Even the Ghost is a Comedian

We were playing a board game, Dixit, with our daughter and son-in-law, in which one player says a phrase to clue a picture card. The clue shouldn’t be too obvious, or too difficult. Our son-in-law said, “bad times.” Immediately the power went off and we were plunged into complete darkness. After a few seconds, the lights came back on.

Years before, we were having one of our rare summer heat waves, and we had a fan on in our bedroom. I woke up with the distinct feeling that there was someone in the room with us. I told my sleeping husband about that sensation, even though there was obviously no one else there. A few seconds later, the fan clicked off. “Who did that?” asked my half-asleep husband. “Must have been that guy. Who else?” We were both in bed, across the room from the fan.

The Nature of Reality

I wake up to beautiful blue sky
and a tsunami warning on my iPad.
I check news and weather reports,
but find nothing on earthquakes
or other natural disasters.

Hours later, a message appears
saying the warning was a test.

I take my daily walk
with no device
on my wrist or in my pocket.
No steps will be counted.
Does my walk do me any good?

Here Goes

One of four small prints
in which a large, mouse-gray circle
floats up towards the top edge.
Like a raggedly clipped head of hair
the brushstrokes overlap
in every direction.
The ether in which it floats
is pink with orange and violet-gray
casts. There is a softly-textured
irregularity to the whole thing.

I was testing a new technique.
It was only a test.
It’s nothing, really.
It’s everything, maybe.

(a tanka)

fat orb weaver
squatting in her web
trapping and wrapping
a soft plucking from the edge
announces a tiny doomed suitor

Red Light at Morning

A Golden Shovel from Kimiko Hahn’s poem “The Dream of Bubbles,” in her book Brain Fever.

Smoke is obscuring the sun, the
message it brings is of unborn
dreams from the north. It may
remind us always to be
grateful. We are seeing
the grief and ashes of some-
where else. Light is a telltale thing.

Put Down Your Pencils (a ghazal)

This poetry prompt prompted only a pout:
Purposefully vague, we’re to write from the inside out.

Weep for us all, our president is a lout,
He distracts me from writing from the inside out.

He’s a con man, a creep, his daughter’s products he touts,
Such corruption breeds leaks from the inside out.

If only we had power, if poor people had clout,
I wouldn’t be writing from the inside out.

In my dreams, they turn tail, their defeat is a rout,
Prison memoirs they write from the inside out.

My conscience says, Sheila, abandon all doubt,
Resist, do what’s right, from the inside out.

We’re All Connected

I tell the cashier at the food co-op that this is the first time I’m using my new, post-hacking credit card. I tell him how unambitious this particular hacker was: all he bought was a few items via iTunes, totaling just over a hundred dollars. David, the cashier, says that one time his hacker stayed in a nice place on the Oregon coast, spent a lot of money at a fancy kite store, etc. I feel sorry for my hacker, who seems to share my tendency towards self-denial. I do like his pseudonym, however, which I learn from Michelle, the iTunes customer service rep: Algernon Jones.

(a tanka)

horse and dog books
have their own special shelf
in the children’s library
learning about love and loss
on the accelerated track


Office supplies piled high
should stir my heart and mind
but he defiles all he touches

When they’re used as empty props
to support his thieving aims
he inflames my heart and mind

Virgin folders make it plain
he’s never really worked at all
and when we’re asked to compare

the merits of his policies
based on the amount of paper saved
I exit the political theater

Liminal Capitalism

Thanks to my latest hacker, I have a new credit card. This one not only has a chip, of course, but the capacity to make purchases via tapping. Simply tap the card on the terminal. I haven’t had the opportunity to do that yet. I look forward to experiencing the thrill of crowding onto that cutting edge with the rest of the up-to-date buyers. The rate of technological innovation accelerates. We must keep up, even though the overall condition of the earth seems not to be improving.

I once saw a startlingly clear drone photo of a beach resort. The receding wave’s irregular lacework was frozen in one of its infinitely random macrame designs. The beach umbrellas had been arranged in straight, evenly-spaced rows of primary colors. The minds of nature and humankind are facing off, as usual. I suppose there will be a winner and a loser. In the meantime, I’ll share my new string of digits with all my pay pals.

1 2 3