Wednesday, December 29, 2010

3WW: Buckle, Evade, Wedge

I caught the pink wedge
of dawn with my camera
this morning.

Our cold northern sky
was trying hard to evade
the sun

but, for a few minutes
it peeked through
with fiery eyes.

Then, the gray clouds
buckled back up
to the mountains.

But, it's okay
because, upstairs
my granddaughter

sleeps. I can't wait
for her to rise. I'll have
sunshine all day.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Big Tent Poetry: Wordle

Christmas died for me
the day our tree toppled over.

Erin and I had lugged
the decorations from the basement

and were hard at work
turning our living room

into a magical fairyland.
I was holding Erin up

so she could place the angel
on the top when she leaned

too far, grabbed the branches
to steady herself, couldn't stop,

and all three of us landed in a heap
of broken ornaments and fir needles.

After making sure she was okay,
we started over again but it was

just a performance. My Christmas
spirit became slighter and slighter

and by the time Erin hung the last
ornament, it had vanished altogether.

I swept it up along with the debris
and dropped it into the trash.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

3WW: Educate, Object, Silence

The object for today
our last day of school
before Christmas vacation:
Make it through!

Directive from the principal:
educate them!
So, I choose a movie
with a loose tie to Shakespeare's

Taming of the Shrew.
I prepare them by giving them
a synopsis of the play
then have them analyze

Sonnet 141, which is in the movie.
Finally I put it on
and the kids are tickled
to see 10 Things I Hate About You

on the screen. I watch it all day
over and over and over.
Finally, the bell rings
and the kids leave: silence!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

December for Sunday Scribblings, Stillness for One Single Impression

December Stillness

I wake up early
and cleave my way
through the thick,
black morning

on this, one of the shortest
days of the year.
I glance outside
and the street light

illuminates the fresh
inch of snow we received
during the night.
I have laundry to do,

gifts to wrap,
a floor to wash,
papers to correct.
But, I sit

in my La Z Boy
and watch the neighbor's
chimney breathe.
I glance up

at the white bread
of the sky. I glance
down at the white
bread of the snow.

Then just sit
in the still sandwich
of a December

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Limits for Sunday Scribblings


I stand on the scale
in our school nurse's
office and hold my breath

hoping to weigh less
than last week. I'm
participating in our

version of The Biggest Loser
challenge. It's a support
group for those of us

who want to control
our weight. The nurse
asks what my goal

is for this the next eight
weeks. I'd like to lose ten
pounds and I could do it

but I know I'd put it right
back on. So, instead I say,
“Two pounds.” The nurse

looks at me with a funny look
on her face. “I know it's not
much” I say defensively.

“But, it's doable and I know
my limits.” I glance down
and see that I've lost

a pound since last week's
weigh-in. I smile all the way
to the lunch room.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Big Tent Poetry: Wordle

Here are the words we are challenged to use.  I managed just a few.

My husband is awake.
I can hear the water running
in the bathroom

and the radio blaring.
I might have time
to write this poem.

I'm sitting in the lush,
early morning sun
as it is forklifted

from behind the mountain
on this our last Thanksgiving
in the cold north.

Soon I'll cook apple maple
chicken sausage, poached eggs,
and toast 7 grain sprouted-

wheat Ezekiel bread. I'll
smother it all with hollandaise
sauce. We'll sit cupped

in the palm of this day. I
hear footsteps on the stairs
and my poem is done.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Cascade Poem for Big Tent Poetry

In a cascade poem, the lines in the first stanza are repeated as the last lines of the subsequent stanzas.

I wrote this poem yesterday during my British Literature class.  The students were taking a quiz so I sat on my raised chair behind my podium, turned my seating chart over, and wrote this poem on it.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

A Few Quiet Moments

Outside my classroom window
trees are shivering.
Inside, students are bent
over their quizzes.

I can see their thoughts
swirling around their heads
like the invisible air
outside my classroom window.

Some kids chew their pens.
One has her glasses on her head.
Others are staring into space.
Trees are shivering

like the first students to finish,
all restless, looking around,
doodling, making eyes at each other.
Inside, students are bent.

Yes they are crazy as hell
but I love ‘em. Finished,
they switch papers and we go
over their quizzes.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

3WW: Abrupt, Kernel, Wield

My school day
is filled with
kernels of

We’re reading
The Kite Runner.
I’m trying to elicit
the idea

that the young boy
must learn how to trust,
again, after being

“What does Sohrab
now have to do?”
Faces crunch
in thought.

Abruptly, a head
pops up, eyes,
shining like little
Christmas lights,

meet mine. “Take
a poop?” Teachers
wield power
over students

but, sometimes,
students wield
joy over their

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Intense for Sunday Scribblings

It's the last to change
and this year
I didn't think it would.

As the hillsides
turned fiery,
this tree outside

my kitchen window
stayed green. Summer
in autumn. Watermelon

rind green. Other leaves
drifted to the ground
creating multicolored

quilts but outside
my kitchen July
stubbornly held on.

Then one morning
I noticed a slight
yellowing along

the edges. Amid
the bare branches
of other trees

this maple turned
pineapple. A warm
sunrise. A treasure

chest of gold doubloons.
And this last day
of October

it illuminates
the snowflakes
swirling in the air.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Masquerade for Writer's Island

Rob at Writer's Island offers this image for inspiration:

I always hated that damn bird.
And he hated me.
But I couldn't let my daughter know.

So, I fed him and cleaned his cage
and cooed and petted
but when we were alone

my mask came off and I'd glare
at him. “Stay right where you are,
buddy, and don't even think

of climbing onto my shoulder.”
He'd turn his head and hiss at me.
Then go back to preening

his snowy feathers, those same feathers
I'd stepped on one morning. The vet
said no bones were broken

but Flip stayed huddled in his cage
for a week giving me the evil eye.
I smiled beneath my mask.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

3WW: Absolve, Hiss, Ridicule

Tried to write a tritina instead of a sestina.  It sort of worked!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Save your ridicule.
It’ll only make me hiss.
Nothing you can do can absolve

you. You are a scab, solv-
ing your own ridicule-
filled life by trying to erase your his-

tory. You pick at the wounds and hiss
then try to hurt me to absolve
your own guilt from the ridicule

inflicted by parents who thought ridicule
was a form of love. Turn your hiss-
es into kisses and our issues will be solved.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

3WW: Hint, Lust, Sheen

A hint of wrinkles
along with a sheen of gray~
content holding hands.
Not content with hands
he nuzzles under the gray,
kisses each wrinkle.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Writer's Island: Whimsy


My friend, Dorothy, has moved into
her father's old house
and has chosen

the word “whimsy” to describe
the back sun porch

with pink and green quilts and stones
and chimes and plants. But,
really, it describes

The whole house. The hallway
is turquoise and has
a phone niche

in which rests a turquoise phone.
The living room rug is
orange with

matching grout between the stones
of the fireplace. The kitchen
is bright pink.

Upstairs, next to the master bedroom
is a tiny room filled
with magic.

From floor to ceiling are drawers
containing treasures
collected from

around the world by her father. This
is where Dorothy now sits
in the morning

with a cup of coffee to contemplate
her life and write in
her journal

and let the whimsies that surround
her keep her young
and playful.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Big Tent Poetry: Travel Haibun

Haibun=prose followed by haiku.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Second-block students saunter haphazardly into class. Books are piled on desks. Conversations begin. I head out to the hallway, do the normal teacher duties, for the last time. This thirty-year trip will be over in June. I watch the teenage parade, each marcher so different. There's Joe with his three-inch platform boots, white cargo pants, and black make up. There's Felicia in her skinny jeans. (I'd kill for a body like hers.) Here comes Anthony with his baggy jeans half way down his butt and the crotch somewhere around his knees. And look at Tonya's new golden hair and secret smile. She has her first boyfriend. They are all on their own trips, traveling in separate bubbles, bouncing along the locker-lined corridors.

Cranberry, melon,
apricot: autumn-dressed leaves.
One drifts to the ground.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

3WW: Gait, Nudge, Ripen

Carol and I took a stroll
through her garden.

The tomatoes were ripening
in front of us

in the warm September
sun. In the house

her mother-in-law,
my father-in-law's wife,

was balking at going
into an assisted-living

facility. We'd been trying
to reason with her

for hours, to gently nudge
her into acceptance.

My husband, her husband,
and her son were with her

and even from outside
we could see her throwing

daggers at them with her eyes.
I took some pictures

of Carol's flowers as she
told me their names

but soon we had to return
to the house. Our gait

was slow and reluctant
as we walked across

the lawn. We opened
the door and stress

puffed itself up
and blew into our faces.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

One Single Impression: Joie de vivre

Joie de Vivre

Move curtain aside,
peek out bedroom window,
see waves of clouds

cresting slowly
over mountains. Notice
hillsides getting rusty.

Put on flannel pajamas,
the navy blue ones with stars
and moons.

Descend stairs in quiet
house, turn heat to 70,
settle into recliner,

power up computer,
make sunshine
word after word.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sunday Scribblings: Wait

My father-in-law
is staying with us
while waiting
for a spot
in an assisted-living

He had a mild stroke
earlier in the summer
that affected
his short-term

His wife,
suffering from her own
is in Connecticut
with her son
also waiting.

“When is Elli arriving?”
he asks several times
a day. “She's not coming here;
we're going to drive
you down
in a few days.”

“Oh, okay.” A few minutes
later he says, “Elli's not here;
she had to leave
to go to work. I hope
she's not having
an affair
with Roger.”

No, dad, Roger
is her son. He's taking
good care of her.”
“Oh, okay.” A few minutes
later, “When's Elli going
to get here?”

We're all waiting.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

3WW: Joke, Leverage, Remedy

Who’s that man
standing with his arms
wide open,
tears in his eyes,
and a smile on his face?

Oh, it’s my dad
welcoming my mom.
He’s been waiting
thirteen years
for this day.

See how fast
she’s running,
now, all long legs
and limber,
dark hair

flying behind her.
It’s no joke,
Dad; she’s really there.
Scoop her up,
give her a big

hug. You’re
the remedy
she’s needed
these last declining

Turn around,
walk with her
like a bride
and groom
holding hands,

grins on your faces
down the long
of a heavenly

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Sun and the Moon

The orange sun
was floating
like a big balloon
on the horizon
when I went out
for a walk
one morning
last week
in Florida.

I was there to visit
my mom in assisted
living. She knew me,
of course, since I am
part of her past,
but none of our conversation
made sense.
It was sad for me
but she was happy
wherever she had gone
to while I was there.

So, I got up early
to walk my sadness
away. I started
up the street,
looked up,
and saw the almost
full moon bright
in the blue sky,
hanging in there
until the last
possible moment.

I thought about Kylie
and how she’d asked me
when she’d get to see
her Nana Nana again.
When I said I didn’t know,
she said simply,
“I miss her.”

I miss her, too, Kiki.

The sun warmed
my back
like Kylie time
warms my heart.

I walked on.
The moon got fainter
and fainter.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

3WW: Bait, Jump, Victim

Swallowed the bait whole
then jumped around for a while~
another victim
Another victim
swallows the alluring bait.
The fish jump. I jump.
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To see a picture of the actual fish he caught yesterday click here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Poetry Train: The Red, White, and Blue

I wrote this one three years ago yesterday on Independence Day.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The Red, White and Blue

Today, I'll hop
on my red bicycle
and ride to the beach.

I'll sit under a blue sky
and watch the white
clouds play tag.

I'll listen to kids
laugh as they run around
their parents.

I'll read a few poems
and maybe write
one of my own

on plain white paper.
I'll stretch out
on my blue towel

and stay as long
as I want.
Later, I'll join friends

for a barbeque
and dip red lobster
meat into melted butter.

Then, in the navy blue
twilight I'll listen
to the pop gun

of fireworks and see
freedom written out
in multi-colored calligraphy.

Sunday Scribblings: Me

Memories Underfoot

Ocean Park Beach
at low tide
provides a firm
surface to walk on.

My steps
leave only shallow
little bits
of myself
that I shed
as I walk.

The worry
over money
is way back
at the beginning
because it is really
so insignificant.

That little spat
with Gary
is back there
into the sand.

School stress is left
a couple steps
so that now
the indentations
are empty
just filled
with promises
and hope.

I breathe
salty air,
hold it in
my lungs,
every last
of it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

3WW: Hassle, Inject, Wealth

Because it was too much of a hassle,
I decided not to write a poem today.

I had no insights to inject into one
and no wealth of cool words to use

except for the ones from 3WW
and even those were not doing it.

Instead, I hopped on my red bicycle
and pedaled to the beach. I wrote

a letter to my friend who lives in Florida
then read a book for awhile.

I took a picture of an airplane
flying by with an advertising banner

swirling behind saying, “J Greeks
lunch buffet $7.95 11-2.” On my way

back to our campground, I inhaled
the scent of wild roses, admired a field

of clover and buttercups, then sat
on the screen porch typing this nonpoem.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday Scribblings: Life Swap

We are sitting
on our screen porch
at the campground

listening to squirrels
scampering and kids
playing and golf carts

whispering by. Suddenly,
we hear our neighbor’s
piercing voice giving

her husband hell in French.
It’s like taking a hammer
to a row of champagne

glasses and pinging
and smashing every one.
Then her husband’s

banging reply
pounds through the air.
My husband reaches

over, takes my hand
and says, “I’m glad
I got you, Hon.”

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

3WW: Feign, Imply, Virtue

A woman is walking
her little black dog
in the drizzle
on this gray morning.

The 8:30 Amtrak Downeaster
whizzes by in the distance
taking commuters
to their workday in Boston.

I’m sitting on the couch
in my bathrobe
watching Andy Roddick
feign the direction

of his shot on this third
day of play at Wimbledon.
How lucky I am,
by virtue of summer vacation,

to be lazy in the middle
of the week. Soon, I’ll make
bacon and eggs for breakfast
while my husband

imp(ish)ly tries to cop a feel.
We’ll giggle as I swat
his hands away then, leisurely,
we’ll sip the pleasures of the day.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

3WW: Hidden, Noble, Roam

I used to be able to see the sky
with clouds roaming around
poking their noses over the mountain
peering at the sunset
through bloodshot eyes.

But spring happened
and, now, noble trees
stand like kings
blocking my view
with their crowns.

I sit in my class room
contemplating retirement
trying to see the hidden future
through the filigreed leaves
of apprehension.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

3WW: Abandon, Gradually, Precise

Must abandon wheat,
not gradually but now.
My body hates it.
My hunger hates this.
I’ll gradually adjust.
Goodbye most loved wheat.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Scribblings: Dragon & Writer's Island: Imaginary Friend

A room full of teenagers
ready to learn
how to write songs

how to translate
their emotions
into music

how to turn
their angst
into notes

that float around
become light
and land easily.

I have compiled
a list of the different
types of songs

and begin explaining
and playing the examples.
I’ve chosen contemporary

tunes that they can relate to
and enjoy.
They are polite

and listen and learn
but a spark is missing.
Then we get to one

I think they’ll hate
and make fun of. I
hold my breath and start

Puff the Magic Dragon
and it’s like I flipped
a switch.

Their eyes light up,
their heads begin to sway
and some even sing along.

The room is dancing
with melody
and energy

and this imaginary friend
from their childhood
is alive again.

The song ends,
they grab their pens
and on plain white paper

they begin to capture
the secret longings
in a land called Honah Lee.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Sunday Scribblings: Recipe and Poem

Growing up in a Catholic family meant no meat on Fridays. It seems that about eighty percent of our meals on that night consisted of a sauce my mom would make with some kind of fish. It was sort of like Tuna Wiggle but my mom didn't put peas in and she used a variety of canned seafood. It was pretty simple and we just called it Sauce.


2 cups milk
2 tblsp. butter
salt and pepper
2 tblsp. corn starch
2 cans of tuna, and/or shrimp, and/or crabmeat, and/or salmon

1. Pour milk into a sauce pan.
2. Add the butter and salt and pepper
3. Bring to almost a boil.
4. In the mean time, mix the corn starch with ¼ cup of water
5. When the milk is almost boiling, stir in the corn starch mixture
6. Cook and stir until thick and bubbly
7. Add seafood
8. Serve over toast or mashed potatoes with a veggie on the side.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Family love
pours over us
filling in
our nooks
and crannies

sometimes whether
we want it to or not.
Our only telephone
perched on the wall
barely two feet
from my dad’s
place at the table.

When it rang
that Friday night
during supper,
I jumped up to answer.
“Hey, listen” said
my date for that night.
“I’m up at Flint’s
blowing my mind.
You want to meet
me at the dance?”

“If I’m there, I’m there.
If I’m not, I’m not.”
I responded and hung up.

All eyes stared,
all ears perked up.
I hadn’t even been out
with this guy, yet,
and, already, I’d have
to lie to my parents?

They sat there
expecting an explanation.
The phone rang again,
a slight reprieve.
“Hey, listen, you
want to go to the movies
instead? I’ll pick
you up.”

I relayed that
and heads nodded,
eating resumed,
normal banter
flew back and forth

He met my parents
as they were on their way
out to go bowling,
played a game of cribbage
with my brother,
then we walked
to the theater,
watched The Taming
of the Shrew,and returned home
to have hot
chocolate with my folks
and sister.

Conversation and smiles
drifted around
like the steam
wisping from our cups.

It was just another
Friday night,
another connection
of family,
another meal
of sauce
spreading it’s comfort.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

And in case you're wondering, the guy liked it so much at our house that we ended up getting married and we'll be celebrating our 39th anniversary in June.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Big Tent Poetry #2: Aural Experience

Big Tent Poetry asked us to listen this week to something technical, jot down a few words from it, and see where they take us.

From “Criminal Profiling” come these terms: comfort zone, triggering trauma, brain damage, chemical imbalances, negative parenting
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Trip Out of Life

It’s a shift
chemical imbalance
continuing death
no comfort zone
legs push covers
sweat pops out
heart races
fan face
brain damage?
the beginning
of the end.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Writer's Island: Stowaway


I got up early
on Saturday morning,

saw the aluminum sky
so turned the computer

on and flew to the sunny
shores of Writer’s Island.

There I found a shiny shell,
picked it up and put it

in my pocket. All day
I carried that stowaway

with me. I’d slide
my hand in and feel

it nestled there, smooth
and full of possibilities.

At night I placed it
next to my bed

and woke up today
dreaming about this poem.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Big Tent Poetry #1: Poetry Reading

Big Tent Poetry is a new poetry site.  Each Monday they put up a prompt and on Friday people can leave their poems for others to read.  This week's prompt was to write a persona poem by adopting the persona of someone working in a circus.  But I didn't do that.  I had a chance to attend an evening with Naomi Shahib Nye so wrote about that.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Trip to listen to Naomi Shahib Nye, Poet, Speak in Manchester, NH

We went from baby leaves
to robust teenagers
in two hours

We left fisted lilacs
and traveled to open-faced
perfume factories

We said goodbye
to clean parks
where children play

and hello to Wayne,
a bum living with other
homeless people

Mountains shrank
in our rear-view mirror
while words

grew larger and larger
through the windshields
of our minds.

Friday, April 30, 2010

NaPoWriMo #30: Made it! Free Write

Being Late

I remember that little breathless
when I realized I was late.

This one was like a flower
not like the ones

before you’re married
that are like
razor blades

nicking your brain
with worry.
No, this one

was the sun rising,
ocean waves
kissing the sand,

thoughts of blue eyes
and blond curls.
This late was a smile.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Poetry Train and NaPoWriMo #29: Headline

Monday May 10, 2010

I've been thinking of my dad lately.  He died 13 years ago today.  When I saw this headline a couple weeks ago in the newspaper, it reminded me of an incident from when I was a kid.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Mt. Washington Auto Road
opens for 149th season May 1

It’s still covered in white
this peak of ours
poking up into the clouds.

My dad worked
on the summit
for quite a few years.

It is woven into our lives;
every night on the news
Marty Ingstrom would

give us the weather report
from up there in his dry
voice ending with that quirky

smile. One time my dad
got to sit there with him
and we kids gathered

around the TV in the living
room feeling pretty special.
It was like knowing

a celebrity. Every time
I see the mountain
I think of my dad.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

NaPoWriMo #28: 3WW: Depart, Ignite, Rotten

Late Snow Ignites Dreams of Future

Woke up to six inches
of late April snow
covering all the baby
leaves and flowers.

Winter takes his time
to depart in this neck
of the woods. I grabbed
my camera and snapped

a couple pictures to take
with us to Florida
when we retire in another
year, to remind us of why

we don’t want to live up here
where the weather is rotten
most of the time. Then I put
my boots on, got the shovel

out, cleaned off my truck,
and made my way
to school. One day
closer to being done.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

NaPoWriMo #27: Acrostic

ReadWritePoem prompts us to write an acrostic today.  And for journal writing in my classes today the prompt was: Write about wanting to leave some place but you can't.  I combined the two.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Left brain already out the door
Even though I know I can’t really leave.
Anchors weigh me down.
Velvet hands and words, always,
Instead of rocks but, still, I
Need to find my own space.
Going, going, gone.

Monday, April 26, 2010

NaPoWriMo #26: Rework an Old Line

You Hear Church Bells in the Distance

And the notes sparkle
like tinsel
in the Christmas air.

St. Paul’s Lutheran Church
is playing carols.
See how the sharps

and flats float around
then settle
on the ground

like snowflakes.
I pick up a handful
and let them drift

down over me
like a waterfall
of song. Then

head to Walmart.
I go through the doors
and hear the canned

carols being played
and this time
the notes slap me

in the face. I get
my list out, crumple
it, and leave.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

NaPoWriMo #25: First Things First

ReadWritePoem prompts us to listen to the first thing someone says to us and write a poem around it.  This is what my husband said to me this morning.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

He walks downstairs
and goes into the kitchen
to make coffee

and notices a new striped
cutting board. “Did you buy
a new cutting board?”

“Yeah, it’s from Avon.
I had to buy something.”
“Couldn’t you just

give her some money
each time so we wouldn’t
end up with all this crap?”

I laugh, he continues
to make his coffee,
then comes into the living

room and turns the TV on
to his fishing shows.
I write a poem.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

NaPoWriMo #24: Just an Observation


His fat fingers
tap dance on the keys.

He lets his glasses slip
down onto his nose

and he peers over them
through near-sighted eyes.

He swears when he can’t find
what he’s looking for,

runs his hand through
his hair and rubs his forehead,

grunts and complains.
My husband is searching

for Harley parts
on ebay.

Friday, April 23, 2010

NaPoWriMo #24: Unlikely Couples

The Fisherman and the Poet

Tuna were jumping
as we sped
across the ocean

to his favorite
fishing spot.
Once we were anchored,

he set his fishing
lines and I took
my notebook

and pen out.
The sun rolled
over me and settled

in the bottom
of the boat.
It was going

to be a peaceful
day. I started
writing then heard

a zipping sound.
“Tuna!” my husband
yelled. I jumped

up and did what
I could to help
him pull in

a 300 pound tuna
imagining the words
I’d use to capture

this incredible feat.
He sold the tuna
but I caught it on paper.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

NaPoWriMo #22: Wordle

ReadWritePoem challenged us to use these words in a poem: dizzy, squall, crow, fierce, flinch, tomorrow, emporium, reverberate, pepper, tendril, saffron, rust.  I managed three of them.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The sun shimmers
on the pond
as I sit in my son’s
new home

He and my husband
are talking motorcycles
their conversation
peppered with timers

heads, pistons, flywheels
until I’m dizzy.
Tomorrow, they have
a landscaping project

and while they are doing that,
I’ll go to the bookstore
to check out the poetry
books and to Michael’s

for cool pens. Then, I’ll
sit on the deck and read.
Right now, I have a glass
of wine waiting

and more stimulating
bike talk. And the sun
is shining
at my son’s.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

NaPoWriMo #21: Perfection/Imperfection & Monday Poetry Train

The Perfection of a Four-year-old

Kylie is working
on math
in an activity book.

Seven fingers go up
in the air

and three get covered.
4 she writes
“Great,” I say.

And on she goes
until she gets to

She opens her hands
and counts
only ten fingers

Perplexed, she guesses
5, then goes on
to the next problem.

But then she thinks
about it
and knows she’s wrong.

This time she counts
an imaginary finger,
erases the 5,

and replaces it with 6.
When she’s done the page,
I correct her answers

and put 100% at the top.
She shakes her head,
draws a line

through her grade,
and writes 1X

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

NaPoWriMo: Hero

Not her struggle
to overcome abuse

Not her dignity
during the divorce

Not her survival
after he cut her off

Not her determination
and positive attitude

Not her loyalty to me
by writing letters

No, none of those
make her my hero

the way her daughters
always come first

is like a medal
pinned to her heart.

Monday, April 19, 2010

NaPoWriMo: #19: Light Bulb Moment

We sat in Mr. Russell’s
9th grade English class
and talked about the Beatles.

He sat behind his desk
and let us. We chit chatted
for all 45 minutes

of class while he sat there
in his frayed suit and thin hair
wishing for a cigarette.

If I was a teacher, I thought,
I’d engage the kids,
insist on quiet, make them

behave. Instead, he let
us do whatever we wanted.
I knew it was wrong,

and knew what to do about it.
That’s the moment
when I became a teacher.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

NaPoWriMo #18: Cats

Considering life from green-eyed
Attitude, cats slink around the corners of
Time and my blind side and make me
Shudder with their knowing.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

NaPoWriMo #17: The Elements

I’m the one
with a sense
of humor.

I don’t rage
like fire
with a hot tongue

nor am I stoic
like the patient

and I don’t have
sun’s steadfast

No, I like to play.
A couple days
ago I had fun

with Linda. She
needed cheering up
after visiting

an assisted-living
facility for her mom.
She and her brother

were sitting on the porch
having a beer
and a glass of wine

reading all 30 plus
pages of the contract
when I slipped

around the corner
of the house
and blew a puff

of fresh levity
their way. It lifted
those heavy papers

and twirled them around.
Linda reached to control
them and spilled her merlot

all over every singe one
of those white sheets
and her legs

and her chair. I
chortled at this
unexpected bonus

sashayed around
then moved on
knowng my work was done.

Friday, April 16, 2010

NaPoWriMo #16: Smells

ReadWritePoem suggests we smell something then freewrite the memories it evokes.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The leather cover for my Kindle

I remember purses,
a checkbook cover,
ski boots,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I lace my ski boots
and pull the laces
as tight as possible

walk out of the lodge
grab my wooden
skis and bamboo poles

and head toward
the rope tow.
Once there, I grab

hold of the rope
as it whizzes past
and hold on tight

as it takes me
to the top of the slope.
I can’t ski

don’t know how to turn
or snowplow.
I fall a dozen times

while trying to get
to the bottom.
People enjoy this?

I smell the sweaty
leather as I take my boots

Thursday, April 15, 2010

NaPoWriMo #15: An Old Line

These Are the Things Men Don’t Know about Love

That women divide
the mind and body
unlike men
where everything
blends together

That love is delicate
like lace
and can tear easily

That love is not shown
in words
but in deeds
like picking
up socks
and closing
the toilet seat

That love is a CD
containing many
different songs
and what you enjoy
one day
might annoy
you on another

That love is not
a bouquet of flowers
given because
you have to
Love is wildflowers
with deep roots.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NaPoWriMo #14: Cleave Poem

Blue eyes Brown eyes
Skin like satin Skin like suede
Sitting up straight Sitting hunched over
Talking about Twilight Talking about Paul Newman
Looking forward Looking backward
Going into eighth grade Going into assisted living
Spring Winter
Michelle Nana

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NaPoWriMo #13: Smoke a Dubie

Poem Starting with a Line from Norman Dubie

You wondered about skin
wrinkled by looking
at jewels

I’ll tell you about
those wrinkles
and about the jewels

the way my dad’s nose
would twitch
when my mom cooked

my brother’s grin
after telling a joke

my sister, Nancy’s, gloat
my sister, Sally’s, tear-filled
eyes after being teased

my hands dealing cards
these jewels of life
these wrinkles of living

Monday, April 12, 2010

NaPoWriMo #12: Secret Codes

The fog
descends over my brain
like spider webs
I can’t

See how
it nestles into the nooks
and crannies
of my mind

lakes and pastures
of fuzzy thoughtlessness.
Sleep takes over
like melting into

Sunday, April 11, 2010

NaPoWriMo #11 The Thing You Didn't Choose

After Having My Tubes Tied

Snip, goodbye
Snip, goodbye
the poet,
the pilot,
the mechanic,
the waitress,
the logger,
the teacher.
Goodbye to future
Snip. Snip.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Monday poetry Train: Celebration


“Grammy, can you sing
me a song”? says Kylie
as we snuggle in bed.

So I sing “On the Good
Ship Lollipop” again
and again. “Now, your

turn.” I tell her. She
sings a dinosaur song
she learned in preschool.

Then she asks for a story
so I make up one about
Bad Penelope who likes

to pinch. She’s still not
sleepy so we play
Guess the Letter.

I “write” a letter on her
back and she tries to
figure out what it is

in between giggles.
Then she writes on
on mine. Back and

forth we go, laughing.
After that we just lie
there talking. Her voice

gets quieter and quieter.
She whispers, “I love you,
Grammy.” “I love you, too.”

Friday, April 9, 2010

NaPoWriMo #9: List

I limp into Friday evening
from the bruises
of the week.

Walk in the door
stow my school bag
away for a couple days

Massage the back of my neck
as I pour a glass of wine
and anticipate

the strum as it hums
through my system.
Settle into my La Z Boy

turn the laptop on
and try to torch a poem
from a list of words.

Kindle it like a campfire
hope to startle meaning.
But, no luck.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

NaPoWriMo #8: Love Metaphor

Pussy willows
soft gray forevers

like my mom
a sign of hope

that lasts through
the winter of life.

On Sunday I’m
flying to Florida

to see her because
she’s hurting:

compression fractures,
cracked pelvis,

memory loss,

must be made.

This afternoon
I took a walk

in the woods
and picked some

pussy willows.
I put them in a vase

next to my parents’
wedding photo.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

NaPoWriMo #7: Humorous Love Tanka

the moon smears the cornfield in beige body lotion

We frolic in the back seat

stand amid stalks to straighten clothes

get home wallet’s missing go back to find it

and hear the moon laughing

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

NaPoWriMo #6: Picture

I have a collection of US Postage stamps.  This one brought back a memory from 1992.

Sunset Beach
ocean on one side
fruit vendor on the other.

We stop
my mother-in-law and I.
She wants pineapple

to take back
to New Hampshire.
The owner says

he’ll set us up .
He arranges six in a box.
When we get back

to our rented house,
we unpack them
to make sure they’re good.

They aren’t.
The back sides are rotten.
We return

to the vendor
but Mr. Hippie Pony Tail
won’t take them back.

“Fine, I’ll just sit here
all day and show people
what you tried to sell us.

He takes them back,
gives us our money
and we head to the Dole Plantation.

Monday, April 5, 2010

NaPoWriMo #5: Personify Poetry


The bitch has black hair
straight and oily.

She snaps her gum
and wears tight jeans,

cropped tops, and a thong
that shows in the back.

Her hips are a metronome
swaying back and forth.

She points her finger
at me and beckons.

I know we’re going
someplace smoky

and dim with men there
who want only one thing.

But I follow, anyway,
follow those rhythmic

hips into that dark place.
I sit at a stool next to her.

She smiles, offers me a butt,
and I know I am home.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

NaPoWriMo #4: Inside-out/Outside-in


In bed
the fan on
I smell the sky
I taste the salty stars
I inhale the moon into
my dreams.

Under layers
of quilts my body
cocooned, nestled, snug.
My head on a bracing ski slope
rushing headlong through the wind
into sleep.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

NaPoWriMo #3: Fear

Kathy and I are playing in the Red,
White, and Blue caves
on Mt. Forist. We’ve named

them that because there are three
of them. We play house in one,
school in another, and eat our lunch

in the third. Before leaving
we do a little exploring
and I notice a slim passageway

like a flat snake leading out.
Kathy’s too big so I start slithering
through. There are rocks

in the way that I bend my body
around. It smells like dirty feet,
skunk urine, and rotten hamburger.

The tunnel gets narrower,
my head scrapes against the rock
above and the ground below.

I decide to retreat, start backing up
but get snagged on a rock. I try
going forward, again. Nope.

My chest swells like an air mattress
being blown up. I can’t breathe.
Confetti is waltzing in front

of my eyes. The cave is shifting
and falling in on me. There is no way
out. I scream, taste salt and dirt,

then hear Kathy’s voice at the end,
open my eyes and see daylight
just around the curve. “You can

make it.” I begin to deflate, wiggle
my head and body to make them fit,
and claw my way out. Kathy

saved my life that day. Whenever
I get an attack of claustrophobia, now,
I picture her face, like a full moon

bathed in morning light, smiling
and encouraging at the end
of the tunnel.

Friday, April 2, 2010

NaPoWriMo #2: RWP=Regular White Paper

On Tuesday
Katelyn came into class
almost crying.

She shook her head
when I asked
if she had her homework

then said, “I got
beat up last night.”
Since we do journal

writing on Tuesdays,
she took a piece
of regular white paper

out and started
writing. I could see
the black anger

scrawling across the page
like stitches
from a cut.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

NaPoWriMo #1: Song Titles

ReadWritePoem's first prompt for National Poetry Writing Month is to jot down the titles to five songs and then incorporate them into a poem.  I randomly picked: "Knowing You, Knowing Me" by Abba, "Just Because" by Bernie Williams, "Beautiful Tragedy" by In This Moment, "The Freshman" by Verve Pipe, and "November Rain" by Guns and Roses.

It's horribly dramatic and depressing.  Sorry! It's just what came out!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Beautiful Tragedy

The freshman girl
walked into school
in September
her eyes bright
as flashlights
casting around
for friends.

She smiled
at people
but no one smiled
She went to class
She sat by herself
at lunch.
By October
the batteries
in her eyes
had dimmed.
Her hair hung
over them.
Sometime in November,
rain felt like knives
slicing her cheeks.

She started smoking weed
and enticing guys
with promises…
just because…
Her grades plummeted
and in art class
she drew
a picture of garbage
surrounded by flowers
and called it,
“Knowing Me, Knowing You.”

By June
she was wearing
ragged clothes.
She walked
with her head down
and in July
she swallowed
too many pills.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Poetry Train: The Sad

Kylie and I
are snug in a recliner
watching Snow White
and the Seven Dwarfs.

When Snow White
is in her glass coffin,
I think of my mom
in pain and how close

she’s come to death.
Kylie wipes tears away.
She sniffles
and says, “Sometimes

the sad comes out
through my nose.”
I reach for a tissue
and give Kylie a hug.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

3WW: Modify, Obedient, Veil

The English Teacher’s Lament

They sit, obedient.
“What do adverbs modify?”
I watch a veil fall.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sunday Scribblings: Fluent

This happened yesterday.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

The call comes
while I am walking.

Nancy says, “Mom
fell and is in the hospital

with a cracked pelvis
and other injuries.”

As Nancy talks
I picture my mom

so healthy until five
years ago when cancer

struck. Since then
she’s had heart surgery,

compression fractures,
infections, falls,

bruises, and now this.
My beautiful mother

who never hurt anyone,
is now fluent

in the language
of pain.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Sunday Scribblings: Big Dreams

Someone took a crayon
and colored the tree limbs

then placed cotton batting
on all the roofs,

covered the telephone wires
with toothpaste

and dressed the sky
in a gray fleece.

I close my eyes
and see our home in Florida.

I'm sitting on the porch
writing this poem

as the rising sun washes
over my feet

and inches up my legs.
I open my eyes,

see chunks of snow
beginning to fall

from tree limbs,
put on my jacket

grab a shovel,
and start clearing a path.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

3WW: Generate, Meager, Tease

Meager snow outlines
the roofs, trees, and bare ski slopes~
Don’t tease, generate!
Don’t tease, generate
snow for the dwindling halfpipe.
Out, out meager snow!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Poetry Train: Block Four

This is not about...

the watermelon-
colored leaves
I see outside
my classroom

or the lavender
or the white
birch trees

by the brush.
Instead, it's
about the sun
on students

as they write
bent over
white paper.
This poem
is about them:

& Spencer.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

3WW: Occur, Ragged, Tidy

Ragged winter trees.

Brushes tidying the sky.

When will spring occur?

ReadWritePoem Wordle: Red and Lubricious

I can't believe it's been a couple of weeks since I posted a poem.  I have no excuse except for life getting in the way.  I've been writing with my students at school but none of them were post-worthy.

ReadWritePoem is featuring a wordle for this week's prompt.  I chose a couple words (red and lubricious) and wrote the following about a little thing that happened over the weekend.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Valentine's Day morning
I found my husband
waiting for me
with our granddaughter
in the lobby
of the Holiday Inn
By the Bay
in Portland, Maine.

He was sitting,
sipping coffee,
chatting with Kylie.

Next to him
sat a man
holding red roses,
also waiting.

I walked up and my husband said,
"Oh, by the way,
Happy Valentine's Day."
And I replied, "Thanks,
Happy Valentine's Day
to you, too...

by the way."
We laughed.
The man looked
at his flowers.

Later that night
lying in bed
watching the Olympics
instead of entertaining
lubricious thoughts,
I heard him chuckle.
"What?" I asked.
"By the way," he said.

We turned the TV off.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

ReadWritePoem Mini Challenge #3

Neruda wrote lovingly and hauntingly about his home.  I picked lines from quite a few of his poems in Absence and Presence and tried to find house connections.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Stone, nails, planks, tiles, all.
I built the house
of cement, iron, glass.

In my house, I have gathered together
bread, wine, stew,
the curve of shoes,

I may move in and out of windows.
I seem to be alone and not alone.

Here, I shall be both lost and found.

Friday, February 5, 2010

ReadWritePoem Mini Challenge #2

From Absence and Presence.  A cento patchworked together from lines from Pablo Neruda's poems.
- - - - - - - - - -

Look here, look for me here
I must feel the crash of the hard water.
I let my hands fall to the sea

for that is the place of joy.
Where the sea is concerned, I am
the ocean overflowing from its bottomless cup.

I have salty experience.
I am one who keeps turning out dreams,
dreams like a sea-green girl

to learn to return from such depths.
I need the sea because it teaches me~
the university of the waves.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

ReadWritePoem Mini Challenge #1

ReadWritePoem's mini challenge asks us to fall in love with a poet and write a series of centos (patchwork poems) using various lines from his or her work.

When I got to school this morning, I perused my poetry bookcase and my eyes were drawn to Pablo Neruda's Absence and Presence.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

If I die, survive me with such sheer force

that I, lifeless, will see you living,

your lips still sweet, still wet,

that beneath all that sadness

little by little the creepers

will send fresh shoots

that of my own brief life.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Monday Poetry Train: Open the Box

Open the Box

Square, definitely square.
And tied with a white ribbon.
A prim and proper bow.

Go ahead,
pull on the ends,
watch that bow

Tear the wrapping
paper off,
quickly, now.

Lift the lid
but be careful.
You'll have to dodge
all the words
flying out.

I caught a few
and left them
on this blog
for you to read.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

One Single Impression: Blowing the Curve

Blowing the Curve

I should be in the cellar
separating lights
from darks

I should be in the kitchen
sizzling strips
of maple-flavored bacon

I should be in our bedroom
feeling his warm legs
next to mine

But, I’m sitting in the living room
in a bright bubble
surrounded by sun and blue sky

reading Artful Blogging
and sipping creativity
one glossy photo at a time.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Poetry Train: It's Snowing

It’s snowing
into my notebook

covering the page
with black

See the design
they make
on the creamy

ground of this
paper? Each one
is unique.

I tip my head back
and let a couple
land on my tongue.

They melt into me.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

One Single Impression: A Sunny Day

Every chimney in town
is puffing away
this Saturday morning.

It’s -8 degrees F.
Mt. Forist is a frozen
gray elephant

sleeping in front
of my face.
Then the sun hits

it smack on the head
like an egg
splashing into it.

I watch the yolk
slowly spread
over its hide

down, down
until it’s flowing
into my living room.

I scoop it up
with the spoon
of my imagination

and pour it
into a poem.
Time for an omelette.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A Quartina: brunt, sundered, froth, question for ReadWritePoem

He opened his mouth, words smelling of death, and sundered
our life. I shrank from the brunt
force of their whip. My eyes contained question
marks and poison began to froth.

He’d come home, poured himself a beer with too much froth,
then settled into after-work life sundered
by a long ride home. I asked him an innocent question.
Knives were his answer and my heart bore the brunt

of their sharpness. Blades and words equal brunt
trauma. Sure, our marriage hadn’t always been froth-
y, but I had never questioned
its longevity, certainly never expected the sunder-

ing. Picture the Titanic splitting asunder.
That was me, tearing from the brunt
of his iceberg words. “Can I ask you a question?”
I said and a volcano of “No” frothed

from his mouth, white froth as hard as the brunt
of fists. I tucked my question away and watched our ship sink, sundered.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

3WW: Jolt, Ribbon, Zeal

The ringing
of my phone
jolted me
out of the stupor
of blogging.

It was my friend
asking if I’d like
a glass of wine.

“Sure” I answered
with zeal. So, she’s
on her way.

And I’m typing
to get this done.

Outside, the clouds
are turning
into pink ribbons,
the color of
white zinfandel.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Suday Scribblings: Extreme

We had a sunny day
for the first time
this year.

At noon I went
for a walk
in the ten degree

The streets were salty
and the wind was
a slap

I clicked a few
of snow-covered

hunching under
the blue
blanket of sky.
When my

legs turned numb
and tears
slid down my cheeks
like kids

sledding down a hill,
I hurried
home to the smell
of baked

bread and my husband
for me with his warm arms
wide open.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Poetry Train: Fat Sestina

I wrote this one in school from 6 random words the kids chose.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Fat Sestina

Last night I had a cup of decaf coffee
with light vanilla soy milk as I sat in my jeans
after a long day of plant-
ing knowledge in the brains of teenage branches
who sat there like mountains
wishing they were on a playground,

instead. Well, I need a playground,
too, and I’m really wishing this coffee
had Bailey’s Irish Cream and a mountain
of whipped cream in it. But my jeans
are too tight so I have to diet by eating leaves from branches
and less fat and more plants.

It doesn’t seem fair that blubber planted
itself on me. I’ve become its playground.
It even sticks to the branches
of my arms. So, I’m sipping low-cal coffee
and unbuttoning my jeans
to allow the mountain

of my stomach some room. Losing weight is a big mountain
to climb but I just have to plant
one foot in front of the other. I could buy bigger jeans
but, no, I exercise like a kid in a playground
and drool while my husband enjoys coffee
ice cream. (I’d like to whip him with branches!)

Instead, I get up and branch
out for a walk up hills as steep as mountains
the color of coffee
and while I walk, an idea gets planted
in my head: I should open an adult playground
and maybe call it “Skinny Jeans”

because exercise helps even though I inherited the fat tummy gene
from my mom. So, if I want legs like branches,
I’ve got to open my playground
and climb over that chubby mountain.
When I reach the top, I’ll plant
a victory flag and have a Starbuck’s coffee

and buy new jeans and eat mountains
of dip until my branches begin to swell again and I’ll have to plant
myself back in the playground and go back to drinking weak coffee.
Linda's Poems