changed velocity

Her body sleek like a capsule, aptly called Eve,
she transports me, silently, across the river.

Sometimes I must resist the urge to accelerate
and then pull up fiercely on the parking brake.

Eve and me careening, ass over storied tin cup:
in my commuter's eye, that's how it would end.

Fireblossom challenged the Real Toads to write about bodies.


for Adrienne Rich

Tonight I sulk, under
the influence of the slow
moon, the same moon from
which you drew your words.

I was taught not to pout,
but your leaving has left
me bereft, pushing against
the words that are coming.

I only want to thank you.


march lion

Freezing wind tosses
blue goosebump sea; I'm grateful
for my cup of tea.

rain air/whirl air

You rock, holding yourself under the scalding rain, the pulsing like thunderdrops against a garbage can or a seventies motel vibrating bed, so loud there's no hiding what you're doing in there. You let the water rattle a piece in that sore spot between your shoulders, then bending forward, as you must bend a little to see your toes these days, you let it cascade down your neck, swishing your hair away to feel the heat. There are your toes, red from scalding, there is your belly, and there is the rest of you, blushed and pleased. You arch back again and let that rattle pound on your head all the way up your part holding the heat there until the hot pounding sends wanting waves coming from your fingertips to your sextips to your tippytoes, let it come, let it come. You shiver and blink and wonder is this normal? But who cares, normal be damned, you do it again.


come away, come away!

From Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie:
"I'll teach you."

"Oh, how lovely to fly."

"I'll teach you to jump on the wind's back, and then away we go."

"Ooh!" she exclaimed rapturously.

"Wendy, Wendy, when you are sleeping in your silly bed you might be flying about with me saying funny things to the stars."


team meeting

The routine
begins with pastries
and tea, to warm us up
for our work, and really,
to one another.
Sharing updates,
kvetching. Team-building.

Refilled cup of tea
means just at the end
I feel the need to pee.
I think I can make it.
At the close, we thank
one another. And someone
receives the gold star.
I wish it was me.

Today, Mary challenges the Real Toads to write about the ordinary, with the hope of inspiring extraordinary poetry. Not sure this is extraordinary, but here it is.


sick & tired

"I don't know, what--oh, stop. Stop!"

She flailed at her lover, who braked as she threw open the passenger door and hurled into the street. As well as the car, and her sleeve, and her hair.

"I'll walk."

She tumbled into a manicured front lawn trying to leap over the puddle of vomit.

"Leave me. LEAVE."

She slammed the door but kept her back turned as the car pulled away.

You are a sick girl, she told herself, struggling to stand up straight. Bastards got me drunk.

But she knew the truth. She knew how to drown her sorrows.

I'm playing 100 Word Song over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. This week's song is "Sick Girl" by Social Distortion.

apologies to ric ocasek,

but wither flew my
youthful exuberance, on
the jitterbug breeze.


half empty, now broken

She gripped the edge of the sink as the amber liquid circled the drain, the etched jar shattered there. Her knuckles white with strain, she marveled at the stream of blood.

It was just as well. She should slow down anyway. Her body, her temper, not to mention breaking it in rage, her beloved jar, the one that held her memories, all of it added to the long list of things she hated about herself.

Outside, children chased, playing monsters, or maybe zombies. The sun shone through budding branches and the first crocuses were up. But it was not enough.

I'm playing 100 Word Song with Lance at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. The song is called "Satisfied," by Ashley Monroe.


how to thaw

Hazy greying rain
seeps into bones, cold gooseflesh
fogs vision, until
warm solace radiates up
from tea mug through hands to heart.



Grandpa, the day you died was a normal day.
I was in the library at school,
And when the voice on the intercom said
Is Marian in this room please?
I thought maybe you were dead.

I walked out and saw my mother
And then I was sure. Then I knew.
I cried right there in the hallway. She said
It's your grandfather.

The white walls started to close in
And then the bell rang, the rush, the din
Like a crazed alarm inside my head that kept sounding
He's dead! He's dead!
And all the kids came out of the rooms
They were everywhere, the walls loomed
And Marshall Troop came up and said
Mizz Kent, Mizz Kent, he's dead! He's dead!
The lockers slammed, kids were screaming
I hoped that I was only dreaming
Kids were yelling
He's dead! He's dead!

I started to fall, and my mother held me
And she said
It's all right. He doesn't have pain anymore.
It's all right.

Grandpa, I hope there's no pain.

I wrote this in high school. It's my first poem, or at least the earliest one of which I still have evidence. I have not edited it except to add italics.

I decided to share this, rough as it is, because today some friends found themselves in the position my mother was in here. How difficult to suffer such a loss and yet be required to be strong for your children. As happens so often, I'm reflecting back on my own childhood memories, thinking about my parents and what the experience might have been like for them.



What if my love dripped
rhythmically, like a faucet,
high hat staccato?
I'd lap love up thirstily;
parched again, I'd drum up more.


Like your refreshing
grape popsicle, I'll drink you
deeply down, until
you can't take it anymore,
hold you on my tongue, swallow.


At the end of days,
I want to be enveloped--
please, be my pea-pod!
With no future, I'd prefer
for you to ingest me whole.

This week, the Real Toads are writing tanka at the behest of Pirate Grace.



What do you stand for?
does not mean defeat
any more than enduring
impudence with mildness
indicates weakness.
Are you outside your future?
Here is my box for storing
unfinished business. I
will stow it away with
heed, making it possible
to greet you with kindness.


rainbow rose

Early crocus viewed
through fireworks glasses:
orange-violet kaleidoscope,
obscuring surrounding
gray-brittle grass.

Fireworks glasses vista,
fractal in bathroom mirror:
beamy rainbow of words
outglinting temple gray,
my fraying seams.

photo by Ellen Wilson

Inspired by this cool and beautiful Instamatic photo by fellow Toad Ellen Wilson and posted to the Sunday Mini Challenge at Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads.


girl's galley

Here, garden gnome supervises
righteous and goodly ramblings.
L-O-V-E watches over babies,
bananas ripen, coffee's ground.
Sparrows throw a rose parade.

Here, I perched outside myself,
as if on high, watching some
kinda junkie-shaking what-the-
fucking exigent begging for
absolution--please, baby please.

Here, I rinse the pinesap from my
hair, too chocolate this time. Cup
of wine, check email, hastening
to write. All the while I listen
for you. Ah always, my ear's on you.


love & affection

The Real Toads are inspired to write by the music of Joan Armatrading over at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads today. It's my occasional music-related writing prompt. Show some emotion!
love and affection


real fine love

"Jack Daniels on the rocks, please," I said.

"Yeah. Rock-n-roll drink," replied the man who would become my husband.

A group of us were out at a live show. Whiskey, in the drunk's order of things, was an efficient drink for the evening, allowing for maximum dancing and minimum need for the bathroom.

He doesn't drink. He had ordered a Coke. But my mind registered the compliment. I have been impressive to him.

"I guess." I blushed, squeezed his hand, ran off to dance.

I should have known what was coming.

But I did know. Real and fine.


I'm playing 100 Word Song over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. This week's song is "Have A Little Faith In Me" by John Hiatt.

It's our wedding anniversary. Ten years ago today, my husband and I fell in love at a John Hiatt show. Nine years ago today, we were married. Tonight, we're going to see They Might Be Giants at the same venue. And I'd marry him all over again.



Walking up the stairs
I experienced, more than smelled,
the fragrance you used to wear.
It came from I don't know where,
an embracing, surrounding me
warmly, like a duvet, a pashmina.
Cozy. Though you never were that.
What was that scent? Fresh, spring,
fruity, earthy, so like you.
So very present, I almost missed you.


nameless need

The morning was a blur of papers, emails, coffee and distractions. After shutting down the email chat, I argued myself into circles about Dave. I should really cancel lunch, but getting referrals from him was crucial to my business. I could have a business lunch with him, but he was expecting more. And I am spineless and whorish when it comes to Dave. I won't be able to shut him down. He previewed it for me already, saying that I'd have time for him after. Michael would die if he knew. Or worse yet, leave me. I should have ended this months ago. I should have ended it before it began. What was I thinking?

I nearly fell off my chair when the phone rang. "Hello?" I tried to keep my voice even.

"Hey, baby. It's me." It was Michael.

"Oh, Michael, love. What's up?" It was unlike him to call me before our late afternoon kid and dinner check-in.

"Oh, nothing. I just wanted to hear your voice."

"You did?" I could feel myself blushing. Holy hell, my husband of ten years was making me blush. This was a good day.

"I love you." Three words he said to me every day made me shiver now.

"Aw, Michael..." I swiveled and glanced at the disheveled bedclothes, remnants of the night before. "Maybe you should come home for lunch." I tried for my wickedly playful voice, the flirty voice that lately had been reserved for another man, not my husband.

"There's an idea." A rough edge returned to Michael's voice. We were on the same wavelength, I knew. "But don't you have a lunch meeting with Dave?"

"I can cancel." The words came out forcefully, too fast. Slow down, sister. Don't show your hand after all this time, when you are getting out. "I'm... not really ready for him anyway. I have a lot more to do on the RoundHead account, so I can't really take on more now." The rush of heat to my cheeks would have given me away if he were here. "Come home for lunch, baby."

He took a long breath in and released it. "Yes, okay, let me move a couple things and I'll be home. Half an hour or so." I could hear him shuffling papers on his desk. "Be ready for me." He hung up.

Michael's gruff but loving command sent waves from my brain to the rest of me, leaving me temporarily stunned. But I had to cancel Dave. I had to end it with Dave, in fact. No more jumping at every command from my husband's boss. My husband's boss! My husband was my husband, and that was who I wanted. What had I been thinking? Time to get my head straight.

Maybe I could beg off this lunch without speaking to Dave directly. I'll get out of lunch with Dave, love on my husband instead, and deal with the bigger issue later. I clicked the chat window on my phone, logging in. Dave's light was still green.


I waited, straightening out the bedclothes, flattening out my skirt, heading to the bathroom and the mirror, freshening my lipstick. Where was Dave?

Mo. Ready 4 me?


Well, hey. I gotta cancel for today. Sorry! Another day?

Whassup? U ok?

With anyone else, that kind of texting shorthand would annoy me, but somehow, with Dave, it was okay. Many of Dave's attractive qualities were abhorrent in others. That was the crux of it, what I had to break myself from.

I'm fine, just a minor kid emergency. I have to go over to Josh's school.

That was a good one. Dave would never know, so long I remembered to tell Michael what I had said. So complicated. How had I been living like this, keeping lies and half-truths straight?

K, Mo. Need 2 talk soon, tho, re RH n other projects I have 4 u.

Other projects. I need the work but must put an end to the extra credit.

Yes, thanks, Dave. Of course we will. I'll text or call you tomorrow, okay?

K. C ya, sweet thang.

See ya.

I wasn't sure what was making my heart race more, lying to Dave or anticipating my husband coming home for an unprecedented lunchtime quickie. Dave, as goofball and unexpected as he was, could always make me feel high. Part of me wanted to hold on to that feeling, but the rest of me knew it was too risky if I wanted to save my marriage. Maybe I wasn't sure before, but I sure as hell knew now: it was worth saving. Michael was worth it, we were worth it.

I was tempted to greet Michael in the buff, but after sizing myself up for the fourth time in the mirror, I decided to stay fully clothed. Including the heels. Though he hadn't ever said so out loud, or at least not in recent memory, I knew he found my business attire very hot. Damn, I want to say he finds it irresistible, but that's not true. He's certainly resisted me more times than not, for how many years now? Well, now's the time for amends, for starting fresh. When Michael gets home, he can take them off me.

Images of being unwrapped like a birthday present kept me pacing the living room, waiting. For the second time in one morning, I literally jumped when my phone rang. "Michael?" I tried to be cool, to control my breathless eagerness.

"Aw, Mo. I love you. Hey. I can't. I can't get away for lunch after all. Something came up here at work."

The ringing in my ears kept me from hearing what Michael said next as I sunk to the floor right there in the foyer.

Chapter Eight of The Thing With No Name. Comrade Michael Webb, it's your turn.


preach it, carly

an-ti-ci-pay-yay-tion, ah
it's makin' me late,

keepin' me way ay
ay ay ay-i-tin' but these
are the good old days.

(Yeah, these are the good old days.)

burden shared

A March poem by my young grandmother, wise far beyond her years:

John and I went walking
All down the dusty road;
We had a crate of apples,
But we two shared the load.

We laughed and talked together,
The load was feather light,
Our bare toes kicked the pebbles,
Our eyes with love were bright.

There came that way a stranger
With jewels in his hand.
He smiled at me so kindly--
John would not understand.

He spoke; I stopped to listen,
And John went on alone.
The stranger's words were honey,
And how those jewels shone!

I turned then with the stranger,
But looked once back at John.
Tired and bent and weary,
He slowly plodded on.

I ran back to him sobbing,
And, as I had begun,
I took my share of the burden,
Too heavy far for one.


the writer's way

I need my notebook, a pencil, an internet connection. This cup of wine. And very likely a couple more. I need to have kissed my babies good night. You won't like this, but I need you most of all. I need to reach you, to reach you, I mean really reach you. They say everything feels better in the daylight. I agree that day is good and golden. But night is me. When I can reach you. Really reach you. That feeling happens at the dimming of the day. And I got my notebook here to write that shit down.

I'm playing 100 Word Song over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. The song is "Dimming of the Day," a song by Richard Thompson, in this case performed by Bonnie Raitt.


time slip

There's nothing so frustrating
as losing an entire evening
of writing, or lounging,
watching zombie movies,
or loving your man, god forbid,
to falling fast asleep
in your child's bed.

But then again, nothing beats
the delicious delirium
of fitful dreaming, cuddling
awkwardly in a too-small bed,
arms aching, back screaming,
but oh, the smell of her hair
or the way he grips your hand.

You wouldn't give up those times,
not for nothing, no way, not ever.