On Being Still Enough

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

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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.

Awkward

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

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Awkward

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.
Awkward?
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. 

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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
reach
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!! 

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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.

And
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. 

Counting

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

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Counting

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,
blasted,
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.

Softie

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. 

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Softie


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.
Come,
sit.

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 :)

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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!

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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

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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.

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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. 

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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.”

Ribbed...
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.

Scratchy

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

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Scratchy


I haven’t been able to spell it,
I keep writing scracthy
scrac thy
I have decided to leave the ytypos in thes
poem.
To see what happens,
magic can,
when we let ourselve
s
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.

Touched, An Intake

I don't remember where I found this art, it was in a hospital I believe. I hate to not give credit where it is more than do. This is how I hope to paint someday. 

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Touched, An Intake


Can you be undone by a white embroidered curtain?

Have you fallen into an abyss when your beloved turns from you?

Is everyone you meet sage or mystic?

Does the moon serenade you?
Is night often a dirge rather than a daydream?

Do you have cases of books, collections, recollections,
a case of too muchness?

Were there too many kisses, glasses of wine?
Too often, too late, too early, gluttonous, ravenous, rabid, now. 

Is life All or nothing, is the All every facet of amethyst,
would the Nothing be liberation?

Do you picture everyone in the throes of lovemaking?
Are there not enough hours, no room for another silk garment? 

Do stanzas or songs come too quickly,
pink petals swirling in spring breezes?

Have you ever died hearing a trumpet solo?
Whimper, moan, yodel, howl?

Do you pray someday you will paint,
how desperately you hope to paint.

Narcissus, January

I think I've used this picture before. It's worth a double dip. Central Park in NYC!
Spring, oh spring, I am ready for you!

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Narcissus, January


There is ice on the roads some mornings,
just a little, enough to be careful.
I love the return to normalcy after the holidays,
take tea on the drive to work,
don't worry about shopping after,
not making things happen.

I love the day after New Year’s
when I sweep the house of red,
love having white paper narcissus forced to bloom
in a ceramic bowl in the entry.

For several years, a friend gifted them,
she’d thrift shop for interesting crockery,
she’d tie a golden ribbon around the bulbs
which begin ugly as onions.
I’d keep them near the sink
so to remember to water them.
Once little blanched nubs emerged,
paintbrushes without paint,
I’d relocate them. Front hallway harkening.

My friend used to be a practicing doctor
and hasn’t worked in years to care for her children and ailing father.
The presents were perhaps a last stand for her,
a few moments stolen in the dishware aisle at Goodwill,
the flowers, dry lockets
chosen at the nursery from a wooden bin,
ancient ritual of hope.

It has been a few years since I received narcissus,
it tells me her responsibilities have increased.
My friend called this Christmas
and I let it go to voicemail, in my own version of caregiving,
I was too busy to answer.

I miss having them now, the long straw stems
which list toward the light,
the roots, little rafts of dendrites.
The blossoms themselves,
as alien as packages wrapped in metallic paper.
Where does the green emerge from
and the little sparkles on the little petals,
what about the yellow?
These gray days, I crave it especially,
delivered in canary coronas.
And their fragrance, I haven’t mentioned the smell.
I’ve always felt sorry for people who hate it. 

Year of the Root

I have been writing weekly poems for almost nine years. In this format, on this website, for five. For five years I have (mostly) considered this weekly poem with the utmost of respect, staying up late to finish a poem, scheduling my writing around when I could get to it. When I started graduate school to become a therapist, I suddenly was busier. The poem seemed less relevant at first. The more I sit with people in therapy sessions, however, the more tenderly I regard this little island of thought and reflection. I have collected these weekly poems in books and am working on the fifth one. I originally saw a series of ten. I am at 13.1 miles in the marathon of my Year of series, working out the kinks, which day is most possible to publish. I needed a break to not write poems for a month, although poems still presented themselves :) My weekly poem has migrated and settled from Wednesdays to Fridays. I love it still. I love that you still read them. Here's to 2017! Here's to 2018! 

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Year of the Root


I wanted to call this book year of the horse
but truth be told, I don’t like horses.
Their grace and strength are mythical,
their beauty unending,
but they terrify me,
that much weight should not be housed above
so such nerve,
a savannah of scare,
festival of flinch.

I’ve been startling my whole life.

It is good to have working titles,
Year of the Course,
Year of the Norse,
Year of Source
would also have done nicely,
given I went back to school,
& love a man who loves snow
& finally found a deep reservoir
b
e
l
o
w
wanting.
Is that groundedness?
It is squishy and warm,
a mud bath at a resort where
they offer big fluffy white robes,
dried fruit and nuts are provided in little bowls,
glass cisterns glisten with cucumbered water.

Roots are deceiving,
like glacier ponds and introverts,
not much happens topside.
Rye grass’s feelers extend 378 miles.
There is a colony of quaking aspen called Pando
which is the heaviest and oldest living known organism
boasting one massive root system.
I believe people have one massive root system.
In therapy we call it The Field,
as in there is anxiety in the field.

Back to horses.
I had them once, one twig snap and our patient mare
galloped away with my six year old daughter,
my horse bolted as well and I fell off, 

peed my pants running after them.
It was a hot day, my heart, the muscles hurt for weeks.
My girl was found by a neighbor under a tree,
alive but dazed, our horse grazing nearby.
I don’t deserve horses, not to be on their backs,
I am too nervous, too flighty, they must hate my quaking hand.

Back to therapy.
I became a therapist this year.
I spend my day communicating to the herd,
you are safe now.
I have a pillow with sequins on it,
people like to smooth the shiny circles one way and then the other.
I have bamboo which has been shaped into loops,
some are concerned how it is watered.
One client didn’t notice a wall size tapestry until I mentioned it,
another comments on a small sticker behind my desk.

In my own therapy sessions
I am encouraged to simply feel my feelings.
Not where did the anger come from, not was it your childhood,
sometimes those themes emerge,
but more I am told let yourself be angry.
My therapist has a recliner and a blanket and stuffed animals.
He told me to buy myself a teddy bear as I like to pat its beary bottom
and move its teddy limbs
the way I’ve seen Indian women massage their babies.
The way my middle son needed his legs rocked after nursing
because he had a hard tight stomach.
So many of us have hard tight stomachs.
When I am happy and during particular orgasms,
I feel warmth in my feet, Melting.
This is my practice, to melt.

When I first became a therapist I tried to hold onto myself.
If a client didn’t show up, I took out my journal.
I didn’t schmooze with staff,
I didn’t join the monthly potlucks because I was bored
listening to other therapists commune about movies or television.
I still don’t care for what they talk about,
Crossfit exercise routines and commutes, but I sit there now,
on the banks of something I have wanted forever,
putting my toes in the human race river.
It is too cold sometimes, it often moves too fast.
It is also glacial and refreshing,
there are dragonflies and cottonwoods.

I like to think of the skin of the earth, of topsoil and its fauna.
I like to imagine people, the same way I behold ants and ant colonies,
I like to remember the bugs and beasts of this planet
don’t hurt one another meaninglessly.

I teach my clients they cannot pay attention
to more than three sensations,
when a panic attack is cresting to notice sight, sound, skin.
The clock is ticking, the chair is hard,
the car’s brake lights ahead of me are red.
Since we can’t pay attention to several things at once,
it is important to choose wisely.
They wronged me, they hate me, I will never
are not the best affirmations.
The apple is green, my arm is soft, I like the trumpet in that song on the radio.
It is important to swell our playlists with memory as well,
to have wave upon shore, birdsong, cello, a little bass,
to know the magic of the color between orange and red.

I don’t have answers for my religious clients who feel safe enough
while holding my sequined pillow, to ask, if there is a God
how did he make them get in cars with their mother’s drug dealers.
I feel my feet and encourage them to feel theirs,
I teach them to put experiences in bubbles and float them away.
I teach them about cords of energy between people and pasts and to reconfigure.
Some are barbed wire, some are sticky black licorice,
sweet but also pungent, some are handcuffs, chain link.
In session we cut them, we use jaws of life.
Others need more flex, as for our teenagers,
from umbilical to bungee cords.
For loved ones often the bonds need to breathe and be permeable,
like roots, curving around stony obstacles.
Roots remind us to take in nourishment,
we must remember it is with out and within us. 

Fiftieth Birthday Poem

My weekly poem has become bi-weekly at best. I'll reign it in, but am allowing myself its natural flow. The little dog in this selfie is mentioned in the poem below. The bolts coming out of his head was from a backlit tree in a grocery store parking lot. I like to pretend it was lightning :) 

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Fiftieth Birthday Poem

I meant to write Here at midlife,
but I first wrote,
Hera at midlife.
Ooooops.
Hera, Goddess of all Olympus,
Protector of Peacocks, irrational in judgement.
Verdant eyed, twitching incandescent tail.
I am getting married this year to my own personal Zeus.
I will wear a dress of ivory silk
that shows my shoulders.
I have learned we don’t change so much,
best to find the super power in each neurosis.
My dragons, Jealousy and Anxiety, have a plush lair,
diamond encrusted food bowls, fluffy pillows,
I am finally honoring them for keeping me safe.

Jealousy can be a woodpecker
and you a pock marked stump.
I prefer considering those maps given for free in tourist towns,
imagine our wishes are little destinations to point in the direction of.
I am jealous of people with lake houses,
those who play music and can harmonize,
I want a certain Peace.
I still girlwatch women with long legs and thick hair.
All of the above save the last two
I have some agency about.
A guitar hangs on the wall,
a paddleboard is prone in the garage,
they whisper use me.

I am crushing it!

is my new motto,
Grinding cracked pepper, tossing parmesan sprinkles,
accenting mundane and monumental moments.
Crushing
skinny jeans (I’d like to think)
choosing my battles with teenagers,
simplifying,
an internship at 50.
My supervisor, who could be my daughter,
smiles so sweetly when I f’up.
Recently in a funk,
I looked for solace on my bookshelf,
the only worthy title was by a woman
who became a monk after raising her family,
shaven head, saffron robe.
I long for her Crush, but not yet.
For the first time in decades, I am a 9 to 5'er.
I have an office and commute.
Power walking at lunch, past homeless men on street corners,
I pass secretaries in skirts and tennis shoes.

I bled for a month and then not for two.
Peri menopause? Maybe.
Peri scope, definitely.
Tunnel vision, blinders on.
Fifty is a fulcrum,
little triangle wedge between before and after.
Until now I have been a gatherer.
It took my teens, twenties, thirties, forties
to assemble a ME, concoct a self,
such a fine nest I feathered.
Now I am poised at its edge
sniffing the air for salt.
I love the gestures of life,
mudra and mantra.
Imagine a come hither made with the arms,
the way you might guide in a jet plane on the tarmac.
It has just reversed and is now a waterwheel,
I am ready to dip again and again into rivers, ready to grind grain.
Crone energy has arrived, a give instead of get.

Mid-life Crisis = My Forties.
The word crisis means to sieve,
discriminate, determine.
Colander your choices,
cheesecloth those chances.
Grief, gratitude, patience and pause
are powdered sugar. Life is a bundt cake,
dense and circular, with ridges and dips.
If I was to embroider, I would stitch
This too shall pass, surrounded by laurel leaves.
So much has,
three children out of the house, one engaged!
Them growing up is like making peace with
an auto-immune disease. Flare and remission.
I watch them travel, partner, move, visit,
choose and not choose to spend time with me.

Parachute.
Between my own brood and therapy clients
I have a baker’s dozen of teenagers in my life.
They listen to music about suicide and getting down at the club,
driving too quickly down country lanes and hand rolling cigarettes,
of first kisses and bonfires on the beach,
songs titled Castle on the Hill,
My Sweet Summer, Spread too Thin, And We Danced.

Life reviews are best offered by another.
Mine was facilitated by my almost-stepson’s playlist.
On my birthday while laying down between dinner and apple pie,
I listened to his music.
I wore a soft salmon colored t-shirt,
my caramel colored blanket was made of bamboo,
the bedside lamp glowed golden.
I was a paper lantern lit from within,
floating up and over my half century,
crying lilac tears, jade tears, tears of flower petals and stone.
A little dog I have grown to adore came in and out
of the bedroom, checking on me,
his toenails, little upticks on the wood floor.

I cried because so many young people I love are on the cusp.
Of mystery, Of pleasure, Of pain,
their muscles flexed for transcendence, for beauty,
they want to sprout wings and fly around the sun.
I still have their yearning, my Pegasus still strains at the gate.
At fifty, ecstasy looks more like dressage,
like prancing, like tango,
all that power contained and channelled.
Still, here, yes, yes, yes
now more than ever. 

Therapist's Lunch Hour

Oh I skipped posting, two weeks. I haven't done that in yearssss. But I have before and I came back. It was heaven. Here is what I also allowed myself: to put on pajamas at seven pm, transition to my new job, practice guitar only when I felt like it, drink diet Coke, get the kids dinner from the taco truck. Oh and I cried and admitted I am afraid and a loser. So wonderful to lose it. 

Therapist’s Lunch Hour

Because I work in a busy underfunded agency,
I spend the first half of my lunch writing progress notes
that I am supposed to finish while in session (52 minutes)
something called concurrent documentation,
something I will probably never master (ever).
Because when I am supposed to be filling in the box
called Progress and someone tells me they have
contacted an estranged child or stayed sober this week,
I do not want the computer screen swallowing my kudos.
When I ask “and Challenges?”
I do not want them speaking to my turned head
as they tell me they are now homeless or they found out
their sixteen year old daughter is FaceTiming pimps.

I am eating turkey soup (salty)
and just inhaled a corn kernel into my lung
then drooled on my journal where I am writing.
I am writing to remember I have my own life
which is true AND an illusion (mostly).
I make a note to buy a requested Tootsie roll lollipop for a client.
He is five and his eyes are every color of mossy stone.
For a while he believes a purse in the shape of a fish is magic
and if he writes his feelings (unwanted)
the fish will take away the feeling and leave candy.
Last week it was MAD written in orange with stripes (tiger).
This week it is sad penned in blue with tears (three).

The fish purse, purchased at Goodwill,
is mostly red, with scales of different scraps of fabric,
handmade. I love considering the person
who created it and how pleased they might be
to know it is now a receptacle for healing.
One day the little boy tells me he has figured
out the fish isn’t real and it is me placing treats.
I don’t admit it, nor will I ever,
because we all must have magic helpers.
Go to’s like friends or therapists who wade with us in turbid waters,
paper that records scared scrawling,
walking, (dear clients, you must move)
sweets like tootsie pops
(even now, I like the orange ones)
and prayer (sometimes to mossy stones).

On Perfecting My Pie Crust

Thanksgiving is coming and my family is quite attached to pie. I am really am grateful pie crust no longer alludes me :) This bakery perfection was at the Bread Peddler in Olympia Washington, how excited I was to learn the powdered sugar is sprinkled over a lace template. I felt a similar thrill when I learned sauces are artfully applied using squeezable ketchup-like bottles. It assures me I am not the only one seeking shortcuts. 

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On Perfecting My Pie Crust


I winced before my mince,
I snapped because of apple,
I was not merry for the berry.
It might seem like a small thing,
but each time I made a pie crust,
I resented it.
I resisted, I protested.
I am embarrassed to pen this poem
but I must...
woe was me.
But now
flow is me,
wow is me.
(I had of all things,
resorted
to buying pre-made).

(And if I hadn’t stooped, it
never would have happened).
A Pillsbury beatitude,
a pastry benevolence.
A revelation to cut the butter
into the flour with the Cuisinart.
Magic to refrigerate the dough.
Like some big conglomerate,
I too rolled between wax paper,
I also had no flour gunk on the counter.
No gummy rolling pin.
No ripping when I tried to lift with the spatula.

Such accomplishment to
peel one side and have the crust
lay securely in the pie plate!
Such mastery to slip the second sheet off!
Cooking shows are launched with as much!
Culinary careers began with less!

Really.
It was epic.
It came at a time when things felt hard.
Sweet rhubarb,
sometimes we aren’t ready to give up,
but we need a little easy. 

My Son Asks What a Maxi-pad Is

Another late poem, another poem about men/boys. Today at my house there were seven male teenagers playing air soft guns, while a few more watched the football game on the television. Go men! Go women! 

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My Son Asks What a Maxi-pad Is


Bravo! I say when my middle school son regards the plump package
of overnights with wings on the counter
and is able to describe how pads
are both similar and different than diapers and band aids
to his little brother who suggested
I just go to the bathroom when I am bleeding.

The bro in the know adds, it’s not like peeing,
“and she’ll be crazy for days before.”
The feminist in me wants to refute him,
but it is true, premenstrual, I pick a fight with my lover,
bemoan my calling as I writer,
I tell these boys to pick up their socks with added fervor,
slam instead of place dirty dishes in the sink.

I laud my elder son’s knowledge,
garnered from health class, am touched by his sensitivity,
already aware of not only females’ bodies, but their burdens as well.
What a good partner he’ll be!
Buying Tampax and ice cream at midnight!
Rubbing her aching feet and lower back!

I think of my grown boys, men who do all the above,
who refer to their partner’s menses as “her moon"
and cancel dinner plans when their sweeties are cramping.
Ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and cervix, milk ducts
are balanced by compassion. Understanding is ballast
mooring the simpler hardware of testicles, penis and prostrate.

When I tell the youngest brother
I would be in the bathroom for three or four days
if I didn’t wear a pad, that bleeding is a slow trickle,
a steady unscripted flow,
he announces when his future girlfriend has her period,
he’ll just skip the whole thing,
“I’ll go do stuff” he insists.
“You’ll go do stuff for almost a week” I challenge.
Yes he answers and I don’t argue,
envious that in reality he could.

I hope he falls in love with someone
with endometriosis, may she have monthly migraines.
May they suffer infertility,
he'll have his sperm counted and concentrated,
pray for her ovulation,
track his woman's temperature, her mucus, her moods,
may they conceive a child,
just one, precious, a daughter.

An Open Poem to My Daughter's Guy Friends Who Google My Poetry Site

I seem to have settled into Fridays for poems! Here an advice poem, for teenage boys, no less. 

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An Open Poem to My Daughter’s Guy Friends Who Googled My Poetry Site


I suspect it was a way to pass time
during a boring elective class,
but I was honored when you asked,
Isn’t your mom a poet?
and then searched to see my content.
I wish I had the forethought
to have a poem in bold letters,
TO HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR GUYS
that may have gotten your attention.
My daughter has shared a tiny bit about your lives,
knowing I am passionate about Teens and Feelings.
I hope my liberty here only emboldens you.

First off:
Cultivate your spirit.
Here, a boost condensed from the book,
The Four Agreements:
1. do your best
2. tell the truth
3. don’t take things personally
4. don’t make assumptions
The last two are basically the same,
rephrased for emphasis, in short,
if someone rejects you, it’s not about you.

About the Friend Zone:
Much to his frustration, my current squeeze was
every girls’ pal in high school.
Now in his late-forties,
he wears a wedding ring to keep women at bay.
Nice guys don’t finish last,
they just finish a little later.
When you do get lucky,
have sex slowly, ask ask ask
and ask again, is this ok? are you ready?
How can I? what would you? like? like? like?

On Role Models:
Don’t let your disappointment in adults distract you.
If those close to you are slumped
in front of the television with a six pack every evening,
thank them for your desire to do a 180.
My father committed suicide when I was thirteen,
although I mourn his death, the rent in my heart
has given me one of my greatest gifts, compassion.

You must:
Find things you are passionate about
whether music, photography, G-spots.
Exercise almost everyday.
Be in nature and read books.
Find your center, literally in your body,
don’t be just a penis and a brain,
know your heart, your diaphragm,
metatarsals, lungs.

Please:
Don’t let anger be your endgame.
If someone has a criticism about you,
dissect it, massage and own it.
Your script:
Oh dude (or babe or mom)..
I see how you could feel that way,
I am working on that
(or going to..)
what could I do right now that would
make it better?


Finally:
Talk, share, talk, listen,
talk much more than you want to,
share about your shame,
talk about your fear, your wanting,
listen without needing to fix, change, own it.