Friday, July 31, 2009

Toys

When I choose a toy for a child
I try to find something that matches their interest
something that is bright or will make ‘em smile
it could be dinosaurs, balls or something to hit,
models, games, books, building blocks, or erector sets.

Most kids love stuffed animals, dolls or action figures,
the artists will need paints, brushes and canvases,
athletes - something to climb, or water to splash in
singers will want a microphone and music.

For the ones who love outdoors
there are games of croquet, badminton, basketball, and soccer
or bikes, scooters, skateboards and anything with wheels.
Toys don’t have to be complex, just something to stimulate the
body and the intellect. They give kids something to do,
or to chase when they need to get off the couch to play.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Mexico and Utah















Albuquerque, New Mexico
Arid desert sun
Dried, red hot chili peppers
Heal an ailing heart
















Bryce Canyon, Utah
Canyons of limestone
Where ancient spirits wander
Bridging the divide

Porcelain Vase
















Every day I could see it on the top shelf,
an intricate Asian pattern of gold on green

with a splash of red,
dragons chasing their tails
in a snake like fashion,

surrounding the porcelain in descending
coils – telling the myth of other worlds.

I knew better than to run too fast,
or bump into the mahogany shelf
that held the glimmering prize aloft
in the far corner of the room.

One day while my parents were out I couldn’t resist,
climbed up the chair and took down the vase,

held the glossy treasure in my hand,
heard the car door slam,

then dropped it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Perfect Family

This poem was written by using another poet's topic and pattern to write one of my own. It is like the chance poem, it takes off in its own direction, and allows you to write an original poem not even vaguely similar to the one used for inspiration. I also repeated the word perfect as a unifying element throughout the poem.

The Perfect Family
Everybody wants that perfect family
captured on camera,
a smile on each face

locked in time
in perfect harmony
but if you look closely you can see

that baby’s diaper needs changing,
the grimace on the middle one, tired of being squished
the oldest, fed up with all the wasted time

to get a perfect shot. How many retakes?
Why not tell the truth and snap those candid
moments of the mess and the distress

of living together? Capture instead the pushing
and fighting for space, the strain to find a little time
to pursue personal interests,

portray the parents’
dream of falling in love with someone else,
anyone who could cherish them as much as they deserve

in that perfect fantasy
of the faultless family, where illness is unknown,
failure unfamiliar and disappointment unexplored

where no promises are broken
and each dream achieved
in a world where everything is perfect

really… that type of family sounds boring
no challenges in all that bliss
maybe … my family is perfect, just the way it is.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Mama’s Rules For A Long Marriage

Mama said, “If you want to keep a man, never let him go hungry.”

So I taught him how to cook in case he got the urge,
I offered him conversation and laughter instead of a meal.
I didn’t want him to salivate when he saw me coming
or begin to demand food when his belly rumbled.

He could seek me out when he had something to say,
when he needed my ear to help solve a problem,
share something he learned,
or to tell me about his work
as he prepared our meal at the end of the day.

Mama said, “Treat him like a super hero.”

"What is a super hero?" I wondered.

Instead I showed him appreciation for the work he did.
Hired out when it got too complex,
participated, when it was something we could do together,
never nagged, because he hated being nagged,
and forgot about it if we could live without it.

Mama said, “Never let him hit you.”

He'd better not hit me,
I want to be loved and cherished,
to be treated like a queen.

“Where is love in all your rules?” I asked her.

“Love is different for everyone
and you have to figure it out
if your marriage is going to last,” she said.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I’m Grown Up Now

I stand taller than you,
I’ve learned to make decisions
get from here to there -
work and make my own money

I’m grown up now.

When I was little you used to take care of everything.
You told me where to step, how long I could stay
put me on restriction when I
wandered from your path.
I listened, tried to make you proud
wanted your approval, followed your rules
tried to wear your protective armor but it became too heavy.

You never liked my short shorts, you thought
I was asking for trouble. My grades could
have been better but I liked
spending time with friends.
You never knew about Rueben,
the night I was suppose to be at Irene's,
I went across the border and still dream about him.
I told you the lies you wanted to hear —
but ultimately you are not me.

Everyday I make choices
and most mistakes I can recover from
so I take risks to find out
where you stop and I begin.
My bank account is low but I don’t need your help
I’ll figure it out or live without it.
Yes, I’m putting on weight, don’t worry,
I’ll get it under control…

I don’t care about your traditions.
I won't be handed from my father to a husband.
I want time to explore the world.
maybe I'll emerge a stranger
but in the scheme of things you’ve lived your life
now it is my turn to live mine.

I’m grown up now.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Date Night
















One by one the teenagers on the block
hop into their cars and made the stop
at the corner before they pull out to join
the procession of lights on to the main highway.

She watches from her bedroom window
television droning on, counting heads
in each sedan as they drive away
into the night looking for adventure.

Parties crashed, lover’s lanes, smoking hash,
talking trash, dancing hard, laughing loud,
vomiting at the side of the road before
coming home ten minutes after curfew.

She leans against the window frame
and imagines some smell like alcohol,
girls with lipstick smeared,
boys needing cold showers.

She wants to be young, ripe, and succulent,
ready for tasting all the joys of life without
wasting a moment to dwell on its dangers.
The point in life to be invincible.

If she could go back she wouldn’t waste a moment
worrying so much about the size of her breasts
or whether her clothes were fashionable,
was she in the right group? Was she cool?

The moon shines down on empty streets,
a few steamy cars still parked curbside.

She recalls that night in June before
she graduated from high school.
His name was Jeff, she knew better,
but didn't use protection.

Late in August when she gave him the news
he drove her home but never returned, left her
to raise their child alone. She couldn’t bear it,
considered jumping from the freeway bridge,
but changed her mind.

So here she sits on Saturday night
at home, watching the world outside
wishing for her freedom again but no time
to dwell, she hears her daughter crying.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The One Left Behind

My sister-in-law is struggling with the loss of her husband. Here is a letter I imagine he would write to her if he could.

The One Left Behind

You said yes, and like that we were a couple
each survivors from failed marriages

We had resisted entanglements
making it on our own for years
and then just like that we were together

No promises made, you moved in with me
in a little while you were expecting one
and in a few years another son

You wanted more and asked for marriage so we did,
get married that is

The vows didn’t transform us, it didn’t legalize our love
The children didn’t change when they were legitimatized

Life went on and we were together for years
I wondered if I could live without you

it didn’t matter
I never found out
cancer took me by surprise

and now it is you who must survive.
Do not follow too quickly
stay and watch over our grown sons
rediscover who you are

You are alive
so you must endure
and when your life is through my darling

I will be here, waiting for you.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Seasons

Picture by Bill Rice

















Seasons
Leaves turn to brown then fall.
Later the earth is covered in white
feels like death but wait
in a little while life peeks through the ground
sprouting and then grows.
Put away those dark heavy jackets
choose colors of pastel green and pink
celebrate new life
It is time to sow, then to harvest
gather for the months to come
fall, winter, spring, summer
seasons change through the year
follow the cycles of the sun.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

In Honor of His Death


We are coming up to the two year anniversary of my oldest brother's death.
Here is a poem in memory of his sacrifice.

Cost of War

He withstood the insults and jeers from the hippie crowds
tried to get back on track but never made it.
Didn't talk about the war except for a story
about being under attack from the Viet Cong -
bullets flew as he lay spread out as flat as he could
on the jungle floor. If he moved he would be killed.

He had gone to war to save lives, signed up as a medic,
spent most of his time caring for the wounded,
and on this day, under enemy fire, one in his squad was struck.
He heard the scream and then the call, “Medic, I need a medic!”

His normal response was to ignore danger and attend
to the injured, but on this day he stayed pressed to the ground
and within minutes the wounded soldier, picked up a machine gun,
and fired at him... he cried and never finished his story.

He died several years later from the affects of agent orange,
a Vietnam Veteran whose name won’t appear on the wall,
whose life was so changed by the effects of war,
his soul never returned from the frontlines.

He tried rehabilitation from a life of debauchery;
women, alcohol, drugs, anything to bring that adrenaline rush.
He said, "The cravings helped quiet the nightmares."

At the time of his death, of course I was sad,
but the feeling in my gut was pure anger.
I said out loud to the office personnel,
"Was his sacrifice worth it?"

A Vietnamese refugee, who now worked as a translator,
put her hand on my shoulder and said,
"To me and my family it mattered."

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

He Was Happy With That

















He sat at his office cubicle
caught a glimpse outside a window,

of a worker in a yellow hard hat
balanced on a steel bridge
high above the skyline.

When he looked back at his ledger
everything blurred
and nothing added up.

He figured if he continued
in this direction
he would never see sunlight again.

His shoulders would become hunched,
he'd have to wear thick glasses
and carry a respirator

and for what?
To fill the pockets
of the guys who wear the suits

in the big offices
with the large double doors,
the ones with club memberships
and two hour lunches.

Much better, he decided,
to be on the road
and see if he could live without

strangers clinging to his throat.
He pulled off his tie
and walked down the hall

ran out the door
and never looked back.
I saw him yesterday
sitting at a bus stop

his skin weathered,
his clothes ragged.
He learned to live on the street
and was happy with that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Troll's Trip To Colorado

Before Tavelosity used the Troll as their icon we had the idea, or borrowed it from Amilee or Flat Stanly, and used it as a way to tell the story of our trip for our grandchildren. Here are some shots of our trip to Colorado.

I hid in the daisies afraid to come out












until I found out there was something to eat.












We had to check in at the airport.













The pilot let me sit in his seat.













Then I had to buckle my seatbelt for the trip.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Mother’s House

When I enter the house
listed For Sale.
I search for reminders
when I was a child.

My named carved in
the closet on the back wall
the small niche
with a secret treasure -
the note to David
never delivered…
blue paint underneath
a third layer,
the color of my bedroom
when I was ten,
a broken handle on
the bathroom window.

Rooms filled
with memories
like shattered glass
embedded in my skin.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Positano



Narrow winding roads bring you to the town
hanging from the curves of a mountainside.
Waves splashing off rocks of dark roasted brown
animating the view known worldwide

Take a vacation on sheer mountain cliffs
where grand villas are built for pure pleasure.
Climb the narrow steps to seek out rare gifts
to expand village charm with each treasure

Positano, scenic Italian dream
surroundings awash in sapphire skies,
Mediterranean seas, coffee with cream,
temptations of food and drink fill your eyes.

If you are inspired by these visions
Hurry up and make your reservations.

There is something in the town that inspires even the most amateur poet to praise the experience in verse with a deep longing to return. Of all the cities I visited during my vacation, Positano, most captured my imagination. Traditions say it was founded as a refuge from pirates, or by the god Poseidon as a present to a nymph, or as a shrine where a statue of the Virgin Mary saved travelers from a fierce storm. This mixture of truth and legend provides an added charm to the area that has been a getaway for writers and artists for years. John Steinbeck, wrote in Harper's that "it is a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

New England

These pictures were taken from our trip to New England in 2005. The Haikus were written last year. I thought it was time to share them together.




Cape Elizabeth, Maine
Every occasion
A special celebration
With red Maine lobster













Niagara Falls, New York
Water splashes white
Thunders, grumbles, crashes, roars Senses heart’s delight

Friday, July 17, 2009

Talent
















When kids lined up to be picked for the teams
You were never the first one chosen
but you always got picked
because you had talent.

The team you played for usually won
and you knew it and so did they.

I don’t know what it was in your personality
that didn’t make you more popular
because people liked you well enough
once they got to know you.

Maybe it was because you knew
you were better than all of them
even though you never said it out loud

it permeated your skin
and entered your scowl
along your upper lip
and down your jaw line.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Google Ads and Poetry

I thought it was a coincidence when I posted my poetry
I wrote about falling and then an ad for a lawyer popped up
a reference to termites brought a link to pest control
but then I found a site for contemporary poets
was surprised to find every poem linked to a service or product.

One poem titled Sadness opened with an ad for help with depression
Spelling came with a source for spelling worksheets
Siren Song sent me to love letters from great men

Shel Silverstein’s, Clooney the Clown, directed me to clown school
His shoes were too big and his hat was too small,
But he just wasn't, just wasn't funny at all.


There is something irreverent in these connections
Takes the art of poetry and makes it a commercial opportunity.
Is this a horrible offense or just good business sense?

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Taxi Driver

















A taxi driver weaves through traffic
a wave, then he quickly pulls to the curb

she climbs in and gives the address,
“2nd and Pine”

with a low grunt he moves to the road
the meter is set. Human sweat and liquor
mix with her perfume he sneezes

she says nothing

He looks at her through
the rear view mirror

she doesn’t see him at all.

He covers the distance
drops her at her destination
takes the cash counts it,
including the tip

she exits

He hears a shout and waits
for a new stranger
to enter his world.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Closed Until Further Notice

















Bankrupt splashed in red letters across the sign
orange webbed fencing wrapped around the store
parking lot vacant except for a few weeds
growing through the asphalt

inventory emptied out weeks ago
even the store fixtures bargain priced
and sold

unfortunately this scene is common
from furniture to electronic stores
foreclosed homes and mini malls
along with abandoned schools

favorite parks left untended
no more street maintenance
or local governments

life as i knew it
forever changed.

staring at the loss of
all things that mattered
wondering what can be salvaged?

i see birds building their nests from the debris
rats scurrying through the empty buildings
termites and roaches making their place

i decide
if the smallest can survive
so can I.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sister
















We were born into a crowded family
from the same mother and father
but so different from each other.

I had the athletic gene
she had the smart one
but also the stigmatism
and borderline insanity.

Later she said she dreamed of being an only child
had a little alcove tucked away in our closet
where she sipped tea and played with her dolls
uninterrupted from the overwhelming noise
of a family of five girls and five boys

She found comfort in the semblance of calm
isolated in the quiet nest she created.

Her imagination fully expressed
in that fantasy world of her making.

The little ones tried to intrude
but she stopped them from disrupting her solitude.

She sat quietly until they went away
and they never discovered the place she was hiding.

Candy Apples

















My appetite for candy apples
runs deep
always eaten
late in summer
a juicy mouth-watering treat.
The apples glimmer all red and syrupy
with a hint of cinnamon.

The taste of the apple is always a downer
it is never as yummy as it ought to be.
So difficult to eat
my teeth stick together
saliva drips from my lips to my chin.

I’ve never finished one
but every year you can count on me
to buy a candy apple at the county fair.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Wild

In the laws of nature the strongest survive.
All creatures instinctively know how to find food,
protect themselves, and mate.
There is no half way and good intentions
each living thing continues or perishes.
It is not an evil plot, immersed in sin
it is the way of the wild, there is no right or wrong

but to be human the rules change.
We like to imagine that we are in charge
There is good and evil.
So many virtues to emulate
and commandments to obey
yet in our simplest form,
before clerics interpreted
the intentions of a supreme being
we were all part of the wild and free to roam.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Be Careful Or You’ll Fall Off The Cliff

"Watch out for the edge," my mama said,
"The cliffs are too steep for you to be careless.”

I tried to pay attention and walked along the inside curve,
but the horizon attracted my attention.
I drifted close to the border that separated my
footsteps from the chasm and certain death.
One misstep and I could tumble into the abyss.

"Be careful," she said waking me from my reverie.

I wondered what my demise would tell about my life
on that clear afternoon on the hills outside Los Angeles.

Sooner or later I’m going to cross the threshold to death.
I could be safe at home and choke on a bone,
killed crossing the street in my own neighborhood,
or here on the hills among the chaparral
hanging from a branch before falling to nothingness.

"What a way to go," I said, "better to be a part of life,
rather than standing on the sidelines.
Best to experience living with all its danger
rather than holding back because
there is a chance I'll slip and fall."

"Don’t expect me to take care of you if you don’t listen," she said,
“Life isn’t only about you, it is also about your relationships.
You force others to make choices by your actions.
I’ve raised you to adulthood and in my list of things to do
I don't expect to bury you if you get killed through careless action."

"Yes, mama,” I said
moving back from the edge,
gasping for some air,
accepting boredom as my way of life.

I died before her anyway.

Friday, July 10, 2009

You're Out!

You may want to try your own Chance Poem. Here are the 14 pairs of words I've selected at random:

exercise excuse, reverse riddance, lather leave, modify monster, sorrow speak, heartfelt helmet, pelvis pitiful, ferry file, hanging hatred, type umpire, increase indifferent, dullard echo, reflex reign, delay denial

This is my poem. I've used all the words but lather and increase.


You're Out!




The umpire shouted, “You’re out!”
I was in denial and tried to delay his call.
I made an excuse and refused to leave.
My reflex to exercise my heartfelt sorrow
prompted me to speak in such a way
to reverse his decision.

He wasn’t the type to buy into my pitiful
request to review his conclusion
and he growled at me with an intense hatred.
He said, "I will exercise the full capacity of my position
and your career on the team is hanging by a thread."

I turned and glared at that monster, then tossed my helmet.
I jerked my pelvis to exaggerate my behind
and with all the dignity of an offended queen,
I walked off the field.

My folks and I caught the next ferry home
determined to file a complaint
with the commissioner
saying good riddance to the game
and to the dullard, whose words,
still echo in my brain.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sunflowers
















I see them arranged outside the florist’s shop,
tall green stocks, with a flush of gold
surrounding centers textured and brown.

They look like little children gathered
in close proximity dressed in summer finery,
with faces uplifted waiting to be kissed.

Buckets stocked to overflowing
fill my eyes with pleasure, I think of new love,
warm days, lots of company and laughter

I must stop to gather
some bouquets to decorate
my tables and entryway.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Racism

Racism is an ugly word,
like the hiss of snake,
with a poisonous bite
injecting your soul
with a toxic hate
the dividing line to
separate black from white.

Even though my skin is brown
I was accused of being a racist
so I knew it was time to protest.

I believe you can address racism
without angry words and a fight.

You transform it by
digging in your heals
and rising to the top
in any place that would
keep you down.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Heaven Opens When It Rains


I don’t know where the belief came from
my mother used to say ,
“Watch for rain after the death
of  loved ones and you can tell
if they went straight to heaven.”

When she died it poured,
also true for Mother Theresa
while Princess Di,
didn’t have a drop from the sky
all though tears, like rivers ,
flowed from her fans' eyes.

My younger brother had a soft mist
the older one, no rain, but a mischievous wind.

I can remember with Sister Bernadette
it thundered and stormed for days.
She was my fifth grade teacher, stern and
able to handle a class of fifty on her own.

When she saw me in heels at eighteen
she said, “Beware of vanity my child.”
According to my mother’s theory
She must be at the right hand of the Father
scrutinizing everyone who entered.

The latest rush of Hollywood names,
all headed to the grave, brought bright
sunlight, quiet and still. Whatever their
fame a few thunderclouds formed
but no water fell from the sky.

Yet, just before this exit of famous souls,
my quiet brother-in-law also passed.
On the day of his funeral
his youngest son apologized for
the inclement weather,
totally unexpected, and I
assured him it was a probable sign
that St. Peter gave him a nod
and he entered the threshold of heaven.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Sedona

Here are three attempts to paint the rock sculptures in Sedona.

The first one was done from memory using acyrlic.











The second one was using acyrlic and a photograph.










The third one was using water soluable oils and a photograph of a painting.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Music That Lasts

This poem is arranged in ABC order with every two lines rhyming.


















Apple falling from the big green tree
Butterflies floating quiet and free
Cats prowling ready to capture

Dogs howling lost in their rapture
Elephants trumpeting a warning sound
Fluffy lambs frolicking around

Goats, and geese, and big fat frogs
Hand held buzz saws cutting logs
Indiscrete words drawing a crowd

Jumping rope shouting out loud
Kisses by the weeping willow
Lost love crying on the pillow

Mom hollering, “It’s time to eat!”
Neighbors playing in the street
Operas preforming across the land

Pineapples served to the Hawaian band
Quiet prayers late at night
Rollicking fireworks bursting bright

Snakes slithering through the grass
Trucks running out of gas
Unicorns traveling in my dreams

Velcro ripping at the seams
Wishing for the music to last
X, Y, Z, it's going too fast.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

A Winter Visit

This is a chance poem; 14 pairs of words selected at random from the guide words of a dictionary. The results can be surprising.

















Outside, God was delivering a deluge. The untamed
wind cut through the slats of our wooden cabin.
I could see Mama standing by the pot bellied stove
boiling Mulligan stew. The aroma drifted through
the room causing my innards to rumble and roar.

I heard the snap from that silver clip I gave her to keep her
hair in place. Then I saw her lean over to stoke the fire.
When she tried to engage me, her first born, in idle
chit chat, I didn’t much feel like talking. My head was
burning and my throat swollen with mumps, so I let
her run on and on about Daddy’s unkempt mullet,
her decorative efforts for spring, and
how she was a better bowler now that she
controlled her allergies with antihistamines.

The bottom line is I never became abrasive as I wavered
between wakefulness and sleep. I felt her cool hand on my
forehead, then her fingers when she smoothed my tangled hair.

I woke the next morning and wrote down everything .
I tried to capture her words and her mood. …
She died last winter. I didn’t stop writing
until every page in my notebook was filled.
The aroma of her stew permeated the room.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Life Art to Acrylic

How do you think it looks?









Did I make it from Life to Acrylic?

The Evolution of Women

This form of poetry is called a Sestina. Notice every line ends in the same words of the first stanza, only they are arranged in a different order.

Some of the story in the poem is true but most of it is fiction. I wrote it after I saw an old picture my cousin sent me of an unknown woman. She asked me if I recognized her. I didn't but this poem tumbled out.

The Evolution of Women
Who is the woman in the photograph? Subdued smile
almost pretty, ring on her finger tells me she found love
or at least someone to marry after the World War.
Picture taken in the 1940's, we’re not related
mother knew her from Sears where they worked.
She looks twenty, seems uncertain about her place

standing outside her house at 825 Estancia Place.
Jack rabbit eyes don’t match her sublime smile.
Silk scarf around her neck and wavy hair work
to make her glamorous. He must have money but does she love
him? One hand resting on her belly, it may not be related,
could be expecting. Babies were important after the war.

She desired normal, no more thoughts of war,
but who could predict from that time and place
how much the world could change. People relate
through satellite and flickr sites to share a smile.
International relationships… did she ever find true love?
Is she divorced, widowed, or still married, did her life work?

Mother says change can be hard work.
Maybe this woman’s son never came home from the Vietnam War,
or her daughter opted for that hippie thing and free love.
After the kids were gone she might have moved to a different place,
and lived among strangers, and forgot how to smile
because everywhere she looked she couldn’t relate

to the people or the events. She could only relate
to her recollection of how the world used to work.
Childhood memories still make her smile.
If she’s alive today at eighty nine she faces loneliness, and war
against an aging body and has to look so many places
to find her glasses. Maybe she’ll get lucky and finally find love.

Yesterday, I found a picture of me in front of a house I loved.
The end of my hair touches the hem of my mini skirt. I can relate
to being twenty, ready to take my place
among the adults to do my part and go to work,
get married, raise a family, and wage war
for women’s rights. Petulant lips form my smile.

This picture of my daughter in front of Sea World, where she works,
trains dolphins, has no intentions of settling down. We’re related
and wage war about her future. She kisses me and gently smiles.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Disaster Art

This was taken during the fire after the transformer
exploded and the electric wire fell to the ground.
Title: Call 911














Here are the firemen after they responded to the call.
Title: Men At Work














This shows the only structural damage after the fire.
It seems to be aluminum melted into the concrete.
Title: Burn Scars