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September 2013

The Language of All Things

Impatient for the day to begin
I emerge from my dark bedroom and head outside
To hurry it along
I clutch the old pilled sweater firmly against the early day
The edges of my nightgown wipe the dew from the grey green grass
I stand rooted
The morning greets me
A pine scented soft breeze washes away yesterday
As it glides gently through the family of trees
That have been here since long before me
Tall and friendly, watchful
Their voice
An orchestra of leaves
fluttering and swaying
performing nature’s sweet melodies
A relentless chorus of large crows, caw magnificently  Read more

Mother

Have you seen your brother lately?

A question rising out of
a mind confused
so clearly came the message

Have you seen your brother lately?

So focused
these words in the midst of
her confusion
her loss
of all things present

Have you seen your brother lately?

Her purpose in life
more visible as she disappeared
inside her memories

Tortured by an inability
to reconcile
inner and outer worlds,
yet
always the shepherd
worried about her flock

from that muddled mind
like a soldiers battle cry

Have you seen your brother lately?  Read more

How Real I Used to Be: A Journey with My Mother through the Strange World of Alzheimer’s

In 2003 my mother started to lose her memory. It was subtle at first. We would walk on Avenue U and she would fail to come up with the name of an acquaintance or two. Nothing alarming. After a while her shopping list started to look like an art project, with drawings of mushrooms and strawberries next to the words milk and bananas. Soon the drawings faded away. In the supermarket she would say to me, “I’m looking for those red things with a little green piece and they come all together.” Sometimes it was obvious what she wanted; other times we left without the crackers or the American cheese.  Read more

The Word is Yes

Verbatim conversation:

“Can you play the bongos?” I asked my daughter’s friend, Skye. He grunted in reply.

“I’m sorry, what was that? I just wanted to know if you can play the bongos.” He shrugged.

“Is that a yes or no?” I asked. He smirked, shrugged and then grunted.

Desperate to get around the words that weren’t happening, I placed a set of bongos in his hands and he instantly performed one of the most impressive solos I’d ever heard. When he stopped, he grumbled, “I really can’t play.”  Read more

Word

Far off grackle
Cat bird screech
Cat pressing through weeds
Isn’t that word enough?

Raven’s call
Whip-poor-will
Toad’s scrawl
Isn’t that word enough?

Green stems
Of the onions in their
Wild rows
Cackle and bustle in the wind

River rain
Spiral green
In a hurry
To match
The unswirling ribbon of eel

And from the other world
A blue wave
Foaming surf

This is a music
Too deep to hear

Even like this
Even when you try

Poetry Is

the unusual in the usual
the nugget in the cliché
the dot on the i
the cross on the t
the picture worth a thousand words
the tree you can’t see
for the forest
the black sheep
the little red hen
the falling sky
the peach pit
the grain of mustard seed
the twenty-fourth psalm
the third line of the Rubaiyat
the forty-eighth page of
On The Road
the nth degree
the bottom line
the last laugh
the best of the best
the constellation you can name
the me in me
the you in you
the love in love
the still in
be still and know that I am
the quiet between the words  Read more

Pop Poetry

I

Cross Walk

Push button to cross Tappan Road
People push my buttons
Cross me
Just try it!

II

Money Machine

Green light flashes,
on off
on off,

Green light beckons
Come on,
come on
come ON . . .

FEED ME, FEED ME
Tease me, tease me

COME ON!

Card in
Enter pin
Transact
Choose yes
Press no
Spits out
N E X T !

Unnecessary Words

Their hands touch
across the white blanket,
words unnecessary.

The doctor says,
“It’s best not to see him like this.”
She says, “Mind your business.”

The doctor adds,
“He’s going to die soon,”
as if she didn’t know.

She holds the hands that
held hers for sixty-eight years.
His eyes open to hers.

She took him home
without interference and
unnecessary words.

Misunderstandings

When my grandson, John, was seven, he had a friend visiting who told him he was going to the libary later. John said “It’s not libary, it’s library.” Later, when my daughter wanted to know what flavor ice cream he wanted he said, “strawberry,” but then said, “Oh, I’m sorry, I mean strawbrary.”

My son runs his own business and once had an office cat, which didn’t create a problem until he hired a computer operator who was allergic to cats. His secretary said, “We’ll have to keep him outside.” The office manager replied, “But how can he operate the computer from out there?”  Read more

Out of the Mouths of Babes

“There is no conclusion; the story blooms.” — from “The Last Sunday in October” by Jean LeBlanc

We are all storytellers—you, me, all of us. At least one story waits in us all, waiting to be born, to make it free into the world, somehow, and change things or people, just a little bit. Perhaps children are the ones who know this best. I know I learned this from a child a long time ago...  Read more