Little Vines 11/30/20

New Little Vines. Here is this week’s array.

The hot grilled cheese sandwich arrives –
the current adored iteration in a long-running royal dynasty.
We clap.

tiles on the kitchen floor.
the ones underneath the refrigerator
know where your lost earring is.

a vanished dictatorship
the era ending
when our last cat died and left us on our own

The distribution of the vast inheritance –
they decided it after five or six beers,
the nincompoops.

The last plate she ate from
set adrift
shattering against the wall.
What an argument.

nothing more clear
than last night’s dream of four cats
chasing a mouse around the basement
calling it by my name

A difficult friend
carrying out a force ten crying jag
in the middle of a storm of liquor
I hang on for dear life

oh yeah the book is about how
to entertain crustaceans like no one else can
I tell you it is a real pot-boiler

in quite a peppery mood
the spurious sauce, a fizzed green froth,
chewing through the glaze on the dinner plates

Home, and the sight of unpacked empty luggage
detaches her from that difficult weekend.
She zips the last case shut. Let the ghosts sleep now.

all over the world a pale sparkling rain
pours like champagne from the sky
what miracle is this? I say and cup my hands to drink

Could one good-natured guy do all of this –
get us to stop quarreling ask us to make up –
and we would do it? Yes, it would take just one.
Are you that one?

the apartment now clean and empty
the pleasant pink glow of our living room
subdued and grayed by our withdrawal

To send your sister two pairs of scissors
and force her to choose which one
when either will work fine for cutting
her marriage in two. If she will just choose.

the paint can
its lustrous pale pink emptied out
now a warm glow surrounding us safe here at home

This pleasantries-filled diary
is just fake. All fake. To throw us off.
She’s hidden the real one. Bet on it.
Find it.

she balks
her well-mannered reluctance
tangible in the air like the smell of burned sugar

Heedless you, you threw it out of the window
the arrow pointing “This Side Up”
hitting the ground first and hard. Oh dear.

the billionth umbrella unfurled today
is yours. In the pink glow of streetlights
through a mist of low sparkling clouds
lies your drizzly night walk home.

Yes, there was the failure of her socks
on that crazy epic journey but
blisters will heal. Feet will forget.

Shadorma 260, 261, 262

From Count Syllables on Your Fingers, published in 2020.

Shadorma 260

Thin pale gray
newsprint paper. Ink
that rubs off
on fingers
turning pages. News stories
leave their mark on you.


Shadorma 261

This new house.
This new street. People
don’t know you
glance past you
Of course they do. Stranger: you
are invisible.


Shadorma 262

Running hard
for home. Slam the door
lock it tight
Fling aside
the smile that shields you all day.
Let your thin skin breathe.


Shadorma 257, 258, 259

From Count Syllables on Your Fingers, published in 2020.

Shadorma 257

The hollow
sound I heard
The window
right on through the last second
unseen by the bird


Shadorma 258

snow fell fast
a gift with no effect
in an hour
except for the white ribbon
wrapping up the hedge


Shadorma 259

Crumple up
the crossword puzzle
clues bargain
with your pen. Lose your temper
for you. Laugh at you.


Cat Baby

From Unpredictable Hue, the collection published in 2019.

Cat Baby

Meow and
meow again and
the toddler
pipes out a
stream of high-pitched meows that
no cat would ever

mistake for
coming from the mouth
of any
of its kind –
but just right if you are the
toddler’s purring mom

(shadorma chain)

Shadorma 254, 255, 256

From Count Syllables on Your Fingers, published in 2020.

Shadorma 254

Blistered heel
new job first day and
brand new shoes
slide up and
down each step
just like my heart in my chest
up down with each breath.


Shadorma 255

in the air
floats a hot fried smell
lead-me-to-it delicious
Could it be French fries?


Shadorma 256

the steering wheel and
abandon your
to the route I take. Got it?
So we’re clear. Let’s go.


Pass It On

From Unpredictable Hue, the collection published in 2019.

Written in 2018, this poem is from a different time, when wondering where you caught a winter cold was just something to take your mind off the annoyances of sneezing and coughing for a few days. Not something to be seriously worried about. I hope for and look forward to when symptoms of illness are no longer terrifying, and that is why I published this poem rather than skipping over it in my posting of poems from this book.

Pass It On

Well it’s a lock
I’ve caught a cold today
either the hairdresser
blowing his nose into a tissue
between installments of
hair clipping
and breathing on me
or it would be this guy at the library
two seats down and snuffling.
Write it down because
next week I will be saying
I don’t know where
I picked up this cold
as I am sneezing over my elbow
but the precaution ineffective
because I want to
keep my sleeve clean
and then it will be the next week
and you’ll be saying
Where in the world
did I pick up this cold?


Tanka 151, 152, 153, 154

From Count Syllables on Your Fingers, published in 2020.

Tanka 151

Big holes in the roof
of my world. To let me breathe.
To give my eyes light.
For stars to shine down on me.
For rain to water my roots.


Tanka 152

My high blood pressure
A falling barometer
Weighing potatoes
in a grocery store scale
A quantified life.


Tanka 153

in a swimming pool
one summer too long ago
a woman swam laps
her chin-strapped white bathing cap
festooned with rubber daisies


Tanka 154

On the upper floor,
Ladies Better Sportswear. And?
Foundations? Yes, yes.
You’ll need the basement level.
What? Of course it’s not a joke.


Little Vines 11/24/20

New Little Vines. Here is this week’s array.

what’s your objection
to this particular unfolded paper rectangle?
is it the words written on it?
why are you setting it on fire?

this can of white paint –
industrious, talented, and bland –
just what the wall is looking for after its last relationship
with the dramatics of pickle puke green flat latex

I dig and dig a pit in the sea
the salty water refilling as fast as I scoop it out
How will I ever be able to bury my secrets
if you fight me so hard?

Out early on the jealous city streets
she wears her emerald attitude on her face
she crosses traffic against the green light. So it begins.

here is what I have learned in the last thirty-five years:
the beginning wife picks the home
the ending wife picks the bank account

Happy to hear a bird sing
to push the night into the day
you do your part. You whistle along.

Of course you can’t talk to her now.
it’s eleven fifteen at night and
she’s up to her neck in pink pajamas.
Try her tomorrow.

Best friend to the Aardvark
the shoreline coasts along only a few yards away –
We’re not good sailors. We appreciate the escort.

the out-of-fashion necktie
in its brash unembarrassed paisleyness

my stomach
whisks me back home
in time for my mother’s spaghetti dinner

Does the skeleton refrain
from rattling inside the living body
as it runs a marathon? Think about it.

another deity
succeeds with the miracle
while the first one is still flipping through the manual

buy a costlier aquarium
collect some fancier fish
what a dumb way of keeping up with the Joneses

the susceptible me the implacable you
the inaccessible relationship we do not have
because despite it all we love each other

Malevolence at a lakeside cottage
the speedboat tied to the dock sneers
the water skis crossed in a lazy X lean against the hull

The cook’s habitual acidic running commentary
influences the outcomes of her baking:
Get a load of this over-the-top face-puckering lemon pie. Ewww.

Sixty Years

From Unpredictable Hue, the collection published in 2019.

Sixty Years

wedding gifts
cover the table
dining room
full of glass
china silver. We are young.
Plates unchipped. We hope.

estate sale
glass china silver
tables full.
We are dead.
Plates missing from the set. Years
on years. Now we know.

(shadorma chain)

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon Week 48

The Marathon journey is in its fourth year. Just Enjoy Yourself is its current incarnation.

Here we are in another week of this year, and poetry goes on. I started working early in the morning, when it was windy and wild outside:

By the end of the day the rain had moved on but the wind remained. My writing was done in segments between an appointment in the morning and basement painting in the afternoon.

I’ll make a quick detour and show you the basement project’s progress. We have replaced the entire ceiling and I have done one coat of the new paint color and today starting on the second and final coat.

Here we are on 11/17/20:

And on 11/19/20, which, by the way, was my birthday…

And on 11/20/20…

Here we are at 11/22/20. We are especially proud of the fitting job we did getting these ceiling tiles to work with the ductwork and its habit of protruding out little…protrusions. Just saying.

And after today’s work, 11/23/20. Take it from me, there are two coats of new paint on the walls now.

Pretty exciting, huh? But you are asking, what does it have to do with poetry? And I say, Nothing! But since I am here at home these days and can’t show you photos of libraries or parks or cafes, well…this is what I have to offer.

Now, to poetry. I continued something I was doing last week, takling five or seven syllable phrases or sentences that I had made up over the past days, and using them as a line of a haiku or tanka. Let’s see what we’ve got here.

The phrase was “the engine cramped up”. And this haiku exactly describes what happened to our white minivan when it stopped running. Yes, just that sudden, it was.

the engine cramped up
the transmission seized and gasped
the minivan died

This tanka started off as “part scandal part joke”. And the rest came from me thinking about how I need to get to the ironing pretty soon.

part scandal part joke
our double act goes back years
this old iron and me
and what we’ve done together
to shirts skirts and boxer shorts

Well, this tanka describes something that has happened to me over the years, and with more than one cat. The phrase was “an untidy game”.

an untidy game
the cat unrolls the red yarn
wraps up the chair legs
I knit straight from the tangle
Knots and cat hairs all of it

I read so many crime novels. This tanka started off from “a husband quibbles”.

A husband quibbles.
I stand at the kitchen sink.
The steak knife lounges
in a soothing bubble bath.
I hate to disturb it, but…

I know we’re going very long here on this post, but this shadorma commemorates the basement project and I had to include it. A new start needs to be celebrated and how better than with a bit of something written down?

The new paint
resets memories
of mice nests
in ceilings
broken pipe floods and warped floors.
I breathe in the scent.

For your patience, a couple of photos from early morning walks in the last week. The sunrise is always a moment of hope. I send some of mine to you.