Sunday, February 28, 2010

How Do You Find Your Voice?

Every author must find her voice
to express her point of view

using metaphor and descriptive language
to allow another to enter her world.

Where does she look when that voice
has been silenced for thousands of years?

She looks to her soul
and in her silence listens for that whisper

then through practice discovers the words
to make her thoughts and feelings come alive.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Charlie Chaplin

He is recognizable
in his bowler hat,
Hitler mustache,
and little cane.
You can count on him to trip
or have the wind grab his hat
forcing him to chase it down the street
going from one near miss
to the next but even if he falls
he never stops
and is only slightly dumbfounded
by other obstacles that come his way.

He is loved because
no matter what he faced
he didn’t cry or complained
but continued on like an acrobat
always landing on his feet
and maybe that’s why
he is remembered
to this day.

He is a visual metaphor
for dealing with
great depression,
a horrible war,
and social instability.

He should be resurrected,
we need Charlie Chaplin
with his gentle nature,
showing us how to travel life’s path -

keeping our center of gravity
allowing us to roll with the punches,
using our sixth sense to avoid
catastrophic accidents,
allowing our sense of humor
to disarm authority
or anyone
who would take themselves
too seriously.

Ahh…. to be the fool
and to keep on smiling
no matter what
life sends our way.

If you check this out,
♪ Smile - Charlie Chaplin
you can see a video clip
of Charlie with
Michael Jackson singing Smile.

Friday, February 26, 2010


Here is another watercolor painting. This one is an abstract. I used the watercolor paint more like oils so it is really thick instead of multiple layers. Experimentation is the name of the game.

A Democratic Government

I live in America under a democratic government
one that says I have a vote as a woman and a minority.
The goals of my elected representatives
are to give voice to my needs and concerns
except when those needs are drowned out
by paid lobbyist and swallowed by corporate greed.

Taxation seems to be the only solution
to every problem and the American dream
seems only available to those who would sell their soul
to the devil in all its incarnations, offering
wealth, power and earthly recognition.

Jails are filled with criminals who tried,
through illegal ways, to attain the same prize
embezzlers, thieves and serial killers.
While those in government, of similar ilk,
gather in groups to pat each other on the back
declaring wars to get rebuilding contracts
and are also the biggest investors of the war machine
providing planes, tanks and weapons of mass destruction.

While I sit back home with an another tax,
my chance for wealth gets the ax.

The cost of health is put on life support
while the powers that be, shout out the reasons
I should be afraid, and what I must do to protect
my family. So I sit at home
watching TV, eating too many snacks
and am accused of being too fat
so now my snacks will be taxed.

I think it’s time to run away
to a land far away
but wait they won’t let me in
they have an immigration limit.
I’m considered undesirable
my age, my gender and my retirement check
don’t meet their minimum requirements.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Floral and faces

Floral Wet on Wet

Boy on Tricycle (Picture taken by Carol from Inkyblog)

Boy Eating Snow (Picture taken by Bill)

Tidal Wave

When we first moved to California
I dreamed about a tidal wave splashing
through the west window by the kitchen table
I remember my family being taken by surprise.
The house covered in salt water
and when the wave rushed back to the ocean
we were wet but still standing.

The fact we lived seven miles from the ocean
meant nothing regarding this dream
maybe it was a premonition of things to come.
A happy, connected family, overrun
with the pressure of a new town
submerged into a new culture
trying to fit into a place where the neighbors
gossiped because when we moved in we were
too Catholic, too brown and too many.

Florence, the old lady next door,
was a nasty thing, she did her gardening in her bikini top
wearing short shorts exposing her wrinkled skin.
Mother asked her not to reveal herself to her children.
The old lady was offended but after many years
came to love my mother and would do anything for her,
including dressing more modestly and not cursing
in front of us and taking us places if we needed a ride.

Her children's names were funny, Fritz, Miles, Donna and Tanya
they fought over her belongings when she died
then sold her house. I don’t even remember who moved
in next door because I moved away shortly after
and lived my own life far away.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Four Short Poems

What’s Important
Shovels are important to dig holes
to plant, build, or bury your dead.

Pens are important and great writing tools
to write letters, essays, poems and novels.

Lipstick is important and enhances a kiss
to leave an imprint for others to see.

Rings are important in the trunk of a tree to reveal its age
and on your finger to show others you belong to me.

The Tree
The light of summer reveals a shady spot
where we lingered and whispered in each other’s ears
where our initials are carved in the trunk and you said you loved me
where our tears soaked in the grass when I said I’d marry you
where our children climbed high in the branches
where we lay on our blanket and recalled our youth
where I spread your ashes when you were gone.

Red Lipstick
Women don’t wear lipstick like they used to
a bright red heart on an alabaster face
blatant sexuality in all its modesty
copied from whores when the war had ended.

Blue Skies
Every year a child asks,
“Why is the Sky Blue?”
How it is answered depends
on the adult perspective.

Will it be a scientific explanation
or one of mystery?
From that wellspring,
a child’s view of the world grows.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tumbleweed Fever

I stayed up late to watch
an old western
and there was Sam Elliot,
confessing he had a case
of tumbleweed fever.

A young widow, Katherine Ross,
was writing love poems
and attaching them
to tumbleweeds.

Her words taken by the wind
were discovered by
different cowboys,
along the high chaparral.

She made the men crazy,
her yearning so transparent,
every man wanted to be the one
she was longing for.

Makes me wonder what times
would be like for a single woman
so alone with no safety net
trying to etch out a living among
the red cliffs and piƱon pines.

Most would not
have the happy ending
in the arms of Sam Elliot
along the Mexican border
in the land of the Apache.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Adolescent Dream

The priest unlocked each silver lock
the armor slowly fell away.
I stood there in a gossamer gown,
an opalescent shimmer on the thread.
I shivered then stepped out
but the priest turned and never look back.

I sat upon a bench, sunlight
on my face and chest.
An old woman, dressed in rags,
shuffled along the cobblestones
stopping right in front
of me. I stood up,
feeling a deep love,
I reached for her but like ash,
she disintegrated in the wind.

Weeping I looked for solace
running back to the armor
but it melted with my touch.

Standing alone I saw a tree
laden with yellow fruit.
I reached for it, tasting the sweet
wet nectar upon my lips.

I smiled realizing
everything would be okay.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


I grew up in a sober family
because my mother didn’t.

She had memories of rages and beatings
induced by the spirits in whisky and wine.

She didn’t want that experience recreated
so she married a sober man
with no alcohol permitted.

Addiction skips a generation.

Upon her death our household
became a toxic space

brothers, father and some sisters
couldn't resist the fermented sugars.

Our prayerful home now debauched
priestly candidates now
in the arms of decadent women.

No matter how much I prayed
I couldn't restore my mother's home.

I buried one sibling and then another
the wages of sin brought early deaths.

Lucky for my children...
alcoholism skips a generation.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Learning To Dance

Remember when you taught me how to dance?
We put the 45 on the record player,
a red and white thing I got for my birthday,

the little yellow disk was carefully set
and Elvis sang a rock and roll song
about his ex girlfriend's little sister.

You were so light on your feet
and I could barely lift mine
but you made it seem fun

so we danced until our clothes were drenched,
our feet ached and I finally found the rhythm.
I could feel the music and kept up with you
adding a few steps of my own.

At some point you were called to Vietnam,
a random drawing in a lottery.
Elvis gave way to the Rolling Stones
and life became more complicated.

Somewhere along the way we stopped dancing
the burden of the world weighed
heavy on our shoulders and we walked
away from each other,

never returning to that place long ago,
out in the garage of our parent’s home,
where you taught me how to dance.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Watercolor Snow Scene

Here is my watercolor from class today. I like most of it but I wonder about that white hand in the foreground... looks kinda spooky.

Bare Feet

I always liked
to go without shoes
in the house
and out on the grass.

I like the squish of mud
between my toes…
but so sensual.

I feel sure footed
when my feet are bare
I can run faster
and my balance is better.

I know a hard
callous on the sole
is not always desirable
but it offers freedom
to step anywhere
with the exception of glass
or anything sharp.

Think of animals
with their soft pads
they have no problem
traversing various

not one thinks
to wrap up their toes
in tight leather
where they blister
and become
sweaty and foul. discover
simple pleasures
barefooted and free.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My Mother Could Whistle

My mother could whistle
and so could I,
loud and piercing

to cut through the noise
of everyday living
to get the attention
of a child far away.

It saved the vocal cords
and seemed more discrete
better than hollering
out loud in the street.

It truly was not lady-like,
more of a masculine thing

but I learned it from my mother,
who was refined and genteel
in most of her ways.

She never crossed her legs
when wearing a dress
and kept her knees together
when she sat on a chair

put one foot forward
when she wanted to stand
spoke softly and giggled
behind her hand

she never gossiped
or told lies

you see, she was a lady
and wanted me to be, but

I couldn’t keep my knees locked
and lied and gossiped often.

I laughed too loud,
and decided young
I didn’t want to be a lady

if it meant
having to subdue
my innate desires

but other than that
I learned to whistle
just like my mom.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Missing You

He sleeps all day
when he spends the weekend away
completely exhausted from all that play
but on the second day he mopes around
and frequently sighs then sleeps again
but he seems sad and walks in circles
looking at the front door
waiting for the return of his playmates.

If he's lucky I invite him to jump
in the car to visit their home
where he can run out to the back yard
and they can play keep-away and tug-a-war
and chase each other until they are tired.

Later they can cuddle together,
and dream the same dreams,
twitching and running,
and then in unison wake up
to run out the door
and start all over again.

A dog can have such
a profound sense of longing.
While he can’t make it happen
I must put in the effort
to give him some time
to be with his friends
so he can romp and play
until he is so tired
that he sleeps all day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Holiday for Three

Have you ever taken a three day holiday
with three people on Valentine’s weekend
which also happens to be the beginning
of the Chinese New Year, Year of the Tiger
and also the holiday for President’s Day?

Which event gets the attention or do you do all three,
exchange red envelopes which include red hearts
and one dollar bills with the picture of George Washington?

I think we did it best by traveling on Highway 66
to drive through the mud of our undeveloped land
and then off to the Grand Canyon and snow covered

Flagstaff and then through Sedona
and back home again, bringing our grandson
along for the ride and forgetting about
traditional celebrations and experiencing

the wonder of our diverse environment
creating lifetime memories.

Friday, February 12, 2010

December Birthdays in Watercolors

Here are some first samples of using water colors to paint people.
The first shot is a picture of my grandchildren copied from a
photograph Bill took. Sam and Danny saw the picture and said,
"Grandma, you need more work."

There's a six week course on figure painting coming up... I may sign up.

The second picture is an image copied from artist, Richard Salcido

I think that cinches it... I will sign up.


Raising a family of ten
my dad didn’t have time for lots
of questions so when I was five
and asked, "Why?"

He said,“Before you ask, look around
and see if you can answer the question
on your own first.”

The mystery of god became the answer
for many questions, “Why is the sky blue?
How many angels fit on the head of a pin?”

but simpler questions like, “Can I go out
to play with my friend?” could be answered by
looking around and seeing that my mother
needed help with the younger kids and it would
be better to spend time helping her.

Or asking, "Can I have another serving, please?"
Seeing how many mouths there were to feed
the answer would be to find satisfaction with
what I had in front of me.

"What about all those hungry kids in China?"
Clearing my plate was not the right answer,
but one the nun gave to the kid in catechism
who bothered to ask it.

By the time I got to school my observation skills
were quite developed and I could deduct information
about a person’s intention as well as their health
and emotional stability, I could see things in their
faces, that revealed when they were lying

or under stress from physical duress.
I could anticipate when they wanted something
and if they could be trusted but if I had to ask
a question, it could be succinct,
cutting away the frivolous filler.

My Dad trained me to listen carefully,
watch keenly, and use all my senses
to distinguish information and to know things
without asking lots of questions.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cold Winters, Hard Labor

I was born in Nyssa, Oregon,
a little sugar town on the Idaho border.
My parents left the home of their birth
to make a life with my dad’s brother, Sam,
selling tamales to immigrants
who were suppose to work the sugar cane.

My mother talked about the winter being harsh
the laborers from Mexico did not arrive
so in order to survive my dad and uncle
had to work in the fields and scrap their plans
for a little restaurant.

They lived in a trailer in the labor camp
but even with the heater on high
they were cold and everything froze;
clothes on the clothesline as well as the water pipes.

I was only two months old when they decided
to packed up my brother and me
and move back to New Mexico,
glad to be safe on the red clay of their birth
where the winters were mild.

They told of their adventures and laughed
out loud at their many hardships,
but my uncle stayed behind
and married a girl named Cleo.
He and my dad were never close again.
I wonder what part of the story
was never revealed.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Reflection on a Rainy Day

The rain fell like a soft mist
on to the ground
sprinkling the flowers
with little jewels of sunlight.

The dog didn't go outside
but peeked through the doggy door
then withdrew, cuddling on the big couch
with a cushion for his head.

My brushes arranged
a palette and easel prepared
and the tea kettle brewing Earl Grey.

Steam on the window
blocked my view of the clouds
I turned on the kitchen light

selected a country and western station
then listened to Willie Nelson sing,
"Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain."

I decided to paint a picture
of the hundred lady bugs I remember
crawling on a post on the coast of Monterey Bay...

a place where the sun was shining
and I was alone with you.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fast Food

Fast food makes it seem simple -
at the drive-thru I don’t see
the pimples on the adolescent crew,
and if I’m lucky
I talk into the head of a clown
to order my beef broiled and ground.

When I was young I do recall a day at my grandpa’s
where my dad and his brothers, all seven of them,
captured Lola. The strongest one, my dad, took
a hammer and hit her on the head. The fast one,
Uncle Pete, stepped in and slit her throat.

I can still hear the crack of her bone,
the loud moo, then the silence
while her blood ran out. Like a pack of wolves
the brothers descended and strung up her carcass.
Grandpa used his knife to take her skin, then the
brothers sliced out steaks, ribs, and rump roasts,
and for the more adventurous
the brain, tongue and entrails.

I recall the look in their eyes,
shirts covered in blood, I should have been repulsed,
but can’t forget the passion, they probably went home
and made love to their wives, but for now, Lola
was divided and each took their share, enough
beef for each family to last 'till next year.

My mother sliced steaks to put in her chili
then added vegetables to make a stew.

The memory of Lola, a black and white heifer,
still haunts me but when I order a double paddy
in a combo pack, I drive through and never look back.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Like sprinkles of sugar, white powder falls
changing the look of the land below
no footprints or trails
buildings and cars now soft mounds and hills.

With the first sunlight,
people wrapped in down jackets,
in bright colors of red and blue,
waddle out the door with shovels in hand
to clear a path to retrieve
sleds, skies and snowboards.

They search for an incline
then like a pin ball machine
slip and swirl across the surface
with shrieks and hollers
they're off in their cars
to ski lifts where
they can take off down hill.

Later they will
gather around the fire,
to sip hot chocolate or
brandy, and tell tales of
spills down the mountainside.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Have you ever watched a cat
play with a ball of yarn
and get all tangled up

immobilized until you
get scissors to cut the string
so it can run off and hide?

Have you ever seen a child
use some tape
that sticks to his fingers

and tangles in his clothes
with yards of cellophane wasted
all because he wanted to wrap

a gift for your birthday?
You can’t get mad at him
but must praise him instead.

Have you ever made a mistake
you wished you could change
because at the moment

you spoke words, made decisions
or took actions and you
couldn't turn back the clock.

You had to face the consequences
and ask forgiveness
but wonder if he ever did.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rows of Alfalfa, Corn and Chili

In Peralta, New Mexico,
outside of Albuquerque

grandpa owned a farm
crossed with irrigation ditches

and rows of alfalfa

each household in the area
had at least one horse or cow

there were also rows of corn
a staple for the people, chickens and pigs

and most important...rows of chili
to make every meal taste better

a simple life

with enough food for everyday living
and a surplus to sell and trade

for necessities like clothes and shoes
except when the gypsies came through

riding on horseback or running on foot
taking what they wanted

the peace disrupted, crops trampled
and clotheslines stripped

tears shed but life continued
grandpa bought a gun

a fence was strung
he bought two big dogs

and kept them hungry
in case the gypsies came his way again.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Kittens In A Cup

This is my first attempt to paint an anmimal.
I'll try to get another shot without the flash.


Symmetry is key to your success.
To draw a wine bottle or a vase
each side must match perfectly
no flaws or it looks lopsided.
It will disturb the peace you seek
in your still life

but real life without
all that symmetry

is chaotic and disruptive
not a replicated surface
on a perfectly measured paper
outlined then painted
for your viewing pleasure.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Listening Through The Wall

Jeffery heard her crying through the wall
accusations hurled at an inknown male
who mumbled then slammed
the front door and drove away.

She sobbed until after midnight,
then silence.

Was she sleeping?

Jeffery wanted to knock on her door
and introduce himself,
offer her comfort, a shoulder to cry on,
but then he heard the other man return
to say, “I’m sorry.”

Jeffery knew he wasn’t needed
so he stayed at home and waited.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Comfortable Silence

When did our talking past midnight
turn into a comfortable silence,
where we finish each other’s sentences,
and answer questions before they are asked?

Even our faces have started to look the same
our steps have synchronized
and our hearts beat as one.

Some say we should seek another,
to awaken passion and stimulate the brain,
because what we have is really boredom…
laziness substituting for contentment.

When I see those who’ve tossed out the old
they’ve lost the luxury of familiarity
and have to prove themselves all over again
jealousy and doubt rack their days.

While we have the security
of knowing each other well
we're still in love...
now more than ever.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Space Travel

The brightest full moon of 2010
reflected sunlight, exposing chasms
on its lunar surface in the shape
of a face staring down at me
laughing at my frailty.

Exposing my vulnerability
to Jupiter and Mars.
Venus hid from view
while the Milky Way, like confetti
across the sky, lit a path

where I was transported
to another place.
No one could find me
through that black hole
to another universe.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cruise Line

Thousands of passengers board the craft
suitcases checked in, rooms and tables assigned,
ten days and eight ports, Greece, Egypt, Turkey.

Strangers mingle during scheduled activities;
dancing, swimming, bingo and dining.
Food and deserts of every kind
available twenty four hours a day.

Tours are designed to take guests safely through foreign
territory. Don’t mind the man in the black beret
with the machine gun. He is there to protect tourists
from any local who resents their

presence but needs their vacation dollars
to pay for an impoverished lifestyle.