Zoom!  Olive looks worried, those big black labrador eyes stare into the webcam. She’s starting to tear up.  Has she done something wrong? Maybe she’s chewed Andrew’s new shoes, those white nikes worn only twice.  Maybe she’s desperate, pleading to go out. Why won’t Andrew step away from his laptop, end this meeting, open the screen door?  Mabel keeps messing about. She’s fiddling, turning her video on and off, grabbing her squeaky toy, looking anywhere but at Andrew, her dear old boss.  She’s bored, doesn’t want to Zoom anymore.



NOTES:  After Andrew Cotter’s YouTube video:

“BBC sports commentator holds hilarious Zoom meeting with his dogs”   Posted 5/12/20.

         Hour 3, 8 am, PM 2020





  1. Gather your tools. Know what you’re doing.  Step up.  Shake a leg.
  2. In the immaculate kitchen one should not be deterred.
  3. You are the god. Purify!  99% effective everywhere – bleach infused. Wipe, wipe. Pretend you’ve forgotten that 1%.  Pretend you’ve invincible.
  4. Purify is your mantra. Say it again.  A hundred times.
  5. In the immaculate kitchen one must be adamant. Quarantine non-perishables like your very own self.  Any old remote closet or garage will do.
  6. Forget what you risked in the grocery’s narrow aisles for that oatmeal, crackers, flour, pasta, cookies, dried mango, coffee filters. Stow them. Out of sight, out of mind.  Shut your heart to them for three days.
  7. Don’t cheat! In the immaculate kitchen one should not lie. That bleach on the spouts of milk cartons? Shut your eyes.  Count to 100.  Say it again, purify, purify.
  8. Don’t inhale.  Avoid the eyes.  Wash your hands until they are raw.
  9. Those gloves you thought would save you? Sweaty, musty, water-logged.
  10. You are the god. Turn on the fan. Shut/open your eyes.  In the immaculate kitchen one should not be deterred.



SYLVIA                                        (HOUR 1, 6am Poetry Marathon 2020)


Her family didn’t know

what to make of her.  They wanted

her to shut up, stop talking about

what went on in that two-story house – the


stifling, the screaming, the belt descending,

the shutting down, out; the endless

you aren’t doing whatever you’re told.

The sniping.  Lies. Mum’s. Da’s. The hands,


always the hands in the wrong spot.

The shoulder, the waist.  Lower, not

to be mentioned.  Not even

here – on the blank page – god no,


not even there.  Shut up, put your fingers

in your ears.  Mum’s the word.  Hers.

Should be yours.  Make yourself smaller,

shrink your eyes, your heart, go away.


Don’t try to make him, her stop.



Hello 2020!

Hello everyone,

This will be my third time participating in The Poetry Marathon!  I am so very much looking forward to writing in community, especially during this upside down, social distancing, anxiety-ridden, inspiring, and challenging time.

Many thanks Caitlin and Jacob!

Happy writing to all!


Poor Madame X – her indolence all exposed:

one never does a lick of work

in a little black dress with jeweled straps like this


Poor Madame Pierre Gatreau

her soul’s bare shoulders exposed –

her identity speedily reviled by haute society.


Poor John Singer Sargent disparaged by Paris’s best –

his second version made matters worse —

where there was two now only a single shoulder strap.


NOTE: “Hand-grenade of sexuality” is Jonathan Jones phrase from his article in the Guardian UK about the painting:

DOUBLE DARE (hour 21, PM 2017)

Sing me a song of eternal sunshine

pocket full of broken stones


tall as the sky, deep as the ocean


Sing me a song of deepest night

pocketful of dead stars


vast as the last galaxy, deep as a wormhole


Sing me a song of a billion euros

bottomless pocket full of used bills


tall as the world bank, deep as a zero


DROUGHT (hour 20, PM 2017)

No rain in nearly two months.

The sunshine is glorious, but with no access

to an outdoor spigot or hose, I struggle

to water the garden’s plants.


The balcony is long as the house, my mistress’s plants plentiful.


She’s turned her back.

Again. Walked away;

we’re no longer speaking.

The watering can almost empty.


The balcony is long as the house, my mistress’s plants plentiful.


Berthe Morisot, Young Woman Watering a Shrub, 1876 (Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond)

STASIS: FIVE YEARS ON (Hour 19, PM 2017)

The laws of gravity don’t hold here –feet float

unless tethered – to a box, a table, a window frame.

I am stretched out, thinned by the space’s curve,


the loss of earth’s reliable time. Tick, tock,

there is nothing to be done, held

as we are in individual bodies, capsules


molded to our fragile skin, then sealed

as if ticking bombs, unpredictable,

easily detonated, then dispersed into darkness.


I read the remaining book, again and again,

seeking clues – anything that might explain

what we think we are supposed to be doing.


Come in, come in.

Roger. Over and out.

Is anyone listening outside myself?


Vowels and consonants –

unfamiliar sounds.

TABLE FOR TWO (hour 18, 2017)

Let me sit awhile, here, on your porch.

Let me relax, and recall what it’s like to be still

and present, as if there were no past


to shuffle around like so many doctored photos

of meals I once ate, hotels I once slept in,

friends and exes, and others I once loved.


Let me rest here awhile, quietly at home

amongst the sleeping teacups & saucers for two –

as if that were my childhood’s doll and my dearest


whose chair has just now been abandoned for places unknown.

Let me pour out memory’s delicate brew, savor the downhill view.

Let me imagine this is a memory I once recalled.


Berthe Morisot, Doll on a Porch, 1884 private collection, Portland

— viewed in Women Impressionists

CLIMBING (Hour 17, PM 2017)

    “Despite her [Marie Bracquemond] gifts, despite her striving, despite  her enthusiasm, the day came when with an obscure feeling of grief, she had to confess herself beaten.”

    — Jean-Paul Bouillon, “Marie Bracquemond: The Lady with the Parasol” (Women Impressionists, p. 242).


Never met a ladder I liked –

not the trap door pull-down device

to my childhood attic, nor the sketchy plywood versions

in construction sites where my brothers hid

and snickered as we circled below, our bikes

tied outside like royal steeds.


But that never stopped me

hauling myself up, hand over hand, until

I reached the upper limits, and could rest

hands on hips, as if lord

of all I surveyed below.


Blame it on grandma who climbed

a ladder at 82 to prune her trees,

and fell, breaking her back in two places

then recovering in one sweet week, as if

such a fall only required dusting oneself off,

then retying your apron strings.


Never met a ladder that made me sad

until I saw Woman on a Stepladder

why did you stop drawing?


—-response to Marie Bracquemond Woman on a Stepladder, 1882 (private collection; printed in Women Impressionists p. 243)