Posts Tagged ‘poem’

You are imperfect, permanently, and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful. (Amy Bloom)


 My grandchildren’s whiteboard hangs loosely from its frame, pulled too many times by small hands. 

Scribbles, playschool, a partial red coverup in green over five, seven, or more years. My oldest granddaughter

frees and cleans the open space. She attaches it to my door. Re-frame. What appears to be broken becomes new. 

The new no longer needs approval from outside. It is real, re-framed inside its own white borders.


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Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself. (Rumi)

Now that I am aware that others know suffering, joy, pain, and every other human feeling the same way, I work with softer weapons. They never hit a target and rarely claim immediate results. However, love and compassion have unexpected side effects. May those side effects explode outside the form of a poem.

first published in For a Better World

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True forgiveness is when you can say, “Thank you for that experience.” (Oprah Winfrey)

What can’t be accomplished in reality, sometimes can be faced through poetry.


Facing the Darkness Under the Bed


As I sweep under my bed and touch

the darkness below the frame

I imagine going back into time


and watch my mom as her mother lies

on another bed. Twelve-year-old Mary Ann

cooks then washes dishes.


Her history textbook is opened

on the kitchen table. Ancient war dates fade,

battles with human losses,


each its own variation

of an untold Pyrrhic victory.

She hears a different kind of battle.


My mother as a young girl

longs to soothe the endless

cries of her mother


in labor for forty-eight hours.

Mama survives but delivers a

second dead baby. Mary Ann learns


to bury hurts as well, cover them

inside forgotten dreams. She leaves

the darkness under her bed


with the dust. Imagination,

it may be physically impossible.

Yet, I reach for the hand


of the twelve-year-old girl who will one day

give birth to me, and allow her

the gift of forbidden tears.


Perhaps then I can give

me full permission for

releasing mine.




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Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. (Pablo Picasso)



You laugh when I say Daddy and Uncle Steve were my babies. 

Pool water drips from our bathing suits

through the white plastic slats of our beach chair.

The dark puddles mimic gray shapes shifting overhead.

We sit wrapped in the limited safety of a gold beach towel.

I breathe the scent of your chlorinated hair as if it were medicine.

My embrace would save you from more than chill if it could,

make you a princess at the age of three. 


But I think of a chrysalis,

spared the struggle of opening its own cocoon yet denied flight.

I kiss you on the top of your dark, wet head

and tell you how wonderful you are.

I pray for your spirit to sing whenever gray clouds

meet inevitable dark patterns below.   

You giggle. Daddy and Uncle Steve. Babies.

It’s okay, Kate. You don’t need to understand.

Your small body curls next to mine.

I am in no hurry for you to grow up.

I have no idea how soon you will learn about loss.


That winter your friend slips under an ice-covered lake.

An accident. She’s critical. Her prognosis, unclear.

As the months pass and your birthday arrives

I prepare for your special dinner.

You come into the kitchen as I cook.

I expect you to ask about your presents.

Instead, you mention your friend,

in a coma now, a sliver of the child she once was.

I pray for her every day.

You appear unaware of the power of words larger than you are.

Your fresh four-year-old trust widens a chrysalis opening.

Gray skies shift overhead, bash the ground below,

and leave you twice as beautiful.


illustration made from public domain image and cut paper

published in For a Better World and Piker Press

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Play is the highest form of research. (Albert Einstein)

A Blue Bike


One 1950’s variety blue,

second-hand bicycle, no features

peddle-power only.

Balance, I’d mastered it.


A classmate begged to ride.

She sped down the hill,

made a squealing brake,

and met the concrete with her nose.


“It’s the bike’s fault,” she claimed.

Tears fell into the blood on her face

while she stared me down.

My parents said nothing.


Alone, I stepped into new shades of balance.

My peer seemed to choose a

shift-the-blame ploy. As a reticent child,

inaction was my norm. I hadn’t yet learned


when to be silent, when to speak.

I was mute out of fear. Balance

and courage took me years to develop.

To move from a fragile ego into integrity.


A new goal reaches into my horizon, to focus

less on blame than on the pain. How can I help you?

To be aware of both ploy and hurt. Neither

accepting nor giving censure. Not easy.


Balance includes more than gravity. To

maintain real-life love without being a jerk,

without giving more than I have.

One 2020 old lady moving forward, into peace.


published in For A Better World 2020

pic made from public domain image



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It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. (E.E. Cummings)


On a 1950’s Thursday afternoon

a little girl stands

on her imaginary stage.

A flat maroon, living room carpet.


Her pleasant scene grows as

a popular song drifts into her play space

from the kitchen radio where Mommy

boils potatoes for dinner


and complains about how quickly

three kids get a life dirty.

The girl listens to the music and

mimics the trills, crescendos,


and joy in the melody.

The child’s gentle vibrato promises a

clear soprano voice one day.

She would have added gestures


for her make-believe audience

but Mommy appears at the doorway

wielding her wooden spoon.



Mommy turns away without striking.

Yet, the girl recognizes the warning

and retreats into the dark, silent spaces

between the lace curtains and window.


The song will not disappear.

She hears it inside her head

and saves the sound

for a safer moment


when she will lead her future

children to follow dreams,

discover subtleties,

laugh, cry, and simply be.           


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Some beautiful paths can’t be discovered without getting lost. (Erol Ozan)



The directional app on my phone

remains mute, while the road twists

and my mind twists with it 

into places where I am lost, again.


Memories explode bully-style inside

my brain synapses, creating panic.

No sound, but an arrow on my screen says

turn left at the next corner. I remember


the shop with the worn yellow sign.

And space in my head and heart opens.

I know to move through uncertainty.

Celebrate my detours. Consider


the possibility that others hide pain

behind strange, sour, surly behavior.

May peace be made from pieces,

one imperfect turn at a time.


published in For a Better World 2020







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She generally gave herself very good advice, (though she very seldom followed it.) Lewis Carroll

Take one opinion.

Call it the whole.

Shout your words

with venom if necessary.

Cover your home,

your car, every space you touch

with bumper stickers, clever words,

succinct, biting,

so simple and transparent

an ostrich could strut

your message across a zoo.

Then flick on the television,

curl up in your favorite chair,

or lie on a distant beach,

and revel in the comfort of your truth.

Relax, with food and wine within reach,

your part completed.


(originally published in For A Better World)

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Men are not moved by things but by the views which they take of them. (Epictetus)



White sky and ground

blend into a seamless horizon

where snow-encased branches dominate

as threat or as beauty,

whether the scene is viewed

from a ditch or a window.


December, January, February,

eased into March,

the months where

six-pointed flakes commune,


fragile alone, yet bound gaining

the power of a frozen battlefield

or the awe of nature’s art.


a bond for better or worse

solid, white yet susceptible

to dirt, ugliness, separation.


Which moment, light or dark,

will settle in the spirit when

ice succumbs to bright sky again

and tree buds loosen their grip?


I kick off my boots

and let them dry in a warm house.

I allow my toes to find feeling again,

then embrace soot, crystal beauty,

and battlefield.


Life belongs to the whole.

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We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorns have roses. (Alphonse Karr) A Tour Round My Garden)

A Thing Or a Gift: a Poem

One living branch juts out from

our blue spruce between bare spaces where only

the scars from amputated arms remain.

I name the branch hope.


My portable beater whipped eggs

and created batters for more than

twenty years. Finally, it wobbled

with the heat of hot, boiled potatoes.

I call the beater faithful.


A slim, modern replacement waits

in its box. A tool. An object, a thing.

Or a gift.


A cardinal pauses on a half-alive branch.

I celebrate now.


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