"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

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Things I have lost

What Have You Lost?
The best book of YA poetry I have ever read, okay the best book of poetry I have ever read is called  "What Have You Lost?" by Naomi Shihab Nye and Michael Nye.  It is a collection of poems which answer this question and also its opposite, What Have You Found?

Imagine how easy it is to approach a poem when you already know what question it is answering?  And how easy it is to write when you are asked a profound question-- no matter what you say--you sound like an Emmerson.

What if life were organized into questions:  You enter a gallery and every painting or sculpture is organized into rooms.  One gallery is called "Who have You Loved?"  One is "What Day Changed Everything?" One is labeled "Where did you find yourself?

Now instead of bending over impossibly small texts of useless information trying to figure out what the images are about, you can stand back and enjoy a whole room of work.  You can imagine the stories for yourself. 

Questions are the undiscovered gold of the post modern world.  If we only remembered our questions we might find that we long since found the answers as well.

What Have I Lost?

If I tried to go in historical order,
I'd have to start with ---

My favorite baby blanket with pea green and white
checks.  I rubbed the nubbies between the back and front
as I sucked my thumb.

I lost my best friend when I was six.  She switched
schools to go live with her mother.  Her father wore
a toupee which he kept on a styrofoam head at night,
and her step-mother felt comfortable running around
the home in her shimmery polyester briefs.  My mother
said white cotton was the only healthy kind--
and I had only ever seen hers in the laundry.

My favorite clothes: a red and white skirt
that matched an old felt cowgirl hat I outgrew.  A pink
dress I only wore once after it was washed with a
blue ink pen.  My favorite moccasins I wore to
the art museum so I could hear the leather rub an echo
into the waxed wooden floors.  My flowered
jeans, and pink "dance" shirt.

My great-grandfather who smoked a corncob pipe.
Who I was sure God could bring back to life just
like Lazarus.  The ornate double-door to his bedroom, locked.
In my mind I could see him on the bed, farmer's hands folded
over his overalls.  The white chenille bedspread pulled
smooth, its Braille patterns, fringe, and swirls circled a message
of the world I wished to read-- his red ears, large
and unlistening.

And when his daughter made that bedspread into
seven teddy bears for her seven grand kids, mine had a pink
lace bow and collar, though it was burned in our small
house fire.  Along with the table, nailed together, painted
pink for me, by her brother.  The doll tablecloth she sewed
because I loved strawberry shortcake, and the only real
Cabbage Patch I ever received, named Bunny Darcy.

Though those childhood toys are lost, things I saved
for over fifteen moves of one kind or another,
though my grandmother is gone now after her
eighty-eighth Christmas, and her parents are gone,
their house and farm, along with most of their memories,
I am not lost and my hands are still busy.  I am
sewing checked blankets, quilts, and new bears.

I plant in soil not counted by acres, but little fingers
and little shovels help me.  I fill their pink ears with stories
about everything under the sun--all that I've lost and found
--the meaning of snowflakes, bird seed, and Christmas
until everything blooms into a pattern like a chenille bedspread
and I can almost read Braille, and I am happy.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Those baby boy fingers pushed something into my pocket
What have I got in my pocket? Her silver thimble, lost.
Thank you my little Peter Pan, you know that love
is not just in a kiss.


Your star is on my tree
and it is lovely.
Your place is in my heart,
though we aren't together.

Sugar Cookies

I remember her sugar cookies and the smell of the metal bowl, the coldness of the plate cover and the promising lump within-- the oily smell of the colored sprinkles and the
prize of the candied silver balls 

two escaped-- one in my mouth and one of the floor.  I see her hand as we move the ginger bread man together. Her hand over mine until it arrives safely on the baking sheet.

And when I see his face on my kitchen counter
I hear him say he will run away as fast as he can--
only it is in her waggling, serious story voice. 

 I dream she has run away and she has been pretending all the time.  She can run perfectly, even ride a bike.
When I wake up, she is gone-- in an ambulance
with silver wheels.

And there among the emergency rooms we give her water
out of a straw onto her mouth.  She is a featherless fledgling.
The room down the hall reads "nourishment."
And I think of gingerbread men.


I'd like to be a tree
who when one branch is gone
just grows the other way.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Card Angst

this is not a nice poem, but it might be funny if you've never met me.

There are a lot of occasions for which there is no Hallmark card:

-Sorry you're house burned down, belated,--because they couldn't send it without an address.

-Sorry you're 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60, 65 etc and still single-- because it's not nice even if you do wish they had someone and have a few blind dates to set them on-- and the reverse of sorry you've been married for 5, 10 , 20 etc is also not nice.

-Sorry you lost your job, with a holder for a gift card-- because maybe someone else is helping them out and better not to mention it in case they've found one already.

-We're glad you won the lottery-- because people aren't usually that glad-- go buy yourself a card...

-Sorry your dog died-- because the card companies are just catching on that my neighborhood has four dogs for every one person, and that people prefer to be grannies to dogs when their are perfectly good children available who have no one to bake them home-made dog biscuits.

-Don't worry about Social Security failing, enjoy your vacation in Spain-- because kin tend to keep gripes to themselves and settle on complaining about the t-shirts they get from traveling relations.

-Sorry your ex died-- because this one is complicated and is hard to say whether its in the condolence section or not.

-Happy Birthday to my step-daughter twice removed--because when you are a kid where both your parents get remarried, you have four sets of parents and if they both get remarried twice and so on you could have eight sets, and a complicated week end schedule, not to mention how you are related to who-- is muddled, and by then the kid may not want a card  from you and who could remember that many birthdays of children who aren't your own without a maid named Alice to help out?

-Divorce Cards-- this is a market that would be helpful-- Cards with your new name and address would let people know how to reach you. Even a reverse wedding might be in order. And cards back to the couple would be like reverse wedding cards: greetings, questions, jokes, insights, family tree notices of addition or removal, and rumors etc.  All this could be appreciated, but then again they may not, so better not mention it.

-Congratulations on the raise-- because people really don't have time for this many cards really, and they didnt' get a raise, so how are they going to buy one for you.  Get one yourself.

-Glad to know you had good weather-- this is an under appreciated market.  people are so interested in my weather.

- Sorry you lost a pregnancy-- these may be unavailable despite the rumors of fifty some percent of pregnancies ending early, because of the culture war over weather a fetus is a baby or not, and it is "indelicate."

-Sorry about the PMS-- likewise

- Happy surviving the summer-- cards to stay at home moms or dads are simply non-existent.  This is because they have plenty of time to make their own cards right?

-Saw you on Facebook--  is a card that is really needed.  Friending goes unnoticed when you hit over two hundred.  It would be nice to know if the "accept" button meant there would be any further communication.

-Rejected you on Facebook-- this is an especially useful card because you'd like to know if your old high school friends still hate you, or are just serving in the peace corps.

-Thanks for the organ--again this a squeamish topic, the family of a deceased donor may not want this card and the family of a living donor may think a card is a little under the mark.

-Sorry for disowning you -- this would be helpful for people with hardening arteries who yell a lot, the reverse would be helpful too, Disowning you--It would be good to know if your relatives had disowned you or just forgotten that you still lived on Pine street.

--Happy graduation from potty training-- would be okay and might be useful to the very young or very old.

--Congrats on the hybrid--  Not needed, people with new cars with low gas mileage can afford to come see you in person right?

--Congrats on finishing your ...-- Not really needed, as comments can be made online about everything right?


Some say hand sanitizer is bad
some say its good
I'm allergic to it, so my kids use soap
when they remember
They almost never get sick
I'm up with the cough syrup when
there is one cough
I have drops for every allergy from
trees to wheat
They take elderberry juice, probiotics
and drink tea with honey, I've been known
to stick olive oil in their ear and menthol
on their little pink feet---but
oh when someone else's baby
gets sick I want to run right over
and make them better
I want to feed the whole world
peppermint tea and for
nobody to ever get sick again

Snow prints

Apparently we have a rabbit
that goes to school on the bus,
because when the snow finally melted
enough to walk on the sidewalk on Thursday
it was filled with rabbit tracks
going both directions.


couldn't find my thimble so just sewed the shirt anyway.
didn't have my glasses, but it was too much trouble to find em. 
didn't see them around anywhere. 
tried to eat a sandwich and got mustard on the shirt--
washed it in the washer, but forgot the soap.
let the dough rise on the bread too long until it imploded.
threw the whole mess away.
cleaned the kitchen with a tea towel, because the rags were in the dryer,
and the basket was upstairs with clean, and didnt' want to go look for it
took the wet towel downstairs to dry
distracted by organizing the garage entry way and matching mittens
ran upstairs and made an apple pie instead
didn't want to make crust so tried a crumb version
didn't want to look up the recipe so tried to remember
made a mess
fixed the pie
made sure to turn on the light so wouldn't burn it
put it at the oven after it was preheated this time
shook out the bag of flour to make sure it was empty
thimble fell out of the empty bag of flour?
wrote a poem about it . . .
smelled something burning


Dear Sandi,
I hope you read this and don't throw it away.  I'm sorry.  I know you took me in
when I was a foster kid.  You took me in after I was in juvie. And you took me in
when I should have been able to pay for a place of my own. You were a real
mother to me.  I hope you don't hate me for leaving without telling you why.
I lost my job.  Well I quit.  It didn't pay enough anyway and that Kirk was
a jerk.  You know.  I know you didn't need a 22 year old mouth to feed.
I took Sam with he since he was my dog from the beginning.
We're out on the road having adventers.  I thumbed a ride north to Kansas City.
Its a lot colder here than I expected. I wish I had a good coat.  And I'm stuck out here by the airport
where the trucker dumped me out.  I figure the city is at least thirty miles more south.  I didn't
really think things through.  I can't get a job without a place to live and I can't get a place to
live without a job.  Now that I've been buming around a few days, I can't get a strait anser
from anybody.   I probly smell. I asked people for money to ride the bus and they told me to get a job, or
go to the shelter.  I'd like to, if I could figur out where it is.  I finaly came to a library last night, but I didn't relize you can't look up any info on the computers without a local adress and all that.  I can't turn in my
heating bill from "behind-the-Chinese-Resterant dumpster" where Sam gets a good dinner.
And I can't get back to you very easy.  I don't know what to do, but I'm
going to walk on back south.  I figure I can get downtown in a couple of days if I'm careful.
Some random lady threw this paper at me out of her car window.  Well that's not
really true.  She gave me a blanket and inside was beef jerky and socks and this stamped
envelope.  I figure the only address I knew was yours.  So Merry Christmas.
Sam and I are doing okay.  We're finding out a lot about being homeless and
it suits me, being a foster kid and all.  Maybe I"ll write a book about it someday.
I'm sure I'll find work downtown and I can get a shower and some help at the men's shelter I keep hearing about.  I got their card from the library with a map.  Now if I don't do anything dislexic,
I'll be there soon, get a job, a  pay by the minute cell phone (all the homeless people have them now some guy told me) and I'll give you a call then.  Sorry, they don't have pay phones any more.  I guess I never noticed.
Tell Tom and the kids hello.  Hope Sara is enjoying my old room.