Wednesday, October 9, 2019

I Sing the song of my father

I Sing the song of my father *

I sing the song of my father
every particle of my being
today infused with him as
though he stands beside me
and has never left – though
he did vanish one hot
August morning - sunlight
burning through white
coverlets – though I felt
His heart beat three times
Once – Twice – Thrice
under my palm and
then stop – he did not die

I sing the song of my father
Who left with black hair
glinted with silver in his
Sixtieth year – slipped from
any coil mortal or otherwise
but for the coil that holds my
heart pounding my soul still –

I sing the song of my father
He turned my head to
the first cloud in my first
sky - to the wind in the shimmer
of sun filigreed leaves to the
sea rippling – as he drifted sand
through fingers and we sat
Together watching a tiny flag
on the top of a curlicued  
Castle tilt and fall into the
Onrushing tide. 

I sing the song of my father
In the eyes of all who work hard
and deserve respect and those
who cannot find work through
limitation or exclusion.  In the
wonder of all that sprang natural
and all that rose from the mind
of men and women –

I sing
The song of my father who turned
my face to cobalt and burnt sienna
the shock of turpentine on a clear
morning a blank canvas holding all

I sing the song of my father
in the crabs that poked from
the mud on the day on the pier
while he painted and the sun
began to slip below gilding all
In that silent sacred place to
Which he granted me entrance.

I sing the song of my father – to
Sun burnt ribs that rippled under
Young flesh – to his ebony hair
To the taste of salt on his young
Flesh as he carried me far out
Into the sea. 

I sing the song of my father
to that crinkle nose secret
smile he passed to my mother
as they sang from song-sheets
To his eyes closed in ecstasy as
Music shook the walls around
and I peeked from my own
encouraged experience to see
A tear trailing at crescendo

I sing the song of my father as
I feel his hand in mine strong
Ever present – singing in the
Shimmer of leaves in a willow
Rustling in chestnut blossoms
Soaring on the velvet tip of
A blued jay on a clear day
Returning caw for call

I sing the song of my father
As he stood watching my ride
On a carousel light slanting
Through high window – calliope
Playing waiting for me with
Open arms to jump – I jump
I sing – the song of my father
Holding my newborn son
in aquamarine waters high
above his head – diamond
droplets falling about them
I sing the song of my father
Coffee cups before us
Words flying as red cardinals
soaring from- between –above

I sing the song of my father
I sing in memory, in reflection
In honor, in dedication and
In love – I feel his presence in
the air that brushes my cheek
In every particle of my being
and though I thought it a wonder
that he left when his hair was
mostly black and his back straight
when he could bend and rise
From the earth of his gardens hands
rich with fragrant loam – Left still
young enough
I see him now – hair white –
The slightest stoop as he stands
Shining in the blaze of sun
Beams shooting dancing rays
For it is from
His lips - I sing his song
Forever with the life he
Lent to me.

published in Bards Annual Anthology 

the ketchup wars

the ketchup wars 

whooping warriors of bloodless pretend wars

we ran, mugging fierce faces at each other as

we fell, graceless as bowling pins in faked suffering
the kind seen in the silence of marble chilled cinemas 

the kind of ketchup killing 

where rugged men rode ranges of firing rifles
stuffed with celluloid splendor of grace and always 
always lived to ride home with clean hands 
to some sweet lady holding her hair off her face
and their cows safe in the fence she had fixed 


Cat on windowsill - A Haiku

Cat on windowsill 
Folding boneless in sunlight
Origami breathes


Girls in Plum Sweaters

Girls in Plum Sweaters 

what can girls in plum sweaters
be expected to know of loss
as they pass the shovel among friends
unorated letters on pretty stationary drift
in the wind - as earth hard-hits the coffin
inside sweatered pruning friend on white satin
outside they, fresh as dropped stitches 
from a single skein of yarn
creating a forever hole
in matching plum sweaters,
dirt under fingernails
cold wind in their fresh washed  hair


Red Dust

Red Dust

On the steps behind the garden gate he sat, 
small dark eyed boy 
compact and steely as a newly minted dart 
coiled in the exile of his mother’s dubious fear. 
Outside others shouted, kicked unseen stones 
in the red baked earth – 
he watched as billows of joy drifted through the latch 
until a boy chasing a soccer ball came to the gate and  
waved him on - petulant, dubious, rebellion puffed his
sparrowed chest and dark eyes dancing he quickly 
lifted the latch and ran onto the red rousted dust 
as fuses sprang and all was glinting metallic,  
a boy arm, a shower of red rock, a sneakered foot,
that soccer ball, all collateral damage,
scar on the land – 
this now gone boy 
once safe behind the grated gate 
now mixing
with the red dust.

 New Myth  5-29-12 

In the center of the eye

In the center of the eye

In the center
of the eye
that can no longer
fragile sense of certitude in
nothing beyond Now
Crescendoed crash
light smash
shifts all in shades of shimmered
tide pulls
tremulous tempestuous

Indio Rising - 6/19/12

Papa’s Box

Papa’s Box

Mandated for centuries a plain pine box
raw wood unadorned slipping easily
into the earth from whence he came
But Papa loved mahogany
spent lemon scented Sundays
oiling the whirls in the towering breakfront
the cornered Victrola on its own fringed carpet,
the twin side-tables at which he knelt to polish each
claw footed toe in turn with his white cheesecloth
and soft sable mustache brushes

In the soft late afternoon Sunday light
glowing golden he’d smile at the gentle shimmered
sheen of his burnished mahogany
and so – when it was time – there in place
of that mandated raw pine was Papa slipped
into the earth in solid mahogany shining
as his smile lowered into the soft earth of
that final Sunday a scent of lemon oil drifted
a filament of pure white cheesecloth lifted into the air 

*scissors and spackle 8-23-12)   

I am haunted

I am haunted

by the tumbled toss
of cosmic die that
flung my speck of
soul “here and now”
full bellied and free
rather than there and
who knows when –
burkaed, beaten,
starving, perhaps an
ash blowing in wind –
cosmic toss of good
fortune – haunted by
echoes of the others
beseeching bloated
arrogant far too for-
me – I stumble on in
too much good inten-
tion and far too little
action -this languid
legacy of legions of
“there but for some
grace go I” haunted
by unearned privilege


Sunday, July 7, 2019

Away from home in my own skin - a prose piece for Poets United Sunday Pantry

Breasts. Yearned for as a tiny girl and then, and then, they came seemingly overnight. Breasts had power over my life, like some slutty cousins who come unexpectedly to stay with you and end up following you wherever you go and leaving you with their bad reputation. For, as everyone knows, or should, girls with big breasts do have reputations, whether they have earned them or not.  Reputations, that are created behind bathroom doors, mostly by adolescent boys who want to get their hands on “them” and less often, but frequently, by girls who would just as soon rip them off for their own if they only could. They boys, I knew at thirteen, would gather in clumps around the water fountain in the hallway at school or more disturbingly after school in front of Joe’s Pizza Palace in the shopping center, thumping each other on the arm and nodding as though they all had some secret knowledge about me. When you’re a girl with big breasts you can either go with all of this, or retreat.  I favored retreat – under voluminously big shirts and after school days at home after homework, down in our cool, damp basement, curled up in a soft old velvet armchair that had been my grandfathers, sipping iced coffee which I considered very sophisticated and reading a Russian novel which I knew was. Sometimes, I’d cry into that tall tumbler of iced coffee, the glass pressed tightly against those two treasonous mounds – sometimes I’d convince myself it was the Russian heroine who was throwing herself under train tracks or some such drama, though I knew.  I knew. It all seemed quite dismal until I met Jerome Fitzmaurice in Problems In Democracy, and everything changed.   (298 words) 

in short ...

in short ...

when in the course of human events 
ringing - this chime of a line, that sign 
of a time that still holds within the melt
of time, the groan of time, the shimmer
oath of time, in each heart beat then, now
and ever that looked over the horizon to a
time, a chime a sign, over the water and be-
yond a rainbow where all would find in the
course of human events a place, a purpose 
a vision of life, liberty and the unfettered 
pursuit of happiness…that chime of a line
crystalline, perfect ringing - sometimes so
soft one needs to strain to hear the sound, 
othertimes pounding with purpose, passion
and the urgent push of now . When?
In the course of human events, 
it becomes necessary…

Monday, June 3, 2019

a.m. thoughts: fruit and eggs

She wondered for a while
at the perfect color of the 
peaches rinsed with cold
water, put into a white bowl
the exquisitely perfect oval
of pure white eggs hard boiled
and cooling, the navied majesty
of blue-berries – She wondered 
why she ever though of any
other – 

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

A Writer Admired:Dr. Seuss – Theodor Seuss Giesel – father of Horton who I heard *

Dr. Seuss – Theodor Seuss Giesel – father of Horton who I heard *
long ago lived the small me
big eyed and quite serious
some said an “old soul” a
little mysterious ….
Questioning rabbis, teachers,
father and mother – questions
‘bout G-d and country and why
some people did what they did
to each other. Up late at night
watching dark curtains sway
unable to sleep, or even to pray
Even grandparents and elders
never knew what to say – when
I simply asked them why some
people treated others in a horrible
way – I’d seen pictures of piles of
childrens’ ripped away shoes, was
more than enough to give a small
child the blues – I continued to
ask all I could find – the strangest
thing was that most grownups did
very much mind – did mind that I
knew and questioned about things
not so cheery- they looked back at
my big eyes awaiting with looks that
were, well, yes, I’d say leery –
Leery of what? I wondered
about that too -! for I only wanted
to know what, what could I possibly do –
But, they shied away from my questions
told me to go out and play – when all
along I knew they did not know what
to say – and there were other things too
not just this old war stuff from back then
the way some people were treated it looked
like it could start up again – I stopped asking
so much and read and read more – even found
uncle’s book on a doctor Sigmund when I opened
his door – but it wasn’t until I found a big picture
book by another Doctor that I stopped and gulped
and took in a big look!!!
For there in of all places in this “childrens’” book
there it was! not the answer for don’t but the guideline for does!
Right there in sweet rhymes –
an elephantos whale of a tale – of how all could be set
right going forward marching on out there into our future times –
A tale of morality, persistence and kind
A tale of empathy, passion, courage and of so much
more – a tale of standing up for what one believes
one must stand up and fight for –
and there in the words was the
validation I sought – that view of the world as I thought
it could be ‘ought’ – the ache that I felt could vanish if all
just accepted and lived the sweet credo that a
“person’s a person no matter how small”

* inspired by prompt at Poetic Asides to use a writer's name as title of poem - on re-reading this lovely book - it occurred to me, given our turbulent times then and NOW, why this book moved me so profoundly. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019



We all sit in our own booth 
ears straining to hear our song
Others walking quick stepped or slow 
footfalls of mercy or damnation we do
never know - as we sit in our own booth -
contemplating a new song, a verdant  new 
beginning -  emerging from souled cement 
from our own booth,  blinking softly in the light 
we dare to open the gate ... 
we dare to open the gate. 

The Song

The Song 

There through the gate on rusty hinges 
walking through trials of hope, surprise, 
and anticipated mercy ... 
walking through the gate on rusty hinges 
there on the other side cement gives way
to green pastures 
I kick off my shoes
let my heart fill once

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Little lights ...

Little lights 

sleep over – at my grand-
mother’s as a tiny child –
She had a green wooden
back porch and rickety
stairs that creaked down
to a yard that to my four-
year-old self was football
sized – hydrangeas – those
snow-ball bushes bursted
blooms big as basketballs –
and that hot summer night
given a mason jar – she
told me about fire-flies.
They sounded magical.
I could not wait – even
before sunset and after
my bath – dressed only
in one of her satin slips
straps sliding – skirt
slippery swirling round
my ankles – I tiptoed
bare-foot down the
stairs and waited –
the jar grew heavy
and heavier – as the
sun still held in the
sky – Not sure when
my eyes closed but
when they opened
it was dark and I
was on my grand-
mother’s lap –
“Look” said she – and
in the navy night the
air flickered -flashed

as though fairies dipped

and danced peeking in
and out of the darkness
I was enchanted. 

Slid from her lap –

mason jar bumped
to the grass – I did
not wish to catch,
only to whirl with,
and I turned in
circles in the dark,
fireflies on fingers
in my hair, I was in-
vincible – blessed –
immortal – mystic
metapmorphasized –
a princess in the
living diamonds –
scattered shimmers
through that night –
I never knew
that one needed
dark to see light
until then ..
on that
And now

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Dedication to origins

Dedication to origins   

I come from the loins of teenage 
passion - think  Here From Eternity 
at a lake in the. Catskills - I come from 
the watchful whirling spectator of two
youngsters in love - singing from song 
sheets - playing handball on bare apartment 
walls - rocking their mattress in what I thought 
was their private wrestling game that they so 
enjoyed - I come from a movie idol dad lighting 
two cigarettes and giving one to my mom with 
the perfect tawny skin and tangerine lips - 
and from beyond this literal love - beneath - to 
the seductive scent of turpentine, the story beneath 
music-trembling-walls,  sinking into my soul as my 
tiny chest trembled - I come from the coalescence of 
survival in the face of oppression of having my small 
face turned to ingest the taste of ash - to feel the closing 
chambers - feel the forest and swamps beneath the ripped
feet of the fortunate -to fall into a hand hewn grave and to
burn bright in the crematorium of forever - I come from endless 
wondering at the ponderous spectrum between the poles of 
love and hate and a continuing incomprehension of indifference. 
I come from the far beyond then, the life bound then, the evolving 
this, and the thrusting forward into the then as yet unwrit ...
In dedication to these flickered images of origin and the 
layered miasmic, the mummurated mass of all omitted ...
each moment touched and razor scored another layer on my soul ...
earthbound still and yet dedicated to the sensed oneness that 
connects this filamented me to it


Saturday, April 6, 2019

If … only

If … only

If only I could catch 
the whisper in the wind –
a single floated chestnut
blossom, the tincture-tang
of turpentine, shimmer of
ebon raven’s wing –
If only -
after all, 
I could coalesce 
all contained, re-
tained, imprinted
held to converge
from this anchored 
soul’s simple loving will
you manifested from the All 
where filamented you persist
to a-light 
on earth 
for yet

Friday, April 5, 2019

4 poems inspired by the prompt "Stolen" Day 5. PAD (Poetic Asides)

Four and a half months 

On an April afternoon filled with sunlight
I painted my kitchen with bright yellow enamel
thought I felt The Universe smiling upon me –
Until she crept into the day, stealing buried treasure
Stolen: at four and a half months into an unaware 
childbearing - My tiny daughter, snatched, though 
I never knew for certain she was a girl, I felt her –
Felt her trapped in a Fallopian Faustian horror – 
could see her, caught, captured and squeezed, 
beating her miniature fists and feet on closing walls – 
A well intentioned and sweetly Catholic friend-of-the-
family surgeon – assured me when I awoke with –
one tube and no child to be – assured me smiling 
gently that the child had been perfect – compounding 
the theft – demolishing any this-is-for-the-best peace 
of mind – successfully twinning grief and guilt 
grief and guilt – at my inability to keep her safe. 
I stayed on the maternity floor listening to the 
unstolen infants –my daughter’s future colleagues. 

That Autumn – the Universe called again – yet again just
at four and one half months – of a newly anointed child-
to-be - One I felt fluttering breasts strokes and somersaults
within my womb – In a gush of blood more blindingly bright
than any seen before or since …the theft began - again – 
A short time later – gowned and bedded – a student nurse 
at my side – I felt the slip slide of my child whoosh from me 
as its soul danced somewhere 
beyond my puny understanding. 

I believe the Universe is kind and often smiles upon me as on
all others and yet, and yet. 
I know Her other face and name from long, long ago –

Freely given 

I never had a kiss stolen
or a watch or wallet - 
nothing of that sort
 all that flew away 
from me - 
was given - 
either directly 
before or after
the fact - but..
time ... time..
lately there has
been Time which
I have allowed to
slip -  stolen only
by my magnificent
arrogant negligence
of its importance and
so I return - calming 
this pounding heart
for moments, months,
years that have no re-
clamation and avow to
be more mind-full
now and ever 
as the


his first laugh and the gales that followed
the way he pulled himself up and stood on
two feet, ten toes unrecognizable to me, 
the flash of new teeth pushing through 
the color his eyes became after newborn days
his third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth,
ninth, tenth, eleventh, twelfth, thirteenth, 
fourteenth, fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth,
eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, twenty-first, 
twenty-second, months. 
the delight of recognition in his eyes 
when he sees me
and reaches up
for a hug
this first-born
grandson -
six minutes
in geography
and an infinite
abyss of un-
I'd say.

Grown and Flown Away – Matricide in modernity 
(a clumsy stab at a vilanelle) 

My son has grown and flown away
His ringtone silent, long now still
There is he says nothing more to say

He lives behind an enmity of gray
Beyond all pleadings, talk and why and will
My son has grown and flown away 

Cast me as though dead each day
I cannot revoke love nor maternity
There is nothing more to say 

Why is it that the words still play
In ever thronging bonging possibility 
My son has grown and flown away 

Posits and poetry flutter and lay 
He cannot read what he will not see
There is I suppose nothing more to say 

What would the Oracle say of this modern matricidal display
Irrevocable, inviolable love blood borne by him - incredibly
My son. My son has grown and somehow flown away 
It simply cannot be that there is nothing more to say