Monday, March 31, 2014

Why We Didn't

every Irish stereotype . . .you can't get light from a cave paint moon . . . I shrank . . . we scabbed . . . the round room cornered . . . Nancy Sinatra sang it in four different languages (for the deaf, she signed) . . . I cut my hair out of spite . . . you had greasy friends.

For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Sunday, March 30, 2014


I shucked the place
and spread the silk
in search of something sacred.

All I found
was a faded space
where our picture might have been.

But there are things we kept secret
after we shed skins
and reason

still creaking beneath the floorboards
as if they wish
to walk again.

For Kerry's mini-challenge at Real Toads.  Also submitted to Poetry Pantry.

Friday, March 28, 2014

On 5th Grade Math

How have I traveled
so many miles
never knowing that each
was five thousand two hundred eighty feet?

How can I have lived
forty-three years
and still think a meter
is that thing the gas company reads?

And, how can I help
my girl understand
ounces and grams
without revealing my frame of reference?

I had to cheat it a bit, but it's 55 words for MY G-Man.  G-Man is hosting his last Friday Flash 55 today.  Go on over and thank him for all he's done to keep the internet interesting.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

God Knows

God knows it's time to declutter.
The refrigerator is covered,
and every time she opens the door
an icon or two flutters to the floor.

She needs another fingerpaint
like she needs an apple tree.
But, what kind of mother would she be
if she threw these offerings away?

With a sigh, she bends to the tile
and resurrects
another saint.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Dream Box

The dream is a box begging to be opened,
but the penknifed name is too faint to read.
Still, with tender and terror,
I know it's mine.

It's my ark of commandments and covenants,
stained with the sweat of my shoulders,
but never sinned against or soiled
by steadying hands.

It's my crated collection of boundaries
and meanings marred by fetish;
the penumbra
of all my past primitive nights.

It is the stillborn wheel of my ribs.
It is the chocolate melt of the marrow
at the fine and fragile threshold
between I

and I AM.

For Hedge's incredible word list at Real Toads

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Gluten Free Cookie Monster

grass, and twigs.
A little lard
just so it sticks.
Dunking this
would shame
the cow.
How is this
a cookie?

Monday, March 24, 2014


of all I'm not.
Beautifully balanced
as the Starbucks cup
in her right hand.
Lipstick in her left.
She puckers at the mirror.

Near her,
I wash my hands
and stand -
hair all mussed, face unfussed -
I just can't

try to fix myself in front of her;


For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Sunday, March 23, 2014

At The Ramsey Opera House

Bathing beauties with bee sting lips,
a string quartet,
a man that fits in a steamer trunk
despite being seven feet tall.

Some bump and grind,
a natural freak
(she eats broken glass!).
Plenty of seats; bring the family.
Come one, come all!

Of course, you could go
to visit our rival
or get warnings of hell at the tent revival
and try to blunt the urge
to sample our sights.

But addition is math,
and call is a science.
Response is effect;
the cause is our sirens,
leggy and loose;
see you Saturday night!

In the 1910s, the Ramsey Opera House brought vaudeville shows to Lawton, Oklahoma.  The Ramsey was operated by Henry and Anna Bell Cassin.  Raised on vaudeville, the Cassin's young daughter, Lucille, dreamed of taking the stage herself one day.  Lucille grew up and became known as Joan Crawford.

The Sunday Whirl words for Poetry Pantry.

Saturday, March 22, 2014


We chalked each other
on the linoleum floor -
just a joke -
but I know symbols when I see them.
I was dead to you
and you were dying for me
to break us quick and clean;
it was time to go.

My voice is a shell
in a mason jar;
all packed up
like a souvenir of the summer.
Silence is the finest lie I can tell,
and lying's the only language that you know.

For Margaret's prompt at Real Toads (I screwed up and used the word list).

Friday, March 21, 2014

Camp Hideaway

The. prescriptions are filled,
and the bags are packed.
You can ride up front,
or you can ride in back,
but you're riding

to Camp Hideaway.

We've got arts and crafts
(but nothing too sharp),
campfire songs,
and s'mores after dark

that you've had a good day.

The flora and fauna
are certain to soothe you
and quiet the queerness
that moved us to move you.
We're trying

to help you here.

Just think of this all
as a grand vacation
with medication
and meditation.

won't help you, dear.

Stop fighting, dear.

A camp poem for Corey's prompt at Real Toads

Thursday, March 20, 2014

An Old-Fashioned Poem

Old-fashioned girls.
Old-fashioned boys.
Old-fashioned games.
Old-fashioned toys.
Old-fashioned winters.
Old-fashioned springs.
Old-fashioned kisses.
Old-fashioned rings.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

St. 60s Elvis

On St. 60s Comeback Elvis Day,
we gather like hound dogs to slice and lay
bananas across the peanut
butter covered sacrifice.

The lights on the strip dim down to blue
moon of Kentucky shining through
till the sun rises like a roulette wheel
and rhinestones run like ice

melting twice.
We all melt twice.

For Izzy's prompt at Real Toads

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Your Trees

I planted these trees for you
the year that you were born.
Two loblolly pines, just slender seedlings,
carried home from the state fair.
Feeding them to the red dirt
was more wish than wise -
a wish that they and you would take root and grow
despite your poor gardener.

Now the three of you stretch skyward;
lean-limbed, limber, but awkward
in your adolescent reach,
and I am hard put to teach you
the wind led wisdom
I haven't really mastered myself.
So, when the storms come (and they will),
hear me, but look to something else.

Look to the dancer's grace beneath her partner's hand
or the smooth mate and melt of water with sand.
Look how birds fly the currents across the sky.
See how the river runs narrow and the river runs wide.
Look and learn; don't be rigid like me.
Daughter, bend a sway like your trees.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Night Bird

Night bird
with leaden wings
sings me a lullaby.
In minor key, she greys my dreams

For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Crimson M

Emblazoned, bold, upon my chest:
a crimson M for all to see -
no hiding my identity

stretching my span from east to west;
louder and prouder every year -
thank God, it's not sized for my rear

riding high the swell of my breasts;
and sloping gently toward my knees -
they're on their way to meet my feet

an M for Mom (and, Maid, I guess).
and Minder of the empty purse -

A Constanza for Kerry's challenge at Real Toads.  Also submitted to Poetry Pantry.

Friday, March 14, 2014


I can see that she is free, truly free,
and I just can't help comparing myself -
in my too hot stockings and need to be
noticed iron maiden dress; pouring sweat; breath-
less lungs spanxed small; breasts bound; lips laced with paint;
eyes shaped and shadowed to strange skitter orbs
(peripheral to catch even the faint -
est look of approval and search for more) -
to her, shining naked as the North Star,
kicking her bare feet and screaming her needs
fearlessly, shamelessly, as if they are
the garden itself and not just weeds
to pull as she becomes a "real" woman.
Oh, tend those weeds, child!  It's you you're growing.

Inspired by Marian's prompt at Real Toads

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Wherever You Go

"Wherever you go,
there you are,"

you'd say, and I'd laugh
because you were drunk

and so was I,
and I hadn't yet gone

far enough to find
that even without

the sullen God skies,
the pasture echo of a truck

horn calling the cattle,
or the smell of blacktop,

summer scorched and melting
like the chocolate chip

ice cream cones
we bought at the Tastee Freez

every day
that we never kissed -

there I am.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Merit Badges

Sewing badges
on my daughter's Girl Scout vest
(a kitten for "Making Friends,"
a giraffe for "My Best

Self"), I remember my worst
day in the uniform;
a silly field trip fuss
that loosed a swarm

of baby queen bees
testing the strength of their stings
on a humbler heart of the hive.
The poor thing

screamed and fought and cried
till her hair ripped loose from her braid
and her arms and face were streaked red
with scratches and marks made

by small, but hardened hands -
one of them mine.
Not my best self.
Not that time.

For Kerry's Flashback prompt at Real Toads

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Calves come when it's cold -
cold enough to freeze all thought from your flesh
and leave your fingers phantoms
in your gloves.

They come in the middle of the night
when the only light
is the headlight shine on snow
and the rolled white glint the of a mama's eyes.

They come bloody, and they come breach.
They come twisted and turned.
They come

until you're in up to your shoulder and reaching,
too tired to pull another pound,
and the goddamn winch is busted,
goddamn it, godDAMN!

Calves come when it's cold.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Ghosts Of Frida And Diego

Ballroom of the Lee Plaza Hotel circa 1930

Rows and rows of empty, Diego.
Stunted trees too poor to leave.
The germ and jelly of miscarriage
plated and plattered.

Even before our trip to this so-called paradise,
the motley were marching -
the women swinging their cotton dresses,
men raising their voices in "L'Internationale."
But, no one could tell you, Diego.
You wouldn't hear.

Now, I fear it's too late
to catch and cure the cancer
you misdiagnosed and celebrated in the murals.
The machines do not free the worker,
feed the worker,
or even need the worker anymore, Diego.
The machines bake bread no one can afford to eat,
and art is just an echo.

Ballroom of the Lee Plaza Hotel, present day

Notes:  When it was built in 1929, Detroit's Lee Plaza Hotel was an opulent hotel / apartment building for the city's wealthiest residents.  The hotel changed hands several times, was at one time a senior living complex, and has been abandoned since the 1990s.

In 1932, Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo arrived in Detroit for a 10 month stay.  Diego had been commissioned to paint a mural depicting the Ford Factory for the Detroit Institute of Art.  The resulting controversial work celebrated the working classes and reflected Diego's belief than automation would improve working conditions.

I have no reason to believe that Diego and Frida stayed at Lee Plaza during their time in Detroit.  But, it would make a hell of a story, wouldn't it?

A Sunday Whirl Magpie for Open Link Monday at Real Toads.  I'm exhausted.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Constant Lover

Facing East by Vandy Massey

Constant and close
as the sun to the sky
am I,
my love,
am I.

But where do you hide
from the clutch of the night?
my love, 
do you hide?

I rest in the west
on the cusp of your dreams.
my sweet love,

Then why must I count clock
and look to the east
to see 
you return
to me?

For Grace's challenge at Real Toads.  Also submitted to Poetry Pantry.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Fortress Of Solitude

I've got beds of nails
and shank sharp floors,
but no one visits anymore.

Is it the weather?
The snow and ice?
Or, is it me in these freaky tights?

For Hannah's Naica Mine prompt at Real Toads.  The cavern is actually filled with crystals, not ice, but it still reminded of Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

Thursday, March 6, 2014


"Uranus has three moons,
but only two butt cheeks,"
she says with such dimpled gravity

that I am pulled from my study
of far, worrisome stars
and settled back into the happy orbit
of her small, laughing planet.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

To Draw Dawn

I'm frightened by what I've become
willing to do when I can't sleep.

Stuffing my ears
with tv tongues

and ashing my eyes to close them.

Piling pills
and smoking the husks of long ago harvested dreams.

Counting my breaths
and even confessing sins, but only in whispers

to draw dawn nearer when she listens.

For Words Count at Real Toads

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mardi Gras Eyes

I made a girl with Mardi Gras eyes
(violet as night, gold as a sunrise),
Lenten tongue,
Fat Tuesday thighs,
and a cross on a silver chain.

I threw beads while she sang the blues
till the bars all closed
and the morning news-
paper hit the street;
then, we wound the sheets to a shroud

and burned till the blood ran out.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Four Shadows

I have four shadows following me.
The first is the early bird clutching her worm.
The second's a lean-to left for the wind
to feed to the fire when the prairie burns.

The third is a ladder half-built to the stars,
then abandoned for fear of angering God.
The fourth is her old rocking chair -

For Open Link Monday at Real Toads

Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Place You Go

You're Thing One.
There's no Thing Two.
Do I ask too much of you?
To stay this small.
To stay thisclose.
And, to let me be the place you go.

A nod to Dr. Seuss on his birthday for Poetry Pantry.