Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Phil Loves Turtles

Phil said the turtle is his favorite animal
he likes it because it can live on the water and land
but most of all when things get too hectic
it can withdraw into it's shell
and dream about other things
rather than deal with people and issues

who intrude on his peace and happiness
just like Phil who has been that way
since he was small with very sensitive hearing
where sudden noises make his skin crawl
as do the screechy voices of some small girls
and the booming rumble of thunder

lights also affect his peace
flashes from cameras,
fluorescent lights and the midday sun.
Phil started wearing sun glasses early
some people thought he was silly
but he was quite content to hide his eyes

behind Polaroid lenses and baseball caps
he always gets the bottom bunk
so he can hang up his blanket and shut out
the noisey world, safe in a dark hideaway
with only his imagination and comfort blanket.
Sometimes he thinks about how things work

and the interesting patterns numbers make
and how to combine them quicker than lightening.
He wonders what it would be like to travel to outer space
and even made up a list of the things he would take
if he is ever asked to go.
He likes reading books about turtles

and underwater creatures
sometimes he holds his breath
to see if he could ever live under the sea.
Last week he got a pet turtle to learn how to
survive with the shell attached to his back.
He noticed it moves very slowly and can never play baseball

and the foods that it eats are yucky
Phil knows because he tried the lettuce
and a wiggly pink grub mom bought
from the pet store. Phil tried sitting on a rock
but only lasted an hour and his skin
got all wrinkled when he sat in the water.

After some serious thought
and hours of observation
Phil decided he doesn’t want to be
a turtle after all...
maybe an armadillo instead.

Monday, January 30, 2012


The center of gravity
when it is found allows
a baby to roll over
and then to bounce back and forth

and move forward to crawl
from crawling to standing
walking, running, jumping
tumbling and diving

into a pool or on to a trampoline
pushing the limits of the earth’s pull
when balance is
clearly established

and in the waning years
after an injury
the crab like walk
of arthritic hips and knees

when it is easier to sit
then test that same test of gravity
terrified by the upcoming frailty.
Physical therapists recommend

learning to balance on a ball
training the various muscles
to become stronger
working against the grave

and eventual position
where rigor mortis sets in
when free will and personal power
doesn’t matter anymore.

Summon whatever vanity
you posses and get moving
override your desire to stay immobile
push beyond your limits

and learn to balance
yourself in the air
standing, walking, moving.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Dog is God Spelled Backwards

If ever there was a creature
sent to teach us how to love,
certainly one creature chosen

is the dog
who has the ability to love unconditionally
and show enthusiasm spontaneously

for the littlest of things
to thrill in the experience
of the wilderness or a backyard

romp, responding to children
with a patience and tenderness
yet reacting to a threat

with all the ferociousness
to make anyone quiver
protecting the home with a commanding

bark with a unique ability to heal
when someone is sick
listening when they are sad

and offering friendship
to keep humans from getting too lonely
better than any antidote

or prescription a doctor can offer.
Dogs have been taken to prisons
to humanize the gangsters

and to old folks homes to comfort
the dying, again with that unconditional
love that transcends age, race, and economic

status in a world gone mad
the dog has the power to live on its own
or run in packs but is quite content

to spend his time in the company of humans
susceptible to their whims and fantasies
loyal, faithful and strong.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Death Tears the Curtain

I sat with you through your last days
the periods of quiet sleep
along with lucid dreams
and furtive glances around the room

trying to see someone who wasn’t there
or at least no one I could see
but somewhere in the vigil
the curtain ripped

and I saw who you were pointing to
my own dreams bordering on the edge
while we talked of so many things
in the quiet of the night, then a last breath

and you were gone, except our link was never broken
I still smell your scent and feel your touch
you wander through my dreams a familiar
sight, I can hear the sound of angel’s wings

feel the flutter of their power
to lift me up when I fall
or to get things just out of reach
but most of all I feel your love

a quiet presence available
to me throughout the day or night
because while I sat at your bedside
the curtain tore and I never mended it.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Papooses on Display



Microsoft Paint

A display of papooses
assembled in random order
eight little babies

wrapped in ancestral designs
arranged for everyone to see.
Some with jet black hair
others a dusty sand

their faces posed
like little pearls
in the jewelry store
perfect ovals

all about the same size
snuggled and warm
in their family heirloom.

Coos and smiles then soft cries
give way to sleep
as each nods off

safe in the tribal customs
of the annual Pow Wow.
Next year they will be walking

eagle eyes needed to keep them safe
unlike today when they are contained
in their hand beaded cradles

presented on the bear rugs
for all to see, these babies...
the proud future of the tribe.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Polar Bear

the polar bear
blending in
until the time is right
quick movements
the job is done
food for the family
then into a walking
never withdrawing from the hunt
always ready
for the next opportunity to eat
seals, fishes, plant mosses and garbage
an opportunistic feeder
who will do whatever is needed
for the family to survive
stalking real and imaginary prey
keeping cubs safe
sacrificing own desires
on the arctic snow...
the polar bear.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


I found a Christ child carved in wood
a simple shape of a blond infant
reaching up to the stars
a delicate painting in white and pink
telling the lie to make me think
Jesus was a blond blue eyed boy
delicate and vulnerable
a true child of the god above
not like the dark brown heathens
of the New Mexico clay
where the artifact was found
packed among the personal belongings
of a Spanish nun,
who sacrificed her life
in the quiet evenings when loneliness
created this image of a baby boy
who would never breathe life
the offspring of a virgin mother
committed to god like her,
suffering for his name in a forsaken
land of desert and sun
among the ruddy skin people
who worshiped the spirits
roaming the mesas
along the Rio Grande.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Lava Fields

A black ooze solidifies
still shaped
like its liquid counterpart
a lava crust over a still fertile soil
after thirty years of zero growth
blades of grass break through.

The first trees like corkscrews
twisted and hard seek nutrients and sun
after one hundred years
a forest green and robust

the crumbled pieces of
obsidian and pumice
are perfect for a new generation
of growth

unless the ground rumbles
and lava overflows
hot and fluid
down the mountainside
into the lake

bringing silence...
nature's tomb
encased for another
hundred years.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Love Song in Mexico

He was barely four feet tall
with dark skin and a broken tooth

wore a faded cotton top
and tattered 501 jeans

his straw sombrero
sat awkwardly on his head

he walked in the restaurant
carrying an old guitar

looking around
to find the right spot

to sing his love song
he filled the room with his baritone

the pure voice swelled from deep in his soul
women dabbed their eyes and the men

reached into their pockets
to get the boy

five dollars then ten
to sing the song again.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Taking the Dog for a Walk

Bring a bag, I am told,
to pick up the dog’s droppings.

Carry it home to dispose of it
whenever I take him out for a walk.

Train him instead, is my adage.
Make sure he goes out in back

to dump his heavy load
before he goes out on the road.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Couch Potato Hero

It easy to know the right thing to do
while watching disasters on T.V.

"I would have stopped the terrorist
from flying those planes
into the towers if I was on board."

"I would have been one of the first responders
running into the burning building after the explosion."

"I would use my bare hands
to locate survivors after the earthquake."

"I can be counted on to do the right thing
in every emergency."

"I believe in honor, obligation and duty

not like that guy whose time in Iraq,
left him broken, he saw too much death

got separated from his soul
killing the enemy is no longer his number one priority."

"Why are they taking him away in handcuffs?"

"It was his duty to protect the American people."

"Yesterday I jumped into the ocean
to save a young swimmer...

today our bodies
washed up on the sand...

being a hero is a lot harder
than I thought it would be. "

Friday, January 20, 2012

Run Away

Fight or flight
hardwired in our DNA
survival of the fittest
or the fastest

she was seven years old
at first glance, a little child
but like a pet who learned to run
when the gates were open she had to get away
even though nothing was chasing her

scaling a fence was a simple act
slipping through a small space
between two buildings
taking off along the roadway
hiding under bushes or in the shadows

she would run away
like the gingerbread man

everyone else trailed behind
the experts decided
she was mentally ill

but when I think of her
I wonder if maybe she was the only sane
one in a world of conformists

she must be an adult today
I wonder where she is

in a padded cell
or did she finally get away?

Thursday, January 19, 2012


A sweet treat after a meal
each spoonful attaches to the thighs
and hangs on long after
the dessert is gone.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Mud Monster

I have a set of dream cards,
with art work drawn from Jungian archetypes
and every so often when I am stuck in a problem,
immobilized and uninspired, I see the mud monster
and know I must get myself free.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Living to be 100

Carmen wants to live to be 100
the trick, she said is to be healthy

alert and mobile
otherwise cut the cord

no need to hang around
as a burden on the system

or her family
sucking up all the medical

resources and social security
that must be available for others

who paid into the system
but how do you know it is time

to let go?
Articles in the newspaper

highlighted three centenarians
one rode a balloon, another told her story

the third one had a party but all are still waiting to die.
I wondered why they bothered

and why would we celebrate elders
who don’t know when it was time to leave

did they stay because they had important
work to do and did they think

they had an obligation
to live as long as they could?

I looked in Carmen's eyes
and wondered what she could possibly do

for thirty more years to make it worth
her while other than working out at Gold’s Gym,

having lunch with her friends,
or traveling to Mexico one more time.

I’ve taken up painting since my retirement
and as much as I enjoy it as a pastime

I can’t imagine doing it for thirty more years.
Will I eventually be good enough

to become famous or at least decent
enough to sell my work

or will I become like a hoarder
buried in canvas

from the floor to the ceiling
waiting for the latter part of my life

to have meaning?
If I look at things I’d like to do

I can make a list a mile long
but when I circle the ones

that have purpose greater
than my own amusement

my best days are gone
I’m grateful I haven’t squandered

the time I've lived so far
but ponder as I repair what is broken

make choices to minimize
my burden for the future

how can I bring joy and happiness
to those I love

and make a difference
if I live to be one hundred?

Monday, January 16, 2012


New faces call out for democracy
from those who have lived in a theocracy

they’ve been managed by dictators for centuries.
Can there be infallible leaders in an ever changing

world? Can a democracy thrive
in a religion centered environment?

Whose laws govern?
Those written by people or handed down from god?

Can democracy live without free will?
When a traditional order is dismantled

what organization reassembles the chaos?
Maybe we can learn something from their effort.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Skin Tones

The blush of an adolescent girl
so different than the graying
quality of an old woman
differences acquired over time

the sun weathered farmer
similar to the crop worker
from across the border.
Sometimes matching

the dark purple hues
of the desert dwellers
and former slaves
black against the translucent tones

of people who live among the ice floes
with aquamarine eyes and platinum hair
sun burnt when left unprotected
wrinkled a thousand times

while the red heads freckle
instead of tan in contrast
to the olive color browns
of those who live along the Mediterranean.

Everyone becomes alabaster and ashen
when deceased but for those
who sustain the flow of blood,
earth colors of terra cotta and rose.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Opposites Attract

Two magnets
facing each other

with opposite poles
pushing each other away
then a flip

and they become

kind of like love
attached for life.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Cats in the House

After everyone has gone to sleep
cats begin their nocturnal wanderings
looking for critters hidden in the walls
those sneaking out to pilfer any food

left about
these fastidious creatures
are there to catch all intruders
sometimes leaving carcasses as evidence.

The soft pads on their paws make it easy
for them to walk about,
sneaking up on the unsuspected.

Their flexible bodies make them suitable
for creeping into the small spaces near the kitchen sink
and occasionally making things rattle or fall.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Dream Catcher

Dreams sometimes come unexpected
like when I touch a piece of sculpture
and long to be the artist,
watching a family play together
and wanting that same happiness,
reading about distant lands
and seeing myself on those streets.

Dreams come and go
some fulfilled right away
others delayed until later
leaving an ache in my heart
until they are satisfied.

I’ve been told that we
are created with a blueprint
of who we are and those longings are imprints
of the future we are meant to live.
Our talents are gifts from god
as part of his plan.

Yesterday I made a dream catcher
woven from sinew
decorated with leather and feathers

I hung it above my bed
to catch those dreams that inspire me
ensnare the ones that frighten me

so my waking hours
are filled with productive work
not crippled with fear and doubt
so I can live out
what my life is suppose to be.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

California, Here We Come

My dad loved his Ford Truck
and by default, the Ford station wagon
he traded for when we moved to California.

A simple journey for some,
more difficult for a family of ten.
All the kids were under twelve years old
packed like sardines in a can.

Two things worried my dad on the trip:
did we have enough water to get through
the desert and were the station wagon and trailer
too heavy to get us over the mountains?

I remember sitting in the shade of the wagon
along route 66, my brothers and sisters
played in the sand while we waited for the engine
to cool. The sun was hot while we looked for scorpions

and lizards under the rocks. We got back on the road
after five o’clock to face the second hazard of our journey,
crossing the San Bernardino mountains at a slower
than average speed. My mother made us

say the rosary, my dad's face broke out in sweat
the slight drizzle cooled the engine but the car
up ahead slid off that two lane highway.

My dad pulled over to help
but the truckers told him they could handle it
and advised him to get back to his family
while the traffic behind him had slowed
so he could get over the mountain at a safe speed.

We made it safely to California the memory
of the trip a vague recollection. Today’s mountain
driving is not as difficult because the roads and cars
are improved but I can remember the courage

it took my dad to bring his family
looking for prosperity
risking everything, reaching for a bigger dream
all my life I've dwelled in that reality.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


My older brother was a sleepwalker
crawled out of bed while everyone
was sleeping

then out the door
to play in the cool sand
then back to bed

we lived in the country on a dirt road
no worry about traffic
or strangers

no one would know about his habit
except one night I followed him out
and watched him from the shadows.

When we moved to the suburbs
he was too busy to roam
but my little brother took over

except the younger one slept on the top bunk
each night I could hear a thump
then see him walk out the back door

the dog followed close behind
to protect him
from wandering away.

My sons didn’t sleep walk
as far as I know
but it seems my grandson

is a night wanderer
playing his games
exploring those spaces

where he plays
in the day content and busy
but at night, asleep.

What do the three
have in common?
They are all boys

pressures too I guess, the oldest
from being the first born

the other two
from being
the youngest

or maybe they just fall into a deep sleep
but have hours of play left over from the day
and refuse to let darkness confine them.

Monday, January 9, 2012


Sister, we are different from each other
but somehow we’re the same

yet, one is not a roadmap to the other
something in our DNA makes us compete

tearing the other down
or trying to outshine.

Some sisters blend
can’t tell one from the other
but not us, we fight

sharp cat scratches and bites
petty gossip and taking sides.

Some think there should
be peace between sisters

but what I know
is you can kiss me on the cheek
but when I turn around

I’ll have a knife, six inches deep
between my shoulder blades

without a second thought
I'll do the same to you.

If a man is in the room
he will become dizzy with our scent

like two spiders on the web
we'll face off once again.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Life: Alternative to Death

If the air still fills your lungs
and your heart beats steadily
then you are not dead and as a result
you must choose life instead.

Take out a paper and make a list
of the things to do while your breathe,
letters to write, phone calls to make,
places to visit and wonders to see.

All of us will die eventually,
but that truth is understood

so if we are not dead
our challenge is to live.

Fall in love again, make someone laugh,
give a helping hand but don’t let them
drag you down. If they can’t live, let them go.

Your challenge is to accept each day
take a deep breath and truly live.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A Place To Exercise

When I was young exercise was not a question
because every day was filled with lots of activity
running from here to there, chasing my siblings everywhere

walking to school, riding the bike to the store
washing the clothes and all those other chores.

As a mother of two the same held true
tending and fussing after their needs
taking them camping, going for long bike rides
days buzzed past everything went fast.

When I returned to get my degree I walked a mile
to save parking fees, ran up to the seventh floor
because the elevator was too slow.

At work there was recess duty and field trips
coaching the baseball and basketball teams
but after a simple accident and knee injury
I slowed down oh so subtly

with the new pool there were frequent laps
pool parties and house cleaning
even long bike rides along the river bed
all the way to the beach

but a new interest took me inside the walls
where hours became minutes working on video
from video to computer screens

days passed with very little movement
my belly became protruded and round
my knee ached more from the inactivity

then there was the Master’s degree
so many papers to write
a curriculum position in the district office

hunched over grant deadlines
five pounds, then ten, fifty and more
arthritis set in and pain a constant companion

long walks became impossible
even a bike ride was not a pleasant affair
the big screen TV with cable channels

filled the time with fantasy adventures
and I lived quite happy in the altered reality
diets didn’t seem to work anymore

as pleasure became fewer
food was the alternative
but today, the first weekend after the new year

I have resolved to turn that around
we went out and bought a therapeutic spa
to provide warm water to exercise in

with scientifically placed jets
to massage the sore spots
it will be delivered on Monday

and hopefully the purchase
can help turn back the clock
to exercise without the pull of gravity.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Wishes for Sleeping Beauty

When she was born
all the fairies were invited
offering her gifts of beauty
spirituality, grace, dance, song
and the ability to play any musical instrument.

All would have been lost as a teen
with the curse from the uninvited guest
who asserted that when the princess turned sixteen
she would prick her finger and sleep forever.

The last fairy saved the day
by overriding the curse and restricting
the sleep to one hundred years

when a kiss from a prince
could awaken the princess.
All of these things happened as planned

but if ever there was a plan
for a woman to become an object for adoration
the bequests from the fairies were not the best

their only purpose
was to make her a novelty
to be set upon a shelf and admired.

She would have been immersed
in a different kind of sleep
immobilized on a pedestal

never touched or fully expressed,
an ethereal projection of heaven
strumming on a harp day after day.

What did she dream in that hundred year sleep?
Did she run through the woods, climb mountains,
dig in the dirt, and laugh out loud?

I think if I had written her story
they would have blessed her with strength, cunning, power
and an intelligence to create beyond what others imagined.
She would have compassion and the ability to act
when others quivered,

to love freely,
give generously, bring glory and honor
to all she encountered
leaving the worship and adoration
for later after she lived a full life of action.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Piles of Dirt and Tonka Trucks

There was always an area cleared of grass
where we could play with our Tonka Trucks
large yellow trucks with big black wheels
dump trucks, bull dozer and back hoe.

Joe always got the back hoe
it had the most moving parts
and because he was the oldest he had first choice.

I liked the dump truck, it allowed me to haul
dirt from this pile to that one, always interacting
with the other trucks. Chuck liked the bull dozer
and Bob, by default, got the broken pick-up truck.

We played out there for hours
creating a playground from mud and sticks
building a hillside for a housing track.

The younger brothers kicked the ball
while my sisters played dolls inside.
I preferred the big boys’ toys.

Today the trucks are made of plastic
not as durable as the originals
teaches the kids hard work is too hard
never adequately getting the job done.

Rubber balls have also been downgraded
wobble before their first bounce
and all the dolls are preadolescent sex objects.

Tonka trucks gave way to Angry Birds
indoor play with kids hunched over electronic screens
not building things but simulated war play.

Life changes and we change with it
what is important shows up in our play
decisions made without realizing those choices
will develop skills to create a future we chose.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Riding On A Train

Rumble of the train
traveling at high speed
above the railroad tracks
rocked me back and forth
made me unaware
that what followed
was a dream.
A big man, with long dark hair
covered with a woolen cap
wore a navy coat
fell on top of me, ice cold
took his last breath
an hour ago
and while I struggled for air
tried to push him off
he lay like a pile of wet clothes
heavy and oh so dead.
I started to sweat
panic increased my heartbeat
I pushed him hard
then found myself sitting
upright in bed
“It is only a dream,” I said
and fell back to sleep
where I followed my aunt behind
a rolling hill where she
found her husband
and whispered secrets for hours
none of this worried me
except he died last year.
I looked around and found a path
leading down the hill
to the entrance of a stone church
I could hear the monks chanting within
their heavenly sounds vibrating
from the ground
then I was back on the train
deserted except for me
staring at my reflection
when a young man
walked in wearing
an old army jacket
blood stains on his helmet
he shuffled in and sat
right beside me
I woke up again
untangled the sheets
fluffed the pillow
spread out the blanket
then was on the train again.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Runway Barbie

On the television screen
fourteen fashion designers
competed for the chance
to be the winner of a runway show

have their design selected
for a limited edition Barbie.

All this for a blond, plastic icon,
to perpetuate love for the ultra rich
who have everything
our hearts desire.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Huntington Beach On New Year’s Day

The California sun
embraces everyone the same
tempting visitors
from Colorado to New York
in time to see the Rose Parade
then to the beach to spend the day
eating in outdoor restaurants
milling with locals
and out of town visitors
content to be alive
shoulder to shoulder
with other survivors
from the year before
anticipating many new adventures
contemplating resolutions
taking a sip of beer
savoring the taste of onions
on a hamburger
wiping noses
still dripping from yesterday’s
cold, whispering,” I love you”,
to companions
fortifying each other
for the New Year.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

First Day Of The Year

On the first day of the year I woke up by 5:00
the fog outside so thick I couldn’t see

across the street
husband sleeping soundly in bed

dog climbed in when I got out.
Finished the last of Prime Suspect,

a movie I fell asleep on the night before,
then SNL with Jimmy Fallon

all reruns then got up to play angry birds.
The noise woke my husband and the dog.

We fixed cinnamon bun waffles,
they were awful,

officially the worst meal of the year
things better improve or all we fear,

of the world coming to an end, may come true.
We’ll write our new year’s resolutions

go to a movie, have steak on the grill
fall into routines established year’s before

maybe this is the year to travel to Africa
publish that book and sell my art.

All is possible in the wee hours
on the first day of the new year.