Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Selma’s Closet

A dark pair of shoes
sitting in the closet,
with two dresses and two purses.

One fancy the other plain,
waiting for the time
to be aligned with the perfect outfit.

The first - a simple black thing,
adorned with her mother’s necklace,
perfect for evening

her figure the highlight of the ensemble:
the clutch a hideaway
for her make-up and keys.

If things go well
Mr. Right will be
sitting at the bar

she will attract
his attention
and he will want her

to join him
and his circle of friends
for the rest of her life.

The other dress,
more tailored
ready for work

same shoes, a different bag
with many compartments
for pens, notebook,

a box of mints,
an extra pair of hose,
a list of names and numbers.

If things go right
she’ll be hired
and then she can shop

for new clothes
to fill her closet
and maybe with the extra cash

buy another
pair of shoes
to expand her opportunities.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Touch of Gold

Gold is an art form
used to reveal one's
wealth or station

designed as a necklace
or other decoration

stones glimmer
with divine illumination

presented as a token of love
brings depth to infatuation

jewels release
energy for veneration

offered as an act of contrition
reminds her of the pain
with renewed determination

taken by thieves
without hesitation

becomes a passport
and a new a destination

the touch of gold
holds promises
for another generation.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Border Town

Nearby there is a place where many gather to make a quick buck or peso
It is a city filled with people living on the verge of extreme poverty
There are vagrants, opportunist, thieves, murders and local residents
Vendors who offer everything from illegal drugs to cheap trinkets

It is a border town located at the edge of the desert
Separated by barbed wire, language, and culture
Where some experience heaven on earth and others a living hell
But with a little planning and vigilance you can still have a great vacation

Patience will get you through the long lines at the border crossing
Make reservations to avoid places like the Hotel California
It is a dirty place where the ceilings are covered in mirrors
The beds ruined from too many sailors and underage drinkers

However it is better to take a break than to travel too late at night
So if you must check-in … sleep on the chair

In the morning greet the locals with a “Buenos dias”
Talk to the other visitors to find the best deals
Shun the man who knows where you can get beer for a quarter
Where the cost of human flesh is also a bargain

Find the small cafe, a stucco alcove, nestled in the heart of town
Drink only bottled water, nothing with ice and avoid the salad
Enjoy the shredded meat, hot chili, fried eggs and corn tortillas

Your servers’ names might be Jose, Maria, Javier, or Consuela
With jet black hair, olive complexions and dark brown eyes
Their musical voices, beautiful smiles and easy laughter
Will make you feel like family and you will want to come back...

That's before the drug dealers moved in to town.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Art Of Teaching

Another class of active children
wanting to reach out to poke, talk
and laugh with each other
rather than listen to the teacher.

The challenge is to take this untapped
energy and focus it on the tasks needed
to build skills for reading and writing,
manipulating numbers and participating
in meaningful discussions
about ancient civilizations and social structures
to explore nature’s wonderful
creations and be able to name all the
parts of a digestive system
recognize the stages of a reproductive cycle
plus find all the places on the earth
were different living things might dwell.

How does a teacher provoke children’s curiosity
sufficiently to give them ability to go in the direction
of their own proclivity to discover the world
and recreate it in the image of their own making?

It is art in its best expression
the gift lies in the soul of a teacher
who knows how to recognize the best in all students
to awaken their desire to learn.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Glamour and Fame

Glamour and fame,
like predators’ webs,
designed to lure
unsuspecting prey.

Droplets of dew,
of unequaled brilliance,
offered on gossamer nets
and the snares,
with every struggle,
signal the spider.

No matter how hard the fight
silk threads hold them in place.

First one and then another
these bloodless corpses
arranged for future feasting
caught in the trap of glamour and fame.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Study In Nature

Here are two pictures we took on vacation in Sedona. I painted them both in watercolors and then in oils. It is an interesting way to study nature.

Bill photographed the paintings.

Two Poems About The Inner City

I spent two years on a volunteer project in South Central Los Angeles. The intent was to somehow have an impact on the violence in impoverished communities. It is evident from the headline news that violence is still rampant. These two poems come from conversations with young people who lived in those communities.

South Central

Graffiti on the walls mark the territory
the smell of urine emanates from the alleyways

eyes peer through basement windows
fear, like a curtain, shrouds those who live there

Pop! Pop! Pop! Who is it this time,
a gangland enemy, his brother, a child?

Doors don’t open to inspect the violence
the car screeches away unseen

a ghost drifts through the ethers with no one attending
the body left to be discovered in the morning.

Mama Said, “No!”

Mama said, “No!”
and I did it anyway.

I climbed out the window into the street
where a stranger offered me a ride
to the ghetto of Long Beach.
He bought me a burrito and coke
from the local taco stand.

He said I could stay
until I figured out what to do.

I never found out what that night held
because as I approached his apartment
there was mama, sitting in the car
along the curbside.

How could she find me?
We were miles from home.

Mama was mad and didn’t let me stay.
So I went back and the stranger ran away,
cause mama said, “No!”
and she came out to get me.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

California Coast

Year round summer
West Coast beaches
buff bodies
beach cruisers
board shorts
sun bleached hair
flip flops
Hawaiian prints
coconut oil
bare skin
warm weather
clear skies
evening fires
love songs
life in the
California sun.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Picking Blackberries

Picking blackberries at the end of summer
is a family tradition.
We find the tasty black fruit among the thorns
and thistles, nestled off most traveled trails.

Usually found in thickets off the roadside
along fields, mountains, or seashores.
This delectable fruit is available for our taking.
We carry baskets or pails to fill to the brim.

We eat some while we gather but are careful
not to eat too much to avoid a tummy ache
but more importantly we want enough
for jellies, preserves, muffins and pies.

There is nothing better than the aroma
of black berries being baked for dessert.
The purplish stain on our lips lets others know
we’ve eaten one of the best treats of the season.

Friday, September 11, 2009

September Sun

Picture by Bill

Heat of August finally subsides
cooling breeze crosses the plains.

Trees release greens of spring
one by one leaves turn to yellow then fall.

School days fill with backpacks and notebooks,
class schedules and new classmates.

Homework, gossip, and karate in the afternoon.
Flip flops, shorts and swim suits put away.

Daylight shrinks between dawn to dusk
Sun in September sets in the west

Goes out like a flame
in the ocean.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Happy Tree

I call it the happy tree.
It sits off center
in the front yard.
A trunk about two feet in diameter
with branches spreading out like an umbrella.

Some water and occasional trimming
is all it needs to prosper.
It thrives in all seasons
but if I’m feeling down
I sit underneath in it’s shade.

Sadness seems to get
caught by the roots
and offered up to the sky
where it is washed in sunshine
and returned as joy.

Humphrey loves the tree
as much as I do.
He sits by my side
and forgets to bark
allowing others to join us
in the cool shade
of the single tree.

Loneliness gets lost among
the branches when people
stop by to chat
the general malaise
of the whole human race
is forgotten for a little while.

Time slips away,
friends are made,
games are played,
conversations had
to solve world problems,
at least for today.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Buried In The Sand

I went to the beach as a child
my brother buried me in the sand
nothing visible except my head and hands
quite content in the earth’s embrace
until the sun burned my face
and my thirst forced me out into the world again.

As a teenager I buried myself in lies
started out with small white ones
then it seemed I couldn’t utter the truth
my words became more difficult to track
and to this day I don’t know if anything
I remember from my adolescence is true.

In my twenties I became a mother and took on
PTA, kids clubs, and after school activities.
Soon buried under the burden of too many yeses
I was teacher, nurse and chauffer.
Time with the family was minimized.
I thought it was my job to save the world.

When the children were gone, work became the focus
board meetings and big decisions
running groups of people and their activities
buried under administrative tasks
papers, reports, and budget ledgers
no time to reflect, finding it harder to breathe
and then I quit.

With retirement I’m buried
under the expanse of time.
I've learned how to fill it without schedules
and daily demands from other people.
The emptiness beckons forth
creativity in all its forms
but this too shall end
and once again I’ll be buried in the sand.

Pictures by Bill

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Jump Rope

It takes three people to do it right
two to turn
and one to jump.

"Jump," I hear them call out loud
I wait for the rope to slap the pavement
then lift both feet up into the air.

"Jump," they shout again and again
I skip, hop, wiggle, and twist
I don’t want my turn to stop.

"You missed," Sheri screams
throws down her end and runs to the middle
I pick up the rope and her turn begins

"Jump," we sing out in unison
but she misses her first chance
“Do over, you didn’t turn it right,” she cries.

Sara, doesn’t even argue,
she drops the rope and steps in place.
“Jump,” she says and then we chant:

“Officer, officer
do your duty
here comes Sara
the natural beauty
she can skip
she can hop
she can wiggle
until she stops.
one, two, three, four...”

Monday, September 7, 2009

Silk Scarves

Wear silk scarves when you make presentations
to hold your audience’s attention.
Soft to the touch, they can be tied in a bow
come in colors to match your eyes, clothing or jewelry.

Choose a splash of color to keep the focus on you
by stimulating their imagination.
The one with greens and blues looks like the sea
evoking thoughts of the salt air and splashing waves
reminiscent of a beach far away.

The red one denotes
passion and boldness
and for that reason wear it under a collar
loose around your neck
to bring attention to your breast.
It looks best with red shoes and red lipstick.
Wear it with blue and white to give rise
to feelings of patriotism,
something grander than your meager words
as you try to draw their attention to products
or attempt to persuade them to take a class
or a program for self improvement.

Remember, when you look good
you have abundant sales.

Few want to deal with a cougar in daylight
so save the animal prints
for after dark.
Prowl the dance halls and night clubs in the evenings,
while looking for unsuspecting prey,
wear your scarf up high, tight around your neck
with a long sash hanging down your shoulder like a leash.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Bouquet of Flowers

Picture by Bill

In the garden
I gather flowers
cutting the stems
close to the bloom.

Where shall I put them?

I look at their colorful faces
splashes of purple, pink, and yellow
The folds of their petals surround a spot,
a secret soft center, in a contrasting color
like a child peeking out
from under the covers.

What would you say dear flowers
if you could speak?

“Beauty surrounds you - take it in.
Life is worth living - develop and grow.
Love is for giving - find someone
and love him completely.

Be willing to be cut, plucked
and hung out to dry
but get close to your lover anyway
don’t try to escape.

Stop saving yourself for something better
let yourself be tasted and savored
become one with another.

Remember, a gift unopened
is no gift at all.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Aspens Along The Highway

Traveling through Northern Arizona
from Flagstaff to Williams last year
I passed a cluster of Aspens along the highway.
White trunks arranged in haphazard rows
carved into the paper-like bark
Jenny loves Lloyd, WR + DT, WTF.
An awkward surface for so much graffiti,
Black scars from the base to the top

One whole section was missing today
burned in last season’s fire
nothing remained but a few hollowed stumps
now acres of new grass and wildflowers.

I have these pictures so I know they existed once
chronicled in my scrap books and power points,
painted scenes in watercolor and oils,
feeble attempts to reflect real life.
How much are we like the Aspens,
stalwart individuals, scarred and standing in close proximity
separate but connected by a network of underground roots
vulnerable to disease, insects and firestorms?

Pictures by Bill

Friday, September 4, 2009

Two Reflective Poems

Cycles of Time
The moon goes from
new to full
twelve months is all
it takes to cycle through the year

So many songs mark those times
like the year I met you
Bob Dylan sang, “The times they are a'changin.”
Change being the one constant

Babies to old age,
first bloom, to seed then dried
Love’s first kiss and final goodbyes
Egg, larva, pupa, butterfly

Picture by Bill

Love Letters
We wrote while you were away
daily letters I tied in pink ribbon
should have saved those love notes
but I threw them away
because I found my mother going through them

No record of our early romance
our words of innocence
and hopeful yearnings
no history for our grandchildren
how will they ever learn our story?

Our messages today sent through e-mail
deleted weekly at best
hardly worth savoring
“Stop at the store, see you at 6:00.”

I wonder if there’s a way to go back in
time to do it differently?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Night Wanderings

Picture by Bill

I woke up again last night,
the glowing light of the digital clock
guided my path with its bluish hue.

I wandered down the hall
to the sliding glass door
and gazed at the moon,
counted the stars,
then got a drink of water,
back again to my tousled sheets
wondered if the dreams would return.

A train stopping at a station
passengers entering and departing
a hiss and rumble
after the last whistle call.

I snuggle back in bed
touch your face and your hair
So glad you are lying here?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Dust Puppies

dust puppies
He shakes his body
and his ears flap
so do his jowls
back and forth
he shivers his back
all the way to his tail.

One by one
golden hairs
fly from his coat
and into the air
reassembling into
little bundles of fur.

Every day I sweep up
three maybe four
gold dust puppies.
If I let a day go by
they cling to the bottom
of the furniture,
making the chairs easier to slide
across the floor.

Maybe I will collect his
offspring for a year
and offer little dust puppies
of different sizes
by the side of the road.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Spider’s Silk

The recent headline news about a young girl kidnapped at eleven prompted this poem. My prayers go out to her and her daughters so that they may recover from the nightmare.

Spider’s Silk
Delicate wisps of
baby’s breath,
a late night kiss,
hands that nestle
too long in places
they don’t belong.
The silent thrill she
doesn’t feel as he
spreads his fingers
to trap her innocence.
"There’s nothing wrong,"
he says,
not as long as she knows
he loves her
and always will.
"It is our secret,”
he whispers, stripping her
of any sense of who she is.
She’s daddy’s little girl,
captured and drained
of life…dead before
her wings are