On the Main Stage

From Pink Chalk, 2018.

On the Main Stage

going to get married
everyone thought
no, they went their separate ways
such a disappointment
to the audience
but the play doesn’t always go
as you think it will. Suspense and anticipation
plot twists spiral through
she left town for a better job
he married the dentist’s daughter instead
Three children or
a large year-end bonus
isn’t that why you stay in your seat
through all the boring parts
so you can finally see
how it all turns out?


Little Vines 6/29/20

Back to writing new Little Vines. Here is this week’s array.


the campfire
the ghost stories
and our nerves speared on forks and toasted for dessert

he said
nothing about no sleep last night but
the blinds are still drawn over his eyes at breakfast

a balmy night a tumbledown house
a barking dog a flickering candle a crash of thunder
a light snow a scent of roses moldering
wait a minute I think things are getting out of hand in this story

Smelling jealousy
I pulled out a suspicious incident or two
to throw at her. Splat-green, right between the eyes.

the tiny pearl buttons
on the baby’s dress
her stiff fingers could not fasten

faded neighborhood
wilting business
even if I said no I knew I would do it
what do I have to lose?

drive a fully-loaded truck across
a piano keyboard –
you’ll get something like her rendition of Ave Maria

so you spilled
only the one bowl of secrets
it’s still plenty for the mop to take home and ponder

we both wanted what we wanted
we parted ways in the lobby. Once we were gone
the floor polisher swept across the floor
wiping away any sign that we had ever been together.

he came down hard on venom
but I heard denim
Poison in a pair of jeans, though, we both understood

not now not then not in years we thought never
but that which we sought to escape
the tide’s now unburied. It winks at us in the sun.

no future in it no past to it
and no insurance to pay for its healing
this abandoned car with its wheels already gone

spiteful little white building
I cross the floor in your kitchen
its linoleum a curled sneering lip set to trip me up

so much screaming from my family
prompted by the pain of a sudden attack of
they are finally hearing what I’m saying

the spool unwinds queasy dizzy
the voracious needle gulp the thread down the seam

pumpkins for sale
and ten thousand Cinderellas
pulling out their change purses


From Pink Chalk, 2018.


Ink-stained index finger
point it
black waterproof ink
outlines the
an elegant frame
that has to wear off
washing won’t make it go
point it
enjoy the dramatic India ink emphasis
of my ordinary
ten-of-a-kind finger
now indexed in ink
the category of
standout. I point it
at you.



From Pink Chalk, 2018.


coat hangers
bunched together
white thin wire
fragile. hesitant.
Empty coat hangers
slide them along the rail
they sway
still themselves
settle. Whisper among themselves
a faraway gentle bell ringing
in the emptied closet
in the emptied house


The Line Drawn Between Us

From Pink Chalk, 2018.

The Line Drawn Between Us

That guy’s giving no thought to it
skipping down those steps in the open stairwell
he is
everyone can see him cheerful in a plaid shirt this morning
and he smells like aftershave.
No thought to it
he just waves to the ladies at the front desk
shouts out good morning
strides across the lobby
heels clicking on the tile floor
right out into the street
No thought to it.
I sit here in one of these comfortable lobby chairs
where do I even start? where do I even start?


Outside It

From the collection published in 2018, Pink Chalk.

Outside It

The three
live in a den across the creek

two children
born gray stayed gray up to this week
now grown into red
bushy tail and coat
over long black-stocking legs

and their mother who
lies in the tall grass
licking the face of one child
while the other trots a rectangle
around them
loose stride and easy

in the wind that’s been blowing all day
not a breeze but a good strong wind
the kind that turns the leaves over
that broke the humid weather with the thunderstorm
last night
it blows

and I watch
the three
in the blowing grass
under the sky
who are living
outside the past the present the future

the always


Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 26

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

Marathon at home again on 6/25/20. I decided to celebrate the idea of being at home and I went around my house snapping some random photos to write about.

It worked out pretty well. You’d be surprised what comes to mind when you are looking at familiar ordinary banal sights – maybe the very triviality of them frees the mind?

Anyway, that is what I did. All the poems I wrote were in the haiku, tanka, or shadorma form, to give more focus to my writing and avoid just rambling along about the laundry room or the dust under the bed…


A haiku.

skylight to ceiling –
up view from inside lampshade.
light bulb eyes the sky.

Poetry Marathon 6-25-20 (13)m


A shadorma.

the pattern lose the
gain the soft
fleeting vagueness of what you
see and will forget


Poetry Marathon 6-25-20 (11)k


A shadorma.

The straight lines
divide up the view
the lackluster what is to
vivid what could be


Poetry Marathon 6-25-20 (10)j



A tanka.

Sharp nose set to sting
takes steady aim. Delicate,
then don’t hold back. Bite.
The drill cuts its precise mark.
Fine sawdust floats to the floor.


Poetry Marathon 6-25-20 (6)f


A tanka.


giant glassy eye
rolls in unfocused circles
a small orange speck
darts in and out of vision
floating past a bleary lens


Poetry Marathon 6-25-20 (4)d


A haiku.

Corrugated road
for a small spider on foot –
brown cardboard box flap


Poetry Marathon 6-25-20 (1)a


And here are all of today’s photos, just to show you the array of what I worked with.



I hope everyone is well and in good spirits. Thank you for reading!


Respectfully Yours

From Pink Chalk, 2018.

Respectfully Yours

Shiraz is a wine
or maybe a carpet. I’m not sure.
My knowledge nibbles along the edges
of a lot of subjects but I usually avoid
taking in a full meal and certainly there are gaps
in my diet. I did do a college thesis and in great detail
I explained every iota of everything there is to know
concerning a connection between
ladybug populations and
the effect on Chesapeake Bay oysters
for which I won a prize. So there. Hurrah for me
but the hoopla is long over and now I’m content
to count nouns on the first page
of every novel I read as my contribution
to national security and/or the numerical balance
of the universe whichever comes first. Everything accrues,
as they say. Of course I would appreciate your vote
for my re-election to the Senate but you do what
you think best
plenty of others are happy to ease me into port
one more time.
I will mention that I have a tiered contribution program
that may interest you as well as an estate planning option
cradle to grave my campaign is everywhere for everyone.
Thank you and excuse me
my limo is out front and the umbra waits for no one.


Shadorma 202

From Count Syllables on Your Fingers, 2020.


Shadorma 202

Yak Yak Yak
television man
blats out bile
chirpy spurts
blotch the atmosphere at home
set your head on fire

ink sketchbook 2019 image 28

Ink Sketchbook 2019 Image 282

As a note, the poem was written for a page in my artist notebook Ink Sketchbook 2019. You see the illustration above. The text was published on its own in Count Syllables on Your Fingers, 2020.


Little Vines 6/23/20

As I said last week, I’ve been going over the manuscript for the next Little Vines book (basically it’s the Vines between 3000-4000) and in doing that, I always find quite a few that need a tweak.

And then there are some that I don’t even know what they mean anymore, or I see a flaw in them that is so major I can’t abide it.

It means rewriting, or in some cases it means – throwing out the existing on and putting in a brand new one. Editing turns into writing.

Here are the rest of the  Little Vines that got makeovers or are brand new. The numbers are the ones assigned to them in the book.


OK, let’s get going.

Electricity to the
Coffee urn leads to
Caffeine for the
Body sorely in need of it.

when you circled back for the rendezvous
on the dark side street
your body left its shadow behind
wanting no witnesses

usually you’re just the slap in the face
an out-of-control office party needs
but tonight you’ve taped pencils to your head
told everyone you’re the Statue of Be at Liberty To

The two silent shapes in the fog
men who flanked a third who whispered:
Which way now, Which way now
I knew I was meant to run and I did.

that street name
misspelled on the exit sign
is the place where I grew up

She’s got all the money.
When you go
she stays. Solvent and single.

a decent man but vain
transparent as glass
he sat in this chair many times
while my mother smoked and looked through him

the broken plate reassembles its pieces
the eggs unscramble themselves
the contract throws off inked signatures:
sometimes life lets you try again

my face muttering at me
in the tiny cracked mirror
my sanity floating off into the air

The lizard
runs down the wall pauses in its shade.
I imagine the chalky feel of concrete under his feet.

at one o’clock in the morning
I dreamed the cook in the kitchen
was frying bacon in my sleep

my pink blouse and gray skirt
they certainly take on another shape
when you wear them

The cyclops on the hill
pink swim trunks and monocle sunglasses

oh they had an obliteration planned
those impudent bold-faced and brassy chemicals
itching to turn limp brown locks into Goldilocks

City sidewalk then he was gone just gone.
Navy blue suit disappearing him hey presto!
Office-wear camouflage. Makes you as invisible as air.

a million ways to lose happy
and here’s where we ended up –
somehow still holding on to happy.
Grateful doesn’t begin to cover it.
if I could just say a word or two about said the minister
Hurriedly the hundred onlookers
began to rehearse their one-size-fits-all justifications

He’s worked here six months
He’s never said a word that wasn’t about work.
This is a tell-all office.
Somebody needs to do something.

Your humming
frays my nerves
fringes my patience

If there is a disagreement
the rock is
always going to win.

think about how it was back then
when we had not yet arrived in this small pond
met the big fish who swim in this stagnant water

Forty years a king
Half a stone tablet a short inscription broken off
All that is left of him. Is it too much?

First the pink ties on my white apron
crossed in front and tied behind –
then we can start cutting up the beets.

standing in the driveway of my house
at the chic end of the beach
I wondered how I’d make this month’s payment