ode to joy

Flitting down the stairs way, way past
your bedtime, wearing alien glasses. Baby,
you look like a fly. Jeff Goldblum maybe?
Shocking, at any rate. And you want me
to play music so you can dance? It's late,
but specifically, you want to dance to
Vince Guaraldi. It's ten o'clock at night
and you are sick and you should sleep so,

Oh! What the hell, here, my wild child,
let's dance! Fling yourself around my kitchen,
shimmy shake and hustle, let mama spin you,
dance till you can't dance no more, and then
Ah! Let mama tuck you in, count your sheep,
dance in your sleep, dance in your dreams.
Sleep, sleep, my darling son, I will dance
with you forever and ever. If you let me.


great conifers

Listening to trees
on Arbor Day, attending
to their messages.


bully for him

A father takes his tears and outrage
to the internet.

                  And you bend, pulling
towels and napkins and facecloths warm
from the dryer, folding, stacking, clean
underwear, socks, prim and neat.

                                  One might
say he took it to the bully pulpit, but for
the evidence: his child, especially vulnerable,
bullied and crying.
                     Your children circle
around you like cats, in and out of your range
of vision, but always, you can hear them.
A teacher, an adult, laughing.
                                Water rushes
into the metal drum, you add liquid for suds,
toss in some jeans, a bathrobe, a t-shirt
emblazoned with a sparkly unicorn, cock your
head to savor their laughter.

Ella asked the Real Toads to write an "inner/outer" poem. This poem was inspired by the story of Stuart Chaifetz and his ten-year old son, and the everyday profundity of being a parent.

n'nites & sweet dreams

I have hoisted you up
on the washing machine, wielding
nail scissors like a baton,
conducting our sweet bedtime
symphony. First your fingers,
admonishing the evidence
of nail-biting, then ten
piggy toes, wee-wee all the way.

We hush for backyard peepers,
slink in the half-light
to catch the moon, cradled
on the mountain, just settling in
for the evening. Like us.
Tumbling up to bed, you beg
to be kneaded, your litany of bad
things unrealized for another night.


two years

runaway sentence
two years old

tip 'o the hat!


lilies & remains

The small voice registered behind her eyes.

She dropped the glass into the cold sink, but all that she could think about was what the hell had Peter said, what was that? And where was her ring? Mark had given her that ring.

Brushing hair from her eyes, blood streaked across her temple.

The voice squeaked again. Mama?

Slowly raising her eyes, she focused on the precious girl who met her gaze, a stargazer lily in her chubby fist, raising it for her to take.

This is for you, Mama.

I love you more than anyone else in the whole world.

I'm playing 100 Word Song over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. This week's song is "Of Lilies and Remains" by Bauhaus.

my favorite limerick

Written for me by my grandmother, when I was in law school:

A barrister known as Miss Kent
Is always involved in dissent.
She'll sponsor a cause
And try to change laws
Her life will certainly not be mis-spent.

I can't believe it's taken me so long to share this with you, gentle readers. And yet, somehow, right now, it is apt. Great sigh of love for my grandmother, and for you.



A hole in your psyche can be painful
so keep those eyelids open, clear the smoke.
Always be aware of what's around you--

can't be too careful, even for a joke.
Comedians can be damn disdainful.

What's so funny anyway? He's found you
lying on the bathroom floor, eyes lustered,
an undulating ceiling centipede
having shocked you, frozen in fear, flustered.
It's his betrayal, more, that astounds you.

Why won't he try to meet your blissful need?
If he's warm-blooded American male
he oughtta bring it to you by trainful
without demand. The moral of this tale?
Eyes on the prize, or be prepared to bleed.

Kerry's weekend mini-challenge for the Real Toads is to write a variation of the Envelope Stanza. This one is an Envelope Quintet.


trenton makes, the world takes

The window's smeared,

a greasy faceprint
marking the spot where
an urchin was stymied
in his attempt to touch 
the city, 

or a lover
bowed her head, resigned
disbelief creating
distance where no space
existed heretofore.

It's hard to see beyond
the smudge, though 
rivers and graffiti
and tall grass beckon, 
with so much at stake

in the foreground.


global warming, redux

New England, April.
Sweltering already. Oh!
For a tall iced tea.

Thought it might be fun to re-post this little haiku. I wrote it at exactly this time LAST year. Hot hot hot!


pearl street

The club was sweltering. It always was,
but tonight was unbearable. She tethered
her hair off her nape in the plastic
wristband they made you wear to drink.
The bouncer demanded that she wear it
on her wrist or face expulsion.

She threw her $10 bottle of beer into
the trash and spat at him. This guy better
be worth this fucking sweat.
She couldn't
see him, as he sat, his guitar in his lap.
Arrogant. It's too fucking hot in here.
The music began, sliding, bending, brandishing.

The woman in you? She's not here. She's in the sun.

This week's 100 Word Song at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog is "The Woman In You" by Ben Harper. This is a true and tragic tale of woe.


devil dance #2

Friends, Lance picked up the baton and ran, er, danced away with this story! You remember, I wrote part one over at Cameron's place. This is part two! Click and read!
dance with the devil: part two by Lance


cherry tomatoes

After I met your mom
you reported that she
had pronounced me
that meant she approved.

We weren't like those
manly girls
she found confusing.

She embraced me,
fed me cherry tomatoes,
taught me how to prune
my peonies, like family.

Sometimes I miss her.

For Friday the 13th, Laurie Kolp challenged the Real Toads to write a thirteen-line poem using the word effervescence.


responsive pleading

Friends, I am so excited to share this big news with you that I'm shaking a little as I type. Are you ready?

My first collection of poems, Responsive Pleading, is now available, brought to you by ALL CAPS PUBLISHING. Ahem. My first collection of poems. That means my first book! Please click the image for more information and to get your copy!

It is so beautiful, I can't believe it. So happy and proud! The gorgeous cover art is by my talented friend Max Germer. It will eventually be available for Kindle, too, but the book is so pretty to hold in your hands, I really encourage you to have a copy of your very own.

Thank you, dear friends and readers, for your love and support. I am full of gratitude. Thank you.


daughter, on the cusp

On your last day of five,
your geography of knowing
evolves exponentially,
evidenced by the changing
landscape of your laughter.

i know you are reading

Friends, I have a treat for you today! As part of the Personal Challenge series over at Real Toads, I had the opportunity to challenge Ruth, who writes at Turtle Memoirs. As I happened to be throwing down my challenge on the day that Adrienne Rich passed, I asked Ruth to write something inspired by Adrienne. Her response is so beautiful, you should click over right now and read:
i know you are reading this poem


rites of passage

Wandering through our house alone,
my tears withheld, I will not part
although the empty veers to scorn
in passages I know by heart.

What's fair in love? Unjust abounds.
A year ago, we fell apart;
this time, we stick to circling round
the passages we know by heart.

Wish I may or might, my prayer
always that we would never start
to unravel what resides there,
in passages deep in our hearts.

I'm wandering our house alone,
through passages I've learned by heart.

Kerry's weekend mini-challenge to the Real Toads is to try one of several forms of the Kyrielle. This is my attempt at a Kyrielle Sonnet.



We were in the old red house. Sun splashed through the curtains. Our daughter tiptoed as we huddled together. I shrieked into the phone.

Where is he!

Then we were in a desert town. We questioned a woman who wore her name on badge. She replied flatly, unaffected by our terror.

Where is he!

She had placed our son with a couple for a two-week stay. They had run to Arizona with him. We pleaded, but she would not promise his return. It had now been a month since we had seen our child.

Where is he!

I awoke, screaming.

I've been struggling to express the terror of the dream I had this morning. It's left me feeling uneasy and paranoid. Horrible. By happy coincidence it seems to jive with this week's 100 Word Song over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog.


dance with the devil

It's a banner day for me! First, please head over to Real Toads to be inspired by the music of Vic Chesnutt, my special favorite.

I'm also pleased to announce that my friend and comrade Cameron Garriepy is featuring a story of mine as Part One of her Story Circle series for April. I'm honored that Cameron asked me to write for her series, and I get to choose the writer who picks up the baton for Part Two.

Please click over and read! I'm all proud and stuff. Here's my story:
Dance With the Devil


ham salad

Her spindly arm worked
the meat grinder handle.

Pickles and mayo make for
good ham salad, with a beer.

I said I loved seeing you.
She said we never do

have a chance to say all
the things we'd like to say.

I said I love you.
She said we never do.

Meantime, I forgive you--
I guess.
I forgive her, I know.

Inspired by Vic Chesnutt, front and center over at Real Toads today. And, of course, by my grandmother.

west of rome

Please come join the Real Toads in being inspired by the music of my special favorite, Vic Chesnutt. This the latest installment of my occasional music prompt, and it is magical. L-O-V-E. Please click over:
west of rome

women's room

I know that when I found
you, magic that surrounds
women of a certain mind
fell on me like fairy
dust. Impressions very
much beyond what I might find
in books, my library
till now having failed me,
your words taught me of my kind.


a tiny love poem

I love your knuckles
and your knees
and the way
you call me hey
never fails to please.
Not aiming to ingratiate,
but mostly
you can do no wrong.
To you I dedicate this
teensy song.


breaking the girl

She held the piece of broken glass like a flint, examining its spine, gauging its weight in her hand. It was solid, its character unimpeachable. The light amber color reflected the recessed sink lights, dimmed to near-dark but still glinting in the glass.

Dancing her thumb across the sharpest edge, she winced slightly as the blood rose. More pressure ripped the flesh; she knicked the glass sideways to open the wound.

She gripped the shard tighter, embracing the searing as it pierced her fingers, blood running down her arm. A soft noise behind her made her jump.

Her girl. "Mama?"

I'm playing 100 Word Song over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. This week's song is "Breaking the Girl" by Red Hot Chili Peppers.


spring training

Now it is another April
and I await your violets,
wishing you would bloom,
even at the sides of my eyes.

It's baseball season
but I'm lost on the sidelines.
I can't find you on my map
because you are in the outfield.

I don't understand it when
people say they receive visits;
you've never come to see me.
This spring, maybe a home run.

Maybe I'll get to visit with you.