Thank You!

I started west coast 9 am, but cranked all day to produce some heartfelt words and images. What a high to finish! Thanks for the challenge and congrats to my fellow poets!

By the way — aren’t we lucky to have spouses, family and friends who support our indulgence?


Sitting with Family as Stars Come Out Over Tahoe

Sitting with Family as Stars Come Out Over Tahoe


cricket soundtrack

            light loses to darkness across every fir tip

summer’s dome opens to constellations

                     each mind’s eye meditates, grasps threads

light years, forests primeval, life eons before this moment


                                                   wilderness bewilderment

steel blue ripples muted, sierra monoliths 

             bow to celestial pageantry



June 26, 2021

Habits of a Curated Life After Robert Hass’s Habits of Paradise

Habits of a Curated Life


Perhaps if I left the refrigerator door ajar

it would trend. Would I influence

wannabes, elicit elegance?

(My kitchen sparkles in morning light.)


If I captured the unwavering undertow,

moved waves of followers who yearn

for an ounce of sleekness, and if

this time I cared nothing for adulation,

power, elevated Instagrams, tossed stories,

would my light still beam perfection your way?


A child opens her eyes to a world of 

keyboards and grass, both smooth on skin.

Does it matter which pulls her closer

to herself? Identity is relative, not urgent.

Her smile, one post away from strategy.


Her mother is made of silver. Her mother 

a social media zeitgeist.


Friends and neighbors wait eagerly, eat space & time.

She runs outside, leaves still life for later,

glazes a future with unforgettable moments.

What power, to woo with this magical touch.


June 26, 2021

Ode to My Lululemons

Ode to My Lululemons


You reek of performance

86 percent nylon, 14 percent lycra.

My $98 transports me

to an athleisure world

of no judgment.

Your preshrunk stretch forms to my legs

more flattering than comfy blue jeans.

You never bag, your fabric

wicks away moisture.

You transform my midlife

aches & pains, wrinkles & veins

to chic strength, execution.

I long for your socially acceptable

second skin to lift me, trick me

into my best self.

I hear “Pick me!” from my drawer,

for you are sure, no-fail wear

for grayest, sunniest of days.

Lulus sing of freedom

early peoples knew well

wearing nothing but loincloth.

I’m pretty sure experts

are busy designing elder-leisure

Lulus for octogenarians. 

Sign me up.


June 26, 2021

Aquifer Song

Aquifer Song


pressure over time, I form

porous, deep within earth’s womb

my gravel vessels cradle

a million year snowmelt

I swallow raindrops

descending beads seep soil

form my pools in earth’s underbelly


I quench longing of the ages

my infinite elixir

cleanse you, slake your thirsty lands


but verdant promises shrivel

my tears do not replete your baked soil

you long for water

without grace of conversion

innovate now, build canals

deliver drink –– for crops, mouths


an atmospheric river       empties.

rivulets grow gullies, cutting muddy ravines 

water sanctifies, disguises drought –– for now


over time, heat prevails

arid, your plants & trees wither

you pray for snowpack              a fluid phoenix

it refuses you

drill then, puncture my veins

suction lifeblood –– whose?

unstable terrain, earth crumbles, I collapse


empty, we ache for replenishment


June 26, 2021

How to Make Retirement Look Easy

How to Make Retirement Look Easy

(for Andy)


I’m in awe of those seasoned veterans

how they work a hundred years

leave legacies to shape generations.

They shrug off accomplishment

like an old sweatshirt. Lean in, husband,

let’s be clear:  You and I, unlikely superstars,

visionaries whose thought & actions

guide others in whitewaters of corporate

calamity, lifting others to their best selves.

We don’t need all that show & bravado

––or humility. Some kick-ass, I’m-outta-here

it’s-all-about-me hides under our hats.

I wait in this garden, watch for your

work boots, worn but knowing. Your smile

comes first, stepping across furrows

of fresh time. I think: he’s ready.

Break rules, plant dangerous crops

get ready for rides we’ll be taking

on our next trips around the sun.


June 26, 2021

Late Bloomers

Late Bloomers


Walnut trees stand, a solemn maze of empty branches, 

bloom buried in woody limbs.

Wedged between almond orchards, 

heady pink blossoms fueling spring fever.

Humans & insects dismiss these bare plantings.

Walnuts linger, hold winter vestiges like an old lover.

Awkward tree, odd bloom cycle, produces stems, pinnated leaflets,

Tenderly, hidden in leather husks, walnuts will grow.


I’m reminded of my son’s limbs, twisting wildly in space,

struggles to move, to express himself.

Quicker males, ones picked for teams

dart by, ignore simple words stumbling out.

Perplexed, he finds a nearby swing to fly away.

His journey, slow, experience, a talisman to pocket.

Awkward adult, oddly blooming, navigates life with small steps.

Tenderly, hiding his scars, he too, will grow.



June 26, 2021

Keys to Your Car

Keys to Your Car


You handed coveted car keys to your teenagers,

swallowed gnawing fears & worst-case scenarios


gave pieces of control to a god of independence

that deity empowered with coming of age.


Bumps along the road have softened with time,

speeding tickets of sixteen year olds racing to LA.


You didn’t need details, flat tires on interstates,

near miss passes over double yellow lines.


Somehow a familiar conversation lands in your

living room & email box, not so subtle, fifty years later:


Suggestions that it might be time to hand over 

your coveted set of car keys, swallow headstrong pride,


throw away your freedom, but make it your decision…

How is coming of age, joyous, but aging simply sucks?


June 26, 2021

A Crate of Picked Peaches

A Crate of Picked Peaches


dappled as summer’s sunset

blushed yellow & red, stacked

perfectly in a wooden crate


each rounded cheek boasts

fuzzy flesh, begs teeth

to sink into skin, savor


like Renoir’s velvet still 

tells a mouth-watering story

of sunshine rained sugar


stone fruits: big softballs, plump

water juicing glory

firm, but soft in hand


think of childhood sweetness

moments before waking

dimples upon pillows


magnificent and magnificence

individual and collective, all

uniform attentive spheres


each tree-ripened fruit

peaks at its sweetest tang

picked for this June moment 


sumptuous fragrance whisks me

to a fruit stand, my father selects 

treats for Sunday afternoons


what delight, gift of gods

to eat, peach juice dripping

liquid gold down my arms


June 26, 2021

Reckoning of My Mission Bell 

Reckoning of My Mission Bell 


“Missions were sites of conflict, conquest, and forced labor.”

California History Social Science Framework, 2016.


How much I adored her

cast iron campana, erect in morning light, 

astride a rural bridge, entrance to our home,

          13 plus feet tall, shepherd’s crook holding 

          a California El Camino Real bell, 

          its green patina wizened to dark brown.

I imagined it to say, This hacienda welcomes you!


I’m not sure we can keep her. My husband

          winces, flashes his Are You Kidding Me look.

          Annoyed, he listens.


40 years ago I taught 4th graders 

state history, indigenous peoples’ cultures…

No model missions in my unit

          rather, Spanish settlement & land use. 

          a mention of manifest destiny

          (Somehow I failed to teach how landscape

holds history, genocide of California’s Natives.)


El Camino Real Bell, my husband gifted me

celebrating our dream-home, terra-cotta

saltillo tiles & bells grace our property.

          We even replaced it after theft.

          … A journey of new learning shatters 

          my understanding. My bell, a symbol

of cultural erasure, brutal truths. Crap!


Friday night ladies, chardonnays in hand, talk politics:

Liberals removing historical statues!

They just want to erase history!

          How my conscience writhes, my beloved bell

          weighs like lead in my gut. I learn

          some people have taken down their

El Camino Real bells. Does removal shape change?


I dream of people journeying to foothill baths

          through lands our orchards now occupy. I feel 

          their spirits, hear their weeping.


Time to create a new symbol, new narrative

my own space to acknowledge violence,

California’s colonialism in this shepherd’s crook,

          a curve of dominance, not protection.

          I place a fountain encircled with bougainvillea 

          below, honoring Yokut peoples here before me

whose teardrops fall beneath my mission bell. 


June 26, 2021