Thank You for Dreaming (for the incomparable mystery writer, Lynne Murray)

Thank You for Dreaming (for the incomparable mystery writer, Lynne Murray)

Frannie Z


Your dreams cross the Bay

over the bridge

and yield magic.

I thank you yet again

for Sir John  Falstaff,

sexy fat vampire.


Your San Francisco

never stops loving you

as you write her.


How many hills

do dreams cross?

Seven, you’d say.

Your fogs hide,

yet menace.

The past stokes the present,

and vice versa.


You never stop loving

San Francisco

As she writes you.


When I visit,

perhaps I will wear flowers.


Apologies (to the poet Maxine Kumin, in Memoriam)

Apologies (to the poet Maxine Kumin, in Memoriam)


I must have been a handful.

20 year olds want to see, hear

and taste.

20 year old poets think they know


So much new libido to expend.

So much anger to quiet.

And all the time you

were trying to keep her,

your best friend,

from hurting herself.


Anne Sexton’s signature

went from firm and clear

to a three-letter jagged block.

I saw it at BU. Frightening.

If a signature tells a story,

hers showed volumes.

I hope guilt didn’t sear you.


Meanwhile, there I was,

wanting to devour half the world

and sleep with the other half.

No wonder you retreated.


Sadness, confusion.

I am sorry.

I didn’t know,

although your favorite did.

Perhaps if I had been blond, blue-eyed

and Mayflower-related…

but no.

I never practiced sedate.

It wasn’t in my genes.


Nor demure, nor reverent.

And you would not explain.


I am sorry, Maxine.

I guess misunderstandings were fated.

I just hope

that somewhere,

your piano in the corner

is playing

and the cat on your window

is sunning.


I still have no patience for either.



Johnny’s Reef

Johnny’s Reef

Frannie Z


It’s where City Island

meets the Sound.

Since 1950,

in a grand though illicit tradition,

after gobbling fresh fish and


people salute the seagulls

with not-quite empty

paper dishes.


Some make bets

on how long

It will take.


Some wager

on how many.


But those who claim a real sporting instinct,

also bet

On whether they’ll gulp the slaw.


The cats will clean up the rest.




Frannie Z


Imagine that the wind

instead of passing around and over

decided to settle in your ear

and kicked up a storm.

Hailstones, ice pellets, slush

would all descend

into your ear canal.

Not in actual round cold

but in a vapor of hisses,

and sputter the night away,

not in dance

but in moans and static.


You might ask it nicely

to go play somewhere else.

But the spirit of noise nuisance

has no such plans.

Whistling and whooshing,

it turns into the B-52’s,

but without words or tune.

Sometimes it clamors,

sometimes it screams,

sometimes it yodels.

Its repertoire is endless.


The bad part is

that there is no cure.


The good part is

that there is no cure.

But if you stun it with music,

it may retreat,

at least for a while.



Frannie Z


Hoping I wouldn’t see you,

I went to gather news.

Your next door neighbor

told me that your twins

were the light of the block.


She asked me if I wanted her

to tell you I’d come.

I told her no.


Hoping against hope and good sense

that you would understand

and perhaps know,

I looked around one more time

before I left for good

as if my standing there

could draw you out

by some recondite urban magic.


But I figured later

It was just as well.



Frannie Z


To my everlasting fear

and delight,

Russ barreled his old Chevrolet

out of the parking lot

af 100 miles an hour.

He and I sang songs

from the 1950’s and early 1960’s

on dates and over the phone.

It broke my heart in two

when he went with Linda.

For days

I cried scrummy tears

right in class

and even worse, in gym.



But a few months later

he sat next to me in Sex Ed.


We put the bed against the door

in my room

and explored the possibilities.


Twenty years later

he asked me out again.

I said no, but that night

on the way back

we sang.


He’s a DJ now

near LA

with wife number 3

behind the golden California door

of a big classic pink Cadillac.


Cactii flower near his garage,

And he wears suits

Instead of black jeans.


His wife blonds her hair

And goes running

After she shops.


Who knows who they’re voting for?


But every time I sing with the radio,

We still blend.




Could I Live Here (Again)

Could I Live Here (Again)

Frannie Z


They’ve probably

redone the woodwork.

Painted the kitchen

something sober

instead of the bright yellow

that made me warm to it.

If I brought the bookshelves,

carpets and tables back,

and the dishes,

would I hear the ghosts

of voices I loved?

When I opened the door,

would that echo-yet-not

from the stuccoed walls

rest a moment on the air,

making the inrush

of noise almost holy?


A more pressing,

albeit more mundane concern:

Would the elevator still work?

Honoring Fat Women

Honoring Fat Women

Frannie Z


As a descriptor, fat honors.

Lush, full, plus, zaftig

are okay.

But fat is a good, short word.

We are a body type,

not a disease.

And the worst thing

people can do

is hide us

in language.


We exist. We breathe.

Sometimes we dance.

Often, if you grant us the right,

we exercise

and can even

be seen eating



So, toss the baggage.


We’re not starving or

cutting our insides



Full fat.

Like cream,

We taste better.


Statue of Buddha

Statue of Buddha

Frannie Z


In Thailand and Burma

and once, Afghanistan.

Here and now, on top

of an old CD shelf.


He raises generous arms,

greets this present world

and perhaps worlds beyond.


Next to the CD shelf

is a large bookcase.

From his pedestal

Buddha radiates the good cheer

that accrues from mild liquor,

fond reading

and the virtue

of not believing

in certainties.


Ryasna – Belarus

Ryasna – Belarus

Frannie Z


Those killed by pogroms

and Nazis.

fill mass graves.

Chernobyl just downwind

killed more.


The town makes electrical

and medical parts

and looks through buildings

like eyeless hollows.


Too much

to imagine wooden houses

with blue shutters,

dancing soldiers

drinking loudly?


Once, many years ago,

sisters picked wild strawberries

and sang near the river

of lovers

With dark eyes.



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