Wednesday, November 02, 2011

To walk, amble, stride, stand on the Pont Neuf
to stare into Seine sliding around the point
of the Ile de la Cite on an Autumn afternoon
to wander idly lanes in Les Marais, to chance
upon medieval edifice or Roman bath or both
and pay the fee to view the Lady and the Unicorn
in its darkened room ah where's the loom
that shuttled six tapestries and who had money
to hang them? Pre-Norman kings your heads
are double-sized rubble in garden wall to outlast
revolution's rabble who might have broken your
already severed heads to unrecognizable bits
though we do not recognize other than that you
exist together in the restored refrigeratorium
we drop into rabbit holes, wave our Navigo cards
over purple swirl eh voila we surface where
we don't know where we are but do not care.
L'Opera Garnier hurts my eyes - too marble
too chandeliered too high the grand foyer
too tiled the floors though a blacony glimpse
of the opera hall ceiling settles me -
Marc Chagall no folderall - Swan Lake
and Tour Eiffel. The urine reek not only
when I seek le toilette it permeates it all
we do not gasp nor hold our noses but stare
until we have to leave to breathe. Shuttle out
through gift shop with its luminous ballerinas
to plug in at home. Along the marble flank
"What's this?" a woman with a mouth of golden
teeth holds forth a ring we must have dropped
she insists - oh yes this bit is still alive
I open my coin purse that spills a one
and two cent coin that send her off, disgusted.

Monday, October 31, 2011

All Hallows Eve

Besides, the pumpkin's un-jack-o'lanterned
and the grog's unspiced. Nice to devour
a spider's leg brew or two. Have you a keg
of newt's tooth beer, or have I come here
misinformed? What looks like an eye I'll pop
from your forehead and eat. What do you
most wish to hide? Does your pride hurry
home with a smile or does it beat you
with a broom? What loom will you weave
your story on? Your ghoulish fate's revealed
there'll be no healing here and what's
begun will too soon end in corridors too-
bright with chlorox. Your wig's askew
and no one will ask you to the ball.
Venice sinks as we speak though every day
they play damp-booted and cellars non-
existant. In an instant the pageantry
is moot. What is more destitute than hope?
All that glitters is not a thing a ghoul
can hold. The empty chair,the hair
that lenghtens, nails, teeth, ears
and nose that grow grotesque and
pendulous. Oh crones, envelope us in
wax lips and dollop our throats with
sugar blood. A candy kiss in a paper bag,
a pumpkin's sunken smile. Ah mold
is black art too, and potions not all
that set in motion spells that crackle
upwards in the night. Sweets tribes ring
our bell who smell of nougat. They wear
ills they do not feel - a bloody wound
half-peeled from shiny face,vampire-fangs,
lipsticked mark by reddened lips, black goo
for absent tooth, witches' brew of licorice
and lungwort, fort of fern fronds down
the trail. Life entails too few performances-
shout and carry on, we're too soon gone -
what beauty lies where there be dragons?
Drink your flagons, pull snot-tied seeds
from pumpkins before they sink
another season you may not share. Care
that those who follow are already here.
Why should they climb to your spider-webbed
lair when the caramel apples melt down here?
They walk forward with lanterns, we founder
in marshmallow goo, heads whirled
like sugar on a paper cone. There's
a home inside the darkest wood. The finger
gnawed to bone chills us for a coin,and
grisly goblins leap and lear - our neighbors
gotten up and if you won't be taken in
or played the fool then lie down here
and let the hatchet snatch the squash
from off your neck, oh Ichabod no horse
to ride where Sasquatch claims mountains
tangled with ghostly lore, rivers swim
with corpses and our beaches slap with icy
fingers to rip away your scream and bury
you in sand. Not wit to say we cannot
stand like Ozymandias, visage vast
as rock can make it - look on my works
ye mighty - but they never will,
so drink this beetle-beer and scuttle out
like one who's died. I'll YES paste a pearl
beneath my eye. Was that a wolf? We be
ruthless as babies all hallow's eve.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

New York Times Daily Crossword Poem Draft

Pounding corn for masa on the mesa
we watched sun rise, set, the staple
crop in the diorama at your expo.

We women want rhythm and no terror
to speak and not be branded hag
ah men, we say, you and what army.

the wildest of us joined the orders
faced their fill of stones and styx
it takes no balls to follow leaders

Readers, what ever, the ova
wins no matter the make of your car
or how Maya worshipped jaguar

cenote under full moon, an early
riffle, dart into your heart
easiest to fall apart.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

New York Times Crossword Poem Draft

Is all fair foul or fowl my brother in my
father's basement that comes with troll
who stole whose sanity for I've a code
to break and trails I'd rather take
than these. Photos on a stick no Bond girl
dreamed and I've a job to do so help me
sooth my father's woe and so to work
I oughta for blood etceteras to water.


you're maple leaves and I'm the raker
you're the target, I'm the dart

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

New York Times Crossword Poem Draft

Awe and alleluia tucked away, the alcove's
dark and safe. Who now will wield crop
on each? To reach with wit and sting
oh anything can make me cry, and why
this ugly leaving, calendars damp
with grieving, and noone I can call
no matter how you whipped me rageful
I miss your laugh at my expense, at
yours, and dad can hardly move without
your chiding. We abide and toss and turn.
It's weird to yearn for you who wound
yourself so close I hardly breathed.

Monday, October 03, 2011

New York Times Crossword Puzzle Poetry Draft

A new week dawns, we're out of Q-tips
the crosswalk yawns with apes.
A passing car, a lofted glob
oh autumn rain, ah puddle jump
it's new, the raincoat isn't rote.

A note: my uncle's 92 no end
approaching. His belly's open
suctioned by a pump, his
daughter home to help. Removed
the hanging fly strips from his view.
Oh purple purple eggplant in
my arms, the plums and pears
and peaches bend the trees as we
load another box and pick, eye
watermelon, cleave beets from soil
and carrots from the silt
what lilt this action gives my eye.
We say good bye, head east, auto
full of dinner and dessert.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Staring out the window as trees and wind play Martha Graham
Sauntering the neighborhood as plums fall from a neighbor's tree
and what does it matter if I begin every line with a gerund?

Families, they f*$( you up. you know the poet, and the Granta issue
Why poetry? These comfort me.

Too much time with family
they look like me and we have history
and pathology in common

My Mom is gone and my rhythm is jangled
no matter how terribly we danced together

School year beginning I arise and soon
will go now into classrooms
my friend says she feels privileged
to work in this system she opposes

and I admire those who meta-think
and those whose arithmetical mode
is to add themselves to the equation
and I want to go on a vacation

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

New York Times Crossword Poem Draft

Once saw-toothed tigers saw to
the vermin, and camp
meant dogs around an aura, lath
met plaster, last night, last year, I mean
before the grafted apple and oboe,
before the plow, Euro never
met yen, the trilobyte, and a cobra
rose without a basket, no one asked it
but we share the ride
with oh who knows but all is faster
than despair - I cling to the spar
and far off land fades, a sprinter
from a burning building, present past
and I didn't ask, and now it's ash
as I will be though I want to burn.
I'm out of tune, you hold the hymnal
I cannot hear, you're not aloof
is anything indelible? Erase
what trace we leave, our fallen sash
another chistled stone.
Don't leave me alone, I need oomph
for every tibia and ulna
There's ahead to love not just a sled
ride down and out but grace
before the years-off grave.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

View of Mt. Rainier from Paradise
wild flowers in spring bloom - September -
lupines and crimson paint brush -
purple! magenta! the upper slopes
puff painted green below the hem
of white snow, glaciers stark
and stippled with crevasses beneath
a sky painted crisply blue. Summer's
new pearly everlasting and a marmot
chewing placid as the neighbor's cow
if the neighbor had a cow.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

in her last days my mother croaked
she rasped a phonecall was disaster
she'd been ill so long, she'd lost her sight,
she could not hold a pen to write,
and then, good night, she could not speak.
we'd made amends had become friends
like all we love it had to end
I'm not philosophical like George Harrison

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On the road many a which way
proof of too long gone
I left my notebook
in the Wallowas.

Fishtrap folk found it
it's coming home
who knows who read what
probably nobody
boy do I feel exposed.

Gray day east of the Cascades
I'm more blue than gray
not ready not ready
to do what I should do.

Let's all run and play
lie in the sun and not care
our skin is folding pleats
in face and neck
let's throw ourselves
into the lake and not care
it's so cold too cold

Let's not only be me
let's be a tribe
like my little brother
and his "mans"
when he was four
before what came
I won't name

the ravens cry their raucous cry
they fly at each other and lash beaks
they'll devil the bald eagle
until he drops the fish
if he catches a fish
don't you wish the world
was more benign
that when your friend says
"I'm fine" you believed her.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

I wrote this morning en plein air
my pen a whimsical cudgel
walloping my malaise calmly
as mayonnaise. The lesson
we never learn or I don't
is to get up and go again
all is forgiven in doing
all done is done and sun
wags no accusatory digit
I go low in disbelief until -
relief - I lift my pen again.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

New York Times Crossword Poetry Draft

oh blinkin bladder oh latte
Lizst me Bach in g clef
squirt me a dash of PAM
thunder me not your Eliot
swami swim my past Irani
I bet it all on number seven
oh heaven oh Hook my Smee
we sing we suffer apnea
we see the shooting star
that ran the sky, the gamuts
of lives in crusty relics
the Ottos, oliphants and Omars.
ask not but genuflect for oil
run we now the bulls in tutus
the real McCoy Fibber Magee
McPhee monkeys masked in panic
oh manic mayonnaise oh maize
amazing Incas, you nod tsk tsk
we backward bend the blarney stone
go home to lives less large
no Haydn on the barge, ink
fodder, a rabbit's foot
in boots more agile
but fragile as Ionic
columns underground your zit
ginormous as your earlobes
and no respite from trash.

Friday, July 01, 2011

today I may get a loaner car
my knight may fly over the pass
swoop me into the passenger seat
and whoosh me back to Chelan
or I may drive in a loaner.
Meanwhile my yellow car
sits waiting for a new hose
a $250 hose because of biodiesel
says the guy who acts as go between
between me and the mechanic.
the guy who when I kept questioning -
this seemed overly coincidental
that the hose goes just after
they don't top off fluids
when my oil was changed
oh! and at the top of the pass
with nowhere to turn off
and a red light yelling
that I must stop
so that I illegally called
the service department
and engaged the very young man
who answered in a dialog
that included the question
"Did you guys give me a wall job?"
and then, "Can you go check
with the tech?" and then
a little unladylike speech
when the reststop had pit toilets
and no water. Though I had
a quart because of modern
hydration needs - a red no-peta
nalgene. Is it peta?
Yesterday morning the go-between
asked if I ever put biofuels
in my car. Yes.
He said they have
solvent properties. Yes.
He said biofuel got on the water hose
and over the years softened it
until it popped a hole. Hmm.
Coincidental, don't you think?
He said if I was going to be distrustful
I could go elsewhere. But really,
I said, doesn't it seem
the least bit odd?
My friend says he'd
never have said that to a man.
As a relationship driven woman
being told I was being distrustful set
off my anti-confrontation bells
so they still have the car and
I will pay for the $250 hose
and the how ever many $$
it will take to unhook
the flaccid one
and strap on
the new rubber.
Yippee Kai Yay
as Bruce Willis would say.
Peace Out.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

I visit my two friends' suburban book store - good to talk books: Let the Great World Spin, Little Bee. They're staying open, buying fewer books, selling fewer books. I asked about Bonnie Jo Campbell's new book - it isn't out yet, but I'm sure I'll love it - having read the great article in the latests Poets & Writers. The author had a photo of Annie Oakley up on her wall for inspiration. Learned to shoot as part of her book research. The book is set on the river, and might be called On the River. Or something like. I wanted to be Annie Oakley, except I was afraid of guns and horses and couldn't really walk that well. The Wild West Shows were gone.

I bought STATE OF WONDER by Ann Patchett. I hope I like it. I've read lots of things lately I have around the house with bookmarks in them. Books I left listlessly.

I sent in an essay yesterday - overnighted it since the deadline for RECEIPT not POSTMARK was today. I spent two hours revising in Kinkos before the 4:30 FED EX pickup. I made the pickup. Rereading the essay today I see I buried my first paragraph mid-essay. Perhaps they'll be charmed by the intentional (HA) oddity of that. Perhaps a punch will have been packed. I spent a lot of money to send it, mostly because I wanted to honor my promise to myself that I would send an essay this year. I have little illusion that the piece will win. BUT I SENT IT.

I wait now for my friend to meet me for dinner. I am driving my daughter's car, knee deep in food wrappers and starbucks frappucino cans.

Friday, June 17, 2011

imperative: write anything so that last post doesn't
impose itself on me everytime I pull up internet.

Pull up in front of internet?
on my ebon steed with the flaring nostrils...
in my Morris Minor? (which is still FOR SALE)

Pulling out of town once the yellow car
gets a new front strut, oil change,
headlights that glow even when you don't
leap from the vehicle and whack them
again and again with both fists.

Technology Development of the Day:
I have broken the adaptor that supposedly allows the tiny new-fangled SIM card to plug into my computer so I can download the photos that are too large to send to anyone - except for a few of them for reasons I do not understand. Perhaps the phone is whimsical. It is not a smart phone. Everyone else in my family can go on the internet on the go, can check email and e-cetera. I campaigned to get internet access for my not-smart-phone. For $10 a month, I can see some whirling and an ATT homepage inviting me to go to an ATT preselected site. I can get email only if I pay another $5 a month. Probably if I wanted to do something outlandish such as looking at or posting to my blog I could pay another $5 a month. I'm going to pay the additional $5 a month for a month. If it is still ridiculous (also with text so small that bottle bottom glasses may be required) I will disconnect and continue as a phone user who uses her phone as a phone. An acquaintance, the same one who commented about my new haircut that it made me look, "like an older lesbian," made fun of my phone yesterday. He doesn't understand why his marriages don't last. (not simultaneous ones.)

On the docket for today:
(checked off already) Push Q's tricycle around the neighborhood while Q steers "go right!" and she does! "go left!' "Straighten her out!" She likes to repeat, "Straighten her out!" She also likes when I recite my poems to her. "I like that sponge poem," she said yesterday about a poem I'd said to her the day before. We like to say nonsense rhymes together, including "baby, caby, daby, waby, saby." She's a new big sister. This has its drawbacks. Baby R is two weeks old today. Q hasn't asked that she be put back in the womb as her mommy did when her younger sister was two weeks old, but this is on her mind, I think.
(checked off already) Went to VW dealer and made appointment yellow car
(yet to do): get mail forwarded to Chelan. There's a check in the mail from a person who's renting in August, so gotta go to the house and check mail daily 'til that comes, THEN put on mail forwarding. Mail forwarding takes 7 days to actually forward.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Suck marrow
from what's been given -
it is never enough.
Scream when
platitudes pelt you
soggy righteousness.
Love is given
on paper plates
like store-bought cake.

Putting together poetry books for 3rd and 4th grade classes. I'm excited about searching out embroidery floss and an awl (or a nail from a hardware store, and a flat rock.) The kids will lace their books together tomorrow. We revise today! Some kids say "I don't want anything in the book." I ask again, "I'm alright," a boy says, as though I offered a second helping of green beans. I say everyone will get a copy. "I don't want one," says one girl. Three kids in middle school turned away their copies of our book. "I'm stupid," says the 4th grade boy who asked the earth to teach him the cleverness of the jaguar with its camoflage. He used the word "camoflage." He comes up with five more poetry lines, with me taking dictation. I am determined the book will have work from every child, not only the girls. The boys resist, but the teacher and the aide sit one on one, encouraging, taking dictation, like me. Each 4th grader turns in at least one poem. Some are excited about them. Maybe even proud.

Monday, May 23, 2011

New York Times Crossword Poem Draft

Cloud white sky, drive north, latte
in the cup holder, something in G clef
on the radio. Dial sticky. No Pam.
Commentator speaks in French or Irani.
The views inspire awe and apnea,
too light for brights or shooting star.
How far? NPR has run its gamut -
I listen again - a piece about a relic
the one that makes my hips ache - oil
and the Al- whatnots and Omars.
Twirl the dial as though it were tutu-
Sylvia Pogolli, a spot that shows me how -
red car on my tail, I flail and panic.
Antics? Let them age like stone
let sun warm to my foot sole
give me time with book and ink
and time to profer agile
pronunciations - Corinthian, Ionic -
Doric - I am not being metaphoric
the litter at the rest stop tops
the ancient tourist drive thru cedar
with the roof to keep out rot -
my aching eyes and earlobes
trash cans haloed with trash.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Lock Down Drill

The third graders are choosing crayons from the teacher's cache, and passing the beaver-chewed yellow willow stick that looks like a canoe when a woman's stern voice over the intercom says, "We are code red. Teachers, lock down your classrooms." The teacher instructs the children to sit against the wall of drawers, and locks the class door. I tug at the window blind, which doesn't descend past 2/3 closed. A string hangs loose above my head. The teacher brings what she has, a poster, a large box holding a board game, to block more of that window. We join the line of children sitting silently, though some whisper. The teacher says, "you must be totally silent. There is an intruder in the building. We don't want him or her to know we are here." I was in a lockdown drill at an elementary school a few years ago. The kids were far squirrelier than these, I think to myself. I don't know if that's really accurate. I was thinking many things to distract myself from thinking this might be real. I was nervous about how open that window view was. If anyone were outside on that side wishing us ill, that person could aim easily through that huge opening. A girl sat one side of me, a boy on the other. Twenty-five minutes later, when the woman over the intercom informed us the red alert was over, the boy offered his hand to help me up. The teacher told us this had been a drill. She answered questions from the kids. One girl offered, "an intruder can be your father." Time for P.E.; I left the building.


Maybe a child
falls flat
skins a knee
that awful bump
the silent moment
the wailing
a fall is an abandonment
a surrender
a loss of innocence
as the scab hardens
and falls
will always
have been

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the left rear rectangular basin
of this segmented school lunch tray
sits an orange, green and yellow
jumble slipped from serving spoon,
a humble geometry demonstration:
spherical dented peas, carrot cubes,
green beans clipped into one-inch
lengths, corn kernal purses. As
a child, I spent hours at the table
from dinner to bed for refusing
to ingest ancestors of the specimens
I almost do not eat today, but for
the fourth grade boy beside me,
pushing peas around his tray.

The sun has come back from vacation or the sanatorium, to lighten this afternoon, my mood, the pink-purple-green hair of the woman at the crosswalk - her hair like the popcycle man's rocket bar.

Having published the poetry book for the junior high kids I now bring in models for poems of identity. I've lost the conviction these poems should be shared willy nilly - thrown on Community Center walls and into collections, these kids are so vulnerable to reprisals and physical attack. Many of them write about physical attack. They trust me, and I am tired of feeding their real pain into the fundraising machine that keeps me coming into classrooms. Thursday I saw again the power kids find in writing what they know, they've gone through, and this is real. I told them these poems were between them and the page, to stay within the walls of the room, to, if they wanted, be shared with me, their teacher, but nowhere else unless they chose.

They do not read them aloud to each other.
Each is a sovereign nation.

One girl turned her desk to the wall to write today, hunched close to the file cabinet, shielded then by cabinet and wall, faced away from classmates either working or wiling away the hour cutting eye holes, one boy, from his paper, to make a mask, pretending, one girl, to be a horse and galloping from one end of the room to the other. Two writing resistors began poems in which they claimed to be selling drugs to the teachers. "Make it worse!" I said. Each wrote a complete poem. The poems were wicked-funny. One of them boys wrote "This is a lie" in the middle of his poem, then upped the stakes of evil activity, and the other ratted the mythic drug sellers out at the end: "If you want to find them, they're in room ###." A few weeks ago two teachers failed an in-school drug test. Each teacher in the school was led from her or his classrooms in view of the students by two folks from security. The two teachers were fired.

I had advised the kids to follow the pattern of the model poems, including student work, to write "in third person." Two kids sitting together couldn't get started. When I said, "make it about you, even if you lie, but tell it as 'she/he did this..." not "I did this." They told me nobody ever had explained third person before. That's possible. Or their self-protective armor kept them from listening at the moment this fact was revealed. What these kids need is not curriculum but connection. Is that a buzz phrase? I also know kids who can't write, can't read are expert at distraction, at derailing the process that will lead to the reveal.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Boy do I miss napowrimo - I'm so obedient
I need permission to write poems.

This poem speaks with sober voice to cast away
desolation. It splays open to admit your stare.
Salted with truth and kindness, it travels
deserts and savannas, fields alive with maize.
My amazement shapes it, stirs its broth. It
echoes back-up from sorrow's canyon. When life
divides into ever smaller fractions, it gazes
like the ponchoed birder to chart our future.


and now for a two hour drive to teach two classes.

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Mnemosyne stands over the silver drawer
with a blank look - spoon, knife, and what
is this? "Aphasia," she chants, for words
slip away, but others can't doubt her wit.

When the girls were young, Erato would
mess about in the produce aisle. "Euterpe!"
she'd cry, but nobody doubted her then.
Nine girls! Zeus away with somebody new.

Friday, April 29, 2011


The owner of the Castries cafe
looked like Derek Walcott, and
underwater the coral looked
like brains and the fish swam
around my body, every one
missing me by the same precise
distance. I stuck my hand
forward, trying to trick them,
but their sonar blips moved
faster, as though I wore an
aura. In the little town up
the hill we went to a jump up
and danced through the back
entrances of outdoor bars,
but not up the stairs where
we were invited but our taxi
driver shook his head no.
A boy said he would always
take care of me, though I
pointed at my wedding ring
and at my husband bobbing
nearby. He cradled his heart
when we danced away, heads
ahum with rum and steel drums.
As Mary put beads in my hair
on the hotel beach her sons
outbragged each other - how
to hypnotize a chicken, how
to survive without a coat
when it's cold - 70 degrees.
We were on vacation, they
walked out the entry of
their cinderblock house
near the Pitons. At the market
I bought a batik shirt with
crooked sewn buttons. The van
stopped for sand crabs, we
drank more rum and watched
wind surfers plow the bay.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


On Trying to Match the Clapping
Rhythm of the Nubian song
"Nagrishad" (as recorded
by Hamza El Din) in a 6th Grade
Classroom Where No One's Nubian

You clap out six eight-beat measures
using this pattern of x's.
Tar and riq have separate rhythms.
You do not clap every measure.
You'll lose the beat if not your feet
as you try. My European

ears! American rock! Even
Bach would have trouble. Paul Simon
loves polyrhythms - African
beats. I cannot sustain Bartok
or even Dave Brubeck's "Take Five."
I am at home in 4/4 time.

The kids invented notation -
all 48 beats in one line,
shouted "ha" for unclapped spaces.
We all said, "I can't hear!" or "I
got lost!" foreign to this music
no matter how loudly it played.


To make poetry you'll need a pen
and time, at least three minutes.

Write parodies of poems you love
until you love your own words.

When you can't write, draw pictures.
When your drawings devolve, wait.

While waiting, remember to breathe.
Poems won't play with dead people.

Waiting is no fun. You will do
anything to stop it, even write.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


City Light charts electrical usage
with rectangles like the rods
we used in elementary school
for arithmetic - units were
white cubes a similar size
to Monopoly houses. Both easy
to pop in your mouth in pairs
or trios to knock against teeth
and tongue on a dismal morning
like lozenges or river stones,
like forbidden candy. Orality
is not original, but library
paste was lumpy and sweet
and easily stolen. I cannot
eat my light bill though I want to.


Never begin a reading with a doubtful
stance or no one will trust you, however earthy
and earned your lines. What you’ve spotted,
trapped in ink can vanish in faux pas. Stamping
is ill-advised at the lectern. Counting copper
and pot metal coins makes listeners crabby.
Stick to onomatopoeia – or try barking!
No dairy, no drinking, no fried
anything whose rumbles or joggling
the mic might transmit. Your rapid
breath should convey that we’re spying
on a truth that you’ve just now met.


couldn't get onto the internet yesterday
my in-house on-line expert was in meetings
turns out he'd turned off the internet


Sunday, April 24, 2011


I was born without a caul, without
witches predicting that I'd see spirits
or be spirited. I ejected early,
and spent several days in an incubator
More about this later.

Unspectacular, I learned to read
at six, at eight we moved to Florida.

My second decade was remarkable
only in that I thought myself
remarkable, as most of us do.
I went to college, I dropped out,
went back again, again, again.

Having lost a boyfriend, I went
into primal therapy to reunite
and found my high school sweetheart.
We revisit the incubator, no
more about this later.

Whelped twice, fabulous people,
my daughters. My husband too.
Me, I'm acceptable,

have passions, get giggles,
forget names, babble, drive
more than most people, am game
for lengthy conversations,
love my family, poetry, teaching,
morning light across a pool
in which I'm swimming.

I used to buttonhole anybody
with my autobiography, looked
forward to chanting my particular
sorrows. My lazy eye, congenital
hips. I'd rather hoola hoop
than tell you more - I expect
to live more than I tell.
I wish you well.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

For kids in high school angst poems are the rage
they tend to cutting scars, malaise and doom
We all were Hamlet when I was their age
for death was what had meaning, YES! the tomb

Our high school life was silly, full of sighs
and fumbled mumbled crushes at the breast
and fevered hopes - the parting of the thighs
when east was far and wiser than the west

My every whim and passion struck me mad
and every sadness felt bereft as blues
upon the fainting couch its cushions plaid
(The last line I made up - here, take my shoes.)

I try to empathize, mostly I fail.
Oh Poe, oh Charlotte Bronte, read my mail!

Friday, April 22, 2011


high school kids clustered
around the classroom file cabinet
after we turned it sideways -
magnetic poetry words -
BIG ones, five minutes per team.
The kids weighed the words
in their hands, one group slapped
words against the metal file cabinet,
kept those that stuck - some
looked for words they thought
of and some used the words that
were there. What do our
expectations say about us?

Thursday, April 21, 2011


fog obscures lanes at
the outdoor pool,
so I wonder if it's open
snow on the ground
icy remnants on
windshield. I pay $4
walk into locker room
strip and don my suit
and flip flops,
douse my hair
under shower water
join the shadowy churn,
exhaled whuhs, skitter
of kickboards against
concrete wall lip.
I lick my goggles
put them on, push off.
I could I think
reach and pull, flutter
back and forth all day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The principal says sorry, the track meet competes
with publication party, sorry, it competes.

My voice rises to angry protest then despair
poetry isn't practical, it can't compete.

In Slanted Truths kids write the truth, I want them to
shine at the Community Center not compete.

The morning dove mourns this morning, sad coffee house
music sighs as I complete this. I don't compete.

What if all the track athletes, the spring sports supports
came to the celebration, refused to compete?

What if all the soldiers became real warriors
dropped their weapons and lifted their pens to compete?

Laura dreams all the people gather to hear poems,
embrace beauty rather than the urge to compete.


mostly it's a ghazal
(rhymes with puzzle, gh pronounced like French "r". Unless you're speaking Arabic.)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


"you see I have always wanted things to be beautiful
and now, for a change, they are"
-Frank O'Hara, from a poem sometimes titled "Poem"

Pledge allegiance to our only
entropic world,our excited
devotion for sake of excitement,
our arbitrary, delightful smiles,
our surfeit of sincerity.

Cleave to our words' combustive
clusters, our nerves' acceleration
at loon flight, pomegranates,
miniature boxes, castanettes.

Give us Lincoln Logs,
silly putty, Kewpie dolls,
sleeved Crayolas - the old colors
from childhood's Palace of Art.

May we wriggle free
from hifalutin stances,
indulge our ill-considered
trances, love what we love
not what we are supposed to --
we'll be ghosts too soon enough.


Monday, April 18, 2011


Yellow is the hydrogen burner
we circle obedient as yellow chicks.
My friend held up a Crayola
to explain yellow to the paint mixer.
This, she said to him, I want this.
He got it wrong and wrong
until he mixed color wheel yellow
but kinder, the yellow now
of her kitchen's abundance
of my yellow car and my baby's
yellow overalls gone dingy
over thirty years so her baby
cannot wear that particular
yellow nor the yellow swimsuit
oddly ribbon shoulder-strapped
that was baby mine. That is no
longer yellow but goldy-pink. Yellow
fades to a flash and scribble,
lightning burned
on your eyelid, fresh egg yolk
for only one day. Yellow
my mother who said, "I am
a coward, and lazy. I always
have been." Yellow gift, legacy,
longing. Middle C on the xylophone
yellow as teeth of the resistant
child, yellow as a quaalude,
as undiluted pee. Yellow stained
carpet yellow as Play Doh.
Sunflower yellow, daffodil
nodding by the university,
crocus, tulip erupting from
brown mud berm in the Skagit
Valley. Yellow for caution,
or for going very fast if
you are Starman. Yellow
construction paper spring
flower cut for your face
to poke through, sweetest
yellow was your baby hair
I'd have twined in a locket
in the Victorian era when
yellow roses meant all bets
were off. The florist says
they mean friendship and joy.
Joy dish soap is that yellow.
Yellow soapdish, yellow
construction hard hat,
yellow yellow flower
of Ginsberg's industry
and mine.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


by now the recipe book has fallen into
butter which has melted onto
floor and across my fresh apron,
its ripped right pocket
slick with grease and intention.

Onions sit naked beside
risotto, part of culture since Sanskrit.
Onions - no orbs as elemental -
nacreous pharoahs ate them
clear cooked by kohl-eyed women.

See how I slip off skins like
them, those nameless cooks, who wept as I
weep over these two white spheres that
tease my nostrils,

brittle bones of my bloodhound's
decrepit hips that lumber at
least, to lean sideways and lick
onion and butter from floorboards.
Body, you are temporary as this
onion I've flayed, turned
on flame for.

Through crisis, cooking's
sweetest anticipations live
on, our hunger
bud-like as this artichoke
densely closed over its
inner fur we scrape
most cautiously to avoid
nightmare in our throats.

Animals, we must eat. Mouths
secrete digestive juices,. Stove
perfume I claim is human. No
rumor more joyful than fresh crab
washed and cracked on yellow plate,
hint of lemon in drawn butter.

Usual accompaniments: bread done
up with garlic to
make the table say home. Repeat
minutest motions each cooking session,
switch ingredients, but sequence like
stairs must be climbed each by each.


line first words are line last words from "Onions" by William Matthews


I pulled up the back hatch having
pulled up at my friend's house,
light so thin it looked drawn
by a pencil ran along the lake's
far shore. Alpacas ran to greet
me along the fence. The rabbit
I thought had died chewed
hard kibble in its cage
the other side of this couch
and what have I to say?
The wind generator whirs arms
outdoors as the ceiling fan
turns above me. Last night's
frog whir has been replaced
by bird chirrup bursts. No
typewriters erupt here.
I could find a bucket if
I had to. I could find a mop
and I could wield it.
This field ends in scrub,
branches are bare on birch
and willow. Transportation
ought to be transcendental,
existential shift in meaning
out this south window.
I'm still here.

Friday, April 15, 2011


A poet folded the laundry
into a book of poems.

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I believe in metamorphosis,
fragile ornamental butterflies with sealed mouths

my lover's compassion in midnight wakefulness -
death-nausea, that I will disappear in dreams -

raptor-swoop from behind, benign tranquility
savaged as by pirates, my Mom's longing dimming

too, soon gone. Hard laughter. After, allelulias'
capacity to comfort comes in ancient tongues,

orcas' breech, wind's salt-taste gasp, the raspy gunnels -
I pledge to run into the hubbub, not abstain.

estuary, cassowary, temporary -
every perfect peach uneaten cautionary.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


Let us venture into planes’
butt-ends,onto bridges
in our miraculous cars,
outdoors through double
doors into sunlight
where other voices brush
our ears rushing past,
let it be enough today,
that sunlight glinted
blindingly through clouds
just one moment,
that kiwi canes swell
with leaves and that the mailbox
held not one single bill,
and let it be an omen
that last night’s fortune
cookie promised travel
so we believe another minute
in tomorrow, so we smile
and tip cooling saki cups
at the Pan-Asian restaurant,
set our chopsticks on wrappers
we folded into half-diamonds,
while around us others break
attempting speech,and let us
be kinder to them and kinder
to ourselves, run our hands
along bookshelves and pull down
another book we’ve never read,
another chance to hear another
from within the hubbub,
to make sense like laughter,
like a child whose hands
touch our faces like warm
blueberry pancakes, sticky
with urge into what’s next
that so easily peels off
like madrona bark and drops
onto the park bench where
we sit together our unshared
thoughts travelors with different
languages, our passports expired.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Oh earth, oh fragile orb
of wreckage and tranquility,

pirate prating in myriad tongues,
tense speck in this compassionless

universe, wretched precious.
Your vigorous echoes swoop

through space with humanity's
cacophony, our myopic wars.


Monday, April 11, 2011


Cumulous clouds pack the sky,
their undersides ashy damp.
Our dogwood plumps at branch ends.
Ten years ago we though it died.
Woody cream-green petals, soon.

We hacked back arbor clematis
now nothing blooms, the kiwi
feelers loom high above the house.

The optimistic window decorator
at the Men's Consignment Store
has strewn rabbit pellet-sized
easter eggs on the window sill.
Festive, I think, expecting mice.

It's spring, tra-la. Purple bells
bud along their bracts, green
as asparagus, and dandelions.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Everybody saw her, the lively girl,
and yet she jumped about singing:
I was close, closer in than you imagined
but was waving not drowning.

Lucky girl, she never hated seriousness
and then she thrived.
It must have been too warm for her, her heart leapt,
we agreed.

O, yes, yes, yes, it is not too warm ever
(Loudly the living one jumped about singing)
I was close, close in all my life
and was waving not drowning.

(mirror poem experiment with "Not Waving but Drowning" by Stevie Smith


Perhaps the aquarium octopus will
remind you to breathe. Use one
finger only to poke urchins in
the touch tank. Beware of divers
in Hawaiian shirts and horned
hoods. The shark hangs above
you and sea horses buck and whir.
Remember the cow fish, be kinder
to your ugly sibling. Fondle
seal pelts in the front lobby
or pull the parachute over you
and pretend you are decompressing
from a long space journey. This
could be Cape Canaveral and these
flamingoes might be real. Sound
fish are drab and they squabble
over scraps in the diver's hand.
Darkness makes us all irritable.
Hawaiian fish do laps around
their tank, bright and flippant
as eels are reluctant to be seen.
Do you know what I mean? These
jellies in their plexiglass
bagel orbit small children
whose footprints gum the blacklit
viewing rectangle on the floor.
Color sea mammals with yellow
markers with no lids and little
pigment. Do not try on diver
fins or allow clownfish to be
painted on your face. Push
the red button to hear orcas
but not the pale blue one -
it plays recorded ferry boat
and motor boat from under water.
Outside the window a superferry
departs for Bremerton. Do not
buy stuffed or mermaids
in the gift shop. Lounge long
in the underwater pod and drift
with the intermittent light
from outside as rockfish cruise
the tank. A sturgeon lies
on the bottom like a sunken ship.
The river otters play frenetically.
They know something you don't.

Friday, April 08, 2011


the dark dreary tedium of February
for the fourteenth month in a row
takes pity on us today
and for the moment it is spring --
oh pink popcorn cherry blossoms against blue sky
oh magnolia flowers thick as artichoke blooms
oh outdoor chair cushions come out
from your spider-patrolled lair,
oh dine with me on pbj's al fresco
as the sandpaper voiced corvids serenade us.

Thursday, April 07, 2011


Here's the adage: do the right thing
and here's the deal: we don't.

Oh Spike Lee and Jonz we're all sidemen
on this bus. For love and ova

here go the riffs on timpani and organ.
How might we wake up Gueneviere not Morgan?

Oh Medusa we are gorgons for all our fancy
skirts that spiraled in our allemandes.

It's damp but evening's long
and here's that moon again.
Oared through the sixth without a poem so there will be two on the seventh.


Before the motor car, before the wheel, the norm
as we knew it nettled with night stars, we hale
through thunderstorm and hail, surviving olive
and haystack, all invocation before nations
and nuthatches left us dizzy. Before Emile Zola,
the victrola, diet cola we didn't know the ton
and to stress test the bridge we walked across.
Before the cross, the coin toss, when it was jive
to sing and jingle to dance, when no one got old
but we were often cold as cows went to calve
without our knowledge and nobody went to college
we rested more and left the door open to rams.
Before the plague and buttress were the swarm
and to keep warm we burrowed into one another.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

O clove,
excitement blares
from your
cradled orb
I crush for stew
or sizzle whole
in oil before
sliding in
the fish.
You blaze yellow
as margarine dye,
as a sun hat
on Guam.
Your aroma
is exotic as
landing by thousands
on Lake Victoria.
Your pungency
from my cloth as
I polish
the dining room table.
You leave marks
like tiny snake bites
when I push
you point first
into an orange.
You transport me to
the high desert
of Southern
Oregon, to the pier
where I dined
with friends at
Fort Cochin.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Riff on Rutgers' Poems

Poetry is playing harp on an underground subway platform
Poetry is listening to the alternative music station
Poetry has taken the last of the toilet paper
Poetry wants to be taken seriously (it's joking.)
Poetry longs for a decent leek and potato soup
Poetry never remembers its social security number
Poetry invites a wipe out
It brings violets when it comes to visit
It never wears gloves
Poetry missed the talk on failure - that's success!
Poetry wears thick-soled boots and a floppy hat
Poetry answers when you ring the doorbell
It answers when you wish it would go away
Poetry looks like hell in the morning
Poetry detests bullies
Poetry is a bully
Poetry eats with two hands, but uses a napkin
It can leap tall buildings
Poetry knows who you are
Poetry lives under the viaduct
Poetry can swim underwater for years
Poetry burns
Petry bakes the tangiest lemon bars
Poetry has bad dreams
Poetry arrives, and arrives, and arrives

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Cascades' dry side view - Mountains striated
with chalk, rivers hard-running, chopping sound
from downstairs beside the ribbon-long lake.

The dryer works fine but the washing machine
can't spin without resetting the dial. The freezer
sweats and wets the concrete floor. Invisible

webs brush our faces as we bring in groceries,
the spiders disgruntled by our return sulk
in corners and scuttle along the baseboards.

No dead mice curled like c's under the covers
to break my heart, no deer pellets or bear dents
in the lawn,though brown mounds announce a presence -

A vigorous hello to spring.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Am I alone here at the dinner table
my index finger swathed in an Archie
McPhee jesus bandaid, impeding
the progress of this possible poem?

Real outdoor work today
sweeping pine needles down
the driveway to the burn pile
early spring home biomass
heating experiment after dark
in shorts, butts to the smolder.
We're not so much older than
last year after all. Tra la.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Happy National Poetry Month (now it's legal to write)

White pelican tucks black wing
tips to her breast as she glides
over wocus and cattail,
golden eagle’s broad shadow,
dragonfly’s milar shimmer,
great blue heron’s pointed toes,
goiter, ancient, awkward rise.

Cottonwood, aspen – thirsty
trees that shade a slender snake
as it winks into tall grass.
Two white pelicans dabble,
raise beaks to sky to swallow,
converse like squeaky hinges.
Dabble, swallow, speak. Repeat.

Monday, March 07, 2011


My name begins with low
though it knows how to sing.
My name is old as the agora
it has an evanescent aura.
Its ephemeral glow is green
as emeralds or lilac leaves.

My name lives in pink nail polish
in the back of my childhood closet.

It ends in satisfied's ah.
It won't answer to "Laurie".
My name always wins at tetherball.

Do not say it with irritation
or it will ignore you.


Poetry at a high school -
three English classes
one creative writing
two social studies
and one culinary arts.

We sniffed spices
and sat with artichokes
we took notes, wrote odes
and tomorrow we'll eat
the artichokes steamed
with drawn butter.

We'll read Laurie Colwin's
"Wonderful Lentil Soup"
chapter from the second
Writer in the Kitchen
and eat mulligatawny stew
and write poems.
Brilliant! What luck!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

As fate would have it a spate of addle-pated accountants descended
willy-nilly through the skylight and removed the good silver.
And so we begin today a little less brightly than might be.

And so we begin today
Ferndale coffee place
and then to school
where those who haven't gone to state
or haven't found a parent or friend
to carpool with to watch
or aren't staying home
since there'll be a dearth of kids
so how is it worth going?
will I hope say I quote
"I can't even hate this."
As an eighth grader said yesterday.

Happy whatever you do today
may someone not hate it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Snow day!
Snow day!
Snow day!

I'm off down the hill to buy staples
(cocoa, popcorn, sled)
but here's the postman
neither sleet nor snow etc.

Snow day!
Snow day!
Snow day!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Let's say you're in eighth grade
in English class with the professional writer
or "Professional Writer Thing"
(it's on my name plate for class as PWT -
one feels more important
with letters behind one's name)
and the PWT suggests you write
five minutes - FIVE MINUTES! -
listing what she terms
Who's got gum?
Why did I get a referral for folding my paper
into a swan?
I said by essential I didn't mean
"Which is better: cheetos or oreos?"
"Or, it could be essential," I said,
opening the silly flood gates
for the possibility of poetry.
In the high school class two boys
(I had them in class last year)
wrote not essential questions
but a joke referral for their teacher.
When I said I'd never had one,
they wrote a referral for me.
They listed my age as "hella old"
which they meant the one whose
nameplate reads "Dude" told me,
in the nicest possible way.

Some writers and I have been
one of them go into functional schools
with honors class students
who vie vocabularily
and some writers cajole kids
who think they have no time
for words into writing and loving
vital poetry.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Typing student poems
typing student poems
typing student poems
oh lord I forget how to spell
how to use commas
and line breaks
I talked too much
I can tell it turned them off

"I'm the poem I'm looking for,"

"Dear Darkness, Good day sir."

An angry boy has written
an Emily Dickenson-style poem
about Revolution!--

What else should I be doing
but touching these keys
preserving their words?


Thursday, February 03, 2011

by Dennis Brutus

Somehow we survive
and tenderness, frustrated, does not wither.

Investigating searchlights rake
our naked unprotected contours;

over our heads the monolithic decalogue
of fascist prohibition glowers
and teeters for a catastrophic fall;

boots club the peeling door.

But somehow we survive
severance, deprivation, loss.

Patrols uncoil along the asphalt dark
hissing their menace to our lives,

most cruel, all our land is scarred with terror,
rendered unlovely and unloveable;
sundered are we and all our passionate surrender

but somehow tenderness survives.

Monday, January 24, 2011

I downloaded 60 pages of "Jubilate Agno" fragments
this was after Googling "Jubilate Agno" and finding recordings
since apparently it has something to do with Christianity,
which figures, given Christopher Smart wrote it
he who was sent to the nuthouse for spontaneously praying
in public, and nudging others to join him. That
would have been uncomfortable, like the orator
outside the University of Washington HUB
in the 70's who railed against I don't know what
though I was impressed by his passion. What
was uncomfortable was that he heckled from his pulpit -
stopping people walking past to ask penetrating
ill-advised questions about their beliefs. A chat
not particularly welcome, though the spectacle
was entertaining if you could stay invisible.

I Googled "Jubilate Agno" and found I could buy
the surviving fragments for $150, so I Googled
Google Scholar and found, from there, the text
I wanted, and downloaded those 60 pages.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Today it's MONOLOGUE with 8th grade fictioneers.
Yesterday in the frigid classroom and I do mean frozen cold
though it was 52 degrees outdoors I exhorted them to play
deeply and they sat in their seats. One boy asked if
a character could - as in "Hurt Locker" - de- rather than e-
volve. So someone was awake and curious, so hurrah.
I said absolutely not. I did not. I gave permission.
I am a permissive creative writing teacher which is why
I need that master teacher in the room -
Oh three are enough lines beginning with I.

Have you read "Jubilate" by Galway Kinnell?
It celebrates Christopher Smart's "Jubilate Agno"
which I didn't know was more than the "To My Cat
Jeoffry" section. Kinnell's poem is in the latest
American Poetry Review, which I subscribed to
after seeing my friend Martha Silano had poems
published by them last issue. Huzzah!

Kinnell celebrates Smart and smartly celebrates
the celebration in '79 when poets gathered
to read 30 line sections of "Jubilate Agno"
to a "large and ardent audience." Huzzah!
Kinnell calls Smart Kit, calls the reading
... a source of joy and truth
the lung-ether of the living loving the long dead.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sloshy snow walk this morning
rain water under snow cover
every step to the coffee shop
our shoe prints little ponds
for tiny seals and river otters.
Was that a narwhal surfacing
at MLK and Madison?

A mutation of clones
a tribulation of crones
an arbitrage of lawyers
a distress of foragers
an abyss of hopes
an archipelago of hankies
a diminution of questions
an actualization of fears.

Netflix brought us "Howl"
even real Allen at its close
the whole poem I think
and every word said
an actual word said
from the record whether
court or interview
or the poem. We aren't
the beat generation
Allen said, just a bunch
of guys trying to get

Another day another peek
or peak or wallowing swamp
We speak in lisps, rasp
our rage or ragas atop Etna
or stare at sky in Hanoi.
Understand the ante
there is nothing sadder
than a post football Namath
bells, whistles, alarms
that toll for thee Anita
for Larry, Curly, Moe
and more for Lauren
oh she of lovely mien
I mean was not insane
but then more sights than
scissors are torn from hemp
and sitars.
Oh lively ram
what you might tell us
in the talus of your glare.
You were there
a young pessimist
within a gaggle of Megs
amid a wreckage of tacos.

Wackos born every minute
determined actions
dedicated factions
easier to hate than live
forgive, forgive.

Monday, January 03, 2011

2011, so new it's still damp,
the unfolding green of its leaves
still furled so we can imagine
they could take any shape,
even our own.

I've committed to a budget,
and have made a chart,
an excell spreadsheet,
but now I have to enter
money actually spent
and I don't want to.

I claim I don't know how.
I don't understand Excell,
can't even spell it, and
my daughter's dog wants
me to throw the Kong
over the railing so she
can flail after it down
the hardwood stairs.

I don't want to throw
the Kong either. I don't
know what I want.
I want a cape with a P
on it for Poet or Prophet
or Princess or Priest
or poopoo head perhaps.

My clothes are too tight
my head is too foggy
the air is clear and bright
but I'm not.

I'm turning a big age
this year - turning as in going
off or bad, rotten enough
to be thrown into the compost
or off the deck to roll
downhill until I lean against
the railroad tie wall
maybe next to the lost Kong
or last year's pumpkin.

For my birthday
Pharmaca will give me
a lip balm and a chocolate bar
if I give them a penny.

My mother is on morphine.
She forms words like
a dental patient fresh
from the novacaine shot.
Her sentences drift off
into the football game
which she may or may not
be following.
She's dying of cancer
but I thought she
had months.

I have years and years
and here's to that
and to making new
thoughts and plans
and living within our means
and living with meaning.