Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My Dad’s Uncle Wore a Zoot Suit

“He dressed,” my dad said,
“in silk threads of black and red,

his pants hung down his legs
wide and tightly cuffed,

a gold chain slung from his high waist
securly tucked into the pocket of his trousers.

He wore a coat, a long black drape,
accented with wide lapels,

His hat with a wide brim
had a brightly colored band

then a pencil thin mustache
just above his upper lip.

He was dressed to go out on the town,
to dance with the local girls

and bust up a few faces of sailors
who disrespected him.

Those strangers didn't respect
this don of Spanish history

from the line of explorers and conquistadors,
now ruler in his barrio,

flush in the rich heritage
of family traditions and sweet serenades.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Anywhere USA

A foreign country in a familiar land
yellow flag flying eliciting loyalty
from strangers to a long lost home
speaking a language I don’t understand
didn’t I grow up here?

Signs in graphics I can’t read
immersion in a culture
that doesn’t include me.

They stare at me as the intruder
I live in the outskirts of their society.

They embrace America
as a place where they can get rich
and take advantage of a free education
and crowd the pharmacies and doctor’s offices
with faces like their own in the spaces
where faces like mine used to look back at me.

Where are the stars and stripes of my memory?
Where is the loyalty to my country
in this place I still call home?

Monday, March 29, 2010

What Makes Me Happy

The days all seem like one,
routines and the familiar
become more important.

Each sunrise brings fewer surprises
I am able to control my desires
fluttering leaves and changes in the weather
fascinate me and I can watch for hours.

My focal point is not what’s in front of me
but the memories they evoke of other times

when youth and vitality
were always a dimension to the unknown,
adventure the element in every foray,
curiosity and passion the catalysts.

Clouds gathering before the storm
last year’s spring falling to the ground
swept into life’s compost
now a fertile space for new life to begin.

I pull my sweater over my shoulders
take the tissue out of my pocket
to wipe the tears that fall
then I laugh out loud

Life has been good,
my bones ache and I long for bed.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Last Night’s Dream

I woke up from a dream this morning
I was at a meeting at work,
which was strange since I’m retired,
but the mood was sinister.
Secrets were whispered
and the leader was
forcing her own agenda.

I slipped out of the meeting unnoticed
and met with a coworker
in the privacy of her car,
She said, “It’s really gotten bad
nothing is like it used to be,
I feel scared, I don’t know what to do.”
There was nothing I could say to comfort her.

I returned to the meeting
and saw a blue candle appear on the table
the image of the Virgin Mother burned
a golden hue, and I felt the peaceful warmth
of a mother's love. I knew that prayer
was the only solution to the trials that were ahead.
The message was clear, “Mary loves us and through her
we can transcend suffering and be closer to God.

Upon awakening I knew the rosary
was the necessary tool for the days to come.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Take It or Leave It

Choices are made each day
one I chose to stay, another to go away.
What will I eat, too much or too sweet?

How shall I dress, casual or formal?

Which road should I take
the highway or the side road?

Each of these choices causes a change
and everything else falls aside.

It is like playing with building blocks,
a strong base creates a sturdy structure
not easy to topple a good choice to make
yet even the strongest one can end up
all over the floor with a well placed hit.

Yesterday’s troubles wash to the sea
new challenges arise and awaken me
to new possibilities and opportunities
to become someone I don’t recognize.

Laughter and tears look the same from far away
pearls are created from a grain of sand
diamonds the result of coal under pressure.

Everyday choices are mine to make
glory can come from simple mistakes.
Pies made from mashed fruits
alcohol from fermented ones
amazing treats awaiting anyone
who looks beyond the obvious
and finds the treasures
where there were none.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Elementary School Pictures

I got a text message on my face book page,
“Hi, I’m Eddie, do you remember me?” is all it said.
Included was a picture of man with four young daughters
and a wife, a woman I’d never seen before.
All six were dressed in green, two days before St. Patrick’s day.
I looked through pictures posted on his home page
and there was a boy of seven I recognized, except his name was Paul,
long bangs covered his eyes and a crooked grin that looked like a boy I knew.

It has been thirty years, now he's thirty-seven and
all grown-up, do I remember him?
Yeah, he was the one in the back row, tall for his age.
I recall how he used to laugh when he spoke
like everything he said was suppose to be a joke.
School was okay but recess was his favorite time of day
and after thirty years it didn’t matter because he turned out okay.

Other teachers, other schools, some college and a few jobs
and today he can support his family.
Funny, how things seemed so important back then
the scores on his spelling test, completed homework,
his book report and did that red haired girl ever notice him?

Back then there were no fears of classroom break-ins
and crazed murders on campus, or inane scores from
standardized tests that threatened failure to leave him behind.
He turned out okay and as one of his teachers I’m happy for that.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Beat

Every story has a beat
an internal rhythm
all its own
like a tribal drum
it pulsates
louder and softer
as the tension
faster and slower
indicated by the breath
of the story teller,
synchronizing the
listeners, so like one,
they weave and rock to
the cadence in each detail
hearts and minds
pulsating in unison
until the story ends.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Ringing Phone

Phones used to ring but today you hear a few lines
from my favorite song, my child’s voice
or a cat’s meow. Whatever sound I’ve chosen
lets me know someone is on another line
wanting to connect. I’ve chosen
different sounds for different callers

so I can decide before I answer.
No longer are they generalized rings
of long ago. “ Ton, ta, ton ton,”
excuse me I’ve got to go, that
is my mother-in-law calling,
she’s watching the kids,
so I don't want to keep her waiting.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Wave

The giant wave splashed against the sand
a whoosh amplified the thrust
of salty water against wooden columns
once arranged in perfect rows.

The pier started to sway
then one by one the pilings snapped
Ruby’s, at the tip, slipped into the sea,
a life guard tower toppled next
the fish tackle shop soon followed.

They were no match for the winter storm.
In five minutes everything was washed
out to sea and with it years of memories.

Old photos, all that was left reminding me
where the pier used to stand.

A man made walkway across the waves
where visitors stood above the churning ocean
contemplating the end of days.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bad Boy

Here is an observation about yesterday's news.

Popular fiction is filled with stories
about the attraction of an ingénue to a bad boy.

Maybe it awakens the madonna in her to heal his injured soul,
or the harlot who wants to express her wild side
perhaps she is the innocent, who will transform him
with her untarnished love.

Yes, a woman wants to tame the wild beast
…and then is hurt when he turns on her

she cries when he lies to her,
betrays her, then rips her heart out,
leaving her as carrion on life’s highway.

All I can say is, “Yep…he’s a bad boy.”

Saturday, March 20, 2010

In The Pursuit Of Love

After reading news about Sandra Bullock I reflected on her predicament.

I want him, I must have him
I will get him, no matter the cost.

Easily said, but what indeed
is the cost?

For the love of another,
I must win trust,
affection and desire.

If one element is missing
no commitment will follow.

A visit to the local
potion maker, a wish upon a star,
a bargain for my eternal soul,

are used in popular fiction
with varying levels of success
but in reality they remain fiction.

In the relentless chase for the one I want
I try to break down his resistance,
but in today’s courts,
I could be arrested and added
to the list of fatal attractions.

So what do I do?
I must learn to charm him
and keep him in pursuit.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Alice Learns A Lesson

An Acrostic Poem takes a word and writes it down a page then uses the first letter in order to write a poem. In honor of Alice in Wonderland I took the word WONDER and wrote this poem:

Wishing to explore, Alice entered the looking glass
Only to discover the world of make-believe was
Never what she imagined
Danger lurked at every turn
Enemies and friends thwarted each effort
Reality was a better place, so she went home again.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My Favorite Number

My favorite number is four.
I like the way it is spelled,
and the way it sounds,

and how it can be written

several different ways
and still say four.

The word, with different spellings,
has several meanings as well;
four, for, fore, and it can be added to words
as a prefix and become new words;
forehead, foreshadow, foretold, forearm.

I like that it can be divided by two
and when it is multiplied by an odd number
it makes and even number, 4x5=20, 4x3=12, 4x9=36.

It is the only number that forms a triangle,
0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9.

I like it by itself or with another number
and how it changes its name with
different place values; fourteen and forty

It is the best number
and so I choose it whenever I’m asked,
“What is your favorite number?”

I always answer, "The number four."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

My Mother’s Relatives

I can remember visiting my dad’s family every weekend
but my mother’s family was more of a mystery.

There was Aunt Josie, of course, we saw her during the week,
and on occasion we visited Aunt Margaret in Arizona

and even a few times we traveled to Quemado
to see her father, who abandoned her after her mother’s death.

He seemed nice enough, a small man with green eyes
and white teeth, always smiling,
now living with his second family.

Uncle Antonio, raised my mother after her father left.
and all I recall is a short fat man who lived
with his short fat wife and an even fatter sister-in-law.

They sat in a dark, foul smelling house
and as kids, we always came inside to say hello,
then ran out to the sunshine.

We were eager to take a breath away from the man
who beat my mother when she was a teenager.

I wondered why she bothered to visit him
and why did she bring us along?

I remember when we got word of his passing,
we were in California at the time.

I was surprised when she cried
and asked her if she was sad.

“No," she said, "I’m glad he is finally gone.”

We never spoke about him again after that.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Paintings Before and After

Here are two paintings from the same portrait.
I think my use of paint is improving.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Treasure Box

My first treasure box
was a cigar box from Cuba,
a common object in the fifties,
and it included;

rhinestones from a red party dress,
the gold chain, from my baby bracelet,
several silver shells from my conche belt,
and a faded picture of my grandmother,

a woman I never knew except through
the stories my dad told like when he
was three years old and fell in a hole,

his mother and aunt laughed out loud,
and how much he liked
making people laugh after that

and when she cried every day because
her five sons went off to war
and how she offered her life for
their safe return and died a year
after the last one came home

and how my smile reminded him of her
except she had blue eyes so that made her pretty.

I buried the treasure in the back yard one afternoon
and haven't thought about it until today.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

People Who Talk To Themselves

When I was younger the one thing I feared
was growing older and talking to myself.
I would see these befuddled elders
wandering the street in heated conversations
with no one but themselves.

I thought it was a sure sign of failure
if I ended up alone in the world, with no one
to care for me, so that I was forced
to wander the streets alone in my own company.

The thought more fearful than this,
was to be younger and talk to groups
of invisible faces, gesticulating and
muttering even raising my voice
to legends of tormentors
visible only to my feeble brain.

What I couldn’t foresee in my youth,
the affect of technology upon the population.
Where elders and youth alike would look
like they were talking to themselves.

They are on the streets all alone and yet
they raise their voices in anger, make kissing sounds
and use theater whispers to utter the unspeakable.

I've overheard business deals at car washes,
lover’s quarrels in bank line's,
and petty gossip at the grocery store.

What happened to the world?
Has everyone lost their mind?
Why else would so many
behave so completely insane?

They all have cell phones.
Hand free devices,
to carry on conversations
where ever they go.

Don't think I'm saying
they are not quite mad
and their behavior,
is really quite normal.

All I can say;
“Though these behaviors are common
it doesn’t make them right,
nor should they be practiced
so openly in public
among polite company unless
they have dementia
or are legally insane.”

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Next Generations

I got word this morning that a cousin of my dad's passed away. He was the father of eleven children. He left behind 50 grandchildren and great grandchildren. I got to thinking about future generations and this is what showed up.

The moment of conception
is invisible and unpredictable
yes, the science is known
how an egg is fertilized
but if and when it happens
is beyond our control.

Creatures of all shapes and form,
in order to propagate,
must have that moment
when the sperm enters the egg
and takes hold for another,
like itself, to be born.

This need to reproduce
is hard wired and the male
of the species will risk death
to find a mate, willing or otherwise,

capable of carrying his seed to full
gestation and producing
a live birth for another
generation marked with his DNA.

Knowing this, it is amazing to me,
that the rich seek accumulation
of monetary wealth…non living things,
to show the world their worth.
It seems a large family,

would be a better banner
to reveal the potential
of a man, a way to transform
a whole community with
his numerous offspring.

Population control, advocated
in the schools, practiced by
the educated, limits their
reproduction, leaving them
vulnerable to being overtaken
by less responsible

Numbers matter
if there is a desire to
take over the world and
get a stronghold through
reproduction of one's
own kind.

Friday, March 12, 2010


I studied Akido
and learned to stand invisible
so danger could pass me by
and only interact if a threat was imminent,
and even then, the goal was to
stop another from hurting me,
and if possible, keep him from hurting himself.

It was a dance between two energies
where an aggressive action by one
could be used to stop the aggressor.
The dance, like a ballet, was beautiful
and the skills learned were useful
in every part of my life.

I’ve had few occasions to take a battle stance
but the subtler movements,
learning to take energy and transforms it,
I applied in my workplace and my home.

Through Akido I learned
a true warrior does not create war,
but rather, fights for peace with love.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Wind

Of all weather conditions
I like wind the best.

Like a giant force
it blows debris
from one place to the next
bending trees and sometimes
breaking them.

When I go out
it messes my hair
tangles my clothes
and grabs things,
like my hat or scarf,

forcing me to chase them
down the street
even pulling up my skirt
for anyone to see
what I’m wearing underneath.

Yeah, I like the wind
like a rakish young lover
closer to boy than man,
leaving me vulnerable,

I hold my skirt, close my eyes
struggle with the door to get
to shelter, safe from the teasing,
aggressive treatment of the wind.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

When Is An Artist an Artist?

I look at a painting, a sculpture, or a written work of art
and wonder, where is the artist in this work?
Is it the exacting line and use of form in all its perfection?
Or is it something more subtle than a signature, or a point of view
that separates this artist from all the others who paint a scene,
sculpt a form, or write a few lines to describe a mood?

Where is the artist and what separates this one from a skilled
technician who creates facades but lacks substance
and will be forgotten before they’re remembered
or maybe discovered and revered after their death?

What a cruel joke on every artist, who thinks she is not
understood in her own time but will be discovered and appreciated
after she is gone so in that pursuit she becomes prolific.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Kind Words…Unexpected

You reached out and touched me
with your words, “You’ve been through a lot,
is there anything I can do to help?” you said.

I wanted to climb onto your lap and let you hold me,
rock me back and forth and let you soothe me with your words.

Instead I mumbled something and went on my way
never looking back, shouldering the burdens I’ve been handed.
I had never learned how to let down my guard
and let another lift me up. So I sat alone among the rocks,
isolated in my thoughts, then saw a weed breaking through
the stone bringing life to where there was none.

A sigh escaped my lips because I knew,
given time, all things change, and what I’m feeling now
will go away so I focus on new life
and invite you to stand beside me and we talked,
or should I say, I talked, and you listened until
there was nothing more to say.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Saturday Night Adventure

The idea seemed simple enough
to visit my sister-in-law who was ill
but the problem is, she has been ill most of her life
and time hasn’t been kind, she’s never gotten better.
Yet, when she had the chance, she didn’t escape her life,
which has never been very nice.

She said she lived because her children wanted her to
but neither one is able to take care of her.
Her husband was her anchor, but he became exhausted
and died early, taking everyone by surprise
now her children fight. One gives financial support
but isn’t home much because of it.

The other gives emotional support
but can’t, or won’t do much else, and as a result
he lives on the goodness of his brother's kindness,
which has become less kind when all he truly offers
is another mouth to feed. So walking into that morass
the only comfort I can offer, she’s got to figure out
a way to die, to relieve her suffering and let her sons
get on with their lives without her.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Prom Disaster

We got the call, you were in tears
mascara running down your cheeks
we needed to pick you up, the chaperon said.

The dance had already begun
but your date was nowhere in sight.
What happened to that tall handsome
man in a tuxedo who met you at the door?

Weeks of preparation brought you to this night
your hair, hanging in long ringlets
glitter on your bare shoulders, and your silk gown
long and pretty, but something had gone terribly wrong.

You buried your face in your hands
your shoulders hunched and you sobbed
hard and angry, “What did he do?”we asked.

“He got drunk,” was all you said and then
wept uncontrollably mumbling about the cost,
loss of face, tomorrow’s gossip,
and a deep anger for being betrayed.

You wept until you fell asleep
but we sat there relieved by what happened,
however embarrassing for you, was easier to handle
than the alternatives; an accident, a beating, a rape.

We tried to comfort you as best we could.
Time would be the best healer and life would continue on
even though the night of your senior prom was a disaster.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Genealogy Research

Genealogy Research

Searching through records in government files
and church archives, I came across a hand written account
describing my first grandmother, a Spanish colonist,
from Zacatecas, Mexico. A young mother,
spiritual in her ways and loyal to her husband,
a general in the Spanish Army. He was assigned
to accompany her father, the new Governor of New Mexico.

My early ancestors didn’t have the benefit of history
to tell them what they would find,
green fields and gold mines were the
dreams that made them pack up their homes
forsaking the familiar to travel to unknown lands.

Much to their disappointment the land was
foresaken and dry. Many died along the way
but they found a haven along the Rio Grande river
taking resources from the Tewa and Isleta people,
who lived and thrived, years before
this band of Spanish colonist arrived.

As was the custom in those times my first grandmother
had a large family, three girls and four boys.
Somewhere along the way she adopted two Zuni
orphans, it seemed like an act of kindness, but according
to oral traditions, this practice was in truth
a kidnapping and enslavement of these children
an act that went both ways.

The indigenous groups stole children from the colonist
keeping and mistreating them as servants until they escaped
or married a member of the household and in this way
the blood of the Spaniard was blended with the native.

Language and religious practices merged until a firmer

line was drawn after the Spanish American war
and the land was taken over by those pouring
in from the east coast of the United States of America.

A new language, a new point of view and
different set of rules and that is the way it went
until today, the immigrant condemns the intruder,
and tries to forestall their invasion but little by little
they merge and who was here first is long forgotten
as the majority assume all rights and privileges
in the acquired land.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Walking Through Walls

I’ve done it a few times in my life
that point where I walked on through the wall
when the boys on the playground
said I couldn’t play baseball
and I stood at home plate with the bat in my hands
then said, “Throw it, if I can’t hit it I’ll go away.”

The pitcher, named Randy, from my fifth grade
tossed the ball fast over the plate
and I hit it clear across the yard,
I didn’t even have to run to make it around the bases.

Another time when I thought I would like to go to college
I dropped out figuring my destiny was to be married
and raise a family, but I returned when the boys were born
balked when it came time for graduating
then walked on through, the impenetrable edifice
an illusion of my own making.

There were no jobs upon my graduation
most in my class resigned themselves
but I got hired, took every substitute position offered
and was one of three working come September
some thought I was a favored one
but I didn’t tell them I could walk through walls.

Opportunities came throughout my lifetime
some I excelled at,others I faltered, but whenever there was a barricade
I climbed on over, delighting in the challenge each one presented
but then I aged and the wall that stands before me now
seems overwhelming, too dense to break through
and so I’m stalled truly convinced that this one,
like a brick tower, has me permanently imprisoned.

So I wait, sizing up each stone’s thickness
I know that one day I’ll be ready to make my move,
injured knees need to be healed,
skills needs to be honed,
but then one day I’ll share my poems
and find the publisher who agrees
they are worth sharing for others to read.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Quick Fix

Long ago men and women used to garden
taking from the earth
food and flowers,
Learning the importance of different plants
and the patience necessary to nurture them
until they grew and flowered producing
fruit and seeds for the following harvest.

Some plants needed to be planted
year after year, others grew from
established roots, yet others were bulbs
divided like little cells just below the earth’s
surface needing to be removed from
the ground and replanted in the Spring.

Patience, the ever present virtue,
was required to go year after year
protecting plants from insects and disease,
facing droughts or floods, as well as
freezing or scorching temperatures,
finally harvesting in the summer.

Today we expect to get
food in local stores,
but we don’t want
to cook it,
instead we expect it
prepackaged and already assembled
or home delivered and we become
impatient if we have to wait over
five minutes for it to be prepared.

So many offspring are now overweight,
yet undernourished, and always ravenous,
eating all this pre-made food
in one sitting. Maybe they are seeking
the two ingredients that are key
to being properly nourished.
When food is grown and prepared at home
it takes patience as well as love.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Poem about a watercolor

A quick pencil drawing
then I arrange my supplies;
a jar full of water,
paper towels,

my favorite brushes,
althouh, I tend to use only one
once I get started
I dip it in
a viridian green
a wash for the sky
seen through the office window

then a splash of
Alizarin Crimson
and some Sap Green
to give the plants
some colorful hues

several slashes of Burnt
Umber for an office desk
then dabs of green
and more yellow
with drops of Payne’s Gray
for highlights and shadows.

I can go on like this for over
an hour and magically
an interior room appears
with contrasts of lights and darks
a tiffany lamp with leaded glass
panels arranged in a familiar pattern.

When it is dry I
frame it with a three inch mat
covered in glass

A painting like this
can often last
several lifetimes
and my signature in the
right hand corner
tags it for eternity.