If I had a heart, and if it were true,
she would protect me from ghost-dancing moon;
No filthy ogre, no shadowy cur
or ghoulish rage to make my belly stir.

If I could follow an angel within,
wear her like a blanket, a second skin;
No more night terrors, no reason to scream,
only beachy nasturtiums in my dreams.

If I had a heart, and if it were true,
sleeping in comfort and waking with you,
swaddled in moonbeams, wrapped up in the sky,
no more crossing fingers, hoping to die--

With tell-tale heart dunked in shimmery light,
the nights are wholesome, then no planets strike.

The Real Toads are writing ghost tales today! My first line here is attributed to the great Charlie Chesterman (the song is called "If I Had a Heart" from Studebakersfield), and the last line is from Hamlet. Happy Halloween!



Systems may seem normal
but everything’s fouled up,
from the weather forecast
to every private place,
not safe, with no lifelines.
When will we know
whether this time qualifies
for the label infamy
and who gets to decide?
If we leave it to posterity,
they might look back warmly
describing this as quaint
as we’ll have toppled Olympus
and various other synecdoches.


maybe astronauts

Here in our cocoon, wrapped
in blankets & good intentions
your protective cover lulls me
until the Scientist stops by
with a pocket full of stars
& you offer him a free ride.
Then blasted hell breaks loose
and I wind up on the ceiling.



She comes in striking distance,
Your shore rises, greeting her--
Thunder breaks over you, sanguine
Like waves of feverish sound.

Kerry's weekend challenge to the Real Toads: Jueju


sad, sadder, saddest

Reading sad poems
while feeling sad sure as hell
makes you feel sadder.


back talk

Sometimes I wonder why I talk
when no one hears me anyway,

And sometimes I stop talking
because I don’t want to argue--

I always need reminding
to talk like no one’s listening.


question! exclamation?

all this haiku needs
is just the appropriate
punctuation mark


cat fancy

Cat stands, leans against
her best person, my old man.
I am the third wheel.


ric rac

A stack of enveloped letters
evades me, nowhere to be found--
The truth is, I haven’t read yours
since the postman brought them around.

As sweethearts when we were just kids,
you wrote to me every day--
I tied them in ric rac ribbon
for keeping, and tucked them away.

I saved them with me all my life,
never knowing exactly why--
Now that you’re gone, I can’t find them.
Your words, like your eyes, light the sky.

photo by Ellen Wilson

This weekend, Kerry challenged the Real Toads to write an envelope quatrain.

Also this weekend, my friend of many years, Don Martin, passed away, far, far too soon. This poem is for him.

I wrote the below essay a few years ago, about my experience meeting Don, and a host of other kids, at summer camp. He and they changed my life, for which I am still grateful.

I'm 14 years old and my parents have enrolled me in a week-long sleep-away "Summer Academy" for brainy kids at the local university. They unload me at the college dormitory. As I gather myself and consider what might happen next, two guys walk past my door.
They are wearing green hospital scrubs and red plastic Devo flowerpot hats. One of them has a giant octopus made from a garbage bag draped across his shoulder. They are skinny and are carrying an enormous boombox (yes, the kind that plays cassette tapes) that is blasting a Cheap Trick song. I am impressed.
What happens next, and for the rest of the week, and for the week that I attended Summer Academy the following year is mostly a blur now. But those moments, those short days, were the best ever of my teen years. Hanging out with weird kids--although I must say I never thought weird, I only thought COOL--made me feel so very much not alone for the first time. I had found kids like me.
Music was paramount to our group: Devo. The Cars. Elvis Costello. Cheap Trick. The Police. We performed the Rocky Horror Picture Show, I'm not sure for what audience. I got my FCC license, rowed a canoe, and learned target shooting. When the week was over, we barricaded ourselves in the dormitory in protest of our parents taking us away.

I remember nothing else about the academic program. But I remember all of those kids. Several are still my friends today. And I can bring up the faces and names and quirks of all the others. Emotions ran high in those weeks, and in the long-distance love and friendship maintained through the years in between. When I went back to my school in my town, I felt confident and cool. I had friends like me, who understood me.


i've always been crazy

Come and play in the Imaginary Garden today! My occasional music prompt is up, and the Real Toads are taking inspiration from the music of Waylon Jennings.
i've always been crazy



No words will come out.
All my body wants is to sleep.
Truth is, the more anxious
I feel about not writing,
the less likely words are to come.
But patience is not my best quality.
Thank you for listening.



Explaining absence,
like imagining you gone--
near impossible.


get off my back

Hard to choose
whether to root for the elephant
or the crocodile
when no one
actually wants to know the truth.
I think I’ll vote for the toad.

Mama Zen has the Real Toads writing about conflict today.


all around the water cooler

A man expresses his wish
for an affair with a colleague
because, you know,
he never does that kind of thing,
he’s not that guy,
but he is kinda that guy
if he’s going around talking about it.


my mistake

I thought everything
flowing through these pages was