier who wrote of being six miles up in the turret of a plane and the turret was hit and just before that he was thinking about life...

I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters
When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

we need our poets to write about immigrants, black americans, muslims, lgbtq
we need our poets to write about loss
we need our poets to write about hope

we need our poets to write poems so that we can feel the fear of those painted as other
we need our poets to write about the hate spewed by the alt right
we need our poets to document these times
we need our poets to have readers

Monday, January 16, 2017


      "...and Noah removed the
      covering of the ark, and looked
      and saw that the face of the
      ground was drying."

I sat on a flat granite rock
and watched a cloud
inch toward the sun

      " And Abraham looked up
      and saw a ram , caught
      in a thicket by its horns."

We spotted a Broad-Tailed
Hummingbird with its wings
stirring the air
just like the ladies at church
on a humid day

Genesis 8:13, 22:13

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Straight Pins

Before we all lived tethered to technology, before we added words like googled and download to our lexicons, before we verified where we were and when with hundreds of cell phone photos , before we knew about tweets and a story going viral, before we loved our apps, we were known by our given names.

Now our names are of little value if we don't remember our password, or user name or pin. Try and tell the robot your name instead of your password or pin. My mother knew how to hold five or six straight pins between her lips when putting up a hem. She never knew of a pin as anything other than a convenient pointed item that you could buy in box.

Yesterday I could not find out how much data I used this month because the Verizon app asked me for my password and user name. I tried three different combinations--all incorrect. No fourth chance--I was locked out of the app. I couldn't say my name--unacceptable. I couldn't verify that I was who I said I was. A license-- no value.My birth certificate-- no value. All they wanted was that password. And I had not written it down.

"We're very alert to security," said the man with a clipboard at the mall Verizon store. Even after he retrieved my password the robot blocked my path. Unlocking the app required a call to someone in tech support and his directions to me were so convoluted that I handed my iPhone to the man with a clipboard. And he proceeded to communicate with the tech support fellow and with the additional help of a computer they cleared me to use the app. I am a password, or many passwords, my pin is not straight, and my user name carried more weight than my birth name.

There's a moral to the story. If you live in the land of robots and computer chips you best write down all passwords, pins, and user names. And best to also write down your given name.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

We Need Everyone

I don't mean to preach
don't mean to tell you what to do
but I can't stop my words
can't put them in a bottle
with a stopper
Just going to ask you
to look around
Just going to ask you
to worry about people
you never met
Just going to ask you
to get your feet moving
Lift your voice loud enough
to be heard and then meet
those people you don't know
They are the folks who
wear a target on their back

Friday, January 13, 2017

Let Every Song..

after several hours and a bit of difficulty following the directions I coupled my devices to the bluetooth on my new speaker remembering a time when you simply turned a dial to listen to a station but now I have the choice of thousands of stations and I've spent hours selecting six presets all from a fairly close area instead of a station thousands of miles away which I may listen to occasionally when I want to hear chinese music or indulge in opera or delight in knowing that I can pull in a radio station in iceland or i can start with a country that begins with "a" and work my way through the alphabet as a way to stick my head in the sand while the sands of this country tilt and slide i'll be listening to music from bulgaria

Thursday, January 12, 2017

"There will be peace in the valley some day"

Modern gospel music in the background..
" This is my song..."
Blotting out the developments in our country,
" this is my savior.."
but you can't sit still and wait until everything topples...
" all day long"...
and what I hear is so mean spirited
"come forward in cleansing..."
instead of standing still
speak up, walk, hold banners
find a way

" there will be peace in the valley some day"

Wednesday, January 11, 2017


Warm weather melts snow
feeding next year's new blossoms
with springs of water

Tuesday, January 10, 2017


I'm going out
to test the cold
to see if my nose freezes
or my fingertips burn
and my ears turn red
I'm going out
to see if the sun
wrapped the cold
in a warm embrace
Then I'm going to
wrap myself up
and count the clouds
and check the trees
and walk over ice
and come back home
and you'll warm my hands
between your hands

Monday, January 09, 2017

Where They Are

don't you carry
your secrets in your pocket
that one you mended
cause it got heavy
and you held tight
like anyone interested--
someone pestering you
to turn that pocket
inside out,
shake out
all the lint
no one cares
why you carry it around
but it's wearing a hole
in that cloth

Sunday, January 08, 2017


One day the story
a skein of yarn,
a spool of thread
rolling out the words
until each sound
joins another
and the story
into the light

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Another Slant

Some memories cling to you and form an intimacy that doesn't alter with age or time nor wilt yet the same event may interpret itself differently over time and when the slant differs the memory will occupy an unexpected position which is how i view the first year i read the bible from in the beginning to the book of revelation which I didn't finish that year which is a pattern i have of reading an entire series and not reading the last book as if by stopping before the end i hold up time which isn't true because i know that time refuses to be cajoled into stopping for even a brief moment but that year reading the bible began when i moved into a new neighborhood and received an invitation to a morning bible study which was possible since i stayed home for several years with two small children and since i wanted to meet people i said thank you and read the passages in matthew so I'd be prepared but i wasn't ready for the silver tea set and the set interpretation that brooked no movement from the set reading and when they didn't wish to hear my questioning the word virgin which sometimes was interpreted as maiden i thought that it wasn't the group for me but then my next doors neighbor suggested or dared me to read the bible as if i was reading a novel and see what i thought when i reached the end and as an additional carrot we could meet and openly discuss each book which sounded like a good invite and a way to meet friends and as the months moved on she encouraged me to accept jesus as my savior "just step out on faith," she said "and you'll find a solid rock" which i held up doing because i wanted a sign a gilt invitation that assured me i was on the right path so I kept reading and we prayed together in her house and my house and when hiking the black locust trail at gambrill state park or at cumberland falls we prayed to follow jesus and for me to accept jesus which i finally did when i knew that the friendship rested on that but it took years for me to catch up to that day and how i see that day depends upon a shrouded memory and i always stop at the book of revelation

Friday, January 06, 2017

Weather Report

You know the feel of snow
The way the sky takes on
a certain look, expectant,
just waiting for its time

Thursday, January 05, 2017


remember when people were building bomb shelters
remember when pet rocks were popular with apartment dwellers
remember when the hula hoop was inducted into the national toy hall of fame
remember when you sat cross legged on the floor and rose like the phoenex
remember when you would never use a yo-yo with ball bearings
remember when potbellied pigs outweighed their owners
remember when you bought sneakers without names
remember when you could understand the words in a song
remember when you wanted the unabridged oxford dictionary
remember when your parents bought the encyclopedia britannica
remember when you bought your first computer with a floppy disc
remember when you collected match book covers
remember when you listened to records and 45s
remember when you listed to tapes
remember civil discourse

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

To Do List

Let's not call hate crimes by other names
Let's not say that it was done by misguided youths
Let's not think that it's a passing phase
Let's not change the subject, turn away
Let's not leave the arena
Let's not ignore history

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Everyone Has a Story to Tell

       It is in the unexpected or neglected
       place that you will find the lobster.
                  - Heard in Irish fishing village

I met the bag lady in a Manhattan automat.

She wore gloves with no fingers, a style popular today, and carried her clothes in two Macy's bags.

Her shoes, worn down on one side, exaggerated the way she walked--dipping from side to side.

I watched her take out a used teabag and dip it into hot water in someone's used cup. She counted out loud until the tea was brewed.

We met in the bathroom. She was washing out a pair of socks while I entered a stall.

When I washed my hands she said, " They call me whatever name comes to mind. I don't tell no one my name because you got to be careful." " You got a name?"

I said my first name.

" Don't you want to know my name? The one they named me when I was born? Maybe you think I don't got a real name, one I carried with me into school."

Just when I was about to ask her name she said, " You waited too long. Now I'm going to keep it secret."

When I left the bathroom I heard her say, "If you had asked I'd tell you."

Halfway back to the table I returned to the bathroom and asked her name.

" You think I'm just waiting around here doing nothing? I'm waiting for my daughter. She's got a good job and a house. She's taking me out to dinner. She meets me here every week and we go out to a sit down restaurant. My son can't come cause he lives too far, but he sends me presents."

She never did tell me her name.

Monday, January 02, 2017

A Story of Clothes

My mother created my skirt pattern
on brown wrapping  paper,
copying the original in every detail
She pinned the cut-out pieces to
plaid material and cut out each shape

              Joseph's father made him
              a robe with sleeves

The plaid pattern moved seamlessly,
each line edged against another
line as if they were one

                So when Joseph came to his
                brothers they stripped him of his robe,
                the long robe with sleeves

My mother used a thimble, a sewing
box filled with spools of color, a red  pin cushion,
and needles with large and small sized eyes

                 Then Pharaoh sent for Joseph,
                 and he hurriedly brought him out
                 of the dungeon...Joseph shaved himself
                 and changed his clothes

My mother held four or five pins
between her lips and removed them
one by one when she hemmed my skirt

                 Removing his signet ring from his hand,
                 Pharaoh put it on Joseph's hand, he arrayed
                 him in garments of fine linen, and put
                 a gold chain around his neck

( Genesis 37:3, , Genesis 37:23,  Genesis 41:14, Genesis 41:42)

Sunday, January 01, 2017

So This is 2017

So this is 2017,
the first day, the day to create a list
of what to change  and what to do
No more sugar, perhaps just a bit
No wheat, perhaps a few slices of bread
Complete a drawing a day, maybe
taking the Lord's Day off
Partaking in challenges,
Following PhotoBlog's prompts
for photo a day challenge
and posting every day
Maybe not being tethered
to the prompt
Partaking in a year long
online art course
with a prompt a day
Perhaps breathing
Then reading through
the Bible, perhaps
skipping Proverbs
because I find most
too didactic and cause
me to say stop preaching
Continue on with full page
illustrations in my Bible
allowing myself to skip
those parts that list
begat after begat
And then there are
reading challenges
in my spare time
Add to that a reminder
to be spontaneous