The Cure

Walking a mile most days this plague year
past my workshop and out the gate
down to the mailbox cluster
and the butterbur patch
and up the steep hill
familiar yet
up I


the neighbors’ dogs
bark half-heartedly–
small power outages

in the 90s
one crow caws

a sip of green tea
imagining for a moment
a cool breeze

A Litany

If we were lucky enough
lucky enough in the pandemic
in the pandemic we survived
we survived quite comfortably
quite comfortably we were full of angst
we were full of angst and counted
and counted our blessings
our blessings were many and great
many and great we acknowledge
we acknowledge and yet we fear
we fear for the future
over which we have no
control and let us say
(fill in the blank)


the wolf spider

runs along the rim
of my computer screen

too fast to catch
I wish things had
ended differently

A River Trip

–after River by Esther Kinsky

A middle-aged German woman
lives on the outskirts of London.
It’s an unattractive area and
she knows no one. Eventually,
she befriends the storekeepers
in her neighborhood. Mostly she
walks the tributaries of the great
river. She loves taking pictures with
her Polaroid camera. I, too, once had
a Polaroid I was fond of. I read
the first chapters ecstatically
on a flight across country to
meet my new granddaughter. On my
return flight, picking up where
I left off, the book had suddenly
hit the doldrums. Who changed?
The author? the reader? Perhaps
the novel’s milieu didn’t reward
the woman’s explorations with
any intimacy. In any case, my
interest returned and I finished
the book. Every once in a while
I wonder–where did the passion go?
I think I know.


In the National Puzzlers’ League, Merriam-Webster is the publisher
of two of our standard references. They have a lot to say online
about the many shades of meaning of “normal.” Here are a few
that caught my eye:

The normal spelling rule is “i before e, except after c.”
Oops. Sheila doesn’t follow the rule. I’m in trouble already.

It was just a normal, average day.
Who would ever say that? Get real, M-W.

Cornell researchers showed that monarch butterflies that fed on leaves
dusted with pollen from this [genetically] modified corn grew less and
had higher mortality than larvae that fed on leaves dusted with normal pollen.
— Russell Schoch

Whoa, way to go, M-W! Let’s take that extra space to tell it like it is.

Their reaction to the news was normal and expected.
Then why even bother to make a note of that? Boring.

The noise made it impossible to carry on a normal conversation.
Testy. Beginning to seem more like real (normal) life. Traffic? Cicadas?

… is your home office either your principal place of work or a place
where you meet with customers or clients in the normal course of business?
— Rosalind Resnick and Susie Archer

And what about in the abnormal course of business? Nosy question.

Challenges are a normal part of life; remind yourself of that—and keep going.
— Gabrielle Gayagoy

What would we do without our “lifestyle writers”?

Have a nice, normal, average day!

Doors of Perception

My eyes play tricks on me more often than they used to. Let’s get real — it’s probably
my brain playing the trickster, not my doing-the-best-they-can peepers. Is this poetry
prompt a mailbox? I asked my husband, warming up to the possibility of writing that
Trump/DeJoy diatribe that wells up most days, when I see the paucity of contents in
our locking mailbox. No, the image is the view from a back seat. I guess I’m getting
positive and negative space confused. The ‘Golden Gate Bridge in fog’ image I thought
was painted on metal is the reality outside the metal car box. I could dredge up some
old memories about crossing that bridge, but I’ll save them for the next time I come to it.


shoulder to shoulder
facing us and eternity
Morandi’s dusty bottles


—first line is the last line of Metazoa: Animal Life and the Birth of the Mind by Peter Godfrey-Smith

We enter a garden

on an official garden tour
with the intent to steal ideas

a sculpture garden: art at every turn
with the added bonus of photo ops

a garden for the blind
to refine our sense of smell

an herb garden
to connect with ancient wisdom

a hospital garden to escape
or entertain obsessive thoughts

a vegetable garden
to snitch or harvest

in the bamboo garden
where the wind rustles

learn to control your destructive impulses
in the raked sand and boulder Zen garden

become even more self-controlled
in the succulent garden

but be reminded that
we are not alone
in the community garden

and trust that our lives
fertilize the walled-off
secret gardens of our minds.

Low 70s

Perfect temperature.
Perfect age?
Growing up, always the youngest.
Now, I want to see them grow up.
Four grandchildren!
Cups runneth over all over the place,
all over the globe, it seems.
Sure, I have lots yet to see and do,
but, closest to the bone,
I want to see them grow up.
Even if it’s painful for them/for me?
I want to wave them off into adulthood.
It will be like seeing Aunt Rose
off on the Queen Mary. Bon voyage!
I want to/I need to/I can’t/I won’t/I must/
see them grow up.

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