40 Gunshots

Erasure poem taken from New York Times Feb. 14th 2018

















“Oh my God!


40 gunshots




Dear Tammi, Age 37, After a the Birth of your Daughter, After a Brush with Death,


You are not so young anymore


too young to worry

about leaving your children,

too young to fear death.

So I can tell you this:

Look for the sun beating on the dew covered lawn

scattering the watery drops of morning.

Remember even when rain beats

Upon the daffodils, bending them to the ground

they spring back to bask in warmth.

Know you are more than an unresolved condition,

More than an anomaly

More than an aberration

More than a fractured heart.

Believe in tomorrow.



Not Enough Coffee

Sometimes there isn’t enough coffee

to wake me from my fog

after evening moonbeams

and too much wine

and the morning hush

reminds me it’s too

damn early.

The Fault in Our Stars


Beading the night sky

one hundred billion galaxies


Surely, this vastness

signifies some power

beyond, in the night sky

some salvation

for humanity…



I ponder

Cassius’ words 

“the fault is within us”

Within us?


So I wonder

whose to blame for the bloated bellies

of starving children,

and the dried husks of corn?

whose to blame for fleeing

refugees and dead children

riddled with holes?


Do the stars decide

Who lives? Who Dies?

Who we love? 

Do I tell my children our lives

are controlled by fate,

by some greater power?


Beading the night sky

one hundred billion galaxies


And I continue to wonder …





In college he lived on three things:

Heavy metal, beer and



He hated the nine to five grind,

people and mowing the lawn.


… now we have three kids and live in white

picket fence suburbia.



“Goodbye, my love,” he says

kissing her ashen lips.


Our hearts break as

we leave you at the hospital

for the last time

and we cry into our wine and eat

a meal meant to comfort.


I drive my father home,

leave him in an empty house

without his one true love                                                         


You live in our memories         

in our salt ocean vacations     

in snapping campfires and leaky tents   

in bicycle rides and picnics                                                                              


My father’s call comes late that                                                          

evening. “She’s okay,”                                                               

my father says

as he walks through                                                                    

her empty room,                                                                         

touches her empty bed.

“She’s playing our song,”

he says …                                                                                     “Unforgettable.”


You live in our memories

you call to us in a song

whisper to us in our dreams

remind us in a note left behind

in handwriting we can’t read.

“Unforgettable. That’s how you’ll stay.”



Literally Stuck

How do I explain how I came to be stuck


in this dark, rank space

where people come to shit?


Yes,  I’m literally stuck in

the crapper.


Oh, The Horror!

The Horror!


How do I explain the rusty

lever refusing to release as

I tug and tug  and bang

on the unyielding door?


Perspiration beads my brow

as the noxious odor makes me

feel faint?


Oh the Horror!

The Horror!

How do I explain my plight to my

friends laughing uproariously?


Finally maintenance will pry me out

the lights of the football field.

never more welcoming,

after being literally stuck in the crapper.

An Elegy to My Mother/Hr 5


She’s showing me how to make spaghetti sauce: The trick is in the brown sugar.

She’s sitting on wet bleachers watching me dash into the dense woods, never once complaining.

She’s turning 40, looking more like my older sister than my mother.

She’s beautiful but her fingertips are numb.

She’s with me admiring the same handsome professor, suggesting I pick this college: I do.  

She’s singing and dancing and helping me select a wedding dress.

She’s walking slowly.

She’s babysitting her grandson, her first grandchild.

She loves being a grandma.

She’s growing lesions on her brain.

Her legs no longer carry her.

She’s falling down, babysitting her grandchildren is hard.

She wishes she could take them to the park,

push them on the swings, play in the sand …

She has so many, many wishes.

She holds them tight on her lap and sings. 

She doesn’t want to let them go.

She’s the best grandma.

She can no longer eat.

Her food is pushed through a tube in her stomach:

She has a taste for beer.

She can no longer speak.

She wants to talk to me, there are so many things

she wants to say.

She has a machine inflating her lungs.

Her is body ravaged by infection.

She is voiceless now. We lean in close, read her lips.

How are you? she asks.

I want you to be happy,  she says.

She always smiles, through the pain.

Her body is broken. She wants to stay with us.

She says, I want to live.

She’s so tired of fighting.

She says, Let me go



I’ve been here before.

Many times we have paced

The long hospital corridors




Waiting for you to heal.


Many times we have sat by your

bedside listening to the

whir of machines, the beeps

of monitors




You always came home to us.



everything changed

Dad’s choked words,

“Mom died,”

pound in my ears

As I run to you,

down the long hospital corridor,




This time there is only stillness.


Summer Walk/Hr 3

Summer Walk Prompt 3 


A red truck tucked in the arm of a tree

reminds me of skinned knees and broken

bones and of trinkets left behind

by a reclusive character from a favorite book


i read


twice …

three times …



A child in a pink romper, crying, all 

snot and tears,

a broken red tricycle

discarded on the lawn,

reminds me of a

rusty red wagon


i pulled my

brother in once


three times,



Concert in the part at 7,

a Food Truck at City Hall,


yellow daffodils leaning

into a summer breeze

and I’m reminded of

how my mother

loved her backyard


splashed with

yellow once


three times,