Sunday, November 30, 2008

Beach Neighborhoods

The Blacks live here, their spikey exteriors
buried inside crevices, under rocks.
Only the guppies venture near, hiding
behind barbed wire fences.

The Whites are home, sometimes
sunning underwater, their pale
limbs swaying gently in the surf,
babies nestled nearby. Those
exposed to the rain close up shop,
their houses pinched shut to form
a neighborhood of teepees.

The Others don't have a neighborhood
to themselves as far as I can tell.
The Blues and Greys fight for the
best territory, sparring back and forth,
an occasional sideways attack from
a local Bully.

On land, fluorescent orange crabs
make a dash for their condo development,
rows of entrances to underground tunnels.

And here we are, cooped up
inside watching the rain pour down,
people running from hotel room
to car, from car to restaurant.
Whether cooped up in the most humble
room or the most extravagant estate,
our neighborhood is full of
morose tourists staring at the rain.

Friday, November 28, 2008

That Most American of Holidays Celebrated in Costa Rica

The non-smokers assembled,
sifted out from amongst the students.
We were six in all to celebrate that
most American of holidays.
In place of roasted turkey swimming in gravy,
stuffed chicken breasts drenched in orange sauce.
Mermelade de frases sat in for cranberry sauce.
Mashed potatoes as tasty as the best from home.
Pumpkin pie, Costa Rican style capped it off,
all suitably washed down with lots of wine
(this goes without saying).
We all staggered back to our rooms
filled with the contentment of being here,
and of knowing we will return to the best place of all,
home, sweet home. America.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bored by Beauty on a Spectacular Thanksgiving Day

Boredom coexists with gratitude,
strolling through endless landscape of brilliant
flowers, crashing ocean waves and lush tropical forest,
just as watching a stream of exquisitely dressed models
cross the stage in a fashion show (not that I know, I might add)
can be a feast for the eyes and tedious at once.
On a walk this morning, I notice that each house,
grandiose or capped with a rusty corrugated tin roof,
sports an electric meter attached to a spindly post.
One is housed in a newly painted blue box,
another hides under a crumpled piece of cardboard
Yet another dangles outside the box on a string
of cables, weathered by rain and sun.
Some are red, others of wood,
just like the arrays of flowers
and jungle vegetation
if one looks closely
on a Thanksgiving
early morning

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mi Profesora, the Chain Smoker

Ella canta el espagnol como un parajo
y su collar de plata es muy bonita.
She drags deeply from her cigarette,
jittery after an hour of class, she has
to go get her fix.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Costa Rica snapshots

A tall glass of fresh watermelon juice,
roasted lobster tail drenched in garlic butter.
Platos de frutas con yogurt after a
night sweating in front of a small fan.
Muchas gramaticas nueveo para mi
to be followed by a long nap to recover.
Los zappatos "flip flops" for strolling
along disconnected strings of beach.
Any sense of fashion quickly reverted to a
practical selection of whatever is most comfortable;
flip flops or sneakers with socks (sweaty feet stick to shoes),
a short black and white patterned skirt topped
with a striped cotton sleeveless T decorated
with cupcakes, hair frizzed out 3 inches at least.
Super Marcado has it all; postcards, fruta, reloj,
los postres, leche, el papel y lapiz.
Thieves stoll the European's cigarettes today
while they were out surfing,
pura vida.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Off to Costa Rica

I am off to Costa Rica for two weeks! I will post poems when I can as I will have plenty of material! ; )

Leaving Work Behind

I said good-bye to M. and A.,
telling them to solve the problems
I was leaving behind.
It would be so wonderful
to come back and not face
the same ones that baffled me.
Relevant papers and books are
neatly arranged on my desk,
waiting for their attention.
I set the calendar on my door
to December 6th for my
arrival back at work, and
wrote VACATION on the
“in-out” white board outside
my office.
Then I walked away.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Preparing for travel

Avoiding Packing

folding laundry
unpacking suitcase from my last trip
buying litter for Daisy
and training the babysitters.
going to the ATM and
calling the credit card companies,
buying sunscreen, insect repellent,
and other drugstore sundries,
a new toothbrush perhaps.
doing the dishes, making my bed,
turning the heat down and
cleaning the bathrooms and
emptying the compost on the counter.
a horror to leave behind a mess.
all this needs to be done
and yet I sit here and write
a poem, ignoring all the
tasks that need to be done
Never mind that S. has
done all the endless hours
of planning the itinerary; buying tickets,
reserving hotel rooms, picking a
Spanish school.
Exhausting just to think about.
I think I’ll go to bed now

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

a rendez-vous around ravioli

a rendez-vous around ravioli

he required a difficult recipe
to even consider meeting her tonight
for a cooking rendez-vous.
she looked through her most complicated
cookbooks and settled on ravioli with
an Asian flourish, an extra enticement.
knives were sharpened, cutting boards
scrubbed, tools of the trade laid out.
A mix of ground chicken, razor-thin
sliced shrimp, freshly grated ginger,
lemon zest, oyster sauce and soy sauce
spooned precisely between two eggroll
wrappers, edges pinched and fluted.
each ravioli was laid out on oiled
parchment paper while her garden
tomatoes and basil were diced and
sauted for a succulent sauce.
Ravioli went for a short swim in
a roiling water bath, exiting
dripping, ready to be drenched
in sauce, roasted pine nuts and
freshly grated parmesan cheese.
They sat down at the old pink
dinette table, worshiped
the beautiful ravioli and ate
every last one.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Strolling at Night

Strolling at Night

walking through
a small circle of light cast by a street lamp,
raccoons slinking out of storm drains
for their nightly escapades,
a conversation with a shop owner
closing up for the night,
the clerk waiting by the door,
key in hand.
a young man playing
guitar as he walks,
pausing when he realizes
there is someone listening
in the shadows.
Night softens
the sharp edges of

Sunday, November 16, 2008

The Price of a Stamp

The Price of a Stamp

a 13 cent stamp
forced me out into the rainy night,
darkness punctuated by
by flashing red lights,
sirens ripping the silence.

a 13 cent stamp found me
out on the streets at 6 a.m.,
homeless and uncertain,
a small bag in hand.

a 13 cent stamp landed me
an invitation to attend one of the most
prestigious universities in the world,
a chance to leave behind the
darkness of a Chicago alley

a 13 cent stamp lifted from
my father's desk.
I bring ten 42 cent stamps
to my son, who carefully positions one
on each of ten envelopes
requesting admission to many fine
American universities.
he sits where it is warm and well-lit,
in his mother's kitchen.

the price of a stamp has certainly
changed in a generation.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Tyranny of Twins

the tyranny of twins

i cut his food into pieces
while he juggled first one
baby, then the other,
passing them back and forth
to mom and a nearby friend.
i sipped my wine and savored
every bite of my dinner,
noticing when his plate was empty
i filled it again, cutting
his food into bite size
pieces which he could
eat with one hand, or
if needed, as finger food.
babies rob you of dignity.

Friday, November 14, 2008


The same calendar has been
hanging on the bathroom wall
for two years.
Each month highlights a
coupon from the local health
food store and a matching
He must sit every day and
consider making that dinner
for his sweetheart this month.
Somehow he never does, and
so the page is turned (randomly)
to another month.
Never having cooked a
single recipe, he returns
to the same month he
visited two months ago, or
one year ago even
though a year has passed.
This way, he saves $14.99
per year on buying a new
calendar and can enjoy the
thought month after month,
year after year, of making
the recipes from 2006 for her.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Shelf Life of Humans

The Shelf Life of Humans

He was explaining the
catalytic reaction between parts A and B
in polymerization processes.
All very proper and scientific;
carbon-hydrogen monomers, alcohol
and ester groups.
Our brains humming along in auto-pilot,
intermittently checking internal data bases
to confirm that this information is already
stored, no need to listen too closely.
All of sudden, we startled awake as
he referred to our own mortality
in connection with polymerization.
He cautioned us to always check the expiration date;

Everything has a shelf life,
including us.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Tall Pronoun

He won’t read anyone’s poems that contain that tall pronoun.
Asserting that he’s not interested in any
author’s personal perspective, he puts down
his reading and glares over his half-rimmed eyeglasses,
as if she were there.
He turns the page and resumes reading.
Dismissed, the poor poet who dares to use “I”.
When he picked up his pen, I noticed that it
carved out that most illustrious pronoun.
He obviously believes that he has something to say
from his personal perspective that we need to hear.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Life and Death of a Pumpkin

The life and death of a pumpkin

A truck dropped off 100 pumpkins
across the street that afternoon, pumpkins
large enough to carve and fit over human
heads which happened to be attached to
naked bodies for the 10th annual
Naked Pumpkin run.
This one was so large, no one
could even pick it up, much less wear it.
The next day, it sat forlornly on the curb
waiting for me to adopt it.
I picked it up, barely, and staggered
home with it for dissection and harvesting.
Off goes the top.
Next, slippery seeds embedded in orange pulp,
washed clean and roasted over a low heat.
Pumpkin steaks carved from the
body, long strips of soft yellow flesh peeled
from the tough orange outer skin,
coated with olive oil and salt,
baked until soft and succulent.
The piece de resistance; Roasted pumpkin and apple
soup for dinner tonight.
A good life and death for this pumpkin.
Thank you.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Sarah Goes Home

Sarah Goes Home

Her stiletto heels melted into consignment store flats,
splattered with baby spit-up and moose droppings.
Her Gucci bag turned into a blue diaper bag
decorated with small fire trucks, a pacifier dangling
by a string from the zipper pull.
Her Ann Taylor power suit faded to grey,
tailored darts relaxed into a sweat suit fit.
Just another hockey mom.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Saying Good-bye

I knew I had to say good-bye.
My plane left at 2:31 p.m.,
I had to leave at some point.
It used to be I didn’t have to leave
for more than a few hours to go to work.
When I came back to get her,
I’d pick her up in my arms
and stroke her cheeks and hair
and take her home with me.
She would chatter about her
day while I cooked a simple dinner
and I’d put her and Bear to bed.
I had to say good-bye today,
knowing that it would be weeks
before I saw her again and stroked
her hair, counted the freckles on her lips,
noticed her enunciation of certain words
that always gave her trouble,
but don’t seem to anymore.
I hate to say good-bye and I sense
she does, too, as we embrace four times
before I turn away as if to enter the subway station.
She turns and walks towards the Coop.
I watch her recede into the distance, but she
never turns aroundto wave back at me

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Ms. Haskins made her an anarchist

Ms. Haskins made her an anarchist.
Too many inane and irrelevant emails
destroyed her desire to become
a well-rounded upstanding citizen,
to making a grand contribution to society.
Instead, she raged at at the Machine,
the anonymous email address, What info, she demanded.
There was none, no reply, no face,
just a name, Ms. Haskins, typed
at the bottom of the page in 12 pt
Times New Roman.
Anarchy grows like a weed in
the desolate landscape cultivated by
the tools of bureaucratic anonymity.
Ms. Haskins is the penultimate gardener.

Friday, November 7, 2008


he strolled purposefully up to the shortest security line,
hefting his Samsonite suitcase up onto the shiny metal table.

he carefully removed his laptop from his briefcase
and placed it into a beige bin with an ad for travel insurance
pasted to the bottom.

he laid another beige bin onto the shiny metal table,
folded himself over his substantial belly to untie his black
laces on his wing-tipped shoes, then lifting them into the bin.

he unbuttoned his suit jacket, holding it out in front of himself
to examine it, as if to see if there were stains that needed attending to.
he carefully folded the jacket in two and placed it into another beige bin.

he paused, looking down at his stocking feet, at his Samsonite suitcase,
at his laptop, his suit jacket, his shoes in the bin.

finally, facing the walk-through security gate uncertainly, he realized that
he needed yet one more bin. He reached deep into the pockets of
his pin-striped pants and extracted his keys, cell phone, wallet and bill clip.

happy that everything was in order, he walked through the security
gate, reassembled his identity on the other side and proceeded to his flight.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Old Blankets

When she saw there was only one thin blanket on the bed,
she told him she was always cold at night.
He started looking in closets, remembering
some blankets from when he camped as a little boy.
He reassured her that the stain on the green blanket
was probably a urine stain, but was at least 50 years old.
He reappeared with a brown blanket, a plaid one
and a yellow one, all thin and worn looking, but
real wool, he assured her. Five blankets later,
she was satisfied that she would stay warm that night.
Good night, she said, as she closed the door
and turned off the lights.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Packing Shoes for Travel

We plan to go for High Tea
in the Square, with trays of
crumpets and tiny quiches,
fresh strawberries, clotted
cream and English Breakfast tea.
I’ll wear my black skirt and
forest green sweater with
my new brown dress boots.
It will rain on me as I meander
my way between Central Square
and Harvard Square, with a required
stop at Slate’s Office Supplies.
I’ll wear my blue jeans, Karen’s
Boulder High School LaCrosse jacket
and my waterproof hiking boots.
It will be cold at night, so
I will bring my plaid slippers
with the fake fur inside.
With those important decisions
in hand, I can go to bed now
and pack the rest tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Cleaning House on Election Night

Cleaning House on Election Night

I listened to the radio
as I vacuumed and dusted
corners which had gone untended
way too long.
Pennsylvania called by NPR,
as I wiped all the windowsills
upstairs. Massachusetts, New York
in hand as the dust was swept
from the top step down each one
until it collected on the ground
floor. Somehow it
felt urgent to clean house
tonight, to be able to wake
up tomorrow clean and fresh.
Once the house was clean, I
listened to the televison and
watched as the old ways were
swept away. The hatred
and division, the lies and the
hypocrisy. I watched Black
and White stand together on that
stage in Chicago, cheered on by
a million strong. Yes, it’s
time to clean house, dust the
windowsills and start tomorrow
anew, working together for a
new America.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Wedding Announcements

Every Sunday I read the wedding
announcements in the New York Times.
Many of the short ones and all the stories.
I’ve noticed a few things.
The newlyweds all seem to come from prominent
families, and it’s noted when a
woman keeps her name. As if
that were unusual.
More gay men announce their weddings
than gay women for some reason.
Have they been waiting longer,
or anxious to repudiate the impression
that gay men are often promiscuous?
I delight in the stories of Sesame Street
producers marrying ballerinas, and
lovers in their 40s and 50s marrying
for the first time. They are so in love.
I laugh at the dogs who are ring bearers.
Mostly I marvel that love
almost always shows up.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sounds as I fall asleep

Sounds as I fall asleep

a truck rumbles by,
a girl’s shrill laughter,
the rattle of the doors of the UPS truck
as the driver opens and closes them,
the wind shaking the windows,
the sound of a car radio,
the leaves dropping,
the sun dipping,
the night falling.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Alec's 55th Birthday party

The professor from the University
has gotten a few more grey hairs since I met her
15 years ago when I worked in the
Physics Department, and the old girlfriend
of my brother’s is getting married
in January to a guy we used to ride bikes with.
P. is still going to St. Thomas Aquinas
even though the Paulists have pulled out,
because her mother is 80 and just
wants to see her friends over Coffee.
The hell with what the priest says.
Her daughter had some trouble but
is dating a Republican now, a good chap.
Where are the nice Democratic boys,
we remark to each other.
I met C. last weekend with K.
and L. just moved to town from
Southern California and is living
north of town, close to the running trails.
It’s Boulder and we are all connected
by one degree of separation.