She decorated the butterfly net
Like one would expect her to:
Pink ribbons tied on the handle.
They fluttered in the gentle breeze
As she reached out a tiny hand,
And scooped up the small snake.
The science teacher said, “That is a great specimen”
The English teacher said, “Though she be but tiny, she is fierce”
She donned her graduation gown
Like the other girls did, too,
Over her dress and high heels.
And those who remember the pink ribbons
Smile, and watch to see what happens next.

Swallowtail Jig

And sometimes
When she slips on her faded tartan shirt
And liberates her hair from its braid
When the sun kisses her fair cheeks
And her eyes glow emerald

He thinks he catches a glimpse of something
Ancient and ageless
He thinks he catches a fragrance of something
Heather and peat
And he would not tame her
Even if he could

I Noticed

The dragonflies hovering around the cemetery were copper, I noticed,
As I tuned out the useless voices droning at the head of the casket.
Copper dragonflies, as it turned out, made me feel better.

The dragonfly my daughter hennaed onto my hand was copper, I noticed,
As I listened to her soft alto, laughing at the table with her best friend.
Copper dragonflies, as it turns out, still make me feel better.


I said no and
The sky did not fall.

I said no and
The police did not call.

I said no and
The world did not end.

I said no —
I might say it again.


We looked so carefree and happy, and
No one was allowed to know that we were not.
We maintained the requisite image — laughing and waving.
No one saved us from the black waters underneath; but
We saved ourselves. And we are no longer drowning.

A Golden Shovel poem, based on the line “and not waving but drowning” from the Stevie Smith poem, “Not Waving But Drowning”.

*Volta — the turn at the end of the poem that marks a dramatic shift in tone

Inside Out

Is a funny

It cowers inside
Jockeying for position
With your heart
And lungs
And sometimes — oh
With a rude jolt
To the bladder.

It takes up space
Preferably occupied
By your hopes
(don’t bother)
And dreams
(don’t dare)
And sometimes — ow
With a painful blow
To your ego.

But Fear
Is just a

Take it out
Into the light
Hold it in your hand
(tickle it, see what happens)
Put it in your pocket
(pull it out to frighten the others)
And sometimes — yes
Look it in the eye
And tell it no.

Because Fear
Is just a


I whisper words onto paper
Under a conjured name.

It’s delicious, the magic of it;
Me, but not myself
Mine, but not my own.

I drink in the murmured approvals
Uttered in keystrokes
Sent, ephemeral and
Equally anon.

It’s addictive, the potion;
Fiction, yet reality
Fantasy, yet the truest of my truth.

I’ve whispered words onto paper
Under a conjured name
And now I wonder
If I’ll

My Hometown

They call her “The Queen City”
In the brochures (for the guests) —

Not arrogant or commanding
(like a King City)
Not authoritative or demanding
(just relax and be) —

No, simply “The Queen City”
Reigning quietly as the best.


I didn’t know you were my favorite —
I whispered it in your ear, just in time
Before you left me with all the rest.

I didn’t know you were my favorite –
That might have made it awkward,
Here amongst the living.

I whispered it in your ear, just in time.
And I’m sure you heard me,
And I think you smiled.

Before you left me with all the rest,
You did the lifetime of things
That made you my favorite.

Eternity, Now

Exhausted from the debate

From the not-knowing

From the never knowing —


Her questions were too much

And their answers never enough.




She chose to enter eternity

Sooner rather than later.


Rest, my friend.

Rest now,

And for eternity.


(for my friend N)