29 December 2009

Dance the Last Dance

Cash it in.
Kick the bucket.
Cross over.
Meet your maker.
Rest in peace.
Join the choir invisible.
Give up the ghost.
Check out.
Bite the bullet.
Buy the farm.
Shuffle off your mortal coil.

Push up daisies
takes the cake.

When I go, wrap me in a quilt of love.
Bury me deep in the body of our Mother.

Pick a spot and do it quick
to keep the undertaker’s fluids
from preserving my mortal form.

Plant a sturdy evergreen
and let my body feed the worms
and roots that force their way through
the energy of me as it dissipates
into daisies, trees, and dreams in dirt,
filling the bellies of bugs.

Return me to the Earth.

24 December 2009

procrastinating piles

A pile of unread books
devours space on chair side tables
and spawns more volumes on the floor
between Len’s chair and mine.

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
joins force with Benioff’s City of Thieves
to taunt time watching TV while
Blackwater’s thick bulk beckons from the bottom.

Kelly Gallagher’s Readicide warns the other tomes
of egregious instructional strategies
employed in American schools
that kill readers before they begin.

On Killing, The Psychological Cost
of Learning to Kill in War and Society
finds the warning paranoid and ironic.
It falls into deep incessant laughter
envisioning Readicide on a soapbox.

Poetic tomes bring play and ambiguity to the stacks.
The ghosts in Sharon Olds’ The Dead and the Living
track ML Smoker’s spirits in Another Attempt at Rescue.

I imagine Sherman Alexie spending his time
in these heaps teaching Roethke’s Papa
The Business of Fancydancing, when
out of nowhere Billy Collins chases a mouse
into the growing mountains of books
and knocks one open onto my lap:

The Now Habit, A Strategic Program
for Overcoming Procrastination
and Enjoying Guilt-free Play.

23 December 2009


Use the blanket
to cover him
before cold
takes him down
to the ground.

Give the bell on his collar one final ring.

Spill his stories
as you drum down the earth
to mimic his now still heart.

The prompt was to use the words blanket, ring, and drum in a piece. Give it a try!

22 December 2009



Young woman me, fashioned
herself a hippy, flowers bloomed
 from the tops of many intricate braids,
above bare-footed skirts that swept
the Earth when I passed.

The downtown Import Depot
drew me in to its incense laden air
where I rifled through stacks of
tapestries to find the perfect hanging
for my first dwellings’ walls.
There it was: a rooster red and black
in the midst of a repeating paisley print
-the tapestry that drove me to India.

After watching it breathe for years
on walls that defined my life,
I wanted to visit an ancient
place where people understand
that all things are
infused with life.
I believed that spirit
dwelled in everything:
Trees, books, houses, words,
and in the air that made looks
between people


Five years of double time and scrimping
paid for a 23 hour flight to Mumbai.
My travel bible, India by Lonely Planet Press
illuminated lodgings, customs, restaurants,
temples and travel routes.
It promoted packing one or two outfits
and stuffing the rest of your backpack
full of toilet paper before leaving your homeland.
Toilet paper in India is scarce
and expensive.
I appreciated the beauty
of buying trippy clothes
to fill up the space created
as I wiped my way through India,
a country teeming with life.

Trains entered a central station
in Mumbai through a railbed
parents lowered their children into
to defecate.

Rats scurried
from possibility
to possibility
along tracks
tunneled by
low cement walls.

I needed to pee. Badly.
I entered a public toilet
under the girl icon.
A mountain of shit
with an apex
higher than I was comfortable squatting over,
grew from each porcelain bowl on the floor.
A quick scan showed no number 10 cans
usually utilized to flush the waste down the bowl.
I hiked my skirt to pee in the corner.
While hunkering down,
a dark skinned Indian woman
in a dirty sari came in.
She surveyed the room,
then smiled at me,
one front tooth missing.
She squatted
in the opposite corner
of the room.

I finished and offered her toilet paper.
She laughed, swinging her hand toward the door.


I took the train from Mumbai south to Mysore.
On the upper bunk of the berth,
across from me,
a man with wild dark hair
escaping from a skull cap,
wrote frantically
for more than four hours
into a spiral notebook.
He stopped only when I asked
where he was from,
he looked up and said “Spain.”
then continued at his task.

The train made a tea and pee stop
at a depot in a small village
with more cows than people.
Pink and yellow blossoms
stood out against the coarse white chests
of mooing beasts.
A man with a monkey on his shoulder
vended tea from a tray.
The tea was sweet
leaving a ¼-inch of sugar
swelled in the bottom of the cup.
The monkey danced
for change or bananas.
Another man sold stuffed armadillos
from a loose fitting bag
slung from his shoulder.

Six more hours until my stop in Mysore.
The couple across from me ate
a curried concoction of lentils, beans and rice
from paper cones pulled from their bags.
Above them, the writer
began to eat
page after page
of his own words,
one at a time.

Several pages preceded
long swigs from a quart-sized canteen.
Let the water wash the words, I thought,
and caught his eyes,
calm dark orbs that dared me to speak.
His intensity frightened me so
I broke away and talked to the couple
about train travel,
and the amount of sugar in tea.
The woman’s head
bobbed loose on her shoulders
while she lilted stories
of their daughter in Bangalore.
Every now and then
she stopped,
and looked up at the writer,
relentless in his feast.


At a dry goods store
in Mysore
with western saloon style doors,
I purchased a carton of tea.
Inside the box, a small
cello-wrapped toothbrush
lay buried in the leaf.

I laughed aloud
and the clerk looked puzzled.
“Sugar,” I said
then turned to go.

Every atom
in my body
when I stepped out
and the Spaniard stepped in
through swinging shop doors.

Outside, I stilled
and listened to the wooden doors sing
beating time to inertia.

I looked behind me
to see the word eater
do the same.

His eyes burned holes in mine.

“The doors,” he said, “Did you hear them sing?”

Thank you to the poets from Writer's Island who sotp to leave words on this piece.  Click the link for more takes on the prompt.

21 December 2009


On a still day
under all that is
you can hear
the universe hum.
Its voice
vibrates being
into alignment.

Through songs
that honor
self becomes sound.

17 December 2009

Star Bandits

A lantern casts shadows of itself
as gentle winds choreograph
a dance of light and dark
on the walls of the tent camper.
Two crows caw from one tree to another,
when I step out to look at the stars.

Under the dotted canopy of nighttime,
I bite a chunk from a cold baked potato
left over from that evening’s meal.
Looking up to connect the dots,
one of the crows blindsides me.
It grabs onto my potato and soars off,
its querulous partner chasing it away
from the scene of the crime.

Seconds later,
a constellation of crows
talons sunk into a single potato
reveals itself in the night sky.

15 December 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, A Reprisal

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
I can’t believe they pilfered thee
from forests full of stars at night
to parking lots lit up so bright

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree,
how lovely are thy branches
though only green, a few weeks more
‘til people toss you out their door

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree
a symbol of our gluttony!
With piles of presents placed just so
and branches flocked to look like snow.

Oh Christmas tree, Oh Christmas tree
we kill you for our gaiety.


Applaud the pine
that stands so tall
circle after circle
ringing out its life.

13 December 2009

Just the Way You Were

The package arrived dusty, with a postmark from China. Larry did not open the package for several days. It stared at him from its perch atop a pile of books on the desk. Every time he went into the kitchen, it mocked him from the open doorway of his home office. The Internet instructions said not to open it until a blue moon lit the night sky. Two more days.

Larry carried on as normal at the office, trying to avoid Glenda’s fervored glances. She looked at him with yearning eyes behind black studded cat-eye spectacles. Being near her caused beads of sweat to pepper Larry’s head, and tied his tongue in knots.

The night of the blue moon, Larry followed the instructions from the Chinese vendor to a T. He opened the package outside under an evergreen tree, and removed a small glass bottle. The liquid in the vial glowed blue as he centered it in the face of the moon and repeated three times the three rhyming lines he constructed for the occasion:

      Blue moon renewal
      share now the jewel
      to keep me from feeling the fool

Larry finished the ritual and headed to bed. He fell asleep doubting the veracity of the Chinese vendor’s claims, but when he woke, Larry put his hands on his head. He screamed out and ran to the bathroom mirror. The blue liquid he had rubbed into his scalp had worked indeed! Larry had a full head of luscious curly brown locks.

Entering the office on Monday, Larry walked right up to Glenda with a bouquet of daisies and said, “How about you and me head to Meadows after work for a couple of cocktails.” He felt darn good, he said it, he did it, he had hair. Glenda looked up from behind her glasses and said, “Oh my God, where is your beautiful bald head, and what happened to you?” She mocked him, “How about you and me head to Meadows after work for a couple of cocktails,” she continued, “How about you get away from my desk, Mr. Suave, Mr. Debonair, Mr. I liked you fine just the way you were!” At that she shuddered and went back to her computer screen her fingers furiously entering data. Larry stood there, stunned.

12 December 2009

The Dream Train

People seldom see him
few know that he exists
the funny little ticket taker
who propels us through the mist.

Wispy gray hair halos
his scalp above blue eyes
that wordlessly greet dreamers
as they rumble through the skies.

His smiles contain answers
to all things that we wonder
but nobody remembers him
once sleep has pulled them under.

06 December 2009

John Trudell

John Trudell, Santee Sioux, Vietnam Vet, Poet, Songwriter, Powerful Word Giver. His voice tells stories on my iPod. His reality feeds me ideas that quicken my heart. His courage frightens me. His voice rumbles--I glimpse how little I know. Words once spoken take on lives of their own. When the twisting drowning truth he utters pulls me under, I kick hard for the surface and up to me. There is something unsettling in a force for change. When it is so long in coming I marvel at its possible might borne of patience forced by years of domination, and I fear the Unleashing yet silently encourage its coming.

05 December 2009


As far back as her memory took her she woke up every morning with a petal in her mouth. She never told a living soul about it. Each morning, she took the petal out, and turned it round her eyes taking in the soft curving shades of yellow deepening toward its outer ruffled edge. Each morning, she placed it on her tongue and washed it down whole with a tepid cup of rosehip tea placed on a bedside table, saucer and all, by her grandmother when she brewed her own.

Every time a blue moon filled the night sky, her grandfather’s ghost visited. He told her everything he knew about anything she asked. Without fail. And he always told the truth. Unfortunately, he did not understand the petal, but was certain it was a mark to signify something special that would occur in her life. He always said, “It is a talisman, you will see.”

Sometimes she doubted her grandfather’s words. She wondered if everyone woke up with a petal in their mouth, and not one person ever talked about it. Why, there could be hundreds, thousands, even millions of people who woke up with a petal on their tongue. She let that thought simmer for several seasons and closely observed other people. She watched her mom wake up, she watched her grandmother wake up, she watched her dog wake up, she watched her friends wake up. Unless they secretly swallowed the petals, not one person woke with one on their tongue. She grew convinced that she was not at all like most people. She believed her grandfather. She pondered the petal’s significance.

Enter the young man. She met him at the Harvest Fair. When he said his name, she drew in breath, through no power of her own. It was as if the instant took hold of her and created the gasp. She knew he would be her first. He thought she might be his only. They explored tenderness through the Ferris Wheel’s magic circle, rising and falling and kissing and touching until the world disappeared.

It was almost the end of November. The crisp air held enough moisture to blur the stars. She met him in the cornfields behind the livestock barns at the fairgrounds. She stomped a flat area and spread out the love quilt her grandmother constructed of her grandfather’s clothes. Her grandfather might show up tonight. She listened to her young man stumble through the stalks and felt the blue moon rise. He did not perceive her until he fell upon the open quilt. She fell upon him with hunger, and then sleep took her far away.

She looked up. The morning sky was pale. Her young man appeared and held her eyes with his own. “Every night since I was a child I have had the same dream.," he began, "In the dream, my grandmother tells me I will wake to find a yellow petal in the mouth of my one true love. I did not have the dream last night.” He held the petal in his hand, and turned it around between their eyes. Then he placed it in his mouth, and swallowed it with a cup of tea from the thermos he brought. Rosehip tea.

04 December 2009


Beverly protruded,
she interrupted,
she complained.
Everyone blessed the day
she disappeared

oneword #32 cranes


Frogs fall from the sky,
alligator tears pelting a stormy sea.

Fading sunlight breaks through
and seagulls feast
on the floating amphibious forms.
They screech until dusk,
fighting for the fattest frogs.

Later a full moon rises
to illuminate the silhouette
of whooping cranes
circling a requiem
over the hemorrhaged bay.

03 December 2009


Mr. Jones was the reader at the spelling bee. He said, "Your word is chili," when I stood center stage. Lifting my mouth to the microphone, I enunciated each letter clearly, “Chili . . .C – H – I – L – I . . . chili.” I smiled, proud to have remembered that there was only one “L” in chili. “That is incorrect,” Mr. Jones intoned, “C – H – I – L – L – Y, is what we were looking for, as in the air temperature was chilly or cool.”

My disappointment in failing was overshadowed by impulsivity’s shame for instantly propelling me with conviction into spelling the wrong word. The wrong word! Because I did not ask for usage, I blew the spelling bee on a word that could be spelled simply. “Think before you speak,” sounds good in theory, but in the pre-ritalin days of my fifth grade world answers did not sit. As quickly as they were thought, they were blurted into being.

01 December 2009

oneword # 31 fold


There is a fold
between this world
the other world
that exists
in reciprocity
with this world.

It is evidence,
this fold,
of the other world
of this one.
It's convoluted form
falls in on itself
and forgets its function,
opening openings
between this and that.

Quick glimpses
offer deja vus and distractions
that throw us off balance
and teeter existence
until equilibrium
refurls the fold.