Thursday, December 30, 2010

Beyond All This

Jeanne Iris is driving the Poetry Bus, and as I've missed the last two runs, I'm early at the stop this week.

This poem was inspired by the first line of a Philip Larkin poem. As a matter of fact, I've purloined that entire line to begin this poem. You might notice that Hamlet sneaked in there, too.  Apologies to both gentlemen.

As for the Bus, I've chosen Option II, reaching a higher level of consciousness. You can read the other options and find links to some very talented writers here. The Bus officially runs on Monday.


Beyond all this, the wish to be alone:
To cast aside this bag of cells and bone,
To fly beyond this corporeal home;

To be alone, beyond all this to flee,
Unveiled, unmasked, exposed, in spirit free
To move among the stars and simply be.

It is a wish devoutly to be won:
Beyond all this, to flee, to sail, to run
With stars and moon and wind and sea and sun.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Winter Sonnet


Pushing through a snow as deep as weeds
Or sand that blows and swirls and falls in mounds,
I follow cloudy breath across the field
Then turn my gaze back to the lighted house
Where cheerful shine the windows on a night
So clear that crystals hang upon the air
And catching in my lashes make me tear,
Or is it from the welcome waiting there?
Beneath the clear black sky so far above,
Amid the weight of winter's icy hand,
My nighttime winter walk, this lonely stroll,
Reminds me of my need for fellow man,
Till then I turn from solitary roam
And seek the blazing heartfires of my home.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mary's Part


a young girl,
a  child,
free of care,
for a future
filled with love
and happiness.
if you can,
a spirit,
a swoon,
a quickening,
a god
come to earth.
Imagine then
a life
of love
and pride
and grief
all of history
forever altered
all because
a humble girl,
when chosen,
said yes
to God.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


I've been off the bus for a few weeks now, hijacked by life and writer's block, so I'm exercising my muscles, poetry and otherwise, to get back in the game.

The wonderful Weaver of Grass is driving from Yorkshire this week, and she wants to hear about stars.  You can read other takes on the prompt and meet a great bunch of writers here.

Remember, I'm just practicing... (and I know that Venus and Mars are planets. Poetic license, remember?)


Orion in his fashion
shows the bears his stuff;

the Pleiades go strutting;
Cassiopeia's in a huff.

Venus shines more brightly
than Mars, who's red with ire;

the Milky Way is peopled
by heroes' shining fire.

Pollux holds to Castor
as the centaur gallops by,

and I, a child of wonder,
reread the ancient sky.

Sunday, December 12, 2010



It's a season of waiting, as we do tonight
when the forecasters herald a coming storm.
All day long, a  warning crawls across the screen,
"Prepare, prepare!"

This morning, we started putting things in order.

We've grocered and moved the cars
to the top of the hill.
We even replaced the old shovel
with a more ergonomic model.
Soup is bubbling on the stove,
and candles are on the counter,
ready in case the trees bow down
and break the lines that light the dark.

Of course, the power of this night, really,
is in the promise of things to come;
A perfect storm started far away
and is blanketing the world already.

Meanwhile we've wrapped ourselves
in purple robes while we wait
for the coming force in the snug little house
that we've tried to put in order.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

No Words


Blank Page,
     white and bare
          as winter.

Scant Words,
     black birds
          on crusted snow.

Poor Hearts
     beat wings
          in bony cages.

No Song
   to measure
          what the heart can hold.

I owe much of this poem to Zelda Fitzgerald, who said, "No one, not even a poet, can measure how much the heart can hold."  Pairing her quotation with the pictured quote from a Victorian poet might seem strange, but it makes perfect sense to me in light of the poem's subject. Thank you both, fair ladies.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sing With Me

Sing with me, sweet bird of summer,
warm winds for the icy grass;

call with me, canicule dreamer,
noses from their earthen homes;

sing with me, hope in feathers,
slitherers to the sun scorched rocks;

call with me, canorous spirit,
blooms aloft from seeds and pods;

sing with me the scent of summer,
sing with me the dreams of sun,

call with me,  persistent warbler;
sing our song till winter's  done.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

still dark morning drive

still dark morning drive

There's something about the feel
of a still dark morning drive
when the houses sleep
and the moon travels beside you
on the black and golden river.
There's something about the journey
when the yellow and sharp blue
circles and slashes of the dash
reflect like cockpit lights
in the window by your shoulder
and on your own dark face, co-pilot
in the windshield straight ahead.
There's something about the solitary lights
of some fellow morning traveler
for whom you feel a sudden warmth,
two explorers setting out before the rest.
It can be two hundred miles or twenty, no matter.
It is the feel of going somewhere,
humming through the still dark morning,
sailing on the ribbon of road,
fueled by anticipation, thinking about nothing
except your travels toward a brand new, bright new day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


The Poetry Bus rolls again, and this week it's an enchanted trip with Chris Alba of Enchanted Oak at the wheel. Chris gives us the challenge of writing something about our lives. I don't even know where this stuff comes from, but this is what came to me:


The surface of the pond is calm;
     the deep green pool
          reflects the trees that overhang it.

Beneath the surface
     where sunlight barely reaches,
          staying still among the reeds,

sifting breath through slits
      that flap in time with the small
          slick and pulsing heart,

a shiny thing among the weeds
     watchful, waiting
          unknown and unseen

by those who view
     their own reflections
          when they peer into the water.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010



notice how they rise
   in concert
     from the bare branches

black frocked choirboys
   whose wings sing
     sacred songs to Heaven

Friday, November 12, 2010

On The Road Again

And we're off! But before we hop aboard, you just have to join Willy while he wails about our trip! Take a look at this American icon if only to get a gander at Porter Wagonner's sparkly suit! Then ride with us on these bumpy roads less traveled.

Here we go...

The Bug


Muse Swings

Jeanne Iris

Dave King

altar ego



Rachel Fox


Stafford Ray

120 Socks


Carolina Linthead 

Peter Goulding
Enchanted Oak

Totalfeckineejit (our fearless leader)

Weaver of Grass 




Dick Jones
And here's my ticket. Don't even ask...


Did you pull the cloths around you,
holding on for all you had?

Did you try to stop your ears
against the swarming in your head?

Did your bending knees creak
when they hit the cold stone slab?

Did your papery feet quell
when they stood upon that  floor?

Did your eyes regret the light
that poured in through the vacant door?

Did you hide your irritation
at arising from your bed, or

Did your parched throat croak a plea
to simply let the dead be dead?

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Which Way Do We Go? Here Comes the Bus!

I'm driving the bus on November 15, and even using a trusty map, a GPS, and my innate sense of direction, I'm still idling here where two roads diverge. Which way do we go? Robert Frost says it makes all the difference.

The challenge for passengers this week will be to write about one of the following:
(1) a time you had to choose between two clearly divergent paths; (2) a time you were called to walk a  path you didn't choose for yourself; or (3) a time you refused to travel the path you were called to follow.  If these won't work for you, write anything about a choice you made. Drop me a note here when your poem is ready, and I'll link in the post above.

In the words of that great word person Yogi Berra, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it."

...or in the words of Robert Frost...

by Robert Frost

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

this pearl

This week marks the first birthday of my sweet granddaughter,  and today was the day of her baptism.  For Juliet:

this day
this pearl
of water
and word
our blessing and our hope
the closest we can come
on earth
to heaven's

Matt 13:45,46  says, "Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a man who is a merchant seeking fine pearls,  who having found one pearl of great price, he went and sold all that he had, and bought it."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

about a sunflower


I am  sitting tonight in front of the window
staring at the blackness staring back. A cozy scene:
a woman, seated at a worn wooden table, a bowl
of oranges and lemons in front of her, an arrangement
of cheerful plates on the wall behind, pen in hand,
her arm lying across a paper angled just so, big dark eyes
like holes in her face looking back from the glass.
All summer, I watched from this same seat
a sunflower, a tall hairy stem, pointy sepal arms,
hundreds of bumpy brown seeds, bursting
little teeth, little rows hoed in circles, a plinking
stone in a still brown pond,
bonneted, beribboned, turning this way
and that, reaching up a round child's face,
angling for her father, a heavy earthen mother,
finally falling beneath her weighty thoughts, beaten
by the rain, become a blinded skull, her eyes pecked out.
Examined from the ground up, imagined
from the sky down -- the worm's view, the crow's view,
in memory, the poet's view -- a blind reflection
in the glass tonight while the words can't find
where the woman fits in the scheme
of all these things.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Ghosts are not always frightening, and sometimes we hold them hostage rather than the other way around.

The Poetry Bus runs on Monday, and Liz Gallagher asks that we write a triolet or some other poem about Halloween business. This poem began as a triolet and evolved into a villanelle. It's funny how words will have their way.

Or will they? 


all my ghosts are friends
things I should but did not say
I’m haunted by my sins

damnation never ends
redemption lies one breath away
all my ghosts are friends

familiars whom I did not send
but held until the tongue decay
I’m haunted by my sins

unspoken and unpenned
persistent shades with whom I lay
all my ghosts are friends

whose present tense attends
to bind and hold my soul in sway
to things I should but do not say

till time shall split and world transcend
till reticence shall fall away
all my ghosts are friends
things I should but do not say

Friday, October 22, 2010

In a Name

Argent's driving the Bus this week, and our challenge is to write a poem about a meeting. Meet contemporary American poet and two term Poet Laureate of the United States Billy Collins.

See the challenge and read the entries of other passengers here.


You'd think that by this time,
We'd be familiar--
Sweet William,
Wild Bill,
Maybe Billy Boy.
After all,
He's naked in the hallway,
Turning circles
Shuffling round the house.
Every night I sail with
Billy Collins.
And still it's Billy Collins, first and last.
I have known just Keats alone,
And Shelley. Shelley,
He's still three as in the past.
But as for my new lover
Billy Collins,
It's Billy first;
It's Billy Collins last.
Now I spend my nights with Billy Collins;
We're drinking tea and writing hard and fast.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

In the Balance


Notice how she waits in expectation,
contemplating maybe, just how justice works.
Does she sense it hangs on holding steady?
Does she sense unbalance in the end?

Doesn't she look like somehow she might not know
that the weight she holds so level will shift as on a whim?

One little thought falling like a feather or one wrong move heavy as a soul;
one of her decisions, shiny as a pearl or light as a pocketful of poesy--
just one small word and the world can lose its balance.
Just wash it from her hands and it all falls down.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


NanU's driving the Bus on Monday, and her challenge is to write in a time, place, or circumstance outside of our usual writing environments. 

Many times, I am struck with inspiration while driving but lose my thoughts because I can't stop to write them down. This morning, two things happened that allowed me to fulfill the Poetry Bus challenge. First, I noticed that a barn I pass every day had been razed, and second,  traffic stopped right in front of the scene. I grabbed my handy iphone and used my thumbs to type the following poem on the Notes page, then I emailed it to myself. Okay, NanU. How's that for Progress? Hmmm...


In the field
where the barn
used to stand,
progress has left
only a scar --
a few black wires
hooping out
of the ground,
brown earth
scraped clean,
packed down,
devoid of any living thing.
In the pasture,
white cows turn their heads
and look the other way.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Shades of Falling

The Poetry Bus is being driven this week by Niamh Bagnall, and her challenge for us is to find and write about an article in the news. I have a confession to make: I wrote this poem and then went looking for an article that would suit. Believe it or not, when I Googled "burnt orange fashions," I found three web articles published today and numerous articles published in the last several weeks.'s the poem I wrote this morning, inspired not by the news but by the color of my new soft fall jacket. You can read other poets who probably followed the rules here.



The last time I wore
this particular shade,
it was also fall.
I was seventeen.
It was the Fireman's Ball,
held in the hall of the local Guard.

My burnt orange dress
fell from my firm young breasts
in the Empire style,
but you were the one who laid siege
until you conquered me.

It was fall, and we were
a young fireman
and his even younger sweetheart,
falling in love
in the spring of our lives.

They say if you hold on
to anything long enough,
it comes back into fashion,
just like all of this
comes back to me now
in shades of orange,
as burnt and sweet as autumn.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Spinning Wonder


I'm showing you the poetry
In a silken strand that shoots
From tree to bush then waves
On the wind over the water and back
To land upon the branches of the trees,

And I'm thinking of this magic,"Let it be,"

While you try so hard, over and over
In that way you have of never letting go to sail
On strands of magic, to explain the science
Of spinning such a marvel to one who only wants 

To live her life in astonishment and wonder.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gently Does the Night

Lately, I've allowed life to interfere with my writing, and as sometimes happens, living has chased away my muse and left me wanting. I've decided that I can't allow my living to define my life, so my new vow is to write every day, even if I write badly.
What follows is my first completed product of this vow.

This poem began with a few lines rolling through my mind, as my poems often do. The problem was that nothing further developed, so I decided to help it along by writing to form; hence, the sestina. By conforming to a particular pattern, I forced myself to extend my thinking. At least I am writing.


Gently does the night go into day
Like lovers parting lips  and giving way

To old familiar, tender pleasures.
Then boldly rising, Sun thrusts the moon

Careless from his bed into a weary world
Where nightime treasures end,

As all soft loving dreams will end
When shown beneath the harsher light of day.

The risen sun looks down on this cold world
And calls us forth to go about our way

And busy our time with no thought of the moon
Or other of those softer natural  pleasures.

Our days we fill with things that pass for pleasures --
Getting, spending, working with no end

Until the shly shining rising of the moon
Parts herself again to gentle out the day;

We live our lives of busyness this way,
Worn out and wearied in a wondrous world.

Our artificial, busy, concrete solid world
We fill with artificial, solid, concrete pleasures --

While harshened, hardened hearts along the way
Pull us only to a solid, hardened end,

Baking us with fire and heat like day
Solidifies his hold on earth and blurs the moon

Until the moon herself forgets she's Moon
And is subsumed into the brighter world

And blotted out by day.
Were there not times when natural pleasures

Triumphed in the end?
Were we not made to live another way?

The night herself can light a better way
If we would pause in wonder at a moon

That shines past concrete to the end
Of this harshened, heavy-hearted world

Devoid of pleaures.
The gentle light of night can blot the day

And put an end to life's unnatural way,
But only if each day we choose the moon's
Sweet sleepy treasure over a concrete world devoid of  pleasure.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Oh, Martha!

I feel compelled to put an asterisk beside this one and say that the "you" is not meant to be Jesus, although the story of Mary and Martha did spark the poem. While listening in church, I kept thinking that I know the better part, I just can't do it. I'm Martha through and through. (Working on the resentment thing, though. I promise.)

AND...I considered passing this off as an official Poetry Bus poem for the week, but I'm far too superstitious for that. The Puritans did a job on my head, apparently. You know, Sinners in the Hands, and all that. You might want to go to Rachel's place for this week's riders. Meanwhile, I'm counting on God's keeping his/her sense of humor!  ;-)


They tell me it's the better part.
     We're not supposed to think,
           Just sit there at your feet,

But try as I might, I can't
     Make my hair ripple
          Waves of welcome.

No, look hard enough,
     And you'll find me 
          Beside an open door;

I'm sneaking a smoke
     And thinking about the weather
          And what they'll want to eat.

I'm waiting for the microwave to beep.

Friday, September 17, 2010

the visitor

a hulking thing
breathing fetid breath
sits on my shoulders

even in my heart
even in the dark,
it does not bear thinking 

it is an unseen monster
under the bed
reaching for an ankle

it is the other, 
the visitor
living in my house

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Glow of God

The Poetry Bus prompt this week from Dragonfly Princess Marion is to write about a color. My poem is about the color of light, a glow from God given to creatures here below. It was prompted by a story on the news.

Just when I thought I had nothing to say about color, this...


In the bay, neon blue trails
sway with the stir of tides,
signaling some secret
shared by those who know
its conscious cosmic flow.

In the fields, fireflies spark and fade,
flushing from the grass,
unaware that rushing children seek
to catch the magic as it passes
through their hands.

They call it bioluminescence,
this blooming internal glow,
light without heat, a pulse of God
beating in small creatures
here below.

And in a story on the news today,
a famous General holds his breath
while science strives to catch
this marvel, magic cosmic glow 
and make of it a thing to use for death.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010



Last night while we raged
in blankets of sleep,

Scattering shreds of ourselves
through boardrooms and city streets,

The wind wrapped its coaxing cloak
around the branches of trees

And whispered, “Come with me.”

While we twisted
in our cotton shrouds

And dived beneath the day
like sailors on the way

To Davy Jones's locker,
the wind took planters by the hand

And led into the field,
leaving roots and stems strewn

Like dance cards dropped on chairs
by twirling girls.

This morning, the yard is transformed
into a labyrinth of scattered things --

Like the edges of our dreams,
like the blankets and cloaks

We've forgotten on the morning floor.

And we find our way through the day,
grasping the saving string of dreams

To dodge the scattered limbs
the world so often places

In our way.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Teenager, On the Way

Teenager, On the Way

to school, at the light.
The bass beat rocks the car
and hums the street.
Behind me, two girls
in an old Mercedes,
in front, unabashed
by the taped taillight,
and hanging half out
the open window
in delight,
a jaunty salute
over the hood of my car.
A crinkling of eyes
the buzz cut hair
the muscled wave
of a tee-shirted arm
before the light changes
and he is off,
a blast into the ether
of the curve out of sight,
as quick as that.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Out of Gas

amazed, appalled, amused,
befuddled, bewildered, confused
the ride that we took to the past--
so glad that we've run out of gas

I knew everyone would be able to write about schools or schooling; I just had no idea how many of you would have such vehement dislike of those days! As a teacher, I loved a good challenge -- a kid with a different kind of thinking, one whose previous teachers had warned me to watch out! These were the thinkers (yes, and often the stinkers) with whom I developed the closest relationships and respect.

I have to admit, though, that it saddens me to know how many of the smart, talented, creative, funny people here had such bad experiences with school. I feel a gigantic apology is in, on behalf of those witless wonders of wisdom who lacked the vision to connect or protect or promote you...I am sorry.

The Bus stops here.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Catch the Big Yellow Poetry Bus


After all these weeks of running to catch the Poetry Bus, I'm finally at the wheel, and what do I bring?  It's the Big Yellow School Bus!

What else would I drive?

I'm what you might call a Schoolmarm. Counting this school year, which began for me this week, I've been in schools for fifty years as a student, teacher, school leader or district level administrator. It's as natural as breathing for me to plan a field trip!

So....sharpen your pencils, kiddies! Grab your papers and your lunch boxes, and come along! We'll start here in West Virginia, head north for Professor Semi-colon, then make our way across the country, picking up a Bug or two along the way. We'll make a brief detour to pick up some Canadian Kats before we reach the coast. After we fuel up on Enchantment, it's back to the Atlantic, by which time the TFE should have solved the Problem of the Day: How do we get a big yellow bus full of poets across the sea to London and Dumfries and Dublin and highways and byways between and beyond?

Well, that's the magic part of our art! I promise this bus will go as far as your words and imaginations can travel. Just meet the simple Poetry School Bus challenge for this week: write a poem about school or schooling. Leave your URL in my comment box, and I'll link it in the sidebar below my profile-->

The bus runs on Monday. Don't forget your permission slips, boys and girls!

* New Passenger : Judy Clem at
Welcome Aboard, Judy! 

Just for a warm up, here are a couple of mine:

SCHOOLMARM (that's me)

At three o'clock
When school is out,
She gathers up her things.
If she had an old hat,
She'd jam it on her head;
If she had an old horse,
She'd plod down country lanes,
Stopping here and there to pick tall stems
To take with her on her calls.
She'd sing along the way.
There would be dinner with the families,
A different one each day.
They'd watch their grammar,
Put out their better plates,
Offer her the choicest cuts of meat, good bread.
Later, they'd stand on the porches and wave
Until she was gone from sight
Before the washing up.
If she had a hat, a horse,
A country lane
At three o'clock --
If she had a hat and a horse
In her life.

This next one is dedicated to a wonderful poet friend with whom I survived the messed up college years. Her K is Name Lawson. Or something like that. She'll recognize herself here, and you can find her outstanding poetry here:


I still recall your stance
before the class,
so compact,
thick black curls
around your head,
eyes big as china saucers.
You're telling tales
of cars and barracudas
and mixed up names.
At night we pick black circles
from our eyes and rub them
on the smooth white page,
drawing lines round truth and beauty,
knowing it for what it (is) (is not).
At eighteen, we think we know
who we are.
And youth.
We drink our wine
from plastic cups
and sleep with youth
between us,
tangled in our separate dreams,
riding who we (are) (are not)
to places where we'll someday
know our names.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010



Why did it take me
          so many years
                    to know

that it is the milkweed,
          before it bursts
                    with sticky fluid,

          before it pops
                    its silky pods
                    of fluff,

that fills the nights
          with heady,
                    heavy Heaven?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Georgia, Your Hands

Chris at Enchanted Oak is taking the Poetry Bus on a tour of sunny California this week, and she has given us a pictorial challenge. Georgia O'Keeffe's hands are the subject of both the picture and my poem.

O'Keeffe was married to the famous photographer Alfred Stieglitz, and they both scandalized society by some of the photos of her that he took and displayed (not to mention their unusual lifestyle). Stieglitz photographed O'Keeffe off and on for years, so we have a wonderful chronicle of her changing landscape as we see the progression of her subjects and her art.

One of my favorite photos of O'Keeffe shows a young woman, her hair loose around her shoulders, clasping a white silk gown at her breast. This is the first time I've seen the picture of her hands.

Georgia, Your Hands

When you stand so solid in the light
your hands crossed over your heart,
hair around your shoulders, Georgia,
white silk robe clasped loose across your breasts,
coal black eyes  held tight into the lens
like the eyes of the night,
it is your hands,  your long lean fingers
that crush and mix and brush the pigments
against the smooth white canvas
caressing it like silk, your strong, bold fingers
opening  yourself like an iris or a  poppy
or a white trumpet flower
that  feel deep into the yellow white of bones
that stroke the browns and lights of desert shadow sun;
it is your hands prying and pulling at their own skin
peeling away the layers of faraway city and desert,
your eyes, your hair, your white silk robe
until you too are nothing but bone,
bone and bone and stamen and sepal and sand.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

In Late Summer

After a few weeks of running behind the bus, I'm here on time with my ticket for scholar-poet-bus driver Jeanne Iris. Jeanne's given us three choices this week, and while this may bend the idea a bit, here's my attempt at meeting the challenge.

Visit Jeanne Iris at Revolutionary Revelry and hop on the bus. There's a great trip ahead!

Like everything else in late summer,
The strawberries have started to shrink on the stem,

Pulling back the skin so spiky little seeds
Stick out like flags announcing season's end.

The tomato vines have gone all spindly,
Sending leggy little chutes with fruit only the deer will eat.

Yesterday's abundance is today's remembrance.
And yet

The deep red berries resting in this bowl of cool cream
Taste sweet of summer sun,

And the coffee clinking in the icy glass
I lift this late summer morning

Moves me from these morose musings
As does the sight of that ragged butterfly there,

The one with the bottom of his wing half gone,
Lighting on those final purple flowers

Still sucking summer sweetness from the leavings
with his tongue.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Every Day is Holy

Holy Thurdays undo me.

Not so much the washing
as the offering of self,
the letting others know through
shedding socks and shoes like sin.

It seems a lifetime since
I nightly buffed your old scuffed shoes
and set them by the door,
my small child's way of saying
every day is holy.

Now your old bent feet
cause the years to fall away
like cool dry skin
until I am undone again.

These days if I could,
I'd wash you with my tears;
I'd use my hair to
wipe away our sin.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I May Go Out Into the Water

I may go out into the water just a step,
          just enough to leave the bank behind
                    to let the darkness close around my calves,

just enough to leave the sand and feel the mud
          ooze and mush between my toes.
                    Will you come with me?

I may, if I decide to stay,
          settle myself in that black green pool
                    and let the waters cool me for a while.

Fishes when they rest hardly move,
just a flutter of their water wings
and they stay suspended in their silty world.

They never seem to be alone,
          always two or three, a happy fishy family  
                    maybe just a few small fry

fanning themselves, standing still
          expecting nothing from each other,
                    living happy fishy lives,

expecting nothing more
than time alone together in the mud.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Trouble with Poetry

Five-thirty in the morning
And I hear your footsteps
On the stairs like a reproach.
I'm reading poems, already wasting time,
While you, Captain of Industry, rub and scrub.
I'm First Mate of Indolence at six A.M.,
Anchored in the chair with Billy Collins.
What is it I should do?
Somebody stir the pot.
Somebody bring me a broom.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Inconstant Moon

Argent is driving the bus, and unrequited love is the topic. While this doesn't really fit the bill, as my bus tickets often don't, it is about love. Well, sort of. For other bus riders and the Poetry Bus challenge, read here.

Inconstant Moon

On this day in 1969
Really, though at night,
We held our bakelite lifelines
And marveled at the thought
That man was on the moon.
When the call is over, we swore, 
We’ll go outside and wish 
On that same moon and wonder.
Meanwhile, you were in the army, 
And I was in my teens,
Left behind as surely 
As if you walked atop green cheese.

Monday, July 12, 2010

All of My Life

All of my life I have been
               Sweet or kind or good

To someone else's thinking.

So I have lived these years
               Calling home, being fair, trying hard

When all I ever really wanted

Was to take my selfish body
Into a field somewhere amid tall weeds
And gather fists full of idleness.

All I have ever really wanted

Is clouds of crickets that jump at my approach,
The feel of hard ground beneath my back,
A blanket of burrs to cover my legs

And grass that whispers,
               “You are still okay.”

Not a Poem

So, this is not a  poem, but when Dominic, Poetry Bus Driver Extraordinaire, asked that we write a poem on something (literally), this came to mine. As I said, it is not a poem, but it's the germ of one. It was percolating in my mind while I was in the shower one morning, and I had to get it down before it flew from my mind, as so many of my ideas seem to do. Achoo, and they're gone, floating around wherever lost poems go. So this is not a poem, but it's an idea for one, written with eyeliner before it flew away. Don't worry if you can't read it. It came to nothing and ended up being wiped into oblivion anyway.

You can find other poems written on objects such as bananas, rocks, coffee cups -- here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Butterfly Bush

I have discovered
Like a child right now
Why it is called
Butterfly Bush,
This soft flick of midnight
On arching lilac flowers,
This quick flit of magic
On heavy, dusky stems.
And this is why
Like a child right now,
I  am glad to be alive
And of this world--
This powdered brush of gleaming joy,
This fleeting rush of angels breathing.

Monday, July 5, 2010

She Came in Handy & Molly Marine

The Poetry Bus has left the Farm, driven by the able Weaver. As I've been away for the holiday, I am a bit late at the stop, but I hope I can persuade her to stop long enough for Molly and me to hop aboard.

The challenge was to write something about a person or in the voice of that person; I've done both, but I must admit that I did so some while ago. If you've read before, please don't feel compelled to comment.

For those who haven't read these, let me explain the impetus for the poems. My son took a photo of a gravestone in a military cemetery. The stone is for a female marine from the WWII era. On her stone, it says (I kid you not), "SHE CAME IN HANDY."

I'll say. Sheesh.

She Came In Handy

When she signed up in ‘43
She got no special name,
But wore the eagle and the globe
And anchor all the same.

She trained with guns and aeroplanes
And learned to march just dandy,
But it was keeping things in check
She really came in handy.

They said she freed a man to fight
So he could win the war;
At home she did the vital jobs
That he had done before.

She typed the Captain’s letters up
And filed his work away,
She kept a calendar for him
And organized his day.

She felt great fear she couldn’t show
About the plans they made
To drop a bomb to end the war--
At least that’s what she prayed.

She gave her days to Uncle Sam
And when the war was done,
She shook their hands and said goodbye
And felt life had begun.

She married Jack and had three kids,
And when the kids were grown,
She helped by taking on the books
At the station that they owned.

She lived a life of sacrifice,
Blessed others by the giving,
And when she passed short years ago
She left a life worth living.

Upon her grave they set the stone
That told the world a story
Of one good life lived out in time
Without a thought for glory.

In words so sweet and measured out
Like little bits of candy
That summed her worth for all to see,
They said, “She came in handy.”

Molly Marine

Me? Bothered by a stone?
Why, child, there’s a ring to it—
rhymes with dandy, and I was that,
in that uniform I wore.
They told us not to fraternize,
but I could have. I’d march by those men,
and I knew the power of my hips!
Never used it, though.
I was a good girl, a good Marine.
Wore the eagle, globe and anchor.
Did my job for God and Uncle Sam,
in my own way.
I freed a man to fight, they said.
He went to die, and I went to work.
Spent my time typing up the war
and praying they’d not drop that bomb.
But they did.
That might have been the happiest
and the saddest day of my life,
Cause then it was done.
I traded a salute and Semper Fi
for an apron and a big belly –
three younguns and fifty-three good years
with one man before it was over.
But you know, once a Marine,
always a Marine, and I never
felt so proud in all my life as the day
they planted me here with the rest.
Seventy-nine years doing
for others what I could, and I reckon
I earned the way they summed my life.
It’s no insult, child: I came in handy.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Mais, Oui

Wonderful writer and fellow blogger Sarah Hina has birthed her first baby! Plum Blossoms in Paris, which is getting fabulous reviews, is available from While I'll admit that I usually don't read romance novels, I fully intend to read this one. Anyone who has read Sarah Hina's work knows that even her prose is lyrical and sensual. Sarah is funny and smart and young...and I know she has produced a book worth reading!

Keep in mind when you read this little ditty that I have not yet read the book (just out this week), so the poem is based solely on the cover art. This was written for Aniket Thakker's contest (but really just for Sarah). See Flash Fiction on sidebar for Aniket's site.


the scene:
two spoons,
crossed lovers

still filled cups
tasty crumbs
and stems of plum

heavy, heady
rising to heaven

for the easy feel
of you and me

buttery crumbs
brushed from laps
and lips

lips pursed, locked
hearts in sync
the ticking of a clock

mais oui, mais oui,
time for you and me
à Paris

the feel, the need
mais oui, mais oui
mais we

Monday, June 28, 2010


The Poetry Bus this week, driven by Don't Feed the Pixies, challenges us to follow the signs (real or imagined) to wherever they take us. As I am reading Mary Oliver's, A Poetry Handbook, in which she talks about the importance of keeping appointments with your writing self, I've begun to think about following the signs to that place where I can do what I've set myself to do.

I will find it
Somewhere fair,
In rarified, clarified air,
The land and the house
And the room
Of my own.

It will be
A silky stop
Above the rocky crop;
A quiet refuge
That clamors
To be found.

It waits;
It watches the path
I tread,
The fallow past,
Its patience an ancient,
Beating, breathing thing.

I've appointments
There to keep,
Annointments hallowed, deep
In this meeting
And this resting place
For me.

Just a note: This wholly unsatisfactory piece is part of keeping appointments with myself. Good, bad, or indifferent, I will write.  While you're here, take a look at the two posts below this one. Practicing. Practicing.

Friday, June 25, 2010


And then there’s this:
a tall tree trembling in the storm
like I will stand at judgment
uncertain that my roots will hold
before the breath of God.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

In Green

Summer again. The ivy winds its way
Round the posts and up the walls
Like lover holds to lover.
This time, it’s embraced the shutters.
No matter how I wrap it in my hand,
I cannot pull the clinging things away.
The thought of such tenacious green embrace
Soothes my asphalt-addled mind.
I’m planted to my knees in green,
My feet sunk in this green ground,
My legs lost in miles of ivy.
If I stand here long enough,
Vines might climb my legs, bind me like a post.
If I stand here long enough,
Green leaves might hold me stalk-like, cover me in kisses.
If I stand here long enough, I might
Spread my sprouting arms and say, “Lover, come.”

Monday, June 14, 2010

In a Name and A Poet

The Poetry Bus is on the road with Jeanne Iris at the wheel! Jeanne's challenge, in part, is to ruminate on the origins of our names and see what comes to mind. Check Revolutionary Revelry to read the full challenge and see who else is aboard...and keep reading here to see my (very) weak takes on the prompt. We're among friends, right?


Adam’s chin ran apple juice.

So what? Would Eden stand

If Eve had offered,

Say, unspellable potato?

Would grief be gone

Were Romeo called Capulet?

Would longing for a kinsman

Not put cankers on that rose?

A name is not a thing;

I am not etymology,

Though, By God, given half a chance,

I would be queen.

The name Karen is of Greek origin, a variant of the original name Catherine and means pure, clean. The name is often associated with queens, of whom Catherine of Alexandria, Katherine of Aragon, and Catherine the Great are most famous.


More than anything

I want to be,

Eye and heart and ear,

A poet.

I want to see

What others fail

To see;

I want to split

Myself open

And hear.

I want to be

A lake where

Shadows fleet.

I want to seine

Feelings through

My teeth;

I want to drain

Away the spillage

And the dross.

I want to drown

In the world’s


I want to be,

More than anything,

A poet.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


I saw a long, lean half wild rangy thing,

Climbing from the creek into the yard.

It slinked its way across the field

On silent feet and stopped, arrested

By the scent of a baby doll left by

The neighbor’s carefree, careless child.

I suppose God must love even cagey things,

Those attracted by the smell of innocence,

Themselves one moment abandoned on the ground,

The next locked in the jaws of something other,

The next, disappearing into dark beneath the trees.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Bluest Bird

The Bluest Bird

The bluest bird I ever saw was in the middle of the road,

And I, going forty-five on a lane made for fifteen,

Couldn’t stop in time to take a good look, so a quick flit

Of true blue was all I saw lifting into the morning air.

Even I thought it strange that I managed to see the silver and blue

Of the can an oncoming driver lifted as he squeezed past

And the blue sky mirrored in another driver’s shades,

But the shade of the ruby breast on that bluest bird,

I missed, moving way too fast on a road not made for speed

On a silvery morning, missing, too, the tender notes

From a throat that could have lifted me high into a sky so blue

It might have hurt my eyes.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer in Vandalia

This week's Bus ride brought me straight back home to West Virginia and the summertime kick-off festival in Charleston, the Vandalia Gathering. The festival features traditional music, storytelling, dance, arts, crafts, and food, and a way of keeping the old ways alive for the young. I t is always held on Memorial Day weekend and feels like the beginning of summer.

To see where this week's trip took the rest of the passengers, visit Bill at Usually Confined.

By way of explanation for the title:

In 1768 Benjamin Franklin and the Great Ohio Company proposed the creation of Vandalia as the14th colony. It would have included almost all of present West Virginia, except for the Eastern Panhandle, and much of Kentucky. The name was a gesture to Queen Charlotte, wife of George III, who proudly claimed descent from the Vandals through her birth to German nobility. The plan almost came to fruition in 1772-74, until the deteriorating American political situation made the British government back off.

The word Vandalia became synonomous with the desire for a free government in the mountains of West Virginia.

Summer in Vandalia

the fiddlers tune their fiddles

the neighbors spread the straw

the children hunt for lizards

beneath the scented boughs

there’s a hush of empty churches

the pansies still survive

the birds are stalking berries

old men are telling lies

stories for the children

who kiss their sunken cheeks

banjoes pluck at heartstrings

up and down the streets

hearts are valves a’leaking

mountain music in the air

it’s summer in Vandalia

my senses take me there