Saturday, May 2, 2015


challenges, grief, healing

Nana Freda used a light bulb when darning socks.
She'd stick it inside so the hole was on the curve.

Then she'd thread matching yarn into a fat needle,
you know that needle; it's the one that pricked you

so many times in the last year.  First, drawing blood
when your best friend died, second when Bob, whom

you treated like a dad, passed, and the worst when that
needle went right through your heart over and over

leaving you torn and ragged and daughterless.  But,
needles can fix things, too.  Nana Freda would weave

the yarn over and under itself.  Over and under.  Over
the memories, under the anger, over the grief, under

the regrets, until that hole was filled from side to side.
I tried darning, once.  It wasn't easy.  I made a big mess.

It certainly is a challenge.  I mean, how do you incorporate
all those mornings of sitting on the porch, smoke swirling

around your heads, conversation as warming as coffee,
those stories of WWII and endless repeated questions,

and Trish's wonderful smiles, common sense, and help
into a strand of yarn?  How can you even hold that needle

with your trembling hand?  There is only one way: pick
it up, stick it in the edge of the hole and let the healing

begin.  Grief begins with a needle and it is only that same
needle that can help darn everything back together.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Day 30 National Poetry Month 2015

rain, chalk, bicycle from Anne

Someone took a piece of chalk,
held it sideways, and smeared
the sky with it it.  Back and forth.

Back and forth on this last day
of the month, filling the emptiness
with shades and streaks of white.

I've been sitting here writing for thirty
mornings while memories pounded like rain
and rode a bicycle into my brain coasting

through the valleys of childhood
and the peaks of today.  I packed
old friends, family, regrets, and loves

into my saddlebags and took them along
for the ride.  For me, it was all about
pedaling and feeling the wind fill my

cheeks, my chest, my being with freshness.
Round and round my feet went.  I had
a wonderful ride.  I hope you did, too.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Day 29 National Poetry Month 2015

duckling, leaf, frog from Anne


Her American name is Jenny
but her Vietnamese name is "Nine."

I don't know how it's spelled
but it's pronounced with a lilt,

like you're smiling when you say it.
Not like how we say that number

with our frog voices.  She tells me
it means Snow and I think that is

beautiful.  She's my nail tech
and she's marrying Jimmy who

also works there.  He's a sprite,
flitting around, joking with everyone,

a lost duckling searching for himself.
He's two years older than her but

much younger.  I ask where they are going
for their honeymoon.  She says they

have to work.  "But we're taking Monday
off because Jimmy will be hung over."

I ask if it's going to be a big wedding
and it is because Jimmy has many friends.

She tells me he did all the planning.  She
is so ambivalent I wonder if she really

wants to get married.  "Well, Jimmy wants
this and I want to get married but I'm worried

because I don't want to hold him back."  She
even converted to Catholicism for him.

My nails are done and I leave there
feeling sad.  I want to tell her to run,

stop the wedding. They are as mismatched
as snow piling up on leaves in Florida.

But, it's not my place.  As I leave I glance
over and there is Jimmy flirting with another girl.

Jenny is hunched over, long hair hiding
her face as she begins another customer.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Day 28 National Poetry Month 2015

Camper, storm, and tequila from Donna

I've been sitting here for almost a half hour
trying to absorb today's words and turn

them into a tasty drink but they're stubborn
things today.  And then I realize what's wrong;

I haven't gotten the ingredients out.  So I just
start typing.  That's the secret, you know: starting.

I get the tequila out of the cupboard, the Limeaid
out of the freezer, the 7-Up and Corona from

the fridge.  I mix twelve ounces of each together
in a big pitcher.  I don't use a blender because I'd

end up with a storm in my kitchen and cleaning
up messes is no fun.  I get a couple of Margarita

glasses out, dip the rims in the drink, then into
coarse salt, add ice and the concoction. I hand

one to Donna, who knows a great deal about
cleaning up messes as her camper got badly

damaged in a huge explosion and fire last spring,
take the other one for myself, then we sit and talk.

And, that's how life turns into a poem: booze,
tears, laughter, and two friends sipping their drinks.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Day 27 National Poetry Month 2015

station wagon, reception, and accident from Tim

Fish are jumping like crazy this morning
in our canal.  Nice to see that.  A few months
ago we had a young alligator in it and all

the fish disappeared.  Alligators don't thrive
in salt water so authorities were called and he
was removed.  Now, the fish are back making

lazy circles on the surface of the water.  The
world is right once more.  It was just a hiccup,
a small frost heave, a backfire from the station

wagon of life.  Tim and I were coming back from
picking up folding chairs for my wedding reception.
He had just gotten his license.  We went through

the green light on the corner of Mason and Main
then Tim took his eyes off the road for just a sec
to admire a pretty girl walking on the sidewalk

when, bam, we smashed into the backside
of a boat trailer being towed.  Someone ahead
of him had stopped to make the turn onto Pleasant

Street right there by the Joliette Snowshoe Club.
The cops showed up, people gawked, Tim got
a ticket, then we went home and continued our

preparations for my wedding trying not to let
this accident, this alligator in salt water, put
a damper on that exciting time.  That's life for ya.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Day 26 National Poetry Month 2015

ripple, rustle, mist from Lucy

I'm sitting in a different chair this morning,
a bar chair high enough so my face is out
of the sun.  The wind from the southwest
is creating rustles in the palms and ripples

on the water.  I should go in and get
my big girl camera and use those sparkles
to catch some bokeh, those atmospheric
background circles you can see on most

television shows.  So I do just that.  I set
the dial to aperture priority, get up close
to a flower, wait for the ding announcing
the focus is ready then click, click, click.

I transfer the photos to my iPad and love
the otherworldliness created from the simple
act of taking a picture.  A tiny bit of magic
happens, like that bubble of happy in my

chest whenever I see my son or my daughter
or my Kylie girl.  I'll be with them in less than
a month, their reality forming from the mist
of many days apart.  So, really, this morning

I was conjuring them while the neighbors
saw only a crazy woman out on the stairs
in her nightie with her nose in flowers taking
pictures.  Little did they know I wasn't alone.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Day 25 National Poetry Month 2015

Coffee cup, Apple, Egg roll from Anne

I'm watching an old movie version of Our Town
on the Turner Classic Movies channel.  It was
filmed in 1940 in black & white.  But, I see colors,

the colors of skin and auditorium seats and coffee
cups sitting on my table.  I'm Mrs. Gibbs, again,
preparing breakfast for my family.  George and

Rebecca are upstairs getting ready for school
and my husband is just coming in the door from
delivering twins.  Already I can feel my throat

tightening up.  Everything looks so normal
like a still life painting of a bowl of apples.  So
red and healthy, now, but if they stay there too

long, they'll begin to die.  I know what is coming.
And I know I'll cry.  I anticipate every line before
the actors say them.  "The moon is so terrible."

Yes, Emily, life can be terrible, but first you have
to have a soda with George and marry him
and go to live on his uncle Luke's farm and have

a baby before the terrible part, before you'll join me
in the cemetery.  There's George standing
in the rain at your funeral and here you are

with us.  There's Simon Stinson, the choir director
and your brother Wally whose appendix burst
while on a camping trip to Crawford Notch.  You

aren't ready, though, to join us.  You want to go back
so you pick your twelfth birthday....wait, in the movie
it's your sixteenth.  I guess they couldn't make

you look like a twelve year old.  Okay, I can go with it.
You are still so frustrated that your folks won't really
look at you.  You notice all the little things but you

aren't Paulette Demers in the Berlin High School
production.  You aren't packing the same emotional
punch that she did. My goodness, there wasn't

a dry eye when she whirled around..."and new-ironed
dresses"...just the tears in her voice had grown men
sobbing.  "Do people really appreciate life every, every

minute?" No, they can't.  It would hurt too much.
So you rejoin us and take your chair in the cemetery
But, hold on, the movie isn't done.  It fades back

to the childbirth scene where you die, but you don't.
You don't die.  You're snuggling with your new baby
and George is smiling.  What?  You don't die?

You're supposed to.  In my play you do.  What kind
of a lesson do we learn if you live?  Life always has
a happy ending?  I'm not even crying; I'm too mad.

How dare they?  I turn the TV off then bang pans
and cupboard doors while making breakfast.  That end-
ing was as wrong as Ma Gibbs serving her kids egg rolls.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Day 24 National Poetry Month 2015

Golf, grass, and water from Gina produced this cinquain.

As Necessary as Water

stretches like a
par-5 golf hole with yards
of quiet grass in front of me.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Day 23 National Poetry Month 2015

Sparks, Suburban, Vacation from Alissa

Gary's going to Sun 'N' Fun today.
He'll be gone overnight so that means
a vacation for me.  Not that our life

isn't a permanent vacation now that
we're retired.  But, it will be nice
to be alone for a change.  He's like

a Suburban filled with noisy teenagers
on their way to a ski meet with music
blasting and equipment everywhere.

The minute he gets up, he turns the radio
on in the bathroom to shower.  Then he
walks into the living room to grab the remote

and tune the TV to The Morning Express
with Robin Meade on CNN to hear the news.
But it's not enough just to listen.  No.  He

has to make comments about everything.
I'm trying to listen to her and him and make
breakfast and write a poem and check my email

and he's blabbering away.  But, today, after
he leaves, I'll turn everything off, I'll bask
in solitude, I'll swim through my day in quiet

underwater buoyancy. Shhhhh.  And, then, I'll
get bored and even enjoy that for a bit until
I remember that cars need spark plugs to run.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Day 22 National Poetry Month 2015

Motorcycle, music and marbles from Donna

Tiny marbles of rain are making our canal dance
this morning.  I watch it kicking its legs up

in exuberance and marvel at its happiness
on a cloudy day.  Or am I projecting my own

feelings onto this inanimate living thing?  Okay
I know that doesn't make sense but that's

how it seems.  Like a motorcycle isn't alive
but it is, you know?  We enjoy an occasional

ride on Gary's '67 Harley Panhead.  Listen to me,
like I know what I'm talking about!  Last summer

we and some friends rode down route 1 in Maine
to Ogunquit and had Flo's hotdogs for lunch.

Have you been there?  It's an institution.  You have
to have their house special: mayo, Flo's relish,

and celery salt.  So, so good!  Afterwards we went
to the top of Mt. Agamenticus and the bike never

complained all day.  She's a sweetheart.  See what
I mean?  The music from the raindrops is lulling

me into a fantasy land and making me mumble
about improbabilities, about happy canals and motorcycles

with feelings.  But you know I'm really talking about myself,
right?  About how raindrops carve smiles into the water.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Day 21 National Poetry Month 2015

*Ice cream cone, sauerkraut, spoon.   from Anne

It wasn't so much for an ice cream cone,
although that was always a delicious benefit,
that we'd drive up and down Main Street
from Norm's Drive-In to the Dairy Bar
looking for our friends and cute boys.

I'd ask my dad to use the car, we'd pool
our money, buy as much 29 cents
per gallon gas as we could afford, then
begin our journey through the sauerkraut
air of that paper mill town.  But, the smell

didn't bother us; we were too busy gawking
in all the cars driving by, gossiping about
this person and that one and what they'd done
or hadn't done or might do.  Through Green
Square, by the stores, checking who

was hanging out in front of Woolworth's,
and all along the Androscoggin River, we were
this bubble of chatter and music and hope.
Life was a bowl of maple walnut ice cream
and we were savoring it one spoonful at a time.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Day 20 National Poetry Month 2015

arms, eyes, & tears from Sherrie

It's a reverse sunrise this morning,
poking its nose around
the trees, blinding my eyes for a second,
then letting the gray mouth

of the clouds devour it.  Some days
are like that, huge monsters
that eat us up, that suck all the life
out of us, then burp.

I'm trying to get Erin's arms into her
jacket but she's too sleepy
to help.  Nathan is teasing her.
If we don't leave now

I'll be late for school.  On the way
to the babysitter's I speed
through a puddle that splashes on the clean
suit of a man walking to his car.

I should stop, apologize, offer to pay
for his dry cleaning but, if
I do, my classroom will be filled with kids
and I won't be there.  So I don't.

All day I feel terrible.  I bark at students;
my voice has that edge
only regret can produce.  I'm mad at myself
so I yell at them, instead.

And, that's how the beast thrives,
how he rubs his tummy
with satisfaction, chomping on the tears
of others, consuming their sunshine.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Day 19 National Poetry Month 2015

a moment that made a difference in your life...from Sally (opening, lingering, song)

I'm sitting here marveling at two simple words:
yes and no and what lingering effects they have

and how sometimes we don't even know we're
making a decision that will change our lives.

Sleep was a dreamless song, a waltz, soft
and undulating.  I was swaying back and forth

in it's gauzy, foggy embrace that morning in1967
three days after Christmas when the phone rang.

I was in no state of mind to make an important
decision, nor did I even know it was momentous.

I cleared my throat a few times so the caller
wouldn't know I'd just awoken then picked up

the receiver.  My mom's voice from the bank she worked
at trilled into my ear.  "Lee's going skiing.  Do you

want to go?  He'll pick you up in twenty minutes."
Lee was her coworker's son.  I loved to ski.  I said

yes and that tiny word was the opening to the rest
of my life.  I got ready.  Lee arrived.  And, also sitting

in the front seat was a blonde guy I'd never met,
who, on our second date, asked me to marry him.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Day 18 National Poetry Month 2015

iPad, cinnamon stick, vitamin from Anne

My iPad is on my lap.
I've picked three words.
I typed them at the top.
Now, I sit waiting for birds

of inspiration to fly into my
head.  Some days those
ideas stand up like cinnamon
sticks.  Others, they doze.

Today they are fast asleep
hiding under a heavy rock.
Not even vitamin D from
the sun can help unlock

them.  So, I sit watching
real birds flit around the sky,
watching real words appear
on my screen then die.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Day 17 National Poetry Month 2015

Whiskers, Saloon and Haystack from Lisa Ryan
Finding That Needle in a Haystack

The show is starting, again, as it does every morning
and I'm out here to see it because it's April.  I'd be sleeping
otherwise.  Pink whiskers fan out from where the sun

will rise.  Some are clouds, some are jet contrails.  All
are beautiful.  Three birds flutter by in formation.  Lilac
sky gives way to the pale yellow of some marigolds

which in turn becomes the golden glow from saloon lights
in a lonely desert.   And, that's what poetry is for me,
a place alive with noisy chatter, beer glasses clinking,

soft laughter, and a home away from home.  I placed
one foot in front of another and just kept trudging through
the sand and scrub grass of life until a tiny pinprick

of light started growing on the horizon.  Oh, and the thirst!
I imagined the feel of that cold whiskey turning hot as it quenched
my throat, until I picked up a pencil and started writing

my first poem when I was forty years old.  One word, one simile,
one rhyme at a time I staggered to the door, opened it,
and, like Norm walking into Cheers, it shouted my name.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Day 16 National Poetry Month 2015

Whoopie pies, doughnuts & chocolate chip cookies from Tim....

I walk into Dena's Bakery in downtown Punta Gorda
hoping they'll have old-fashioned doughnuts.

You know the kind with just a hint of nutmeg, no sugar
coating, a crunchy outside and soft middle.  They

are impossible to find down here in Florida.  Dena's
is more like a cafe with tables and just a small

assortment of whoopie pies and chocolate chip cookies,
those staples of bakeries all across the United States.

But, no doughnuts.  Kelly's Pastry Shop on Main Street
in Berlin had the best ones.  Every morning on his way

to his logging job, Gary would stop in for a sweet.  If he
was lucky, they'd have macaroons.  If not, he'd buy two

plain doughnuts, one for him and one for Annie, our dog
who always went to work with him.  She loved them.

One morning, the shop was closed so Gary had to backtrack
to Dunkin' Donuts.  He bought the two donuts but when he

tried to give hers to Annie, she turned her head and refused
to even nibble it.  Gary ate his, of course, all the while wondering

exactly what he was consuming.  Back in Dena's, the kind owner
suggests I check Publix or Winn Dixie but we already have

to no avail.  And, so our quest for good doughnuts continues.
I drive by Dunkin' Donuts but don't even bother going in.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Day 15 National Poetry Month 2015

horse, breeze, friend from Dale
Did You Ever Do Anything Stupid?

The parking meter wiggles
     as we feed our coins into its
          slit of a mouth so, when we return

to the car after shopping, we,
     the six of us friends, having no
          idea how the breeze of this idea

entered our heads, pull it out
     of the soft ground and slide it into
          the back of Donna's station wagon.

We cover it with a blanket to
     disguise it as we drive through
          town.  It looks like a corpse lying

there, still and quiet.  We giggle
     all the way back to the motel where
          we work as chambermaids for the summer.

Of course, we have no idea what
     to do with it.  We can hear coins
          jingling inside but don't know how

to get them out and don't really
      want to since we are not thieves.
          We hide it in a closet off the kitchen

and there it stays for a month
     until it becomes a secret almost
          alive.  We can hear it breathing in

there, growing.  It whinnies like
     a horse in its stall waiting to be
          fed, waiting to be released, waiting.

Then, on a moonless night we
     carry that heavy thing out to the
          car and drive to the back of a dark

cemetery where we dump it
     and leave it next to someone's
          grave.  We hold our breath as we

rush out of that scary place, turn
     onto the road, crank up the radio,
          and sing along in strong, sure voices.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Day 14 National Poetry Month 2015

snow, puppy, trees from Mary (Gina's friend)

There are pink and gray eels in the sky this morning
as I sit here for the fourteenth morning in a row

looking at three words and waiting for inspiration.
A bird flies by, a silhouette, against the now pale blue.

The baby-girl pink is giving way to brash neon.  How quickly
they grow.  Every time I look up, there is a change.

Every wispy cloud is smeared with strawberry cream cheese
The boxwood trees point toward the new day, toward

brightness, toward hints of lavender, where we all end up.
But, not yet.  The sun hasn't even risen and I'm thinking

about the end.  Most of the clouds have faded to snow,
a clean, freshly-fallen snow.  Only the area near the sunrise

turns apricot.  And, now, there it is pulling itself up.  I snap
a picture with my phone then change seats because it's just

too bright on my eyes.  This is my Kylie girl so bright in my
heart, it hurts.  Her puppyness is almost over.  She wants

to become a vet, this critter lover of ours.  For years her favorite
was the dung beetle.  I remember sitting with her reading

a book about animals.  She was maybe two and she knew
them all, what was curious about them, where they lived.

"This one has poison but you don't have to worry because
he lives in Africa" she wisely informed me.  Oh, but, Ky, I do

worry about all the poisons you'll encounter out there in the world.
There is nothing I can do about that.  Next month when she's

here, we want to visit the seaquarium where Winter and Hope
live, the two dolphins from A Dolphin's Tale 2.  We saw

the movie together last summer.  How can she already be nine?
Almost double digits.  Most of the clouds have dissipated,

the sun has released itself from the trees, the blue path
it follows looks even and clear.  Please, please: even and clear.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Day 13 National Poetry Month 2015

book, candle, sweater from Dar

How to Write a Book of Poetry

I pull a length of green yarn
     out of the skein,
wrap it around the needle
     then pull it through

to make a stitch.  I'm knitting
     a sweater for a 4-H
project that will be judged
     at the Lancaster Fair.

I tried being a Girl Scout, well
     a Brownie, really,
but it wasn't a good fit for me.
     It couldn't hold a candle

to the fun we have in 4-H
     where my aunt
and her friend are the leaders
     and my cousins

are members, too.  There is no
     door-to-door selling
in this group.  No embarrassing
     "No's" from annoyed

customers, just meetings where
     we learn to cook
(no-boil chocolate and peanut butter
     fudge rolled and sliced.

Yum!), crochet, sew, play games,
     laugh, lose, get along,
and, knit like I'm doing, now, in that
     past and this present.
My sweater has a cable design
     twisting up the middle.
I have to transfer five stitches
     to another needle,

continue with the row, then insert
     those saved ones
further along to create the braided
     design.  I hear the others

chatting and chuckling but I concentrate
     so I don't make a mistake.
I'd hate to have to unravel my hard work.
     The needles click.  I weave

one pearl stitch after another,
     preparing me for
the poems I'll knit with memories
     when I get older.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Day 12 National Poetry Month 2015

Sunshine, trees, beach! 🌞🌳🌊 from Deirdre


Yes, the word beach definitely needs
an exclamation point.  I grew up
suffocated in the middle of mountains.

Our house was just one street away
from the elephant body of Mt. Forist.
I could almost reach my hand out

and pat the gray body.  It blocked
every single sunset.  Some days,
when I'd get home from school, the moon

would already be poking it's nose
over the beast's back and sunshine
was long gone.  Even my classroom

faced a mountain.  It started six feet
away and sloped up steeply covered
in white birch trees.  I won't deny

it was pretty with the sunlight scampering
through the underbrush but how I longed
for a wide open beach with sweet brown

sugar sand seeping through my toes
and waves, endless and new, crashing,
foaming, receding, repeating nearby.

And, then, we retired and moved near
the sea and finally I could breathe.  In
the summer you might catch a glimpse

of a curly, white-haired lady on a red bicycle
pedaling toward the end of the land
and you'll smile knowing she's heading home.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Day 11 National Poetry Month 2011

grass, bird, book from Leah


This is my third attempt at a poem
this morning.  The first one was just
whining about the fact that my husband

was out here on the porch with me.
I'll spare you that rant.  The second
was about the new veggie V8 juices

I've been trying and liking very much.
Now, there's an exciting topic.  Are
you asleep yet?  So, here I sit

in a flurry of bird songs falling all
around me like snow flakes.  Okay,
not really but it sounds good, right?

Sometimes, ideas for poems are
as plentiful as blades of grass in our lawn
and other times, like this lovely

Saturday morning, I can't even find
one.   I switch seats hoping a different
perspective will help.  I go in to make

coffee.  I listen to the fish jumping
in the canal and don't even try to come
up with a metaphor.  Now, Gary's back

telling me he's done with his shower
but what he's really saying is Hurry
up and take your shower and get dressed

before Mike gets here.  He's an open
book and not a mystery, either.  There
I go, again, trying to be poetic.  Gary

and Mike are going to a car auction.
I declined.  Maybe after they leave, I'll be
able to write.  Right now?  Shower time!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Day 10 National Poetry Month 2015

prayer, energy, trust.  From Gina

I turn my iPad on and tap the Masters app.
The iconic piano notes of that trademark song
swirl around me and I relax into my recliner
ready to watch threesomes make their way

through Amen Corner.  The music is a like a prayer,
soft and easy, just what these guys need to get them
through holes eleven and twelve, the two hardest
on the course.  Pars are very acceptable here.

From a distance the colors in the crowd resemble
the azaleas and I can almost forget they're there
with their shouts and cameras and folding chairs.
It's just men, green fairways, and white golf balls.

My mom and dad started playing the game later
in life after raising us kids.  I can understand how
they loved the serenity of the course after working
all week.  It gave them extra energy to enjoy

getting older and helped them fight the cancer
that inevitably made them stop playing.  That
damn cancer.  That fucking sand trap no amount
of swinging could get them out of.  The announcers

pause and the song that is The Masters swells,
again, and I remember the last time my dad
watched it.  It was a couple months before
he died and I was in Florida visiting him.  We sat

in the lanai chatting about the game and players,
he tethered to oxygen, me trying to breathe for him.
Afterwards, I went to Publix and bought Maine lobsters
and had them cooked for us.  I can still see the melted

butter on my dad's chin and the smile on his face
as he devoured every last morsel of that delicacy.
Back in Georgia the crowd groans as a ball hits
the water, proof that nothing, nothing can be trusted.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Day 9 National Poetry Month 2015

comforter, clock & pictures from Sherrie

I missed the sunrise this morning;
the cocoon I slept in under my comforter
was just too cozy and warm to leave.

So, by the time I got out here on the porch
the sun was an inch above the trees
and the light was fading from gold to yellow.

Like my ideas for a poem are slipping away.
Instead I watch as my shadow, reflected
on the slats of the house, slides closer to the floor.

I think of the first comforter I ever had.  I chose
it myself before heading to college.  No more
bedspread for me, no more sisters invading

my space.  A fluffy comforter to read under,
or I should say study.  I loved that thing.
And so what if my roommates were nuts.

Karin with her Doors obsession. The heavy beats
of "Come on, baby, light my fire" like fog
to walk through.  And Norma sitting in front

of a candle, a picture of her lost boyfriend
in one hand, her depression dripping from her
like wax, trying to catch the flame with her fingers,

hoping the scorching would blot out her pain.
I haven't thought of them in years.  They're
like my shadow getting closer to the floor,

almost gone.  The past is an old clock
like the one I have of my grandmother's,
my mom's mom, that sits on my hall table

but doesn't tell time except twice a day.
It looks so pretty from the outside, all burnished
wood and fancy hands but the inside is empty.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Day 8 National Poetry Month 2015

Peacock, hula-hoop, frying pan. from Tuts


We are walking through the frying pan
that is the Nature Preserve at the Shell
factory in North Fort Myers, Florida.

It's way too hot to be here but Kylie
loves animals so here we are.  Everything
is kind of dowdy but the creatures

seem healthy enough.  I follow a peacock
around hoping he'll fan his tail feathers
so I can get a picture of the colorful

design but he refuses to cooperate.  There
are birds all over the place.  Kylie tries
communing with one and puts her finger

out for him to perch on but he bites her.
She's done with the birds after that.  We
continue walking in the wilting air.

The dinosaur park seems safe since
nothing is alive but nothing is very interesting
either.  We walk on passing goats

and more goats until we get to the camel
rides.  Finally, something to do.  Erin and Ky
wait in line then climb up onto the hump.

I click photos.  The camel tender leads them
around the pen.  I can see them swatting
flies away and hear Kylie say it stinks.

Once around and they've had enough.
We continue our meandering then find
a restaurant.  When we walk in, the cold

air hits us, we order drinks, and begin to revive,
chuckling over this sad excuse of an amusement
park that was as much fun as a broken hula hoop.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Day 7 National Poetry Month 2015

Rag, orange, flower. from Grant

I'm picking an orange from our tree,
searching for just the right one.
It has to feel a bit soft when my fingers
squeeze it but not mushy.  A sun

in my hand, warm and round.  I twist
it and if it detaches with ease,
I know it will be perfect.  It's like
choosing an idea to tease

into a poem.  Not all thoughts
are ripe enough, some are too hard,
others are stubborn and refuse
to budge.  Forget the ones marred

by bitterness; they aren't worth cutting
into.  I leave them to wither and rot.
I want one that turns into a flower
when I slice it open, like when I got

asked to dance, finally, after sitting alone
and I just felt so thankful I could cry.
That's the kind of topic I need.  I grab
a rag to wipe up the spills and know why

this common fruit with its bright color
and run-down-your-chin juice
contains all the goodness a writer
needs to turn memories loose.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Day 6 National Poetry Month 2015

Apron. portrait. linoleum. from Alissa


They're here with me, now, hanging
near the old Hoosier I use for a desk:

two of Nonie's apron's.  One is yellow
with with black rickrack around the pocket

and hem.  The other is a brown and cream
print with a single row of orange rickrack

along the bottom and three layers across
the top of the wide pocket.  Two rows are orange

and the middle one is beige.  They've never
been worn.  Nonie wore aprons every day

around the house and they matched the house
dresses she sewed herself.  She even made

festive ones for the holidays when we'd all
descend on her home for a meal and presents.

It was a small home with only four rooms
and a small entry with windows along one side.

Grampy made a shelf to run along the bottom
of those windows for her purple and pink African

violets where they bathed in the morning light.  The moms
would gather in the kitchen helping Nonie prepare the feast,

their high heels tapping on the linoleum, their voices
blending with the clanging of pots and pans.

The dads would sit in the living room sipping high balls,
discussing work and world problems.  Portraits

of older generations lined the upright piano looking
on with somber expressions.  Occasionally, Grampy

would grumble at one of us kids to slow down as we ran by.
All four rooms were connected and we could circle

the house from room to room.  We'd chase each other
playing some sort of tag that only made sense to us.

Around and around we'd go just like the earth
spinning on its axis.  Around and around.

No problems ever got solved in that living room
but the world continues to this day; women still prepare

meals, men still pontificate, and children still play.
The sun and the moon rise and set and life goes on.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Day 5 National Poetry Month 2015

Compact disc, coin, magnifying glass from Tim.

I woke up about seven and got up right away.
I grabbed a quilt, the red one my sister, Nancy,
made with about a thousand tiny squares,

and went out on the porch to write today's poem.
I went to my list of words and Tim's three popped
out at me so I copied and pasted them here.

Then I waited.  The sky turned lavender.
I waited. The sun started slipping from behind
the horizon like a compact disc ejecting

from a computer.  I had to get up and take
a few pictures.  I checked Facebook and Words
with Friends, made a few plays, went to my

mail and had a message from Amazon about
new books for April.  One about grammar
piqued my interest so I downloaded a sample.

Okay, I know I'm a nerd.  Then I came back
here to write.  I waited some more.  Just sat
in a chair with my back to the bright sun

and thought about my brother, wishing he
and his wife could be here with us today.
We, the three female siblings who live

in Florida, are going for a boat ride with
our husbands, my niece, and a friend.
In the meantime, I sit here waiting for

inspiration.  The canal is Reynold's Wrap
smooth and silvery.  A notice pops up
that my Slotomania bonus is ready

so I collect it then return to these ramblings.
If you could position a magnifying glass
over my life, you wouldn't see much more

than what is right here.  I get up, I fiddle
on my iPad, I try to write, then continue
with my day.  That's it.  That's what you'd

see.  But, don't hold that magnifying
glass on me for too long, especially,
if the sun is shining through it, because

I might just begin to burn, burn
for something more, for coins
of excitement, drama, adventure.

So, stop.  I don't want to burn out
too quickly.  I bend my white curls
over my keyboard, My fingers

tap on letters.  I make words
turn into stanzas and stanzas
turn into the simplicity of my life.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Day 4 National Poetry Month 2015

My friend, Anne, sent these three words: mother's hand or fingers, a box of crayons, and a purse
I open the yellow box of Crayola crayons
breaking the seal one spot at a time.

It's the day after Christmas and I finally
have time to play with my presents.

I put the new doll on a shelf, not knowing
what else to do with her. Tags have been removed

from crisp new blouses and they're hung
in the closet.  (I know my lips pursed a bit

when I opened this gift of clothes.  I'm nine
not nineteen.) The Monopoly game I'm saving

for when a friend visits.  The flying saucer
needs a little more snow.  I picture my mother's

hands wrapping everything, using just a little
Scotch tape and fashioning a bow with the

crimped ribbon she curls by running the scissors
down the leftover ends.  I'm young but I know

money is tight.  My mom went to the bank
every Friday and put five dollars into her

Christmas Club so we four kids could have
a good Christmas.  Ah, but this lowly

stocking stuffer almost glows.  I touch the cut-off
pointed tips.  I put my nose right up to them

and breathe the waxy scent of imagination.
Forty-eight different colors, forty-eight possibilities.

I find a piece of plain white paper, use two fingers
to pull the orange/red crayon out and begin to draw.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Day 3 National Poetry Month 2015

bride, dance, beach

April 3, 1948

The air this morning is filled with the brightness
of bird songs, each note a different instrument.
The sky an even blue, a bride's blue, an auspicious sky.

I can't tell if my mom was wearing something blue
in this pictures but I have a feeling she was. And,
even though she woke up to rain on the day

she married my father, she was okay with that
since it foretold happiness.  I love their little
smiles of anticipation. Oh, sure, the photographer

asked for them, but, the realness is there in the curve
of her hand through his arm and how her shoulder
nestles next to his.  See how the satiny material

of her dress waterfalls like a wave onto the beach
of the future. This is the innocence before the dance of life,
before the orchestra of work and children and paying

bills, of squabbles and making up.  Can you hear
the symphony of love in their pose?  The tune
of their laughter is the soundtrack of my childhood.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Day 2 National Poetry Month 2015

feather, candle, and pine cone (from Karen)

The cool humidity sits on my shoulders like a shawl
this morning.  I'm in my nightie on the porch
hoping no one can see me like this.  I need
my bathrobe but forgot to get it before leaving

the bedroom and there is no way I'm going back
in there; I want my husband to sleep longer
so I can enjoy these peaceful moments alone.
And, as I write this, guess who pokes his head

out the door.  So much for solitude.  Do you
choose a word every year to keep you grounded
and focused?  Last year I chose "write" and I made
it official by writing it out in the sand using a feather.

And, I did write so that was good.  This year's word
is more personal.  It's a tiny word that glows like
a candle flame only I can see.  It's the important
pronoun "me." Not wife, not us, not him for sure.

He just poured himself a glass of V8 and has joined
me on the porch.  He's had his shower and is walking
around with just a towel wrapped around his waist.
He's making small talk I'm trying to ignore.  He asks

me to check the weather on my phone so he'll know
how to dress, his voice as gravelly as a pine cone
scratching my ears and face and eyes and my me
is getting smaller and smaller, a pearl closed up

in an oyster shell.  He asks if I'd like a glass of juice,
delivers it, then goes back inside.  And my selfish
little word begins to hum, again.  It's a patient thing,
braiding its two letters into the complexities of marriage.

He's back out, now, announcing the coffee is on.
He's dressed, too, in shorts and a tank top.  In and out.
In and out.  Him time.  Me time.  After breakfast I'll help
him with a repair job then he wants to fly to Sebring

to take me for lunch.  Us time.  Then, tomorrow morning
I'll slip out of bed and quietly make my way back out here
to sit and write and be by myself, again, and that oyster
shell will be wide open and the two letters capitalized.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Day 1 National Poetry Month 2015

Pocketbook, Paper Towel, Dictionary

I hear a jet taking off from the airport
flying into the sugar-spilled sky.

A neighbor is using a buzz saw
on his new deck.  It's April first

and I'm sitting on the porch with sun
on my legs, my iPad on my lap,

and a dictionary full of thoughts
in my head that are refusing to

come out to play.  The zipper
on the pocketbook of my memories

is staying firmly closed.  I can feel my fingers
wanting to tap dance on the keyboard

so I let them shuffle around a bit producing
black words on the paper towel-colored

background.  Then I tear off the sheet,
crumple it up, and throw it away.

Instead, I take my phone over to the flower
box and snap a few pictures of yellow,

orange, pink. Brightness on water.
And the beauty that is America

on this ordinary morning in the middle
of the week in my 66th year knowing

some poems have no words.

Linda's Poems