Saturday, July 31, 2010

Coffee & Donuts


















The grease in the deep fryer sizzles
she dips the basket of donuts into hot oil
a few minutes and out comes clumps of fried dough
drizzled in glaze and spread out on a tray to cool.
Cost $2.95 a dozen for small tasty sweets.

Eat one a day and watch your thighs swell,
your cheeks puff out, and your chin double.

Have it with a cup of black coffee
you don’t need the extra calories from sugar and cream
these dough balls will do the job all on their own
they take a youthful figure and plump it up
with rolls of fat...opulence for the working class.

Eaten in offices during coffee breaks,
shared with fellow workers it’s an addictive taste

for police officers and city employees
from the mayor to the secretaries who indulge
on these morsels of sugary pleasure
to break up the boredom of public works

the drudgery of paper shuffling
interfacing and categorizing,
charging fees for simple tasks

and retiring on 100% salaries at 55
plump and fully satisfied.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Things To Do
















I check off my list when I complete it
like climbing the pyramids or learning to knit
I travel the world to make new friends
and rewrite my list when it comes to an end.

My days spread out in front of me –
and sometimes they feel like eternity.

I focus on health and not on pain
and stay active so I don’t go insane

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Some Things Don’t Change

















High School was the time in my life
when rivalry and jealousy cut like a knife.

Mama said growing up was an easy solution
but now at my 50th. reunion I’m filled with delusion
‘cause I hear Kathy the cheerleader is as agile as ever,

Alice from the debate team, still smart and clever,
Edgar kept his hair, even after the downturn
Stewart won't be there he has money to burn.

All their success churns at my gut
What chance do I have to brag and strut?

My skin was wrinkled I had bags under my eyes,
I got a facelift now won't they be surprised?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Sorting Through Stuff
















My stuff in the rafters is not complex
envelopes stuffed with outdated checks
photographs of people I no longer recall.

Cash in the Attic won’t bother to call
They’re not interested in art by my great Aunt Nora
paintings of vases and strange looking flora.

My kids don’t want it they say it’s junk
sentimental value stored in a trunk.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Keeping The Faith

















As a girl everything moved according to a divine plan
God was in everything, the sky, the earth and every grain of sand
his message of love whispered in the breeze
and a scolding, like a thunder clap kept my attention

to stay on the right path
but adolescences changed everything
doubt seeped in every pore and questions crowded
old practices of meditation and prayer

Parenthood made me god in the lives of my children
giving love and sustenance for their safety and growth
I was the angel who watched over them
until they moved away from home to start lives of their own

Now that I am alone I can feel God all around me once again.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Big C
















The growth on his head became obvious
when his thinning hair couldn't hide it.
He reached with his left hand
to touch it... it became familiar.

I insisted he go to the doctor
no more pretending it wasn’t serious.
He left with a sigh and a scowl
as much resentment as fear.

He waited for an hour and almost bolted.

When the doctor saw the purplish growth
he recognized it as cancer
and took a biopsy to determine
if it was benign or malignant.

We waited for ten days
however calm we pretended...
couldn’t sleep nights
the day came and we went in together.

The doctor said he was sorry
but we needed to make an appointment
for surgery as soon as we could.

We felt like we were falling through space
he could die or become an invalid
We were too young and didn’t want
either outcome.

Finally he went in for
an outpatient procedure
I sat outside with the kids
We waited for too many hours.

When he came out his head was bandaged in gauze
don’t ask me why but I said, "We need pictures."

When we got home he put on a hat,
a trench coat and sunglasses
and I took pictures of him as the "Invisible Man."

Next he took a black skirt
and wrapped it over his head
and said,"Look I'm Sister Devine."

We took more bandages and wrapped him like a Mummy
laughed so hard before he lay down for a nap
then slept for eighteen hours.

Those Polaroid shots we saved in a spot
where we look at them whenever we want.
We know we are brave because we laughed
in the face of cancer.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Grandpa's Hat
















It was a grey felt hat
like detectives wore in black and white noir.

It offered mystery and sophistication
to my grandpa, who lived much
longer than anyone expected
after his wife, my grandma, passed away.

His hat smelled of sweat and tobacco
and he wore it every day until he got
a new one each father’s day

I knew when he was visiting before I saw him.
He might be taking a nap in my brother's room
but there, on the arm of the couch, was his hat.

It sent chills down my back
his visits always upsetting
because he said things to my mother like,

"Why doesn't she speak Spanish
if she is so smart?," and,
"Why doesn't she wait on me
like a good grand daughter?"

My mom didn’t argue, my dad only laughed,
my brothers and sisters hid out until he was gone
and all that lingered was the smell of his hat

but I miss him today and I didn't expect that.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Ants
















Several black ants
carry crumbs of food

over the hill
then disappear beneath the sand

while another trail
follows the path back to the pantry door
where an open pack of cookies
lies on the floor

One by one the crumbs are
carried back to the nest

the ants move in a steady stream
having found enough food to keep them fed
for weeks

every little worker ant
does her part without complaint

while the queen
lays another thousand eggs
to replace the ones who will expire

the parade will continue for days
as long as the homeowner
is unaware of their invasion

without a moment to waste

the procession proceeds in silence
until every morsel of food
is stored deep inside the earth
for the colony of ants to consume.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Paper Maché

















It was a simple art project
wrapping my grandmother’s antique bowl
with tin foil and masking tape
than carefully cutting it out
and reassembling it with strips of newsprint
dipped in flour and water

The whole process took less than an hour
I set it out to dry for a day or two
taking yarn dipping it in glue to shape the
patterns of flowers and leaves
recreating nana’s bowl in paper maché

After it was painted I set it on the counter
to hold the fruit I made with flour and water
no one was fooled by my creative mess
it collected dust and then was tossed

unlike the antique bowl which was stored away
brought out for special days and finally
given to my granddaughter at her wedding shower.

The cut crystal
was over a hundred years old
what was the difference in artistry?

One was saved and remembered
the other a piece of recycled junk
buried in a landfill and quickly forgotten
except for me recalling that day
when I tried to capture crystal in paper maché.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

In The Hills Of New Mexico
















Like a pack of wild dogs

we arranged ourselves around Stevie,

the eldest cousin in our group,

and headed out over the hills

to find the haunted houses

hidden in a valley along the chaparral


We heard stories of ghosts

seen near the adobe dwellings

victims of the Spanish flu

whole families wiped out in one season


The territory was left fallow

with no heirs to claim the land

neighbors feared to stake out the site

because of the restless spirits

who wandered there


We climbed passed the first hill

turned left at the rotting carcass

of a brown and white cow


One of the youngest kids started to cry

when her socks got tangled in the tumble weeds

I stopped to free her just as a dust devil

swept across the canyon pass

a cold chill ran up our necks

and one of my brother’s vomited


Ahead were the remains of the haunted ruins;

three houses, a barn and a well.

Stevie stepped forward, then my big brother Joe,

the rest of us soon followed

running through the buildings

shouting and screaming

and in no time at all

we ran out the doors and over the hills

with our own tales to tell.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Magic Wand

















I met her one afternoon
dressed in taffeta and lace
her hair hung down her back

in cascading ringlets of gold.
Glitter on her cheeks promised magic
and she didn’t disappoint.

She enchanted me with her words,
and like a magic carpet,
took me to places faraway

where I tangled with forces of darkness
and in this altered state learned
the difference between good and evil

waving her wand she saved me
through an intercession of light
before her tale was done.

She started to walk away but turned
to give me her magical baton.
I put this treasure in a secret place

wrapped in silk, locked in a box
and didn’t think about it for years
but one day I found the enchanted gift

behind several items in the garage.
When I opened it I remembered the magic
picked up the wand and started to tell

the stories this woman told so long ago
and like magic carpets,
they transported listeners to places far away

where they battled forces of darkness
learned to harness the magic of light
to intervene it time.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Thunder Clouds
















Clouds billow on the horizon
like silent explosions in the sky

a hint of thunder,
lightning and rain
perhaps, later in the day.

Air pressure changes
forcing young children to shout,
old folks to groan,
mother’s to cry,
and fathers to lose their temper.

The rumble erupts,
lightning flashes,
fire scorches grass and cactus
field critters scurry before
large wet drops fall to the earth.

Steam rises from the roadways,
single drops turn to hail,
flash floods wash the streets.

Up in the sky a rainbow
reflects rays from the afternoon sun.

Children come out to play in puddles,
old folks sweep down sidewalks,
mothers bake cookies,
and fathers order pizzas.

The clouds disperse along the horizon
in the evening stars twinkle
and all is quiet again.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Close Encounter
















Her name was Emily, his was Joe
they met at a friend’s engagement party

He stood in his military uniform
she in a summer dress, with spaghetti straps

He edged closer to introduce himself
she stiffened at his interest

until she saw his eyes and recognized
the boy wrapped up as a marine

In no time the conversation flowed
laughter punctuated each revelation

nighttime turned to day
but the conversation didn’t stop

Went for breakfast at the local coffee shop
morning light didn’t fade their glow

fingertips touched then they kissed
open mouth and passionate

He said he was leaving for Vietnam
and would she marry him before he left?

She said no, but would write to him every day
and wait for him 'til he returned

He held her in his arms
until the sergeant said it was time to go.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Day’s Work
















The alarm goes off too early

a high pitched whine

of electronic gadgetry

followed by the dulcet tones

of the radio announcer

the second alarm goes off

before I can incorporate

his words into my dream.

These habits mark the work week:

turn on the coffee, get the newspaper

read the headlines and the comic section

eat breakfast, pack a lunch

then disappear down the hallway

brush my teeth, shave, shower, comb my hair

put on my clothes, grab my briefcase

then out the door by 7:00A.M.

Traffic, gossip, list of things to complete

some days go by quickly but most days

drag like a hundred weights

for which I receive a salary until the work is done

I return home to begin the routine all over again.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Footstool
















After a trying day
I like to lay
sprawled out on a chair
with a footstool
at my feet to rest my legs
while I reflect on my mistakes
and clear the synapses in my brain,
like a praying mantis
careful and meticulous,
so that I can stand
and face my enemies
and not snap the heads off
those I love.

A glass of wine and then I'm ready
to face the world again.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Precious Gift
















You showed me his gift
a ball point pen with a little light in it
so he could write letters in his tent
after the daily rounds of patrols
and open conflicts in the jungles of Vietnam.

After the sun set
when thoughts of you kept him awake.
He could make love to you with his words
writing about his feelings
and your future together.

I watched you wrap the gift
in brown paper from a grocery sack,
printing his address in large block letters
placing scarlet kisses beside his name
then sending it off with enough time
to arrive before his nineteenth birthday.

I didn’t see you for several days
so I went to your house
and found you disheveled and tear stained
the gift unopened lay beside you
with the words, “Undeliverable
Return to Sender."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

His Eyes Were the Color of Ice
















He seemed like an overgrown teddy bear
clumsy and often apologetic
for stepping on feet
or knocking over
glasses on table tops
and when my frustration

started to rise
impatient with his antics
he looked up at me with
his turquoise eyes,
the color found in glaciers,
a deep cold
too many years old
and in that instant

I forgave him
and let him know
that he was welcome
to move around
without apology

I watched him
and his
blue green eyes,
not icy but deep,
reflecting time
for all
eternity.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Brushes and Dabs of Paint

















Sable brushes dipped
in dabs of paint
arranged in a rainbow palette

diluted with water or turpentine
to promote an even flow
across the canvas
juxtaposed in contrasting colors

shapes take form
landscapes appear
abstract dollops purposefully placed
to create flowers, fawna and trees

hours slip by
lost in the zone

of quiet reverie
observing the world
frozen in time
and then setting it free
with the energy
of pigment, stroke
lines and shapes
awash in perfect ecstasy

and so,
day after day
while others toil
at tasks that stifle creativity
I sit at my easel and
paint
happy and free.