What’s in for Spring?

cactus flowerWhat’s In for Spring?

Lone baby flower
Desert’s still considering
What to wear this year

Poetry Month, Poem A Day, No. 22


Torture, Cancer, Betrayal, and Flight, Four Poems

Image result for prentis street detroitPoetry Month, Poem A Day, Poem Nos 18, 19, 20, and 21

Scavenger’s Daughter

Their marriage was like a scavenger’s daughter,
each day the pressure greater, doubling
her heartache. She was broken, her ears

bled. He said he’d let up. It was just that he hated
his boss, job, dog, car, kids, the mayor.
As soon as things looked up, he’d let up

on her. He would. Fired from every job:
he called hourly, threatened co-workers, bosses,
certain she fucked everything, everyone,

but him. Always checking. Checking. Sex
a guillotine whirring, each cog bringing orgasm close.
When she screamed he thought she was excited

that she wanted more. He sold her car, phone,
radio, television, bought her a typewriter, told
her she was so good with words. Write!

She rolled her long yellow hair into the carriage
until her forehead hit the “y” over and over
and then she bled from that hole, too.

My Mother Quit Smoking in October

Locked tight in a capsule,
rotated and blasted,
with music for the pain
of cancer therapy.

Yellow lines, a face full
of ink strokes she trusted;
if they slip, hit the brain,
no more Pauline Murphy.

Blood poisoned with chemicals,
stomach ripped and twisted;
raw throat ruined, her saliva’s gone.
Slothful recovery.

Her thin hair’s gray, face pale.
No more Nice ‘n Easy red.
Mouth is bare tooth and bone;
but she’ll see sixty-three.

Old Friend

Your hair is soft, waves, your skin
sags like melted ice cream.
Buttery to the touch and still
tempting. You dress
like the end of a rain storm
flowing pastels with green
and gray hues. Your chosen
mode of speaking is whispers
between sips of certain clear
drinks, vodka or gin, from
your thin wet lips sharp
darts hiss like a whip
as if cutting words didn’t
didn’t didn’t bite so, didn’t
burn       your disdain rides
the bare back of your judge
with black leathered legs
layered heels heavy and ready
to press into the tough hide
each hard beat of the four-
step canter collides
and stomps upon the now
dirt-crushed remains
of friends never knowing
what hit them.

Cleared for Flight

We talk late on Saturdays
you walking an inherited dog
me listening to the frogs behind you
thinking they are crickets and you’re
in love again or forever
ripping reality from your moments
because we all know even the voice
of an old girlfriend will never soothe
decades of life and loss.

You’d love to see the sway of my hips again
you say between croaking or crickets
and I am flattered and afraid; we are taken
we are always taken when we love each other
by bad timing and other temptations
you and I have never been cleared for flight
our journey has always involved the betrayal
of someone. Never each other.

We relish the 1600 miles between us
the sound of amphibians that keep
our sighs muffled safe inside the sky
we danced under years ago
one time I proposed meeting in the middle
so we could have a donut and coffee
in some café and hold each others eyes
you said Elk City would be too ‘Okie.’

I dream of your wife, your kids,
the perfection of who you are in my soul
that has rested for years knowing I will never
know the you I knew on Prentis St.
where I fainted when you kissed me
and listened to you read Truman Capote’s
short stories and the Detroit rain
pounded on my third floor windows.

We cannot fly this love never cleared
for flight. One red flag or another waves
behind each call of the amorous frogs
and no pilot in their right mind would get
on board this jalopy of smooth take offs
and tragic landings.

Photoby Leni Sinclair at The Detroit News 

The Twelfth Fret

vincent-nicolas-512548-unsplashPoetry Month, Poem A Day, No. 17

The Twelfth Fret
for Sandra

The bridge was wide enough only
for one dog and me, it crosses
an arroyo chiseled out of the red earth
like a wound needing sutures
and waiting for the flood.

“D’ya see those concrete blocks?”
a hiker asked waiting for me to pass,
she nodded toward the chunks of a freeway
lodged below the twelfth fret,
pushed into the dry earth like giant teeth.
“At’ll keep it from surgin’ up on the road.”

I recognized her and smiled.
She had waited for me before
at the grocery store staring
at my litany of smoothie ingredients
chia seeds, kale, berries and soy.
A look of compassionate curiosity
as her son loaded teen-aged food
on the moving counter: chips, soda
more chips, and some ham.

His outstretched arm had a guitar
etched poorly into the pale skin, from wrist
to armpit so he could play the air.
His thin bicep was calloused with years
of strumming six crooked black lines
the instrument’s neck ended at his elbow
pocked with scars and promise

As I lifted the twenty-five pounds
of dog food for the cashier to scan
he offered to help without so much
as a word just a small smile with one
missing canine, and I knew he had been
a good, good boy, vowing just one
toke, kiss, one lay, one sip
one more push and his mother
never stopped believing him.

We passed each other softly
where the bridge met the dirt trail
and she bent down and said “good boy”
to my dog. “Road washed out,
last year,” she said petting his head
gently, again and again. “But it was just
a storm.” Her smile like her son’s.
“We survive,” and she turned around
to continue over the narrow bridge,
I could hear her humming
and saw her hand still petting
my good boy.

Photo by Vincent Nicolas on Unsplash


Spring Is

butterflies and lilac sprays

Poetry Month, Poem A Day, No. 16

Spring Is

Butterflies as big as my hand
Lilacs enough for the neighborhood
Yellow sheets twisted around the clothesline
Horny cormorants showing off at the lagoon
A brass fish hook wedged in between paw pads
Four skinny calves following mum across the pasture
Waking up early to light that is not electric
Waking up with a sneeze and a Kleenex
Wondering where the eagles are roosting now
Cranked up volume on the school’s playground
Empty gutters and shiny ash pans
Wide open windows and waving sheers
Filling an extra water bottle for Saturday’s hike
Looking at recipes for cold soup and crackers
Cottonwood fluff bordering the sunny morning trail
Rocking on the front porch watching the moonless dusk


Photos by yours truly


A Threefer*


Poetry Month, Poem A Day, Nos. 13, 14, 15


Noisy old girl
with your songs sitting
in a rocking chair
on a starry night
on a branch jabbering
like an old girlfriend
carrying on
and on in conversations
nobody really listens
to you
maybe the moon
or me
staying up
past my bedtime
nose deep in words
or my own business
a sleepless fool
with tears in my eyes
remembering that pain
I knew it
it grows distant
but never far away.

My Life is Just a Country Love Song

My life is just a country love song
played with a twang and a steel guitar
screechin’ tires and starless nights
slammin’ doors and broken hearts

My life rules that smudged juke box
in a dank and dusty red-carpeted bar
drunk old men and lonely girls
wonderin’ why’s it got to be so hard

My life’s become a country classic
full of ‘my man done left me’ blues
maybe you’ll hear it on the radio
all this heartache I’m going through

My life landed fast on the key of C
I’m singing alone, he’s not listening to me
they’re making out in our smoke-filled van
my song’s playing loud, she’s got my man

Ten Days with Bronchitis

Woman of wood stoves and Sunday morning scones.
Woman of chatter on the frozen foods aisle.
Woman of the red kitchen and fog and song.
Woman of the seasons, the trails, the keyboard.
Woman of white hair and silver eyes.
Woman alone wondering
What the fuck.

Did you think I was on vacation?

Note to self:
When down and sweaty, out with fever, out of it,
somewhat lonely, and definitely viral,
Do not talk to ex-husband.

Minimal. Minimal. Minimal.
I feel like a dust mite,
tiny and little.

Break up or body break
down, it’s all betrayal.
Love frustrates immeasurably.
More complicated than clean.

A harrowing kind of snow day.
Left my car down the road.
Out of this crazy place.
Moon-cicles in my window.
The blather of blizzard.
Noisy drips on my entryway.
Frozen points waiting.
Sunshine is so messy.

Dancing right through the ice.
Dangling from the gutter.
A wind chill to blow us all away.
The cold made me so tired.

Turn pain into poetry.
Turn sour men around.
Turned yogurt contaminates.
Turn yogurt man into sour poetry.

Go on a road trip.
Fun little niche.
Off to New Mexico.
An occasional kiss.

The dreaded dark words.
Wouldn’t let himself have me.
Won’t miss the wonder.
Oh, February.

*You would think that as a person who calls herself a poet I would be able to at least draft a poem a day during April, national poetry month, or any month for that matter, and share it with my readership (love all 32 of you).

As a novelist, I should be able to write a novel for NaNoWriMo (national write a novel month). Right?

Well, I have attempted the former successfully, several times, I will say that, before this year when I committed to share the like online.

I have done the latter twice, and not yet committed—but such commitment could be forthcoming—to publish my novels on pocketpoet.net.

Part of the reason for this blog is to get my bum out of blather mode, out of the romantic notion of independent woman writing alone by sunrise each morning, out of ‘someday’ and into Today!

Well, I’m batting 12 for 15 in the poem-a-day promise, and I cheated on one of those posts, assigning more days than deserved, but it was a good poem! And I’m cheating again. Here we go.

Today I give you a ‘threefer’– three poems for the price of one (free!). And inspired by the WordPress Daily Prompt: song.

Surely I could scroll through my poem inventory and dig up a poem or three that contain the word ‘song’, dust them off a bit, polish them up, and share them with you, dear reader, whomever you are. And thank you.


Wonderful photo depiction of the romance of writing . . . . by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

An Ode to My Mom’s Scones

Poetry Month, Poem A Day, No. 12

scones (2016_05_14 00_33_51 UTC)
An Ode to My Mom’s Scones

Not quite a cake, much less investment
not nearly as ordinary or typical as toast.
Doesn’t matter if you do, or if you don’t dress it
guarantees pleasure for hand, mouth and nose.

The Irish claim it, the British take credit,
but my American mom’s  are unsurpassed.
Sundays or birthdays, always so splendid
freshly baked then lovingly stacked.

The fragrance takes hold, who could resist?
I slide up to the counter, “For me?”
Buttery, flaky, honey, delicious!
I’ll have another, a third, I’m a queen!

The blurry image? oh, that w/b mine . . . 

Get Off the Phone! A Pantoum

phone 2Poetry Month, Poem A Day, No. 11

Get Off the Phone! A Pantoum

Tripping across the long blue cable
strung across the carpet like a snake
someone has taken the phone to their room
what secrets do her whispers make?

Strung across the carpet like a snake
I follow the wrung-out telephone cord
secrets whisper, hiss a stranger’s fate
my ear locked tightly against the door

I slither along that once-curly cord
chasing its magic to the hidden socket
I finger it gently, it’s not that secure
one little pull and I’d disconnect it

chasing my freedom I run down the stairs
avoiding a lamp, I don’t want to knock it
my sister bursts from her room enraged
she trips on the cord, that terrible snake.

Image from Unsplash.com by Daria Nepriakhina

I Don’t Believe in Much

lilac monarch

Poetry Month, Poem A Day, No. 10

I Don’t Believe in Much

I don’t believe in much
of anything religious I’m
like clay that way waiting
for the right hand to shape
a story from the mound
of possibilities one where I can see
the sense of it from each
angle from above and below
and not see one hole, not one
in the narrative that I would fill
with a ‘But what about?’ or
‘Then, how come?’

I don’t believe in much of what
they taught in religion class, daily
reiterations and interpretations like scales
in a piano lesson convincing me only that they knew
how to practice but they did not know
had they said ‘this is a really good story’ and played
the score back to back with Rogers and Hammerstein’s
Cinderella or Oklahoma then they would have had me
a hero is a hero a plot a plot but they said
that this is all you got, this is it everything all of it the whole
can of beans, this is why everything, and how, and I said
it’s just pretty words and notes, and I still do

I don’t believe in much but I do
believe in miracles for I have witnessed
them again and again from my siblings
and friends who can make something of nothing
make a world of sensual come right out of dirt
dirt!, and I am green like a lilac leaf, in envy
and immaturity, a baby gardener who didn’t tend
my father’s tulips or daffodils or lilies of the valley
I skipped away on a rope or a chalk mural grateful
but too busy to watch him change bulb to vine

I don’t believe in much
but the other day an angel
appeared in my yard with a story
of a girl who wondered all winter
“what could that bush be?”
too busy to ask a sibling or green-thumbed
friend or even to conjure a memory of the master
gardener himself, dad? she just queried
each day from her window sipping
wine looking at the the laundry drying
asking what is that mystery bundle of sticks
so deeply tucked inside the dirt and she’d return
to the repetitive task of writing worlds and worries
when lo and behold right before her eyes
like water wine the whole bit and Lordy Be
there it was a purple party

I don’t believe in much but I do believe
I am the proud owner of a lilac tree.

Image from YouTube, Eliot McLellan


When the Muse Calls in Sick


Poetry Month – Poem A Day – No.s 6, 7, 8, 9 (and cheating)

When the Muse Calls in Sick

maybe she is just really tired
and a little put out
this whole poem a day business
wasn’t her idea after all

maybe she is a bit jealous
all those birthday wishes
and she barely gets a like
or a view or a notice no
matter how many posts
and what about that 100th post celebration
what happened to that?

maybe she needs a rest
there is no vacation for a muse
she works the hardest beside oceans
deep in forests, watching the world
from a road trip window
she is 24/7 and receives
no overtime or benefits or perks
just produce, produce, produce

maybe she feels unnoticed
page upon page of prose
poems, waning philosophic
and for what, for what?
it all gets called blather
and collects dust in plastic
bins or sits restlessly
preserved in some byte tote

maybe she will threaten to quit
demand more attention more
encouragement more praise
more rework and at least
proofreading for heaven’s sake
what do I take her for
some bimbo who doesn’t know the difference
between dual and duel

maybe it is simply too much
to assign her to work while I sleep
work while I work, work
while I walk hike wonder
or wander go here, rush there
hurry up and be profound
prophetic, poetic and find
a rhyme or two while I just go about
my business

maybe I should give her this one
let her off the hook
snooze a bit nap catch a few z’s
no expectations no demands
no ‘hurry up and be more’
messages just let her rest

maybe I should not be the bully
boss the big bad Anne Marie
and let Ms. Shannon O’Malley
just hit snooze
until the proverbial cows
or poems as it may be
come home

shannon o'malley 2

Shannon O’Malley by Riana Johnson
Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash

The Monokini, or Explaining the Election

Poetry Month, Poem A Day Challenge, Poem No. 5

Explaining the Election

We are a people
who, in 1964,
when Rudi Gernreich,
Austrian fashion designer,
invented the topless bikini
and called it the monokini,*
went for it. Well,
half of us did.
“It is feminist.”
“It is objectification.”
It is an etymological error.
Gernreich received fan mail
mostly from men.
None from grammarians.
We are a people
who believe
anything, who
can make
so much
of so little.

Image from Life magazine.
‘kini’ is not Latin