Now, remembering
is mostly about

The phone call
never made,
the retreating,
bad timing,
never saying nothing.

Please show yourself,
a glimmer, a ripple.

I'll lend you my voice
to speak through
if that's what you need.

A light memory,
running, or sitting
eye to eye, seeing.


He loved you
more than you know.


behind blue eyes

After spins around
the dreamland ballroom,
you strode the midway,
showing off,
having earned your prize.

She was like a visit
from benevolent fairies.

you raised your arms
and let go, barreling
like a blue streak,
heart in your throat.

You learned how it feels
to give yourself over.

After that, every day
was like skinnydipping
at the beach club,
full of beauty, breeze,

She was cool water
in all your private places.

A pastoral life, then,
ups and downs predicted
yet astonishing
like the swing and breeze
of the pirate ship.
You tended them till grown,
mostly companionably.
But in one spinning moment
the bottom dropped out,
taking your belly with it,
leaving a burning hole,
a gift from hell. 
You hung there, akilter
like a fun-house mirror. 
Now she's gone,
and you are stuck
at the top of the wheel,
as if on pause.
No one knows what it's like.

world view

Dogged insistence
that everything be adorned
with hearts and flowers.
Maybe even kittycats,
bunnies, or unicorns.
Definitely rainbows.
And the laughter of children.

Mama Zen asked the Real Toads to describe our own little worlds in 35 words or less.


wouldn't you?

Mares and does eat oats.
Little lambs? They eat ivy.

Kid'll eat what? Naught.


lake vacation, 1924

Went to town and bought
a brown felt hat to wear on the train.

We came to Chautauqua today.
We went for a ride on the lake.

Went in swimming. The water is nice,
but cold in some places.

Went out rowing. I rowed most of the way
and got blisters on both thumbs.

Too cold to go swimming.
This is the first I've missed since we came.

Have gone rowing every day since Friday;
it was awfully rough today.

Dad rowed me clear across the lake.
Mother was at her sewing class.

Started home this evening,
will be in Pittsburgh tomorrow morning.

Carrie has been keeping my Kitty.
He is fine and dandy. So is Carrie.


News Flash: I have a new YouTube channel! Eek!

Look for the TV image over in the right column to get there... you'll be glad you did. So far, the channel features video of me reading selected poems from Responsive Pleading and couple others, plus footage from a reading I did with Florence Poets Society back in April when the book came out.

Be sure to subscribe to my channel so you'll know when new videos are uploaded. You don't wanna miss a thing!



I wish you could be here
to swim in the surf.
Instead, I sit on my own
and watch my skin turn brown.

This is a beautiful place.
I keep pinching myself
to make sure I'm really here.

A young man of seventy-five,
a college friend of mine,
took us out to lunch.
Don't tell, but when he left
he said he still loved me.
Isn't that exciting?

There is only a sandy beach
between our cottage and the gulf,
where the surf runs high
when the tide rolls in.

Your news came as no surprise
to anyone, and all is well.
Still, I can't help but want
for you the kind of love I had.
There is nothing like it,
the explosive love I experienced
because it was exactly right.

Sorry I don't have my typewriter,
but hope you can read this.

                   All my love.

Ella challenged the Real Toads to select a photo of an ancestor and give that person a voice. My grandmother's actual voice is everywhere on this blog, and this poem is in her voice, too. If you're interested, much more writing by and about her can be found by clicking on "my grandmother" in the tag cloud to the right.


devil's details

Keep your guard up,
lest foul creep in,
settling somewhere
between your belly
and your loins.

Keep your chin up,
lest that wound
fester, opening wide
enough for the salt
to get a good rub.

(For Fireblossom's devilish Friday prompt to the Real Toads.)


the road

It's been quiet in these parts lately because I was away for a few days. I did manage to work on an interesting collaborative poem with a fellow Toad, Mary Grace Guevara, as part of the new In Tandem series celebrating the one-year anniversary of Imaginary Garden With Real Toads. I'm so grateful for my online writing community! Please click over to read our poem:
the road


cheer up, charlie

My baby, let the sunshine show.
I'll sing your fav'rite lullaby
and follow 'round where you may go--
to find me, just look to the sky.
Love, never will you need to cry
for I am here beside the moon.
I wish for you the chance to fly--
the clouds are gonna clear up soon.

This is a Huitain form poem, also known as The Monk's Stanza, introduced by Kerry in her weekend challenge to the Real Toads. For some reason, I still can't put a link here without my computer freezing up. Help me, someone!

My poem is inspired by the song "Cheer Up, Charlie," sung by Mrs. Bucket to Charlie in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie. I've been watching the film lately with my kids, and find this scene extremely touching. This poem is for my son.



I am still writing about this bastard
who allowed the rape of children
to go on and on and on. Told ya so!
All for football? All for money, people.
So they could live in big houses
and eat at fucking Applebee's
have every mundane thing they wanted,
save what they didn't spend for heirs.
When you're an American King,
a celebrated coach, a damn living legacy,
all you can imagine is yours, disposable.
Anyone can be wasted, and later, discarded.
Year after year, no consideration for posterity.
Only let's take these kids and rape their futures.

This poem is my response to Kenia's Wednesday Challenge to the Real Toads. Yes, I know it's Friday. (For some reason, my computer freezes when I try to add a link to Kenia's challenge here, so for now, I'm leaving it out and will fix when I can. To get to Real Toads, click on the cute tree frog photo to the right.)


leave your light on

She swept up the broken glass and disposed of it, wiping the sink over and over with the hand towel until it shone. Then she escorted her little one back up to bed.

One, two, three kisses and the promise of no bad things. Down the stairs, one by one. Every light below was extinguished.

She navigated the darkened rooms, reeling, still. Disoriented, jarred, seething. In the bedroom, she stopped. He had lit a candle.

He lay, waiting for her. Lifted his arms to her. "Come."

She tamped the flames licking her insides. Folded herself up in him. "I'm here."

I got to pick the song for this week's 100 Word Song over at My Blog Can Beat Up Your Blog. The song is "Leave Your Light On," incredible hardcore Americana by Tim Eriksen.


I dreamed that you visited us
with your family, on a sunny day.

There you all were, just behind,
in your wood-paneled station wagon.

At your window, I whistled hello,
but turns out, it wasn't you at all.

It was some other blue-eyed family,
visiting someone else on summer vacation.

I blinked, then slinked back to my car.
Not-you brushed hair from not-your-wife's eyes.


learning curve

Teach me about your pain,
the reproaching silence,
lines of demarcation
traced in quicksilver.

You refuse the amalgam
created by our pairing,
the rare explosiveness,
the possibility of corrosion.

No one ever sold his soul
commingled with another's
to achieve authenticity.
Too late for that. Teach me.

Inspired by Laurie's "demarcation" prompt to the Real Toads, and another prompt, "how to teach pain."



I finally threw away my favorite sweater,
the one that sprouted holes in the elbows
which I darned, and darned over again.
They don't make sweaters like they used to.

I still have your sweater, scratchy wool,
leather elbow patches and many moth holes.
That sweater certainly earned its leather,
and now mostly rests in my cedar trunk.

My favorite sweater could have earned a badge
in beloved cotton/poly comforting, but still,
there was no saving it, no amount of darning
could bring back its embrace. Cold comfort now.



The masses are all here,
huddled around funnel cakes
and this tired, wretched
Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band.

Nobody yearns for freedom here
unless freedom means
swigging Bud and hurling insults.
America's number one! Fuck yeah!

Helium balloons escape the teeming
refuse, floating above the clouds,
the tempest-tost flotsam grounded
in these fields, these ancient lands.



A boy studies American history,
making magic-marker fireworks.
Thunder and lightning roll in
like a celestial 13-gun salute.

Kerry's weekend challenge to the Real Toads is to try out traditional Chinese Koan poetry.