Another Cavalcade of Seasons and Songs

Fold the year’s pain
into renzuru--
everything you lost locked
in the heart,
head full of yearning,
like showy tailfeathers,
all your melodies memorized
in the wings.
Keep your crane of ghosts
and minor chords
creased in your notebook,
carry it with you,
stashed in your pillow for dreaming.

For my Real Toads, inspired by Kevn Kinney’s Broken Hearts and Auto Parts


Buy One Lilac, Get Two Bearded Iris Absolutely Free!

I remember a septic tank
requiring pumping every month,
wide wooden floorboards
painted grey,
a hot-air balloon spotted
in the skylight above the bed,
the 30-inches-of-snow day
and the subsequent river rush.
If I wrote the story of my life,
this chapter would be
long on nature, short on humanity.
But there would be skinnydipping,
kingfishers ratcheting downstream,
and peonies.


The Storied Rose Glasses

like onion skin
stings like hell
before inevitable

But in dreams
washed in pink
& it’s your waves
lapping at my calves

Inspired by Hannah’s prompt to the Real Toads: LAKE HILLIER


Shut Down Due to Ice

Forgot coffee
on counter apples
in drainer feverishly
navigating roads slick
with worry concerning
apples of your cheeks
flushed fever-red
never noticing red light
rode late night only
your argument perfectly
too late to respond
having forgotten black ice
just how slick you can be.

For Mama Zen’s prompt to the Real Toads: HOMOPHONES


This Writer's Process

Write every day for a month,
then stop. Don’t write for one day,
two days, then a week. Take a break,
all the while admonishing yourself
for lacking productivity. Curse,
but colorfully: Jesus Christ
on a bike, I am lazy as shit,
and even less talented. I give up.
Then start writing all over again.

True confessions for Flash Fiction 55 at Real Toads!


This Week in Poetry

On Wednesday, all the Cool Cats will be hanging out at the Thirsty Mind in South Hadley, MA. If you are local or in need of a sanity-saving between-holidays road trip, see you there! It will be wonderful fun.

Having actually pulled off writing a poem every single day in November, a task about which I had much doubt at the start, I am feeling pretty good. Mama might just have her groove back!

It’s never too late to make a contribution to Center for New Americans to acknowledge this feat, if you are so inclined. A gift of any size will be very much appreciated by yours truly, as well as by this great organization and the people it serves--the newest members of our community. Click here:

Thank you, Gentle Readers, for being here and for all your love and support. Carry on creating!
Marian's 30 Poems in November fundraising page



Vintage red Fiesta comport
from that thrift shop in Point Breeze,
long ago broken. Quonochontaug
abalone shell, one Roman glass earring
brought back from Jerusalem,
titanium wedding band (inscribed).
Stripes of cobalt-copper Campbell pottery.
Dress buttons, string of pearls,
pewter maple-leaf barrette (keeper lost).
Painted macaroni, empty lip balm tubes.
My children’s baby teeth.

Celebrate! This is #30 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans. It’s not too late to make a contribution of any amount. Thank you so much for your cheering and support. Whew!


Rules for Living

You had rules for life.
One was: In every new town,
try the Chinese restaurant.
I disagreed, preferring salad
or grilled cheese on rye,
but I went along.
Now, at every opportunity,
I eat broccoli with garlic sauce
and think of you. Still
resisting your rules,
but I’m losing interest
in strong opinions about food.
In a couple years all rules
for life will be irrelevant anyway.
Then I can forget you.

For Bjorn’s prompt to the Real Toads: TIME TRAVEL
And... it’s #29 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!


Family Tree

Comes a moment
when a child’s empathy is tested.
Like heavy snow on the slenderest branch
you hope for deep bend, no cracking.
You should have known
there’s nothing brittle about her.
You watch her choose the right
but painful thing,
swelling with tears to near-burst
but she does not break.
She is pliable; she is green.
And mama, you too must bend.
What do you choose in the face of her tears?
You are the oak.
Describe your pride, your weathering,
your wonder at her strength, then
join her in sorrow.

Dear Corey asked the Real Toads to write about a time when we did not know how to feel about what was happening. It’s #28 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.


How to Feel When Shit Gets Heavy

like kicking dreary snow
from weighed-down branches,

#27 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.


Fellowship (To Scale)

Turns out shadows
can’t be wiped off, dirt
resists extraction
even with sharp objects.
Just digs in deeper.
There is no relief
here; race defines you--
strangers, sisters
irrespective. Shit’s deep
and love is skewed.

Words from Grapeling’s travel list: scale, shadows, dirt, relief, race, skew

Poem #26 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.



It’s impossible to think
in the spin cycle. You can only feel.
Maybe you’ll notice how
you always hang the same color towels.
Never blue and white, only white
or blue.
As you spin,
you’ll feel the battering,
the bruises forming, the purple-yellowing
of them. You’ll wonder
what kind of cycle you spin in
when one man
testifies under oath
about another man’s face: It looks like a demon.
Spinning, reddening--
You’ll blink, then go back to hanging,
segregating by color.

Poem #25 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.


Death Day

Fog pushes down
on your death day,
then the rain moves in.
Plowable snow is forecast
for the holiday.
The radio reports
that today is the birthday
of Margaret Anderson,
who first published Ulysses,
burned as obscene.
Weirdly warm today, weirdly
windy too. No day
for fire.
In 1991, we burned you
on our collective retinas,
beautiful in life,
obscene in your youthful

Dedicated to the immortal spirit of Freddie Mercury, #24 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.


Dali's Bend

behind gauzy windows,
foggy outside, across the nether,
wristwatch stopped at the moment
   the curtains parted,
invisibility like a blanket, safety
redefined; perhaps you shouldn’t have
prayed for whiskey-scheming

Margaret offered the Real Toads a revisited prompt from Kenia for this weekend: METAPHYSICS
And, this is #23 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.


Chip, Block, Apple, Tree

Are you sure
you like those boots?
mother asks, repeats
after the answer
Yes, sure I do
fails to convince.
I mean, I just want
to make sure you aren’t
wearing them
because you haven’t
something else
to wear. You like them?
Of course I like them.
If I didn’t,
I’d be whining about them.

Poem #22 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!


Still Life with Fruit

This overripe melon
came from a cornucopia
of unseasonable offerings
at the market,
where all is available
every month.

What’s seasonal in December
around here anyway?

All I know is,
December’s dark freeze
easily destroys
the leggy new growth of May,
penetrating until she’s crushed,
seeds strewn across ice.

detail from Still Life with Fruit, Severin Roesen, 1852

For Margaret’s prompt to the Real Toads featuring this painting by Severin Roesen. Number 21 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.


A Poem About Aging, Chock-Full of Stereotypes, or at Least Crusty Adages

Time went completely wobbly
a long time ago
or was it only last week?
I’m older than my mother was
when I went off to college,
but just turned young enough
to snort-laugh a hallway chase
with an eight-year-old,
who says she might die laughing.
Seems we just chatted yesterday.
Has it really been years?
Years ago, I forgot my age
but now, cycling my half-century
is perpetually apparent.
Still too young for ladyfingers
with the bitter woman’s bridge
& sherry club, though.
They don’t serve vegans, plus
members are required
to wear underwear. At least
I’m old enough to know better
than to believe older means wiser.

For Kerry’s prompt to the Real Toads: YOUTH & AGE 
Plus, this is #20 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans. Whoosh!


The Cabinet Requests

C’mon baby,
Spray some oil
on my hinges--
I promise
to keep quiet.

Home sick today, so just this teensy ditty for #19 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans. Who knows, maybe a head cold will produce some delirious poetry. Or, maybe I will just sleep it off.


Something to Chew On

If death implies life then get started living
you intone, or at least I think that was you
chanting sagely, though in the pale of morning
I’ve forgotten my dream. Heavy from the mood
of the thing not recalled, I heave from black
to the brittle green-grey of before-dawn, leave
the room of regret for a spell best utilized
wisely because penitence piles up like frail leaves
this month, whirling around thirsty heads, dizzying,
decomposing as it spins. Was it really you whispering
across the bends, reeling an incantation, expecting
me to receive and comprehend? Yeah? Join me, then,
in a cup of black coffee and folding the towels,
ruminating, ruminating what’s already been swallowed.

#18 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans!


Castles in the Air

Fruitless raking
has me musing on you:
there’s a reason
for all those songs
about girls
with the wind in their hair.

Draw the rake,
observing the empty space
between elbow and rib,
how cold fingers
are the stuff of autumn
in your absence.

Hoist another rakeful
onto a pile,
make-believe turrets and garrets
stormed in a burst
of every day this year,
blowing leeward.

I hear your laugh
in a circus of sparrows,
hang up my rake,
there’s no controlling wind,
no controlling you.

#17 of 30 Poems in November to benefit Center for New Americans.