Thursday, May 31, 2012


Several years ago, a father and son
argued about his use of the family car
both were high school drop outs,
didn’t read much, drank too much beer
so when it came to an argument
they had plenty to say…
but very few words with which to say it.

“Get away from the f…ing car.”

“F… you. I’ll use it if I want to.”

“Yeah? Well f… you.”

“F… you.”

“Who the f…. do you think you are?”


News from the old neighborhood reminded
me of an actual argument between a father and son
who lived across the street. The boy would be 46 
by now... probably has a son of his own... hopefully he
has increased his vocabulary. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tangled Sheets

Like a fly caught in a web
waiting for the spider
to wrap me in a gossamer
sarcophagus - no way out.
Tangled sheets and sleep
keep me bound beyond the alarm.

The day awaits
yet sleep keeps my eyelids
closed while I slip away
dreams return
steady breathing
the only clue
I'm still alive. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In Memory Of Those Who Served

WWI my grandfather was too young
by WWII he was too old but his sons had to go
four enlisted at the same time. Grandpa 
had to deal with the farm on his own until 
his older sons returned then two middle ones 
left to fight in the Korean conflict. 

Grandma became ill with
so many boys in foreign lands
she died when the two came home
the youngest one never had to go
he developed asthma.
Fortunately there were no wars
for the girls to worry about
through they dated plenty of servicemen
when they moved to California.

In my generation an older brother served
during the Vietnam conflict
met my husband just before he joined
the navy. He had two brothers
who had returned from overseas
before the fighting escalated.

When my sons were of age
one wanted to enlist
it was the only time I got angry with him
didn’t want him offering his life
for an oil conflict created

by the Bush president.

Soldiers who served during Desert Storm
came back with nerve damage
and had deformed children
from chemical warfare
almost undetected except for the symptoms
from many of those who enlisted. 

My grandchildren were babies
when the towers fell
their lives under the umbrella of terrorism.

They live at a time when girls 
are fighting to get into battle
it is no longer an all male war.

Military strength ensures our freedom
but in watching movies from Rome
to the present, reading about
unrest from the Congo to Syria
it seems there is something about
weapons that encourages war
but who will be the first to put down
their  arms and declare peace?

This is in memory of all who served.

Monday, May 28, 2012

History of Cars

The new motorized carriage
went bumpity bump
instead of the
clipity clop

then the put-put-put
of a steam

creating chaos
down a dusty street
frightening horses
eliciting anger
and amazement
then desire.
Henry Ford
and his assembly line
created mass production
of the automobile
the venture was a first

no more vet bills

or feeding costs
25 cents for a gallon of gas

roads went from paths
to freeways
tires from hard rubber
to air filled
all for an easier ride
aero dynamic and streamlined
adorned with chrome

and two toned paint
moving from utility
to personality.
America’s love affair
with the automobile

spread across the western nations
Ford, Chevy, Chrysler, Buick
elicit memory of that new car smell
glistening in the driveway.
A mark of adolescence
after the war, 

the boy might be good looking
but what about his car?

The heyday of the auto
lost with the population boom
gas economy became the norm
influx of the foreign import
today the battery operated
gains momentum
most have become throw away

lease it for two years
then replace it.
Take a visit to the car museum
and see the evolution
from curious toy
to status symbol
Coupe de Ville
to Rolls Royce,
Grease Lightning
and Batmobile.  

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pencils, Rubber Balls and Tricycles

Pencils, rubber balls and tricycles
what do these three have in common?
Each of them can be found on
any school playground.

When I went to school long ago
after the post war boom 
glory and jobs were plenty with lots of ideas 
we were proud to be American.

Pencils were a sign of a free education
everyone was learning to read and write
so much writing that every child
had a callus on the middle finger

and every number 2 pencil
could be sharpened right down to the nub
writing notes, and essays and reports
and on special occasions used a fountain pen.

Rubber Balls lasted forever, playing
four square, kickball, and dodge ball
that dark red ball could bounce so high
easy to catch and toss to the sky.

money was scarce so we were careful
never letting the ball go over the fence
making sure we got it down from the roof
and put it away safely for the next day.

Tricycles on the kindergarten playground
were easily pumped by a child
who went round and round, sturdy enough 
for a second one to ride on the step in back

Children followed the white paintetrail 
waited in line, took turns
a standard toy in so many homes
the first step before getting a bike.

These were standard and trusted equipment at schools
but when a global economy transferred
manufacturing rights to countries overseas
the quality of each of these items diminished

becoming a metaphor for greater changes to arrive
pencils from China are now made of balsa wood
the point always breaking needing to be sharpened
and disappears before the end of the week.

rubber balls on the other hand
are made with less rubber only lasting
a few weeks before losing their shape
not good for bouncing and deflates too soon.

tricycles are facades of the real thing
they look the same but the psychomotor
element of muscle to machine are inaccurate
and kids can't really ride them anymore.  

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Cowboy Cop

The bull, large and lumbering,
crossed the freeway
early Saturday morning.
Traffic was sparse

when a call came into the police station
describing the bull on the loose
no trouble yet, but those sharp horns
and tremendous strength, did not need

a china shop to unleash it’s damage.
Several police cars gathered with lights flashing
sirens mute, a resident,
out to get the newspaper,

thought a parade was coming
when she heard the loud speaker,
“Get inside, quick!”
Next a whomp, whomp, whomp!

A large black bull was galloping into her yard.
She stepped inside, locked the door and watched
from her large picture window, then to her backyard
peered from the sliding glass door.

A motorcycle cop, drove onto the grass
twirling a rope just above his head
steady and slow, one hand on the gas
he came in close and guided that bull,

like an expert out on the open range,
through the gate into a truck
"No injuries, no foul,

all in a day’s work," the cop said 
then headed to Winchell’s to meet his pals. 

Friday, May 25, 2012

Old Folks

One day I looked around
and realized most of the people I associated with
were children and young teachers.

I was the wizen one funny, available, experienced
and like little birds, with their mouths wide open,
they gathered round for my words of wisdom
but when I left work I knew I would 
have to make friends with the old ones. 

I tried it for awhile, some tried to hang 
on to their youth pretending nothing had changed 
bragging about how age passed them over, 
the only one they fooled was themselves. 

Too bored to dwell in that conversation for long, 
found others who traveled the world, 
boasted about their many adventures
filled the space with days long ago only slightly
less interesting than the talking heads on T.V.
no chance to change the channel
shooting them was not an option
walking away was the only solution
choosing interesting programs on T.V.
painting, and writing poetry instead.

Lately I’ve been working
with people of no discernible age
completing projects with a deadline
whether it is preparation for an art show
or planting a garden to harvest
the merging of people from every age group
is far more inspiring that bragging sessions
where one person monopolizes the conversation
with their life exploits, however exaggerated
dealing with grief and the loss of a loved ones
or complaining about pain in their body
leaving me feeling sad and helpless.

I'd rather have humorous conversations with young children
whose perceptions of  life are somewhat distorted.
Years ago 
I met an eight years old girl,
who wanted to figure out the boys in her life.
I explained that boys are easy to understand
if she looked around the playground.

After our tour I asked her what she saw.
She said, “Boys seem to play games of chase
and like anything with a ball and a score.”
I assured her she was correct
and if she remembered those facts
boys were easy to figure out.
I met her as an adult
she recalled our conversation
saying those conclusions 
served her throughout her lifetime.

If only I can figure out the mystery of aging,
new terrain for so many,
Some saw their parents die young
others saw them grow old
still each of us must determine 
which route is best for us
downsizing or moving the family
 in together
sending grandma to a nursing home
or using a pillow to sit on her face
this whole business needs thinking over
and new models in place before the whole human race
tries to squeeze on to this earth and discovers
we can't all live here together.

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Forgotten his name
she called him Ruby
thought he was a jewel
but that quickly changed

not much of a gem
in dealing with life
he professed his love
then left when
she fell for him

their rhythms all wrong
a discordant sound

still hates him
for doing her wrong
now looking for love
among other precious stones:
emerald, diamond and sapphire.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Children live in a virtual world,
information at their fingertips
anything they want to learn is available
with free tutorials. No shelves lined with books
or hours of uninterrupted time
filled with fantasy and pretending. 
No paper dolls set in their own dramas
of mystery and vanity. No construction sites
with roadways and Tonka trucks. No good guys
and bad guys chasing each other around
the yard, through the house and down the street
with all the neighborhood kids involved 
However convenient it is to click on a screen
with instant messaging and tweeting
something is lost …
an imaginative life in the realm
of make-believe.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Death Is Not Silent

People pass, breathe their last,
they seem to be gone
but memory carries weight and substance
a presence felt just beyond
the curtain that separates death from life.
They seep into our dreams
taking walks along a stream
meet the new babies and point out
how others have grown

offer comfort when you are in pain
giving answers in times of doubt,
words of wisdom remembered
and quoted providing insight

to every situation.
Death is not silent
if your mind is open 
to you let them in. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Leave The Light On

Traveling the highway late at night
lights glow across the road
traffic signals, green, yellow, red

emergency sirens
scream past with flashing crimson

blinks yellow warns of pot hole
toward the left shoulder
an irregular scarlet at the intersection ahead

ribbons of headlights weave
through the asphalt

tail lights mark the road
for me to follow

Porch light on
after midnight
welcome home

turn off lights
and go to bed.  

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Good News In The Morning Paper

Colin Powell quoted the words
of a preacher from his youth,
“Be kind, it takes little effort on your part
yet could make all the difference to the people
in your life.” 
Respect for others shows 
respect for yourself. 
“Love Your Neighbor As Yourself.” Matthew 23:39
Kevin Costner was asked about 
his relationship to Whitney Houston 
he spoke of a friendship 
and how he would call up radio stations 

when the D.J. was tearing her apart on the air. 
He asked them to make it a balanced report 
remembering the good things she had done
especially the legacy of music she left for generations 
Brothers, if you have a message of encouragement 
for the people, please speak.
A journalist from an Indian tribe 
commented about the Pine Ridge Special 
about Poverty and Violence on the reservation.
Whatever guilt or sympathy it generated among 
the white folks, the teenagers in the tribe 

were offended and countered with a video 
of their own titled: More That That…
showing students from the school with 
graffiti written on their skin 

with words like: humility, self-respect 
intelligent, wisdom, educated, future 

indicating they were more than the 20/20 
report suggested. Meet them face to face 
to discover the truth 
rather than through the facades 
created from headline news
“Do your best to present yourself to God
as one approved, a worker who has no need

to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” 
2 Timothy 2:15

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Foster Child

Frail like a leaf during a hurricane
ripped from a tree
swept across town

no roots to tie her down
only a genetic link to her birth
she might be found 
by an artist
incorporated into a collage

or pressed between pages
sealed in resin with beauty intact

Snow White, after she bit the apple,
left to sleep until true love found her

or perhaps like 
Cinderella in her fairytale
used and abused until a prince found her

cut from her foundation at an early age
distrustful and fearful

hording for future misfortune
isolated but self-sufficient
overcoming what life has to offer

trusting in a greater power
daring to believe
there is a place
to call home.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Sea Side

Standing on the beach
watching blue
purple hues press
against ricotta white

ebb and flow of foam
slows my heart beat
deep breaths quiet my brain
salt, the briny smell

along the Pacific coastline
sunset filters 

through the L.A. smog

waves pound the land
skin moist with evening mist
sea gulls and tourist
almost gone
a few couples walking

hand in hand

sky ablaze with fiery 
oranges, searing reds,
cooling to indigo 
with the coming night,

fire pits burning in the sand 
quiet descends 

on this paradise 

every day is home
and where I want to be

close to nature
listening to the melody

of the sea. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Fluttering in the spring breeze
heart beats too fast
arms tired
took effort to stay afloat
on air currents
so hard against the pull
of gravity

yet, learning to fly was easy
in the scheme of things
had a to-do list
with items checked
everything went as planned

until momentum lost
a broken wing, broken eggs
wandering in strange terrain
family, friends and future misplaced

best efforts no longer made a difference
success however fleeting
floated beyond
curled up under freeway overpass
no footpath to lead home again
wandered near city hall

cold days brought compassion,
a cup of coffee,
bills instead of change
handed or tossed
counted all the same
street lights flickered
nighttime came too soon

huddled near the dumpster
under a plastic bag
waited for the sun to shine again
nothing left to give
drifted off to sleep.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

International Art

Visiting the local museum I see
Chinese, Indian, Italian, French
African, Native American, and German art

Some patterns are intricate
sewn with silk, carved in ivory, an array of color
in every hue, while others are more primitive
cuts of wood with straw attached

drums of trees and animal hides
no violins or blowing reeds
no pianos or organ keys
mathematics seems to be the key
that divides and multiplies

finer tools make more sophisticated
and complicated art
a weaver’s loom, a bronze statue,
marble cut with the finest detail
brings a richness for the eye to see. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Born to an Arab father
and American mother
on the day the tower’s fell
never near the explosions
but a storm
wrecked havoc
in his brain
communications thwarted
flapping and screaming                                                                                                

in an effort to be understood

upset by human touch

rituals and order
were paramount
for peace in his world
autism determined
his only affliction.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mirrors Matter

The kaleidoscope doesn’t work
without the mirrors.
intricate to the design
where reflection, upon reflection
takes slivers of colored glass
and shimmers back
multifaceted stars. 

Contrasting colors
juxtaposed to elicited
oohs and aahs from the viewer
who twists the cylinder
in order to discover
multiple patterns
hidden in the antique
artifact grandmother
carried from the south of France

no memories of bombs bursting
or hiding in the basements
angry voices while
ransacking winter stores

daring not to move lest she be found
beneath the rafters 
in the underground room

extra sweet the kaleidoscope
in the sunshine again
with symmetrical patterns to delight
children and grandchildren
for another generation.   

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Momma’s Stories

My childhood was filled with stories
my momma told
those from the gospel
mixed with the tales 

from her childhood

mysterious and spooky
those fragile veils that separated
reality from fantasy, removed,
with the stories she told.

My waking hours traced

those fragile boundaries
and my dreams late at night
filtered back and forth 
at a veracious rate
mixing truth and imagination

solving daylight problems
with mystical tales
all drawn from the stories
my momma used to tell.  

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Tax It All

If you make it they will tax it
sell it - tax it
publish it - tax it
work for it - tax it.

Their job, like the prostitute
is as old as time. 

“What is yours is mine,”
goes their famous line.

“Give unto Cesar what is Cesar’s,”
even Jesus didn’t dispute
the place of the tax collector
in a civilization.

Skim off the top
take wealth automatically
put it into government pockets
to support the politicians,

city workers, the educators
the firemen, police officers
and  local street sweepers.

Churches on the other hand
demand a free-will tithe
to support the cathedrals,
chalices and vestments,
alms for the poor and sick

not to mention fancy cars
conferences, body guards
and parish jobs for their families. 

The fruit of your labor
divided between them
while the freeloaders take
before you spend it. 

Friday, May 11, 2012

… then she Passed

After years together
her face is so familiar
this woman,
your mother.
You know 
her mouth wrinkles
when she smiles ,
the sound of her voice
when she laughs,
the lines that mark
her face when she frowns.
Those dark brown eyes
with golden flecks
have watched you
for a lifetime
then one day
her memory fades
facts become jumbled
you are not recognized.
Nothing but a stranger
yet you must care for
her in her old age
while you grieve

for the woman
you once knew.
Guilty for all those
impatient thoughts
and doubts about her love.
Hours spent trying not to be like her
yet with age, you resemble her
more than ever
but she doesn’t know you.
Days go by,
weeks and months,
you get busy with your own life
satisfied her body is being cared for
and whatever happiness 
her caretakers offer.
You stop by to see her as often as you can
she sees a friendly face 

but you are a stranger
by her account.
Then one day she

is gone
resting in the quite solitude
of death
and you miss her so.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Words exploded in anger
rapid like machine gun fire
quick succession in order to hurt
another person with historical dirt

An apology hardly helps to heal
the mortal wound of a former friend
drenched in the toxic acid of anger
over a simple misunderstanding

War makes less sense than a disagreement
between friends, at least the two know each other,
a reason to love or hate each other.
Hopefully the friends can clear the air and reconcile
while strangers in a foreign land demand their children
rise up to seek revenge.  

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

The Congo

He heard the call
to give back after all these years
of taking…

After years of marriage
to an unhappy woman with a high
whining voice he knew the pain
of the imprisoned

Divorce was the key to his freedom
he bumbled around looking for love
and realized service to others was his calling

He decided to give witness to the jailed
offering the good news of the gospel
bringing hope of a better life in heaven

He sought adventure and upped the ante
traveling to the Congo in Africa -

He entered unfamiliar places 
and threw down 
the gauntlet of salvation to the caged.

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Power of Speech

The ability to speak can sway masses.
The power of language to formulate ideas,
tell stories, plead for mercy or offer words of love
is found in every culture here on earth.

Animals can be calmed by the sound of a human voice
linked to music it can lull babies to sleep.
More than gutturals utterances
speech is made of words

with specific meanings, funny or absurd,
whose purpose is to communicate
and cross the bridge between two beings
whether whispered or shouted out loud

causing and action to happen
or a heart to melt. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Santa Ana Train Station

In the dark recesses of the terminal
we waited for shadows to emerge
letting light fall on a face we recognized.
Grandpa carried a suitcase and a brown paper bag

his stay lasted two weeks 
then he headed back to San Diego.

When my sons were teens
we left the car in the parking lot
took off on our bikes for a 100 mile
trek. Stopped short and caught
the train in Del Mar, Rode back to the station
never taking that long bike trip again.

Wanted adventure outside the norm
boarded the train to Santa Barbra
celebrated our twenty-sixth anniversary
staying along the coast, taking the bus
to visit the mission and walking along the hills
eating at the Thai restaurant just past the zoo.  
One summer we planned a fieldtrip with the grand kids
caught the train in Santa Ana
rode along the back roads from here to L.A.
past storage yards and alley ways

saw overgrown paths with lots of bright graffiti
boldly painted on block wall fences and riverbeds.

Invited one son and his family
along the familiar route to L.A.
bumped along the railroad tracks
Santa Ana to Union Station then walked to Olvera Street.
Ate Mexican food amidst a fiesta to celebrate birthdays
but lost patience going home because of a train delay.

Plans are made to go again take the other son
and his family. Traveling along the familiar route
through the aging neighborhoods.
We’ve got to do it before we’re too old
travel the distance on our favorite ride.
aboard the Amtrak's famous railroad. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fairies In The Garden

Fairies flitting from flower to flower
honeysuckle and jasmine
aromas from spring and early summer
bottled in golden flasks of amber glass

placed in caves deep underground
total darkness until
the time
wind chill and frost bring despair
the fairies spill the vessels across the floor

bringing hope to the frozen north
with a promise of springtime and gardens
awash in blooms where fairies flit from flower to flower
in the mysterious cycle of life

available in gardens everywhere. 

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Game My Grandpa Played

He had twelve children
and his children had ten or more
he had over one hundred grandchildren
and each, when they were babies,
played his game of Pon Pon.

He wrapped his arm around the infant
sitting on his lap then he would
take one hand with an outstretched finger
and put it into the opposing palm and sing
pon, pon cabe son

then he would lift the hand 
touch the forehead
then lift it and touch it again

sas cabecita
sas cabeson.

The words are how I remember them
my mom said they meant:
put, put in your hand
then hit your head
and hit it again.

Those who know Spanish
say I might have the words wrong
but all the same, I remember the game fondly,
recalling his tobacco smell and smooth hands

once a farmer but after his wife's death
stopped doing manual labor
waiting for his own life to end
but he lived until he was 99

playing that child’s game
with great grandchildren 
and great, great grandchildren.

There is little I remember about him
although his daughters feared him
and his sons treated him with respect.
A medium sized man, dressed in dark gray

always wearing 

a fedora styled hat
and dress shoes
he seem to have a lot to say

to those grandkids who understood Spanish

other than the little game 

he played with the babies
in our household he never said much
because we only spoke English.

He loved to eat my mother’s cooking
his favorite, chili and beans 

with little pieces of steak
and lots of homemade tortillas.

The farmlands of his youth
were sold for several thousand dollars
supported his retirement along with checks
from social security and retirement 
from the railroads.

Imagine growing up so long ago
living a life
 full of adventures
and the only story left for your 
grandchildren to remember

is a little child’s song
with the words all wrong

pon, pon cabe son
sas cabecita
sas cabeson.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Art Found In The Newspaper

The newspaper is a great place

to find art written in the headlines -
pieces of poetry, alliterations to catch the eye
becoming the narratives within the community.

Photographs, with graphic shots of people
and places, color juxtaposed upon contrasting color
creating an abstract of a building on fire
geometric shapes of blues and oranges

A sunlight landscape with repeating patterns
the emotional fabric woven into stories
more than gossip it is a revealation 
of people etching out a living in the chaos of life.

After the paper is read use it to line
the bottom of a bird cage,
make a hat for the grandchildren
or objects of

paint in primary hues of yellow, red, and blue
place them upon the toy shelf to decorate a room
or use as masks for make-believe

fold to weave some colorful place mats

more than just the news

there is found art
in the morning paper.  

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Nadya Suleman’s Kids

Sometimes I wake at night
worrying about Nadya Suleman’s kids

fourteen mouths to feed
twenty eight hands to wipe

children who must be clothed
and held, sung to and scolded
when necessary  

while she reveals her breast
to make this month’s rent.

I could send her $100
but from what I hear she will use it

to cut her hair
leaving the important work
of her children for others to support.

Social Services say the kids are fine
not to worry she’s getting the job done
but I worry they will be put out in the street

like vermin they will scatter everywhere
hiding in sewers and abandoned buildings
with little hands begging for food.

Some say she should put her litter
up for adoption like yellow labs
valued souvenirs for the barren.

Seems there are no solutions for the problem

faced by Nadya Suleman
and all her children,
and in the quiet of the night  

I say a prayer that they will be safe
maybe there can be a telethon

so people can sponser each child
sending in monthly payments

receiving monthly letters
to make sure the job is done.