While You Wait

From Unpredictable Hue, 2019.

While You Wait

You wait at the corner
wearing a sleeveless white dress
a size too small and in temperatures
ten degrees too cool for it to be
comfortable. Your pale bare arms
and legs stick out at odd angles
and are shaped too round or
too short. You glow in the overcast
of the rainy early fall early morning.

You flap a hand at the wet hedge
overhanging the sidewalk
but there is not space for two
at this corner. All you get
is a shower of left-over drops
flung at you and cold on
your pale grimacing face.
You scuff your foot on the concrete
your toes wet and sliding in your sandal.

Bad luck
that old familiar friend
saunters up
to stand at your shoulder.
He waits with you. I was wrong
There is space for two at this corner.


Little Vines 9/18/20

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

a cloud
knocks at the door
with a delivery of snow and ice for the porch steps

the money in the bedroom closet
the bankrupt on the living room sofa
neither knew of the other’s existence

I wear red gloves on the hands at the ends of my arms
the ones that I wave semaphore-style
the ones that I have clapped over my ears
and the ones holding my purse and the keys to the car

the girls gestured to me
their voices shaping soft oval whispers
in a dialect I did not speak

her dress made of kale leaves
her shoes of acorns and her hair
corn silk and fishing line
that I comb with a fork

And the only one
that never fell
It is broken now.

the expensive implant now settled in place
comfortable enough, but baffled
as to exactly what it is supposed to be doing

Cast adrift, the haughty old sofa
now stands in the thrift shop window
the ultimate in insulted

I told them my real name.
Terse and then tearful
I told them my real story.

cold and unhealthful this tureen of green soup
passing hand to hand in the silent dining room
no one even pretends to take a serving

that night, just as the smell led me to believe
I now know that
behind the door of Apartment 398
a family of four was wiping out a tuna casserole

I lathered up my hands at the sink
those blasted ink stains
turning the soapsuds blue

Frenzied servitude:
the waiters at the banquet
flipping plates on tables as fast as they can

that demon digging deeper into the database:
he’s not the one you need to worry about –
it’s his boss

new keys for the new door
to the flashier place where your new persona
just zipped up her new swanky dress

in that doleful xylophone solo
a slow motion glissando
of sorrow

the short stare
the sour clock
the smell of the sidewalk in the summer heat

Shake your toes
you newcomer
we can’t be waiting for you

Eyes of pink coral –
Guaranteed airtight desirability
for the chic mermaid of today. Buy now.

the brakes screech on the city street
the echoes zigzag up the buildings
into the clouds

oil and vinegar
begrudging combatants
tossed into the leafy green salad

the blueprints of grief
can be picked up here. Each one is unique –
customized for the occupant.

the low angle of the sunlight through the window
the flabby clerk hunched behind the counter
the dresses and shirts drooping on the racks
Dust covers all of it all of them

The stunned chairs and bewildered table
residue of a once-lavish dining room ensemble
wait on the sidewalk for their ride to the thrift store

and she conducted that chilling interrogation
from her stately bathtub
in the opulent immersion of an expensive bubble bath

now that we stand
on the rim of the smoke-belching volcano
our assault on the taboos of the lava god
suddenly seems to have been a mistake

aim the ray gun at the invalidated thirteenth!
shouts the pert brunette holding the statistical analysis log
as she sucker-punches the so-called eighth in the gut.

the morbid coldness of her character
a story in frosty blue and baleful turquoise
a gothic novella set on polar ice

Hear the scorched husky voice
of the dust cloud
and the sunlight disappears

The punctured dazzle of the night before
a confetti and tinsel star fallen to the ground.
The bickering resumes at breakfast.

his bureaucratic lifespan
extended by his mummification
in the dry dust of a million paper forms

glass bead
caught in a cobweb
or a raindrop held in a net?

Duty Visit

From Unpredictable Hue, 2019. 

Duty Visit

Accumulation of possessions of dubious or no value her
harmless specialty
Everything is false, no, but pretty much all of it is
worthless. Look
near the window and beyond the dining room door
where the sofa
had been a few months ago the last time I came in
this room where now
along the fringes of sanity stood two hot-pink
upholstered ottomans.
All the parts come together in this room, said my
hostess with satisfaction, though
a recent visitor did get lost. Two days. I’ve since put
together a map. Sit here –
too uncomfortable that chartreuse bucket chair is for a
long chat and it will suck
all the energy out of your higher mental processes
which will lead to us sitting in
silence. And what kind of visit is that? She sat then
stood again her movements supple
and brisk the look of a hungry raptor briefly flashing
on her face a predator
curious about the meat on my bones. I flinched. She
offered me a green cookie and then,
in the audience of chairs tables lamps, I sensed a shift
of focus, I felt the air move, and
the whole idea of a cozy visit and chinwag session
with my old aunt was set aside for

a sprint
sneakers grabbing hard
on the thick carpet to
slam out the front door
down the drive
holding in
a scream


Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 38

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

The Marathon was held at home this week. It’s a bit chilly right now, cloudy and gray, and I’ve been busy with things over the past few days and felt like a day at home would be nice.

I’m drawing together some loose ends with this session. I’ve accumulated fragments and parts of poems as well as having some that are finished but that don’t like how they are finished. Additionally, I wrote some poems earlier in the week on the Notes app on my phone and let autocorrect guide me. Those poems had lots of interesting word combinations in them and made just enough sense but retained some opacity (in other words, you get intriguing or evocative pictures in your mind from the words, but the over all poem wanders all over the place as far as meaning).

I tend to be very linear in my thinking. The challenge this week for me was to do some writing that maybe is not so much that way. I like doing it; whether it’s any good, well, I guess I’ll leave that out of the equation and just go on as I want to.

All right. I’ll show you some poems. But first of all, what are these photos?

I took a class on using the camera in my phone, and I learned about some apps for different effects and techniques. I no longer use any camera but my phone, and I have slowly opened my mind to the different ways it can take photos. Too slowly, I am thinking. I’m looking forward to exploring here, too.

OK, poems.

Straight out of my daily life.


Brass zippers and rivets
thwacking angry raps on the glass –
four pairs of jeans
coughing and thudding in soapsuds
as the washer spins them dizzy –
I hope the door holds.

This poem is one of those wandering poems. The capital letters are how the app did things in my original version. Later, when I moved things around, I liked the look of them and I left them.

But enough of them want
to have forgotten what they used to be
Just to Live satisfied
if Footsore
to be left Alone.

Another poem from the Notes app.

Histories yet unwritten and unrelated

Re: Questions about singing
in avocado octaves
Fruit Ranked and Stacked
end of the aisle at the grocery store
Back when it was not dangerous
For A chorus Of
Silver tongues to extrapolate
A shopping list into birds
Flying just below the ceiling

Answer them said the picnic basket
Packed with fresh air
And me A tenor but my voice light
I did my best to
Align the green rain
that floats on the breeze
with clouds flying pink above
Company for the
weightless triangles of soprano Fragments
Of a robin’s egg
scattered on the ground and
look up to

Four nestlings in the branches above
Soft Screech their baby voices
Around the chartreuse backlit leaves
trip me fall me into avocado dreams
of when I was still young
a tiny fruit hanging from the tree?

This is a real world unaltered photo of a scene I passed on my walk this morning. Some things will never be able to be improved by an app. And don’t need to be.

Thank you as always for reading!

Not Always But Often Enough

From the collection Unpredictable Hue, 2019.

Not Always But Often Enough

In the middle of the night
before I could get a good comfortable nightmare going
one that could make me sit up in bed and scream

before I had time to ask for some disturbed sleep
the kind that makes trouble for a tossed-over pillow

before I rounded up any sheep to count
and sent them over a cliff into a rocky murk-green sea

I waited my turn for a bad night’s rest
lying in bed trussed up in the sheets
like a pre-dead mummy
all at once
I heard the refrigerator motor start up
miles away down in the kitchen but deafening
pounding in the matte-black darkness
the hall light off and it was the cat lying on my arm
the only thing keeping me supine in bed
instead of nose and toes stuck into the ceiling
the result of an involuntary and forceful levitation.
And then

I understood
fresh tonight, yes, but
really it was old news
repeated by insomnia so many times before:
I can manufacture my own nightmare
forget the sleep
forget the night
forget turning on the light to chase it away
just lie there and take it.


New Friends

From the collection Unpredictable Hue, published in 2019.


New Friends

The night before the green-haired girl
came to the door
I was sitting in my living room in a comfortable
forgot-to-ask-for-trouble kind of way
resting up after a big spaghetti dinner.
I have no lack of appetite
and arbitrary worry never dents it
yet soaking wet and covered in mud
I weigh 130 pounds. (I checked).
Relevant because
I was brought up not to make trouble
in fact quite the opposite
and I’m small so you understand that when
the following night
the green-haired girl came to the door
selling a wide selection of Mars ferns
I saw at once it was a scam
(Too restless for my usual early bedtime
I was thus particularly sharp in mind)
because of course everyone knows
Mars ferns are pretty and yet so dangerous
all the different ones have their idiosyncrasies
but to a frond they bite and cause hallucinations
fight like devils and spray venom
so of course no one sells them door to door
I was glad she at least had them sealed in
anti-molecular-plastic-retardant expandable
gusset bags.
I recognize these little friends, lady, I told her,
surely if you’re smuggling you’ve got to take what
you can get
but these are really tiny. Can’t be good for business.
They are exceedingly small, she said,
I don’t know what’s wrong.
They have this peculiar rash.
Oh it’s scurvy, I said
Let me get you some orange juice.

Now I have
two hundred
grateful Mars ferns
living in my spare bedroom
soaking up
the ambient radioactivity
and gallons of orange juice
blooming in great big pink
pin-cushiony appendages
and not a hint of trouble
How this happened
I guess is because
the green-haired girl
gave me a great deal and
the house has seemed so empty
since the cat died.



From Unpredictable Hue, published in 2019.


I sit
in a chair. I fish.
The rush of sibilances
across the room while
I strain to grasp them
squeeze them into hard clear shapes
I can hold on to
but they evade me
slipping through my hearing
again and again. The frustration
of fishing and the fish glimpsed
through the water
not caught and
instead laughing at me
while darting away through
the weeds growing up from the mud
those sibilances promising such a meal
and giving up so little.

I sit across the room
and I cast my line.


I Love Who I Love

From Unpredictable Hue, 2019.

I Love Who I Love

Well I creamed up the butter
mixed in the powdered sugar
I said
That icing
is much too good to go on a cake
let me just eat it straight out of the bowl but I
got a grip on myself and got back to work

The cake is waiting and jealous
of attention paid elsewhere because
what is a cake with no icing and I love-hate that icing
so it says and so I hear it even
brand-new out of the oven as it is
It knows the cringe and boast strategy
of overcoming being second-best

though a better approach might be
shouting in a big loud voice
you pretty much need a cake
if you want icing, right? You bet you do
so let’s step up the respect

which I plan to do as soon as I can stop my hand
at present doling out one spoonful of icing for the cake
and one for me
doing it all on its own I swear
and take time to consider
how I can show an improvement in my attitude
about cake and still favor icing
with no feelings hurt

and you know what
I’m not that fond of cake
ordinarily but today
I’d eat half of this cake here
just to get at the icing. All of a sudden it all just breaks down

I am sorry I cannot appreciate you as you deserve
I say to the cake
maybe next time and I
slap on one last smear of icing
quick get a knife
cut out one great big slice
I hardly wait to get it on a plate
before I turn it on its side
separate the icing with a quick stroke
mmm that icing
that icing


TGI Tuesday

From Unpredictable Hue, 2019.

TGI Tuesday

Everyone around me was slurping down a
quick coffee
or snorting out a phone conversation full of laughs
or doing some other time-wasting thing and me too
I was skim-reading a couple of pages in a magazine
the cover filled up with two good-looking
well-groomed people
grinning mouthfuls of teeth and who
you just knew it
would be throwing kisses at the photographer
one second after this photo was taken and
I was wondering
what it would be like to be those people
just go around throwing kisses and
getting my picture taken
Just snapping my gleaming choppers at any and all
and I don’t know why I’m telling you
but everyone is doing it
wasting time I mean and enjoying it and laughing and
let’s get some more coffee! and later on
we’ll go back to our desks and push a little paper –
chew on a pen – untwist some paper clips
the small installments we have to pay
for this five-day-a-week party
more real to us than anything else in life
going on here Floor 21 Great Big Office Tower
and super news! today is only Tuesday!