Sunday, April 30, 2017

The Empty Notebook

These pages seek words,
notes, quotations from books read,
snippets of conversations, possibilities,
to do lists, bucket lists, and beginnings.
This is where a novel may start, or a poem
incubate, or an essay argue its point.
An empty notebook invites reflection.
Pages devoid of markings stand mute,
unable to discern what remains hidden.

April PAD Challenge

Fill in the blank: "The_____" and make it the title

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Let's Stay this Way

I'd rather say miles
instead of kilometers
It sounds like a shorter
distance, easier to spell
and fewer syllables if
I'm in the mood to rhyme 
And I measure in inches
not in centimeters
which sounds too much
like a centipede
Let me luxuriate 
in a non-
metric world

April PAD Challenge

Write a metric poem

Friday, April 28, 2017

I Recall

Do I remember the aroma
of chestnuts or do I only
recall the brown bag
sold by the vendor in front
of the Museum of Modern Art
In the winter the chestnuts
warmed my hands as I
tossed them from hand to hand
Now I recall that when I opened
the bag there was a fragrance,
the aroma of street food

April PAD Challenge

Write a poem about a smell

Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Crack in the Decorum of a Garden

I watch the tulips
and encourage them
to open and stand tall
     Please don't slouch
     or bend down until
     you touch the earth
     with your colorful petals
I expect it's hard
to stay put, unable
to ramble to other gardens
I wince when I think
of staying in one spot,
tethered to the same soil

April PAD Challenge
Use three words--crack, ramble, wince in a poem

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

I'm So Sorry

Please forgive me
I forgot you disliked Brussels Sprouts
when I planned tonight's dinner
Please forgive me
I spilled coffee on the book
you lent me two months ago
I know I should have returned
it sooner to avoid a mishap
I'm sorry that I sent you flowers
for your birthday with a card
made out to another person
Sometimes I forget to keep
things up to date

April PAD Challenge
Write a poem about regrets

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A Memorial

Love wasn't enough to save
those who died
The candles they lit
on Friday at sundown
The baking of challah
The gift of the Sabbath
The mezuzah on the front door
didn't protect them nor did
their holy books
Yellow stars
sewn on garments
set them apart
counted them as other
tamped down the love
they offered

brought forth the righteous ones
who lit a candle in the dark
who saved lives

April PAD Challenge
Write a love poem

Monday, April 24, 2017

On Faith

I believe
in what I can't touch,
can't see, strain to hear
and when I read God's word
I know that it isn't transcribed
word for word
It doesn't matter if everything
happened the way it's written
I still believe in those stories
I shout to Aaron's sons
be careful with that fire,
it won't go well
I walk with Ruth
I watch Jesus feed the
hoards of people and I know
that there is bread enough for me

April PAD Challenge
Write a poem about faith

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Last Palimpsest

I followed all the directions
First I blotted the paper with purple--
the color of twelve tulips we planted
just before winter set in
Then I crumbled the paper
until it fit into my palm
Then I opened it, smoothing
lines until they resembled
the veins of a leaf
By brushing my thumb across
a toothbrush filled with sap
green paint I splattered
a random pattern the way
time sometimes moves
I dipped a toothpick in lemon
yellow and poked dots in circles
creating a galaxy of color
I splashed those tender fibers
with water and watched
colors bleed beyond the edges
Still following directions
I tossed it in the air,
burned the corners
tore a hole in the center
until it resembled a page
from an ancient manuscript
ready to be deciphered
and recovered

April PAD Challenge
Fill in the blank. "Last____"

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Another Take

Notice how animals
pontificate in fables
Notice how one animal
wears wisdom's garment
And note how at the end
of a fable the moral,
revealed and underlined,
is borne on a silver plate
for your edification

April PAD Challenge
Write a fable poem

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Horse Caught in Time

Years ago, before painters repaired
cracks and painted over the surface
of a wall between a pizza restaurant
and a store selling Oriental rugs
I spotted a galloping horse created
out of cracks and peeling paint
He kept moving across the wall
unaware of being caught in one spot

April PAD Challenge
Write a poem about an object

Thursday, April 20, 2017

How to Create a Task

 to do something,
 and finding
that it isn't what 
you want to do
It doesn't appeal 
It's boring
You're sorry 
you agreed
You have better
ways of spending 
It's a waste
of time 
You wonder
if you can
get a one day
cold, find
a plausible
or even one
that requires
a stretch
If not
you're stuck

April PAD Challenge

Write a poem about a task

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


My next door neighbor brought
a Bible over with lemonade
and homemade oatmeal cookies--
something to sweeten the gift
for someone who thought of
the Bible as a book of myths
Something happened between
the cookies and hikes in the woods
and drives across boundaries--
the myths became real and
interwined  with hammered 
dulcimer music and hymns
strummed on a guitar
Soon I owned a black leather Bible 
and a pen with the thinnest nib
and grew into faith 

April PAD Challenge
Write a memory poem

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Poet Who Wears Blinders

 Cloying words with religious overtones
disturb the universe, they paint distortions
and refuse to hold a mirror up
and view the scars, the roots
that wither from lack of water
Is it unacceptable to flay against
the inequalities --do we only see the rose
without accepting the thorn 
I, too, see beauty in the world
but why clothe it with saccharine words
Speak to me of the real world
with it's brokenness
Speak to me without glittering images
and soft, sibilant sounds
Shout, rant, and  don't be afraid
to get down and view the earthworms

April PAD Challenge
Write a life poem

Monday, April 17, 2017

Dancing in an Apartment

Brush, brush, tap, tap
pounded out on a wood board
in the bedroom I shared
with my grandmother.
Ball, heel, ball, heel
brush, brush,
smile, go slow.
Practice the routine
until it's smooth and relaxed.
     Mrs. Rubin lived downstairs
     and used a broom
     to knock on her ceiling
     and let me know that
     she heard the tapping.
     "Like a drill in my head,"
     she told the mailman
     who told my mother.
     I'm certain she never watched
     a clip of Bojangles
     nor ever dreamed of dancing
     on a wood stage
     instead of wood plank.

     Mrs Rubin wore black tie shoes.

April PAD Challenge
Write a dance poem

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Rebel System

ditch your lists
your calendar
with its notations
ignore to do items
let your phone ring
refuse to respond
to yet another
or infomercial
cut your cable
and stare at an
empty screen
send back
unsolicited mail
walk backwards
play tiddlywinks
instead of scrabble
create your own signs
start your own movement
don't accept
the prescribed
social system,
it's flawed

April PAD Challenge
Fill in the blank: "______system"

Saturday, April 15, 2017

The Dream of a Child

Once upon a time
is the way a fairy tale begins
But this is once upon a time
long ago when I thought
that if I practiced magic tricks,
tried to converse like a ventriloquist
with a Raggedy Ann doll,
tossed two red rubber balls in the air,
practiced standing on my hands,
and "walked the dog" with my wood yo yo
I might be given a chance
to appear in the circus
-- at least one time
Later on I wanted to fly
like Peter Pan-- at least one time

April PAD Challenge
Write a " one time" poem

Friday, April 14, 2017

Amazing Grace

you can't buy it
or trade for it
you can't go looking
in your usual hiding places
it's right out there
catches you unaware
and if you're not paying
attention you'll just
let it slip right by
cause you thought
it would be wrapped
in glossy paper, announcing
itself with a drum roll
but it's quiet like
and you never know
who is going to be
a messenger

April PAD Challenge
use a song title as the title of your poem

Thursday, April 13, 2017

And I'm an Armchair Traveler

My son wears tattoos
as fashion, as art emblems
as a way to fuse an ancient art
with contemporary time
Indonesian artists tapped
out designs cast
in the soul of the islands
on his arms and ankles
My son accepts Buddhist teachings
and wears a Tibetan Dzi bead
on a woven necklace
He will pray in public
for peace, for social justice
My son supports the women
of the Ndebele tribe who weave
hats of metal wire to sell
and purchase medicine
He buys and sells art
and collects the indigenous
art of Maori artists
and of outsider artists
My son and his wife
have a multi- hued family,
Elijah,an African-American child
Zara, whose mother was Mexican
and father was a plains Indian
Phuntsho, who is from Bhutan
and two biological children,
Jordan and Noah
They lived in Colorado
and Israel, New Zealand, and Thailand
They trekked the foothills
of Mt Everest, cycled in Indonesia,
visited India's rural areas, hiked
in China, ran in jungle areas,
and filled their passports
with stamps from places
I read about in National Geographic

April PAD Challenge
Write a family poem

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Guilty Of

passing up someone pan handling
telling a half truth
hiding what i really think
telling what i really think
changing my mind after
i agreed to do something
sitting on my hands
talking a good game
not walking the path
blasphemy without realizing
blasphemy realizing
being curt
being cloying
ignoring someone
biting off too much
biting off too little
being supercilious
altering where i stand
walking away
not walking away

April PAD Challenge
Write a guilty poem

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Sonnet in Search of a Pattern

I do like sestinas
but find sonnets too
restrictive with given
rhyme schemes and iambic
pentameter reining me in
Perhaps I find it too difficult
and prefer not to fail
while seeking a syllable

April PAD Challenge
Write an anti- form poem

Monday, April 10, 2017

Where to Next?

my travels span the world
from traveling down the nile
to trekking through forbidden
places, from visiting deserts
where my footsteps disappear
to scaling straight faced cliffs--
descending to the deepest caverns
and climbing the highest peaks,
my travels, unlimited by constraints
and confined within the covers of books
know no limits

April PAD Challenge
Write a travel poem

Sunday, April 09, 2017

So Surprised

Last week's rain swelled the pond,
water overflowed boundaries
then spread over paths
creating new waterways

Trees stand knee deep in water
Cattails and rushes just
break the water's surface
This altered topography
will last for days

April PAD Challenge
Write a poem " so_____" fill in the blank

Saturday, April 08, 2017


Will I finish the book
before the book club meets
or will I need to wing it
without knowing the ending
depending only on conjecture,
guess work, and my own sense
of how to tie the ends up in a bow
But suppose the author prefers
to leave his readers wondering
what happens next or if there
is another book to follow
A book that picks up just where
our main character was left
spread out on the horns of a dilemma
Ah! What will happen next

April PAD challenge
Write a panic poem

Friday, April 07, 2017

I Discovered a Grass Reed

My cousin held a blade
of grass taut between her thumbs
and the heels of her hands
She drew the grass reed
close to her lips,
inhaled and exhaled
A whistle cut through the air,
high pitched, plaintive
I tried, but only my breath
moved through the space
My cousin picked a flat piece of grass
and placed it just right
Now, she said, blow through the space
as if this is your solo voice,
you are calling the insects to join in
And I let my breath move against
the grass reed until a long whistle
entered the night
Crickets and grasshoppers harmonized
And then fireflies came to dance

April PAD challenge
write a discovery poem

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Third Floor Stacks

Overhead lights buzz
on the third floor of the library
I walk up and down the aisles
Outside rain and a dark sky
contrast with the warmth inside
I pick up Gertrude Stein and read,
"How do they occupy a room. In a way."
In another aisle A title catches my eye,
Girl From Fitchburg,
I went to a museum there,
but I can't recall what I viewed
I open the book and read,
" There are tricks for reliving the past."
as if the author read my mind
Halfway up and in the middle of a shelf
A Heinrich Boll book, Irish Journal
It seems so alien to his other work
He writes, " When God made time," the Irish say,
" He made plenty of it."
Is a walk up and down the third floor aisles
of the library a good use of time?
The title Unruly Places captures my attention
What places do I know that are unruly,
restive, boisterous, robust
Perhaps the closed library stacks

April PAD challenge
Write a poem that incorporates a sound

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


She showed up holding a red balloon
and handed me the purple string
We watched the balloon dance
and plump up with the kitchen's warmth
from the moussaka cooking in the oven
We ate dinner, drank wine, spoke
of this and that, while the red balloon
floated overhead as if listening
to our words and offering a blessing

April PAD challenge
"Pick an element from the Periodic Table
to be the title of your poem"

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

I Met Myself

each poem is a beginning--
a chance to turn a metaphor,
to discover a place you didn't
know existed and then to remain
in that place --digging deep,
following a thought until
you burrow into your own skin

April PAD challenge
"Write a beginning or ending poem"

Monday, April 03, 2017

A Biblio Love

Library shelves filled with titles,
books to learn how to knit a scarf,
or understand quantum physics, or
read the first of Dostoyevsky's tomes
I walk to the top floor and roam
through books about our wars--
The Revolution to Afghanistan,
then take a right and roam through
Ancient Greece and Rome before
going downstairs to find a mystery
and a book dubbed literary fiction

April PAD challenge
"___love" fill the blank

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Perhaps Tomorrow

A climb up Cadillac Mountain, but
not today, I'm still not ready
to do more than a flat terrain
with a view of water and a chance
to see the heron who stands watch
over the pond at Great Meadows
The first game of golf this spring,
but not today while the fairway
still labors beneath calf deep
puddles of melted snow
A haddock sandwich at Dairy Joy,
but that will need to wait
until they open for the season
when I'll add French fries
and a twirled Java Berry ice cream
Not today, but maybe tomorrow

April PAD challenge
Write a not today poem

Saturday, April 01, 2017

The Forward Pronounced Ferwerts

I walked to the candy store
to buy the Jewish Daily Forward
for my grandmother to read
with her afternoon glass of tea
The Yiddish script danced
on the page until Yette spoke
to me of trade unions, of socialism
and men looking for wives and
women wanting husbands
She read articles about
working conditions,
Workman's Circle lectures,
and where to learn English
My grandmother cut out serialized
stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer--
collecting parts in a wood box
until she could read the short story
from the first word to the last period
Sometimes she asked me
if I wanted to hear the story
and then in English and Yiddish
I heard a short short version
and even when I lost the thread
I loved listening

April Poem a Day Challenge
Write a reminiscing poem.