Now It's Dark When You Leave Work (video!)

More videos here: runaway sentence on youtube

Once you notice the ghosts
in your rear-view mirror, you’re stuck
with them. They follow you home.
After that initial clench of fear
in your belly, you get used to them.
They become comforting, even.

It’s because you dropped that fortune
cookie fortune from your purse
on your way out, then picked it up:
   You are alert to the events
       and feelings around you.
The ghosts know that is true and smile.

They’re why you didn’t run over
that raccoon running back and forth
in front of your car. They keep
your children company. They are with you
at night, and they wake you in morning.
They notice, too. They notice blue.


Spring Wins Again

Where once there were layers of grey,
now blossoming violet songs
push against our resistance, strong

desire to keep the grey in play,
shunting suggestion of color
to margins, preferring duller

descriptors for these heady days.
Purples not easily denied
break earth and bloom before our eyes

in majestic springtime display;
we blink, ruddy-eyed, blink again
attempting to thwart green, but then

the yellows! That first yellow day
warms us, unwittingly joining
the fools who grin at nature’s foiling

winter. Another year we stay
for yellows, then reds, and we’re done--
No point arguing, spring has won.

For Margaret’s Play It Again challenge to the Real Toads: CONSTANZA

On the Importance of Learning to Type

(A peek into my world. I typed this while my kids read along on the screen.)
Why My Children Need to Learn How to Type
by Mama

You will be able to express your thoughts very quickly and wonderfully if you learn to type like I can. If you can put hands to keyboard and not think about finding the letters and not think about what you are doing when you are typing, you will be able to sit at the computer and create wonderful writing and get it down quickly. This is one of the reasons why I can write well, because I know how to type well. I learned to type in high school. I took a typing class from a weird teacher named Mr. Lee who had us sit in a classroom at huge electric typewriters and if you fidgeted in your seat he would yell at you “Get back in your stall!” He made us do typing exercises that at the time were incredibly boring but I am very grateful for Mr. Lee's typing class because typing is extremely important to me and my work and my whole life.

So, my children, I am going to find a typing program for you to use to practice and learn to type the way I type. See how my hands sit above the keyboard and my fingers know where to go while I am typing this? It is natural for me, my fingers know and I do not have to think about it at all. This is also why texting on the phone is not as natural for me. That is because I can't put my hands on the keyboard the way I do with the computer. Your games like Minecraft and other games I have watched you play have keyboards that are set out like a typewriter keyboard. They call it a QWERTY keyboard. See that? On the top row where my left hand is? Someone invented the typewriter keyboard and they put the letters not in alphabetical order but in an arrangement that would be natural for humans to be able to quickly find with their fingers on the keys. It has to do with how letters are arranged into words and the letters that are most often used and least often used. It's really genius. We should look up and learn about the person who invented it because that person was pretty darn smart. Okay now stop reading what I am typing and let's get to work on your essays. Love always, Your Mother.


Spring In the Air

The first day of spring
is no less dark than dogfighting,
no less bright than Venus
with Mars lurking in shadows
just behind, no less ready
than an aborted countdown,
no less mundane than garbage night
under the stars and the fights
and the threes twos ones of it all,
because what are waiting for anyway?



A man
admonished his lover
for wiping her counter
with a dish towel
while baking
egg whites are like snot
he said
then fucked her
on the same counter
His own kitchen table
hoard of crusts and papers
cursive letter
why won’t you have me
I would forever sit naked
reading your magazines
photo of a smiling girl
leather couch cushions
wiped off
with a dish towel


Boiled Over

Our eyes met across my belly
and a stack of pancakes
then batted down again
We were spies
in the house of held grudges

Steam rose from boiling sap
like hair on the back of my neck
as boots scuffed muddy gravel
familiar laughs echoed
then dissipated in a sugar cloud
Who were those people?

The line for maple products
was a dozen strong
and everyone looked guilty
I forked potatoes in anger
You observed it can’t be healthy
to grow resentment alongside a baby

So I let the baby go

Late entry for Karin’s prompt to the Real Toads: ASKING YOU OUT


What to Do When Pain Recedes

The skin covering my shins
is starting to heal, long-held
bruises fading to translucent, scabs

less prominent, soon gone smooth
like your singing as I wander
dream-sidewalks not lost at all

casually, no longer requiring
awakening from stifled screams.
Soon our city will shine bright

and green even at night, birds
will awaken us from the monotone
of March, you will smooth your hands

up my thigh and notice it is healed.
I will thank you for singing, for your
rapt hands expelling night terror,

a lifetime of bruising below the surface
of things. Give me your hands and sing.
Let me give good thanks for the healing.

Grace inspires the Real Toads with poetry by WOLE SOYINKA.


Perhaps Go With Red Instead

Winter blue begets blue
as seasons change, so too
those who question color
reject red, embracing blue

Blueish wind hangs back,
on notice from those who
wait on springtime zephyrs
to blue up wallflower blues

Who am I to question use
of blue as metaphor for blue
representing another stage
blue belaboring all that blue

Flash 55 in the Imaginary Garden: Color



blue begets blue,
metallic warms to black,
pregnant & revelatory

Music in the Imaginary Garden: Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, Time (The Revelator)


This Week in Poetry

C’mon over to the Thirsty Mind in South Hadley, MA on Wednesday and warm up with coffee or tea and some spoken-word poetry! Gonna be a fun evening, for sure. Hope to see you.



my love for you
is like describing
how a vowel glides
to a diphthong
there’s no explanation
it just does

our love as a tree
would be trying
at the start
by extraneous phrases
antiquated pedagogy

like ellipsis
clauses lain doggo
for a preposition
at last deemed
perfectly punctuated
by you

For Michael/Grapeling’s word-list prompt to the Real Toads: ABSENT



A season fraternizing
with gallery ghosts,
red-curtained brooding
means seashell-iridescent
skyshine shocks,
suggesting beach-balm breeze
and a promise that bitter
might actually end.


Winter Affirmations

You said
head north to go south
so we ringed the fingerlakes
in a blizzardy fever
staring straight ahead in case of deer

Plastic bags waved in maple branches
like rice paper
or prayer flags
rice noodles searching for cucumbers
seasons away

You said I love you
as we approached the river
considering the currents
still rushing under layers of ice
and my inferior vena cava

If we sink
there’s a supply in the trunk
canopic jars especially for afterlife
but keep my heart intact
true north

For Karin’s prompt to the Real Toads: (Hopefully) Promising


Ways of Looking at the Snow Moon

Read a book aloud, observing
the space between words

A long hair in the shower looks
like the Madonna and child

Peek in on your sleeping daughter
blanketed in snowlight

Oncoming traffic headlight stars
are maybe moons

Globe of frustration
behind your eyes

Lost baby tooth,

Still light
at 5:30

(With apologies to Wallace Stevens.)


Love on a Desert Planet

Don’t put a cactus shirt on a mannequin.
He likely will resent you forever,
certain to develop a prickly sense of humor
that would spoil any friendly endeavor
you employ.
Too busy being angry to enjoy
love sooner,
he’ll resist your touch, still
wondering whether you’ll try again, and again
doubting your intentions, sharply, until--

Flash 55 PLUS Kerry’s super-hard word-counting Robert Herrick stanza.



Appreciating paperwhites
lanky window-angling before dawn,
creeping awareness of cold.

Turn on the heat,
radiators immediately seep lavender,
inviting an old lover to visit.

Struck with desire
to lick Italian cooking-class splashes
from the crooks of her elbows,

Futility comes up with the sun.
You stretch toward its light,
remembering the cold.

Inspired by Hannah’s prompt to the Real Toads: LAVENDER FIELDS


She Wishes By the Seashore

echoes unwise
undone alone
unknown pinkest
surges cresting
not best but most


Cowgirl, Interrupted

You can feel
the bumpy rhythm
of the carousel horse
in your teeth
her low moan
in your clavicle

Giddyap sister
let’s bust these poles
& skedaddle

Out beyond
the grassy sighs
of home
to wide open hollers
sprinkled with a few
frustrated hearts

You are
so delicious
get along, little--

50 words for Mama Zen on the subject of HUNGER


Mail Delivery in Harsh Climates

The mailman
your letter

Shut the door
winterday blue

the inevitable grey
of your words

Wind sharpens
black ice
to cleave my breast

You say
you don’t love me

For Fireblossom Friday in the Imaginary Garden: WINTER


Oh Dammit

Thought me a haiku
committed to memory
promptly forgot it