To Be Needed

From Autumn Opens a Door, 2015.

To Be Needed

The building inspector walks
close to the edge of the building.
He looks up
from under the brim of the hard hat he is wearing
though this building is not a construction site
but a library been here ten years.
Stops outside my window.
Consults his clipboard
Pauses and then steps away
quick. I watch but
nothing falls off.
He moves away, head down. I get the feeling
he would very much like to find
a little something wrong
nothing too serious
but enough so that he can write up a report.

clay tile, December, 2016, 4″ x 4″.


Sought After

From Autumn Opens a Door, 2015.

Sought After

We line up in rows.
We pay attention.
We listen to the shouted instructions.
We are indifferent to everything else but
It is the point. It is the meaning.
There is nothing subtle about
this exercise class.
Inside the noise and the motion
is a core of peace. Silence of mind.
that flows from
Rough edges are smoothed.
Loose strings are untangled and eased into a neatly coiled ball.
Ripples expand outward and disappear into
You may say we are a bunch of
over-privileged suburban ladies
trying to lose weight or
but I for one
know there is much more to this exercise class
than that.

artist trading card, 2011.

I Woke Up Pessimistic This Morning; Opinion of Yourself; Manifestation

From the collection Picture Making, published 2017. The three photos served as the inspiration for the poem. For more information, look here.

As a note, I can’t figure out what I was doing with these three photos. It looks like I wrote three different poems using them. Oh dear, I wish I could remember. Anyway, this is why you will see three poems for this date. That’s all I can tell you.

I Woke Up Pessimistic This Morning

The sky
a blue-pink shell
a covering for this world
too fragile
to hold in all the straight-up ugly down here at the ground.
The ruler-drawn crack
scored across this sky
by an airplane hauling a load of people
getting an early start
and their suitcases full of
with them
they shouldn’t be going
but there is nothing to stop them.


Opinion of Yourself

The apartment building across the parking lot
dark maroon brick
undersized windows and minimal trim
Too wide for its height.
The structure is
ugly from every aspect
while remaining entirely serviceable.
Set solid in its grounds
somehow it
lurches at me all the same
with a sullen anger I did nothing to deserve.
A row of trees line the street front
facing out
straight and strong
oblivious or else practiced at ignoring
the insults flung from
behind them.
I am not. I flinch
at the malice I sense.
A light gleams out at me
in derision
from a fourth-floor window.



The sun continues
to rise
I marvel
at the capacity
of this planet to roll around the sun
and pirouette
at the same time
despite how badly
the orchestra plays
at times.


Staying Power

From the collection published in 2015, Autumn Opens a Door.

Staying Power

Drive through suburbia for twenty-five minutes
and come to understand
the meaning of

The articulated bus struggles
to pick up speed only to stop
and this is what is has to look forward to
all day long so when it starts up
I hope
for some downhills
for this bus.

Health-care workers in pastel uniforms
leave the bus and
trudge up the hill to doctors’ offices
up off there somewhere, I don’t know.
The earthmover on the two-lane road
shows such nice manners
in moving to the side to let me pass
which I do
with relief.

A squat heavy truck
paint worn and scrapes on the cab door
a large cardboard box tied down in the bed
pokes along because it can’t do anything else.
The guttural motor sounds let me know
that the load is heavy.

Look at that stunning maple tree
standing out there all alone
on the golf course
with its red leaves and just beginning to thin
at the crown.

Suburban American Gothic, mail art postcard, 2014.

Tanka 69 and 70

Learning. Writing. Thinking.

Book on desk. Head bent
Forty-five-degree angle.
Neck strained and brain sapped.
The textbook reclines at ease.
Pages turn. The student sighs.

Is the pen writing
words of interest to me?
No one ever asks
Is the pen interested
in the words it is writing?

Halfway Through the Ritual

From Autumn Opens a Door, 2015.

Halfway Through the Ritual

the guys at the carwash
are playing opera over the speakers
as they set up their own rhythm
of chivvying dirt from the crevices
of expensive cars
with short sharp blasts
of the air hoses.
When I come back after lunch
they have changed the radio station
to reggae
and they are sitting in a row,
backs against the building,
eating sandwiches.

Gas station, pen and ink, 2016.

Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 49

You may be familiar with my Poetry Marathons – I’ve done them since January, 2015. I take a week, several times a year, and devote it to poetry – writing, editing, all poetry-related activities.

This year I have decided to do one segment of a Marathon each week. Two to three hours set aside for poetry, outside my regular life. (That was the idea – it’s grown now to take over the whole day. That’s fine with me.)

It’s called the Installment Plan Poetry Marathon.

For more background information, look here. And if you want to read previous posts in this series, search this blog under the term Installment Plan Poetry Marathon 2017.

On December 7, back at Montco’s Brendlinger Library, and a lovely sunny day.

The now-traditional Butler Avenue photo:

I zipped up the path to College Hall

and found a seat on the second floor. I thought I’d start the day off in quiet and maybe after lunch move down to the first floor, if I needed something livelier. Or, I’d return here. There is always a choice!

I felt very unsettled at the outset of the session. I find this time of year disturbing. I’m a person who loves routine. I don’t like the holidays’ heightened emotions; everything seems frantic, hurried, and competitive. Old memories are revived and I don’t associate much good with this time of year. I was not sure today, when I sat down to write, that I had any thoughts worth sharing. Or that I could sit still long enough to do it.

Then I remembered. For my birthday, my friends John N and David gave me a finger labyrinth, prompted by how much I like the real-world one at Chestnut Hill College.

The idea is to “walk” around it with your finger. I stopped everything I was fussing around with on my desk, got the labyrinth out of my purse, and did a couple of circuits. While I “walked”, I tried to slow down my thoughts and think of being outside on a clear cold day like today. It helped. Remember, the way in is the way out, I thought. You cannot get lost.

OK. I decided to mix up my work today. Write a poem, edit one from last week, and continue to alternate, so on and so on. Little Vines at the end. And that is how it went. In the end, my mind loosened up. I got along fine. Thank you, labyrinth, Montco library, and sunshine outside the window.

Here are a couple of poems from today.

A tanka.

The telephone rings
I picture a black desk set
worthy of real talk
not this metallic wafer
type and flashy chat and peek

This one is written in a series of haiku syllable forms but each one does not stand alone, really, and I didn’t mean them to, I just liked the discipline. Is there a name for this, I don’t know? Anyway – knee socks.

Pull up your knee socks
the admonishment you’ve heard
since the second grade

when socks first pulled on
tight to the knee right then left
fell to the ankles

both at the same time
no waiting. As if they knew
how to aggravate

teachers and parents
fixed on symmetry. You cared
not one little bit

not a bit. You cared
if your legs ran fast. You cared
if you kicked the ball

it flew over heads
miles away to the outfield
knee socks wherever.

A short little poem about work.

the wrong room
a day late
wore ballet flats to a snowstorm
left her reading glasses at home
parked the car in a tow-away zone
could not remember the company’s name
was hired on the spot.

Little Vines.

it’s been a long time coming
it was icing on a cake
that was already plenty sweet

skip that one, give me the next one
I can’t afford this kind of melodrama
Just choose a pork chop.

Purse-snatcher, armed gunman, a really poor liar
we sure have some world-class slim pickings here
It’s killing the flirt in me

I dropped the whole bottle of pills
in the punch bowl
our problem, plus a few others, is solved

he was short, square, and bald
sprawled out flat on his back
the whole conversation took only a few minutes

The back door was unlocked
I took one look and screamed my lungs out
Nothing short of decapitation will make me forget that sight

the trained chemist nosing around
ditched the shadow and took a taxi
bagged up debris behind the gas station

Thank you for reading! Until next time.