Little Vines 5/27/20

I’ve been doing these tiny poems for a while. Now I’m giving them their own space.

Here is this week’s assortment. I hope all of you are well and safe. See you next week!

You say, what if we won’t be together anymore
after today? I say, Maybe
I’ll get me some quarantine celebration dinner
think it over after dessert

I saw you
Standing in the driveway of the house
at the chic end of the beach
eating a banana. I fell in love.

cute kitty
you are looking good
you’ll be the boss here for a long time, I think

oh I am so
– and you have to admit you admire it –
so doing it my way

there’s the drain of fighting her, and then there is
the other way to survive:
the weary road of always let her decide

I met her in the
a little out of sorts aisle
of the mood store this morning

good very good one dance two
everyone please look
please come out and look
I just met my soul mate here tonight!

curve toward jealous
protect nobody
focus only on your beauty-soaked self

About the office air flow statistics:
I have information. When he’s at lunch
the gossip velocity drops by 50%.

our life together
a pie that’s been cut
most of the pieces eaten now
but all of them so delicious

I’m proud to
introduce my hair.
My hair. All real. All mine.

You who believe in right and
enough right and sort of right and iffy right
Guilt’s not in your vocabulary

as to my other secret
No I haven’t yet had time to
cry it all out

my vivid happy memories
solitude bleached them white
seeing you infused them with color again

who will teach me
to know a careless cut?
who will prune the lilac
now that you are not here?

Thank you for reading.

Little Vines 5/19/20

I’ve been doing these tiny poems for a while. Now I’m giving them their own space.

Here is this week’s assortment. I hope all of you are well and safe. See you next week!

I wait to find out:
a day of my life salvaged
or shipwrecked?

the marks on my wrists
are from the ties on your apron
suspending me in a sullen perpetual childhood
I find comfortable

you’ve questioned every light bulb
every lamp in the room has spilled its secrets
stop yanking their chains

kaboom one kaboom two
the car lurches
it’ll be a nice family trip, you said?

the front door of the house
treat it with the respect it deserves
it is the portal into the secrets you wish to hide

a hall full of running people
sucked into a stairwell
like a swarm of locusts riding a downdraft

A few balls of yarn
two weeks later
a striped blanket. Slow-motion magic.

not to rush you but
you get me some dinner
before I eat you
said the cat.

our marriage it’s lasted
because of my pot roast
and your ability to fix a faucet

Take another look at your last living relatives
thumbs out beside the highway east.
You press the gas harder. They recede into the distance.

This particular ectoplasm is new this spring,
vigorous growth habit and enthusiastic spreader,
said the salesman to the medium.
We ship free to your location, too.

the old cabin at the lake
ready to retire on a good pension
haunted by five decades of tourist squabbles and
bobby pins dropped between floorboards

a bag of yarn rumbas on the back seat lines partner to
a cat wraps a rainbow around the steering wheel
while the radio pumps out lurid dance tunes
quick whose car is this because I sure do want a ride

Thank you for reading.

Little Vines 5/11/20

I’ve been doing these tiny poems for a while. Now I’m giving them their own space.

Here is this week’s assortment. I hope all of you are well and safe. See you next week!

outrageous insulting and
write that down would you
so I can do it again.

I’m partial to pays and leaves
sits and eats my dessert as well as his own

I can’t really tell you how I want to
see him smile
with that nice face I like so much

nearly two years since I have seen you
here you are coming up to my exit on the highway
could I persuade you to take the cloverleaf in my direction?

your attention: what is it worth
to your dog chewing the sofa cushion
to your wife admitting a secret
to the football game on TV

Your sweater did she get the
yarn to match it did she
knit up the raveled strands did she
look after you all right after I was gone?

a graceful remark to introduce the speaker
a nice fade three steps back
oh! what a nice touch that sneer was

This week he’s got clean hands.
I’m sure he’s not the thief.
This week.

Heartfelt wishes
to go home –
If only I could find the pair of ruby slippers that fit me

but wait, you say and say,
just one more day, just one more,
and then one day there isn’t

what is it that makes you think opaque
glue up your sentences
black out the words you can’t take back?

I was alive when I left there
I’m gathering
that’s what’s bothering you so much now

Our appalling grandfather
dead and buried for good
for better for best
for us, that is

Forty years a king
Half a stone tablet a short inscription broken off
all that is left of him but it is enough. We read his name.

Into the fraught silence
I hum a tune
very fretful




Thank you for reading.

Little Vines 5/6/20

I’ve been doing these tiny poems for a while. Now I’m giving them their own space.

Here is this week’s assortment. I hope all of you are well and safe. See you next week!

her fingers
slipped crème fraiche  beads on a string
and tied a knot

she was not a profound thinker
but somehow
she managed an elemental sincerity

what it takes to run at this pace
besieged by autograph hunters
and chasing the lucrative unseen future

her theories were a rising mist
through which her gray eyes peered
into a certain ethereal future

all these people
now they stand weeping in the sun
one funeral after another

what’s he doing here in town tonight
the strings of colored lights beaming rainbows across his face
he dances to the rhythms of the white mocha mambo

it was most gratifying
to run through the city
the money rushing to keep up with me

there was no healing him
he was in love
with the broken pieces

a meticulous underachiever
and very intense about it
that truck is

The fairy said:
Two years of problems
gone like that! (snaps fingers)
(snaps fingers) (snaps fingers) (curses)

I’m short and sweaty and possess a world-class underbite
so I like it that my voice sounds
like an enraged dump truck pouring out gravel

feeling worried is a quite
please mind your back
kind of emotion, isn’t it?

All I ask you is
don’t worry me
about me

At the baby shower you rack your brains
offer your choicest insights on child-raising
some of them very peculiar. You are asked to leave.
Bounced from a baby shower. That’s a new one.

Some people are numbers on ledger sheets
unwelcoming and brusque
Others are colors inside your heart

If there is a disagreement
you want just the one fistfight?
Well within the rules. No hair-pulling, that’s out.

in my dreams
I thought it would be simpler
I never thought I’d have to name my price.

You’re asking me for threes?
That’s hard core all right
but not yet old man. Go fish.

Timid white cat on the sidewalk
Cotton sheets of cloud
pass overhead. She yawns.

think about how it was before three years ago
when we had not yet arrived at that conclusion
and the house had not burned down

Foolishly we took a swim in there
inside the undercurrents
of the family secrets. Foolishly.

Thank you for reading.

Little Vines 4/28/20

I’ve been doing these tiny poems for a while. Now I’m giving them their own space.

Here is this week’s assortment of Little Vines. Note: There are fewer than usual this week. It was opening day of pruning the ancient hedge in my yard, so…time was a bit short for the Vines, if not for the hedge.

I hope all of you are well and safe. See you next week!


Not do some fingerprinting
of the common enemy
I said do some finger-pointing.
Because we all know who he is already.

In the midst of a very nice conversation
we try to ignore the glowering presence at our shoulder:
Not possible. Say hello to the all-consuming apocalypse in process.

concrete revenge
sets harder each day that passes
each week each year each decade that it encases you

good morning and all the
sparkles of sunshine get to work
not so much in cooperation as in collusion

their first date and it was
like wet tissue paper

I asked no questions.
Consequently he told me nothing.
Yes Your Honor I would say he was real honest.

wearing white gloves
the desk lamp illuminates the contents of the locked drawer
you forced open. Just checking for dust, you say to yourself
swiping your fingers over and around the jewelry case

For once the coincidences
could have just left me alone
couldn’t they? Just this one time?

a lot of truck drivers in protective gear
waited outside with their full loads of tissues
ready in case he sneezed

I applaud today’s all-consuming caution
governing the rules of
finger-painting. It’s about time all right.

such foolishness
is going to hurt you some
maybe some very bad

the mood of the mousse
was messy the dinner party
disheveled the hostess hot and bothered

have you had time to read the message
I left for you
from when I was last inside your heart?

vanished nobody
completed nobody
and left you empty

your life: it was sloppy
a little naïve in execution
and it was embarrassing
but the crowd at your funeral says you were loved

make a clean break
we follow you.
stop running and we eat you.

Little Vines 4/22/20

I’ve been doing these tiny poems for a while. Now I’m giving them their own space.

Here is this week’s assortment of Little Vines. I hope all of you are well.


before noon
you embarrass me in front of my friends
after noon
I forgive you for your indiscretions

never mind I’ll do it myself
you wait here
I’ll save the world and pick up milk on the way home

all of us
all of you
we are made out of dried mud and straw.

Did you forget we really needed the rain?
Is being struck in the head by lightning
that much of a price to pay green grass?

Did you forget we really needed the rain?
Is being struck by lightning and killed
that much of a price to pay for green grass?

that’s one message I’ll send
from my future self:
Don’t fall asleep at the table right before dessert

I am contained and transformed.
The door is always locked
but I manage to find the keyhole and slip out.

there is always more that will be uncovered
here in the 7:10 AM show
M-F on bus route 109

My appendix
I was very fond of it
incredulous when it turned on me
I still miss it.

your fingers on the keys of the organ
the music dancing out so gaily
a lot of people listening
very thankful and tapping their feet

My thoughts are troubled
the results of the fermentation
of a single clear message
into a fluid mind-altering chaos

back in the day
you wanted to be happy
now you just want things to be a little bit better

thank you for asking
I am still breathing and just as frequently as ever.

in recent days you’ve learned
your formerly hypnotic charm
isn’t enough to buy you
even a roll of toilet paper

Yes Mom we did too see
a baby in a basket floating downstream
It’s not complicated. Why don’t you believe us?

requests for refunds
successful marriage proposals
getting a computer to reboot –
it’s all in the eye contact

your temporary severity earned you nothing
all it did was
teach your adversaries your entire strategy

pardon me for staring
I don’t know if you understand how worried you should be
about that crack opening in your head

so here we are
spoiled and smelling rank
spongy in a few spots
but please don’t give up on us

Little Vines 4/16/20

I’ve been doing these tiny poems for a while. Now I’m giving them their own space.

A couple of weeks ago a reader commented that x, y, and z never got to have their turn. I had not thought about it. Once pointed out, though, I could not forget it. Last week I started with them.

This week I did the whole alphabet backwards. I hope I got it right. I checked, but given my editing skills, well, that means little. Bear with me.

X, Y, Z. It’s a small thing but it is amusing me. That’s worth something these days!

All right, here is this week’s assortment of Little Vines. I hope all of you are well.


everyone knows someone who’s done it
so why is there all the secrecy
about how to say “ouch”
in French?

Marlene my dear, she said
you are so like a fork
an enormous stack of pancakes

if I could just say a word or two, said the minister
as a hundred onlookers
rehearse their own excuses

looking forward to a perfect marriage
guilt and self-pity
walk hand in hand down the aisle

(Standing on ledge) If you would just say the word
I would stop short of the edge – I would – I would –
What? What word? My name, you idiot.
Get up here. I’ll push you off instead.

it’s so simple
to underestimate
the flaws in that mild-mannered man

At various times he holds
a grudge
a pineapple drink

it’s my hunch that in this case
it’s strictly business means
when I’m done with you
you’ll be standing here in your underwear
I feel dizzy
a hundred different ways
when I think about you on that Ferris wheel

your news
so like a snake
coiling tight around my throat

is this the man
who came back from lunch just in time
to get run over by a bicycle courier?

jewelry or perfumes
to make amends?
fine but a milkshake would be more to my taste

why did I take up serial killing?
I guess
I just need to keep busy

salt and pepper wool suit
greetings my old friend
you have your own personality
I just borrow it to wear once in a while

peculiar and mysterious
he arrived in town
opened a bank account with moon rocks

buying time
only to
give it to someone who can use it

We were in the neighborhood
dressed for a party
that ended just as we arrived

one or the other
yes for you no for me
no details as of yet.
Next question?

I like the buzz I get from skydiving
and being on standby for a parachute
adds even more of that edge, you know what I mean?

a girthy pileup in the crowded waiting room
resulting in some bent tender fenders
and a few flattened spare tires

Sure I’ve had friends who smelled good
but the problem is
they had a short shelf life

a dreamer
sitting at the table near the fountain
a rainbow in the spray arching above him

not perfectly and not every single day:
really and truly
it’s all just that simple

as a con artist he’s too valuable
to waste on a routine fraud
so we’re supporting his run for higher office
if you know what I mean

my old chalky bones
comfortable in the underground
my spirit transformed into a bird
it flies into the deep blue sky

Any ideas what we can do with:
a shabby warehouse by the river
an auditorium in the library basement
a mothballed hospital for rent

in my view
are the first wonder of the world

he’s worked here six months
he’s never said a word about it
I think being hatched from an egg
is something he should have mentioned before now

a piano in the front hall
next to the door to Apt. A
a scatter of mail across its keyboard

Little Vines 4/8/20

I’ve been doing these tiny poems for a while. Now I’m giving them their own space.

Last week a reader commented that x, y, and z never got to have their turn. I had not thought about it. Once pointed out, though, I could not forget it.

This week we started with them. When you think about it, they do have cause to complain. In an alpha order list, how often will they be put to work?

This week pay attention to those letters and make note of their special accomplishments.

All right, here is this week’s assortment of Little Vines. I hope all of you are well.

you needed
I could have
I didn’t

Your fingers
play scales on the piano
Your heart hears a funk beat

Then just say yes and we will have
a tidy end to the whole affair
and you can keep the portrait of Queen Victoria, too

His intense stare unsettles me as I speak.
Deep thinker or
is he asleep with his eyes open?

Captured in every photo
the smiles in the eyes of those exquisite potatoes
Russet Yukon Golden Idaho Red New.

It’s not that I don’t like the idea at all
It is the exact opposite
I’m in too deep and I like it way too much

One thing you’re forgetting
it can happen to anyone
I’m not there yet but I will be
and so will you

The cyclops on the hill said:
I’m already a little unpopular these days.
Does it bother me? No.

Surely you, the original,
you know not to judge a portrait
while it is still on the easel

There is nothing to talk about
with a dope like me.
Yeah, that’s what she says.

a pink-haired woman answered the door
I handed her a big bouquet
and I will do it again
on every wedding anniversary we have every year forever

She sure had me fooled
Nobody could have known
she could make spying on her so much fun

I’m glad we talked
put our heads together
and came out just as misinformed as we went in

I answered the door at no current address.
I left town in a boxcar
door slid open to let in the wind.

oh they had a cancellation
but by then
I had left without saying good-bye

only a piece of pizza
and my favorite music
can cheer me up today

on the sidewalk then he was gone just gone
the navy blue suit disappearing into the crowd
the office wear camouflage that made him invisible

Last Friday morning at the college
absentminded prof Dr. LaSalle
stepped off into one of these five hundred books.
We’re still seaching for him. Yoo hoo! Dr. LaSalle!

In this world give and take
so quickly becomes malleable
swerving into I insist that things to take another shape

nobody fears a ghost in a wrinkled sheet
even if it Sees all Knows all
and can yell Boo like a champ

In this culture, to clarify what I heard,
Is that kind of anger traditional
when the kids spill red kool-aid on the white carpet?

Malcontents all of them
dissatisfied with modern modernization.
So loud. So much screaming.
Tough. You can’t back out now.

The sparkling that you heard and felt?
Now you see for yourself
how addictive her laugh is.

a million ways to find happy
and here’s where we ended up
It’s not a mistake yet but maybe soon

In my life I was not curious.
In the afterlife I do an hour of snooping
for every ten minutes I’m playing the harp

we are so embarrassed
our professional standards
require us to grovel for a period of up to 49 days
but do not extend to offering refunds

He raised the blinds
gave the finger to the barking dog
like that ever did any good But wait
The dog stopped barking.

Little Vines 3/31/20

I’ve been doing these tiny poems for a while. Now I’m giving them their own space.

This week’s assortment of Little Vines. I hope all of you are well.

the guilty sister
visiting the cemetery
reflecting on how well crime really does pay

considering my options this week
after what happened last week
I let you tee off first.

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

my voice on the answering machine:
I’m not here to share my feelings.
I’m just collecting messages. Speak.

a bent fork in the silverware drawer
what will be my fate:
tossed into the trash
or made into jewelry?

chewed fingernails

OK, so we make a schedule. I’m likely to be at home
all day every day for some time so how about
if I sleep on the couch with the TV on
M-F 2-4 PM?

It’s a reliable distraction
in any touchy situation
I had a strong hunch I’d be using it today

in my previous career path
well, I thought nothing of it but
these days, I’m a bit lime green and squeamish about it.

Of course I’ll pay for the thread and needle
to mend your broken heart
Since it’s my fault it’s damaged

I thought you’d never ask
too much
I thought you’d make a great spouse

Of course I don’t like being so angry
at such an inconvenient time for you
(What a big liar I am)

what a bad liar he is
let me rethink
sending him in as the front man

Turns out he’s not the guy
who works the miracles after all
It’s just not his style, he says

no that would be cheating
it takes all the fun out of it
when you already know that’s who she is

we were newlyweds
this is our first argument
we said to each other
in reverent tones

not us
but maybe you
poor soul

His unlocked car was parked in the lot
a half-eaten pizza in its box on the front seat.
No way he would have left that behind
Yes, I am afraid he is dead.

I’m feeling lucky today
yeah my mood it might just be wishful thinking
but it is still contagious, isn’t it?

at one o’clock in the morning
the tenth card in the deck
finally knocked out the competition
Several gold chains exchanged hands.

maybe the sales assistant over there –
wearing the beige sweater that’s been shrunk
by too many washings in too-hot water?
no, I’ll try someone else.

I shrink it on purpose with
hot water and soap and
a whole lot of agitation
on your part will certainly ensue

why lie about it at this late date
when the feelings have congealed
the leftovers are ready to be scraped off the plate?

Little Vines 3/24/20

I’ve been doing these tiny poems for a while. Now I’m giving them their own space.

This week’s assortment of Little Vines. I hope all of you are well.

You wanted red velvet
but it looks more like gray felt.
Sorry about the cake.

when your kids put you on the spot
invoke the spell: recite the magic words
ask your mother

my aunt
why is her nickname
Old Gray Cake?
Of course she won’t tell you.

secret true things
I only understood that night
my spirit lingering asleep in a reckless dream

all those years ago I couldn’t say No
and so now
I have no soul

the dinner party chit chat
floated over the table
like a cloud saturated with acid rain

your favorite color is blue
poured in buckets
from the sky

The alien’s sudden demise.
Supposed to be top secret.
You paid for his funeral. With a credit card?

at the séance the so dramatic
I wanted to surprise you
communication that rocked you from the other side

My two aunts
outrun their prey
every single time.
All I say is, Don’t make them mad.

Yes, I still think
rules are rules.
So what kind of trouble are you in now?

I did some guesswork vs.
I intend to find out the reason
they are not almost the same thing

Haven’t heard a word from the satellite
since it called in that complaint.
Nothing like a satellite in a snit.

I watched the lizard
run down the wall pause in its shade.
It is a simple thing, but it is enough.

I’ve never kept a diary
I’ve always wanted you to think I did

the boss’s voice
subdued and shady:
I’ll give you a bonus, he said.

Why not tell the truth before I chicken out?
Too late.
I’m out of the pan and on the plate.

He was secretive and I suspected.
You neglected to close the door.
I heard it all. Thank you.

I eat raw onions
I go talk to the boss
It’s a little thing but it’s all I can do right now.

A fat old month of hot weather.
A skinny little bank account.
Fill up the kiddie pool.
Country club in the back yard.

that voice
like stale perfume