After the Front

iPhone photo, Hipstamatic app | double exposure by author

After midnight the storm’s breath
came fast and fierce between
the houses, snuffing
trees and patio furniture
like errant candles
it gripped the stars and stripes
like a sail, unmooring
our flagship with a single blow
so it drifted into the
depths of the garden
fences folded like a
house of cards, harkening
to the maelstrom’s beguiling whistle

But you would never know
it now – if it wasn’t for
the debris, chaotic markers
of weather’s late night
party, litter from the
cold front’s powerful parade –
you’d never know the
remnant is this blue sky
and golden sunlight
where the trees toss in
their autumn splendor
like proud ladies just
back from the salon


More on breath, this time from the whopper thunderstorm we had the other night! Thank you for reading!

Breath

Holga and kodak film | multiple exposure photo by author and daughter assistant

Breath – indicator
“Breath our own personal tie with all the rhythms of the natural world”

The wind that blows in through open windows
I pull in through my own musical pipe
aeolian tunnel, the long gateway
to the myriad of tributaries
that swell and feed my body through the river
of lifeblood that meanders through its parts
east to west, and north to south, pole to pole,
tip to tip, in and in forevermore
becoming a part of my living self,
this body that cages my spirit
while I stand looking out of the casement
through my own personal, screenless windows.

This wind enters my house and enters me
and for a time I hold onto it
until my metronomic brain exhales
and pushes the wind forth again, upward
animating the music of my voice
so it becomes part of the push and pull
and whispers its way back up to the clouds.

The wind will shift from south to north again
as the earth tilts her way along the year
and my breath will enter the tapestry
as I weave my own way along, in time.


I wrote the above blank verse poem in response to the idea and quote at the top, which I noted come from page 3 although I’m not sure if that was from Mary Oliver’s Poetry Handbook or from her Rules from the Dance. It’s one or the other! Thank you for reading!

Morning Song

Maggie the Magpie, Taos, 2018 | iPhone hipstamatic photo by author

This morning a song is happening
outside in the trees
kissed by sunshine
slyly slanting in
the window frames the din
notes tumbling and fine
sneaking through with ease
this morning a poem is happening


A little something for National Poetry Day, which is today in the UK (not that I am in the UK, but I did call it my home for a while, once upon a time). Thank you for reading!

PS meeting Maggie the Magpie was a memorable experience. She is / was a very sociable bird.

Scrutiny, 2

iPhone hipstamatic photo by author

In a darkened, protracted
watery world, the roots
snake and swarm together
like so many nerve tendrils
seeking nourishment to
stimulate growth

a clipping, clearly
bottled up for future life
little leaves drink in the
window light, send signals
down into the feelers
that long for soil

icebergs and snowbirds
stare, stoic, from the wall
uprooted from arctic climes
brought here, to this cafe
for a stretch of the
imagination, almost a canvas
against which this hot
September afternoon feels
like a joke

ridiculous: the difference
from aquatic birth to
solid earth, so far north
to deepest south
espresso sings: hand to mouth


Following on from yesterday’s post, another scrutiny poem. Thank you for reading!

Scrutiny, 1

nearly empty filthy teacup | iPhone hipstamatic photo by author

Floating in my cup of tea:
the bric-a-brac chunk leftovers
from the small scoop of flavorful dust
I stirred in, along with honey,
to give it an extra something

this zest, now unattractive —
no matter how tasty —
in its warm, gentle brown
swimming pool

a finer mix would have
disappeared,
become one with the
cream-kissed elixir
yet this one will not go so gently:
wryly it proclaims its presence
as if a little bit of the garden
had blown over the tea table
by an inexplicable gust of mid-morning

it wants to be seen
like leftover leaves, it wants to be read
its one final parting message
to the ever-refreshing world


On page 99 of Mary Oliver’s Poetry Handbook, she says “The poet must not only write the poem but must scrutinize the world intensely. . . ” Reading that line made me decide to spend a part of my writing day scrutinizing whatever stood out to me as a potential subject. My cup of tea came first! Tomorrow, I will share another. There are lot of poetry books that suggest this kind of exercise; no matter how often I do it, I find it rewarding – whether or not the poems it produces are amazing, I find the action of paying closer attention in general is a good habit to develop.

Thank you for reading!

I Am

iPhone photo, Hipstamatic app, by author

“I am going to do this.”

She’d said that to herself a thousand times, making secret promises while she lay awake in bed at night, in the morning’s vacant space of teeth brushing and lunch packing, in the car quiet of the commute. She knew it would only take a moment’s firm decision, and then it would be done. But still the clock ticked and the days passed one after another, piling up into a heap of years.

A promise is a promise. Lacy’s mother had sworn she would go back to that place of fairy tales, the one they always talked about. She had sworn she would make the trip, with or without her, for both their sakes, to confront the memories and make them real again, make them whole. She said she would bring them back in a box that she could open if she wanted, or could slide under the bed and forget until the time was right.

It turned out that her mother’s journey didn’t include travel. It never opened up enough for her to carry out her careful plan, no matter how many times she had called Lacy and said, “Honey, I am going this year: I am. You’ll see. I am going to manage to get away. I’ve got all the money saved up right here.”

Her voice, like honey; her idea, like a sweet hidden comb in both their hearts. But she never did manage. Time and life were the bee keepers that smoked them into somnolence and acquiescence. Reality put their dreams in a back bedroom to sleep in forgotten darkness.

Two years ago, Lacy had found the box of money under her mother’s bed while she was cleaning out the house. It still smelled of new shoes. Wads of bills and handfuls of coins crushed and rattled, tied together with a piece of red yarn. For two years, it had stared at her from the windowsill. She heard its dry voice whispering all the things that could never be said, telling all the stories that were still waiting to be told.

It was a Tuesday, and she was already late for work. The kettle was screaming at her from the stove when the phone rang, and while she walked to answer it she heard her mother’s voice, clear as if she was right there in the kitchen.

“Hello –“

Always everything was impatience, a refusal to wait, the grinding machine that she allowed to make decisions for her. Lacy had been putting everything she used to hope for on the back burner for so long that she hardly even noticed the overcooked, burning smell anymore. Her dreams had caramelized into a solid, blackened crust. Now, when she stood listening to her boss on the other end of the phone, the acrid smoke of neglect filled her nostrils. She felt her mother’s eyes on her; she heard the rattle of all those saved coins in the box.

Lacy turned off the stove. Her boss paused, and she replied, “Yes, I realize all this, and I realize that I am late. I am going to need more time, at least a week. After that, I will be back and set it all right.”

She absorbed the stunned silence, and said her words to end the call. Lacy picked up her keys, her purse, turned out the light and locked the front door. The car dinged a welcome to her and revved with confident obedience. She saw the shoebox there in the front window, safe for some other rainy day. She picked up her phone and sent a text to a number she still knew by heart. “I am on my way.” She put on her seatbelt, slipped the gears into reverse, and backed out onto her own private highway.


I am considering doing NaNoWriMo again this year, so I am playing around with prose a little in preparation for what I might write. The other day, they shared a 31 day prep challenge thing on their instagram; this is my beginning. I don’t know if this is what they intended, and also it’s supposed to be posted on instagram, but whatev’s. Some rules are meant to be broken, right? “More of a guideline. . . . ” as Jack Sparrow would say. . . .

Thank you for reading! Comments are welcome!!!!

A Pair of Italian Sonnets

Rome, 2003 | 35mm film photo by author

Pristine Sistine: at the Vatican

I walked and walked through halls of wonder
til at last I reached the end
where God’s own voice resounds like thunder
from images well known as friends

In awe beneath that gorgeous ceiling
sequestered as a holy choice
overwhelmed with thoughts and feelings
brought back to earth by recorded noise

Quiet! and No pictures, please!
Loudly they remind, again:
they’re watching, they are not our friends

Security, so ill at ease,
the crowd, while vibrantly bedazzled
makes preservation’s efforts frazzled

Dinner

A balmy night in lovely Roma
with hungry bellies we sat down
and promptly proceeded to drown
in courses vast as we had known

Eating well beyond our quota
dessert was offered as the crown:
chocolate morsels, rich and brown
Tummies strained at each iota

At ten o’clock, our meal complete,
in came a family to begin
the panoply of kitchen jinns

Pizza, pasta, and meaty feats
paraded to their tabel’s head,
while we went home and straight to bed


Continuing right along with inspiration courtesy of Mary Oliver’s Poetry Handbook – AND the companion book, Rules for the Dance, which deals specifically with metered verse – I came across the Italian Sonnet and of course had to give it a try. I am a big fan of sonnets in general, especially since I find them such a challenge.

Not really having any idea what to write about, I decided to turn my attention to my memories from the trip to Rome I made in 2003; this seemed fitting for an Italian sonnet! I made a few attempts, and at first I got carried away with my thoughts and neglected to follow the form correctly. Sometimes it’s helpful to write the desired rhyme scheme in the margin!

Thank you for reading! There’s another Italian sonnet on my Medium page, and I will be sharing a couple more here eventually.

Prose Pose

iPhone hipstamatic photo by author

Baudelaire said to be drunk, always, so this morning I am choosing tea and sunshine, music, the hinting breath of maybe some kind of creation that’s knocking at the cabinet door to get out, just on the other side of this cup of kindness. You are what you eat, and drink, and probably sights and sounds pile on and add to that sum total, too; I hear the ding of the adding machine as it tallies me all up, illuminated this morning by the kitchen windows and bright on the inside in spite of a sleepless night. Drunkenness? Why not: draw deep, drink it all in.


Reading about Prose Poetry the other day, YOU KNOW WHERE but yes of course in Mary Oliver’s Poetry Handbook, I saw the name of Baudelaire: a name I often thought of when I was a teenager but had ignored for a few decades. A quick search online brought me his epic Be Drunk poem, and here you have the result of my reflection upon it. Thank you for reading!

Autumn (45)

Photo by author

In this fading comes regeneration
(even the most robust things must sleep)
so the trees light up with celebration
while within the soil their roots stretch out deep
as on a bed locked far inside a keep
whose walls will shield them from the coming chill.
Above, the birds who hop around and peep
will soon retire, leaving the air still.
And we who wait on our nature’s capricious will
with deeper longings taking root for hearth and home
hold anticipation tight in our hands until
the first cool morning blows upon our weary bones.

I’ve heard of a time of second childhood
that starts to bloom with an outward aging
when times of rest might seem to work for good
each day becomes instead more engaging.
In the heart, defiant storms are raging.
What I’ve heard, I begin to understand:
each moment seems elaborate staging.
Time runs too swiftly through my outstretched hands;
while one part fades, another part makes a new stand
like a tree digging deep to ignite revival.
I take a new look at the autumn of this land
and hear inside the jingling keys of survival.


This is my attempt at a poem of Spenserian stanzas. As often happens, I may have gotten carried away and neglected my duty to the strict metre. . . . still, this is my offering for the first day of Autumn. Thank you for reading! Excuse me while I go eat pumpkin-y cinnamon-y things. . .

Fishing for Ekphrasis in an Urban Lagoon, 2

This post is a continuation of something I started on my Medium page, which you can read here. I had a wonderful afternoon recently at Austin’s Laguna Gloria, writing, wandering, photographing. Below are 3 more poems, with their relevant Polaroids, from that day. (Read more about the sculpture garden at this link.)

Water Woman by Wangechi Mutu | polaroid photo by author

Water Woman

Snake, they called me.
Temptress.
They’re right: it’s my calling
to call to them.
This voice of mine
with its calm sweetness
is bound to be a magnet
away from that hard rough world.

They fear the sea,
but I know it
like I know my body
like my soul knows that one day
it will answer a magnetic call
of its own

Trap and Weir by Marie Lopez | part of The Sorcerer’s Burden: Contemporary Art and the Anthropological Turn | photo by author

The Sorcerer’s Burden

One would expect a great number of
bits and pieces to be used
in the process of conjuring,
odds and ends with magical purpose
going about their business in some
mystical, unfathomable way
one that maybe even the sorcerer
doesn’t understand
He learned these things long ago,
as an apprentice
rolling up his star-studded sleeves
and donning his cap to get stuck in
problem solving
the only way he knows how.

But storage – that’s a problem for everyone
when there’s a lot of this and that about
scraps and leavings that need
to be stashed

A jar of earth is a good trap
for those tidbits that defy reason
and normal everyday laws
that require a secret keeping place
that need a bit of earth to cage them in

the true by Ugo Rondinone | polaroid photo by author

The True

Stone on stone, I piled the sturdy
blocks of foundation
building the weight of my reality
chiseling away at whatever debris
had barnacled onto the truth I held inside

So now, today, I am heavy-rooted
to the voracious earth
a stoic sentinel to sweet veritas
welcoming observation and
whatever comes my way


Thank you for reading!