On My Son Turning Eighteen

I recently had two people, very dear to me, subscribe to my poetry blog. Thank you M. and B.!
So many February birthdays! Happy day to several clients of mine and dear Emily and wonderful Emma! And my son Ivan, to whom this poem is about. Blessings to you all <3.


On My Son Turning Eighteen

There is a blizzard the day my son turns eighteen
and so our plans to dine with family are postponed.
I can’t get to the store for the frosting’s powdered sugar,
yet he tells me he doesn’t care for cake anymore
and doesn’t need anything.

When he was still a boy,
he’d come lie next to me in the evening,
I’d put my book down.
It took fortitude to not break his gaze first,
he became my teacher.

This is not a poem about a rebellious teen,
not about abandon.
My son will stir from the computer
when he hears me arrive,
offers grocery unloading and helping with cooking.
And yet, he heads to his bedroom soon after dinner,
usually prefers a run with earbuds
to walking with me on our wooded trails.

The rare snowstorm has invigorated our outdoor time together
and I follow in his footsteps as he is faster and stronger.
He notices animal tracks beside us
and surmises a deer before I guess.
The imprints are little tucks, evenly spaced,
the way you poke a hole for seedlings.

Recently while I was at work,
my son texted asking if he could wash his tuxedo shirt
that he needed later for a concert
in which he was performing.
Yes! I answered, banking on a polyester blend,
the high school concert hall darkly lit,
remembering kids with too short pants, green dyed hair, acne.

An hour before curtain time, he called, looking for safety pins
“The collar won’t stay down, and the ruffles are too ruffly,”
yet declined my offer to meet him early
in the parking lot to help.
Feeling guilty I was not home, I suggested,
“You could try getting them wet again and shape them...”

I spent years telling him to stand up straight,
showed him exercises on a yoga ball,
threatened a chiropractor.
I blame his burdens - a laden backpack,
him craning to stare at his phone,
bending forward as he concentrates on saxophone scales,
honors classes and college admissions, 
divorce, the social complexities of high school.
A masseuse once shared he himself
slouched for years to protect his heart.
One day my son stands taller
and then the next day, taller still.

When I receive the text
“hot water worked, my shirt looks fine,”
I see a little paper boat.
His life is becoming these moments,
little crafts set free amid the current.
I am not sure anymore who folds them,
only that they are, so surely, released.

When My Guitar Teacher Signed Up For My Weekly Poem


When My Guitar Teacher Signed Up For My Weekly Poem

Yesterday, my guitar teacher signed up for my poem,
posted weekly on my website.
I hadn’t written in a few months,
which seemed like a few forevers,
because I started working as a therapist.
Poetry requires cornfields of time
and pitchers of patience,
can’t be tucked into
a stolen hour between clients.
The combine must be topped off with gas,
the mugs should be frosty.

I do therapy the way I pen prose
lavishly, excessively, abundantly,
I do not keep to the 55 minute hour,
holding my clients hostage when I know
confessions are cresting.
Senior clinicians warn I will have to learn boundaries,
but for now my practice is like a new love affair,
the way I once wrote books until late in the night,
the way I waited until my babies were firmly
asleep until I placed them carefully in the bassinet.

At one o’clock on Thursdays,
my guitar teacher and I have an hour plus lesson,
we talk for half of it.
Music talk, life talk, getting older talk,
we muse, we are muses for one another.

Until he asks me to play
and then I am small again,
I am not the competent woman sharing a favorite artist
or comparing time management strategies,
I am clumsy, dull, unprepared.
I curse him as he says, try again, that note again,
I curse my fingers as they fumble with strings.

He guides me the way I hold clients,
small wins are celebrated,
like a metronome he demands precision.
Notice there. Pay attention here.
It is what I do with those who sit
on the couch in my office,
sometimes holding a ruffled pillow.
The third session, they are mad,
in the fifth, fantasies are revealed,
finally the deepest treasure is unearthed,
how they feel unlovely, unloveable.

I am a boxing manager at ringside toweling,
I am the prostitute who never blushes,
I am the mother whose lap is large enough.
I do what my guitar teacher must,
consecrating the music of the other,
in the way they gesture, strum, offer voice,
in their silences,
living for the moment
when the cloak of becoming is unfurled,
its clasp fastened securely at the throat,
when borrowed belief becomes marrow.
Sometimes years of nourishment is necessary.

I give my guitar teacher books of my poetry
and he asks about certain lines.
His studio walls are plastered with
portraits of fellow and famed musicians,
newspaper clippings depict him
as a rock star with black, not white hair.
On a music stand, sheets of compositions
pause for his return.

His handwriting in indigo ink is lyrical,
the note patterns still too complicated for my novice eye.
The page was once blank,
as was this computer screen,
now with arcs and straight lines.
The most honest hope of our toiling-
that another might also feel
the Hallelujah
and the Amen.


I look pensive, stoic in this picture. Getting photographed is hard for me. Here I asked a dear friend to take author pictures, this was one I would normally trash. However, I so love when others are real and not smiling, and this fit the poem.



What if we gave into this
old as boulders,
down down
stretching to our toes
shoulders brick/boot
stomped and sore.

Threat of elders
bent at ninety degree angles
and mostly sheer will.
Sit up!
Up straight,
tree tall,
blades back,
chest forward.

Everything but
cavingcurling    allowingfollowing
Dear shouting shoulders
what?  what if?
They wrapped around us
until they knit together,
holding like we long to be held.
Would they release at last
sternum cracked?
An orchestra is tuning
for a symphony titled
There will be backup dancers
with wings, turquoise water
and hum. 


I have been so lame about my weekly poem, my creative energy going into building my counseling business. I have a few clients! I am figuring out how to do online paperwork! If you are interested, check out my website at www.deborahgracecounseling.com or my Psychology Today profile under Deborah Grace Counseling. I love how poetry is akin to therapy. I am scared to begin this new endeavor and knew a poem would help me know it’s ok.



It is time for me to go out in the world
and I don’t know how
despite getting a degree
and having a stack
of business cards at the ready.

They have rounded corners
and slide smoothly in my palm.
I couldn’t decide on one design,
so I chose five.
Images of lily pads, mountain,
river water, flower, cloud.
I want to offer each to the world,
a safe place to buoy, perspective,
flow, a space to blossom,
an allowing that things come and go.

The therapists I call for networking
don’t often call back, they are busy.
I will be such, soon enough,
but this bridge from not busy to too busy
is in shadow. It is like the morning fog
these October mornings,
I don’t know when it will lift.

I have been creative again
in the kitchen, it is safe there,
I am taking small risks.
This week a white rice dish made of leftovers,
appreciated when I doubled the soy sauce,
and last night homemade applesauce.

I’d never made applesauce before,
hadn’t eaten it in years.
I thought I added too much cinnamon,
but it was lovely
served with sausage and corn cakes,
to which I added cheese.
The cakes took a long time to cook,
sizzling in melted butter.

On Changing My Computer’s Screen Saver


On Changing My Computer’s Screen Saver

It had been with me
through two computer changes,
before I dated my now husband,
children were adopted, a few moved out.
I’d written several books against its pink petals.
They were tulip magnolias,
the blue sky was royal,
the blossoms back and sunlit.
It was rowdy and galvanizing,
spring on steroids.
Virtual bees were buzzing.

My living room furniture is static
as lion statues guarding the gates of museums,
I’ve had the same hairstyle for four presidents.
I sleep only on ivory sheets.
But then dark gray 800 count Egyptian cotton
was given for a wedding present.
With my coffee, I tried almond instead of cow milk.
My son asked to play Scrabble on a school night
and I say yes instead of no.

I now begin my poems
upon an image of lily pads,
the blank page is a wee sail
eager for wee wind and weather.
The colors are soft as sheep,
calming as sleep,
the leaves are frilled on the edges,
sage green against cloudy water.
Not even a lily beckons,
but there is the possibility of frogs,
little croaks and splashes. 

Wedding Poems

This is a very long post, three wedding poems! to make up for my not being here for three weeks. My wedding day was the best day of my life. My children's births and adoptions rank equally, but all were there AND my beloved. It was smoky, but the clouds parted, it was overwhelming to plan an execute a DIY wedding, but the results felt like ours. We had soooo much help, it was so much fun to create and share with dear friends and family. There might be a few more wedding poems and soon out will be a book dedicated to my now husband, Adam. 


Second Marriage Registry

We are not able to suggest Pelvic floor repair, 
or mention my car has two dents,
that my groom’s brakes are squeaking,
he needs a tooth crowned,
so we cruise through the websites of REI,
Crate and Barrel, Amazon.
We are a Cyber god and goddess
creating a world with a click of the computer mouse,
cheeseboards and serving ware
fly into a virtual shopping cart.
We request cutlery as spoons and forks,
little tridents and anvils
have been absconded by our teenagers.

There are so many more wedding traditions now
as in It's a THING...
Escort cards
Anniversary cakes
and First Looks.
Weddings are brands complete with
fonts and picture filters,
tutorials suggest focusing
on the guest experience.
I remember excuses to drink,
tacky tents with plastic windows,
rushing for the bouquet toss
which I read is now considered single shaming.

We create a wedding profile
on a hosting site called the Knot
On its homepage, newlyweds scroll in a slide show,
men marrying men, 
women, one in a suit, one in a dress,
couples in every permutation of body size and skin hue.
It's a whole new world, it's glorious.
Pizza is offered instead of prime rib,
cake is traded for tiers of doughnuts,
everything is presented on oak barrels
and explained on chalkboards,
weddings are held in empty warehouses.
Suddenly I am on trend, my bare feet are bohemian.

Our registry reflects our wedding preparation,
we feel a little crazy, we are a lot lazy.
Instead of standing in heels,
I want to lay down on a blanket,
recite my vows with my nose
nestled in my love’s armpit.
We don’t have time to take salsa lessons,
but according to brides with YouTube channels
our slow dance nuzzling won’t be a wedding fail

We choose nubby place mats
and earthen bowls, we venture a backpacking tent.
Gifts begin to arrive
in boxes big and small,
it feels so abundant,
we’ve got so much already, 
our children grown and growing.
I let the presents sanctify
what this union feels like.
Naked Cake, 
Hen and Buck Party,
Top Shelf. 


Shopping for your Wedding Suit

It seems superfluous
that we will claim one another
so formally
you in a new suit,
me in a dress,
I insisted on lace.

When you tried on your jacket,
blue and slender fitted,
so different from the boxy
brown in your closet,
you did these cool Rocky boxing moves.

We misplaced your phone.

The alteration employee was sexy
and had an Eastern European accent.
She knelt to adjust your hem,
her face at crotch level.
I added being Tatyana the Tailor
to my roster of fantasies. 

at Macy’s of all places
I felt again, 
I do, I have, I will.
As I did this morning
in the shower
when you
conditioned my hair.


Wedding Vows Not Spoken

I vow to keep apologizing after
my default is to initially interrupt
you and say no.
To keep trying to figure out
what to do with your balls
during certain sex acts
and to be patient when you
go too fast even when though
I’ve asked you to be slow.
I vow to stack the dishwasher better
and to stop joking about other men,
to say I love your penis,
not I love penises.
I vow to not wear only gray
or cargo shorts and polo shirts
so we don’t look like golfing buddies.
I vow to stop using the bread knife
to cut things other than bread,
or at least to admit it.
I vow to not tell you how to parent,
and to not take it personally
when you tell me how to.
I vow to not always read before bed,
to sometimes turn off the light and roll toward you,
to not always wear a shirt to bed,
or at least to keep pulling it up
when I spoon you,
to keep pressing my breasts against you.
I vow to be pearl, sometimes effervescent,
to keep cultivating my singular joy
but making it plural with you,
to keep discovering myself
and bringing my discoveries
to you first,
to fight back and stop retreating,
to stop leaving you when I am hurt,
I vow to allow you your attractions,
your factions, your afflictions.
I vow to talk louder and stop mumbling,
to think a little more before I speak,
but to also speak before overthinking.
I vow to look at you more,
especially when we make love
and move my mouth more when we kiss
and to remember to use my hands
during all of the above especially when you are on top.
I vow to be your wings, nest and mettle.
I vow to be less judgmental,
a little less mental,
to not let my introversion
be a crutch or stop me from
watching football with you at the neighbor’s.
I vow to sing.
I vow to appreciate your attachment to
your possessions and passions.
I vow to keep being enraptured by you,
captured by you,
that you will always be my favorite way to spend
Wednesday work night, Friday date,
Sunday morning.
I vow to take my shoes off in the house,
to let you be equal in our temple.
To resist temptation.
I vow to not sit in the car
when you run into Costco,
to be a barnacle if you are stone.
I vow to never give up or
give in if I won’t respect you by doing so,
to learn when I have pushed you too far.
I vow to remember you are a man
and do things and feels things differently,
but more than your manliness
you are tender and human.
I vow to repair.
I vow forgiveness and to ask for forgiveness.
I vow to tend your wounds,
those I inflict and those that came before me,
to be interested in your stories,
especially those I have already heard.
I vow to be a co-creator of our story.
I vow to encourage you to be
wholeheartedly you.
I vow to always be me.
I vow to be first and forever Us.
Meteor shower, garden flower.

After Wedding Research on Pinterest

I am getting married in two weeks! I am so excited and thankful for the internet especially Pinterest, where I have captured beautiful images for months. This statue is very Olympia, Washington, my town. 


After Wedding Research on Pinterest

Suddenly we are not fifty
getting married for the second time,
fitting in wedding dress shopping between colonoscopies.

We are tulle in Telluride, boho in a botanical garden,
there are wildflowers in my golden not gray hair.
You are waiting for me in a waistcoat,
my waist is nipped, my dress easily zipped.
The aisle is a forest glen, I am on a strong steed.

I will change into a cocktail dress,
your groom’s men will roast us,
our parents are still all alive and will toast us.
First dances with fresh knees,
flat bellies with pregnant dreams.

We are in a tasseled tent,
in a boutique hotel in Paris,
in our bathroom sink, craft beers on ice,
in the ice, there are frozen violets.
The light in our bedroom
becomes little lanterns,
LED lights simulate fireflies.
Our sheets are silk, with the scroll of my fingers
it has taken no work.

Tonight, darling,
the cake didn’t settle, it didn’t rain.
There has never been an argument
we didn’t both win.

My handwritten vows are whispered into your skin. 

On Not Waiting For It

Lately, my creative juices have been channelled into creating my counseling practice which includes outfitting my office. It is small and the first room I have solely designed just for me. The walls are painted a color called Aviary Blue, there are twinkle lights and pillows with ruffles and some with sequins. In the afternoon the light comes through the pine trees outside the window and makes lace patterns on the ceiling. I miss poetry, it misses me. I forced this one. At last. 


On Not Waiting For It

This is the first time I have typed a poem
directly into my website page template.
There is usually a roughest draft
scratched in a journal or on a napkin,
the napkin taken from a glovebox,
then a rougher draft transcribed on my computer
which is brought into being by much
cutting and pasting,
some huffing and pacing. 

It has been a month since I WROTE a poem.
It has been an hour since I felt one,
mid summer walk, the earth scritchy
around me. There was a bunny that paused
in the middle of the trail like a runway model,
blackberries, lining the catwalk, offered applause.

The poet Michael Longley said he once waited
ten years to write a poem,
that he could have used a formula,
could have MADE it happen,
but it wouldn't have been poetry.
Perhaps it is the fault of his surname.

I have waited. 
Here's what came from it-
two babies thundering through my pelvis.
But two needed coaxing,
there was a point I had to bear down
when the cervix was not quite soft.

Sometimes our creative feats fall into the category
of taking out the garbage, to filling out loan applications.
Ideas accumulate like the recycling,
a fortified castle on the side of the house.

Sometimes our effort is imbued with duty and love. 
It is stroking my partner's forehead when I am tired,
but he is tireder.
It is making dinner from the dregs of the refrigerator
and ending up with handmade croutons.

Most of the time our greatest moments
are akin to plunging the clogged upstairs toilet. 
We don't want to, someone else should take care of it,
such courage, to do it anyway.


On Being Still Enough

There is enough time, there is enough money has been my mantra of late. Here a poem about enoughness :)


On Being Still Enough

My busy professor
said she missed her youth when she could let
the muse have her way with her.
Sometimes creation asks for
weeks, months, years,
or a lifetime, like from the poet e.e. cummings
who lived in a small studio and paid
minimal rent so he could write and paint.
But sometimes creation asks you
to become an insurance salesman
or teach others how to congeal inspiration.

I cannot tell you what I did with two decades,
there were lots of little people that needed me
to birth and nurse and rock and soothe them.
I had a camera that required real film,
from the photo store I’d pick up four by six prints,
stuffed in envelopes fat as sausages.
I collected fabric remnants for quilting
yet didn’t quilt.
Fat quarters they were called,
handkerchief size worlds I washed and ironed.
I miss ironing napkins,
life fell into place when crumbled squares
were so easily ordered.

I like to cook after working all day,
there is an exchange beyond
fire and steel, oil and heat,
flesh and flower.
Sometimes it is only quesadillas
but I might brown the chicken first.
In my spice drawer there is Everyday Seasoning,
whole chunks of spices,
aromatized with a simple twist of the wrist.
It is from the grocer Trader Joe’s,
Trader Joe’s was started in Monrovia, California,
the mixture is a product of South Africa.

Such a distance to my home in Washington state, America
for sea salt and mustard seeds, black peppercorns,
coriander, onion, garlic, paprika and chili pepper to travel.
It feels important to list the ingredients.
I only noticed when I had an unsubscribed hour
and found myself ordering the spice drawer.
There is so much wisdom on the little spice bottle,
a whole philosophy of living
bookshelves of self help tried to teach me.

Always replace cap!
Enhance with added zing!
Use it everyday on everything!
(and my favorite)
Avoid grinding over steaming pots!
(exclamations added).
This poem began with wanting enough,
enough quiet, spaciousness
enough noticing,
enough time for illuminating
and preserving,
enough understanding
and puzzling,
enough praising, ultimately.


Two poems in a row with selfies, making up for lost time :) 

IMG_5248 (1).jpg


I. Teenage Daughter
How dare you roll your eyes
if I bust a move to the radio
in the kitchen as I am cooking your dinner.
Who gives you the right to
comment on my gray hair
or the wrinkles on my hands.
I shouldn’t feel ashamed walking
through my own damn kitchen in a bathing suit.
I don’t deserve to be looked at askance
when making a wreath of
tinsel on my head at a recent birthday party.
I was a Saint Lucia on winter’s solstice
in Sweden with candles in my hair,
I was Lakshmi in India at the
Diwali festival of lights
bearing clay lit pots.
Lets talk after you push a few babies
out of your vagina,
I’ll consider cowing to you once your
toddler throws a tantrum in the grocery store,
once you wonder if you should still wear
a bikini because of your stretch marks
(you should).

II. Son
When my grown son
glanced at my phone I’d left
on the counter, the screen showed
a text to my honey that said,
I love your _ock
with emojis of an eggplant and a rooster.
He has no idea the courage
it took to use the C word,
(note, I can’t even use it here),
I didn’t want to make it worse
by qualifying my courage.
I remember laying awake
hearing my parents
alternatively fight and make up,
making love.
I both strained to listen
and wanted them to stop.

III. Almost Stepson
Due to a technology glitch,
for a few days my fiancé
and I unknowingly share texts
with my partner’s teenage son.
The youth reads  my words:
I am so fine to pick him up,
my hesitation was only because I want to
be naked in the house with you
and have my own teenage overwhelm.

The text was embellished with emojis
of an eggplant, a peach, a volcano.
To which my partner replied
I will put my eggplant in your peach and then volcano.
This almost stepson tells me about nudes
being passed around school
the way baseball cards used to be.
He isn’t phased, his feelings weren't hurt,
I am still blush/cringing.

IV. Dear New Reader
I didn’t want this to be the first poem
my two new subscribers read,
yet suspect they will be fine.
They are both artists and tender hearted.
This is the poem that has been
waiting to be written,
three weeks gestating.
It is clunky
and won’t fit in an anthology,
can’t be shortened for a billboard.
Life rarely enjoys such tidiness.
It has been said you should feel
embarrassed when making art.
A better way to say it is
you should be asundered
undered, wounded, wondered
when creating.
Then mended.

V. FaceBook
I am remembering my poems
are posted to my personal FaceBook page.
I sometimes decide certain ones
are not PG enough to be alongside
cats riding on vacuum cleaners
and Mother’s Day brunch pictures
and delete them as soon as they are published.
But lately I have heard
FaceBook was involved in swaying elections
and know they buy our metrics so we
can be targeted for advertising.
Then there are those pictures
you get tagged in by other people
when you have had one too many
or didn’t hold in your belly.
Yet, they look amazing.

Secret Garden

This photo is about five years old. I no longer have the purse, jacket, sweatshirt, necklace or blond hair. My love of gardens, my finding solace in beautiful blooming remains. 


Secret Garden

There is a wisteria bush on Portland Avenue,
sweet pea sister, snap dragon dalliance,
bumble bee Meetup, Victorian violet.
It must have been planted with hope,
from its size I imagine in the 70s,
large sunglasses and a head scarf.
The house is now nearly abandoned
with pulled ratty shades, peeling paint.
The soil is thin, the sidewalk, close.
The trash cans in the alley
clap their heavy lids in applause.

For several weeks now,
I step into the wisteria on my lunch hour,
my vertebrae plump,
nostrils nestle.
The blossoms hang the way grapes do,
as notes tumble from an oboe,
the blossoms are spaced like pearl buttons
down the back of a wedding dress.

On 64th there is a Golden Chain tree,
Wisteria’s twin flame,
opposite her on the color wheel,
similar in suppleness,
forearms of lacy lemon
as though they dropped a kerchief or glove.
It is exactly between two houses,
a ladder’s length.
I like to imagine the neighbors
are yearly united in its beauty,
that they toast one another
under it in springtime.

A therapist once said
they have only to decide one of two tasks,
to afflict the comfortable or comfort the afflicted.
I find each of us need both salvation and to salvage.
One of my therapy exercises is to lead
clients in a Safe Place exercise
where they imagine the sights,
smells and temperature,
the sounds of somewhere calming.

At first I hesitated to introduce such to adults,
but soon found they settled in their chairs
quicker than the children.
The women choose beaches,
meadows, flowers.
Men usually pick black places,
outer space, once a library.
It is always warm, there are usually stars.

Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day beautiful mommies!! 

deb photo red cap.jpg

Mother’s Day

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day
I have asked my children for a work party,
for Decisiveness, Art Direction.
The back deck to be readied for summer,
pots planted with flowers.

I have a stack of enlarged photographs
I have a stack of empty frames,
I have waited too long to fill and hang them.
My subjects are teenagers
and now prefer not to see themselves
with daisy chains in their hair,
posturing young bucks don’t want
to be reminded when they straddled
bikes with training wheels,
no matter how proud their expressions.
Because no 8 by 10 glossy could do justice,
I curated nothing.

I have compassion for their diffidence,
hated a family portrait taken when I was a teenager,
showing me chubby and in an awkward style phase,
some punk rock get up I couldn’t pull off.
But it was the only picture with all of us,
a complex step and combined second family,
even a horse, two dogs and a cat were captured and posed.
I still turn the fading photograph over
if a suitor and I visit my mother’s house.

Someone once told me she could never remember
her children’s childhoods once they were grown,
but they visited her in dreams.
This is the most terrifying truth I have realized.
The other night though,
my son was a baby again,
I was holding his small hands
as he learned to walk.

My mom can’t tell me stories of my early life,
she is apologetic when I ask for details.
I thought it was because she didn’t really love me,
but I know now those precious moments were springs,
you can’t exactly locate their origins,
but the soil was nourished nonetheless.
Despite offering my very cells, my youth,
decades of attention and attendance,
when my own children ask for the hour they are born,
I must peek at birth certificates,
yet the wanting I have for their happiness
is deeper than lineage,
it is the making of all myth and meaning.

I have a call out to my mother.
I love her voicemail message.
There is something sweet and settled in her voice
that wasn’t always there when I was young.
I have dialed her,
knowing she is out of town,
just to hear it. 


I hope this finds you pulling out your shorts and sandals, so close!



According to the package of Dove’s dark chocolate
easter eggs, there are six eggs in a serving.
220 calories, that’s 36.67 calories each.
If I want to lose 5 pounds
before a trip to Hawaii, which is in 5 weeks,
I need to lose a pound a week.
7 days in a week means,
I need to eat 500 calories less than I do now.
The equivalent of eating 13.63 less Doves,
one less pastry from Starbucks, one less tummy yummy,
many less moments of melting.

The dollars in my bank account
bring pleasure or panic.
As do running tabs of grocery bills and taxes,
And tracking time, lordy.
37 minutes to get to work on a good day,
a woman needs 25 minutes of foreplay to orgasm.
The average American has two per week.
If I am generous I’ll grant us all fifty years of sex,
5,200 O’s, both too much and too little.

How many beers on a week night?
Weekend? How many cigarettes per pack?
We bargain and batch it, track and patch it.
I allow two cups of earl gray tea, one of coffee
a diet soda every other day.
And wonder somedays, what if I did eat
chocolate, drank soda alllllllll day.

An medium lifespan is the US is 80 years,
42,048,000 minutes.
Andy Warhol, a pop artist, suggested we
all get 15 minutes of fame.
That’s .000036% of our lives.
My children have been famous to me for at least 15 years.
Spalding Gray, a famous writer,
hoped for 15 minutes of perfection during each vacation.

The chocolates are wrapped in lovely lavender foil.
I bite them in thirds, they are the size of a robin’s egg
or at least the robin’s egg in the fake nests at the
craft store, my only reference of late.
Divided and slowly sucked,
the chocolates take 5.36 minutes to eat.
4.23 minutes later I want another.
The average orgasm lasts, “if you are lucky” 20 seconds.
That is 26.8 orgasms per chocolate,
no wonder a ladies magazine article
said most women if given the choice prefer to have cocoa.
Harder to quantify intensity though,
and of course we must account for all that build up
and (hopefully) post coitus cuddling.

It is the perfect equinox of spring today,
a handoff in a relay race between
winter and summer, the baton securely thrust.
Clouds like breaching beluga whales swim among
blue sky the color of swimming pools spotted from the air.

I can’t say I’ve really given anything
my FULL attention for 15 minutes. 
Today, is a day worthy as any,
I tried for 15 seconds.
A bumblebee drunkedly buzzed me,
the hair on its body mascara black.
The outline of tree branches and tree trunks
were still visible, their skeletons like runway models,
whose new collection awaits eagerly in dressings rooms.
There blossoms on the trees
were orderly as beads on an abacus,
counting with the maples,
who chartreuse cheered the incoming leaves,
each tender as skin on your forearm.


It's been one of those weeks. This poem is a little hyperbolic, but shamefully true. They say if you aren't a little embarrassed, it isn't art! This photo was taken when I stayed at someone's guest home in New York, the furnishings harken  a much simpler time. 



I am not good in a pinch,
can’t work a winch.
I won’t keep watch,
have an itch in my crotch.
I am selfish, dramatic,
self-involved, anti-climactic.
I won’t go the distance,
won’t lobby for you,
campaign for you,
canvas for you,
rally, tally, cull or mull for you.

I hate standing around,
don't hold my ground,
just want to lay down,
often frown.
I rationalize it was meant to be
the kitty chose to get stuck in the tree.
Addicts, fools, flat tires,
I give you only my expire.
You don’t want me on your life boat,
I won’t scale your moat.

I prefer to watch
the grass grow, the cock crow,
the clouds blow.
I’m tanked, won’t be thanked.
It’s already been said,
I just want to go to bed.
I marvel at how they do it,
keep at it, work it,
fake and take and make it.
I look at cities and want to take a nap.
Snap! that’s not for me,
please lay me on your lap.

I am weary of the drama
the gossip, the hustle, the bustle.
I’m late with the rent,
my car has a dent,
I am spent, pent, sent.
I won’t woulda coulda
never shoulda.
It’s not my rhyme, not my jam
or jelly.

I am weak in the belly.
I’m over it, won’t cover it
not your alibi or shift.
I won’t catch your drift or story,
your sorry or worry.
Won’t feed your pets or
drive your kids,
right your wrongs,
clean your digs.
It was their time,
not on my dime.

My head’s in the sand,
I feel safer on land.
I am often tired, expired,
I don’t care enough,
am not tough.
Won’t keep vigil,
two strikes I am out,
was in the outfield,
picking daisies.

I am a little bit crazy, a lot hazy,
totally lazy.
Not a good problem solver,
don’t like to hover,
don’t see the point,
can’t rally to win, won’t play for gin,
martinis, too much for me,
dinner date, I’m often late.
I won’t answer the phone
if you call late at night.
Won’t join your fight,
your plight or blight.
I am consistent only in this,
I offer a kiss.

Little Secrets

My weekly poem has become a fortnight poem! I am sooo close to being done with my Master's program. Then I return to sanity and schedules :)


Little Secrets

I am sitting on a cloth bench at Starbucks.
It was warm from the previous patron
who just moved to a leather armchair.
Moments ago, there weren’t any open tables
and I was uncomfortable in the draft of the front door
at a long high table with high stools,
which did not provide the
ergonomic angles you are supposed to have
when typing on a computer.

I’d waited all week for this pause
to write a poem with warmed pumpkin bread,
a decaf Americano with raw sugar
and a shotglass of cream,
but not perching, not in the cold,
not with my elbows in my armpits.

I so appreciated the warmth
my cold ass immediately soaked up,
the warm ass of someone I didn’t know.
It felt slightly gross,
it felt like a gift.
I will give him an extra smile on my way out.

My my (not only my) little my secret,
how I got a warmed bench
the end table that I love,
farthest away from the front (always opening) door?

I asked.

The Universe is a curio shop
stumbled into on our inter galactic travels,
a flea market on a warm Saturday morning.
Angels are picking their noses,
we can’t help if no one asks
they complain to their supervisor.
Fairies too have quotas.

I ask for cars.
I ask for schedules to change,
people to cancel, texts to be answered,
for swaths of sleep, for compassion.
Posed in the sweetest, most barely a query,
it would be so wonderful, no worries,
if you’re not busy and it would be fun...

My second secret?

I say thank you.
Thank you to the sporty red car called Ruby
my sister offered,
out of the blue?
rather out of the blah,
out of the belief of impossibility.
She texted me a picture of it a few days after I thought,
shoot we need another car.
But wait, it gets better.
I wanted a Toyota because they run forever.
Ruby is a Pontiac Vibe.
But wait.
With a Toyota engine.

Gratitude when I am overwhelmed
and a teenager offers to pick up his younger brother,
Gracias ex husband who left leftovers
when I came home too tired to cook.

The third secret is the ringer, the ransom, the reason.
I say thank you
for the things I don’t want.
You should have, to the ice storm that shut down the town,
Yes really, to the plane delay, tree falling, lost wallet,
you are most kind, to even, even, even death.

Much obliged, difficult son who made me a better therapist
when difficult children come in my office.
Praise, today, to my sore knee
for making me slow down and help the woman
ahead of me who struggled
opening the heavy glass door. 

Late Spring

Today it is 50 degrees! I peeled off a layer of wool! Another poem that mentions sex! What is spring if not about sex!


Late Spring

I had almost given up on
leaves and blossoms
and the color called blue.

The world had been swaddled,
rain clouds, snow clouds, clouds of emotion,
scud, if that’s a word,
batting and heft.

Then yesterday, nondescript
eruptions on
a nondescript tree.
They were the dirty train of a wedding dress,
they were the accumulation of
tissues from this year’s flu season.

Then yesterday there were
purple corsages emerging from beauty bark,
fake almost, like an Easter centerpiece
someone forgot to take down.

It is almost easier to not want things
to let the callouses form,
to be cataracted.
Now I am bracing myself
for fuschia, I cite it in all my poems
about spring.
Any day now.

It is the way love sometimes comes
when you’ve (not quite) given up looking.
Or when you haven’t had sex in a while
and then do and suddenly it’s all you want.
Spring is like an orgasm,
some seasons are slow to begin,
some sputter,
some start early and keep going.

Spring and sex are fireworks.
So many moments and nuances,
starts and stops
so many different kinds,
the male orgasm from bottle rockets to roman candles.
I always liked the ones called ground bloom flowers.

They are compact, packed tight
like a lipstick tube with a fuse,
like the trees now, steadying for beauty,
like the branches, their tips dipped
in mystery.

Once lit, the ground bloom flowers spin,
gasp and sputter on the earth,
they linger in the air in colored smoke.
The way summer whispers
of what came before remembering
bright exploding petals,
the way lovers lay together after,
just breathing. 

Grocery, Found Poems


Grocery, Found Poems

I. List
I totally forgot to write a poem yesterday.
Some days I wonder why I ask things of myself,
drinking a glass of water as soon as I rise,
picking up classical guitar even though I
often dread practicing,
writing a poem once a week when everyone
else in my household is binge watching Netflix.
Bribes help, tea and chocolate chips by the keyboard,
kombucha and cheese puffs between scales.

There were ideas,
notes scrawled over the mundane to dos
on week Jan 22-28 in my day timer while I drove.
Poems titled Loaded, Spent, Sorry
(in no particular order)
(it had been a challenging week).
Yet they were beat out
when I grocery shopped and found a discarded list in the grocery cart.

(An assumed) mom’s handwriting was on the left,
a meal plan up top, thai peanut, burritos, chicken casserole.
Below were the ingredients, 
world’s of possibilities, every continent and cuisine,
onions, tofu, milk, mushrooms,
apples, bread, lettuce, stew meat.

On the right in two different handwritings,
written most likely by her daughters,
was the fun stuff - pizza, cookies, ice cream,
jelly, crackers, shredded cheese,
string cheese, juice, pickles.
Each female had a section neatly marked off,
an arena for work and two pastures for pleasure!
I am soothed to know this threesome existed,
that their pantry was stocked, their larder large.

I wondered if a man benefitted from their generosity.
The note was written on a pad from Columbia Forest Products,
the kind of pad a foreman might have.
It could have been hers! But I am of THAT generation.
I was impressed their home needed no sundries,
no toilet paper or shaving cream,
no tampons or dish soap this week!

The note was remarkable enough,
yet on the back of the note written in the
way of swirly pre-teenager’s
the following, song lyrics? a young Walt Whitman?
(does THIS generation know who that is?!)
an early accolade of poetry?

Never enough for me!
for me!
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make!
Ok! This is the greatest show!

II. Pasta Sauce
I had to share my spoils and showed
the lady behind me, look at this sweet list!
She was loading a dozen cans
of whole tomatoes and explained
she gets together with a friend and makes meat
sauce which she freezes and also gives away.

She wore a pink baseball cap and had lovely eyes.
She told me about her meat sauce origins,
that when she first went into foster care
she was in eighth grade and her foster mom
insisted on help with dinner, she was given a budget
and had to shop for ingredients,
the boys had to cook too, but were allowed simple
dishes like hot dogs, not her!

She was so helped by her foster mom
she dedicated her life to kids that age
and became a middle school science teacher
who just retired after thirty years of teaching.
Good god woman! I thought,
reflecting on the conversations
with my middle schoolers about science and teachers.
I mentioned my foster girl,
and she said, “Whatever you do, keep following your heart.”
I wished I’d asked if she had her own children
I wish my own children could have been in her class.

III. My Son is Supposed to Write a Poem in the Style of Walt Whitman

He is instructed to stand on a street corner
as Whitman did in New York in the 1800s singing about bodies electric.
I wonder what Walt would expound at the
intersection in a busy suburb in post modern America.
No butchers slinging sides of beef in full view,
no fish monger unloading boats
the egg lady now does data entry,
there are not horses tethered to hitching posts
while their riders visit the cobbler or candlestick maker.

This will not be another poem nostalgic for the past.
I love gliding my Prius into a parking spot.
I reap gas rewards when I buy just cut daffodils
offered in the entry next to rotisserie chickens.
There are twenty kinds of dark chocolate
and berries in December,
liquor and cigarettes beckon from behind locked cabinets.
My mantra while I shop,
you are deserving, you are deserving.
Walt Whitman finished his Leaves of Grass
in his sixties! He was a late bloomer!
Today he’d sing of electric can openers, ball point pens,
shredded cheese, foster care, our society, our humanity
our evolve-ity, our advance-ity! still blossoming! 

Foreplay, Year Eight

Happy Belated Valentine's Day! I always celebrate when trees grow together, like these Madrones.


Foreplay, Year Eight

It takes us a while sometimes,
there are the kids to talk about,
the mortgage due,
damned games like Words with Friends
on our cell phones.
Us becoming one of those couples.

Sometimes there are places other than genitalia,
that demand exploring,
Bendy places in me and Hollow places in you.
Like the other night when I was on top of you
and suddenly seized with shame.

Eight years in foreplay looks like healing.
I am shy sometimes and afraid often.
But wasn’t recently when I felt sexy
and took off my top while cooking dinner.
I pushed out my tummy and showed you.
You said I was sexy
but also “we should lose weight.”
It took me a week to tell you that hurt.
it took me going numb while laying on you.

Eight years in, foreplay sounds like laughter,
like ours when I told you in a mock deep voice,
tell me to get my ass to the bathroom
and wash up because you want to make love to me.

Eight years in foreplay is patterns
and assumptions and routines and regularity.
It is me knowing if I want it, I just need
to turn away from you and press into you
and twitch my bottom like a randy baboon.

Foreplay eight years in is occasionally
wanting you to rub me slowly, differently.
Sometimes it is not asking
and loving what you are offering,
trusting you know what I like.
Sometimes I work up the courage to ask you.
Foreplay eight years in,
is often you knowing me so well,
I don’t have to ask. 

On Corduroy

Valentine's poem coming next week! Hope you survived the super bloody blue moon. My dear friend Rain just called it the "cry of the heart" moon. Bring it. 


On Corduroy

This poem is dedicated to a stranger at Starbucks
who this morning as I stood at the coffee condiment bar
and added half and half to my Americano,
said, “Corduroys, you don’t see those much anymore.”

I glanced down at my brick red cords, slightly bell bottomed
pincord they might be classified, 
I didn't tell him I chose them as I was bleeding
but did accept the invitation for conversation.

Wide wale...
He remarked on how much warmer cords were
and how for men they are no longer in style.
We commiserated about the 90’s,
missing pleated corduroy trousers
and blazers even, those with elbow patches.

Channel and cuff...
I pointed out my wool sweater,
and he said he used to buy cashmere at Nordstrom’s.
When he accidentally shrank his sweaters in the wash
he would donate them at his old church down south,
the girls would take and wear them.
Apparently around here the girls are snooty
and say “we don’t want your old clothes.”

Ridged form of velvet...
He was a little more tailored than I,
wearing designer but understated jeans,
nice black leather boots,
he was well groomed and I imagined nice smelling.
Size XL because of his wide chest,
his cashmere must be a ladies' medium when laundered.
The fibers perfectly felted,
against bare skin, like a hug.


Hope this isn't too far out there! Next week, love poems!



I haven’t been able to spell it,
I keep writing scracthy
scrac thy
I have decided to leave the ytypos in thes
To see what happens,
magic can,
when we let ourselve
make mistakes,
(and perhaps it is too early in the morning to write boems).

Scrathcy is one of those words that sounds
like its meaning, onomatopoeia.
We learned aobut it in grade school,
second grade, a year of buzz, hiss and chirp.

Scratchy has all those consonants,
six or seven depending on how you feel about the letter y......
There is a name for such a phenomena, consonant clusters!
as in catchphrase, latchstring, lengthsman!

I know a man who is losing his hearing
with tears in his eyes he told me he can’t understand
consonants anymore.
(I acutally jjust wrote with teats in his eyes)
He’d love that, he loves women!
He also loves words,
loves storytelling
loves hearing.
He is also scratchy,
because he is homeless.

Scratchy beard and red eyes, scratched tent,
tree branch tear in the last storm.
He hasn’t always been, he describes a little cabin
in Oregon near the beach, he made beach art,
out of sanded driftwood and found glass orbs,
round and smooth as vowels, consonance.

There are a lot of synonyms fro scrathcy
from severe to strident,
from caterwauling to coarse.
I don’t know what caterwauling means.
I can’t even guess!
Some things are better not to google,
I’ll let it be one of those.
I am goingt o use it the next time
my teenager rolls (at first I typed roles)
his eyes at me.
Stop caterwauling!

Because it is February,
I started out this peom wanting to write about sweaters,
cashmere is usually too soft,
I like wool, but merino.
Just scritchy enough when I swear (I mean to write sweat)
it prickles the right amount.
I like pretzels rods,
encrusted salt on cabled crunch.
I suck them until they soften,
swallow the soft pretzel marrow.

There are lots of itches to ignore
from curiosities to addictions,
such as asking my partner “was she better in bed than me?”
I am not good at shoulds and ask everytime.

There are two lies in this poem.
I didn’t leave every typo, only those that serve
and I could’t resist the online dictionary...
Caterwaul means to howl, wail, bawl, cry, yell, scream, screech, yowl, ululate
as in "we could hear those felines caterwauling all night.”
Uluate, now there is a new one,
for that, I’ll wonder.