"dazzle gradually"

"Dazzle Gradually" 2016 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.


Polly Alice

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Tar Man

Ending the year with this poem about being a single mom living with family that help me out a lot. This is rather tongue in cheek but describes one of the days I had a while back that made me realize how opposite my life is from a few years ago. Now I have a new understanding so different from the stay at home mom that I formerly was.

Tar Man

Black tar star, Brer Star
You are no brother o' mine.
My wish stuck--no double slap
can get it gone. It's true,
I have finally become a man.

I come home from work
through traffic, my arms sore
my voice tired from meetings.
Get the mail, grumpy.
Inside the dogs do bark
so they get a pat on the head.
Good dog.
I trip over children's books
shoe strings, and hoods.

There's roast beef on the table
hot, even potatoes and something
green on the side. Taste so good
I have seconds then forget to
ask the kids about their
day because I talk about myself
and my new promotions, my
airy premonitions full of metal.

Then I sit in a leather
chair and pat my dog again.
Someone else has fed him,
cleaned the dishes, I don't
care who. I'm already
planning tomorrow in my
head.

Tomorrow is 40 years away.
I think about 401K, 591,
and work's bottom line, next
month's rent and taxes.
I doze by the
fire full until it's time
for bed. I'm too tired
to consider any Honey-do
list. What the kids
are learning in school
looks fine.

I've achieved it. I am a man.
Nothing bothers me,
I can't find anything in the house,
even the hammer.
Dust and smudge-blind
I only see the goals
under my fists at the
wheel.

Groceries, I didn't buy them
cook them, or put them away.
I don't care how much
they cost or what they
taste like. Ask me the season.
I see a ham on the table so
it's either Thanksgiving
or Easter or 'round about.

Anniversaries are
something they eat in France.
Christmas is expensive.
Church is the prenup for
a nap. . .

Brer Star, I just have
one more wish. Send
me a man, so I can be
the woman again.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Who taught us to write poetry?

Fourteen years old
I wrote poetry
on notebook paper
with a blue bic pen

scribbled lines
about onions
or tears,
falling leaves
in autumn
the pain that is
high school.

Who taught me
to write poetry?
To join the poetry
club and judge
entries to the
literary magazine?

Who taught me to
read poetry?
I'd already memorized
the road less traveled
before they taught it
in school.

This old thing?
my only response.

Who taught
me Robert Frost?

Did they sing
it to us in the Nursery?
Who taught me
to write poetry?

Was it my grandmother's
voice craggy and
moist-- speaking those
words kittens 
then mittens.

How long did
I consider the problem
of an egg being
put together again by
horses and men?

the rolling fear
of a potato bug?

the cry of the
Blue Jay and
the curious
Cicada-

the miracle of
a lima bean
in a paper cup
sprouting great
green leaves?


Paper White

    Narcissus papyraceus
    an argonaut, you float-
    albino roots swim
    in the clear glass vase
    at the minimart.

    Poor paper white,
    you've never
    imagined color--
    couldn't understand
    the sun. Forced
    under
    florescence.

    No wonder you
    are such a liar.
    Doubled life half lived-
    Alive in a jar
    without soil.
    WWJSay?

    A seed without
    a place to land
    doesn't even make
    it into His allegory.
    Soil-less hardly
    an option unless
    it's the asphalt.

    You hold your
    words inside
    forming them
    then spit them out
    each carved with a
    knife, chin up.
    Your smile side-
    ways hides
    contempt.

    A fist where
    a heart should be,
    roots like fingers
    grasping
    nothing.





Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Painting

So Paintings have layers, right?
First bleary, watery like tears.
Then blocks of color
puzzle pieces to fit together
spaces to shape, reshape
and shape again.
Finally the skin everyone
might start to see.
That's when you have
to fight for it. Don't quit.
Push it. Push the color.
Push the light.
Push the shadows.
Fight.
Don't quit.
Then you'll have a painting.
Recipe for life.

Stupid things I did after I got divorced

So I didn't post this one, written a few months ago and just now found this hidden in my drafts section of the blog.  Well poets may know if you don't get a poem out you get writer's block. Notice two months of no poems. So just to be safe, will publish this one. May be similar to my pregnancy list poems in that it contains spaghetti. . . a metaphor?


Stupid Things I did after I got divorced October 2015

       [this content has been removed]

Pebble

Love is not a fire
it's a pebble in your shoe.
First it's just a bump
First Picnic  Mixed Media on Canvas 2015
then a boulder.
You have to stop.
Take your shoes off.
Then you notice
the grass. It's green
fluffery, crispy,
sticks in your toes.
Slightly damp.
The sidewalk has
little things called
ants. They always
greet one another.
The breeze is delicious.
There's a Blue Jay
squawking
but it's lovely.
And the sky.
The sky is like
a berometer
for your heart.
And the world
has promise.

When you put
your shoes back
on you feel
your skin
pressing against
the old leather.
You are like
an ant, now--
some
where to go.
You greet
everyone.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Love Stamp

This weekend, I enjoyed my first art opening in a decade. I love to play with word and image. I'd like to think I just brilliantly think of metaphors, but I don't. I simply am drawn to an image and then over time I notice the idioms, the parallels and finally the metaphor-- the layers of a symbol that seemed to choose me ---rather than the other way around. One of the best ways to think about a symbol is to paint it. The other way I love, of course, is poetry. Here in my blog I hammer out a rough version. Then later I revise them, after they have a chance to sit and age awhile.

Love Stamp

I'm torn
out of a book of squares
just like me
I'm licked
beaten
pressed down
thrown into
a cavernous hole
shaken
alone

I'm lifted out
by hands with wings
I'm signed
sealed
specially delivered.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Dear Edmund (2003)

Dear Edmund,

Blue-eyed Edmund, we loved you so-- each and every freckle!
Poor, middle child, we understand you
wanted attention, but why did you ever enter that sleigh?
Why eat her poison, no matter the lure of pink delight?

You missed Mother didn't you? That's what you really wanted.
Poor, blind boy, needing more love than we could give.
You swallowed poison to carry your tortured mind to
sleep and dream. Ah, you thought you were dreaming, didn't you?
You went to Death's table but a lion-maned son cut
a deal for your life- one body given for you.

Funny how you became King, all forgotten and forgiven-- But back
in the real world. How are you really doing? How do you live every
day a traitor-king, a Judas forgiven?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Color Haiku 2002

Firecracker, silks
and the blush of young girls cheeks
honor mighty Red

When time is fleshed out
what is the price of labor
work is distance squared

Music without rests
clamorous cacophony
beauty, being still

An ode to the square
each corner of earth salutes
you are perfection

Those parking lot birds
worship oceans of pavement
unforgiving sea


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Dragons 2002

Last week I read a picture book to my little one about a dragon who wants to make friends. Afterwards we couldn't help rewriting a sequel about what we would do if we actually had a dragon. Dragons are something I didn't know I loved until my best friend from college came to visit and challenged me to an all night debate on whether dragons exist. Since then I've started a whole fantasy series of novels about dragons and what they mean and what they are. Something so deep of course, I've only begun to scratch the surface and -- only completed half of the first novel. Regardless, I secretly type out conversations with dragons in my novel folder and have spent the five years or so since then researching dragons (only a few more years to go).

Here is an old snippet I found from 2002 in my poetry journal during my "feminist" period that proves I loved dragons before I even knew it...

Sometimes even the clouds look like dragons 
which smoke filled nostrils and wispy tails
and even the stars frown
at what I say against God & Man


Lie to me now

At the art studio, I'm working on a collection of paintings I'm calling the Love Stamp series. They commemorate important occasions in our life, we want to remember. Whether bad or good, I think how we remember something is what makes us human and what forms who we are. Sometimes we need to commemorate an occasion to forget it and move on; to reopen our calendar, wash it clean from past traumatic events. Here is a quote from my poem called, Archive,

Some insist memories stick to our subconscious 
like stamps on a postcard with Jungian script--
Dear Ego, . . . . Love Id . . . . 

So three years after this poem,  one of my paintings commemorates the journey of love, with a series of stamps. Stamps are a great symbol for the subconscious message, the dream, the idea, the window to the soul. In looking through my love poetry to help with my love letter pairing,  I found it lacking. Here is my poem with some of those thoughts in the subtext as I keep processing. Poetry is healing they say and so is art. I'm hoping to do both together.


Lie to me now

They say liars don't use metaphors,
can't use metaphors because
how would they know?
You can't describe something
poetically that never happened
that you've never felt.
So liars are not poets
or poetry can't lie?

They say metaphors
and rapid eye movement can
heal you 96% of the way
to wholeness from Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder.
So the doctor will let you
fill in the blank with
metaphors. Metaphors
with a blue screen behind
their white helvetica font.
You'll stare at a white dot. Run
your eyes from left to right
while metaphors bloom
in your mind like
sunflowers after a late
summer rain. Metaphors
that heals all your cracks
bring back to life your dry
dead stalks. With a little
green in your heart again.
You can breath. It's
really just writing poetry.
Running your eyes from
left to right over and over
writing and rewriting
metaphors like working
out a knot in the yellow ball of
yarn that your darn cat unraveled
on the floor. Yellow for
fear of course, because that's
a metaphor too.
Metaphors inhibit lying, or
maybe they are more true
than regular truth. It's safe
to say-- you can't lie and write
poetry at the same time.
The truth comes out whether
you want it to or not. Whether
you can see or it or not.
I mean, please-- No one writes
love poems using plastic flowers
and radishes as their metaphors.
You've got work to do.
Metaphors can heal you
96% they say. So Love,
go for the other four.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Puss 'N Boots

So this letter is just to say that 
you think you've lost everything
but you haven't.
Here I am
just look at me. 
I'm the girl you've overlooked
from the start.
So what if you don't
have a great education, I never
went to school.
So you don't have any assets, 
or a farthing to your name.
I'm not allowed to own anything. 
So your rat of a brother kicked
you out of your Dad's old place.
So you've got
only the shirt on your back.
You haven't had breakfast.
Look down. I'm skin and
bones. I never get fed.
Look, 
I'm barefoot. Now.
Look --
at your boots. Yes, 
boots. And boots make 
the man. Are you a man
or aren't you? You can go
anywhere, do anything,
talk to anyone. If I were
a man I'd have this all
fixed in a jiffy. I'd have
a new job, a new name,
and a wardrobe to match.
I'd have people offering
me... 

Give me your boots. That's
right. Give me your boots
and I'll fix everything.
Just make me a promise.

Don't forget who 
saved your skin.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Love, Morning Glory

Last week I entered some poems about motherhood in answer to a call for poems. I edited my rhyming poem about Morning Glories into something I think is stronger, doesn't rhyme, and fits better with my new mode as a single mother. In writing this poem I dug into the famed Greek myth of a certain flower and found it belonged to the daffodil family. I also discovered the following flower was also called a paperwhite. Funny as I had been wanting to use the image "white as paper." This happens a lot in poetry. Turns out the poem is already half written and you just research to give yourself permission to go ahead and write. Here's how one of them turned out. 


Dear Narcissus,

You think because
I’m transparent--
because I let the light
through in verity,
that I’m not important.

You guess from the tight
twirl of my skirt.
the curl in my tendrils,
that I’m fragile
can’t take the heat.

You’ve missed me from
the very beginning. You
prefer your own reflection,
Paperwhite. You doze

through my gray dawn—
while I drink the musky sun
shower in the dew.
With violet eyes,
I bloom to
kiss each jaded wing.

My strength, my maze
of vines. My love,
my packets of
dark pearls-- like firecrackers,
ready to let go.

Try to erase me,
a hundred more bloom.
You can’t banish me
or cut me down--
can’t wash me away
or burn me out.

For just
the least touch
my seeds give way--
All that I am
inscribed in each heart.

Monday, August 24, 2015

KC Japan Festival Haiku Contest!

 My Tumblr Blog

It's time to enter the KC Japan Festival Haiku Contest of 2015! Last year I won third place. Here are my submissions. I had so much fun.  I take my favorite poems and condense them into haiku.  I think this is the only way to make the haiku thick enough, if you know what I mean. And I love the result. Who says you can't say something in 17 syllables.


KC samurai Spirit

I'm the cavernous
jasper blue of summer sky
the quickening blur


KC Arts

Shell colored satin
as we sit on red velvet
like tea for cold hearts


KC Blues

Gutters drip rainbows
manholes tell you everything
So sing, Sugar, Sing.


KC BBQ
Barbecue showdown
win the hearts of those you love
a taste to call home


KC Sports

Let's paint the whole town.
Oh, I love Kansas City!
Red, white, Royal blue!

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Red Cord-- Rahab's Song

Soon the very first poem I wrote as an adult will be published. An old favorite from 1999, My poem Jacob's Song is to be published in Arc magazine in it's 24th annual edition of Israel association for Writers in English (IAWE). Yesterday I realized that many of my favorite characters in history have meant so much to me as I have wrestled with understanding their stories and their viewpoints.  Why not write another one? I thought. Why not write many? So here is another poem in the same style written from the perspective of a very famed Jewish woman from history.


This is my Jericho
and the walls are
falling down.
All these strangers

took pieces of me
for a price. Daughter
of the Sun, they called me
but I sold for a penny.

This was my Jericho
But the walls are falling
down. Now she knows
my shame, open to all.

Oh God, if you are a
strong tower, then restore me.
Build fresh bricks and mortar
around my heart.

Let them call me
Mother of a nation
Here I take this red cord
and raise it with a cry

My Deliverer. My savior.
My Banner forever.

The one who rescues me.





Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Orange Cinder

In July the flower stand squats empty
crates gray like the pavement
cinderblocks sigh heavily with
wooden slats loitering about--
Paint splits off the faded sign
Jeannie's Lawn and Garden Center
Even the grass pants heavily--
gone for the season.
I see a future of orange--
In a few weeks it will open
again sprouting pumpkins
lined up like teeth in
a jack-o-latern smile. Yes,
it's empty now, but out
in the tall grass, purring,
are round little babies
some the size of my fist,
some as small as a thumbnail.
They swell in the heat
after nightfall,
drink dew by the bucket
Yes, looks empty now,
only because we can't see
those far off fields, only
because we can't know
what will happen next.
You think Cinderella's
carriage was magic, the work
of a moment. But I know
that it takes twelve weeks
for a squash to grow from
one tear shaped seed
to the behemoth she
knelt crying over---
under starlight.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Fickle

Two sun rings
twenty four moons
since that time
you had a headache
I stroked your head
and said everything
is going to be alright
you said that for
a moment you felt
like I really did care--
that's when I knew
you were delierious
because I'd cared
every minute
eight scores of
months, how many
hours of hand written
notes, poems penned on
red autumn leaves,
gold buttons tied
with string, nosegay
yes little flowers,
scrabble cookies,
pumpkin pies,
three children
10 moves, five cars,
five degrees, four
thousand seven hundred
and forty-five dinners,
and how many cuffs
repaired on boring
brown kakis?
Too many to count.
Sure the headache
went away, but
you followed it.
And I free,
am happy except
when the full
moon loses her
chin and wobbles
a bit in the sky
and I wonder
if she get's headaches
holding the sky
up and suffering
from accusations
of her inconstancy
when really it
is only the light
of the sun which
casts a fickle
light when the
earth turns his
back endlessly
indecisive about
which way
to face.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

Donne Ring

Dear John,
Maybe you don't know this but
people call you one of the world's
greatest poets. You could make
fountains sparkle and rings speak.
You could write the songs of
angles, catch stars, explain death.
You lived hundreds of years ago
when everyone died of cholera
and consumption. Now we've
cured all that-- along with our
power over words. You'd be
surprised how few we use now,
like Oak trees before a frost
are the leaves of our words.
With more days to speak within,
we have less to say. I have a glass
that will show me any picture in the
world, nay the Heavens too--
any place I want, more clear
than any crystal,  it will show me
any word I desire in any language.
I find still there are times
I do not have the word I'm
looking for. For example
the word you use for
a broken promise?
No matter how many words
I eat, nor how much metal
I fling into St. George's
Channel, I will still
look for the right one.
If I traveled back
in time to visit you at your
writing desk, I'd probably find
not even a dictionary. I'm sure
if you needed a word,
you might have to take
a stroll and pluck it
from the street where it rolled
among the refuse caught
in the loose shoe of an old mule.
There you might scrape it out,
melt it down in a fire,
and pluck from it a meaning
only a Smithy could find.
For in the white hot
heart of a word, there
you saw the reason
to carry on. That is
the word I'll inscribe
on my new heart.




Saturday, July 11, 2015

First Kiss

The first kiss is always
one of the best. You're surrounded
by fireflies, and honeysuckle vines
nothing could be more romantic.
But honey, maybe you should
open your eyes and wonder
why you are standing in the dark.
It's cold and you weren't
offered a jacket. You're a tiny
bit thirsty and you weren't
offered a drink. You are hungry
and you weren't offered dinner.
If you open your eyes, you'll see
that police car drives by because
visitors aren't allowed in the park
after dark. And that leads me
to ask you one question.
What's with that big kisser
who is always trying to get
you alone?

Dark Room

There's something I need to do.
It's a negative. Something I've held onto
for a long time. I've kept it. Treasured it.
I think I know what it's a picture of,
it's hard to tell. I know it's time to do this.
I've been putting it off. If I don't
do it now, this negative will haunt me
for the rest of my life. So I'm taking it--
taking it to the dark room.

The door to the dark room revolves in

single confessionary shoot. Only
one may enter at a time.
I'm alone.
In the eye of the door I lose
the colorful confusion of the every day.
I must turn around enter the vacuous hole
into the dark. I step in. I'm there
with only one tiny negative smaller
than my hand. My present and future are
all but gone. I'm in a portal to the past.
I pull the door closed and it is
silent.

The door slides around and opens into a large
room. At first I can't see anything. But after
a minute, the smallest of lumens, a tiny red orb
in a high ceiling corner, it doesn't push light
for more than a few inches--
though it refracts a hint of reflection
on four baths of liquid on a counter below.
The red light, the dampness and warmth
of the dryer,  the sharp smelling oder places my
body in this womb where we hope to catch
small butterflies of light we call Truth.

The tap of tongs against
the tray tells me someone else is here with 
feverous concentration, the end of the journey
while I am just beginning. We don't speak to
one another. The dark room is not about
community, though it acts like a tiny hive
for honeyed embryos of light. 
This is the pitch--
Blackness I navigate from memory
to the second station from the far wall.
I've been here before. So often, I could
do without the red bulb, altogether.

I set up my enlarger,
adjust the settings for a single
exposure, count the ticks of the timer
to a nine second setting. Carefully pull
out the plate and insert the curling film
into it's brace--in the blood light I see
it's small veins of shadow. This negative
here, it's from when I was sixteen-- me before
all my mistakes, all my delusions,
but fully steeped in selfishness. What? I
was sixteen. Ah, but it's not a picture of me--
No, it's a picture I took of something,
something that was important to me.

I want to know what that was. I need
to know. I adjust my focus, and focus
again. It's hard going back in time-- in a
negative everything is opposite to real
life. You can't be quite sure what you are
really seeing. It's all backwards in
a looking glass world of inversed action.

Insert a new piece of paper
with the precious silver emulsion. Silver
tarnishes, changes to black-- something
hateful to a Silver tea service, but lovely
in the darkroom because we are going to
catch light. Catch it, hold it, and make
it stick-- just like Peter Pan's shadow.
Watch closely because this will be
magic!

I turn the switch. A small pouring of light
flows through like water from a bucket.
It cannot breach the darkness in it's
weakened state. It's time is limited.
Click. The light is off.
It's ready. My paper is steeped in light,
Have faith. You can see it yet.

I lay the paper in the developer
and wait a few minutes.
Slowly the picture appears in periphery
moving outwards. A revelation of
positive. I can make out some figures.
They are smiling, hmm it's really too dark
to make out who they are.
So I pull out the paper from it's tray,
and dip it in a Stop bath. Wait.
Agiate.

I wonder if I'll remember who they
are? Is it my neighbor, my cat, a friend?
I can't remember that far back. I'm so
so old now. Photography is old. Most
Dark rooms were shut down a long
time ago. This one will be demolished
next year.

Next I lay the paper in the Fixer with
a third set of tongs. Now no one
can change it. Permanent--
wait again.
Finally, the fourth bath,
cleanses away all chemicals a final
baptism. It is done.

When the photo is dry,
I  exit the dark room.
Alone-- I turn the revolving door
Step into the coffin and pull
the shroud over. I turn around--
Light comes at me with a force.
I'm inundated with light.
Blinded by light. Then the sound
of the cacophony of the real world
all it's jabs and colors returns.
I'm breathless, undone.

I take a step and look down at the

photo in my hand, shaking.


Thursday, July 9, 2015

Frankly Tuesday

It was a Tuesday. The last words
in the diary of Anne Frank read,
But I keep trying to become
what I would like to be, and what I could be
if... if only there are no other people 
in the world. 
I wonder why, Anne. Why keep a diary?
Why write at all--
Why keep arranging words like
stones too heavy for one hand?
What can a soul locked up, have to say?
But then again, she said a great deal.
She loved a great deal-- the moon
through the dirty window, the country
called Holland, all people, a childish boy
named Peter-- another rock.
But we'll never know.
There are no more words in her diary,
these are the last. Here's what I think,
I really do-- if Anne had the chance
to write one more day, she would
have revealed her Friday
transformation--
Torn from her small cell, in the face
of losing everything-- I see her walk,
head held high. I like to believe,
she gained the one thing she wanted most,
and in doing so, lost the invisible
chains bound by her own hand---
Yes, outwardly captured, moved--
to a deeper prison. But I think
nothing could hold her by then
For she'd grown wings--
wings made of long strips
of words. Each word made of
letters, each letter, of strokes.
Each stroke lifting her
to freedom.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

'Set a Course'

I know it's a bad night when Star Trek is on.
I like the sound of the doors opening
and closing. The swish of effortlessness
I like the hum of the engines
and the bubbling sound of pretend computers
computing the impossible trajectories
of plausible adventures.
I even like the sound of red alert--
it reminds me of my heart beat, like
my body is a ship, on a mission.
Sometimes it's on red alert,
sometimes yellow.
It journeys on a set course to
somewhere particular, everything
in place, everything as it should be.
Not one person missing. I like that
about Star Trek. And so I save it
for the nights the children are gone.
Nights where people are missing
and the hum of the refrigerator
sounds like a dial tone ringing
busy. Nights when I need to
be reminded that there
is a vector and with the
right equation, and a punch
to the upper cut, there will
always be a tomorrow. With
the right mix of passion
and logic-- surely,
we can
take this bucket of bolts
out for one more spin.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Bob Ross in the Bag

It's Father's Day. I pull into the driveway
next to the paper Birch. What's in my purse?
A sealed, brand-new DVD of Bob Ross, the PBS wonder,
master Oil Painter, not to mention, snazzy dresser.
His big hair reminds me of my Dad's 80s curls
so much like Ronald McDonald, the clown.
Everyone the same back then.

Who started it?
The curls I mean? What were they thinking?
But Bob Ross pulled it off. It's like he
had a halo that said, "I love painting. And
I don't mind letting you copy everything
I do. And guess what? You can make
the trees any color you like." I like that
about Bob.

Why was he so incredibly soothing?
What made all of just sit and stare as
he placed small pale marks on the base
of "happy little trees"? And why did he use
so much Alizarin Crimson? Everything was
maroon? Everything Titanium White? Why?

The other thing in my purse? A small bit
of communion wafer, a cube really--
I'm allergic to the wheat in the bread.
Oh, and an empty plastic cup, small enough
for a large gnome to drink out of.
The cup isn't half empty. It's really empty--
all sipped out.

I remember Dad had asked for communion
the week before he died. I told him,
I can never eat it anymore.
I'll take it, if you still have it, he said,
trying to sound as if he didn't care. But he knew.
He knew he wouldn't make it very many more
days. I did too. I knew that's why
he was so peaceful. We knew.

It wasn't long now.
But that Sunday, like most others,
I had crumbled up the small crust in lieu
of chewing it. My purse empty.
Not one crumb
left. And I suddenly hated

being Protestant, because I knew if there
had been a priest somewhere handy, he
or she would appear with wafers
and a cup right then and there--
they have kits, you know, to take to the
bedridden-- Fast food communion.
The wafers slide out like quarters from a silver
tube. The wine in a thermos, a white
linen napkin-- all hidden inside
a small leather box--- a happy meal.

Then again, to even say we wanted
such a thing was so un-Protestant.
Because last rights are just a formality, un-
necessary.
So we just shrugged.
Our meal, imaginary.
Our religion, un-
religious.

Looking back,
I can imagine it differently.
Who would pop through the door, but
Bob Ross! And he'd tell us that
with a few small strokes here and there
he could paint us any meal we wanted.
He'd create a loaf of bread so beautiful
that no one could be allergic to it. He'd
cover it with little dots of sesame. Then
a crystal goblet shining in pure white.
Of course, an easy choice for the wine,
dark red, so much poured out, somehow
always enough.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Singular Question

What if the Galaxy was
a tiny thing. Well sort of
small. What if it were
like a garden? A quilt?
A pin ball machine?
What if the singular
sensation was how the
Galaxy sings as it
dances it's waltz around
a Universe Bear in a
Three Ring Circus of
possible universes?
And what makes it spin?
What holds the axis?
What powers it? What if
it were a small black
pearl? A pearl of
great price? What if,
a long time ago, someone
found it somewhere,
in a shallow pool
of milk and vapor.
And buried it here,
right here. What if
that someone
sold everything
to get it?
Everything.
Someone who
knew it could
serve as the dark
heart of a very
bright universe?
Someone who
isn't sorry
they now
own a bit
of nothing.
Someone who
is forever
invested in
dust?

Water is too heavy

Sometimes there's a flood--
Water is too heavy to drink--
air is fluid-- cat fish fly!--
the drains drip rainbows--
an' the iron plate
over the manhole
tells you where everything
ends up-- in capital letters--
That's when--
that's when you know
it's time-- to put your oar
in-- and sing like there's
no tomorrow-- Sing like
the Blue Jay never
stole a dime from you--
Sing like the sun were butter
spread on white toast-- Sing
like the clouds were spun
sugar--  Sing, like radiators
hissed hot coffee. Sing,
Sugar--Sing.





Saturday, May 23, 2015

The Doe

The moon waxes
outside the movie theater
couples stroll to their
cars. A pair of bats
hover over the AMC.
They chirp and swoop
for moths caught by
the buttery light.
Roses flash in
the headlights
of turning cars.
In the back of
David's Bridal,
now dark,
there is a side lot
in front of an empty
field. There under
the street light,
a small doe-- still
behind the tall grass.
Her white tail
a comma,
her ears glow
pink. She's
made it through
winter, escaped
every hunter.
We stare at
each other for
a long time.
The stars smell
like summer.
I wonder
what she will
do next.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Attic

Grandma's attic smelled
like 400 books baked into
dust motes. Just breathing
could make you smarter there.
Feather pillows in jailhouse
mattress ticking, bars from
which birds have already
escaped, but left you
a few feathers to sleep on.
Sheets ironed smooth
and heavy enough to keep
nightmares away, white
enough to starch your dreams.
Pink woolen blankets minus
holes for some nice
welcome mat for mice.
Floor boards stronger
than Jonah's boat. The
ironing board heaped
with clothes from 1968.
The moth balls have steeped
the air into syrupy camphor--
a match might make
the whole place blow, but
no it already feels like ashes
on the back of the sun.
So many words,
so many feathers,
so many tears
unshed.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

International Association for the Study of Dreams in VA Beach this summer



The IASD Conference is happening soon!  Join me and 120 other presenters from 60 countries at the Annual IASD Dream Conference, June 5-9,2015.  For details about this amazing conference:  www.asdreams.org/2015
I'll be presenting "Doorway to Dreams," a fun interactive workshop on why dreamwork helps deepen your writing for both authors and readers.
Click on my "dream poems" tab to the left to read some of my peoms about dreaming.  


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Under the Rainbow

Driving home from work
signs glide by
trees float
grass hovers like a sheet
when we make the bed
children's faces in the rearview mirror
smile or gaze out seeing nothing
seeing everything
sometimes I wonder
how can I keep doing this
living each day without
stopping.
I heard once that trees
do not fly by.
They stand still.
I can't remember
the last time
I spoke to a tree.
Kids think trees
can talk, or they
used to. Do my kids
know what a tree is.
Do they really know?
Have they ever sat under
one for long enough
to hear it breathe?
Here is my exit.
169.
I take it every day.
North.
North
and as I turn
up and up
and around
I pretend I'm holding still
I remember the day
we drove under a rainbow at this
exit. Under and through.
And I knew that when the
rainbow was gone,
it was my job to
remember
it's
promise.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Published today

I have a poem published today. I'm so excited...

Here is the link to my newly published poem at Bethlehem Writers Roundtable May/ June issue. "When We had Little" is one of the poems I wrote in 2010 here on my first year of my poem-a-day blog. The idea for a daily blog was inspired by the film Julie & Julia. The poem was inspired by those post college years (or decades) when I learned how to cook from my favorite cookbook, "Extending the Table" by those lovely folks at MCC who know how to travel with purpose, and how to bring those great tastes home. 

I will post here below an excerpt of the revised and now published poem made even better by news today that another poem I sent was accepted by another publication. 

"This work was originally published in the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, the magazine of the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC."


sustenance from nothing
blossoms to bread
with only a bowl
I can accomplish anything.

Click here to read the whole poem.


Monday, April 27, 2015

169

The day the price of gas ran
a dollar sixty-nine, I took
a deep breath. Every muscle
down my spine relaxed
my anxious thoughts stopped
spinning, my forehead
smoothed into a golden
field along the highway
my smile, the road
paved to the place
where I felt rooted
like the old lilac
in the grey blush
of spring.
My arms the fields
of wheat, my knees
tips of early corn,
my hair the breeze,
my teeth country
music, my eyes
the Missouri sky,
my feet the rhythm
along the highway
going home, home
going north on
highway
169.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Remember This

Remember this.
This day walking
this steep slope
this bosom of lawn
where GG
climbed as a girl,
holding her sister's
hand. Blanche, their
mother determined
to have a picnic
after taking the
train. Union Station,
the same as it is now,
only full of...
trains. Kansas City
emptied out,
it's people
lost to a war,
influenza,
death by
words through
metal.
Now an obelisk
rises above
an unlit pond
glints as oil
in a pool like
tears from
the cherubim
who hide
their faces
melting
peace into
stone, for they
too know
wars come
and go but
memories
last forever.
Remember
this.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter Time

It's time for Easter.
Every year, we act
out the parts again
to remember what was
heavy enough to make
time run backwards
and death lose his grip.
T.S. Eliot says Time,
is an occupation for the 
saint-

I know it's acted out
by the lowly. On Maunday
Thursday the workers
at the car wash kneel
like Jesus with a deciple
then dry with white towels
to wash away the grime
from where I've been.

I felt baptized, like the 32
people who were baptized on
Palm Sunday, and the life
guard dunked in too-- in the
the name of the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit-- which made
thirty-three.

Three-three years Jesus stayed
here. I've seen the places
he walked. The rocks
still look ready to cry out for
Eliot's half guessed Incarnation.

Last Sunday, children waved
palm branches. Early pilgrims,
they shouted they'd love Jesus forever,
a boy asked why his father never
came back from war, if Jesus could.

Tomorrow I will get up and take my
two remaining children to church.
We will wear colors as bright as
the Eggs we will hide in the park
behind our back gate.

The dog will bark, the bridge over
Shoal creek will solemnly preside,
and we will laugh in the damp
new grass, knowing Jesus
is still alive, and promises
only sunny days in eternity--

knowing one day we will
return to our fathers
if they cannot come to us

knowing the lamb means
we were spared, we are
clean, all is reversed,
and time will have no
hold on us anymore.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Ode to the Dead End

Dead End,
your the place I like to be.
I love your yellow warning
that says nothing can come in.
I love your little white houses
with porches full of birdbaths
made from poured cement--
the girl who pours water
from a wineskin, the Cherubim
baby with fat cheeks, stone
feathers. The wrought iron
railings painted black. The
green striped awnings to
keep out rain. Dead End,
I love you. Here is where
I always want to sit. Here
is where I'll watch the world
go by. Because someone
placed two vinyl covered
chairs here, someone in
hopes of taking it
easy at the end
of the road. And in
that hope is where
we will meet. We will
drink out of icy glasses.
We will hear the roar of motors
and the din of traffic where
they cannot come.
Ours will only be shade
and the small hum
at the end of our
laughter. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Purpose

The man at the conservatory
in khaki with the creased brow
and gray locks down to his collar
crouched under a small tree with a
ring of brown paper stalks and said--

Everything in nature has a purpose.

The peppermint smell in the hulls
keeps bugs and predators away
poison ivy berries are a Blue Jay's
favorite snack. You know that means
I have a purpose too.

Everything about me has a purpose,
I'd like to know what that purpose
is, not to be abused but to belong
not to be neglected but to be protected
not to be forgotten but to survive
not to be abandoned, but thrive.

Everything in nature has a purpose. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lent 2015

This year it doesn't feel like Lent.
Where is the gray?
Where is the sadness?
There is hardly any waiting
it's warmer each day

This year it doesn't feel like Lent.
Where is the gray?
Where is the fasting?
There is nothing left to give up
I've given it all away.

No, this year Lent is short
Where is the gray?
Where is the rain?
The crocus opens up
more every day.

It's purple spikes
sharp, but have
nothing to cut
for I am already
mended.

I am here
to stay.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Things to Find...

So the art and illustration show is up again. This time at Woodneath MCPL library in Liberty, MO.  I created a bit of a scavenger hunt for visitors who come to the show.

Things to Find


1.  Can you find my Great Grandmother Benton's oil paint brushes in an old Pringle's can? (Yes, shirt-tail relation to the famous artist, Thomas Hart Benton).
2. My grandfather's books from his office where he used to prepare sermons for Missouri churches?
3. How about sea shells and a feather from our vacation to Branson two years ago?
4. Can you find the old spools of thread from Pennsylvania where I went to art school?
5. Or the ink bottle and pen nibs from the Smithsonian-- close to where I went to high school?
6. Can you find the old water color paints from Grandma Irene? She won an art contest back during the World's Fair?
7. How many sketch books can you see?
8.  How many eggs to you count in the display case?
9.  How many paint brushes do you see in the display?
10.  Do you see the hand-sewn item made by my little sister in pink and blue?
11. My favorite doll?
12. The famous cartoon character, Cluckers, created by my brother, the artist, and my soft plush toy rendition of him?
13.  How many self portraits do you see?
14.  How many trees do you count?
15. Which story illustrated in the display do you want to hear the most?
16. Can you find the copy of Alice through the Looking Glass?
17. If you could walk into the world pictured in one of these paintings, which would you visit?
18. Which painting looks like it's made from recycled materials?
19.  Find two more paintings in the library that look like they belong with the ones behind glass.
20. You win a prize if you send me your answers to the scavenger hunt.  Thanks for visiting!


Thanks for visiting! Come on out to meet the artist at the library's Access Arts event on April 18th!