Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mother's Garden

Some thought her rough, especially when she
brushed tangles out of long hair.
She expected good actions from everyone
and could censure bad behavior across a room
with an arched eyebrow and the “eye,”

“You're gonna get it when you get home.”
Yet, in her garden with the most silent
of all living things, she found comfort
in her quiet world, where plants grew
and flourished with her firm touch.

In the entryway there were luscious tropical plants;
philodendron, three kinds of ferns, and a basket
of baby tears. In clusters along decorative rocks,
were succulents, some with soft thorns, others
like beaded pearls, one even shaped like a rose.

A step into her backyard one soon discovered
the ivy covered chain link fence housed more
treasures; a bottle brush bush, four different roses,
calla lilies, fuchsias, irises of purple and white,
the large bird of paradise flaunted its bloom

while the large angel trumpets competed
for devotion with the passion flowers. Two
hibiscus plants under the bedroom windows
left overgrown once the kids became teens.

Strangers and family came to the door
asking for clippings from her prolific garden
but few had her success in making plants thrive.
Many felt she had a special relationship with god
she was blessed with a strong hand and a green thumb.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

First Trip To Catalina

She saw the rain clouds build across the horizon
from a bright white to a dark gray

growing in greater density on the boat trip
across the ocean to the island twenty-six miles

of pure agony with the up and down motion
like a galloping horse, an early breakfast

splashed on the deck along with that
of seven children who retched at the smell

finally her boat pulled into the bay
she hurried to her tent along the shore

rain pelted but didn’t penetrate
finally to sleep then awake to a red sunrise

she swam, snorkeled, paddled kayaks, attended
classes and labs finally hiked to the top

of the little island in the middle of the sea
where sea lions, dolphins and children come to play.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Dream At Midnight

Last night I had a dream of three saints standing
on a hillside, lighted from behind with a pulsating glow.

Mary was at the center, then on her left
Saint Therese, and on her right, Saint Lucy.

I told Jack Nicholson and he shouted, “It’s untrue!”
until he saw them for himself and said, “It’s time to pray.”

Saint Lucy was dressed in blue, wrapped in a veil of pink
known to be the patron saint for all things concerning the eyes.

Lucy comes from the Latin word, “Luz,” pray to her
and she will give you sight and light your path along the way.

Saint Therese on the other hand, known as the Little Flower,
promises intercessions with a rain of roses to bless all

who remember her by imitating her adoration
in humble supplication to a living god.

Mary, of course, is the saint of all saints
having said, "Yes," to the angel, then gave birth

to the one who brought redemption for all humankind.
The rosary is the gift she offers again and again

a simple pattern of ten Hail Marys after five mysteries:
Joyful, Sorrowful, or Glorious, followed by Our Fathers.

It begins with an Apostles Creed and Glory Be's
all said in sequence until the prayers are done.

She promises blessings for loved ones
with interventions from the Father for good intentions.

Maybe the dream was another reminder to wake up our sleeping faith
reminding the faithful to kneel in prayer, but why Jack Nicholson?

Is he a saint in his own right and has something to say,
or was he there to take my dream at midnight to the absurd?

I had a very restless night after the dream.
See: The Mother of God Speaks 12/20/10

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Building Walls

Block by block, metal trowel against stone
a slap of mortar, bricks lifted into place
to make a wall, whose length and height
can be determined when it’s stopped,
like the Great wall of China over 5,000 miles.

"Protection against our enemies," they said
the hot breath of, “I hate you,” quickly dried
the cement bond making it impenetrable
finger nails broken, finger tips bleeding
from trying to scratch a hole to get inside.

There is little comfort longing for what
is inaccessible, futile purpose in clinging
to what is broken, like dandelions in the wind
scattered and planted elsewhere to grow again.

Time heals all wounds and like a keloid
scar marks tracks in memory of that pain
if only to go back in time and try to make
things whole again maybe then the damn wall
can be torn down and be a loving home instead.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Five Haikus For Japan

Japan’s Disaster

Sleeping earth shakes
Ocean washes homes away
Nuclear threats loom

Loss of Life

Many swept to sea
My heart smashed upon the shore
Shattered like glass

Lessons Learned

Vast devastation
Preparation a facade
Now, is all they have


Today do laundry
Tonight kiss the kids and pray
Tomorrow rebuild

Diplomatic Relationship

Cherry blossoms bloom
Gift to Washington D.C.
Love flows back to thee

Friday, March 25, 2011

Love: Before The War

Rumors of the impending war
had not made the village news
so the French barmaid
felt comfortable flirting
with the German soldier.

She brought him a warm beer
standing near enough for him
to be aroused by the scent
of her rose water perfume.

His hand brushed against her red dress
when he reached for the amber bottle.
She smiled then stepped closer to him.

He stood up, wrapping his arm around her waist,
pulling her tight against his chest
kissing her passionately then letting go.

In 1937, it was still an easy time
to fall in love.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Mouse Paint to Watercolor

Here are some pictures I created first with MS Paint and have now tried in watercolor. See date and title to find poem and original "mouse print".

Alice Learns a Lesson 3/19/10

An Emerald Sash 2/7/11

Accept The Light 3/1/11

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


High school identities
are easily recognized
by friends, money, fashion
and address.

Young adulthood
becomes more ambiguous
experimentation the leading force

settling in by thirty
frequently influenced
by profession and income.

Pity the poor searchers
who don’t fit in, always excluded,
watching from a distance.

They see habits
and choices like a mysterious code
unsolvable to the uninitiated.

How does a person form an identity
while creating a life
in a particular place?

And how, and to what extent,
can they discover the secret
that will have them included instead
of on the outside looking in?

Monday, March 21, 2011


After a long
of one disaster
then another
fill the
air waves
telling people ,
the end is near!”
but the truth is-
death is always
near with
each breath
you take.
Learning to live
every day
as if it is
the last
is good counsel
today may be
the day you die
but if by chance
you live
to be 105
and haven't
you were
afraid of death
you let life pass
you by.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Early Morning

Mama could never remember
That moment I could never forget

Dad reached over and held her close,
Whispered something in her ear

They were different next morning
The way they smiled when their eyes met

Coffee perking, Mama humming
I knew I wanted some of that

Got between them when they hugged
breathing in that precious love.

Nine months later the twins were born
nothing was ever the same again.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

First Communion

Mother scolded me for having bruises
up and down each leg, “Couldn’t you have played
more carefully? They look terrible under
your pretty white dress. What will people think?”

The lacey ruffles made my skin itch
white leather sandals pinched my feet
the communion veil wouldn’t stay on my head
and all the bobby pins made my scalp ache.

I glanced over at my brother Joseph
he was dressed up in a little black suit
The younger kids teased us and said, "You're
getting married!" Mother told them to get away.

The church was hot in Albuquerque that May
we were packed ten to a pew with thirty girls
sitting across the aisle from thirty boys
all about seven years old, I was only six
but knew my prayers and was taller than most.

Mass took longer than usual, Bobby fainted
and hit his head, got blood all over his shirt,
the rest of us wondered who would be next
since we hadn’t eaten since yesterday at six.

The ceremony was done and we headed home
relatives arrived and gave us some gifts
another rosary, a prayer book, and a ten dollar bill
I put the money into my little white purse

took it with me to school on Monday
showed it to my teacher and told her
about my First Holy Communion, but by 3:00 P.M.
when it was time to go, I left it inside my desk.

I asked Miss Smiley about it on Tuesday
she sent me to the office to the lost and found,
but that was the last of my ten dollar gift
in the little white purse with the long shoulder strap.

I thought my teacher took it for her kids
or for that new scarf around her neck
but there was no way to prove it
so I never said anything until today.

Happy Birthday Joseph -
He would have been 64.

Friday, March 18, 2011

No Marker For A Grave

Tombstones and mausoleums
mark the space were loved ones
are laid to rest in graveyards
throughout the land.

Some deceased have no markers
they're dust in the wind
mulch for the plants
or buried at sea.

Does that make their lives
less worthwhile?

No gathering place,
no hyphen between
their birth and death,

no space left on earth
to note they passed.

When their loved ones die
are the they forgotten?

Life goes one with or without us
so while the sun is shining
go out and dance

laugh with a friend
plant something in the ground
paint a picture, write a poem

leave your own marker
before your life is done.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Personal Space

For some people it's three feet
for others two inches
the amount of space
needed is an invisible circle
maintained for comfortable
social interactions

after the initial handshake,
knuckle bump, or quick embrace,
maybe a kiss on the cheek or in the air
more prevalent now since germ-a-phobia

children don't need the same
kind of distance having recently
emerged from constant contact
with a body not their own
sharing all bodily fluids
ready to suckle on anyone
their survival depends on it

but in time disappointments mount
parents who don’t come when they cry
they're not chosen to play on the team
no valentine cards or birthday invitations

when adulthood finally sets in
the distance can grow to seventy feet
for some it is easier to live alone
than be unappreciated - with fences
and locks securely in place -

or perhaps relegated to a cave
high on a mountain top
in order to maintain
their personal space.

Storm After The Rain

I marked the date on the calendar, the day
we had relations. Remember how the
cornstalk peeked over the buckboard
and the subtropical storm left
beetles in its aftermath?

We were exuberant in mama’s trailer,
intoxicated by our youth,
when we masqueraded as grown-ups.

I took you in spoonfuls, encircled you in
my cot and easily expressed my pleasure.

The rays of sunlight revealed your smile
as you tried once more to punt
and I advised you where to touch

now we have another date, nine months
from that rain-drenched morning.

We’re having a baby boy.
I didn’t mean to trap you.
I know you want to travel
but I expect you to help
me with this child
and be with me
after he is born.

After all,
I didn’t make him
on my own.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Alcohol’s Seductive Call

There is the moment in every alcoholic’s
life when something happens
he makes a choice to cross the threshold
into drink, a parent sharing a sip,
the priest who pours
too much wine then winks,

a lover he can’t live without
she broke his heart and to heal
he fills the hole with alcohol
at first a little, then like the kitchen
sink, a bottomless drain

family slips away, friends and lovers too
blankets soaked wet with tears
loneliness engulfs his life, never sober
enough to maintain a job, afford a home,
he falls into the black abyss

the ambulance hauls the victims
from his DUI to the coroner
next morning he kneels
and prays to god to take this from him

rubbing two quarters together he finds
four more then stops at the local liquor
store buys a large beer instead of whiskey
maybe now the worst is over.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Desert Blooms

First time on the chaparral
everything looks barren
but after a moment I can see
a dusting of purple across the sand.

Is it aster, arroyo lupine
or western hounds tongue?

The longer I look the better I see
what I thought were dried leaves
are delicate blooms on wild grasses
alfalfa, blue grass and alkali

Splashes of orange
catch my eyes
I distinguish lupine in the arroyos
and wake robin at the edge of the sky

My eyes become sharper
soon I make-out mission bells,
poppies, and asters
like a sacred mystery

I've discovered the music
in the desert symphony.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Godzilla 2011

One of the first horror shows
I remember from childhood
was a thirty foot Godzilla
on the drive-in theater screen.

I had nightmares for several nights.
Then witnessed a similar scene
a 9.0 earthquake rocked Japan
followed by a twenty-three foot tsunami.

The destruction of buildings
and railways looked eerily familiar
the tidal wave and whirlpool
all recorded in the 50’s flick

including the nuclear blast.
That's when all the memories
came back to me in waves
of panic and despair.

Seems sci-fi stories
are not metaphors for the past
but road maps and blueprints
for what is yet to pass.

How much easier it would be
if recent events were a monster's attack,
armies could fight back and destroy it
but as it is, what options do we have?

Accept it, life goes on, there are things
to do to get through today, small efforts
make a difference; comb your hair, fix
some tea, plant a garden, rebuild community.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Oh Japan

Island nation
I saw your violent shaking
could hear your screams

and watched helplessly
while cars, buses, homes
got washed away in the tsunami

gasping, numb
how can we defend ourselves?

There is no enemy
no environmental entity
it’s mother earth

doing what she’s done for centuries
like fleas on a mongrel’s back
we’re scratched and shaken off

What did I hear on the evening news?

“It might be an economic boom,
work for the locals,
resources from other countries."

What about your children,
your mothers, fathers, pets
did they survive?

Somewhere in the rubble
an old lady sings a melody
from when she was young,

a sweet soothing lullaby
to let everyone know
everything will be okay.

nakunayo, nakunayo
kowaimonomo nayamimo
nanzennenmo maeno hikari*

don't you cry, baby
don't cry, baby
look up and see the sky-full of stars
fears and worries will disappear soon
from light that traveled
for a million years.

* a Japanese lullaby

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cycle of Life

Cluck, cluck, cluck
eggs delivered
life forms within

Tap, tap, tap
wet and small
yolk is gone

Peck, peck, peck
little chicks emerge
springtime begins

Cheep, cheep, cheep
need grit and feed
water to drink

Cluck, cluck, cheep, cheep
Mama and babies
parade all around.

After writing this sublime
poem, earthquakes and tsunamis
wreck havoc in Japan.

Maybe it's time to reconcile
with those you love, pray
for all you're worth and
lend a hand for all those suffering.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Go Get My Shoes

Alarm clock ringing,
bacon sizzling
Go get my shoes

Let’s go running
sun's shinning
Go get my shoes

Barking, warning,
hackles showing
Go get my shoes

Doorbell ringing
talking, laughing,
Go get my shoes

After dinner
we’ll go walking
Go get my shoes

Quiet touching
holding, sighing,
Take off my shoes

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Happened?

More Than 1,000 Dead Birds fall from sky in Arkansas - January 2

Dead Fish cover 20-mile section of Arkansas River - January 2

Hundreds of Dead Blackbirds found in Louisiana - January 3

Thousands of Birds fall from the sky in South America - January 3

10,000s Birds found dead in Manitoba - January 3

Dead Birds found In Kentucky - January 4

100 tons of Dead Fish wash up on Brazil's shores - January 4

Hundreds of Dead Birds found in East Texas - January 5

Dead Birds in Sweden - January 5

Millions of Dead Fish in Maryland - January 5

Thousands of Dead Fish in Brazil and New Zealand - January 5

40,000 Crabs found dead on England beaches - January 6

70 dead Bats in Tucson, Arizona - January 7

1,000 Turtle Doves found dead in Italy - January 11

100 Pelicans found dead near Jacksonville, North Carolina - January 19

Thousands of Sardines found dead in Redondo Beach Marina - March 8

Scientist have a good explanation:
too cold, too warm, toxins
lightening strikes and high altitude hail.

Data collectors say it is quite common
What is different is the public’s
quick access through social networks
and camera phones.

So what is just nature at work
with all it’s logical reasoning
looks like Armageddon when compiled
then charted and put side by side.

Too much information
leaves people asking,
"What happened?"

"Seeing all those dead sardines
still scares the sh** out of me."

Note: Restless night, dreamed of birds falling from the sky
and people and cars falling from bridges, the smell of dead flesh
was overwhelming. Two days later Japan's earthquake and
tsunami happened.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Snake Dream

I had an ache in my heart
the pain overwhelming,
reached in through my chest
and discovered a snake
marked with a diamond pattern,

I picked up the tail
and tugged and pulled
until it was free
it’s mouth clamped
to the end of longer snake,

a dark color blue
I pulled that snake out
the next one was purple,
I did it again and again
removing eight snakes in all.

The final one had a stone
inside his mouth but dropped it
when I got him free.

I reached down into my heart
to retrieve the rock
a dark black color
I cut it out with my knife

then it turned a ruby red,
with the glimmer
of that precious jewel.

When I carved it into a rose
the pain in my chest subsided.

The next day I got word my older brother died
He was the oldest of ten.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Ode to Joseph 1946-2006

His birthday
is March 19th.,
so it is a
perfect time
to remember him.

He was there when I was born that shadow just off to one side. My earliest memories are of the Church, the center of our lives. I still remember the smell of incense and melted wax, the strange order of bodies huddled close together and the sounds of organ music and many voices raised in unison in prayer and song.

We took the experience of church into our play and Joseph was always the priest, Charles and Robert, the altar boys. Charlene and I covered our heads with silk scarves or laced mantillas. We knelt in contrite celebration and liked to compete with each other with the pounding of our chests when we said, “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”

We mixed the sounds of Latin with the Spanish and English, never really understanding the meaning of words in any language. Yet we memorized all our prayers before we entered school. Joseph was ready for his first communion in second grade and Mother, persuaded the priest that I was ready to make my communion beside him because I knew all my prayers “Hail Mary Full of Grapes,” and I could answer the questions from my little blue Baltimore Catechism: “Who is God?” “God is the Supreme Bean who made all things. “

Mother believed that a family that prayed together, stayed together so we prayed the rosary every night, went to the Stations of the Cross once a week during Lent, attended Saturday catechism, and Sunday mass. If there were any other services we went to them too. Joseph had to serve mass every Sunday and picked up some of the extra services as well. He was a preferred server because he knew what to do. He remembered the Latin, knew when to ring the bells and could light and snuff the candles with ease.

He was the favorite one, loved by priests, uncles, aunts and occasional pets... all our dogs named Whitey, taken from the yearly litter of the Dalmatian down the street. We never understood why the pups never got spots maybe it was because they never lived long without vaccinations and were susceptible to the various puppy diseases.

The kids too were threatened with dreaded diseases like polio, Charles got that at five months. There was also scarlet fever and whooping cough and frequent afflictions with lice, worms and dirty fingernails, but what can be expect when we took baths only once a week.

The oldest kids got the clean water and boys and girls took baths together. We were always modest and kept ourselves covered except for the weekly ritual when we took off our clothes and ran around slapping each other in the game of “Skytie,” before we hopped in the tub for our baths.

I think Joseph was the one who made up these games for us. He gathered us together on occasion to make decisions about our reality like the time he suggested we renamed different parts our bodies. Our armpits were called “flax”, our tear ducts, “lilies of the valley”, and our butts, “behonkas.”

All of these early adventures occurred at 511 Est***** Drive, a little dirt path two blocks from Lavaland School on the outskirts of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Joseph, Charles and Charlene, Robert, and I walked the distance to and from school four times a day. We came home for lunch everyday occasionally hit by sand storms. The boys kept moving but Charlene and I had to squat to bury our faces in our laps and cover our legs with our dresses crouched in complete supplication to the elements.

We walked in large groups heading out in the same direction. There were the Lageness boys, Jimmy with his two older brothers, Sergio and Ceasar. (We called them Surges and Scissors. It is only recently I figured out what their names really were). Then there was David and his older brother Donald, from one of the few Anglo families in our area. One day a group of kids were huddled together digging in the ground. They found a strange looking bug. Donald said it was a “Child of the Earth.” Joseph was the only one brave enough to pick it up with a stick to get a closer look. We later found out that it was actually called a potato bug and told them so.

At the end of summer just before school started the next year, Jimmy and Donald drowned in the river. They wandered away from home to explore the Rio Grande but stepped too close to the edge and were swept away in that red muddy water. Jimmy was buried in his altar boy vestment but we never went to Donald’s funeral because he was not Catholic so I don’t know how he was buried. Joseph was sad to lose two of his best friends so young.

Mother was an educated woman, with a high school education, Dad only completed fifth grade but the two of them felt education was important. They went through the expense of buying a set of encyclopedias, the Books of Knowledge, and a dictionary for the family. We were thrilled with these imitation leather bound books, with gold embossed letters, and glossy pages. This is where we looked to find out the real name of that bug.

We spent hours poring over the pages but one day when Joseph was not with us we decided that some of those people were ugly and we didn’t want to look at them so we spat on their faces and scratched them off. When Mother walked in we all got in trouble, but the hardest part was when she cried for our stupidity. We kept those books for over twenty years but never had to look at the faces again but later we had to go to the library to find pictures of those scratched faces when we did reports.

The events of childhood were routine from school hours to hours of summer vacation. Mother would send us outside where we stayed until dinnertime. She would bring a tray of food out at lunch but Joseph and I were responsible for keeping the kids entertained and out of her way. Joseph told us we could dig to China so each of us got a shovel and dug a hole and kept digging for several days. We never got to China but we had a nice shelter to keep out of the summer heat. We threw some old tarps and blankets over the hole and climbed in and out as needed.

Dad worked hard but we rarely saw him except in the evenings and on weekends. We were always so excited to have him home. One day he brought a swing set. We loved it and played on it until late in the afternoon. Joseph and I discovered I could sit on the seat and he could straddle me in the opposite direction and we could swing with greater ease. I remember my mom watching us from the kitchen window and said we were going to "get it," when we got inside. We were so afraid we stayed out until almost dark and then snuck in the house. I guess she forget because she never said any more about it.

We didn’t have regular trash pick-up so once a week Dad burned the trash outdoors. It was a wonderful event where we gathered around the trash can, sometimes Dad put a grill over the opening and roasted the green chilies and the kids played tag or hide-n-seek and chased each other until long after sunset.

The most memorable adventures came from our visits to Peralta. Every Sunday we went to visit Grandpa. The trip was not more than 20 minutes but we looked for certain landmarks along the way. First we would see the small wooden bridge where we would reach out the window to grab leaves off the branches of the overhanging tree, then we looked for the man with the very brown wrinkled face we called him the CÔffee man. He frequently sat by the side of the road just before the Navajo bread ovens.

When we saw the church we knew we were close to Grandpa’s house. We looked forward to running with our cousins. We were set free to explore the irrigation ditches, visit the haunted houses or climb the local hillsides. In our explorations we could find egg splattered walls and dead animal carcasses. Stevie and Joseph usually took the lead and if they ventured out the rest of us followed.

Joseph was twelve when we moved to California. Dad was tired of competing with the winter for steady work so we headed to the sunshine and 12 months of mostly reliable weather. When we arrived in Westminster our parents registered with Blessed Sacrament Church. Joseph was the first one accepted to the Catholic school, the rest of us had to go to Finley School until Christmas and then we were accepted as well.

Our days of Catechism were over as we immersed even deeper into the ways of the Church. We studied Bible History and prepared for Confirmation even though we were already confirmed. In New Mexico people were confirmed every five years when the Bishop was in town instead of in seventh grade like in California.

Here things got a little hurried up and it seemed we were busy walking a mile to and from school and studying, and ironing uniforms, and babysitting, and Joseph started working with Joe the Shoemaker so he wasn't home much anymore. The girls had the housework and the younger boys were responsible for the yard work but the girls always ended up having to help the boys.

After his eighth grade graduation Joseph was swept away to the Seminary in Silver Creek, New York. The church community raised the money for his trip and our mother let her oldest son go far, far away. She had another baby while he was gone so my attention was on Sally. She needed most of my attention rather than an older brother or even my own emerging adolescence, I became a teenage foster mother.

Months went to years, and years to his graduation from high school to his three years of college and then his decision to leave the seminary. He wrote to me asking what he should do. He said he was tired staying one step ahead of the priest who were constantly pursuing him. I told him to speak up for himself and tell Mother that he wanted out. To me it seemed simple, for him it seemed impossible, but he did it and she proceeded to go crazy… or was it just menopause? When those situational and physiological events collide things get confused.

Social structures were breaking down, the Church did not have the same stranglehold and priests and nuns were questioning their own commitments, sexual norms were out the window, and the Baby Boomers were entering adulthood. Can you imagine what it was like to have five teenagers in the house at one time? It is difficult to separate cause from effect and just as much the “times they were a changing.”

I was now in college and dating a sailor, my friends were getting drafted or losing loved ones in Vietnam, getting married or moving in together. Joseph told Mother he wanted out, but in just a few weeks it seemed, Kathleen, a girl he recently met, was pregnant. He told me he was going to do what he needed to do as a man and marry her. Mother wept knowing her son might have fathered a child but didn’t want him locked in a relationship that was so soon after leaving the seminary.

He ended up paying eighteen years of child support. When I asked him later if he ever saw his daughter, he answered, “Every chance I get.” He said she looked a lot like Sally.

I don’t remember when he went off to Vietnam, I think I was married at the time. I don’t recall seeing him at my wedding, but then I don’t remember seeing anyone but my husband Bill. I have pictures of the wedding party but the others if they were there I don't recall. They were upset I was getting married at all... "Too traditional," they said.

I took off for Hawaii to a new life and a different whirl, busy setting up household, living on my own with a baby after only ten months of marriage and then a move to South Carolina before the year was through.

When did Joseph come back into my field of vision? Only when I heard news of him becoming a D.J. in Arizona, getting his Masters Degree from Loyola, and trying to get into comedy and acting in Hollywood. He was on the Dating Game and the Gong Show. What I know I heard through others. He would scream nonsensical things to me at family gatherings and so I kept my distance. I felt I needed to protect my kids from his vulgarity, his addictions and his influence. I never understood his sense of humor.

Did I wish him well? Absolutely, if he had made it in show biz, comedy, or in sales I would have celebrated his success. If he had married Kathleen, or Deborah, or Nancy I would have been happy for him. I missed not knowing his daughter.

We had a conversation after Vietnam, he was heavy into Scientology, and we talked about what he was learning. He said it helped him beat the addictions but somewhere along his path he stopped going or it stopped working. He died at age 60, from the affects of Agent Orange... in other words... cancer.

At his memorial I was impressed by his influence on my brother and sisters and the relationship they had built with him in his earlier days. He was out of touch with family for over ten years. Some seem to think he was in Witness Protection and others thought he got married and lived a different life. She died before him so his burial was left for us. When I saw his ashes fly out into the wind from the Sandia Peak I realize that it is not about death but about life. We give what we can, forgive as we must and we all return to dust.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Success or Failure

Success or failure requires
more than a good idea and lots of heart
luck and extra help can make a difference.

Cortez told his soldiers to burn their boats
there would be no turning back,
forcing them to survive in a new world.

Starving settlers from Jamestown
lost hope, packed their meager
possessions to return to England

then out of the blue a fleet arrived
with a new governor and a year's worth
of supplies to ensure they colonized.

American Revolution - could have been a brief uprising,
The Declaration of Independence - a nice idea
but the French joined in and the U.S. won the fight.

Sometimes when we take on new endeavors
and are hanging by a thread we need to scream
for help and hang on as long as we can.

Good luck to Middle Eastern Citizens
fighting for democracy.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

The Doggie Out The Window

The neighbor had a small dog
Pomeranian, I believe
little feet and little nose
we got to play with him

if the lady said so.
He would bark and run
from here to there
while we chased him
round and round.

Then it was time for him to go
“He slept for hours,” she would say.
One day he got away
and came to visit without her okay.

We snuck him in through the garage
to play our usual games
but when Mom hollered, “It’s time to eat.”
Joe dropped him out the window.

We heard him yelp then saw him limp
later we learned he was taken to the vet
“A broken leg,” the lady said.
We never played with him after that.

Friday, March 4, 2011


Have you ever tried to buoy
someone up who is depressed?
Doesn’t matter what you say
you can never lift
the sadness from her face

she can be entertained
for a little while but then
that horrible darkness returns
and forces her back to bed.

Why isn’t there someone to take care of her?

Some say it’s a chemical reaction
others that she is self-centered
but maybe it is a grief deep inside

no bauble can lift it from her memory
tears for the littlest things.
doesn’t want to be left alone
yet impossible to be around.

Spiders weave cobwebs in the corners
is it wrong to take the life of someone
who doesn’t know how to live?

I try to be a funny clown
perhaps it’s time to go outside
plant flowers or play a game

Who knows?

Maybe something might click
a light will shine on her soul
crested under a giant wave
ready to wash her away

In her sorrow her heart might stop
better take time for a grand finale
and scrub her whole world clean

Is it my sin, this despair?

Maybe it is time to leave,
there’s no need for both of us to expire,
lost in a world where no hope can survive.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Color of Home

Early in the summer my intention was to surf
the networks but got caught when the hostess
offered a complete room makeover within
thirty minutes. I had discovered cable
programs available in the middle of the day.

The casts were craftsmen, artisans and decorators.
I saw dull unattractive rooms
become show places through the use of paint,
furniture placement, and custom designs
sometimes for under five hundred dollars a day.

I learned neutrals were an important element
in decorating and the many shades
of brown were reliable favorites.
Designers didn’t use mud, sand,
soil, or dirt for their earthy colors.

Instead brown and beige were called
mocha, or latte, but never plain coffee.
The artists offered Twig Basket, Oak Fawn,
or Harmonic Tan for their client’s approval.

When describing their finished product
they said things like, “The Hampton Brown
is a perfect match for a New England home."
"A Terra Cotta fireplace can provide a punch
of color." "Cinnamon Toast creates an inviting
dining room." "A Chocolate Brown rug
won’t distract from the focal point."
"This Nutmeg adds romance to any style.“

I learned that Desert Shadow would counter balance
the accent paint. While Lemon Pepper added spice
yet complimented the classic elements.
Use of defused lighting prevented
the Fedora walls from overwhelming
the small space and the Frontier Shadows
completed the color palette to create
a perfect flow from foyer to living room.

In my new favorite programs I’ve learned
that the use of color is sassy
and sometimes irreverent but never boring
and neutrals are the perfect addition
to enhance every decorating challenge.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Anniversary Gone Bad

Sylvia's allergies were agitated
with an early spring.
Upon entering the restaurant
the aroma from overcooked fish
took her to her knees.

The stink wafted
through the eatery.
She swooned and a stranger,
drenched in All Spice,
kept her from hitting the floor.

She reached for her husband but
the dung at the bottom of his boot
overwhelmed her and she vomited
all over his feet.

He decided they shouldn’t stay
to celebrate their anniversary
that night.

The next evening she pointed
to a Red Lobster sign
he made a quick turn leaving
a dust trail through the parking lot
His face was flushed and the little vein
on his temple looked like it would explode.

The truck rocked when he slammed the door
he was up the steps and couldn’t hear her
when she hissed, “Jack A**.”

She reached for her purse, pulled out her keys
slid into the driver’s seat and drove away.
"He can celebrate our anniversary without me,"
she cried.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Accept the Light

Faith is a gift eagerly received
when you believe in a loving god -

not the one held together by fear
left over from the Spanish Inquisition
you're forced to accept faith or die on a rack,
dipped in hot oil, or whipped until
you call out for mercy, asking god to stop
the pain while you quietly succumb.

Conversion - avoiding death
through submission -
isn’t faith at all.

Imagine how everything you love
is distorted by that kind of relationship.

It would explain earthly suffering
and severe punishment for disobedience.

Some think it is better to be killed
by a loving hand than to be allowed
to come under the influence of evil

in all its incarnations:
transgressions of the flesh,
lust for power or insatiable pride.

The two greatest sins: first, not loving
god with your whole heart the second,
not loving others as yourself

but how can you love yourself
or god if you deserve to be
punished so severely?

The message of the Old Testament
is transformed with the teachings in the New,

a liturgy of the miraculous,
a litany for absolution,
forgiveness again and again
seven times seventy

and through this unwavering love
when you discover yourself lovable
maybe you can give love with the same
generosity it has been given to you.

Wherever the good news is proclaimed
extraordinary adoration follows.
not only towards one another
but to a loving god up above.