"dazzle gradually"

"Dazzle Gradually" 2017 poems, paintings, new art & photography--a diary, a discipline, a delight. Read over my shoulder as I post my unedited poetry ---you can see it in the raw or get my first book and see how the work evolves with new books rolling out next year.

Polly Alice

Thursday, April 29, 2010

I found my locker

In my dream I'm always
back in high school.
I'm about to fail Physics
then I can't graduate.
I've skipped every single class
all year.
I know nothing,
and there is a test coming,
or maybe I've already missed it?

I can't find my locker because
I've never used it,
and that is where the fateful
Physics and Math books are located.
Somehow if I don't graduate
all my life in the future will be erased,
and I will be stuck back
here in highschool trying to
graduate--so I must find my locker,
but school is out and it
is too late...

Today I dreamt
that my Catholic friend showed me my locker.
It was easy to find because
someone left a light on inside,
I can see it glowing through
the cracks.
There is a secret button to
open it.  Ahhh. 
I always knew that girl
was smart, even smarter than her twin
Inside are five textbooks,
the ones I've looked for in
dozens of dreams.

Wait there is
a hidden panel!
An entire little room---
What's in there?
My old jacket,
a child's rocking chair,
some old burnt up things.
It's time to go to class,
I'll just leave the light on
in this room,
so I can find this locker again.

Here's the classroom.
Wait there is a sub.
And it's not Physics,
it's Literature.

If there's anything I can fake
after not attending class all
year it's this.
I'm saved.

This will be easy.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The Toad

The toad was just there one day
in the front flower bed
after the rain.

Is it real?

I touched it.
It didn't move, or blink.
It felt dryer than I thought it should,
but it was real.
I picked it up and stoked it's head.

You can stay here, Mr. Toad.
We have a nice flower bed,
and we won't bother you.

The Toad didn't answer.
We put him back on the ground
and soon he'd disappeared.

The Toad came back
after the next Spring rain.

Hello Mr. Toad.

We smiled at him, honored
 to have our very our garden toad.
Who needs a statue?

We might have seen him once
or twice again.

Then came the fire.
The whole front of the house
was doused in high pressure water
broken glass everywhere.

Rediculous, really,
that I wondered if Mr. Toad
was the only casualty of the fire.
Had he drowned, or overheated
under the front steps of
the little yellow house?

Summer passed and the house
was gutted and rebuilt.
The flower beds were redone.
The bushes pulled out by the roots,
the beds filled with new white rock.

We never thought of Mr. Toad
that Christmas when we moved back in,
or through the longest winter in a hundred years.

Then came the Spring rains.
One morning we found a huge
hole in the flower bed.
Someone had burrowed their
way out from under the new rocks,
the gray groundcover cloth,
and old leaves from under the
front porch of the little yellow house.

Someone with very strong legs for digging.
We don't know who it was.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


They are in the bath
time to get out...

Monday, April 26, 2010

A dream landscape poem is kind of like a surrealist painting: images grouped together to form a new, impossible story.  I'm doing research on dream images for my thesis in writing for children.  So far, Maurice Sendak is my favorite writer who does this well.

Dream Landscape

I painted a pink tree for you
on a blue field of corn.
I'm sorry that it's gone
now forever.
Don't worry,
paint is cheap.
I can brush in
a world of star fruit
and night shine
where water
is any color
you wish.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Last Farm: Food Revolution

Our people have been farmers
since before the wheel was invented.

My garden is only two lengths of my shovel
and I may get one pint of strawberries--
if I’m lucky. I’ve planted pumpkins for years
they never grow any fruit.

Do you wanna know what hurts?
They didn’t leave a note.
They could read and write couldn’t they?
They had dreams, values, even a vision or two?

They tramped swamps, rode prairie wagons,
sailed across the ocean, fought in religious
wars over what age was appropriate for Baptism,
but they didn’t leave a note.

Nothing like….
Stick to the land
Be strong in the Faith
Hold close to your family

I mean, the magic of paper and pen
is that you have a time machine for
a fairly low cost.  Leave a note
for your great-great grandchildren--
if you want.
Save them the trouble of guessing what
life is all about.  You can share eighty years of knowledge
with them for as much room as you have paper.

But to write nothing seems rude
without hope
Didn’t they have anything to pass on?

And now in the frightening age of the droid phone
and global warming, I can look back at those simpler
times and what?

Thanks for the pickle recipe, Gram.

Maybe they didn’t know it would end. 
Maybe as the last farm sold, they thought
it might turn around again, somehow.

R.B’s farm was lost at court. 
They were forced to sell it and divide
the sum equally. They brought
a grapevine with them
into town. Brother and Sister never spoke again.

My ex husband’s great-grandfather.
Ended 5,000 years of gentleman pig
farming, burying the Irish family crest with the
shape of a bright red boar underneath
the tarmac at the Philadelphia airport.

I think another farm was lost in Iowa
even before the dustbowl.

Even my grandparents owned a small farm in
Texas for awhile while going to school.

The J.H farm was near Breezewood, PA.
Now the biggest truck stop in the mid-state area.
His ancestors made me a recipe book
for my wedding, though I’d never really met them.
I remember one was for vegetable pizza.

The Southern part of my family?
Must have had a farm in Mississippi somewhere. 
The Quilt G.R. made for my mother is blue hubbed
wheels spinning on a pink world. 
If she never went far from home,
she was going places in her imagination.

Five generations back a man
left his land to Lily.  What happened to that
land and the family of  mixed-race
that traveled down the tree to me?

We’ve all wheeled away
on blue-hubbed wheels
down different walks
to a landless land
where I’d never seen a blueberry bush until
I was twenty-one.

Some day, when people learn to fly
without planes.  That ol’ tarmac will crumble.
Grass will push right through with ease
where ten ton airplanes couldn’t make a dent.

Out of that crack will pop a vine from great-grandpa’s last
pumpkin seed.

It won’t be genetically mutated;
it will be proud and strong
with five hundred years of energy
built up for this moment.

It will grow the largest pumpkin this world
has ever seen.  All of us kids will drive out to see it.
The first vegetable in a hundred years.

They will slice it open and inside the pumpkin
will be enough pure whole pumpkin seeds to send
all over the earth…

While we are about to make 1,000 pumpkin
pies and re-invent Thanksgiving, we will find…

a note carved on one of the seeds.

The note will read:

This was not the last farm.
Start again.
Fight the good fight,
Keep the faith,
Carry on,


Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dear Mr. Robin

Dear Mr. Robin,
Your head is very wet.
You’re a mess from your pin-stripe cravat
to your red velvet vest.

I’m so sorry that you’re stuck out
in this rain,
but I’m sure your happy
all the worms are jumping again.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Two one hundred percent
all fruit strawberry popsicles
presents myself,
a mother of two,
with just enough time
to pull out my pink Sony laptop
open it and turn it on
wait for the wireless internet to load
open my poetry blog
and write to you
about the most amazing
time when I ....
finally had a moment
to myself because of
a strawberry popsicle
excuse me,
I hear a knock...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Notes from the Fire #108

April powers the rain
on my front lawn
where shards of ice dislodge
to surface above the soil,
winter splinters
raised over time,
where they were sown
from the sky
by a fireman's ax
when he broke
the glass.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Soap stinks

Bought baby shampoo at the dollar store
for a dollar
even my four-year-old daughter screamed,
the odor rising from  fresh bubbles
What's that smell?
Sniff your soap
before you buy,
or you may make your children cry.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Childhood was One Long, Long Summer Day

My childhood was one long, long summer day
and a thousand winter nights --
dreaming of rainbows only I could see,
or remember the smell of the cake shop across the street.
Swiss Family Robinson ‘til all hours a.m.,
journaling endlessly about me versus them,
Taking in old movies on TNT,
cuddling with my kitten who loved only me,
brushing and curling my hair for all hours,
wearing Great-Granny’s nightgown with magic powers,
five hundred bowls of popcorn with butter,
drinking warm cinnamon milk while wrapped tight under covers.
My childhood was one long, long summer day,
but the nights I remember best,
and I like it that way.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tulips are weird

Tulips are weird--
bulbs on stalks
discreet egg cups,
but before they're spent
they open wide
a black and yellow hexagon inside.
An eye from outer space,
a stop sign from another race?
A beacon for every bee that says
please party here...
Tuplips are weird
rather wild and strange.
An annual
announcement of
animal passion
trapped inside
a flower.

photo by Ulybug by wikimedia.org via Flikr.com

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Printemps, elle est arrive
Printemps, elle a venu
Printemps, elle eclate
Printemps, elle a eclate
Printemps, elle chante
Printemps, elle a chante
Je suis heureuse

Spring is here
Spring has come
Spring rings
Spring has rung
Spring sings
Spring has sung
I am happy
I am in love

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Sapling Oak

Gesture of a Sapling Oak

There's the old man tree stiff with age,
I like his soft step pose.
Who knew the first gesture
of the early days would
stay forever frozen?

I know I joined this dance
rather late, and I've not
much left that bends,
but I hope that when my 
likeness sets, I'm
graceful, just as he is.

Polly McCann Day at Johnson County Library

Today, April 14, is Polly McCann day at Johnson County Library.  Well really, they featured my poem today as part of National Poetry Month.  Thirty poets from The Writers Place will be featured  by the end of the month.  This poem is about the time I read nursery rhymes to my grandmother from the same book she always read to me.

Mittens we have lost

Grandma always changed
with her back toward me.
Now, she folds into her chair bare-chested,
innocent as clover. I pull her dress over
hair white as weeds, eyes blind as ebony.

Next week grandmother turns ninety-eight.
This is the first year of my life she won’t
remember our birthday is the same.
I’m not surprised, she’s near a century.

Light showers the open bloom of our book
I sit with my head on her arm;
I caress her skin
like a worn map of her secrets.

“Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin!”

The hair on her chin, kitten-white whiskers,
Her voice scratchy like their strawberry tongues.

“Mother Dear, see here, see here,
we have lost our mittens.”

Her voice damp like the kiss of those kittens.

All words from the lost world sailed toward me
on the ship of her low tremulous voice.

 Read it to me again. I’ve never heard this one.
I answer

we have lost our mittens

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Earth Day Radio Interview

KXKX, KMZU, and Kansas Information Chanel---The three radio stations where I will be interviewing live about being green and Earth Day in Kansas City. Friday April 16th from 10:30 am to 11 am EST. Thanks for tuning in! If you can't, I'll try to get a podcast type recording online soon. Thanks!  I've been taking a short break from my poetry blog to prepare for this interview.  You can read my articles about Earth Day events in Kansas City at Examiner.com.  Just click on the button the left hand column below.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I have a cold
it's chilly out
I think they're unrelated
My sweater has no neck or sleaves
at least it's not outdated
I'm off to take another nap
and for that I am elated.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Yes, I have run out of ideas at around sixty-five poems.  I've posted most of my older poems and worked through many new ones.  The quality of a poem a day is a little different from poetry in books and journals -- my poems have only been revised once or maybe twice compared with a poem that may take a year of revision to come to its full resolution.  Hardest of all, a poetry blog means I feel everyone watching over my keyboard, or I will likely post something that with a little more time, might of ended up scraped in the eternal digital scrap heap. 
Last night's poetry group was cancelled due to the terrible weather.  We were going to have a cliché bashing party.  So let's do one here.  It's easy to find a cliché, "lily white," for example was something I was seriously reprimanded for in my first (and last) attempt at a sonnet.  To bash a cliché, follow these simple steps:
1.  Write out the cliché, or circle one in a poem
2.  Write down all the connotations for the metaphor pretending to be an adjective describing your person or object.  Lilly: soft, pure, silky, springy, new, fertile, mothering, earthy, miraculous, etc, etc.
3.  Write down all the connotations for the other important words in the phrase.  White: Moby Dick, pale, dead, colorless, new, clean, young, innocent, etc, etc.
4.  Pick your best list to write about.
5.  Write about your idea using only descriptive words from another set--an extended metaphor. 
For example, write about motherhood using only words you'd normally expect to use about gardening; write about flowers using imagery from a famous story or book, or descriptions about a person you know well.
6.  Have fun.
7.  Post yours here.

The hand of fate has an arm and an elbow
an elbow attached to a man in blue jeans.
Fate walks on a road full of gravel and salt,
cigarette butts, and fumes from the bus,
and a possible, chance step in dog doo
where a neighborly neighbor walked his dog this afternoon.

If vocation calls, she has a voice and a face
a face attached to a woman in a dress.
Vocation rides on a bike with pink wings,
and stops at the bus stop full of gravel and salt,
cigarette butts, and fumes from the bus,
and steps over the poor pile of dirty dog doo
to shake hands with Fate and say "How do you do?"

Fate and Vocation were friends from the start.
They've always shared the very same heart,
and when you've met one,
you've probably met two,
and they'll take you by the hand,
but the rest is up to you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Red Red Radish

My love for you is like a red red radish
with skin thin enough just for show--
a cupid’s spade,
a jack of hearts,
and bitter diamonds all in a row.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Easter Basket 2009

Easter 2009

Today is Easter and
so I will vacuum the carpet at
my very own yoke yellow house.
We get everything ready,
 because the cousins are coming over.

Christ died for us and rose again
and so our Easter baskets, like our hearts
 are full to the brim with sweets.

My heart is happy and my fridge
runs over with a dozen hard boiled eggs.
We will all hide candy and find it again,
because life is sweet today,
and all God’s gifts are good gifts.

Christ suffered, left the world,
and descended into hell
leaving his burial clothes behind . . .

When he came back, he was wearing clothes
Where did they come from? 
I guess they came from God’s mall. 
Today I have a new outfit too:
a sweater that's robin's egg blue.

Our hope is full like the cup of coffee
you made me for breakfast.

I love you
and I  thank you

Easter Basket 2010

It's Easter and so I get up
to hem Sophie's blue dress.
I get out the Easter baskets
and you give me a poem.

It's Easter and so we will go
to a church where someone was
kind to me once--
and we'll come home to eat sandwhiches
on the porch.

It's Easter and so we will take
sun streamed naps and
dream of the chocolates
we ate for breakfast.

It's Easter and so we are
here together.

I love you.

Egg Moon

Poems are not just a stream of images  they have to connect.  I never get tired of finding ways to paste these images into relationship with each other.  When I do this, I find out:
1.  Who is the voice?
2.  Who is the voice speaking to?
3.  Who is the voice becoming?
Here is an Easter poem of sorts that I altered to make each image connect to another.  (The  painting is by A. Pinkham Ryder.)  Some people call this a Dream Landscape poem.  Of course, I think it is a collage.

Egg Moon

It's Easter at 4:24 am.
The sky is the bruise.
blinding the whistling train,
muffling the baby's cry,
hushing the wind who knocks at the door,
keeping company a lone bird chirping in the yard,
sliding beneath the hurrying moon.

The moon, broken like an egg
is just like me, another Humpty Dumpty
shattered by her pride
her mouth o'd in surprise
as she lies stunned on the black ground.

If I could turn back this twisted tea table
to the one square on the board that lead here,
I'd sew up the tear that lead to this hole,
But how much thread would it take
to stitch a thousand days?

No.  I will go forward.
I will let the past blow away
like so many bits of egg shell.
I will step out of this broken coat,
and run around in my bare little yoke.
Yes, a shell-free life will be more dangerous.
But it's better than always
worrying that I will get broken.

It's Easter, and so I will
get up and give you a basket
of eggs.  Please remember,
I'm glad we always visit Wonderland
together.  Next time,
we'll go back when we're more awake--
and let's take the elevator
instead of this hole.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


The greening came after a shower
the bird came after a worm
the leaves came after a flower
the poem came after a word


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Palm Sunday

Only two more days of Lent.  The forty days of fasting with Jesus in the desert are over.  Winter is buried, and Easter is around the corner.  I'm not sure this week end counts as Lent because there is Maunday Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday etc.
But just in case we need to get in one more Lent poem out of the way.  Here is an old one with the accompanying painting below. 
Of course, I sort of skipped Palm Sunday which was a few days ago: Celebrated by children for thousand of years with the waving of Palms. This is one of my favorite holidays, so I'll squeeze in an extra poem.  Jesus entered Jerusalem on the donkey on the annual celebration where children waved palms and sang Hosanna.  What a wonderful parade that must have been when the children who loved Jesus sang the song to him and all the crowd followed with the hope of crowning him king. 
I imagine there are very few people in history who didn't accept a kingship when offered one.  Jesus did.  He was already the King for a different kind of Kingdom than everyone realized--a backwards one were servants ruled through humility. 
Spring is the best time to imagine this peaceable kingdom when hope blooms everwhere.  I love the Isaiah version of the peaceable kingdom where there is so little war, every weapon is melted down and reformed into gardening tools.  And children, lion, lambs and every animal are playmates in a garden of growing

Mourning (2001)

I shaved my head to mourn
but everyone laughed.

Wondering why scars
reopen so easily
I bandage myself up again
and limp on.

Palmer  (2010)
Enter Pilgrims, Yeah, that's us--
Pilgrims in dusty boots wearing
the same dull clothes for the eighth
day in a row. Who cares that
I twisted my ankle, or a camel ate my hat.
We've got this view ahead, the wind worn smooth, and we are together.  We'll paint palms on our faces and shout Hallelujah.  We're travelers in a journey walking
Victory road on to the next pass.

Icarus (1999)

Whenever I look at this photograph,
I remember you then,
standing a quarter inch tall
on the edge of a crater,
hazy against the carmel twilight.

The Negev whispering its evening sighs
you hold your distance
sacrificing your view
to avoid the edge.

Praying that you will not hold back,
or dig in your heels,
I see you running fiercely
leaping off into the air--
the sun lighting your
determined face bronze.

As you clutch the feathers
of His wings in each fist,
you fly away grinning
like an Icarus who is certain
his father’s wings aren’t made of wax.