At My Funeral

Harmonica will screech
as a depressed troupe
of anthropomorphized candy
bears me to the cemetery
in my pop-tart coffin;
a murder of crows will drop
promissory-note confetti
on the solemn heads
of the temporarily grieving
who, once they get home,
will pop corks and dance jigs.


Maybe Next Time A Postcard Will Do

When you start having to replace
the broken stuff you bought
to replace the shit you lost
when she left you

It’s appropriate to notice
and not comment upon
but you’ve never stayed silent
just because it keeps the peace.

For the Real Toads weekend prompt: The World’s End



Whispery zephyr
across my line of vision
sets leaves to rattling,
shivering bones a message
both longing and redemptive.

For Hannah’s prompt to the Real Toads: BAMBOO FOREST


Good Advice


If You Must Know

Haiku for Christmas:
Holiday melancholy
sets in, gets comfy.

Holiday haiku for Mama Zen.


Christmas Eves of Yore

The whole family
would gather for ham dinner
with scalloped potatoes,
beer & vodka slushies
to beat the snow.
You sprang
for shrimp cocktail;
someone probably brought
deer sausage.
Children of all ages sat,
coloring. You can see us
grow up
in those coloring book pages.
I never won anything
from my scratch-ticket prizes,
and don’t buy them now.
But I feel lucky
because I still see you laughing.



and twinkly lites,
licking sugar on air,
drum cacophony celebrates
King of the Hill, six episodes
later and you’re ready.
No mistletoe,
but kiss.

Sharing this older holiday poem today in the Imaginary Garden, where it’s Open Link Monday. This poem is from my first book, Responsive Pleading.


Untitled Drive

Sun shines through a slush-
speckled windshield, rendering
her heart warmed, wool-wrapped.
Earlier, unraveling
skeins soaked in a frigid rain.

Tanka for Real Toads!


Summer Street, as Winter Solstice Approaches

Flame-pink sky
by a lane
of pastel cottages:
Why am I wearing black?


Christmas Recess

lites eclipsed
by Santa’s shadow
boozing down the Chimney tonite--

For Peggy’s prompt to the Real Toads: Holiday Memories


Bundle Up

pinking-sheared road hems
cut crystal-frozen cornfields
into ice quarters


my freedom song

by Tom (Twilite) Clark

do not expect fancy words
there is nothing pretty here
when they slam shut my cage

my jailers keep looking at me
watching me piss
watching me sleep
the air a stale sweat
of urine and shit
the floor so cold

every morning I clean the buckets
I feel no shame
for I am a man
I am just a man
my captors torment me
they torture my friends
I forgive them all
I will stand
I will not bend
they will not break me

I cannot see the sun
or feel it on my face
the wind a memory of time and space
yet just beyond these walls
dazzled birds sing my freedom song
brilliant jewels in plumage fine
colors so vivid so bright
I see them now
I hear them sing
Rolihlahla Rolihlahla
pulling the branch of the tree
Rolihlahla Rolihlahla
sing for me
sing my freedom song

Mediba, Mediba
our brother, our son
our family all together
we must live as one
Tata father grandfather
teach us how
mother sister daughter
we must live together
work together love together
laugh and dance and sing
together now as one

I am not this island
barren and bleak
I am not this outpost of hatred and fear
I am not

always and forever
I am the captain of my soul
glowing with spirit light
but in this prison
groaning heavy with footsteps
a clamor of screams
and a clang clank of voices
there is nothing to do but wait
27 years I wait
my whole life I wait

and tomorrow is the same today as the day before
broken like my fate upon these stones
and my lips are the lips of birds
lonely and alone
singing my freedom song

Rolihlahla Rolihlahla
pulling the branch of the tree
Rolihlahla Rolihlahla
sing for me
sing my freedom song

we are together here
my comrades and I
we rot here in this prison
but we do not die

because we believe
we will fight and endure
we will be free

Rolihlahla Rolihlahla
pulling the branch of the tree
Rolihlahla Rolihlahla
sing my freedom song
sing for me
and the brilliant plumage like jewels I see
and the dazzled birds
now they sing for me
my freedom song

Tom Clark, aka Tommy Twilite, is the founding co-director of Florence Poets Society and is my friend. I was lucky to have the opportunity to hear Tommy read his poem for Nelson Mandela aloud this past week--so incredibly powerful. I am thrilled to share Tommy’s words with my blog readers and with the Real Toads, where Kerry has posted a moving tribute to Madiba. If you have comments about Tommy's poem, I will be pleased to share them with him.


If Cats Could Talk

The cat took a piss
in my tall boots.
What is she trying to say?
Previously, she pissed
in my pink scuff slippers
& two perfectly good
unmatched Converse sneakers.
Apparently, I haven’t
gotten the message yet.
It must be aggravating
to express yourself
again & again,
yet not be understood.
Wait, I know how that feels.


Dinner With A Ghost

The ghost is eating pizza,
nodding silently
as if he approves
of our conversation.

I wish he’d say something,
but he chooses not to,
stays mum & sullen.

It’s hard not to assume
you’re responsible
in the face
of the silent treatment--

But I’ll brush it off,
focus my attention elsewhere
& hope that, in time,
he comes around.

My ten-year-old son gave me the first line, and approves of the resulting poem, though says he thinks it’s rather sad. This is for Corey’s prompt to the Real Toads: ALL IN THE FAMILY


47 Miles

through ether
passing repeated landmarks
to wind up
in this rocking chair
with you


This Time Of Year

Pain piles on
distracted Hope
What does it mean to Praise
I can’t even hear
the Music

Kim has the Real Toads singing praise: Hallelujah


Coffee With Leonard Cohen

Friends, I can’t tell you how excited I am about this announcement from ALL CAPS PUBLISHING:
ALL CAPS PUBLISHING is pleased to announce publication of a very special collection of poetry--Coffee With Leonard Cohen by our favorite entomologist-poet, Joy S Grape.

I’ve long been a follower of Joy S Grape’s blog; perhaps you have, too. I find Joy’s poetry intriguing and enveloping, creative and quirky, sometimes like an object you come across and attempt to find a name for, other times familiar like a childhood friend. I’m so excited about Joy having collected these poems, and many illustrations, too, into a volume that I can hold in my hands and ingest as a whole. It’s really a treat, and I can’t wait for my copy to arrive. Get yours now!

Here’s how Joy describes herself, hah:

Joy S Grape is interested in lots of things. She looks under rocks for a living. Her favorite literary romance is Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. She would love it if you would stop by her little blog: Coffee With Leonard Cohen

You know you want to read it. Click here to purchase a copy from Amazon. You might also like to read the announcement over at ALL CAPS and/or browse our authors and titles. And visit Joy’s blog, too. Trust me on this!


Unsleeping, or Freezing, or Treading Water

Funny, your stitch
in my side now aches
under my breast
as your leprechaun voice
chills to eskimo breath
& washes out like sand
on Popponesset Beach.
Death comes so early
this time of year--

Linking up with Izy’s prompt to the Real Toads: ESKIMO


Walk Like A Cat

Just a reminder that I have a very lovely new book out! Here's a sneak peek. Click here to get it via Amazon or let me know by email (runawaysentence at gmail) if you want to buy a signed copy directly from me. Meanwhile, I’m giving myself a break for a day or two after the frenzy that was 30 Poems In November.


Can't Light A Fire Without A Spark

the straight of your back
refracted in
this morning’s frost,
my glare begins to thaw.

Teensy tanka, #30 of 30! I did it: wrote a poem every day this month to benefit immigrants in our community via Center for New Americans. If you’d like to help celebrate these shenanigans, it’s not too late to make a contribution of any amount. Thank you for all your support, dear readers. Whew!


Gratitude's Day

You know it’s Thanksgiving
when you peel your sweet potatoes
listening to the Macy’s parade,
when you cry during commercials,
drum corps, Rockettes kicklines
& Charlie Brown’s holiday meal,
when you play Yahtzee well into
the evening after an unplanned
but predictable nap on the couch,
when you hug your kids extra-long
& consider actually sending your
gratitude skyward in the form
of a soaring, bird-like prayer.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear readers! #28 of 30 Poems In November to benefit Center for New Americans. With special love to Kirsten Piccini, who also tears up during the Macy's parade.


Blue Laws

As the bruise on my right
forearm yellowed & faded, a new
bruise appeared on the left.
Can I just say I bruise easily
or chalk it up to clumsiness?
Or, in this season of thanks,
is something trying to reach me?

For Kerry’s very intriguing prompt to the Real Toads: Let's Write in Black & White

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