Sunday, October 30, 2011

At the Millay Colony

At the Millay Colony

up the road I pace,
then down to the pond
where ice forms like fat
rising in chicken broth,
where the cherry tree,
fallen one thunderous night,
spans the water.

There, straddling the trunk,
wrinkled mastodon
awaiting the caretaker's saw,
when he gets to it,
I watch the four-toed
salamander lap the cherry's shadow,
watch my mutable self
mirrored below the sky,
without fire.

Across the dry-grassed meadow
the poet's cabin stands: woodstove,
childlike desk, pen,
blank notepad. Blank
as the rain-streaked window
until late that afternoon
framed in a pane of glass
the setting sun's reflection burns
bright as the light
on my typewriter's rim
signaling on.

an older poem, date unknown

for more poems in response to this prompt see Magpie Tales.

Thanks to willow for the photo.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Blood of a bat

The Blood of a Bat

Webbed wings wove
dark blankets
on the cave ceiling
sonic whispers echoed
through narrow tunnels
lantern light pierced the dark
hats covered our hair
hands and knees scraped and torn
pregnant woman's cave
spelunker's kindergarten
Ahead, daylight grins
Dracula's kiss

In China the bat symbolizes
longevity and happiness
Put in that, o put in that

italics from the witches in Macbeth

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Bird Point Magpie Tales #72

Bird Point

We walked the corn fields
that sweltering Missouri July
I in summer-hardened bare feet
a polka-dotted sundress
you in those obscene cut-offs
cowboy boots, can of beer in hand.

We searched for arrowheads
there'd be dozens you swore
Pulaski county--once home to the
Quapaw, Missouria, and the Osage.

Heat dazed, I followed your
long-haired, flat-assed self
shared your bitter beer
visioned another me
in buckskins and braids
beads and moccasins
pounding meal from corn
both me's oblivious to
coming dissolution
in moonshine and disappointment.

We returned home
sunburned and tipsy
the single chipped bird point
rough in my hand.

It rattles in my handkerchief drawer
even today.

read more poems and tales around this prompt at Magpie Tales. Photo of Van Gogh painting provided by Willow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011



He comes to visit
my friend's crazy son.
I'm not sure why.
A frisson of fear
outweighed by compassion
and a bit of wonder.

The year he works at
an auto sales he
arrives in a spiffy silver
four door, AC, push-button locks
something an insurance
salesman might choose. Certainly
not myself.

"Let's take it for a test drive," he says.
"You'll be sold."

Now and then I feed him lunch.
Once, I find him standing at the back
of his car, trunk open,
brushing his teeth.
A jug of water and a spit cup.

He calls me asking
for a ride to the bus station.
I find him leaping around
his living room searching for a sock
an open suitcase on the floor
clothes scattered.

"We just have a few minutes,"
I say.

"Let me drive," he asks as he throws
himself and his suitcase together.
I decline.
Later, I picture myself a prisoner as
he drives past the bus and onward to Maine.

The scent of his aftershave lingers for weeks.

photo courtesy of Willow. For more stories and poems evolving from this image see Magpie Tales.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011



I, perched on the arm
of the chair
he, comfy in its embrace
the book open on his lap
in a voice resonant with music
he read.

Night after night
until eyelids closed
then opened and closed again.

That wonderous gift
given kindly with love
for words
for literature
for me.

for more poetry and prose inspired by the above prompt see Magpie Tales. Top photo courtesy of Willow. Second photo from my family archives. Me and Dad of course.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

On being an artist

On Being an Artist

The rose window fractured
by a fierce wind
shards on the grass
till he came along
collected the fragments
crafted a kaleidoscope

by the tornado of life
for two years I lay on the rug
my thoughts scattered
Now I must turn my mind around
create beauty from the ruins

photo by Willow. For more magpie tales using this photo as a prompt click here.

Saturday, April 16, 2011



A pot of tea brews
on the table
a bunch of violets in a glass
the smell of grilled bacon tints the air.
Together we watch the chickadees feed
the hawk circle.
Your lips taste of Earl Grey, mine of mint.
Your hands burn through the silk of my kimono.
A beautiful day in the neighborhood
the weatherman murmurs
and we smile.

And I recall when it wasn't so
when rising was solitary and faint
like the morning moon
and the cottage shook and chattered
with a cold, cruel wind.

Listen to me read if you wish.



A prim hobo she boarded the train with a ticket
wearing an orange and black California skirt,
her knees still raw from the playground.

An Oakland bus carried her over the bridge. She lost
her hairdryer but soon her hair was long
frizzy with the wet air; it didn't matter.

To the haunting chime of the trolley,
she rented a tiny apartment on Nob Hill. Standing on the window ledge
she gazed over the rooftops, watched the boats in the harbor
while down in the courtyard the wild cats came to feed.

Her legs ached from walking the steep hills past
mysterious houses behind tall fences, past
the bay, the basking seals. The Sutro baths echoed. The
seed pods strung around her neck clicked.

Everything was free: the food, the clinic, love. The Mime Troupe played
for free in the city parks, park benches became beds.
In a piano bar Little Richard played for free
and a ten dollar drink.

In Sausalito she ate newspaper wrapped fish and chips
bought Capezios and hitchhiked back
across the fog bound arch with an elderly lady in a
maroon Desoto.

Now elderly herself, she sits on a ragged porch
in Vermont and sucks on her artificial teeth,
watches her tame cat stalk the spring robins in the
muddy field while the early morning
fog lifts in its own good time.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Model Magpie Tales #59

The Model

Who is she they will
whisper in years hence
but he doesn't know that
as draped in wig and
full-length gown he sits
before the blank wall like some
Viola in the Globe and watches
his lover prepare the palette
dim the light.

He readies for days of stillness
the rasp of brush on canvas
the smell of solvents
giving once more his angelic face
and roseate form to genius.

Photo prompt courtesy of Willow. For more stories and poems based on this prompt click here.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Sword and the Shield

At three I made my own breakfast
from milk and orange juice
a bowl and box of cereal
an unseen hand placed on the lowest shelves.
I was straight and sturdy
proud of my little self.
I never knew.

At twenty, I shunned marriage
turned away from my fine job
headed West--
the summer of love
North Beach poetry
music in the parks.
I was a rebel. I would be different.
I never knew.

"My art comes first," my new husband cautioned
as we left the justice of the peace.
He was crazy
chased women
Onward I marched
Athena, sword drawn.
I never knew.

Ah well. You've heard the story.
Single parenthood
my own crazy
choices that seemed bold and new
creative and affirming.

Until they died, Mom and Dad,
I never knew I marched behind
an invisible shield they held before me.
At last I see, at last I know.

photo courtesty of Willow. Read more writing from this prompt on Magpie Tales.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Directions for a flawless life

Directions for a flawless life

Take a left
pass the zoo
do not marry the gorilla.

Five blocks from the second stop light
or is it the third?
veer right.
Avoid the lake, do not drown
learn to swim.

Follow the signs.
They are small and written in Greek
or is it Russian?
Squint. Wear glasses. Shade your eyes.
Do not buy candy at the country store.
It's out of date.

Take the hill slow, there may be mud.
Park at the barn, walk in.
Do not lose your boots
Remember to hum.
Cross the bridge
follow the cow path
do not pet the bull--
that's the one with horns.

You will know you have arrived if the daffodils nod
if the woodpecker taps
if the wind touches your cheek.

The last line is from a poem by Thomas Lux called "Give it to the wind." In our Monday poetry group we had a challenge to choose a line from one of several poems and use it for our last line. To hear me read my poem, click below.



The fog, a damp cocoon,
surrounds the house,
distorts my vision.
Trees--a watery calligraphy,
in the field,
the deserted cabin is a ghost
ship on a pale sea.

I am up the mud road
no human in sight
just the drip of ice
the tick of the clock
the spurt of the gas fire
the flicker of memories
as dark wraps her cloak around me.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

An Irish Ditty

Ah to be a violet again
dark and vibrant
snappy and sassy
with all the shamrocks in the neighborhood
chasing after me for a taste of
and a bite of my
buttermilk and raisins.

I still have a bit o' the snap
in me
it's just my hair is white
and my stem leans a tad toward the ground.
But I'm easier to catch.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Exchange

Playing the Exchange

Yes, it's beautiful
this landscape of white
broken by the dark tree lines.

The wind howls
the snow accumulates
like bull market profits
only to later melt down to a trickle.

Logging trucks tear up the dirt road
jeeps slide down,
otherwise silence,
cold slippery ground

and isolation--
anthropomorphized into a punishment for sins--
each roof-chained icicle is a bead
on winter's rosary--
fingered in penitence
melted into the spring of forgiveness.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Pilot Light Moon

Pilot Light Moon

The old woman wakes in the full moon night
to the sound of a cat
bird in the lemon tree.

Feet on the floor, glasses
found, outside
into the dim lit hills.

Above, Cassiopeia,
beneath, dry leaves, the scrape of bricks
against bare soles.
Within, a flame flares
as if her feet were a match against the rough.

Past the well
around the pond
into the woods where
under the branches of the ancient maple
where the squirrel sleeps
she lies on a bed of moss
and dreams.

photo courtesy of Willow. Read more poems and stories based on this photo at Magpie Tales.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


That day
we set out at noon
when the sun was high and warm,
Maisie, Tunisia and I.

Harold had cleared the pond.
We heard the scrape of his shovel
up to the house. Mama
bottled hot chocolate as we
gathered our mittens and
sharpened our skates.

It was our last winter together, we three cousins.
Maisie soon married a man from Alberta, Canada
where she proceeded to have twelve children
and five dogs.

Tunisia contracted tuberculosis,
was sent to a sanatorium,
and never returned.

And I, I took my camera,
the one Harold used that day
to capture us,
and moved to New York City.

You will not have heard of me
though I did well in my time,
the little camera a heart beating
in my hands,
my eye, awkward at first but later
sharp and witty.
As good as Imogen Cunningham I was,
just overlooked.

Photo courtesy of Willow. Read more poems and stories based on this photo prompt here.



Brush laden with Titanium white,
the master pointillist in the sky
dot-dab, dot-dab.

One snow drop after another
kisses the earthen canvas,
until the path is buried,
the branches bowed.
dot-dab, dot-dab,

Winter birds huddle in the cedar.
On the porch, the old bell
chimes in the wind,
a slow, somber tone,
dong, dong, dong, dong.

At dusk,
the painter
caps the tube of paint, scrapes the
pallet, cleans her brush
in the swift immortal stream,
satisfied and complete.

an exercise to use these four words: bell, kisses, immortal, branches. Otherwise I would not have used the word "immortal" which was a difficult one. Too heavy.