word limited poem – #12

Well, it’s just happened; the happy half-marathon
has come to an end. How could this be?
No 12 hours ever before flew so swiftly by.
yet now I must bid you all good-bye
holding gratitude for your challenging guidance –
not to mention inspirational variety.

Perhaps new friends will emerge
along with helpful feedback offered.
In any case, expect me back next time around
bells a-jingling for 24 full rounds. Helpful Hint:
short gardening stints work wonders
between stanzas and lines. Some dirt
beneath these nails, but clear-headed
and stalwart the brain. Thanks again everyone ūüôā


swallowtail jig – #11

high energy fingered tune
for tapping toes, knees stepping high
partnered bodies reeling across the room
skirts and shirtflaps aflutter, flushed faces
relentless good times after hard work
with joyful abandon


color – #10

I love our annual Green-Up day
how we gather as a community
to clear winter’s debris, the white

styrofoam cups and black plastic
packs from take-out or -home,
the yellow banana peels turned black

from winter’s long cold, the amber
beer bottles with their red markings
and the occasional blue unmatched mitten

our own fingers turning pick
from picking up trash and placing it
into those long green garbage bags

lettered to remind us that litter
is a shared affront to us and the land —
our entire state of being.


spider – #9

One day I walked carefree through woods
acred behind my childhood home, only to return
red-skinned with fast-moving blotches rising up
that morphed soon enough to full-body swelling.

I was immersed in cold water with baking soda
as my older sister gasped alternately
with laughter and disbelief at the sight growing
before her eyes across my body.

Not only was my walk carefree but apparently
careless as well: I had walked right through
a red spider mite nest, to which I am
obviously quite allergic. Ever since

when I encounter spider webs, I react
(overly, perhaps) by flailing my arms to release
the sticky threads that would cling to me,
with apologies for disrupting a day’s hard work.


golden shovel – #8

I call upon all of us, the people, WE
to take to heart our shared need to seek
for ourselves, each and every one – not
point to ‘others’ or ‘them’ or ¬†‘the rest’ –
take upon ourselves a goal of transformation.

This can only happen if we
are willing to be accountable, honest; are
able to listen deeply and stop dancing
around the elephant in the room through
blame, hyperbole, making of each
the ‘other’
as if that could possibly solve anything, as
if there weren’t already between us enough closed doorways.

We seek not rest but transformation./We are dancing through each other as doorways.from ¬†‘Circling’¬† by Marge Piercy


from inside, out – #7

I chose this tagline for my weekly writing project
in Vermont for its duality –¬†bringing incarcerated women’s words
from inside, out –
and intentional  layers of meaning.

Over the eight years of practice, we have indeed
brought many words out, words that have spilled
onto fast-written pages and found their way

into our weekly blog, into our quarterly anthologies,
even into our more widely-read published book.
Words that have told of pain and confusion,

of betrayal and loss; of children not seen since birth
taken by distant relatives, by unfit fathers, by the state;
of losing battles with serious addiction and of winning

the right to freedom – WITH all kinds of restrictions
and caveats and requirements that would put most of us
under such pressure, we would cave before starting.

And yet I have witnessed wonderful women
pull themselves through the pile of paperwork,
the stupefaction of stigma, the challenges of chaos

to return home, rebuild a sense of self, find work,
and even in the face of all odds, honor their inner pledge
to become whole again – from inside, out.



layered stanzas – #6

Racing against time and myself to complete
promised deliverables with enough time to take hold,
enough care to survive, enough space to grow
and expand into meaningful connection

I think of the daughter who plans
each moment of her classroom day, goals
and activities devised to stretch young minds,
teach them to think, link facts to reach meaning; and the other

her focused attention on the dog before her,
each practiced movement precise, intentioned,
a sequence learned like a dance, its results beauty
and satisfied clients; and how my son yearns

for distraction when he contemplates
the task at hand, to complete credentials
to plan a meaningful future for himself and family.
What is it about our relationship to time,

to process and ultimately produce
that makes us tick with different beats,
move forward and back within the pendulum
of time, measured or not, and yet succeed?

Like Penelope, I unweave my stitches
again and again, as if I did not want to finish
the project so eagerly begun. And yet
I have learned,¬†it’s important to work well;

not to be free of mistakes – after all,
the flaw proves the humanity, the meaning –
but because there is joy in a job well done
and lessons to be learned along the way.


adriatic memories – #5

we were so young, one of us petulant in the extreme
refusing to remain in the car backing downhill, or
picking at food offered with nothing but reproof

the other two of us younger still not yet teens,
entranced by the smells at corners we named
on our daily walks to the sea – lavender, beer

and urine – little understanding the import
perhaps, but nonetheless loving the feel
of the exotic. It was an other world for us both,

getting sun poisoning and needing to stay indoors
under cool sheets in the dark for long hours
while her older sister went about her day

alone; or the time we huddled together
to watch “Some Like it Hot” from¬†the stone-edged
window of the hall’s only bathroom, much to the outrage

of their parents and other guests; and how
could I forget the tortured hot-sun march
uphill under the father’s strict glare

while we chanted COLD РJUICY РPEACHES
both to keep us motivated and remind us
what awaited at the greatly anticipated end

of the climb. This was summer, early 60’s, on the island
of Hvar off Split (then Yugoslavia), with family
friends (German) and us two younger girls

so innocent. Who would have known then
that another decade or so hence I’d revisit
the same town with a different companion,

from whom I split over disagreements
concerning food, travel and lodging,
the prevailing custom being to choose,

on arrival by bus or train, the most appealing
person offering a bed for the night. Not much to go on
but proximity, since  bags were on us.

I spent two nights with a grandmother
who got up every hour to use her bedpan;
and another with folks I met along the way

still too young in my 20’s to understand
what was before me, let alone within; and now
nothing of that time or place is left to return to

but a handful of memories newly prompted
to which I shall gratefully return.


portrait of a morning – #4

The slow drizzle of gray-turned-rain
laps gently on the canvas covered deck
tapping its own rhythm to the quiet continuo
of Corinthian chimes muting the wind

the slow drizzle of gray-turned-rain
sliding off branch and rail, soaking
the thirsty ground as yellow finches
and the occasional hummer in search of food

lap gently on the canvas covered deck,
the day’s rhythms of hunger and its filing
marking the passage of hours, staging
the shape of a day. Downhill the new house rises

tapping its own rhythm to the quiet continuo
of our life here, its shape and pace
undisturbed by change, though
change unfolds all around us.


alight – #3

photo-1490842095300-052469284362she walks toward darkness
as surrounding sky deepens
into night, her path unclear without
the familiar to guide her; yet within
her spirit blazes alight with trust
in what lies ahead.