"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

Saturday, November 12, 2016


driving home from the first class
something changed
the feeling broke

maybe there was the truth
in what I want to do
talk about words

unpack them like suitcases
share them, unfold them
into wings so they can 

November 8/8

It's like waking up to
a gorilla in your house. He'll
break the dishes, and use
your toothbrush to comb
between his toes. 

November 7/7

It's like waking up and
hearing your children
are being taken away from you.
by violence, starvation,
or being sent off to a war
created by filling in ovals
with dry ball point pens. 

November 6/6

It's like waking up
and finding out the planet
only has 30 years to live.
When the oceans go.
What will we breathe?

November 5/5

It's like waking up
after a one night stand
only to find you've been
demoted garbage. Woman.
third class citizen, door mat.
Permanent object for use.

November 4/4

It's like waking up and
finding out it will be
always winter and
never Christmas.

November 3/3

It's like waking up and
a thick cloud covers the earth
it's made up of navy blue hatred
with lightning that strikes
the pit of my stomach and
sometimes my heart.
In my brain it's raining
and the rain says, you will
never be okay again.

November 2/2

It's like waking up
in a black and white movie
all the men have guns
and the woman only
serve pie.

November 10th 2016

It's like waking up and
the only restaurants left in the world
are all Hooters.

Thursday, November 10, 2016



What if people were really supposed to be like birds?
What if we started trusting for just one day, would 
everyone sing?

Friday, September 9, 2016

phone booth

What is the phone booth there
except a box, its tall red door

four squares squared
why is it inviting?
--light shines 
clear through transparent- 
maybe the solitude?
passion of red?
color of the place none
consciously remembers

That small folded place
oh for a place when
connected by a cord
to the voice of someone
loving, someone always

on the end of that line,
someone always there
surrounding, close outside
the fishbowl

or maybe the box, the red
box stands for words
words like--call home. 
Red box you say--
change quick,
fly home,
home is bigger, yes
it's bigger on the inside

this red box

Saturday, July 23, 2016


Dear God,
Give me a poem
and I will write it down
my pencil will
make its soft
cursive sigh
on pale newsprint
like the sound
of wool erasers
brushed over the blackboard
a sound so light
a sound half remembered
a sound as faded
as the color
of chaulk lines
erased but still there
where are they
now? only motes of
chaulk dust
filling the air,
in my nose, my throat
they sting.
--the words
caught like
chaulk at the
back of my throat
caught like baby birds
in a hand
until I know--
I know now that
words can be
turned to dust
--turned into
a hundred
whites of
a hundred weights
of light
soaring over
the classroom
where I
caught them
on strings
made of rainbows
and asked them
to walk a tame
line. Today
when I beg them
to fly, they
flutter on
half remembered

Friday, July 22, 2016


Small green bud
unhand unfurl
fingerling free
the miracle
I hail in Spring
come Fall
I trample
therm o'r
without a thought
of their former
Trampled under.
Yes that must be
what miracles are--
so sweet
so glorious
then in their abundance
like dust motes in 
the air--
When the seasons
change that's 
think of each 
miracle, simply 
put that I,
I deserved
the shade. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Cadbury Crimes

It's 1 am and I steal up to the kitchen.
Above the ceramic fowl
lies the candy bowl
with treats from Easter.
A Cadbury egg tastes
almost as sweet in July.
What is the filling
supposed to be?
And what do they
expect us to do with
little chickie shaped erasers?

I've heard people say that
hate is learned, that
children are born innocent
as pink wicker baskets,
I've heard them say it's
easy to be kind.

But what about the
apple that bore
seeds into every stomach
since the beginning
of time? If babies
are born to love, then
what need we for grace?
What good forgiveness?
What need to erase?

I've heard people say that
hate is learned, Chicken or the egg?
My kids hate Cadbury
Eggs. I never taught
them that. Just
born that way, I guess.

Getting rid of hate
is like picking egg
shells out of quiche.
You never know where
you will find a bit
that sets your teeth on

Only one way I know
to pick hate out of
every heart. Takes
a surgen
who can put us back
together again,
after we fall
and lay broken in

Takes someone who can
sew, blind,
from the inside.

Takes someone
who knows how
we are made and
who knows what
came first. The chicken
or the egg.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Dark House

Dark House

dark house
dark forest
dark gate
dark table

I had this weird nightmare dream that ended in a poem. And suddenly I had this feeling the same poem had been at the end of my dream the day before too. Creepy. Super creepy. But when I picture a dark house in a forest with a gate and a nice polished table, it seems to only speak to me of quiet and solitude. So it could be not creepy. But then again when it's at the end of a nightmare, doesn't bode well for the poem.  Also poetry written in your sleep might seem great early in the morning. But later in the day, it just seems stupid.  Lesson: write poetry when you are awake. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

New Thing Art Studio- A very merry unbirthday

All my new art this year was the focus, now back to the writing board as much of it I believe will help me write more poetry and finish my picture books. This little slide show is to celebrate one year of art. If you haven't seen my art you'll notice a few of the pieces work like miniature poems with one or two words on them. I hope to flesh those out in new poems here in the next few months! Enjoy the music written by Camera Man Number 13. We played his song and others at a recent art show called Wonderland Squared. So fun. A great remix!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

do stars need nightlights?

Is it dark where you are, Star?
Are you afraid of the dark?
Do you need a nightlight?
A blanket to keep you
warm in outer space?
Do stars need teddy bears
or rocking horses? Do they
need a nightlight all the time
since they never
ever get a day?

Can they see the fireflies
so far away on Earth
down below?

A firefly at 3 am is
the odd one out. He is
still alone. The essence
of hopefulness. The
last one out.
He lights bright
No wait--
he's over there.
Look. There he is
again. Higher.
Look higher.

He's at the tree tops
now. He's in the sky.
He's found his dream.

They they are

Monday, June 6, 2016


Press down
fingertips fly
v for victory
that's it

tap it on the
table like
an ace of spades
tap tap

You know it's
too late to say
anything else

Yes too late

Why is it
always on
the back
of the envelope

you can finally
tell the T is for

Smacked together
scribbled back
to front-- your
words fold

who cares
what you said

but it's the back
yes the back--
the back of the envelope
where you can write
it-- where all of
God and Man
will see it

cares what the post man

You know floating in the air
sent, delivered, flying free
is your letter. Your
letter with wings.

In it's dark muffled mail bag
in the belly of a plane
there it floats.

out from the back
of the envelope
are what you really
wanted to say.

There on the back
fingers will
run over the
surface of
those letters
still warm

I'm sorry

Sunday, May 29, 2016

What's in the Burrito?

I'm always trying to recreate that burrito
the one I ate at the poets house
the house with a basket of sea shells
nesting on the sun porch.

that moment when I
promised myself that
someday I'd have a home
with a sun porch and
and most likley
whenever I wanted

I'm always trying to recreate that
moment at the poets house
with the basket of sea shells
like the shells I placed outside
my new yellow house
under the red maple
stunted like a perpetual
storm blew
invisible to the rest of us--

it had been planted poorly.
in a shallow bed. The sea
shells looked out of place.

I have one shell left,
scalloped. That measures
it's palm open to the sun
in the prayer garden with
angels, bunny's
and small tree stump.

The shell tells me
how stupid I am
for a shell
is only a home that is
discarded for being to small.
And lies in a shallow bed

In my burrito
is a tea pot that dances in heels
bunnies that fly
ketchup with wings
a cottonwood fairy
books about fried chicken
a heavenly piano
dark chocolate
birds that sing
a new pair of glasses
and a million
dancing stars
each with
their own

Add in salsa with olives
moon dust
and a few more wings
and you've got
something too
big for the front porch.

I don't have to recreate no
day, no chair but my
own, and when I don't
have a chair, I'll just

Advice to Poets from Juan Felipe Herrara

Juan Felipe Herrera took an extra day in Kansas City and spoke to poets at the Diostole Scholar Center off 25th and Holmes. Diostole means rest for the heart. It is truly a restful building and reminds me of the intorior of the ecumenical institute, Tantur outside Jerusalem because of it's modern design, the sunlit white walls and the many, many artworks from around the world.

Juan Felipe spoke for over two hours.  Here are some of the grains of advice he gave to poets. I've tried many of these already and the ones I haven't you can bet I will be. Some of the best advice I've ever heard really. Let's write:

  • How do you know the poem is done? The poem is like a pool: "Did you get down to the bottom of the pool and get back up....Did we hit it?"
  • Is the poem finished? A poem maybe needs have three states of emotional comittmment... Kind of like what a Taxi driver said to him once about what she looks for in a relationship: "Can you dance? Can you laugh? Can you curse?"
  • How do you know when your poem is done being worked on? "See that poem snap."
  • "Speak up and tell the truth."
  • Give your poem room. "Every word is a marimba and it has room." So shake it.
  • Try to "double and triple" your adjectives just for fun.
  • Then double and triple the adjectives that don't go together. Have more fun.
  • Don't forget to use "Day to Day words." Maybe try adjectives as nouns and nouns as adjectives.
  • Don't forget you are an artist. If Matisse can make a face green. What can you do? Poetry is about... "appreciating something. Let go and see that person for the first time."
  • Pick a new adjective and get to know it like, "puffy" or "blue-cheesy."
  • The adjectives are zip lines. Use them. Create sequences and patterns. Make up fun rules for yourself. Switch words around.
  • Poems are like Salsa.  "Kick up your word play temperature guage all the way to 100!"
  • Enjoy the "curiosity of language"  Bring those words up to a curiosity level from a 1 to a 10.
  • Use fragments. Or use ornamentation. (Get a little crazy.) Try a paradox. Take big leaps.
  • Give yourself more freedom. Keep your poems warm the way artists look at their art. They walk by and they walk by again. So read your poem all week to keep it warm. Don't revise it. Just enjoy it. Maybe tweak here or there ---and on the weekend you are ready to finish your poem. It's kept warm for you.
  • Treat yourself to a nice pencil bag, nice writerly pens. Have fun. Be a "visual word-ist."
  • Listen to people. Read books. Tinker with other people's poems and take them apart. Learn the Tiajana way. If you an take it apart you can put it back together.
  • "Be an adventurer." Be a poetry gypsy. It's a beautiful world. and a crazy world. Have fun. Use your imagination. Think abstract thoughts. Einstein did and look where it got him.
  • How to sweep away the worries? Stay positive. Take naps. Eat yogurt, fruit, spinach. Take walks. Keep moving. You can do it. Keep journals, scribble. Write terrible. Draw. Draw a cartoon. Make a joke. Get up and go somewhere. Keep a rhythm.
  • Stuck? Don't write, just improvise. "Writing is more like improvising than writing."
  • Listen to other people. Give their words room to breathe.
  • "Be the freedom poet!"
  • Let your words be abrupt sometimes. Let them knock against each other. Or let them have warmth and coziness. Keep your poems warm, visit them often.
  • Remember, grammar is one of your instruments.
  • Revise is too serious a term. Seriousness can be an extra concern. Instead look for the feeling you want to express.  That's helpful. Come back to your poem instead to enjoy it! Look at it like a flower. Keep a tight but fun relationship with your poems, going back to them like you would visit your garden.
  • Write a poem in any language you want. Switch back and forth. Pick one to start in, one to finish in, and in the middle do confetti style!
  • "Light the fuse!"
  • Remember. "You are virtuosos, and you have many instruments."

Friday, May 27, 2016

Poet Laureate comes to KC

I think tonight at the opulent central branch of the KC public library, we could call the theme: pure love.
Jose Faus introduced the current US Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, saying about him,

"Everything that that man does is about weaving that tapestry together that is America.... Juan Filipe is everything I know we can be... The man has a pulse that is our beat. He is what America is."

Juan Filipe read his own poetry and one poem handed to him earlier that day from a local poet titled, Brown eyes in Blues." The local poet received a standing ovation.

Juan Filipe responded to 'Brown Eyes in blues' with "our hearts get healed...." when we write poetry like this. He began with, "Everyone here is a poet....This is good....We have amazing beautiful creative poets in Kansas City." After two standing ovations and applause for the president, love, and all that is holy-- I'd say that American poets when they get together are rather patriotic. Everyone in the room felt the love.

What does a poet laureate do? That is a good question. Juan Felipe Herrera listens to people, visits communities. Reads his work and starts amazing projects. He is creating a video program about our cultural heritage at the Library of Congress. And he has created a poem anyone is invited to write in any language called Casa De Colores. He is working on a huge poetry installation with children in Chicago. And another project to translate women's literature into English from other languages.

His well-known story of his third grade teacher telling him, "You have a beautiful voice" was told again at the request of the audience. That is Juan Felipe Herrera's message to everyone. That we have beautiful voices to share in this world. I went home ready to write.

What kind of writing. Juan Felipe writes like a painter paints. He has an entire book written in the style of Picasso's paintings, like making "salsa" he described the process.  The whole audience repeat lines and phrases with him showing created syncopated rhythms.

Reading his poem 'Papaya' in English and Spanish so we could "learn a new rhythm."  Obviously to anyone who meets him, Juan Felipe teaches a new rhythm of joy, life, love and playing with language.  He had never visited Kansas City before until today.  Thank you Juan Felipe Herrara for visiting Kansas City. Thank you for tellings us we all have beautiful voices.

The teacher said
"you have a beautiful voice."
and one voice
can lead an ocean of people
in a new song.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Gas LIght

The little blue bathroom
had an oil lamp
with a wick
You said sorry
when it broke
your mother said
--These things happen--

You went years
without breaking
anything. You carefully
fixed everything,
the vacuum, the dresser,
the wall, bruises,
your dress
everything shut even
your eyes
so the seems wouldn't show.

It seemed the light was dimming each day.
One day You woke up
and forgot how to see
with your eyes closed
--The sky used to be blue--
you said, you said
everyone pretended
not to hear but what you
couldn't see that we were
signaling you with our
upcast eyes, reflecting
the blue of the sky
off our very souls.

The trouble with a part time
sociopath-- there is no relief--
is that you can
never prove the lamp
existed, any more than
someone dimmed it and
most likely it's all your fault
for believing a lamp
existed in the first place.
The dimness was because
the lamp was never there.

 One day you woke up
and you tried to say
--I used to be able to dance,
drive a car, sing, even
solve for x in a problem
as long as my arm--
but you'd forgotten
how to speak aloud.
The light kept dimming.
You couldn't see
the numbers on the phone,
your shoes,
the gas pedal on the car.

So you solved for x,
then ripped each number
out into little feathery bits.
they stuck to your head,
your face
your arms. The numbers
filed down your arms
into long white rows
until they made wings
and you flew away.

When you brushed
them off your lashes
you could see again.
The trouble is with a part time
sociopath-- once you run away
you can never prove there
was any equation at all, except
you can see
plain as day
there on your
arms are wings
made of numbers
and the numbers
don't lie, they
spell out freedom.

Enough of them
in a small grate
make a nice fire
better than any lamp.
your mother said
--These things happen--
and you remembered
how to say the alphabet

only you forgot the last
letter and ended

ADD Poem 497

I lost my cup but
There are 497 cups on the counter
that's what it looks like to me
like everyone who lives here
got thirsty four or five times
today. Each time, a new cup.
I don't care to do the math
4, 9, 7 whatever.

So to get to my fresh glass
of water I will
clean up this coffee spill-
hang up the old rags
get a clean one
wipe off the handle of the fridge
that's important, keeps germs
from spreading.
How is the fridge organized?
fix that.
Cheese goes in the cheese drawer
don't people know that?
Raw meat shouldn't be
next to the lettuce.
Dairy on top.
condiments in the second
to top shelf in the door
butter in the butter spot
what's that called anyway?

Wipe out the fridge-- gross crumbs
get a new rag.
wipe down the counters
put dishes in dishwasher
oh no it's full
silverware is the worst
yes you know it!
while rinsing
faster not to waste water
wipe some more.
clean out sink.
ahh no one did the pots 'n
Wash them, clean out
the sink again.
Oh look another one.
Wash it.
clean out sink again.
wipe off counters for real
clean rags,
hang to dry.
put away pencils
what is on this table
fix table,
put salt 'n
pepper back in the stand.
raise window shade
look out, it's a nice day
Go outside
those bushes need trimmed
Has anyone fed this dog.
three scoops.
He needs water too.
clean the bowl.
Clean the sink again.
Fill the bowl.
give water to the dog.
Ohh I was so thirsty.
I'll go get a cup...
wait...what's that?
the crock pot
is still dirty.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Four Red Tears

I planted forget me nots
but they were not blue

They are white
with four red tears
in each flower's face

I planted Holy Basil
but it withered away
ten years in a row.

So I fed the birds
and thousands of
thistle things sprung
up where I didn't want them.

Today I drove up
Broadway to the bridge
in Miss Parker
with the top down.
She's a silver
convertible roly
poly shaped.

Getting stuck in
traffic was never
more glorious.
Men on motorcycles's
winked. Traffic cops
nodded. The sun
shone gold off
the steaple of Our
Lady of Perpetual help.

Don't I need help?
Before I crossed the bridge,
an empty strawberry
container blew across the
road in front of Miss Parker.

Clearly empty
of stawberries-- though my
garden is full of them.
They spring among
the herbs and profusion
of Penny Royal.

I wonder why gardeners
think they have any say
about what grows. Whatever
will grow, grows, with no
say -- no true power
from the sower.

So I have forgetful
for-get-me nots-- So I'm
forgotten. I will eat
strawberries and wait
for something new
to spring up

something wholly
unexpected, I never
intended like
four red tears
on white

Or maybe
they are carnations.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

End it all

Where can I go? I asked
my face in the mirror
for the hundredth time?

Follow the rules to stay safe
make yourself small
say only nice things
throw away your dreams
decide love must not exist
Sorry, God, you are then-- a maybe

Like you,
I closed my eyes
admitting pain
would hurt others
ruin their innocence
burst their bubble
leave a scar
where beauty
could be

Like you,
I covered my mouth
sharing past abuses
could hurt the abusers
ruin their good intentions
crush their self regard
leave a wound
where healing
could begin

Like you,
I treaded guilt
like water--
telling the truth
could hurt God
ruin his good reputation
dash his plans
leave a tear
faith couldn't

One day I had to chose
to carry that heavy load
of unsaid words until I
drowned in them -- or
ink them into a tattoo
and limp back to shore.

You know what I decided
because here is my ink--

Let no one tell you who you are,
and what your destiny is not to be.

is love- and so he exists.

Open your mouth and tell the world
who and what you have escaped. Taste what
is good. Tell your story-- the ink
running down your arm, and carved
on the back on each of your fingers. That
is what will guide your heart, and
your hands. Your imprint. Your
testimony is what tested you-- not
what bested you. The question is not
who you are, but what have you overcome?

Open your eyes and cry out your sorrows
until that salt runs to the sea--for we are all
brothers and sisters. Our sails are the truth
and in on them we will come. No it was never
true. The truth does not ruin our innocence,
it builds a wall of protection. We will be
your stones, your towers, your flags flying.

Open your eyes. You were never
alone. God sent the wind
that carried us here.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Honeysuckle City

Green is rising
in the woods
behind our house
just leaves
of nothing in 
--- when the 
season grows
plump with rain 
the honeysuckle 

It's a honeysuckle
forest--trees made of it
everywhere popcorn
explosions of sweet
yellow flowers
with tiny tails.

On Valentine
street, the sun
begins to gilt
the pavement
outside the dollar
store. Two runners!
One with a little 
black dog.
People wait for
the bus.

A man in drag crosses at 
the light to
take his shift
at Hamburger Mary's
he doesn't have on
his make-up yet.
He carries a canvas
back pack like
any young man
quickly on his way 
to work.

Clouds scurry
behind the
french- Vietnamese
cafe. Tired
black grandmothers
carry heavy
coats and hold too
tightly the hands of
small children. 

Black grandfathers
wear hats and let
the children run
loose. They 
look everyone 
in the eyes greet
commanding respect.

All the other people
no matter their color
walk quickly past
without looking up.
Except the homeless
man who sunbathes 
in the parking lot
exhausted--unable to 
move. Always
speaking, but
no one understands him.

And the city 
blooms like a honeysuckle
Open windows.
The mechanic
grinding away at 
engines or hubcaps.

The wheel rotates
and I know that life
is sweet. And there
are more kinds of 
love out there than
colors of honeysuckle.

Sweet nectar
is in the air. 
And the sun
is yellow. I walk
up to the studio.
Open the window
to the sounds of horns.
The crows on the roof
flutter away--
and I think about
how much has
changed as
I ready my
my brush.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Peter, Peter, Peter Rabbit

Life is hard people say
stuck between.. a hard place,
and ... you know
to dream of softer rocks
what would those be?
If a rock rolled after you
through the desert
and spit out a stream
of cold water
when you were thirsty
--for you--
what would you call it--
would you even tell

Sittin' here on this rock
and there's nothin' left--
What if your
house got destroyed,
your job--over.
Would you take it
back 'nways if you'd
been serving
the wrong kingdom.
Yes the wrong
kingdom. People
that only care bout

What if the rooster crowed
and the deck was stacked
against outsiders. What if
you was locked outside a door
where you used to wear
the keys. If you were
an escape artist
where would you run?

What if your luck ran out-
not a clover to your
name--where four leaves
were common
What's the use
of a three leaf clover?
What's the use of three
of anything?

What if someone
named you brother
then called you thief
tried to trick you
with a black-tar
kind of love that
was nothing but fake.

What if you
were thrown out
into the place
no one else wanted
to go.

Br'er Fox, Please
don't throw me
into that briar patch.

Anywhere. 'cept, please,
please don't throw
me into that old
thistle-y briar patch

Course they did--
An that's when
you finally found
a safe place
a place where
you belong.

What if someone
named you Rock
--and said they'd
build on what
you never did.

What if you
were petrified--
broken down
curiously strong
now stubble enough
to be the
crux of something
never found round
here before.

is not necessarily
a bad thing.


Saturday, May 7, 2016

Poetry & Flowers Can't Talk

The other week right at the end of March, before National Poetry Month I got to talk about poetry with artists and poets at the Midtown Arts Collective with discussion lead by my new favorite art historian, Olli Pamplin. And with some new influx of spoken word poetry into my life, I'm beginning to feel art is something more than things we see or hear, or create.  Art is a message we send to ourselves.  It's what heals us and others by it's allowance to be.
Another week we talked about the role of the artist.  What is the role of someone who creates things? We are having spoken word artists come to the gallery. What is art but something that speaks to us. With musical artists, spoken word artists, visual artists-- I see art everywhere. I'm getting some new ideas about how to round out and truly create my collection of poems to something worth reading through.  I think one of the things that has been blocking me is the need to be truly original while knowing that is impossible. Turning around from a whole other perspective: I need to just share what my heart loves the best wether it's original or not. I think in the long run, people will be able to connect more easily. Aren't we often drawn to the same things, the same stories and metaphors? I guess we will see. But I do know that spending time with other artists is truly the fix for most of the things that an artist needs to keep going.

What if the flowers could talk?
Flowers Can't talk!
What if the flowers could talk?
Flowers Can't talk
What if
they could?
what would they say
--they are in love
with who?
the sun of course
but why?
don't know but they
are often round like the sun
with rays like petals
you mean petals like rays
that's what I said
Anyway what if
flowers could talk?
what would they say
green things
What does that even mean?
I don't know but your
being pretty mean.
But what if flowers could talk?
Quit asking me
I'm just a rock.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Dream House

Working on adding some of my favorite poems to artwork.

Here is one from a dream. I've done a lot of dreamwork on this dream, but writing a poem was my favorite part. Then when I made the painting I had so much input on the dreams meaning for my life at this time I was overwhelmed. I still like the dream because of it's imagery. I've learned since then that the house is the dream symbol for the self, the ego. The poem can also be a metaphor for dreaming itself. Dreams within dreams.

Here is the poem: Paper House

My house is humming,
fans are running,
I think it will take flight--
lift silently its honeycomb walls
and float away into the night.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

thistle say what you want

I'm embarrassed too even
write the word thistle in a poem
it rhymes with whistle--
it's a weed...

Shouldn't poetry be about
big things. Things
that would break your heart.
Big save-the-world-things, political
things and noteworthy events we've
all heard about--

Shouldn't poetry suggest
an answer, to all the
questions in the world, the
cries of those enslaved,
the sick, the lost?

Shouldn't poetry have something
to say to them, a word, a rally cry for
us to shout in the cities,
a bit of banter for us
to quote as we pass one another
on the street?

Or is poetry more like a thistle--
growing by the side of the road--
numerous, slightly pretty, but
only useful to birds and jackasses
who eat it happily thinking
it tastes somewhat of pepper
and the dusky sun they
go on and on about each morning
as if they'd never seen it before.

Is poetry that annoying thing, that sticks
to your shoe lace, your sock, the back of your
legs. It won't let go. That overabundance
that fills pages of your journal
and the notebooks of old ladies, ministers,
punked out teens, lovers, and
angry girls dressed in goth?

Is poetry more like a thistle, something
that looks beautiful from afar, but
don't get to close-- it stings. It's
hard to grab ahold of. It's local, regional,
personal, stubborn, impossible, even

Someone told me I would be able
say whatever the heck
I want --if only I'd
accept mediocrity and the
fact that nothing lasts forever.

Maybe that is what a thistle is.
It's mediocre for a flower, surely--
it only lasts the summer,
but it says something loud
and sure with it's purple pop
of coif and it's spikes from
head to root.

How humble is a flower
who cannot be picked or
plucked, will not join
a bouquet--but feeds the
yellow chickadees
day after day, from fall
to winter, she stores a germ
of sunshine in her hidden
hand. When they sing--
she reveals her secret
beauty, a song.

lay out a fleece

when i fold the wool comforter
done with it's afternoon sun--hung
on the back porch to dry
it smells like fresh rain, ivy, no like
ivory linens in the old chest--
saved for a special occasion.

safe like when we all came
here, each running from
something we couldn't name.
you, you couldn't remember
who you were sometimes.
you had seven names, friends
as light as air, friends
i didn't want to see and couldn't
save you from.

the old comforter we
pulled out the closet. we lay it
out like a fleece, over you.
you slept for days, days and
weeks and even months. good
sleep I hoped would wash those
waking night mares away--
your sleeping face wore a small smile

rock away lttle baby in the cradle,
when they first brought
you home i stood by staring
in at your sleeping face--then
never took the time to find
out who you really were inside

No comfort to me when you were
missing. But this comforter-- it's four
inches thick.-red like grandma's chimney
red like the apples she used to bake,
red like love on a faded paper heart
hung in the window. heavy
like those real hugs she used to give
when we'd been gone away too long--

you were gone for too long
when we found you and
brought you home--
we laid that fleece
laid it out over you and
prayed to God for a miracle.

grandma she told me once--
when she was a girl she had a lamb.
a real honest to god lamb. It wasn't
going to make it on its own so
she raised it on milk
from a bottle warmed in the oven.

that lamb she took it in. and
there was nothing i wanted more
than to see you raise up like that
lamb,  like Lazarus, laughing and saying
"got you" i'm fine.

a fine girl on the farm with flashing
brown eyes like yours. hard to think
of grandma, just a girl
who wouldn't take crap from
no one. that little lamb
grew up--it's wool saved each spring
guess who kept the wool,
carded it clean and straight,
and made the soft comforter.

i don't know how often she used
it in that little house with gabled roof.
sent it to me one winter when I was
cold and far away from home--
probably saved my life then too--

i guess i'd like to think that
fabric over time could hold
the weft of a story, hold the love
of a small girl who wanted to
save something lost--

maybe because I'm not a doctor
nor ever could be. I'm just a maker
of small cloths. someone who wants
to share comfort--
someone who was lost but is
slowly being reshaped day by
day in this safe place
with a warm kitchen
where you get up and make
coffee and go study
calculus and the fabled
path of warm suns.

as I fold
up the comforter and put it
away for the summer
I smell rain coming

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Ground Hog Question

7 am, driving past the park
off Broadway
before Midtown, the stone wall
swopes ready for an egg
or someone to sit.

But there is a ground hog.
hands in his lap, nose
quivering happily
at sun's pink light.

The green tossed
out before him like
a croquet lawn.

At the gallery
wearing suits
they drink caterpillars
and comment
Yes, I did see a
fox the other day

On the way to church
on Easter, frost
glistens, slush
slides under the tires
hushing us
to silence as a flock
of wild Turkeys
promenades toward
the highway, the
Lead's feathers
spread out-a red cape.

Forget, Forgot
taxi cabs,
cigarette butts
smoke shops

life still exists
in the city like
the single stalk of
basil and the thyme
that survived the
mild winter
outside the bar--
on the patio

where I pass
to climb the
stairs to the art

I will watch the
sunrise, I will sneak
up on artists,
I will stroll like
a king. I will
point my nose
toward sun's
first pink light

and what
will I see then?
What will
I see

Tuesday, March 29, 2016


I'd like to write a little poem
as little as a baby acorn
as little as a sunflower seed
as little as a grain of grass
then watch it bloom
with imagination until
It's as tall as the tree
sail on the wind
until it's across the sea
and land in a your
garden, a message
that reads--
to you,
from me. 

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Sweetness 2016

It's Easter again
and I fill eggs
with cotton candy-
flavored candy corn.

Life is like that. You
expect something airy
that melts in your mouth
something astounding
enough for a circus
conductor to annouce
and all you get is
hard pellets-from a day
you'd rather forget.

This morning I made
myself an Easter basket.
Why not?
It has raw vegan cookies
and two cadburry eggs
plus a little bunny that's
pretty well a granny
at eight years.

Today we will hear
songs in Swahili at the
Methodist Church
at UMKC. Granmda Twinkie
will sing an anthem in
her red choir robe and
probably tear up uder
that rose window glory.

The cousins are coming
because my kids and theirs
both have Easter
at their moms this year.

Life is like that. Divided.
Full of sorrow, and then
suddenly the good days
are like a winning lottery
ticket and you wonder
if everyone hears the
fight song sound-track
for every small

I guess Jesus did too.
Received hardness where he
expected love as light as air.
Received sorrow and divorce
where he expected family.

I imagine his best day
had a victory soundtrack so
that he would remember
who he was fighting for.
 I expect he smiled --when
he broke death open like a
cadbury egg.

Now we can all choose

I know I am.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

ADD Poetry Net- 10,000 Views

So I started this blog six years ago in 2010. During that year I was tested for ADHD with an 8 minute test. I failed it. Badly. Though I was goofing off during the test reading the doctors sticky notes and I didn't understand the rules of the test very well until afterwards.  And I was pregnant, and getting my Masters Degree, and I had a toddler. So I was very tired and thinking back, the results were slightly debatable.

Three years later after a million kinds of treatments I was retested with a 21 minute test and passed with flying colors except for one thing. They said my rates or time variables in the test were a little too variable so that made me iffy. Well I was counting so I could pass. You see the random test isn't that random. So by counting the little dots and beeps and spaces or what have you, I was able to anticipate the timing of some of the test while other bits were a surprise. So I may just be too smart or too weird for the ADD test. Anyway I was declared ADD free. So after three years and about a dozen professionals later and a very expensive test that said I didn't have any memory or focus problems or Alzheimers or Autism or anything else I thought I might have-- I finally just asked, "Then can you explain why I have trouble with my memory and trouble focusing?" The answer: Stress.

Yes it was just stress. I could have saved three years of my life and a lot of side effects to meds and all kinds of money and appointments and tests if they would have told me that the first day. Stress causes many things, sometimes stress causes memory loss or attention problems.
All this to say that I'm about to hit 10,000 hits on this blog. Maybe not a lot to some people. But I'm happy about it, even though a lot of those hits may be search engines or spammers or accidental views somewhere.  However,  in about a dozen countries, my poems had at least their titles read before the page was closed. I'll take that as a victory.

Why do I mention all this (Yes ADD symptoms will make you write things out of order). Why? Because my ADD poems are my top all time poems on this blog. People seem to like those a lot. Or else they look at them a lot. And why would anyone read a poem about ADD?  Well I think all poets are a bit ADD. I know the struggle is real for many people. However I know there is somewhat of a scale. I think, it's unfair to call something that has so much potential as a gift-- a disorder. I was even told I had a disability. Which I just don't think being a poet and getting distracted a bit by toddlers, life, and a masters thesis should be called disability. I was even turned away by several counselors because I was an artist. They said I should find someone who caters to artists. Odd. I say again, being an artist or a poet is not a disability. If a poet didn't lose focus to see something or notice a random connection between images and words, or feelings and metaphors-- well there wouldn't be any poetry. Poetry I think happens when we lose our attention a bit. At least our attention on the more banal things of life or on what we are "supposed" to be doing.  Poetry comes by accident. When we lose focus-- or change focus to something new-- Something we need to remember, to play with, to make tangible. That's what poetry is. It comes from our subconscious and our imagination, the place where we used to play, but tend to forget.

So yes, my focus has been off lately. I've been stressed. I've forgotten a few things, or a lot of things. And poetry, I believe, heals my inattention. At least for me. (I also take fish oil). I highly reccommend poetry for everyone out there who feels ADD or has any version of the condition for any reason as the case may be. Sometimes I think my attention issues are exactly because there seems to be millions of poems trying to get out of my brain. Well at least a dozen. Poems are like butterflies.... Ugh. Let me try to write a poem about it or this will take all year:

ADD Poetry Net

I've got ADHD
I'm Absolutely A
Dreamer-- Hard-core

My rice crispies in
a bowl of milk-
are fish in the sea.

My shoes symbolize
the places I want to
go where I want to be.

I've got ADHD
I'm A little obsessed
with Dreaming &
Hula Dancing.

Pineapple takes me
back to my fourth grade
project on Hawaii.

I'm a little
nonsensery. Forgive me
I've got ADHD.

Okay that was ridiculous, terrible, and not the poem I meant to write at all. I just wanted to say that when I feel unfocused I write a poem and all these random thoughts fly into my little poetry net and there they stay,neatly laid out in lines and stanzas. They start to make sense and I feel like all is right again. Or at least the random thoughts fly away and are at peace somewhere on the page.

So why was that so hard to get to that paragraph. Oh well. Thanks for helping me get to 10,000 views everyone. Let's get a little unfocused together.

Snow, Blast you! Neige, Je vous déteste!

Here is a poem I forgot to write this winter, just left it in my mind. Played with making up a form which is something I like to do. I write the first stanza and then make up rules so that each stanza follows or breaks the rules in the first one. Oh and I've written this one in English and French. Nothing like working on your poem in another language to find out what words you use way to often. "Until" is really one of my most favorite words.  I need some alternatives. :)

Blast you!
You and your
feathers of frost
Your strangling
hands around the
neck of the creek
until his teeth chatter

You sloth!
You and your
creeping crawl
Your precious
pinkie finger holds
back the clock
until she's slower

What's that--
small tracks...
of tiny sparrows
and here a
how precious

You Dear!
You and yours
laid bare. Your
crisp wafers
reveal the path
of birds until
they fly

Neige, Je vous déteste!

Je vous déteste!
--et vos plumes de gel
Vos mains étranglantes
autour du cou
du ruisseau jusqu'a
ses dents claquaient
avec froid

Vous paresse!
--votre rampant
votre doigt de petit
précieux  retient l'horloge
jusqu'a ce qu'elle soit
plus lente

Ce qui est cela--
des empreintes mingnon
de moineaux petites
et ici...
un lapin.
comment précieux.

Vous Cher!
Vous et les votres
mis nu-- vos hosties
craquantes reverent
le chemin d'oiseaux
jusqu'a ce qu'ils

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Table with wings

She said a poem is solid
hard, like a table.
hear the sound of a loud knock
on wood--
Why do poems
make you hear and taste
things that aren't there--
try it! Imagine you are
eating a spoon of vanilla
ice cream from a metal
spoon-- Are you cold
do you smell it? so sweet
though you are in your
basement surrounded
by fuzz and lost socks--

That's what poetry is, a table
a table I'd like to eat at--
gather round and
feast on the space
between words-- in a world
where sentences

are old hat and question
marks look like snakes
sneaking into the wrong party--
where the double dash,
a kiss blown quickly
to Emily Dickinson

who regularly
feasted on poetry
from the back of envelopes
from the wings
of bees and from
the ire of the thickness
of glances

every day
I wake and see
hope is the thing with
feathers-- every night
I close red eyes
and  beg for my dreams
to dazzle gradually
the truth must be
taken in little
doses from the
wings of bees.

The best drug in the world

Poetry is the best drug in the world he said
to the crowd of do-overs re-starters dead
ends-- people who plug letters together
left to write.
The cat meows at my bedroom door.
He hesitates and goes back out. Is
that a poem--
Is a poem a moment of indecision
something we think we want-- a door
we beg to be let in and then look back
Is a poem a salty pillar to remember
that we should have forgotten--
I don't know what  a poem is
but I do
I do feel a bit

Thursday, February 18, 2016

New year ---Steps

So last year I made it into three publications and I met my goal of more poems in 2015 than 2014.  I don't know what my goals are this year. Maybe get a professional to help me revise my book of poems. I know I'd like to attempt to paint some images of my favorite tall tale moments in my poetry. I'd love to capture some of those moments of magical realism that appear in my poetry all by themselves. Those are the images I keep writing for. I never know what will come out. I got a late start on this year due to opening a new art gallery and leaving my computer at work, but thanks to the S. family I have a laptop for poetry. I'm so grateful.

For National Poetry Month in April I plan to teach two poetry workshops at my new studio in Midtown Kansas City, MO. Since moving to the far far northland of the Kansas city area, all my poems stem from the new county park behind my house.  This year, I hope to add some urban influences from my treck into the city each day where I've opened my art studio.  I can't wait to see what happens.  Where does poetry come from? That is my question. Here's my first poem for the year-- enjoy. 


​Walking the path again 
over Mooseman Bridge
my feet hallow over the tunnel
of sound. 

Far enough out
the woods get loud enough
to mute my wordless thoughts.

There, a swath of bark,
a sleeve from some tree's
naked elbow. She doesn't
care what she leaves
behind, she's growing.
Spring's come early.

The bird calls mean a poem's here
Chickadee's call Po-lly, Po-lly
Blue Jays cree, cree-- their calls
sharp as two skis sticking
out of a snowbank, cries
hard as the iron pins
in the bridge's back.

Theirs, the notes I step on as I 
climb up into the white
sky where my memories 
play in scales between 
the empty spaces
among the branches.

That is who I am, the
space between two
notes caught amid
the panes
blown before Winter