Saturday, April 30, 2011

After Disaster

After minutes of pure terror
own survival confirmed
the dust settles
and vultures descend
to sift through debris
and walk away with treasures
from abandoned homes.
Quick thefts, before anyone
can stop them, gone before
the sun sets. First the scavengers

then the real thieves;
insurance companies
government officials
and land developers,
swooping in when people are down
with no social structures
to protect them until
after reconstruction begins.

Devastated and in a state of shock,
home gone, car gone, job gone,
victims don’t have the ability
to make good decisions
so leave everything for foragers
who will certainly make a profit,
even the CEO for Red Cross
gets a huge salary
from the generosity
of compassionate

Yet, good neighbors come in droves
with food, water and clothes.
Little things to make the transitions
offering immediate services
and help with relocation.

Out of the rubble a Phoenix can rise.
However overwhelming the tragedy
people can emerge,
stronger than before.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Thread

I’ve heard it said
that when we are born
we are attached to our moms
by a silver thread.

Over the years the thread
sends out other lines
like a spider
building a web

made to last
a lifetime

but what happens
when the thread is broken
or intentionally cut?
Do we float out in space

and vulnerable
not protected
by love?

Sometimes those
threads feel like lassos
from a spider, a trap,
to keep us paralyzed

not like the cocoon
of a caterpillar
where one day

we will emerge
free to fly
the earth unfettered.

I don’t want to be free,
I want to be attached
to the silver threads
connected to me.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Where Is My Home After The Twister?

When they woke up this morning
did the people of Alabama
know they would lose their homes?
Did the wailing sirens warn them
all their possessions would soon be gone?

Did they have time to hunker down
and protect themselves before
the tornado touched ground?

Could they distinguish their screaming
from the wailing of the wind?
Did they even have time to pray?

"Can’t recognize the street," a survivor
said, "Where is the market, the school,
and the city hall? Everything looks like
it was leveled by a giant weed whacker. How
will we ever recover from this super storm?"

"When winds set down, the path of destruction
was a mile wide. All we could do was pray."

"Can you believe it, every branch on the Magnolia
tree was ripped off at the trunk?"

"After the storm, strangers came to help
offering hands to move trees from the streets,
sift through wreckage to retrieve mementos,
pray with us so we could find strength to live."

"Our future plans all vanished.
The remodeled kitchen and spring garden
finished but now gone, scattered across
the neighborhood, mingled with debris
in several counties. Did anyone find
my wedding ring? What about the photo

album? The computer is smashed but
our files can be retrieved, Oh no, is
that Mr. Olson, underneath his car?"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Two nights ago I had a dream of my
sister and me standing in my first home.
A hole, the size of a bathtub drain
opened in the floor and the house

started to fill with water, we walked
outdoors where my two grandsons were
standing the younger one opened the back
gate and a wave of water five feet high,

threatened to wash him away.
I moved quickly and slammed the door
then moved him away from danger.
Woke up feeling melancholy, the weather

overcast and gloomy. Couldn’t shake
the feeling of impending doom.

News reports about Midwest floods wrecking
havoc. Two days ago my aunt Margaret died,
she was the last of my mother’s sisters.
I’ve also watched the Katrina aftermath
so my head is filled with images of flooding.

With my dreams there is no clear sense of
what they mean, but they do seem to be a call
for prayer: “Please bless my family, keep
them safe and healthy. Bless all the

people in the world and if possible let
this sense of foreboding pass from me.
Let miracles be abundant and your blessings
reign upon the earth. I ask these things of you

oh lord, in humble supplication. Amen.”

Evening News: Super cell tornados wiped
out areas of Alabama, Mississippi and other
southern states. Death count, 100 and rising.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I saw the series, Treme,
was playing weekly on HBO
the advertisement said it was about
New Orleans' recovery after the hurricane.
After watching the news and a Spike Lee documentary
I didn’t want to see anymore sadness

but I heard they started a second season
the first one completed amidst rave reviews
quotes stating, “It’s about the music,
with the background of Katrina's rebirth.”
Took a gamble and watched the first one
got hooked and saw the first ten episodes.

Sure enough, the music was great, the different
relationships, authentic and interesting but
like I suspected the sadness snuck in exposing
all the loss, injustice, and hopelessness
and like all great stories I couldn’t turn away.
I followed the characters in their struggles.

Post Katrina is a sad tale
but so are the earthquakes of Haiti, Chile
China, New Zealand and the triple
whammy of earthquake, tsunami
and nuclear meltdown in Japan.

Dollars and prayers were sent for each
while trying to cope with my struggles
yet, I was inspired by this story.
The Mardi Gras Indians in particular,
survivors of slavery and genocide,

danced in full regalia to remind the world
no matter what one suffers, remembering
the past and dancing in spite of it
gives one the courage to rebuild community
and to do what it takes to overcome tragedy.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Play Ball

How many times have I tried to clean up the mess,
scrub off the scum, undo the duress?
Made every effort to keep things sane
only to have it all topple again, chaos reigns
washed pigs return to the mud, and somewhere
in my mind I think it should be different.

Life should be clear of debris, upsets kept to
a minimum, diplomatic efforts used to maintain peace,
politically correct deference to avoid offense
but maybe these are the lies that are the source
of my upsets. After all, Cain and Abel, the first
children, solved their problems with the death of one.

With wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya
not to mention civil unrest worldwide,
it seems fighting is the norm. That is -
to take a bat or bomb, and hit another
with it. Hard enough to cause some harm,
often enough, to incapacitate him.

Maybe the real lesson to learn
is take no prisoners and let the defeated know
who's the ruler, the conqueror, the winner,
but the truth is… I don’t want to live in a world
like that. The ideal that still bubbles up is peace
among families, tribes, and races. Life arranged

clean and orderly, everything has a place
with everything in its place, a world grid
and common understanding for how things work
who goes first and whose left standing, but whose
rules of order? Those followed by the Taliban, or
the caste system in India, communist of China,

or democracy in America? Perhaps
with all these social experiments
things should return to the simplest form
the one with the biggest bat wins.
Everyone follows the same rules and losers
deal with it until a new game begins.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

An Easter Story

While watching the kids fly kites on Saturday
I met a woman who fell in love with my yellow lab.
She liked his silky ears and warm hound dog eyes
and started to tell me about her own pet.

She pulled out her iphone to show a video
of a white duck out by her pool. She said,
"I got her as a gift last Easter and
didn’t know what to do with her

but gradually she was welcomed indoors,
followed me or my husband all around
and quacked when strangers came to the door.
Little by little, our guard broke down

and she became a constant companion, delighting
the neighbors and kids. We named her, Lady.
She was the favorite of the house but like all
favorites, came between my husband and me.

The first sign of trouble was when
she laid an egg for him on his birthday
but not one for me, no matter how I pleaded.
Little by little my jealousy reared,

small fights about all sorts of things
he took her side no matter the issue.
I wanted a dog but my husband wouldn’t
consider it. He feared for her safety

so that ended it. He also didn’t like people
who asked questions like, 'How long do ducks live?'
and 'When can we eat her for dinner?'
I worried that things had gone too far

but how could I compete with a duck who
waddles and fills the house with her,
'Quack, quack, quack.' Do you know how
long ducks live?" she asked. "Can I deal

with this for five years, or ten, or thirty-five?”
She smiled, wiped her tears, petted my dog
whispering, “I love your silky ears,” then walked
away, this woman... who was jealous of a duck.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Myth and Other Tales

How can we expect our children to respect us
when we tell them tales of Easter bunnies
sneaking into the yard late at night
and hiding eggs colorful and bright?

Even the dullest child will begin to question
the story and after the discovery that Santa
isn’t true will never trust anything we say.
They have to give up belief in the tooth fairy too.

Our biggest worry is how to keep the secret
so the younger siblings can live in the fantasy?
They become co-conspirators for a little while
then in a moment of weakness they reveal the ruse

exposing the truth amidst confusion and tears.
How can a child trust a parent
who would purposefully lie?
The whole world is behind this deception

taking advantage of vulnerable kids
and marketing advertisements to millions
perpetuating a deception reinforced
by parents who should have the child's interest

at heart. Yet, several years later when the child's
own offspring celebrate different occasions.
The myths will be pulled out from memory
and told to a new generation making them bigger

and better than ever before, with brighter lights
larger eggs, and cautionary tales of what happens
to children who don’t believe Easter bunnies
lay eggs, and hide them for children to discover.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Deer In The Forest

I wonder if
you can hear me watching
as I strain my eyes to see
your shape in the forest green
white tipped tail gives you away

sunlight filters through the trees
and I’m inspired
by your gentle grace
hidden in quiet space
quick response to any noise

Perfect picture
in the middle of the day,
nature’s masterpiece
waiting to be recreated

through photographs
or in oils.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ghosts Still Live Here

Pilgrims worldwide
converge on the green mesa

tracing paths of ancestors
who migrated from this hillside

leaving homes under the overhang
exquisite sandstone masonry

Inhabitants lived in harmony
for many generations

Was it a drought that sent them away?
Over-hunted, over-planted, over-populated?

Mothers took their families and headed
south from this cliffside community

forging new lives in New Mexico, Arizona
and Texas away from Colorado’s Mesa Verde.

They became known as the Pueblos of the:
Hopi, Isleta, Zuni and Navajo

Their ghosts still wander here, discover
their stories in the dust on the hillside.

Early this morning I had a dream where I saw my mother playing in the ocean with my two younger brothers. A large wave knocked her over. I ran towards her but reminded myself she died a long time ago. On 4/21/11, I got word Aunt Margaret, my mom's last living sister, passed away. She was ninety.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Snowstorm in Flagstaff

Traveling along a four lane highway
in the middle of a snowstorm
thrilling for the initiate
dangerous for the qualified

A patch of black ice
and everything changes
a semi truck slides off
the edge of the mountain

Sprinkles like powder sugar
cover the windshield
layers of white dust
camouflage surrounding areas

Sudden bursts from
branches laden with snow
poof and then again poof
like fireworks along the roadway

Several deer in the meadow
elk on the rocks
along the sky line, subtle
movements give them away

Before the storm is done
slush like a 7/11 treat
spilled upon the asphalt
causing cars to slide about

Once seasons
had a definite division
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
but lately boundaries smudge

My camera can’t catch
what I have described
the lens fogs and image blurs
trapped in memory for eternity.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Colorado Vacation

Road trip begins
early morning
before sun rises
thud of car door
and off we go

past Little Saigon
where immigrants
thrive in my home town
like a postcard
from another country

become accustomed to
smell of garlic
and tonal quality
of new language
- things change

travel through desert
best handled before ten
stop for lunch at Seligman
another long haul before
stopping again

overnight in Holbrook
awake before 5:00 A.M.
cross state borders
dinner in Colorado

arrive at Pagosa Springs
amid predictions of snow
take a trip to Durango
then train to Silverton,

Mesa Verde, and Puebla ruins,
visit Four Corners
vacation is done,
too soon, home again.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Native Drum

Tribe gathers
individuals whirl
in separate

"bills due,
boyfriend's mad,
how long will this take?
back aches."

Small whispers of quiet
in-between breaths
of chili sauce
eyes meet then smiles

Friends and strangers form
circle. Men, women
and children - gather

Drummer in the center
strikes the drum
synchronizes hearts
to beat as one.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


A Home
can be any structure
in which you live

or like the nomads
in the desert,
home is where
the heart is.

A place
where people
care about
each other,

They are loyal,
laugh together,
play often,
and keep gossip
to a minimum

in anger are

when love

and differences
don’t matter.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Winter is no more
what lay dormant now awakes
surrenders the quiet blanket of cold
bursts forth slowly one bud then three

Lets life erupt
from the ground to the trees
a sudden hue of color along the highway

Love’s promise
emerges for the birds and the bees
everywhere spring is evident
desire takes hold for warm days ahead

Song surges out
“It’s springtime, wonderful, wonderful springtime.
Time to clean, time to plant, time to sing and dance,
Too many things to see and do, no more time for sleep

It’s time for Spring. Spring, such a glorious gift.”

Monday, April 4, 2011


In springtime, the scent of jasmine floats
through the window in the early evening
heralding more flowers to bloom in the season.

A favorite in China and India used for perfumes,
incense and wondrous tea blends. Creates a dragon pearl
by mixing with green tea. It has an invasive quality

which makes it a weed in Florida and Hawaii.
Be vigilant, a false jasmine can be poisonous or
a revolution in China, where Ai Wei Wei, artist and poet,

captured and beaten for being outspoken.
Like the flower, his desire for free expression
entered the hearts of the disempowered.

Jasmine evokes memories of warm, humid nights, an
intoxicating aroma filtered through Spanish moss
used to adorn hair from South Carolina to China.

Strong perfume held in a thick glass container,
butterflies are attracted to this delicate flower,
with a scent to mesmerize poets, painters and lovers.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Roads of Life

As a child I had dreams of flying every night
soaring above the clouds, happy and free.
Adolescent dreams showed my parents trying
to lock me in a suit of armor, couldn’t breathe.

Young adulthood too busy to dream much
but then a series of dreams once a year after
I started teaching. The first year I saw myself
riding a tricycle on a long dark road, it was hard

to see my way. The next year I was on a ten speed
bike then the third one in a Cadillac I couldn’t drive
out of the garage. In time, as my skills improved,
I went from race cars, to an eighteen wheel semi-truck

before the beginning of each school year
always along different unlit roads.
One year I arrived in a finely tuned Trans-Am
but left on a ten speed bike again. That was

the year I changed districts. Didn’t know
it would happen until November. A call, from out
of the blue, asked me to apply for a job closer
to home. Another time I was driving an RV

but it stopped while going up hill. I got
out to push but decided it was too difficult
so walked away instead. That was the year I
left staff development and curriculum resources

to return to the classroom. When I became
a principal I drove my family car to
an airport and was asked to pilot the plane.
Three years later, before I changed schools,

I was out at sea, swam to shore, then rode
an ambulance to the struggling school.
Finally retired when a large locomotive came
to a stop. Climbed out of the cab and walked away.

In my retirement I dream of travel to forest lands,
mountainous regions in foreign countries.
The other night I heard some noises outside
the house, got up to see what was going on

saw that both of our cars were missing. I went inside
to wake Bill up and cried, "Someone stole our cars!"
woke up from my dream instead, heart pounding, trying
to figure out what the dream meant, then remembered

we had an appointment to update our life insurance.
I hope the dream was only a reminder that we
must be prepared if the worst should happen.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Tribute to Elizabeth Taylor

Those glorious eyes first stared out from the big screen
with Lassie Come Home and National Velvet. Everyone
fell in love with her. Her emerging womanhood
revealed In Father of the Bride and A Place in the Sun.

Then Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was emblazoned
in the vernacular with Elizabeth’s steaming portrayal
of Maggie, the frustrated wife, in the film version
of the famous Tennessee Williams play.

Violet eyes and rosebud lips on that flawless face
continued to seduce the camera. Contrasts of innocence
and harlot - roles juxtaposed against her real life
with too many marriages, tragedies and scandals.

Everything done in the public’s view, seeking
her own way to find true love; Hilton, Wilding,
Todd, Fisher, Burton, Warner and Fortensky.
A serial bride if ever there was one.

We watched her with Burton in Cleopatra
and Whose Afraid of Virginia Wolf - from
temptress to mature woman always a star.
Friend to King of Pop and Queen of England,

Aids Activist, perfume and jewelry designer,
diamond collector and mother to Michael,
Christopher, Liza and Marie
She is now poised beyond the reach of light
leaving behind a legacy - life to the fullest.

Our simple lives made richer by one who dared
to reach for all that fame had to offer,
Her rhythms, unmeasured and intense, her heart
now beats beyond the earth above the edge of sound.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Picture Perfect Life

A little photo shop and the eyes will glisten
hiding tantrums and pouting before the pictures
forcing the reluctant model to pose for another
session with false smiles perfectly framed
suggesting to any viewer an idyllic life.

The problem with this kind of practice
is the discrepancy between reality
and those staged events. It confuses
every observer and after time no one
remembers the horrors imposed by the

wiles of the photographer to portray
a life in harmony. Think of Lindsay Lohan
or Brittany Spears, facades of lifestyles
so great it leaves their own in shambles
hidden in a fog of addictions to: drugs,
sex, shopping, or obsessions. Yet we are
compelled to watch a man like Charlie Sheen,
ranting for the cameras, taking his show

to several towns across America, exposing
his vast number of sins. The messy part
of glamour - no bodyguard or family member
can protect him from his own vanity,
or an aggressive desire by others
to exploit him for monetary gain.