Exceptionalism 101

What if all of this
is for nothing? she mused
out loud. What if
we never find answers
to the big questions?
What if the man
we taught how to fish
dies of mercury poisoning?
It’s the American Way,
he replied. You need
some stronger bootstraps,
is all. Get the hell up.

For Peggy’s prompt to the Real Toads: FISH


The Inevitable Mechanical

runs out
meandered dreams
rumbling in the guts--
What causes those cankers
peppering soft under-spots?
Ugliness takes a toll on you--
Faster still, life’s metronome beating
your subconscious into pained submission.


Harrison Bergeron's Ballerina

with want,
lightening loads
for heavy-lifting minds),
wishes to fly airily
beyond the confines of her thoughts
to frolic freely, undetected.
If only she could hold that sentiment.

With apologies to Kurt Vonnegut, this is for Hedgewich’s challenge to the Real Toads: Etheree(al)


Coffee On Friday Mornings In Summer

Don’t get me wrong,
I have nothing against
Jehovah’s Witnesses conventioneers
except that I forget they’re in town
on Friday mornings in summer
and I never bring along enough coffee
for the ensuing extra half hour
in aggressive traffic--

Don’t get me wrong,
I have nothing against classical music,
but on Friday mornings
I’d rather sip coffee with the birds
than classical music
pumped through my office wall
at a fairly aggressive volume
for classical music and Friday morning--

Don’t get me wrong,
mostly I appreciated
that right-outta-college job
playing Girl Friday for a lawyer
who played classical music all day,
especially glad for the experience
of riding the bus in aggressive headphones,
feminist tomes for a budding heart--

Don’t get me wrong,
I have few regrets in this life
and everything’s a learning experience,
but I think I’d take back the days
of aggressive male gaze in the workplace,
burial masked as wardrobe scrutiny,
especially on dress-down Fridays when I’d rather
throw my coffee than sip--

Sipping my Friday morning coffee
reflecting on how buried moments show up
unexpectedly, requiring aggressive
attention even when the urge to mask them
is stronger than my French roast and my name--
I choose to experience pain, feel what comes,
including a full busload of shame.
And yes, regret. Don’t get me wrong.

For Corey’s prompt to the Real Toads: Friday Night Raw


On Shins

What’s stronger
than urge for Drink?
It’s the burn--
Shrill fury
Below the surface
for the root
Like a junkie-shake
Impossible to ignore
So you Scab over again.

M/Grapeling offered a word list to the Real Toads containing fury, tender, surface, shrill, shake, root, and urge, among others.


Rock This Blog (Rock It Inside Out)

What tickles your resident
gatherer of rhymes?
Learning that said rhymes
may be found by searching
for rockabilly love poems.
(She dons her bolo tie
and two-steps into the sunset.)


Much Of A Plush

My son and I were talking and he said something-something “much of a plush” and we looked at each other, giggling about the funny almost-rhyme he had employed in casual conversation. As I explained that I’d call what he said a slant-rhyme and encouraged him to try some more, he challenged me to write a poem containing his slant-rhyme phrase and said he would write one, too. So here they are (mine first, his below)--

It isn’t much
but my Boy?
he’s such a Love
all the Joy
a gift from above
Much of a love
all the Much
muchie joyish
What’s the fuss?
I can’t start
with much of a plush
when my Kid
is most of the Much
Here in my Heart
most of it all
all the Love



Seems we are destined
for generations
of standing sentry
side by side, out of reach
oh, my love, how I pine
for your... pine
To fondle your worn slats
your rusted flat
head wood screws
To savor your varnish
oh, how I wish
your tarnished face
traced me, not the sun
  (I’d come undone)
Could be worse, we could
be gazing out
on a stout suburban lawn,
one-upped by a porch swing
But love, for you
  (only you)
I’ll bear anything
  (any weight)
For a chance to change our fate.
photo by Margaret Bednar

Kerry asked the Real Toads to write a poem that is a love letter between two inanimate objects. I had been trying to figure out how to reflect on the "dog days of summer" scene in Margaret's wonderful photo, so two birds, one stone.



Sears Big Book
eyeing short shorts,
mother of all bikinis,
Coppertone tans--
hippybottoms & thick ankles
makes me look the way I feel,
gauzy wing-sleeved blouse
as diversion--
Averting eyes
I fly

Izy asked the Real Toads to write a poem containing a favorite line from a movie. The line “Makes me look the way I feel” is spoken by Fran Kubelik (played by Shirley MacLaine) to C.C. Baxter (Jack Lemmon) in The Apartment.


Darwin's Moon

Friends, I’m thrilled to share the news with you that the ALL CAPS PUBLISHING collective has just published Darwin’s Moon--A Memoir of Pain and Glory in Poetry and Prose by none other than Tim Schaefer, a writer of much (or ill?) repute known by many of you as Timoteo.

Now if you’ve followed Timoteo’s blog Catnip as I have, you know that Tim is witty, often guffaw-worthy funny, even. And that he has a sharp and prescient world-view, and he’s not afraid to say what he thinks. AND that he’s a good storyteller.

I will tell you this: My reaction to reading Darwin’s Moon was unexpected. Sure, it’s funny and there are some great stories there. But I was unprepared for the poignant arc running through this collection, the pure emotion, the child inside the man, the gentleness and vulnerability, sometimes wrapped in bravado but always right there, at the center and unflinching. I simply love this book. LOVE it. Yowza.

Okay so here’s the gorgeous cover (that painting’s by Tim himself!) and click here to buy it on Amazon on the cheap!

Please check out our announcement at ALL CAPS, too, and read about Tim and our other authors. Goes without saying that if you don’t already, you gotta follow Timoteo’s blog: CATNIP


Rage Against

Sometimes we struggle
against what we know, sometimes
against what we don't.


Seasonal Habits of Broken People

It’s summer
and everything’s ripe,
rain hangs in the air.

We retain water like succulents
in case of drought, stumbling around,
bloated and sullen.

The ants come in, and suddenly
we’re rifling through canned goods,
double-bagging the rice.

We are busted,
held together with duct tape.
Par for the course.

photo by Marian Kent


Prayer for Daughter (and Son)

let me be for you
everything you need me to
beautiful inside and out
just in case you’ve any doubt
in my eyes you’ll always be
i hope to be your universe
when you need help
take my hand first
your mother
i love you
and your brother

My occasional music prompt to the Real Toads today features the music of Veda Hille: Beautiful Mother
How lovely that this teensy prayer for my children is my 1,000th post to the runaway sentence! Love.


Rhapsody In Red

I am desirous
of a moment’s peace
a cup of red
I don’t care what kind
or even the vessel
from which you decant
bring it to me from a box
screw top bottle
or a mason jar
it matters little

Nor does it matter
the container into which
you pour
for my consumption
I’ll gladly drink
from a goblet
juice glass
jelly jar
travel mug
your baby’s sippy cup

I have been contemplating
the taste
of that first sip
all day
and driving home
how the jar fits
on my lip
when turned to the widest gap
in its screw threads
tongue’s burn
the liquid held
for a moment
or two
against mouth’s roof
before swallowing

I am desirous
of the fuzzy edges
sharpened musings
sure to come
I want to access
the very inside
to visit blackness
writing it all down

I’d take that drink
out on the back porch
for a walk around town
to the river
through the woods
dancing on a wood stage
swinging from railings
in the parking lot
behind the American Legion
down side streets
on rooftops
concrete steps
anywhere really

And I’ll contemplate it
the rest of the time
who am I kidding
calling this contemplation
it’s a want
maybe a need
certainly a wonder
why I’m stuck
thinking about it all the time
of some other way
wishing I could find
writing it all down.

For Kerry's challenge to the Real Toads: Rhapsody