I seek you out – hour TWELVE

I seek you out

in sands bathed shadow green and sunset yellow

while grey waters eddy at my feet

and sea creatures float in the shallows before me


I seek you out

with halting cadence and

uncertain language

its logic trail lost


I seek you out

from under love’s ambivalence

with tides rising and

an ocean surface that mirrors nothing


Nothing mirrors an ocean’s surface.






Amelia – hour ELEVEN

My daughter channeled Ethel Merman

when she was little. She

barked out her observations in

decibel levels capable of cutting through any acoustic barrier and

with such delight that during those days

I would have dared anyone to be around her and

remain serious.


SCENE: Grocery Store


AMELIA: Mama, I just love your BIG SMOOSHY BUTT! [rubs face in MAMA’s bottom]

<End Scene>


SCENE: Restaurant

AMELIA and MAMA sit at a small table in center of dining room surrounded by WOMAN PATRON ONE, WOMAN PATRON TWO, TEEN GIRL PATRON ONE, MAN CUSTOMER ONE.

AMELIA: Mama, what color is our VULVA? [ed. note: she means Volvo, the family car. it is green.]

<End Scene>


Now we are both older.

My hearing is bad. I

bark out my caustic observations oblivious to their decibel level

and my daughter is horrified.


SCENE: Cocktail Lounge



AMELIA: Mom, you are talking really loud.


AMELIA: Mom, do you think this is funny?

<End Scene>


The Blunt Nosed Leopard Lizards – hour TEN

Late at night

A blunt nosed leopard lizard couple

burst into song from

the base of an abandoned oil rig just east of Taft

stubby faces alight with pleasure

as they pursue Puccini.

“Che gelida manina,” he croons. She swoons

— as is only appropriate, given the subject matter,

and the kit foxes guffaw because

while their tails may be long

the blunt nosed leopard lizard’s hands

are, in fact, exceedingly tiny.


Semolina – hour NINE

My mother couldn’t cook.

Her cream of wheat was always lumpy.

When I finally realized it was supposed to be smooth

I had already grown to love the lumps.


Butter, not sugar, allowed to melt into a savory

pool of yellow before stirring it in.

Oven door opened to heat up the kitchen on winter mornings.


In India, I eat upma — semolina lumpy because it is supposed to be.

Spices that make my eyes hurt and

my nose run, eaten in

cafes that smell of coffee and cardamom and sweat. Eaten in

a place oven hot.


Americans ask me, “Don’t you think upma is weird?”

Not at all, I say. Semolina should be sharp and not smooth, I tell them.

I wipe the sweat from my face.

My mom made it like this, I say.

It’s a cream of wheat lie that is white and lumpy.

10 Wooden Cups – hour EIGHT

10 wooden cups balanced in a line

each with 4 eggs in different hues of blue


hard boiled for scooping and eating

or peeled and chopped and

mixed with oil and mustard and


served up for the community to

nibble on rye sliced thin to


make it stretch

like fishes and loaves in that unlikely scenario


where people told their story

10 of them balanced in a bowl line woodenly


served up to a community

grief-stricken and

struck dumb as eggs


of any



Blue Healer – hour SEVEN

When the owner said, “Blue Heeler,”

I thought “Blue Healer” because

I don’t know anything about dogs, and

I imagined a service animal that sees

auras and sniffs out sadness


which struck me as odd, given all the

Second Amendment art forms

scattered around the house, but I thought

You just never know, do you? and

decided that the New Age and the

Confederate Flag could, perhaps in this instance, exist in the same sphere.


But “heal” is actually “heel,”

as in the lump of muscle at the

back end of the foot, and

Blue Heelers do just that —

nip at the backs of heels to

make something goes where it’s


supposed to go.

Especially sheep.

They herd them.

Keep them in their groups.

Lead the strays back to the flock.

Protect the flock from prey.


I feel protected writing this poem.

This Blue Heeler at my feet.

And yesterday when you died,

she never left my side and

she even put her head on

my lap when I cried. So


perhaps she is a Blue Healer, the

black and white of her fur

casting its cobalt glow, her eyes

taking me in,

bringing me back

making me whole.

Best Friend – hour SIX

Keep me company, will you?

Just here beside me

and I’ll write one more little something.


You be my couch tomato

set to burst

ripe and ready to go


but first I’ve gotta write

just this one

more thing…

Happy Hour – hour FIVE

Knitting together thoughts found in

other people’s hardback novels,

wine glass poised as if to say,

“Oh! Not me, dear!”


And in that small insufferable space

I wonder how the hell I

said yes to happy hour

when I know you only drink white


and the oak-infused chardonnay you’ve ordered

is rooty enough to make

the pavement split.

The Piano – hour FOUR

My piano is an old Wurlitzer my grandfather

won in a poker game and

nearly sent my grandmother over the edge

when he brought it home at 3am.

It sits in my living room getting even older.


The keys are losing their action and

their ivory — authentic, not the white plastic they

use nowadays — has yellowed in places,

chipped in others but

I keep it all anyway, the way I keep other

memories that aren’t mine yet

claim me.  I am the Grand

Curator of stories not my own.


I sift through the photos from

my mother, tucked into cardboard

albums softened over decades.

Strangers smile back at me. My mother, slim and twenty,

among them.


I have sheet music from my father and

I play their tunes and hear his voice but

it’s the made-up voice of 30s dance halls and 40s big bands

and 50s musicals where the boy gets the girl in the end.

He used too much pedal when he played them and it used to

make me laugh the way the notes would

wash into each other


the way these thoughts wash into each other.

One superseding another. One eddying into another’s surge

eroding both. Leaving me with this

keyboard and these wraiths that aren’t mine but

are what I have.

Technicolor Hills – hour THREE


Technicolor hills

burst into flamingo pink flames and

pierce a cerelean sky

bloodless and leathery

like my arms reaching up

from this 1950s nightmare of hues


finding you cool and updated.

in 70s avocado and mauve.

“Toned down,” you tell me. But

I see the flicker of something more.

Something incendiary,


sleeping till one day when the

alarm clatters and

you’ll turn your morning the color of

finches; your sky —

jet blue and cloudless.