Indefinite Leave to Remain

iPhone photo, Hipstamatic app (photo by author)

displaced and out of place
for years I was lost
in the rush hour crowd of
King’s Cross Station
tongue-tied with words
in the same language but
a dialect whose defences
I never could break through

the same but different
separated by an ocean my people
fought to cross

death by a thousand cuts
on the edge of a paper my people
fought to sign

the red coat didn’t fit me
but I tried to finess my way into normal
over cups of tea, pints, and long vodkas

I embraced everything willing
to accept a hug with two kisses,
mother tongue in cheek

in the end I was still the sore thumb,
betrayed by a colloquial I didn’t
want to leave behind
well-loved, kindly regarded
but forever and always
a homesick stranger

I wrote this poem recently for a magazine submission. . . . and was soundly rejected but hey that means now I can share it with you! Once upon a time, I moved to England. In my own way, I was an immigrant, albeit temporarily. It wasn’t easy. Thank you for reading!

(I would have shared a photo from my time in the UK but all those negative scans are still locked in my defunct hard drive. So instead I used a phone photo of travel in other times, other places.)


Texas (I forget where) | Polaroid photo by author

Faulkner is a heavy weight of old grievances
unresolved, the fester of years
burning an indignant hole
in a pocket full of rusty nails
the bitter smell left upon the
fingers that reach inside
a taste like blood on the tongue

It’s my Mother’s words about the family
how her Daddy was the twin born last
separated by mere moments
from the seat of glory
always coming in second
army, not navy
bearing the first ancestral name
but not the badge of recognition
always falling short
and never quite good enough

It’s Grand-mere recounting
childhood memories at midnight
the thunderstorm raging but forgotten
under the smothering blanket of the past
her voice like slow honey
eyes lit and heart full of old thunder
from the days before the market crash
when Mother and Daddy were still
in the same sentence
long before Pass Christian was
swallowed by the raging sea,
not for the first time,
long before she was sent away
to trusted friends who could afford her
and even longer before
the infidelity and inevitable divorce

Faulkner is the silk of twilight
the seduction of the big house
beaconing with warm windows
cradled by the mythology
built within it, board by board
the old glory still visible
out of the corner of the eye
like a meteor that blazes
between moments so quickly
that although you can’t prove it,
you still know it was there

Hi friends! Sorry I have been away from here for a while. Back to school coupled with a whole bunch of pressing projects have had me busy with just about everything but writing. Oh yeah and also I’ve been devouring a book by Faulkner – my first of his. Thanks for reading!


Medium format film image by author

my neighbor cut down his tree
after it fell into his fence during a storm
so now I can see the sky as I lie in bed
the clouds are moving fast
in a hurry to end this hot dry month

from the bald stump,
the tree is pushing back up
with a quickness, a thousand saplings
rising from the one old root

dragonflies are racing in crazy
second storey zigzags

the leaves are shaking with wild
startled darts in the morning wind

on the ceiling the fan zooms;
its cranky motor ticks like seconds passing

my daughter can hardly wait
for school to start again

the only one not in a hurry
is me

Thanks, readers!

Late July

Portrait with sparklers | photo by author

August is knocking at the door
a hot mess of back-to-school
with new shoes, pencils, and
a new backpack

It used to be that
kids got to run wild
during the dog days,
endless sprinkler parties
and popsicle sleepovers

Now they are lucky
for any vacation, any gasps
of time blissfully away
from the hard thumb of authority,
the arch and watchful eye
of educational agendas,
the crack of principles’ whip

I guess you can tell how I feel about how early school starts these days! Thanks for reading.

Summer Burn

Port Aransas, TX | Medium format film image by author (Diana camera)

all season we flew close to the fire
when a puff of wind put out a flame
we hurried to re-light the wick,
digging it out of the wax,
from end to end,
never minding the singed wings

but in the end
fire still burns
the fierce factory of the sun
will not be denied
the old barrel gets lopsided
from being rolled out
and again

Thank you for reading!

At the Airport

Austin Bergstrom Airport | iPhone photo by author

traffic flows like a river
the escalators are tributaries
ferrying passengers in
and out of the main stream

giant baggage boulders
make rapids

giant metal aquatic birds
dip down
make deposits
drink deep

they leave again
with full bellies
migrating to the next
asphalt pond

A little poem written while I waited at baggage claim at the airport. Thank you for reading!

Fucus canaliculatus (pelvetia) – channel wrack, Dúlamán

cyanotype by Anna Atkins (public domain)

Brave branches gracefully
attending the daily flux
mingling with the grasses
that dance atop the salty cliffs

Hear your fronds sing
when you come up for air:
gentle daughter,
feed me in my time of need
guide this traveler
into the beautiful shoes
that enliven my path

The research for this last poem in my series based on Anna Atkins’ cyanotypes took me down an interesting rabbit hole, including learning about the Dúlamán. Thank you for joining me on this journey; thank you for reading! (PS World Cyanotype Day is the last Saturday of September, every year. . . . got a question about it? Ask me! )

Laminaria saccharina – sugar kelp, tangle, Devil’s apron

Cyanotype by Anna Atkins (public domain)

Cold water comfort
sweet forest home
for secret wide-eyed water-darters
now a tangle-rooted knife
upon the page

Would the devil wear you
around his fiery waste
as he prowled among the shore?

Let the waves push that
unwelcome long fellow back
into the deep,
where time’s corruption waits

Just one more left in my Anna Atkins’ cyanotype ekphrastic series! Last poem will run tomorrow. Thank you for reading!

Cytoseira fibrosa (baccata) – berry-like

Cyanotype by Anna Atkins (public domain)

Little lemons full of air
rafts pulling delicate life
from the depth of pools,
branches floating toward the light
white berries in a wash of blue
still firing connections,
still holding tightly to the common thread

This is the third poem in my series based on Cyanotypes by Anna Atkins. Thank you for reading!

Himanthalia lorea (elongata) – Sea thong / Sea spaghetti

Cyanotype by Anna Atkins

How you chase the daylight
as it departs at the end of the year
shooting out among the rocks
to leave your mark
before the moon pulls you,
gathering deep piles
in great sandy knots
worthy of our efforts to untie

Foodie beach delight,
noodle-heaped upon a plate

This poem is the second in my series of ekphrastic writing on cyanotypes by Anna Atkins. For details about why I did this etc, please see yesterday’s post! Thank you for reading!