Saturday, October 31, 2009


I don’t believe in ghosts,
because I KNOW they exist.

I feel them float
in my room at night
and stand around my bed.
My stomach aches,
I start to shiver,
even though the temperature
is seventy degrees or better.

At first they appear
like dark shadows,
or wisps of spider webs
and then they start to moan
and I am completely awake
and feel that awful sensation
of fear crawling on my skin.

Sometimes I recognize a face,
like an image projected
on a movie screen.
My uneasiness subsides
and we talk about gossipy stuff...
nothing that will change the world.

With the first hint of sunlight
they fade away and I am weary
so I fall dead asleep
and do not wake
until my husband shouts,
“Get up you lazy bones,
get out of bed!”


Friday, October 30, 2009

The Wedge

A storm in Tahiti
brought crashing waves

on to the shores of Newport
to a place called the Wedge

Hearty surfers
tried their skill

got slammed
on to the sand

tried again
some caught the curl

Crowds gathered
to watch

then an unlucky soul
got smashed in the rocks

and that ended the day for them all.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Writers Write

A noisy sparrow disrupted
the peace, and a whistle
from the neighbor’s teapot,
added to my bad temper.

Attention was on the vast
white page sitting on the screen
and I hated being distracted.

My brain finally revolted
and burst forth like larva,
emerging from an egg.

Soon fingers danced
across the keyboard
and my chronic sorrow

was put aside while
my mind explored the span
of life and was able to
reuse past events to tell

a new tale and rhetoric
became poetic for the first time
in days. I felt equipped
to provide a text that made sense

and a worthy vehicle to express
my innermost thoughts.
I moved from the keyboard
to a legal pad wanting to savor

the words as I formed them
in cursive script dotting
my “i's” with stars
but the reverent prose

gave way to illegible scribbles
I was back in the morass.
I knew it was time to take

a break so I went outside
for a walk and then to the
sink to wash the dishes

and finally back to my computer
to stare at a new page
and hopefully to write again.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Family Trait

I have a large nose.
It’s a family trait
and you would think my sense
of smell would be great but

I can’t smell the aromas
in the kitchen nor
the pungent smells
of the city streets.

I can’t even catch the whiff
of my perfume
when I want to go out at night

but I do have a great
nose for the smell of danger
and I’m good
at sniffing out a story.

I can smell a lie a mile away
and the smell of death
still overwhelms me.

So day after day I keep
my nose to the grindstone
and keep it clean and out
of other people’s business.

I never cut it off
to spite my face
and when I follow
this routine

the scent of money
is always strong
and the smell of success
is right under my nose.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


It cascaded down my back
all the way to my waist
a jumble of dark brown curls
I’ve been letting it grow since I was six .

Unlike the girls whose hair was straight
I never tied mine in a ponytail
or crisscrossed it into a braid
I wore it loose to catch the sun
to reveal the reddish highlights
as it bounced and swayed.

Boys would reach out to touch it,
girls became jealous and mean,
older women said I should tie it back
or cover it with a scarf.

Sister Superior said,
"It is a woman’s vanity,
you shouldn’t flaunt it.
You needed a modicum of modesty
because you are still a child."

My dad said, “I love your hair,
it graces your face and shoulders
let it hang free.”

I let it grow, trimming it occasionally
to keep the ends from reaching my knees.
Sometimes it would fall forward
to frame my face
other times I would sweep it to
the side and let it hang
across one shoulder.
I adorned it with ribbons
and flowers.

In my sophomore year my mother said,
“It’s time to cut it.” No questions asked,
no chance to argue, she sat me down
and just like that - whack, whack, whack
the hair was gone and that was that.

Tears ran down my cheeks
but I didn’t utter a word.
When my father saw me he shouted,
“Where's you hair mi'jita?"
and then I sobbed.

My mother said, “It was time for her
to have a more modern style,” and after that
no one ever talked about it.

I made a decision to let my hair grow.
By the time I was in college
it was long once more.
I never let anyone cut it again.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Eye Candy

We drove along HWY 180
through Flagstaff, in early spring.
An unexpected snowfall left
the ground covered in white,
accentuating the black graffiti
on the trunks of the birch trees .

Much to our surprise yellow flowers
grew through the snow
like a broken piƱata littering
treats wrapped in cellophane.

Normally we stop to take pictures
but that day we didn’t want to look away
and the recollection of that visual pleasure
is locked deep inside our memory.

Were the flowers witch hazel or crocus?
We’ll never know because
we refer to the experience
as the day we saw eye candy
upon the snow.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


everyone waits, listening
for the verdict’s outcome,
the question in the courtroom,
“Will justice be handed out today?”

court cases range from civil issues
to homicides - the decisions
in each changes another’s future
whether fines or jail time

from the code of Hammurabi
to twenty first century directives
rules of behavior are mapped out,
punishments clearly outlined

the consequences are far reaching
with innocent victims vindicated,
but children of the convicted, get undeserved
punishment when justice is meted out

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Picture Window

Candles flicker
on the table top
her face hidden in shadow
suddenly bright

laughter tinkles
like windchimes
in a breeze
while he watches

standing outside
by the oak tree
so quietly
barely breathing
and at last, prayers
said, the meal
finished, and she
sneaks out to him.

Her face is hot
against his skin
she squeals
with the chill
while he holds
her close

her parents look out
when they hear the sound
and learn her secret
as she kisses him
the street light.

Friday, October 23, 2009


temperatures cool
promises rain this year,
perhaps an early snow
but in October
pumpkins piled high
corn stalks dry
costumes prepared
annual hunt
for free candy
daylight savings starts
to save an hour
of sunlight
to guide the path
from work and school
but in the evening
dark weighs heavy
too early to snooze
orange, yellow, brown
leaves fall
then crunch
breaking into little flakes
scattered by the breeze
exposing naked trees
extra blankets on the bed
logs in the fireplace
and hot chocolate
in my hands before
it’s time to sleep.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

More Paintings

Here are some pictures and paintings. The dandelion you probably recognize from earlier posts... well here is an attempt to capture it in oils.

Here is a flower on some lily pads from Santa Barbara Mission.

The paintings look better in real life. The pictures of them lack
the depth and vibrancy and especially contrasted against
the photographs taken on site.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

5:00 A.M.

His day begins
before the sun rises
first one alarm
and then the other
quietly he gets out of bed

shuffles to the kitchen
just as the coffee
finishes brewing

the newspaper is
waiting in the driveway
wrapped in plastic
headlines telling
of catastrophes
a hit and run accident,
a father gone berserk,
a flu epidemic,
a tidal wave
after an earthquake

He ignores the front page
and skims through
the other sections
business news
market tanking
world news
another civil war
local news
a city council member
arrested for drunk driving
comics they forgot to print

He pours his milk
in a bowl of grape nuts
crunches so loud
he can’t hear his thoughts
puts them aside and turns
on the television
with enough time
to watch reruns of
I Love Lucy
laughter helps
clear his mind.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


love seeps into
your chest at the
sternum and wraps
around your heart
long tendrils extend
up your throat
causing you to choke
on words caught
before they are spoken
forcing butterflies
to break their
and flutter wildly
in your stomach
making your head
burn like fire
and your hands tremble
until you satisfy
your hunger
with the one
you desire

Monday, October 19, 2009


She walks in harmony
unlocks the secrets
of heaven
using mysteries
from the earth
found in roots,
leaves and flowers.

With her breath
and utterances
she evokes
essential properties
allowing spirit
to course through
your soul
and infuse
your mind
and body
with peace
and health.

Do not be afraid
to find a shaman
and let her
guide you
along your way.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

My Father’s Hands

My father’s hands were large, with
wide palms and long fingers. Strong,
and calloused from years of hard labor
building walls, walkways and homes.

The delicate work he left
for more dainty hands because his
were too big to thread a needle,
but he did brush his daughters' hair.
He started at the bottom
and worked toward the top
so the knots untangled easily.

He shuffled the deck to play a game of cards
dealt to anyone who sat at his table.
He listened to what they had to say,
and when the game was over closed his eyes
and took a deep breath of his unfiltered cigarette.

I remember his hands folded
in prayer, illuminated by candlelight
and how he wiped his cheeks
when my mother died
his hands didn’t seem
large enough to hold all his tears.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Nomadic Tendencies

From my earliest days I
traveled. I was born in Oregon,
moved to Idaho, New Mexico
and finally to California
where I lived for ten years,
then off to Hawaii, Florida,
Virginia and South Carolina
and back again.

I stayed for awhile
but most often packed up
and gone in a year.

Friendships like furnished apartments
good for a time but then on the road.
No ownership or claim,

convenient, but quickly forgotten.
Someone described me an open person,
no one I met was stranger,
but likewise... no one a friend.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Sibling Rivalry

The black lacquered jewelry box
was a gift for my sixteenth birthday,
a thank you for hours of babysitting
house cleaning, and running errands.
I thought it was deserved.

My younger sister fingered the shiny black surface
opened the lid and watched the pink ballerina twirl
to the music. “Lara’s theme from Dr. Zhivago,"
she said then twisted the dancer and broke it.

She handed it back saying, “oops.” The summer before
her birthday had been forgotten, and when reminded
we celebrated with a chocolate cake that broke
into pieces when it came out of the pan…“oops.”
It was an accident. No intention to harm.

I found the music box today and traced the roses,
embedded in wood, following the thorny stem across
the surface. I didn’t deserve her revenge
but it came between us the rest of our lives.
My husband she resented,
my children she rejected,
messed up my house when she came to visit,
and monopolized every conversation.

I stopped celebrating milestones
because instead of joy she brought sadness
always saying or doing something
to make things go wrong. In retrospect,

I’ve had a good life. The blessing abundant,
work respected and recognition readily available.
Maybe all she needed to hear was
“You’re special too,” but that never happened…“oops.”

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Identity Theft

After the land was stolen…
claimed by a stake thrust in the ground,

fenced when arguments ensued concerning
rights for property, water, or grazing.

A war was declared and guns fired
the transfer of ownership folded in paper
with a wax stamp from a government official.

It didn’t matter that generations before
the land was hunted and farmed by
my ancestors before the sixteen hundreds.

Yesterday's abundance was once shared
so neighbors could survive adversity

but now first names are changed
Jesus is Jess, Celestina now Sally

and the mother tongue almost obliterated.
All business is conducted in English.

What was once familiar, is now foreign,
the native has become the stranger

even though the bones of my grandparents
and so many grandparents before them
lie deep in the ground.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Flu Vaccination

“Be still,” the doctor said,
“it stings for only a second."

The sharp prick of the hypodermic needle,
a swish, then the vaccine implanted.

“Ouch,” is all I said, the sweet pleasure of pain
evident in my pupils, slightly dilated.

A heavy sigh then it was over.

My body will not be ravaged with aches and fever,
no loss of work, or time out from every day living,
five minutes in the doctor’s office and my
future changed, I am now protected.

Yesterday’s news told of deaths,
children in their prime falling without warning,
gone before moms had time to worry.

The only music heard coming from upstairs -
a radio blaring but it didn’t mask the sound
of a young mother wailing.

I think it is sad but no longer my fear,
for I’ve been vaccinated
against the flu this year.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Dolls & Dinosaurs

The kids’ room is divided completely in half
one side painted pink, with ruffled white curtains
and shelves filled with arrays of dolls;
blonds, brunettes and occasional redheads
pink little faces and blood red lips,
some naked, others dressed, but all
starring out with blank, synthetic eyes.

The other side is painted a bright blue
with boxes and barrels filled with dinosaurs.
Ferocious sharp teeth of carnivores
along with the scales and spikes of plant eaters
peeking out from different storage bins.
A few creatures made of cloth but most of hard plastic,
one with an electronic connection to make it roar.

You might guess the dinosaurs belong to the boy
and the dolls individually selected for the girl.

Why are we surprised that men and women are different?
From the earliest days their toys reveal the keys.

Men are basically cave men and hunters
with a great desire to watch and protect.

Women on the other hand, have a voice and
create relationships, stories and social gatherings.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Wood Carvings

With the wood in one hand
I feel texture, weight and shape
but with the knife in the other
I cut, slice and peel the oak
to release the form that appears
hidden in the grain.

Is it a bird, animal, or human figure?
Details carefully refined,
with the rhythm of my fingers and thumb,
I reveal the outline against the blade
and the soul within transforms,
for a sculpture from the divine to emerge.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

First Night Alone After Marriage

Darkness settled around the house
rustling leaves forced me to the window
searching for shadows of peeping toms,
or sneaky burglars who could tie me down.

Nothing stirring but the winter wind
decided to take a bath, when I heard a rumble,
saw a flash, then pellets of hail,
like pebbles thrown on frozen glass.

I screamed and started to cry, couldn’t bathe
so I drained the tub and crawled into bed
fully clothed, leaving the light on in the kitchen,
keys in my hand in case I needed to run.

The midnight quiet broken by the sound of feet
someone shuffling through the leaves and
knocking at the back door again and again.

No one was ever there but
the noises continued all night long.

Next morning the neighbors talked
about squirrels playing tag in the trees
and running through the trailer park.

Next time my husband has to work at night
I will be staying at my mother's.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mowing the Lawn

Standing on the sidewalk
with lawn mower growling

the leaves of grass,
quivering in anticipation,

stepping into motion
walking back and forth

cutting long swaths
each sweep crossed over.

Gazing back at my efforts
I see a finely trimmed lawn -

a broad expanse of green,
from cement to planter box

calm and uninjured
ready to grow again.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Night Reverie

The moon doesn’t seem to be in the same place at night.
I can’t predict its location from day to day.
I check each evening and am constantly surprised.

Is it me or is there a shift in the orbit of this heavenly body?
Instead of going from east to west
it seems to be doing the boogie woggie across the sky.

Is my head spinning and I’m the one
off balance trying to locate myself in space
in relationship to my changing world?

The sweet smell of normal wafts through my home,
scent of garlic and steaks on the grill,
sounds of garage doors opening… closing…

and neighbors disappearing behind shuttered windows
not even a hello or goodbye.
When did everyone become a stranger?

Sirens get louder, then pass along the highway,
and why can’t I locate that damn moon in the sky?

This poem was inspired by a conversation with my husband, Bill.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

If Walls Could Talk

I never watched the program but their frequent appearance
in the news inpsired this poem for Jon and Kate...

Peeling paint and wall paper,
like a deflowered queen on prom night,
so much promise ruined
by one indiscrete act,

life dissolved
the home disintegrated.

Where laughter once filled the rooms,
private jokes and common goals,
all gone and in its place tears,
and shouting… too much shouting.

The kids cover their ears to stop the noise.

Yesterday when they moved
suitcases rumbled, children argued
no tinkling from the upright piano.

Movers packed the dishes and the silverware,
love was dead so the furniture divided.

He wanted the flat screen TV and his favorite chair,
she got the furniture and all the kids' stuff
each selected their own CD’s .

She took the children
and by default he got the dogs.

Their roads diverged but paths,
on court orders, still cross.

Sweet faces forever altered
plastic surgery won’t hide the sadness
money can’t camouflage the fears.

The mail will be delivered
to boxes at the post office
until new addresses are decided.

Death is easier to withstand than
divorce when love is lost.

Too bad they can't turn back the clock
so each can make different choices.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Driving at Night

My mind fills with thoughts of driving late at night
after I turned eighteen there was freedom in my Dad's 56 Chevy
going over 70 miles an hour along the coastline on Highway 101.
The road curved and at any point we could pull over and make-out in the sand.
The balmy California air invited exploration and careless dreaming.

During the family years nighttime driving meant freedom for a few hours
It was great to get away but I was anxious to go home again
to kiss the children while they slept, finish a few tasks,
and maybe cuddle with my husband before the sun rose at dawn.

After the kids were grown, driving at night meant working late,
too tired to enjoy the scenery, the path familiar, blinded by my
desire for a warm meal and my husband’s company for a few hours
before I fell asleep on the sofa to be ready for work the next morning.

Now the thought of driving in the dark scares me. The headlights
distort my vision and the damage to my eyes makes me see things
that are not there. Medication has lowered my response to sudden
moves or changes in direction. I’d rather snuggle in the safety of my home.

Yet, when I recall my earlier years, I do remember with satisfaction
the feeling I had behind the wheel of the car while driving after midnight
The expanse of road calling me forth to adventure and freedom.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

The Dream

Last night I couldn’t sleep until I fell into a dream about the future, a scene from
a disaster movie. Survivors competed for resources, fighting forces of darkness.

People of all kinds banished to the outskirts of civilization huddled
in structures of flotsam and restraining walls,

abandoned automobiles and ravaged buildings.
I walked along the damaged roadways, ignoring cries from the injured.

My head bent down,
chest tight as I saw hearty people gasping for breath

and weaklings falling limp, littering the alleyways.
Some reached out to me but I plowed through the human suffering

looking for my group… a band of warriors,
We needed to make a plan. How could we save what was left of our world?

"Springtime," one said, trying to recall the season of renewal,
a time when living things reproduced and bloomed.

“We must become the Phoenix, rising from the ashes,” another said,
“focusing on detail in order to assemble a better future.”

“Values must be integrated for contrast and depth,” I responded,
“In a time when nothing matters, everything must matter.

We must take action rather than languish in despair,” we shouted in unison.

We decided to clear land to grow a garden,
learn a song to sing while planting,

show kindness and compassion to one another,
choose words to heal and inspire,

smile and hug one another often.
We continued this way until our reality changed

all hands and minds working toward common goals.
Sadness, we realized was an illusion.

Alienation a choice
all we had to do was reach out to each other.

As a group we celebrated life
rather than clung to it in desperation.

We rejoiced and were happy,
not because of our circumstances, but because life was a gift

we didn’t want to squander
and over time our circumstances turned around.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Sound of Morning

It’s 2:00 A.M.,
another restless night.

Humphrey, my yellow lab, follows me
down the hall to the bathroom.

His tail like a metronome,
keeps time while he waits outside the door.

Memories wrestle loose from dreams with questions,
the tools to unravel convoluted visions -

Why did the nun fall from the limousine on to her head?

How could my mother have an e-mail address?
She’s been dead since before the internet was invented.

What was my son doing standing ankle deep
in dark water with gold fish nibbling at his feet?

Until the world makes better sense
I think I’ll go back to bed.

Maybe I can fall asleep again
until my recollections unfold more lucidly

rather than these ramblings
filling me with dread.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

The Earring

This poem was inspired by a small article in the newspaper
about the discovery of an earring underneath a parking lot.

An emerald and pearl earring
encrusted in burnished gold,
found beneath a parking lot
in the city of old Jerusalem,

Archeologists assumed
it belonged to one of royalty
perhaps a family heirloom
of Roman or Egyptian artistry.

Who was the woman who lost it?
Was her hair dark, her eyes green?
Was she dressed for a celebration?
Was she listening to words of love,
was there a struggle?

I imagine the earrings dangling from her ears,
her eyes reflecting the glimmer of his
as he offered the gift accompanied
by a matching necklace, a double helix
he carefully clasped around her neck
before he kissed her on the nape
causing chills to run along her jaw line.

I see her start to cry
when he tells her of his affair.
Those perfect ornaments weighing
on her heart are no longer suitable for her outfit.

She pounds him on his chest,
then shoves him out the door,
tearing off the jewels
and throwing them to the floor.

She never finds that single earring
found beneath the asphalt
lost in that Byzantine home
turned to rubble long ago.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Dandelions, large as tennis balls,
peeking over the hillside

like children at a birthday party,
bobbing up and down

they herald the end of summer -
silver seeds ready for the wind,

little sunbursts of life
with parachutes poised for flight

across the meadows through the air.
to settle, at best, on fertile soil.

Slender implants on the earth’s surface,
to spring forth with shoots of green

blossoms soon of yellow
fluffy white puffs appear again

then children of every age
make a wish before they blow,

and send them out for another season.