Sister Nine Days

Nine days ago, I met the sister of my heart.
Nine days ago the sun shone upon my hair
Warming me, protecting me,
Nine days ago, I had a friend
But when the storms began
When insanity ruled, when Judas
Of Florida laughed as he killed.
My heart was emptied of hope
That nine days ago was a beginning.

Sister of my heart, you didn’t leave
although the others rushed to the door
Pushing and shoving with delight
At the demise of the old man.
You didn’t dance on his grave,
You didn’t laugh at the freedom
Of chaos, of hopeless indignation.
You raged against the hopelessness.

Nine days ago, I believed in sanity.
Nine days ago warmed by the defense
I mounted against hypocrisy,
Thinking that I understood the writers
Thinking that peace should be upheld
Wanting to restore a dream, a wish,
Finding instead a man under the Judas tree,
Destroying by silvery lies, complicity with
Ignorance. I thought you gone, sister.

Somewhere in the woods, you saw me,
Tears in my eyes as I thought
That our sisterhood lay unbound
Beneath the hoof prints of Percheron.
I heard your voice call me back from
The enveloping darkness,
Calling me back from the fragile line
Between creativity and madness.
I will tread softly praying, to no God but hope,
That you will stay within the orbit of our meeting.

(for Carrie)

Kite Song

Kite Song

I fly away listening to the sound
of sun warming the air.
I fly to the top of Castillo San Felipe del Morrow
and turn, turn again, spiraling up,
Twisting on heaven’s winds.
Are you urging me to fly?
Higher and higher? Into fluffy ice cream clouds?

Staccato pearls of laughter from a child.
Could it be me, young again?
As if I could reach up and snip my kite string!!

Traveling trails of dragon’s breath, spun
Of bright reds, greens, and yellows,


While Higher and higher, blues compete with clouds.
Children, made of flying happiness,
Shriek with delight. Just catch the strings
and follow the wind to rainbows and free.
Sunday passes families stretching their hearts to the sky,

Racing each other to the top of the hill.
Kites fly across borders, over the old fort and cemetery.

Mama sits on her blanket and reads.
While she sits, I fly to the top of the world.

The Drive to the Hospital

My mother-in-law made my father-in-law follow me for the first five years I lived in Virginia. She was worried that I had no sense of reality, couldn’t recognize trouble, and would end up shot by some deranged person. If I told them where I was going, they would drive slowly behind me as I walked around DC. They thought I didn’t see them, and they were right. I was always focused ahead of myself, full of anticipation of the adventures before me.

It wasn’t long until I became a pregnant walker, heading to a job, living in a neighborhood that was filled with “interesting” characters. Life was full of roach poems, bus rides, and walks to monuments where my soldier husband was lined up with the Old Guard to provide historical presentations, security cordons, and presentations of the gun salute at funerals in Arlington Cemetery. He looked so good in that blue dress uniform, tall, straight, handsome, and a bit out of focus because he didn’t always wear his glasses. I followed him like the puppy I am inside: positive, happy, always looking for an adventure.

Adventures always have a point of risk. The family tried to keep mine to a minimum, after all I was about to become a mother. When I went into labor, my husband panicked, my in-laws panicked, and my neighbors panicked. No one seemed to have ever done this before, this birthing thing.

I found myself tossed delicately into our old blue station wagon that only worked on alternate weekends. Final destination? Walter Reed Army Medical Center, whose name is as big as the facility. Off we roared, exhaust system on auto pilot, hitting every pot hole in Washington, DC. I was not a happy camper.

Up, down, up, down, down, up. It was not a surprise that when we were a mere four miles for the hospital, the car broke down. We coasted into a gas station, and out my husband leaped looking for a taxi or his father to be home to rescue us. I’m sure that the payphone on the corner of the building had never heard such panic. That’s when I decided that in the car I could do nothing to calm him down. So out I gingerly got, trying to move slowly so that the bumps and bruises inflicted by the car wouldn’t mutiny against me.

I stood there for only a few seconds when one of the guys hanging around and ignoring my husband, except for some rather funny comments about a white guy in a black neighborhood having a panic attack, saw me for the first time.

“Oh lady, are you in labor? How far apart are the contractions?”

Enter a new adventure, for he ran to the car and caught my arm.

“Which hospital?” And that’s how my husband turned to see me being stuffed into a mustang by an energetic and rather panicked black man with my suitcase in his other hand.

“What are you doing with my wife?”
“Shut up and get in the damn car. It’s going to be okay, lady. Just breath easy and let me know if the baby decides to arrive before we do.”
“Have you delivered a baby before? What’s your name? Why are you helping us? Will my car be okay or will it be on bricks before we get back?”
“Shut up, man, your wife is having a baby.”

We arrived at the hospital in plenty of time. I hugged my young hero and grabbed my suitcase. Both men tried to grab it back, but this was my adventure. The suitcase stayed in my hand.

“Listen, man, thanks for the help. I don’t know how to thank you.”

“Just don’t judge a book by the off-duty color man. You are Army, I’m Air Force. Now, go help your wife deliver that baby.”

It’s a lesson that has followed my husband ever since, and when he forgets, I remind him, pointedly. Our son was born with all of the toes and fingers a mother could desire. It was the beginning of another adventure, one I’m still on.

At Bat

Just let it come. It’s looking for you.
Stand still, head steady.
Breathe. Inhale.
Focus on the pitcher,
The ball will come.

Don’t worry over balls.
They weren’t for you.
Focus your eyes.
Open your eyes, larger, larger.
The mound moves.

The pitcher moves.
Slow motion, hand curving.
Eye on the ball.
One third of a second and
You swing.

You can do this.

“A Dog’s Life”, an exercise in similes

A dog’s life, oh I wish.
If I could spend my day
Lounging and lying in the sun,
Gnawing on shoes, bones, and wood,
Carrying stones as if they are puppies
That need the barking of a mother
Oh, dinner prepared for me
Filet Mignon, Strip Steak
And licking the plate clean
Sitting up at night, dedicated,
Watching at the window
For people, wind, and snow.
Waiting at the door for love,
For you to come home when you can.
Summersaulting with joy year round.
Always loved and needed, hugged,
I wish I had a dog’s life,
Its calm and lovely life.

“As One Mad with Wine” a study of similes in poetry

“As one mad with wine”
The bottle swirls and twists
One after the other
My thoughts disappear
Until my humanity is gone
And I feel nothing, nothing,
Voices come and go,
Loudly they demand attention
Finally I stand and fist raised
I twist and swirl until the view
Goes black.

Following Rules

Regarding rules Of capital letters
At the beginnIng of each line,
I got yOur message,
about hOw the meaning
of the pOem
is the impOrtant thing.
TraditiOn placed
the largE letters at the
My use Of the lovelies
never wAs about the
meaning, bUt was the act
of clinging wIth despair
so that I dOn’t get pulled
off my wall Of security.
See what hAppens when
become rAttled?
The cApitals
on the lEft are my nod
to sanity, pUrpose,
Anything else
is just my clUtching the
margins sO I don’t get
pulled intO the insanity
of all thAt follows.



Unlike most, my nemesis is not an evil company or disease that takes your life and turns it upside down. No, my nemesis is my son, my beautiful golden son. He was a good boy as a toddler, picking up his toys and going to bed in the evenings when I declared it was bedtime for him. He would snuggle under his blanket with his stuffed bear and close his eyes tightly declaring he was already asleep. He ate everything on his plate, new foods included. He was perfect.

That perfection led to school, where he knew everything without being told. That led to not doing the daily work the teacher’s required. That led to failure on his report card, although all of his tests were As. I taught youngsters in the fifth grade and watched over them like a mother hen. No one watched over my son’s work, although I tried.

I caught him in the garage when he was in high school building a time machine. That’s what he called it anyway. When confronted about why he was building a time machine, he did respond to me.

“I’m making it just in case I need to go back in time and correct my mistakes.”

He worked on the machine to the exclusion of every thing else. He stopped eating, going to school, and doing his own laundry. His face grew gaunt. The luster fell out of his golden hair, turning it to a dish water blond. But his eyes grew in excitement with every new turn of his project. I was called to the school for conferences, but I went to seek answers. They told me that I would be jailed if I couldn’t get him to school on time. The conversation was not pleasant.

“Son, you have to go back to school. They are threatening me with jail time.”

“Mom, I’m so close to finishing this. I’ll make it right soon, I promise.”

I was arrested a week later. The judge sentenced me to two weeks in county jail with a fine of $25,000.00. When I told him I had no way of paying the fine, he said I could stay in jail until I came up with the money. Of course, I appealed his decision. I was allowed to go home until the jury trial.

“Son, I have to pay $25,000 now. Why won’t you go to school? They are incarcerating me!”

“Mom, I’m almost done.”

The morning of the retrial, I was fidgeting and worried. I had no lawyer, none would touch the case.

“Keep your kid in line and you won’t need a lawyer,” was the response I had been given.

We rose as the judge and jury came into the courtroom.

There was a door slammed shut as a handsome blond man came in with a pile of paperwork. He stepped into the bar and presented himself as my attorney. After being acknowledged, he waited for his turn to speak.

“Your honor, this woman has been a good parent and there has been a gross injustice here in accusing her of any of these charges. I have here the school records of her son, from elementary school through high school. The record keeping has been atrocious. I would like to present these records to show her son’s consistent attendance in school. The school records had him enrolled in one set of courses when he had been assigned to a completely different set.”

I couldn’t even speak. I was confused. I was also exonerated.

At the trials end, he gathered his materials, winked at me and left. I went home, the garage was empty but my son was sitting on the step with a cup of tea for me.

“I finished it, mom.”

Born of a Brass Band

Born of a Brass Band

My earliest memory was standing on my father’s feet playing my wonderful horn. He had the big trombone and called me his second chair. Trombones make a tenor sound. The sound lies to the outside world, “Here I am. I shine. I spew, I rock the world.” How could a daughter ask for less? We would stand outside the baseball stadium waiting for the game to end. Chill air ending September and leading into fall bussed with crickets, peep frogs, katydids, and toads. My lips would buzz, my mouth would buzz, my teeth would hold the mouthpiece firmly so it wouldn’t fall off my chin. Dad would look down at me hopping with both feet and smiled with his eyes.The little boy next to me and equal in size to me would be known as the brother with another mother. Dad winked at him. Brother to the stomp, the sousaphone little boy next to me had a grin the size of the Washington Monument. In the spirit of the Fire House Five, we wiggled and blew notes that were adorable and blessedly underlay the large horns playing. We were blissfully awful.

In Washington DC, children would disappear in the crowd and get lost by the vendors selling everything the eye of a child would desire. A popcorn, hot dog, sodas, or clothes. Everything was shiny and loud. We stood as a family in the afternoon sun and Theo would move around with his bright orange bucket.
“Here you go, ladies, help us get these kids to college in fifteen more years. They will need the money for Juilliard. Come on folks you love the sound. Can you imagine all this at a dollar each and more to come? Hey, man, impress your friend their with feet holding the ground and you dancing the dance of the music. Can you hear that sousaphone? He’s not playing for my benefit, We work hard practicing for our performance. We have trumpets, horns, tubas, a drummer, and we are a family band straight from DC for your enjoyment. We got all the permits and call those cops over for a bit of a dance, they look bored. Here we go again, listen to the Blues got Me from Memphis to Here.

The trumpets would slide into the song and I’d watch dad for my cue. Three years old and in love with sound, in love with my parents blues, and thinking I was all grown up, when the world was waiting for me to get my feet where I was big enough to have them touch the ground.
Two hours later, we had scored as much cash as we were going to.

Dad called out, “There’s enough here for the rent, food and electric. Get these two shortstop musicians an ice cream and we’ll meet back at the rooms. Any one got a need for cash, come see me.” Dad had an account in Ma. She took the totals from him, crunched the numbers, slid the bills between her fingers and put them in the ledger. No worries were to be had if the ledger was filled with numbers.


The First Cooking Lesson’s Results

Slimy, it turned around
my mouth and mocked
my lips as I held them close.
Slimy, salty, spit out and flee,
But I couldn’t. No.
I couldn’t.
The burst of charcoal
as I discovered the portion
of the stew at the bottom of the pot,
The Hell for all who burn on a burner.
The chewing gags and brings my
Napkin up to my face.
No, I can’t open my mouth.
I taste a teaspoon of ginger,
A clove of garlic, beans now liquid
And eggplant liquified and
attempting to rule my taste buds,
but I can not spit it out,
Not this time, liquid slush that
Has been served to me
By the first lesson of cooking
My daughter took.
No, I smiled as the liquid raced past the
tonsils and into the stomach where they
held themselves prisoners
of faulty taste buds.
My stomach doesn’t taste.
Thank goodness.
So the bite is followed by another,
gagging slimy, garlic and beans
meat so overcooked
you could not find the
salt to disguise the mess.
The first lesson on the table,
I feared the next to come.