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



I am rich in failure
I am great at big talk and I excel
at throwing away any advantage
I manage to obtain.
This house
the one sitting here along the gravel parking lot
I rent by the month and tell everyone that
sure, I pay a mortgage and taxes like anyone else
but I don’t. It was a couple of cities ago when
that kind of life ended.
Now my front door opens under
a porch roof painted red and about to remove itself
from the front of the house. I don’t know
if I would bother to jump
if I happened to be standing under it
if it should happen.
Today I came home
getting out of the car
finding words scratched in the gravel
of the parking lot. Kids play here all the time.
Words half-obscured by
cars driving over them. Just enough letters left
for me to know I can’t piece together any sense
of what they said
any more than I have
understood the road signs along my own highway.
I took my foot
scuffed out a couple more letters.
Why should anyone else get a chance to figure out
what I haven’t been able to?



Installment Plan Poetry Marathon, Week 38

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. 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 September 21, I made a change in my writing location. I’ve been feeling restless at Logue Library, as much as I love it, and restlessness is a sign. Time for things to be shaken up a bit. I decided to go on the road.

I ended up at Brendlinger Library at Montgomery County Community College.

The library entrance is over to the right.

Now, it’s not quite such an abrupt and aimless change as that sounds. I’ve been turning over things in my mind for a while. Earlier this year, the Marathon was a retreat, a haven – I had several family issues weighing on me and I needed refuge. Now, nine months later, things have come to some resolution and I am turning or in some cases returning to a path I hope to continue upon.

I feel a bit more adventurous. I am starting with this new location and I am sure I’ll be hopping around to other ones. I won’t forget Logue Library, either.

I wonder if my writing will come to reflect my traveling nature. We will see.

Montco, as we call it around here, is about 25 minutes from home. You may have read about it in posts on my “Confused” blog as the location for some of my Senior Games athletic activities. Built in the early 1970’s, the school now has about 13,000 students. I took a couple of courses here in the early 1980’s.

I arrived before 8 AM. The parking lot was empty. Just so you know, it was full when I left after lunch. And this is one of three lots.

What was a campus out in the countryside (and I remember those times) is now a thorough part of suburbia. It is very spacious, though – the ring road around it is about a two-mile walk, and there are lots of wild areas of vegetation.

As a county resident, I am entitled to a library card aka community student ID, and a parking pass. I decided to take advantage of the opportunity and try things out here.

College Hall. The library is in this building.

My husband and I visited last weekend to get a feel for the campus and I had come over earlier this week to get the ID and pass. So today I just drove right in, parked, and zipped over to the library. I felt very official as I settled into a spot on the third floor of the library, the quiet zone.

The library is located in a building that also houses the cafeteria, administration, classrooms, and even a piano lounge (a small room with a grand piano. When I came in I heard someone playing and I searched out the source.) The library is not large, but has all the usual library accoutrements and I felt very comfortable.

I took a seat here.

So, another chapter begins. Let’s see what I did today. First, I went over last week’s poems. Then, I wrote new work. So far, the same. I then decided to go outside and eat lunch. I found a bench in the quadrangle with this view.

Midway through lunch, a couple of guys came by and set up this cow. It’s part of a community festival to be held here this coming weekend. You can imagine the cow got some attention from passers-by.

I then went back inside to work on a project I’ve had hanging over me for some time. I made a few painted booklets at least a year ago. Some of them have collage work in them and some are just abstract painted paper. A week or so ago I wrote up text for their insides. I’ve reviewed it a couple of times and worked some more on the images. Now I went back over the words once again – with the intention of making sure there is a thread through each book that makes it a bit of a narrative, or at least hang together with a theme.

I think I’ve got them in shape and I will be posting them on their own once I decide how to incorporate the text with the pictures. (Think – maybe my new handwriting?)

All right, here are some poems from today.

Genteel combat, the social ladder-climb.

The nouveau-in-towners
picked up and flung into things
social things
by some force intent on disruption.
The established
resists the intrusion of the non-conforming
with merciless insistence on expulsion
and efficient timely
The in-crowd
knows its members
never blinks an eye
at throwing back the gatecrashers
Enjoys it
in fact. Nouveau people:
start your own club
it will be second-rate
but in name only
and you’re guaranteed to
throw much better parties
just out of spite
if nothing else.

Look! I am already showing the influence of travel and transitions and everyday adventure in my work!

He stole a bus
he was speaking French
We weren’t in France.
He smirked in the rear-view mirror
smacked his lips
saluted the traffic signal
and ran right through the intersection
We passengers cheered
I don’t need to tell you it was dangerous
but a whole lot of fun
Almost ran out of gas
out on the highway
We took up a collection
to keep the joyride going
I guess you could say
we were kidnapped or hostages
but it was more like a vacation
A good lawyer will get him off
we all agreed
We’ve made plans to get together
for another trip
After he’s finished running up his tab
at the county jail
I am so wild about this new idea.
Wait until you see the photos.

Now, some Little Vines.

their digestive systems finely calibrated
they used a tuning fork turned toward the meat frequency
they stepped out looking for a square meal
guess where the missing chickens went

the part-time priest
peeked into the soul
wiped it clean

crying her eyes out
memories in a purse
a purse full of fading-value coins

resurrect those deleted sentences
excavate the truth out of her
There are not enough sleeping pills on earth
to get her a good night’s rest.

one hundred percent of one hundred percent
is still not enough
I had hoped hallucinogenics would bring me peace.

Threw the money on the dining room table
It came from my indoor treasure-hunting excursion
aka bank robbery

I’m full of pink praise but I can’t go any stronger
I no longer have a conflicted set of attitudes
I am a fully-realized dream-crusher.

Thank you for reading! Until next time.

No Bragging Just Capable

From the collection published in 2015, Catch Up With Summer

No Bragging Just Capable

Rolling along the road
out here in suburbia
and I come upon that open asphalt lot
near the train tracks where they store the metal reels
each one six feet high bright blue standing on end
wrapped round with electric cable thick as my wrist
all the way out to the rim.
They sit ready to go and roll out the cable
along the poles. Know they can do it.
The drivers and installers and cable-pullers
They’re just support cast
here and gone
it’s the cable
that’s staying to do the job
The cable that sags in the summer heat and
hangs on in the ice storms and it’s the big blue reels
going to get it to there
and so I take note
even if nobody else pays any attention at all.

Glenside, PA, April, 2015.

Tell Me If You’ve Already Heard This Story

From Catch Up With Summer, a collection published in 2015.

Tell Me If You’ve Already Heard This Story

Silver Car and Blue Car parked themselves against the curb.
Unknown vehicular assailant
approaching at some time last night
could not take the curve
resulting in a collision
with Silver Car who then smacked into
Blue Car
and they sat here all night just like that
while the unknown found the means to exit the scene

bewildered Silver Car and Blue Car owners
have appeared
don’t know whether to commiserate or
shout at each other
The first being the rational
the second more preferable for relieving feelings

The police have arrived
this being a wealthy suburb and things have arrived at the point of
reconstruction of the accident
exchanging insurance information
calling a tow truck.

Quite a nice little drama for me
All in a day’s work for the officer
heartburn and insurance claims and
bending your friends’ ears with the story
for the owners of Silver Car and Blue Car.
just as I’m doing now
with you.

The cars will be repaired but will never forget
the incident
Post-traumatic stress expressed in a squeaky door
or a not-quite-one-hundred-percent match
on a paint job.

“String of Parked Cars” – mixed media

Very Bad Morning

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

Very Bad Morning

Keep your head down.
Avoid looking at your feet as you walk.
cast your eyes at an angle
so as to cut across the wooden floorboards
laid perpendicular to your path of travel
the grain of the wood fighting you
one board at a time.

Land up against the end of the hall
sweep your eyes left to the closed closet door
and quick slither your gaze under the dark gap
at the bottom. Force your eyes right
over the bathroom threshold
The signals they send
clatter across the gridded gray tiles
skirt the mat and crash into
the scale. The needle quivers.

The effort to reconcile the views
is immense.
Flick the light switch
even though it is bright yellow morning.
The nightmares
retreat but the queasy stomach
does not. Shuffle to the sink and only then
raise your eyes and then only
as far as the faucet to choose
the temperature of the water
you wish to splash on your face and then
close your eyes.
Your face is puffy in the mirror but you do not see it.

Thin pale hands
massage the cold water into the forehead.
Your thin pale hands
and they cover your eyes.


Only with the Passing of Time Is It Revealed

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


Only with the Passing of Time Is It Revealed

Step up to the door.
Flecks of ancient paint jobs
cling to its lock
especially around where the key goes in.
It has been a long time since that lock was shiny.
It looks stronger now than it did
and it works fine. Turn the key
and tell me it doesn’t.

Come into the dining room.
Sit down in this chair with the seat
done over in a fabric pattern
that didn’t exist when
this chair was new but still
it looks nice
and it’s as comfortable as it ever was. Or more.
Lay your arms along the armrests and tell me it’s not.

Turn your head. Look at
the zinnias in the vase set on the bookcase
the three of them thick-stemmed and bright and
just on this side of dropping their petals.
They make no apologies because
even in their last days
they are beautiful. Look at them and
Tell me they’re not.



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



Open that purse.
It’s a snap clasp and you click it open.
You like the look of the money
nestled down in there against
the brown and white striped lining.
Your fingers have the itch for spending the money
you avoid thinking about the fact that
what you need to do is
incarcerate the money.
Instead, you take it out for a spin.
Open that purse
say the opportunists
with an eye for the enticing
and the irresistible. They saw you coming
a long way off.
Give us. Give us.
It will only take a twist of your fingers. Open that purse
when what you ought to have done is
clap it shut
good and hard with something more than a click
Maybe hammer it shut
and what’s in it stays in it
and you have something
and you keep on having it. Instead
You stand on the street
Spendthrift and bankrupt
holding a nice purse
with a pine cone fallen to the sidewalk
your only companion and
evidence that even a tree
putting out seeds for the future
has an investment sense
and you
you resolve to buy a new purse.