• Lazy Mother

    On Saturdays we donned our cleaning clothes, 
    armed ourselves with lemon furniture polish, 
    a mixture of vinegar and water, old t-shirts 
    mom deemed too ratty for regular wear 
    cut into rags, and music blaring through 
    our well used boombox.  

    And when the house was dubbed ‘good enough’ 
    (though, it was always spic and span), 
    we made loaves of bread, cookies, pots of soup, 
    and fried off ground hamburger seasoned with salt and pepper.  
    Which we then packaged into portions 
    and placed in the freezer for later use.  

    On Sundays we woke early to start Lunch,  
    showered, ate peanut butter and bananas for breakfast, 
    then went to church for several hours.  
    I don’t recall a single Sunday when I felt rested 
    as I sat in the pew by my mother 
    trying not to drown in the guilt of the week. 

    What I’m trying to say is that sometimes, 
    now that I am a whole, grown woman, 
    I do the opposite of what is ingrained in my bones: 
    I let my floors stay unvacuumed while I drink 
    early Saturday, rain-soaked breeze and revel 
    in the feel of sleepy limbs waking slowly. 

  • Two for Mirth

    A pair of crows are arguing on the fence
    across the street from my office window.
    It’s not a big argument, full of caws
    and flashing beaks. No, it’s a comfortable
    quarrel of picking feathers and well-reasoned
    fluffing feathers and hopping away a few inches.

    One has flown and I am sad for the remaining,
    sure that sorrow has come to stay.
    She flutters away for a moment or two,
    but she always comes back to the same perch.
    Her eyes search the sky and I know if I look later,
    evidence of her nervous talons will be seen on the wood.

    I’ve finished my breakfast and I’m starting the second
    cup of tea, consumed with numbers and calculations.
    Human issues of taxes and income and lost revenues
    take up the majority of my mind, but occasionally my eyes
    flit to the waiting crow. She’s still there on her fence rail.
    I assume she’s anxious for his return, but maybe she knows

    right around 10 o’clock a sweeping black will cross my sight.
    I watch him settle beside her, a peanut in his beak
    and a shiny ribbon tangled about his foot.
    The peanut is passed between them, the ribbon swaying pretty.
    A comfortable quarrel continues, but the hopping away is traded
    for gentle nudges, head touches, while spring laughs around them.

    Photo by Tushar Gidwani on Unsplash

  • NaPoWriMo

    April is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo) and I have been participating like I have since 2014. This year is the first year that I decided to chronicle all the poems online. Which, I know, may lead to some publishing opportunities being out the window, but here we are. I figure if my poem is meant to be published somewhere other than here in my own personal space, I’ll find it. Or it will find me.

    Anyway, the challenege of NaPoWriMo is to write 30 poems in 30 days. I have completed it every year that I have tried, with the exception of 2018. My entire house was sick for that month and I just couldn’t manage it.

    I find it wonderfully fun to set challenges for myself. I love a good deadline, what can I say. ha! So, the poems you’ll see in my NaPoWriMo tag are not polished. They are poems that I sat down and wrote and then walked away. That is the beauty of this thing: just write. I’ll worry about polishing things up and all that jazz if I feel inclined when May rolls around.

    Like I said, if you want to see my poems for this challenge, just make sure you click on the NaPoWriMo tag. They will all be there.

    Thanks for coming along on this journey with me!

  • Half a Yellow Lemon and a Ginger Cup of Tea

    I shouldn’t be at work today.
    There are germs orbiting my aura
    and I’m currently carrying an entire pharmacy in my handbag.

    I have two diagnoses and my doctor asked
    if I needed a work excuse.

    I told her Tax Day is Monday
    and that I don’t have time for strep or a sinus infection,
    let alone this headache and achy muscles.

    I left with a warning to wear a mask
    and to stay away from people.

    I’ve shut myself in my office,
    closed the door and put a note on the window:
    I’m infected. Stay away.

    Which is why I was surprised by a quiet knock
    about the time I would usually make a cup of tea.

    The angel of a receptionist opened the door,
    wearing her own  mask, and held a pretty plate with
    half a yellow lemon, a slice of buttered toast, and my ginger tea.

    “I know you didn’t eat breakfast this morning,
    and I figured the tea and lemon might help your throat.”

    I raised my weary head as she placed it
    on the edge of my desk and backed out,
    leaving me to wonder what I ever did to deserve such kindness.

  • Wishes

    When it comes right down to it,
    I wish I was a bird.

    I want to fly, wind in my face to the next
    food source. I want to find shiny trinkets
    for my nest, or colored string or someone’s
    long blonde hair that a strong April breeze
    pulled free from a ponytail.

    I want to perch on a telephone wire,
    cocking my head to and fro,
    watching the humans blunder about
    and arguing over what to have for supper.

    I want a bird bath in a pretty garden
    and some old lady that will faithfully
    keep the squirrels from getting to the seed
    she had her son pick up from Walmart.

    I want to fly south for the winter
    with all my kin and not question
    if there is enough money in the bank
    and enough vacation time for such a long trip.

    My therapist once told me that wanting to run away
    is a polite way of saying you wanted
    to commit suicide. That by saying I wanted to run away,
    I had made up my mind that everyone around me
    was better off without me.

    I believed her for a time,
    but now I don’t think she was right.
    I think wanting to run away is a sign you need
    to take time for yourself, recalibrate your space
    and mind so that you can breathe.

    I wonder what she would say about wishing
    to be a bird.

  • Arty Bollocks

    Listen, I’m typically a no nonsense
    kind of girl. I sit down to write a poem,
    and I write a poem.
    I think about the syllables and form.
    I decide that dancing through dandelions
    is definitely too much alliteration.
    I know when to show and when to tell,
    the words swirling into images for the reader.

    I don’t have a specific muse,
    the will to write is cultivated time
    that I have carved into my daily life.
    I write because it is the time to write.

    But today?
    Today the words don’t feel like special friends.
    They feel all wrong,
    disjointed and I can’t find a good enjambment
    if my life depended on it.

    Everything is prose that is
    broken with line breaks in all th
    e wrong places. And I can’t seem to
    make a damn thing make sense.

    If you came here looking for a good poem,
    I am sorry to disappoint.

    Maybe someone who feels the words
    like a life force and has seen Kalliope
    in her natural habitat will do a better job.
    If you want directions to their place,
    just ask.

  • A Miracle

    It’s not often that there is quiet.
    There is the ever-present hum of light fixtures,
    a ceiling fan, the noise of whatever video
    is playing on whatever device is currently
    in the hands of my children,
    the sound of my breathing, my heartbeat
    in my ears, the tick of the antique clock
    on my dresser, my boys’ voices,
    a sink turning on, the unbalanced washing machine,
    the thunk of a shutter that flaps in the wind,
    the flushing toilet, and the clink of marbles
    on the wooden marble run.

    And that’s just the external input to my ears and brain.

    Internally there is the ongoing monologue leftover
    from childhood about sitting up straight
    and how ladies do things completely different
    to the way I do things, a scream of pain,
    talking through the best ways to help my boys
    succeed at school, me reminding myself
    that my house burning down wouldn’t be the end of the world,
    pictures for poems, long strings of words
    that don’t make sense, filing cabinets
    full of memories and things I need to remember,
    what I should have said in an argument five years ago,
    and for some reason a dripping faucet.

    And people wonder why I want to wear noise cancelling
    headphones every minute of every day,
    why I cancel plans at the last minute
    or don’t even make plans at all.
    It’s a miracle I can sift through all of that
    for this mediocre poem.

    So if you see me with my headphones,
    don’t ask me what I’m listening to.
    I’m probably just trying to find
    a moment of peace.

  • Easter

    It would surprise me if the rapture
    happened at sunrise on Resurrection Sunday.
    Jesus, with all his miracles has already
    done the sunrise coming back thing.
    He’ll choose some other time.

    At least that’s what I think.

    But still, we gathered at sunrise
    in our pastel, Easter glory
    waiting for him to return.
    The adults with dry, heavy eyes
    and the little boys with chocolates hidden
    in their suit pockets and the little girls carrying
    their special patent leather handbags
    filled with brightly colored treats and lip gloss.
    The crinkle of colored foil,
    slowly being unwrapped as they tried,
    and failed, to be quiet while they
    sat in the pews sneaking a snack.

    He didn’t come back this year at sunrise
    and I wasn’t surprised.
    The lure of the county’s finest cooks
    bringing their best breakfast dishes
    didn’t attract him the last thirty years.
    Why would it work this year?

    Maybe we should try something else
    to hasten his return.

    I don’t know what would work,
    but loving your neighbor and carrying on his
    work of taking care of the people on the fringe
    sounds like a good place to start.

  • Running Late and an Existential Crisis

    A local man smoking a cigarette
    and hocking phlegm onto the pavement,
    a large pickup with a horse trailer
    taking up a chunk of the parking lot,
    an SUV with kayaks on the top
    and bicycles on the back,
    three teenage boys with pimply faces
    clutching cold Ale-8-One bottles,
    a red sports car with dark windows,
    a mother and a crying child,
    a carload of twenty-something girls
    laughing and playing music I don’t recognize,

    and me on my way to a poetry reading.

    I pull my credit card out of the card reader
    and begin pumping gas.
    I don’t recognize a single person at this gas station
    even though I’m smack dab in the middle of my hometown.

    Here we all are, gathered for different reasons,
    all with the same need,
    and I wonder if this group of people
    will ever be gathered in the same place again;

    if we will ever know each other, if anyone
    will remember my face.

    Will I remember their faces?

  • Sweeping Superstitions

    Don’t let nobody sweep under your feet, she said
    as I pulled my feet up onto the couch,
    placing my little girl chin on my knees.
    “Why can’t you sweep under my feet?” I asked.
    I want to see you married someday, my girl.

    From her brown corduroy couch, I watched
    as she swept her floors, a wooden handled
    straw broom for the kitchen and dining room,
    and a rainbow vacuum for the carpets.
    She sang and swept. Swept and sang.

    I was there the day the salesman sold
    her the promise of clean carpets
    and an easier time keeping her house in order.
    It seemed to me she worked just as hard
    with the rainbow as she had before.

    The day I was moving out of my university dorm
    and into my first apartment, she visited me.
    She held out a brand-new broom and dustpan.
    Don’t take your old broom into your new house, she said.
    Let the old dirt stay where it is.

    When everyone had cleared out of my new place,
    I swept and sang. Sang and swept.
    I surveyed my kitchen floors just like she had
    and decided it was probably for the best
    that I’d left the old dirt in my old life.