Portrait of a Table-Mate in the Library

From the collection Clean Canvas, published in 2018.

Portrait of a Table-Mate in the Library

Black black hair very fine
shoulder length tucked behind her ears
cut in bangs across her forehead
swinging forward over her face
Light gray-green sweater
in a tufty knit looked like the fur
of a gray-green tufty animal
White poet’s shirt button-down
sharp-pointed collar
pleated cuffs opened and frilled around her wrists
I was envious of her having that shirt.

Head bent over the text book
set on the table in front of her
Could she be short-sighted?
Her nose close to the print
she murmured into the pages
the timid sound balancing out
the faint frown lines on her forehead

Concentration showed itself
and the textbook pages turned


Maybe Was in the Air or Something

From Clean Canvas, published 2018.

Maybe Was in the Air or Something

Worked there for a couple of years
until I lost patience with it and them and
the whole thing
felt like I’d been caught and escaped
and I don’t know why
the pay was good
a wicked-acting set of gals on the floor
doing a little teasing and joking around
plenty of room for promotion or slacking off
take your pick
I got along fine
No room for doubt
I hated the place.
I don’t know why.


Pixie Dust

From the collection published in 2018, Clean Canvas.

Pixie Dust

Under the table
sounded good to me
no taxes no records just cash
That’s why I agreed because
I was willing to bet
there would be plenty of room for
discretionary income in this set-up
I was hoping
I knew it
I rubbed my hands together
at the thought of
some good times coming.
I rode out the string of it
a short one it was, too
I don’t know what
but something happened
night shift
the place was padlocked shut this morning
I sure don’t know what
like I said.
I’ll lay low a couple of weeks
and if anyone asks I’ll just say
Yeah I know
What was that all about?


Numbers Actors Director Audience

From Clean Canvas, 2018.

Numbers Actors Director Audience

Penciled equations on lined paper
pages spread over the table in a fan-shape
graphing calculator center front stage.
The textbook in the wings an open prompt book
The student
and her math.
The thinking
the preparation
then the action.
Her hands take hold
twist of a pencil in the sharpener
quarter-turns scritch scritch scritch scritch
abrupt and decisive
four times is enough. Now
a forefinger taps the calculator keys
the mini-chorus of numbers spread out in the display
the sharp pencil selects a sheet and hurries through the lines
Done. The set dismantled
pages return to notebook, pencils in case
textbook and calculator
disappear into a backpack zipped shut
slung across the student’s shoulder
the rehearsal packed away
Ten minutes to ten
Class at ten.
Raise curtain at ten.


Up and See About It

From Clean Canvas, 2018.

Up and See About It

Soft edges
this morning
mild gray damp air slides up against the window glass
short of being organized enough to call itself fog
watching and waiting for
the slow getting out of bed
turning the slats of the blinds
the bleary glance into a blurry front yard view
the green bushes and grass turned vague
today they don’t yet know who they were
The cars pass
tentative in the smudge of a street. Oh
I groan
not yet
I am not ready
as the pale morning slowly
brightens and
I shut the alarm clock off
before it can ring.


Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 7

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is the current incarnation. Let’s do it!

Today’s Marathon, 2/14/20 (Happy Valentine’s Day!)

took place at home. It’s freezing cold and blustery and I did not feel like going out.

I decided that I would Marathon at home and intersperse housework with poetry writing. Yes, sometimes it has to be that way, and sometimes, it feels good to be that way. Today is the latter. I feel restless and can’t settle. Not to mention that if I don’t get up and move around, oh, I stiffen up pretty quickly. So, let’s see how a stop-and-go Marathon works out.

Enough talk. My plan is to continue to pursue some avenues from recent weeks:

work on the Large Artist Sketchbook 2020.
try some more syllable-counting poems.
and see if I can do another 10-10-10-10-10/5 poem (5 lines, 10 syllables each, rhyming).


The housework/poetry-writing combo worked well. Here is a sample of some things I did…

Here is just a regular poem. It was a Little Vine that grew too big.

the quarrelsome
the dilemma-ridden
the romantic
sometimes they thank me and sometimes not
but I always tell them the truth
at least as much of it as can be seen
with a beat-up crystal ball and my own two eyes

This poem is for Large Artist Sketchbook 2020, Image 5. Let’s call it: Friday Guy.

I use a pencil marked with the day of the week
keep me straight on which iteration of
quintuplet look-alike workdays
I am dealing with
and in particular because
I want to recognize that valued colleague Friday
soon as it hits the street loud and proud
day five of five slide-through day outta here day
so I can say a big hello! snap the point of Friday’s pencil
on green paper spreadsheets and leave the lead mark that says
it’s Friday!
and rejoice. I am half out the door already
sitting here in situ neck twisted clock-watcher position
(I cast aside my usual just-short-of-a-faceplant-on-my-desk
Monday through Thursday demeanor in honor
of the honored guest) though always
of course
I am pencil in hand. That guy. Yes, him.
I point. Me, that’s him. TGIF guy. Me, that’s him.

PO 2-14-20 #2

This is a 10-10-10-10-10/5 poem – 5 lines of ten syllables and they rhyme. Shout out to rivrvlogr for his suggestion of Rhyme Zone. Since I was at home I had access to the internet and tried it out. Worked great.

I used the word “wide” for this one. I give you the original version and one where I rearranged it a little to make it flow better. Can’t tell what the final form might be, but I value this structure for its ability to lead me down some crazy and interesting paths.



Steered the old boat just a little too wide.
Running late. Managed to land her curbside.
Drat. I did hope to gloat but the graveside
service is just wrapping up. Cyanide
convinces. Call it art, not homicide.


Steered the old boat just a little too wide.
Running late. Managed to land her
curbside. Drat. I did hope to gloat
but the graveside service
is just wrapping up. Cyanide
convinces. Call it art, not homicide.

Thank you for reading!

The Long Game

From Clean Canvas, 2018.

The Long Game

When I came home
late in the afternoon
the sharp-eyed man
worldly before he was born
and prone to discouragement afterwards
That’s an idea, certainly.

I am
optimistic by nature
and not naïve
I prefer
No different today.
I somehow got it wrong
thinking the infinitesimal eyebrow lift
meant approval
for my heartfelt
meticulously detailed
but have you noticed that
a pause
and another brief pause
add up to

He and I
we like to say we get along very well
each of us pretends to know
to understand
the other
matching like a table and chair
but really
I’ve never gotten past the front hall
of his mind
and he’s certainly never been in the kitchen
of my thoughts
We’ve made good partners
we fit in that category
of unlike
and unliking
and yet alike enough
It certainly was a perfect state of affairs
given our line of work.

let’s try again. My scheme.
Is it the location? The parts? Or is it because
it is mine?

I do believe
this time
you might be