Saturday, December 28, 2013

Expect the unexpected...

Expect the unexpected, or
it can tax your resolve
when you have to change gears
to think everything you hoped for
got cancelled
to its fulfillment.

There was always just a small chance
that by the actions of
and circumstances
and infinite variations
could have aborted every
single wish you willed into being.

We're just random forms
swimming in medium whose elements are
mostly unknown, though we have made
charts of some
and  potions of their variations.

We are variations of variations of infinite randomness
a drop of rain hitting the windshield before
other drops smudge it to a poultice.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Counting Back

We can count up
to something we anticipate
becoming more certain
with each telling
of those angles
and bluffs
to be navigated
in the dark
and with each counting
we grow in
confidence at the
veracity of each marker.

counting back
to that road full of
potholes and difficult lighting
counting back
verifies the story
even if we missed many markers
even if we ended up at the other
side of the globe.

Like watching a new life
struggle to assert itself to the full light of day
to the full approval of his
elders who have thought of all that could
happen that
didn't happen
all that was feared
that didn't amount to much.

Counting back shines
new light on the moment
puts a frame on the painting
and is now ready to be displayed
and give hope to new voyagers.

Monday, December 9, 2013


I need to be
and however
the thought of that moment surfaces to
unplug my tear ducts
and become ripples of sorrow
tears of regret, until
the soul reaches the
edge of
a brief
the hint of an acceptance.

The trauma of the minute
repeats itself. My throat tightens
pins me between the eyes
all thoughts
disturbs all rhythms.

And the clock stops.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Find me.

She waits for her father to come home
eager to trot away
and play hide and
seek, giggling
and falling
before she
reaches her hiding spot,
getting up and
running away
her favorite game to play
when  daddy is home.
Daddy, come and find me,
the last words he remembers.

She hopes he will never stop looking for her.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Spawning dreams.

These rhythms and
rocks are self evident, been here before any of us remember.
But these grasses came as migratory winds of life, with our plows and our boats.
And groves? The old ones became fences and houses; shelter,fuel and boats to survive on these shores.

All compliantly working together now, trees and rocks and grasses, and
a super-ordinary channel
built to contain the enthusiastic orgy of
winter rains and ocean tides
determined to regulate time and space, runoffs and upsurges
to spare property damage and maybe, as good measure,
lure ocean-fatted fish pre-disposed to spawn on these rocky

This is the rhythm of modern Adams and Eves
mediated, medicated, articulated in visionary terms
like advertising slogans;
wild species all
contained in channels built by corporate dreams
translated for public consumption
dressed in comfort and joy
from January to December
from sea to shining sea
importing grasses and dog food from cheaper shores.

And the fish? They swim in and out of this channel, until tired and old
and longing for rest and validation
after a lifetime of
mutations and escape games
mastered on foreign soils. Then,
craving those old
smells and tastes of youthful vigor
they return to spawn their last dream on these shores.

By the time we return to  our cradles
to the apple pie and Mother's sauce
we're too blind  to notice how many trees were felled for our comfort
how many rivers dammed to feed our cattle.
Like the salmon, we'll swim upstream to keep our dream,
to be counted among the species living on these blessed shores.

(Still in progress...

Thursday, November 14, 2013


When I  stepped on sand and made my way
lightly down the shoreline
avoiding the rushing
and occasional carcasses of  beached animal
gingerly holding
the enormity
of the element that sorrounded me
lulled into forgetfulness
by the wind and the sound
and the smell of ocean,
I could have accepted death with joy
if not for the hand that held the camera that day.

Friday, November 8, 2013

You need to see the colors of their eyes.

Freedom Hall, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

In pews arranged in a square
neighbors face each other
all smelling of the day's hard work
and last meal.
father, brother
waiting to respond.

Newcomers all, they
agree on only one thing,
one purpose to stop the work
and spend time talking.

This new world must be better
than the old. They've come too far
to go back now.

They know what's at stake as they
gauge each other's mood by tiny gestures.

I wonder who chose to sit where.

And did they discuss women and small children at these meetings?
Did they not know how to read women's tiny gestures?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

At the edge of the day...

First, you notice the broken concrete
weighing down
the color green
hoping to blend with water
as clouds flirt with winged fishes
and hide behind their true form
catching each other briefly
for the moment that
the eye of god winks
at the sun.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Autumn rushes.

I go down to the garden between bouts of rain with tools and plans
all assembled in the wagon, ready for
this and that
but just pushing
that wagon is enough to
tire arms and legs and disposition.

I'm not going to get much done today.

The flight of birds and kites over the lake put me in a trance
about youth and ambition and plans for a lifetime
places to get to, things to build
refurbish that bathroom, submit that play.

Nobody else expects me to finish anything.

So long ambition, I cry out to the wind that masks all human voices these days.
So long plans for a new shed, as the space that shed would require
contains buried asparagus roots, waiting for long seasons
of wind and water to coax its tender tendrils.

How can anyone expect to finish anything with this kind of weather?

But the planting, the weeding, the piling of leaves need to happen
before the rains, the winds.
I must tie the roses and the young trees so the winds
don't tear them out of the soil, destroy their ambition
to live another season waiting for the sun.

A sudden squall sends me back indoors before tools are gathered and put away.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Toward the blackberry.

After I lose my sight
will I still walk among grasses
and lonely clouds? Will I
be able to know each season
as juicy berries and
swollen waterways
and starlings swash above me like lost clouds?

When will I say, it's too hard to live in this universe? Will I walk toward the blackberry even as I get lost in its brambles? 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Step back...

Right there
step back a foot or so
until I can no longer see the face sagging
and your neck
what have you done to that neck?

What have I done?
I have hung on the rails of life
day and night and day
until my fingers froze in place
my eyes stopped blinking
lest i would miss that tiny
bug that would spoil the soup.

I'm done now. I can see that, and this and all other sagging parts
parts I thought had been stubborn from the start, actually, from
that eleventh year when parts became important in so
many ways and no stepping back
or forward helped anything
except a compliment from a teacher,a friend
a stranger.

Like the man on the bus with the strong cologne smell who told you he knew your father
how he played at weddings too
he said, and suddenly squeezed your leg asking you if you sang as well as your father.
You froze in that pose
not knowing what your next step should be.

You know now; now that nothing can be done
about anything that has passed; yesterday and last century all gone
discarded instamatic from the drug store
one day bleeding into the other, each day just more cloudy than the rest.

We tell ourselves we grow wiser.
More like dogs,  we step up eagerly when  new smells are introduced.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The comfort of distance.

My eyes dart left, right, 
back and forth 
my destination is supposed to be right here.
I could rest my weary body
but that bench's height is not quite low enough
for my short legs and that old man, who knows why he stopped there.

These benches could be harboring graffiti, old gum stuck among the railings, snot or.

My children ran around and chased each other and anybody else's child around these alleys. We sat and talked with strangers about everything and nothing, for hours,
Just yesterday.

I rush to my next scheduled fulfillment.

And children, they are now held  closely, all the time.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Title at the bottom.

Do you know how
you fold and
unfold a map
a microcosm visible
for the second
you need to know where you are
you need the entire macrocosm
to understand where you've actually
Enough history of a day
a month
an eternity of zits
and disappointments
with just a mint
peeking in the
recesses of your day pack.

The saddest thing, remembrance.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Once, the Egyptians...

Once, among abundant tree groves
carving our initials
the long trunks, we
of our lives
in space and time
and floods of biblical proportions.

And trees, witnesses of all life and death, growth and decay, tears and laughter
engulfed us
in our cradles
offered pulp and fruit
chisel and hammer handles
to clear the land
and forge new paths
to see above our heads
to worlds beyond our immediate reach
where new standards
could be etched
on paper
traveling by ships
or light source
the Egyptians
had no knowledge of
when they mashed that pulpy tree
to mark the growth of their civilization.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Can you hear me now?

I can't believe how this house stands
how its needs like foreign words
strewn about inconsiderately
tire the conversations,
sunny-side eggs for breakfast
named "eggs to dip the bread" by me,
hold- the cream translated to ''straight" coffee by you
each phrase a slap of color on the walls
a new layer of plaster to keep the wind out.

Our aches and broken bones
had to wait to be mended
at the end of soccer games
tap-dancing classes, homework
runs to stock the ever-empty refrigerator and pantry.

We tried, you and I, between drives
and sit-ins, in grocery stores and music stores
packing our private needs into practical things to stabilize
the perfect house
over Frappuccino
and quick runs to McDonald's or Pizza Hut's
mixing spices
dill over pizza, oregano over salmon
two continents
colliding over little and big things
while watching the old black and white
sitting on a Salvation Army couch that was just
like the one your grandmother had.

You were ok with little changes.

I was inpatient with little progress.

Until one day when
words and numbers  themselves codes of conduct
morphed into years and decades
spilled  wine stains on carpets
chipped counters
moldy shower stalls
this house we had tried to construct according to
our individual plans
had grown in size
stopped showing its flaws
and had smells of us we didn't want to eradicate.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The viewfinder.

She knew to stop breathing
remain still
look left to right, top to bottom,
position the viewfinder.
The finite
that hint of color to mark the space
the day
the sentimentality of the minute
She liked him like this, unaware
and un-posed.
she hoped he would look up
and catch her looking at him. 

Friday, August 16, 2013

How did you change your world?

Years ago, as principal of a small middle school in the middle of nowhere, the staff and I came up with an idea to provide elective offerings without elective teachers. We had just lost all our elective teachers due to budget cuts.

(We had  woodshop, computers, home ec., band, but budget cuts had eliminated these.)

On Fridays, all teachers taught a class of their choice, a hobby, an interest, something they would do for fun...
and students could then take six various classes of their choice, or one class all day long!

So, we discussed the logistics and because nobody had time to actually sign everybody up and balance the numbers, etc.. we took our chances and announced that students, on the first day could "drop in" and audit any class before signing up for it/them for the rest of the quarter.

We told students that the passing bell was a strict five minutes; if they didn't get to class within five minutes, they would be assigned one!

All students stayed put in that first class, fascinated by the new routine. Many ended up in the "wrong" class but liked it enough to remain. All learned something new, exciting, invigorating.

Most importantly, teachers felt they had a day off!
Oh yes, they had students with them, all day long, and new materials to explore with them,new people to get used to. But they were doing what they would do with their "leisure" time, and sharing their love with children who had never learned to play chess, or make a bird house.

Fridays were the most popular days of the week. Even parents dropped in to learn to make pizza, plant a garden, learn to design and construct a leaded glass window, sing, dance, write plays, construct sets...

We had no additional money for this experiment.
We had no additional people except volunteers that teachers pulled in.
We had a need to expose students to many skills and interests just the way we were exposed to many skills and interests in our youth to find our way to happiness and success.
We defined success over and over again, in terms of emotional growth, intellectual pursuit, physical stamina and expression, artistic expression, practical skills...

Without these opportunities to explore, create, express, our spirits stop living. We develop a disquietude that doesn't leave us.

We live our lives in precise terms, worried about this and that, concerned with what we "need".
What if we redefine our needs?

(Erin, your conversation sparked this response!)
What if everyday becomes a discovery of what gives us joy?

What tune are you whistling?

Whenever you feel afraid, just whistle a happy tune...
so the song goes,
and so the mind accepts
as though to live happily is a choice one makes
by singing a happy tune.

What happens is not our choice
what blessings come our way are just chances
encounters of space and time outside our influence
and not much good our tune would do
to change a hurricane
or tornado.

The only tune to whistle is the other one, hi ho, hi ho, off to work we go....

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

It isn't even what I expect, but...

I want to be Julia Child when I cook.
And Hemingway when I write.
But in my kitchen, and at my desk, I am utterly alone with my hungers.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

By the water.

I stop at the end of the walk in front of the phone-camera
by the  man I've known for forty seven years and one month
weeks of worries
days of planning
hours of smells
demands, offerings
remembrances of slights
waves of grief
are exposed in each other's faces.

Sand and gravel between our toes
will be washed away with
the next wave
and the pounding sounds on the nearby rocks
will color this day with
visions of the infinite.

I mirror his smile.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

words are just pebbles

to mark the spot at the foothills
of our experience
the place
where heart stopped beating
and eyes caught a glimpse of the immensity of what we don't know.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Does your google picture look like this?

What if our identities were stamped on our backs
shoulder arc
nape of the neck
or the valley the back blades
to balance the breast-plates?

What if our
rounded or flat buttocks
standing solidly on one leg
or two
easing our tiptoe
through sand and gravel
without toppling,
what if these parts stood for
our faces in a line-up?

Who would recognize us?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

to read what isn't said...

My mother used dreams to
reveal her wishes, talked about shades
of future events as though she could see them in a movie scene
or at the bottom of the coffee cup she cradled for hours
or in the whisper of trees as we walked home from the farm
after a long day picking olives
each a wish expressed by an ancient symbol
she knew so well
ordinary objects to ward off evil and offer
protection all the way home.

But it was her ordinary
like the re-positioned the cover over my cold feet
offering  lemon and honey water when I had a cough
that kept the affronts of the day behind closed doors.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The here now

I cry
for this life
filled and unfilled with other lives,
for the child who once grew before my eyes
and friends who passed too
each a void
that sent my heart and brain
in search of reasons
for I have become
as if this moment of light
in a vast firmament
is the privilege
I'm allowed to witness
and the story I'm left with


Sitting with a neighbor, talking about art
or such things that would
help us
forget we may be
on the opposite end
of a political battle
being fought
a few
yards away.

I just want to hear a voice on the other side of the fence when the electricity is down.

Monday, July 15, 2013

You can follow their eyes...

Sitting in this proximity
a chair away-art pieces on the floor waiting for space above
legs counting beats
chins and heads swaying
music presented as anticipated
each wind instrument distinct pitch
as it was intended, somewhere a couple of centuries ago
in a castle chamber
among corseted ladies and tuxedoed gentlemen.

Out of the rain and the wind
in jeans and sweatshirts, we followed the musicians'
eyes move across the pages
worrying about what came next, when our turn came up
to stand up and read our verses
written just yesterday, just for this audience who came
to be entertained
whenever they are out of their houses
leaving their burdens behind
never anticipating the secrets revealed in
such spaces.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


We change hair style
as our body stretches out
to fill  space beyond itself;
the eyes, a new stare
the stand, a new silhoutte
the moment, a chance
to reach new horizons
escape this body
just even  for one day.

Each comedy a variation
of the previous one.
Mistaken identity.
Reversal of roles.
A male not a male.
A sister pretending to be her lost brother.
A poor playing at being rich.
Each escaping the space he occupies.
Each giving the audience hope for the price of the ticket.

We leave marks
with what we do,
the promises we keep
the words we choose
the things we buy.

We scribble on tablets
scratch notes on violins
sounds and signs etched in dark caves
with infinite entrances and exits
that once
in the fog
you recognized us.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Guiding lights.

What happened to grandmothers
sent away to grow old
in the privacy of other old people
with pain in their legs
and noise in their ears
while their children were too busy to notice
the dying light around them?

And fathers too, and big brothers and sisters
corralled with their toys, in their rooms
communal goals far from their keyboards?

And the old man in the neighborhood
who could bring history
alive just by pointing
to that building
that bench
at the corner
of your life
and that of all the others
who came before you?

How is a girl to know that she is pretty enough and smart enough to
be desired and to desire, if she doesn't hear her dreams in the voice of her elders?

How is a boy tested and told how to hold back, to be gentle
to those who need him; to be tough with himself, that what he senses as power
doesn't entitle him to own anyone, or to demand anything that isn't given freely to him?

How do we tell folks to walk a straight line among the rubble when the lights have been turned off and everyone is alone to find their guiding soul?

Sunday, June 23, 2013

No expectations.

Big reeds surrounding this dock protect the tiny
young trying to survive these waters
as the southern wind batters the pilings
and moves the sand to the surface
 agitating all kind of debris below surface.

Nowadays, nobody stands here casting expectations out to the deep-
boards old with creaking sounds
reeds eternally engaged with lures.

Nowadays, we're content to stand still for just a while longer
watching young fries in the shadows
wishing that one day
after they grow fat
and contented in the ocean, they would
desire nothing more
than a return to
the shadow of these reeds, for
a chance to meet expectations. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Afraid to speak.

There were three musicians who had played together before, were comfortable with the pieces they chose, and their lives today were no different than the other times when they take their chairs and perform in public.

The poets and storytellers too were pros, veterans of many such gatherings, where family and close friends meet to listen and appreciate a good piece of music close and up-front, where an afternoon is easily shared with the neighbor down the street or the mayor and his wife.  Yes, these kinds of events are familiar to lots of people.

I was on my maiden voyage here, reading three poems from this blog, all dark and ponderous and not at all in the same light mood as the Vivaldi piece we heard.
I apologized for the dark themes; and then turned the mike to another poet whose verses are light and whimsical. Everyone applauded.

At the end, as I walked off in the rain toward my car, one of the musicians told me how my words had touched her. "We are not supposed to talk about depression, but I knew just where you were, with each poem. I have been there!"

Thank you, I said, and smiled back at her. I wanted to hug her then and there, in the rain, on the street, in front of everyone. It's always good to know another soul goes through what you go through.

The next day, my neighbor told me I made her feel guilty. Why? Because I didn't realize you have been feeling this low all this time and I wasn't there for you.

It's all good, I said. We all feel lots of stuff all the time. I was just voicing what we avoid voicing.

Monday, June 17, 2013


at us
in the deep of night
the deep divide
between wishing
and fearing.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


A day is a long time to know a man
from the minute he wakes
to the minute he passes out
right after a big meal, a proper man-meal
meat and potatoes,corn on the cob
a couple of beers.

No use asking about the day, on such a day
though people say sex was in and out of his mind driving 
to the 9 to 5 job that was more like the 7 to 7 stand-by with 
that commute, the late meeting, the rush to get a bunch of
flowers for her birthday he just remembered.

The only time they were together this day and any other day
when each travels the city, drops off the
the kids, picks up the dry-cleaning
and groceries and back on the freeway,home for a meal and sleep
till the next alarm starts the day all over again.

One day, he says, we'll take a long vacation, where no driving is required and we get to stay in bed from seven to seven, all day, all night.

When do we eat, she asks?

(In homage to James Joyce's Ulysses. A day in the life.)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A dead end day

Do I train myself to walk
longer and harder, or do I give
in to pain
the end of season
accumulation of waste
the run-down feeling
that cares not
what comes next?

I'm worried for
everything these days
the sun not hot enough
the wind way too heavy.

Now that no one needs me
I need more than this
this empty cupboard feeling
this stay-in-place pace
no metronome except a death toll
waiting to end my days.

Greens will fade into gray in a few weeks
and nothing will catch my eye
as I drive
down the same old street
to the same old pharmacy
for the same
medications that will cover up the fear
of another day
adding another minute
to the unknown sum
that will be inscribed on the
last shard holding down my days.

Friday, June 7, 2013

secret paths

How did we end up
here,I mumble loud
enough for someone to hear
and nod
as she passes by
with three yelpers
cajoling them
to take their business on secret paths.

Oh, no
I don't care to listen to anybody's woes
cause after they have dumped
their dump
they are too tired to
listen to your dump.

wave at her
and return to my front door
before she engages me
with her doggy tales.

I must find a way to walk on my own.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

I don't remember beautiful.

don't say it
my insides are matched by my outsides
wrinkled and crowded
and vying for attention
waiting for the shot
that stills the pain
and masks
the smell of overcooked bacon
invading this room.

(my muse this morning is Brian Miller's latest poem.Thanks Brian!)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

As the sand settles...

Everything seems brand new
this time of the year
another season
of  winds
and incessant rains
transformed as scenes in a movie
with a fitting ending
a house on a hill
kissed by a sunsetting sun
a river running at its base
yet another season
to play anew in the sands
of hope.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dandelion days.

Some refuse to be coaxed
into a community garden
as the newly- tempered arugula
has learned to take its proper place on the plate
and chamomile
waits for evening to do its trick.
Some take way too much space.

We didn't see their habits in early Spring
their youthful blush of morning
was just a Marguerite
dreaming up lover's claims.

By Summer, their underground
suckers saw no limits, seeds
spreading like wildfire across space
choking all other life in their way.

Autumn's promise for apples and grapes
can never be fulfilled
as long as the dandelion runs a- muck
among the civilized species of the community garden.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

That old feeling.

We shouldn't have come down this far
to this moldy basement
to find that old frame that would
grace that old bureau of
responsibilities we moved around from house to house, those
compartments of order and satisfaction we attempted to maintain
all of our lives.

Yesterdays mean more than today, we note,
looking at how young we were in those pictures; how strong and resolute we
sounded in those letters. We had a great life! Those were great days, in that red Camaro
you in that navy suit and I in that Jackie Kennedy pillbox hat, on our way to Churchill for brunch.

How much of our stuff will survive after we're gone?

How much of our parents' stuff survived the mold in their  basement?

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sometimes, I try to be invisible.

Sitting in the parking lot
at Walmart, babysitting my youngest brothers, I want to
be invisible to my friends
and their mothers who hurry past me.
Mom and my little sisters are
rushing through the aisles picking
up food for the week.

When they return, Mom  drops a bag of cheetos
on our lap, telling us to share without fussing
before stashing the groceries in the trunk.

I see people eyeing our basket
as they pass us
thinking how come
we have to support those
extra mouths with our taxes
and food stamps; thinking
it's our fault
we can't afford stuff.

I pretend I'm in church- head down so
nobody sees me in the ugly car we're in-
waiting for the service to end
the food  put away
Mom in the front seat proud
she managed seven bags this week
with her food stamps.

Did you buy ice-cream, I ask.
Not this time, she says, I promised Dad I'd pick him up some beer on the way home.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Who's afraid of dying?

Between this conscious moment and all  the others there are
huge gaps, far off galaxies whose
details, like the smell of morning coffee
disappear in the ether of the unknown
a mythology so big and complicated
it has become a major industry
like gambling and insurance.

Like water flowing
through a calm river, we live each day
going through our rituals
rowing our canoe in and out of bays and inlets
currents and disturbances.
At the end of the day,  we moor on dry land, in a warm, well-
lit place to enjoy food and company, while the
river itself laps at the front stoop
day in and day out
until one night it pushes through
with force and destruction.

Who has not built a fortress against
such watery graves? The mind wants
to believe in paradise, a villa behind palm trees
where a calm ocean breeze promises only peace at the end
of the day.
Yes, the preacher immunizes with comforting phrases
as if nothing in this world is better than
the warm well-lit place of paradise awaiting for us
where we'll be forever young, forever loved
forever healthy and ambulatory.
Don't worry about death, he says,
it will be better than your present life.

Yes. And Yes. Where do we sign up for free land in the Everglades?

Sunday, April 21, 2013


Like breathing
the ocean swells and falls
swirls and shifts
harnessing the wind and
depositing debris
as we feed on its bounty
and praise its beauty
collecting dreams of journey
with each shell and driftwood we bring home.

We think with our stomach as
much as our brain
all parts
needing all other parts
so we can harvest sunlight
and rest in the deep
of self obsession.

We do manage to investigate hairballs.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Notes to self.

The universe is many, and one person can't ever know all of it.
Galaxies, meteors, violence and birth are all around
visibly and invisibly present.
For a long minute, only love was visible.

The inferno can open up any second and swallow us
while we're on a walk or in the middle of dinner
discussing how paradise comes and goes as we sip our pinot
on the terrace overlooking the vineyards
a glimpse of rainbow on the west side.

What doesn't kill us will plant fear in our hearts we conclude
as we  taste joy in the foam of our morning cappuccino.

are codes on the right side of our page, translated by a hand  pecking the plastic,  hoping to leave an indelible mark before the electric generator wipes out all thought.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The very thought of you...

You were about ten  and we were traveling
through Italy
just the way
we had planned
so many times
and I, speaking Italian
to you who knew so
few words
explaining my history
this and that
and my house
how grandma died
right there in the
earthquake after you were born
how grandpa's grapes influenced
what wines I preferred.

And then,
all grown
And all gone.Over a year gone.

I woke up
in the dark
all feverish
all frightened.

I'm ready
to have an annual day
to remember our son
I declared-the hour still
dark and catless-
on the anniversary of his death
here at the lake,
with all his friends
this July.

My husband
heard my restlessness and
toward me turned
to hear my fevered call to action.

He bottled the thought
in his own container
as his habits dictated
and began by speaking of
of a day
where your friends
could do
what all of them
did when you were together
go camping
wherever you usually went.

You mean return to their camping grounds in Catalina?
Yes, he said.

Because that's not my intent at all.
I want
My son
camping and fishing
Here, with us, on this lake.

A wave of grief drowned the rest of the exchange.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

How sap spills out.

For all its former glory,
the tree lay dead, cut neatly
in even parts.
A mushroom shaped outgrow,
soon began to
jut out of a cut
as thick as pancake
days and weeks
after being felled.

A year later
trunk and outgrow
are still begging
a role
to play
a stage not yet built
a use not yet discovered
its sap spilling out
to catch flies and ants and occasional spiders. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

What lies in dreams.

Perhaps, with each dream
I'm closer
to the knowledge
to the ugly truth
of how my son died,
after someone hit him hard,
after he fell,
after he lost consciousness,
after his friends carried
and deposited him
on a couch,
to sleep.

he dreamed
of running and chasing his dog
in the forest
by a river
falling in
fighting to get out
looking for a steady branch
to hold on to.

loss of consciousness spared
him pain
all his senses
to knowledge.

Perhaps, he's still dreaming past this moment.

Perhaps, when I wake
I'll dismiss all what lies in dreams.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The ways of the heart.

Funny how many lessons
we pass on, so many
we stop counting.

Brush your teeth
wash your hands
change your shirt
clean your room
feed the dog
do your homework
get a haircut!

Oh Mom!

You should know by now
and want all these things
for yourself, without my nagging you!

Lessons about
surviving the unknown
got lost
in our daily
search for a comfortable life
or dismissed when
too many shiny objects
and infinite possibilities
rose like birthday balloons
on  clear summer days.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Stepping out to play.

(Brian and Butters in Yosemite, 2010)
The path was unsettling
for you and
your dog
as you explored
the challenges
a  new playground

You saw only joy.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Browsing the brochures.

Two for one cruises
Two for one air
a trip to the moon and back
a second honeymoon
Only, then, you didn't have many expectations.

The simple truth.

Easiest vegetable to grow-from seed to harvest.

If only we didn't expect
to dig up
after we
planted radishes.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The permeable universe.

I'm getting to know you through the pictures
you take and those you share
and mystery
and words re-paint and re-tell your story
day after day.

Our craws' scratchy calls
our narratives
may not be recognized as our lives and
daily chores
but more as calls to prayer
to action
to a common vision
of life
across many fences.

I went to see what Erin
and Carmen posted on Blogger
before i wrote this post;
walked the neighborhood of Facebook
eager to learn how my friend is recuperating.

This permeable universe
equalizes our concentration,
hopes and dreams
and needs
spill easily into each other's white space.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The tense of the moment.

I move toward my task
and before I know it, my immediate purpose
has changed.
Something happens without my knowledge.

Then, as I spy my image in the mirror
at the end of the corridor
I straighten up
hips and shoulders undulate
with a cadence
I recognize as mine.

I'm older than my parents were the last time I saw them
older than they appeared in any photograph
they took in their late years. I knew not
what their thoughts were
when I chose not to write
not to visit
not to care enough to recognize their
old age pains.
I'm sure they forgave my sin of youth.

My children, my parents
and grandparents
all move in my body, down that corridor,
longing for a
moment of recognition,
that is neither the past nor the future
but a present
fully conscious
of the
weight of this moment.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Note to self, hunger will be your downfall.

When nasturtium in raised beds
protected the cucumber plants from
insects and birds
too eager to taste summer,
they failed with slugs.
Slugs, longer than fingers, fatter than toes, ate everything on their path to
colonize each boxed harvest. How did they crawl all the
way up to the top of the box?
What makes one species take over the world?
Insatiable appetite. 

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I used to dress you.

I chose colors and fabrics and decorative flourishes
one thing layered on another
a doll moment between us
you looking prettier than anyone I knew
a big bow on your head the final touch.

I was filling our lives with beauty's possibilities
every time I dressed you.

Beauty fades like the sun, Mother used to say.

Then, after you came home from school in tears,
and had no explanation to give,
I noticed a discomfort in your eyes
as I combed your long hair
and placed that big bow on the top.

After that, you insisted on dressing yourself,
skipping the bow, the ribbons
and all the frilly things I had bought for you.

Did the bow caused undue attention?
Did you hear your grandmother's voice as I did?
Maybe, you no longer needed me to make you feel pretty.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Coming and going.

I corseted myself and left home
early in my dawn chasing dreams
still running their loops
from yesterdays
to tomorrows.

Traveled miles and miles in
the dark, going and coming
sorting the whole way
piles everywhere

didn't amount to much.

Home still feels so far away
a dream
we must
to travel these twisty roads.

Monday, February 11, 2013

In the end, we talk about endings.

A gathering of new friends, each
just not sure what the other might bring
to the table.

How was the visit with your daughter?

The answer goes somewhere else:
Who won the chowder contest?

We came to enjoy the prize-winning
chowder after our book meet
feeling immunized against food memories
like daughters tap-dancing around hot cookie trays
and spilled tea.

And your last doctor's visit?

I'll know more after the tests results.
I keep taking my pills and try to lose more weight.

We  laugh, about daughters
escape fiction, skinny doctors who
read only charts.

In the end, we end up talking
about what
it feels like to count days
so close to the end.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

You smell like your days.

What was I thinking
that I'd live 
to tell
and that all the
and the soot
would be washed
from my skin?

I still smell like the storm of 58, the one that buried us alive, beast and men
huddled in a cage, wearing all our clothes day and night, our legs mottled with burn marks for
all that standing by the fire, the fire that had to be kept bright and hot else melting  snow would douse it forever. We broke up chairs and baskets and bed posts to stay warm, 
killed all the small animals in our care
our stock of olives and nuts barely nourishing us
until the day came, was it days or months later,
when we shoveled ourselves out
smelling forever of
olive pits
soiled papers
and all the shit
we ate and burned to keep ourselves alive.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The times when we didn't take pictures.

Remember Tallahassee, the best six years of our lives!
I was quite anxious the whole time!
You seemed happy, you said.
Well, I kept a calendar, counting the days when we'd get back to a normal life.
You're exaggerating!
Not exaggerating, ruminating on how something felt in the moment experienced.
You had the best smile ever, every day for six years. Everyone envied us.
I envied everyone else, those eighteen year olds with great figures, those who left after two years of graduate work, those whose lives were richer and more meaningful than ours.
All our friends envied you.
For what?
You were the perfect wife, mother, never complaining, always gracious...Wait,I have this picture...
I wanted more. No, that picture was taken way before Tallahassee and...
More what?
Our own place, for one thing. We have no pictures of those times. Do you know why?

(to be continued...

Retracing our steps.

Memory is a faded photograph, people, places, events
sometimes crisp and bright. sometimes grey turned black
waiting for interpretations by the next generation.

What happened to that tree in that corner you ask.
It fell in the storm of 08, or maybe 09. I know it was there during that Memorial Day BBQ
when this picture was taken. You were busy with the BBQ and I took this view right from the living room door.

 Monterey cypress graced two thirds of our view when we first arrived; before the big storm knocked one down. It hit the chain link fence and we had to replace that.

Was that the time  when the water line broke and you had to dig and try to find the break to get repairs done... The year you went to France!

No. It was after Dad had cataract surgery; or was it the carotid surgery? You know that I'm learning anatomy the way I learned auto mechanics, after something breaks down and...

I could swear these trees were there every time I visited!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013


This is how we write our story:
a river bed channeled
through another swale
its pulse
trees and grasses
bent to our will.

of wind
on still water.


Saturday, February 2, 2013


Spasms of creation.

The ocean
keeps history
with sound
and splash.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Rules for old ladies waiting...

I have ten rules of life, maybe less
or is it fewer...I forgot
forgot the date my mother died
and many other important things.

I have rules for things that still matter
rules to go to sleep-with classic radio
and to wake-with espresso coffee
and to pray to heaven and the dead
to drive slowly- watch for deer darting on the side.
brush teeth often, after each meal
and to be grateful when it's sunny.

Do you remember feeding me
slices of peeled fig with honey and crushed
pistachio, one slice at a time
a game
until we got sick of

We tried to break every rule then
not knowing that  rules come in medicine jars.

Daily-over unslippery mats
I use no-tear shampoo
and watch my step
so not to end up
wet and naked
on the tile floor.

I rather prefer
the same weather
the same food
the same schedule
of deliveries
to order my
life into
a path I can easily follow
but I feel quite new when something
out of the ordinary makes me forget all the rules.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

My cat is stalking me...

I have a reason to get up at dawn every day. My cat tell me so! She jumps on the bed to nuzzle with me, and after five minutes of calm time, she stands by the door and meows loudly. It's time to freshen up the food bowl, she calls. If I pretend to be asleep, she jumps up on the bed and hovers over me. Now!!!!!!!!!!!she howls!

She pretends to sleep
closing her eyes
turning her body away so I can't tell what it is she is doing and waits for me to do something else.

Meow, she says after a minute or so and plops herself down in front of me and stretches out demanding to be brushed. I can continue my typing, but her sounds are quite disturbing. Brush both sides a couple of times; brush under the chin, more here; more there. Suddenly, she's up and out of sight, trying out a new hiding place.

But the minute I get up and move, there she goes, ahead of me, down the hall and to the room where she has anticipated I would go. Many times, I find her outside the bathroom waiting for me to resume my position at the computer, even if she had gone outdoor a few minutes before.

She knows what I'm up to, and tracks my every step.

When I leave the house for a walk, she waits by the door until I return. Or, jumps out the window and walks me to the end of the driveway where she waits for the entire time that I'm out of her sight. (I like to think of her as my mama cat!)

The couch she is sitting on is her favorite perching place, right behind me as I type this. Soon, she'll jump on the arm of my seat and walk across the computer keys, demanding lap times.
Like right now!!!,e-dlc;,,,,,,

Friday, January 25, 2013

I'm a blogger and proud of it!

I finally purchased a printed copy of one year's writing, the first year of Sixtyfivewhatnow, my first blog. I anticipated purchasing more books to cover the five years the blog was running, but I chose just one year.

I wanted to see the product before investing more time and energy and resources. The book sits on my coffee table announcing its benevolent intentions. Yet, when I study it carefully, diligently, I notice many errors, multiple problems with layout, copy, photos, themes and concepts. Ouch!!!!

Yet, even with all those flaws, the book looks great. I have a book with my thoughts, my instincts, my photos. I have a memory book not just of things and single events, but how I felt, what I thought, how I encountered the world on those days.

When I talk to my friends about blogging, most of them don't understand. Blogging is not a habit most old folks like me pick up easily.  Most old folks don't want to be bothered with frustrating details such as loading and uploading photos. I remember asking for help on that very same thing. The first posts of mine had no photos at all. After many attempts, and defeats, I finally figured out the skill of uploading photos, copy and paste, and even re-post on Facebook.

This is what blogging has done for me:

1. Opened the world. My first accidental connection was with a photographer/journalist in Australia who became a most interesting companion through the world of blogging. As of my last post, sixtyfivewhatnow had 890+followers world-wide thanks to the nod from Blogger when they nominated it as "Blog of Note".

2. Re-connected me with my hometown, with Italy, with natives and expatriates, with recipes and sites and events I had forgotten about.

3. Introduced me to experts in design, composition, food, style, politics, news...

4. Helped me find my own voice, more open and more complex than the one I had been for the last sixty five years.

5. Introduced me to poetry writing, story writing, personal writing. Until blogging came along, I had no confidence in my abilities to express my thoughts. After the first foray, I began new endeavors with a memoir blog, a language acquisition blog, a food blog, a hodgepodge blog-which is this one, and one just to capture the memories of my son who died suddenly a year and a half ago.

To say that blogging has changed my life is a bit of a hyperbole. It has given my life new meaning.

How has blogging changed your life?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Our skin and juice.

Are we all under 
a heavy
that packs us down
shrinks us
changes our form
gets rid of our plumpness
dries our skin
saps our juices and

We used to roll on the counter
adding zest
and vigor  to the crowd
just by our presence
conjuring far-away places
and sunny beaches.

Oh hell is not too far
when your skin rubs off
and your bones ache
and hot nights 
are nothing but 
fever chills.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Rules of the day from Newkie the Cat.

1.Every new corner has surprises.

2. Wait for the weather to change; it will.

3. Find new places to nap, where nobody will find you.

4. Play when you're awake.

5. As often as possible, ask for a back rub.