Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sweet (Ah-choo) Mysteries of Life

Ah-choo!  Sweet mystery of sneeze, at last I’ve found thee
Ah-choo!  I know at last the secret of it all
All the sniffing, coughing, dripping, swelling, burning
The sneezing chokes and tissues that are fall.

For these burning lids, the swollen eyes are seeking
Less pollen in the air, less sinus drain,
For as bright asters in the fields are blooming
the burning hope for victims is some rain.

Asters. Not the Astors of New York, but the asters of the meadow. Golden rod, it looks too cheery and it makes so many of us weepy.  One of life's great mysteries.  And once I thought of this song yesterday and started to noodle about parody lyrics, I couldn't get it out of my head.  Maybe if I pass it along, I can banish it from my brain.

Sunday, September 14, 2014


Day seven of my personal poetry challenge.  Just to see, you know.  If I could.  And as of 6PM tonight, things weren't looking good.  Here's the deal about creative work, there are ALWAYS other things to do. More pressing things, gardens and laundry and dinner and clean up and forever and just sitting around making stuff up?  Well, that seems a little self-indulgent when the broccoli is going to flower and leftover dinner is hardening in the pan.

Then I followed my own advice (oh so much easier to give to anyone else but myself) and just sat in my desk chair and looked around.  My eyes fell on the phone.

Tomorrow is my birthday and frankly, I'm not all that excited about it.  In fact, it's kind of ticking me off (eyes still on the phone), but no one wants to hear from a downer, I mean, we all need to surround ourselves with positive energy and all, good grief, the news is bad enough. In fact the news is really bad.  (no one wants to talk about that) and besides, I'm supposed to be writing a poem, not chatting on the phone.  I learn things about myself when I write. Writing is healthy to the troubled spirit, but I didn't sit down to write about my most recent case of the whinies, I'm supposed to be looking outside of myself for ideas. 

Oh, yeah. The phone.


All alone?
Or telephone?
And if I choose
how long before
I change my mind
and switch?
My brain’s too full.

I can’t converse,
but isolation’s so
much worse.
Opt in?
Opt out?
What could be next?
I could (maybe) text.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Walk

Sometimes it takes binoculars to look at the up-close and find something new.  Suzi and I make this walk everyday.  But here I am on day six of my 7 day challenge and in looking for something outside of myself to write about, I decided to change my point to view to someone else's.  


See that narrow-eyed stare she's giving me?  That her "You never listen" look.

Today I listened; this is what I heard.

The Walk

My walks come in blocks,
one half mile around,
I drag along a human
who's a little tightly wound.
She scuffs.
I bound!

So much grass to water,
trees to sniff,
and fire plugs to explore.
Here a couple toadstools
not here the day before.

She doesn't even smell them,
her plastic bag in hand.
(Did I mention she's deranged?)
She's making a collection
of my deposits on the land.
(I told you, she is strange).

Any dogs out today?
I call them out to play.
barks my anti social human,
I pause, to shake it off
and then salute another bush,
pulling forward
nose to the ground,
one half mile around.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Thinking Small

"The more specific your story, the more universal the message."  I'm not sure who said that first, but it is one of those truisms that keeps me revising and revising -- always for more detail.

In lots of areas we are told to THINK BIG and THE SKY'S THE LIMIT, but in poetry we think small. So, I don't know if this poem makes me the most poetical person on the planet, or just plain small.  Just one more little thing to keep me...scratching.

Thinking Small

The careless shoulder shrug.
Throat tickles in the night.
The eyes that drift astray.
A shadow standing in my light.
Friends playing games instead of talking.
Forks scraped between closed teeth.
Fake smiles,
clothes in piles.
Unmatched socks,
ticking clocks.
Searching for lost keys.
Little things that make my teeth itch.
Metaphoric fleas.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Doppler Effects

And this was not the worst of it.  This was just what was still in the skies at 4AM this morning.  It is almost cheating to fall back on writing about the weather, but jeez louise, what a night!

Doppler Effects

Whirlwinds swirled,
sirens wailed,
arrows rained,
vibrations rocked the clouds.
In flashy strobes
trees partied hard,
ducked and waved,
danced in place,
and reveled through the night
as sleep,
like crispy leaves
took flight.

Today's prediction? I believe the trees and I will be having a wee nap this afternoon.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Ride

The Ride

After you’ve climbed the hill
to see the view,
then slid down the other side,
after you’ve skinned both knees,
broken bones,
and cracked your helmet twice,
after you’ve tasted the rush
of passing through
in front, behind, beside,
what choice is there
but to climb back up,
pump the pedals, and ride?

It was three years ago this month that I had "the accident," but that was really just one in a series of head bangers that life has thrown at me.

As a pre-birthday present to myself, I am up and pedaling, with slightly wider tires, which sounds like a metaphor for maturity, but it is really just the facts. Thank you Michael for the new tires, thank you Becky for the bike on extended loan, and thanks to a lovely fall day.

Tuesday, September 09, 2014


Day 2 of my week long personal poetry challenge.

Let me just point out that this is not poetry month.  It is not write a novel in a month month, and it is not even the week taxes are due, which historically has been a great inspiration for me to write poetry instead of getting down to business.  I would never be compliant enough to do such an organized writing assignment. I am a poetry procrastinator. A putter offer. Keeper of a wayward, meandering mind. Truth.

But my cousin Lisa Lofthouse does a 30 day Yoga challenge and my friend Amy VanDerwater did a 360 day poetry challenge, so I started this week thinking surely I could so a weeklong challenge before ADHD lead me astray.

Today I had put on my calendar to do a little cleaning in the attic because committing to entirely cleaning the attic would be roughly akin to me dedicating myself to swim to Canada.  How far is that anyway?  Between Cleveland and the nearest port in Canada? What is the temperature of the water, do you think? Who could follow me in a kayak to post on social media and what if I got encrusted in zebra mussels and ended up failing and looking all embarrassing in the process?

Before I stop everything and go look all that up (which would postpone the attic task for at least another hour), here is a poem I wrote while thinking about cleaning the attic. 


Suitcases in the attic,
clouds above my head,
tempting me to daydream
to magic spots
instead of writing in my journal
or picking up my clothes,
lifting me from daily doings
to visit
well . . .

who knows?

Monday, September 08, 2014

Writing from the Outside In

There are no less than six books titled Writing from the Inside Out, probably more.  The phrase is so universally accepted, it’s almost embarrassing to raise my hand and say, Yeah, but . . .

Yeah, but that’s not the way I write.  My writing process goes like this, I see something, an image or an interaction, and then it triggers a response in me (Are you kidding, me? Gross! Wonderful! or Horrifying) and then I write about it.  Writing from the outside in.

So, today I decided to revamp my blog (hope people like it) and challenge myself to write on it once a day for a week.  A new poem every day.  I know that other poets do this for a month or more, but the pressure! The pressure!  I thought, maybe I could handle a week.  What to write about? 

Well, I looked around and got as far as the perennial garden septembering in the front yard. 

Oh, yeah. It’s September! Time for kids to start school, pack up the shorts and sleeveless shirts, harvest tomatoes, and trim the barberry.  The barberry bush in the front perennial garden it all uneven and grows at astonishingly different rates.  Some branches bolt while others are content to pop out a few new leaves and call it a season.

Aesthetically I like a loosely rounded mound of bush, so I trim back the wild hairs.

Which is why a barberry bush is NOT like a classroom. 


No matter how tempting to
round out the children
into a balanced arrangement,
to tidy the garden
with standardized hedges,
outlining a pre-ordered path,
a child’s bloom sequence
can’t be projected,
and set out in symmetrical rows.
Formalized flowerbeds
draw nodding praise from those
who have mostly forgotten,
the uneven feel of the earth
on bare feet and
that gardens grow
best and brightest
when we nurture and feed the roots
instead of confining ourselves
to relentlessly shearing the shoots.

Michael spent the morning weeding the garden and I spent the afternoon writing a poem about the garden.  We'll have to sort that out later.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Crime and Punishment in Bay Village, OH

Following the Michael Brown tragedy, people have been talking a lot about privilege.

Well, folks, this video is what the voice of privilege looks/sounds like when the speaker thinks only the like-minded are in the room.  The voices who see themselves as physically, financially, racially, mentally superior. Those who believe they are only speaking to the "haves and the have mores" to quote George W.  So sure of their own positions and their right to exclude others, they want to make sure everyone else knows their standing, and that that standing has put them in position to pour crap over others.

Look at me! I am above. Let me prove it to the world!

This is what racism sounds like at an all white cocktail party in places like Bay Village, it is what ageism sounds like at the gym, it is what lunch sounds like with a bunch of wealthy lawyers talking about the poor. How do I know? I've been there, and while I work very hard at not being hurtful in my words or actions, too often I have born silent witness to the hurtful actions/words of others.

What happened to this innocent is what metaphorically and actually happens when a collective prejudice trumps people relating to one another as individual human beings. Not on the other side of the planet, but in our own backyard. And when an outsider (maybe a bartender) turns on his cellphone to record what actually goes down behind closed doors, or a cable news network catches a white cop pointing his gun and threatening to shoot black citizens in our streets, everyone is publicly horrified.  But privately? Well, we've got shit to do. Can't be bogged down. Besides maybe someone else in the room might have a job connection in the future. Speaking up would just make the remainder of the time uncomfortable, and you can't change the mind of a jerk like that anyway. Can you?

I better let it go or someone will pour crap on me, and boy howdy, I don't want that.

The perpetrators of this crime were just young, that's all.  They were unsophisticated enough not to be able to foresee that this just might not play well to a general audience. After all, their peeps thought it was hilarious.

When a hate crime happens so close to home, we must all bear some of the shame, because these criminals are young, not fully formed. They are acting out what they have learned from role models, real or virtual. Somewhere they got the idea that this was "just a joke." Anything goes as long it's just a joke, right? Well, no, of course not. But how did they never get that message? Where on earth did they get the warped impression that this was okay?

When something like this happens, we need to look at ourselves as a community and ask, what part did I play in creating an environment in which this happened? When was the last time I stayed silent when I should have spoken? Did I do something purposefully hurtful and laugh about it? And finally, what will I do the next time I hear/see crap being poured on a fellow human being?

I confess, I have not watched this video.  I did read the print description. I hope the perpetrators of this hate crime are apprehended and punished. I hope people talk about this with their kids, the crime and the punishment. I hope we can work together to build better role models.