Saturday, January 31, 2009

Sewing Class

Sewing Class

At 10 a.m. sharp we trundled up the
staircase of Wallace Sewing Chalet,
each of us lugging a new
sewing machine, each of us carrying
fantasies of creating exquisite quilts,
blouses decorated with delicate pin tucks,
charming corn bag duvet covers and
adorable Chihuahua outfits, never
mind that we didn’t even know how
to thread the needle or wind a bobbin.
Betty waded through the basics of
threads, needles and fabrics, getting
progressively more adept at dodging
an endless stream of questioning from
the most avid and persistent student.
Barbara dropped out first, claiming
she was too tired to continue,
I was too hungry to think.
The avid student kept talking.
After lunch, bobbin loaded, needle
threaded, we learned to sew pin stripes,
make a button hole, sew a button on,
overcast stitch, make stretchy seams and
even do some twin stitching.
Lindsey started planning her dog outfits,
Melissa asked a question for her husband,
Jackie quietly worked on her projects,
I ate rice cakes while hemming
the pajamas Stephen gave me for
Christmas, and the avid student
kept asking questions.
By 3:30 p.m. we had all packed up
our new machines and wandered
out to our cars, slightly dazed
and certainly amazed, fantasies intact.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Daisy and her Treats

I used to ever so carefully
lift the lid off the cracked cookie
jar, afraid of my mother's wrath
if she heard me going after the
cookies again.
Now I ever so carefully
unscrew the lids from the
jar full of homemade granola.
If Daisy hears me, she will come
running in, all four paws
skidding to a stop at my
feet, waiting for her treats.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Plastic Food Containers

Plastic Food Containers

The plastic food containers leave this house
filled to the brim; vegetarian lasagna made
the way Luisa taught me, with béchamel sauce
and mushrooms, with grated carrot-lemon salad,
home made apple pie with lots of cinnamon.
Every time he comes over and we cook,
he leaves with the goodies; I stash them in
the black Vitamin Cottage bag with the
empty dog food container, his wallet, the
rotten banana that is always there and a few
empty plastic bags for good measure.
I don’t like leftovers, I guess, since they
almost never get eaten here and I hate waste.
He hasn’t gotten leftovers lately, even
though I cooked the most divine
beef stroganoff, braised French green
beans and roasted garlic.
He has all the containers.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Brain from Ukraine meets her Match

The Brain from Ukraine

It was only when
he received orders to serve
military duty at the Egyptian-Israeli
border that he realized he didn’t
want conflict at his border anymore,
nor did he want to continue his
study of Dating for Dummies.
He was in love with the brain of Ukraine,
who somehow found time for the likes of him
in the midst of solving homicide cases
and dispatching the competition at chess.
As a teacher in Tottenville, he tried to
keep the kids from becoming perps;
she dealt with them if they failed.
They both chose to follow the path
of public service; their paths
locked as they chose to walk down
the aisle of St. George Ukrainian
Catholic Church in Manhattan.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Follow the Leader in the Boulder Velodrome

Yelling to each other
to move left or right,
up or down, to go faster
or slower.
Pointing left or right,
elbows jutting out
or held close.
They flew by like
fighter jets sweeping
the sky, approaching
and falling away in the
next moment.
Grouped in formation,
splitting and regrouping.
An orange one, a blue one
a green one, one in faded
blue jeans, a messenger
from heaven extolling
the joy of play.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Blue Hat

It’s not made for cold days, as
it does not cover your ears.
It’s not made for windy days
as it blows away too easily.
It’s not made to wear with
the red dress in your closet,
as the colors will clash.
It’s not made to wear around
other people as they will stare
or burst out laughing and pointing.
There is nowhere to wear this
hat which is suspended over my
head by a thousand tiny threads.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Special Advisor to the President

Each word carefully enunciated and delivered,
yet making no sense to my linear train of thought.
He had something to say, that was clear,
something urgent, a message of great importance.
His clear blue eyes pierced my professional stature,
tossed it aside as completely irrelevant.
He stood there in my doorway, his
business card in hand, offering to
share his wisdom in exchange for mine.
His, the path to eternal wisdom, the
knowledge gained from hopscotching between
parallel universes, never tethered by the
tedium of the mundane day to day.
Mine, truly the mundane, modeling atmospheric
phenomenon on this Earth, results which may
not even agree with our own reality, much less
universal reality.
He made me uncomfortable, and I urged him
to visit the Physics Department down the hall
in his search for those more erudite than myself.
He handed me his card at the same time he
offered his hand. His name, Donald,
was written neatly across a blue
background of stars and stripes,
Special Advisor to the President.
When I looked up, he was gone.

Photograph courtesy of :

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Just another Mellow Day

Just another mellow day on the mesa.
Fred and Martha having lunch with the kids,
the usual bologna and mayonnaise sandwiches,
Little Debbie peanut butter wafers for desert.
Everyone having a great time, Fred’s ogling
Hazel while Martha is cleaning up.
Little Johnny ran off into the bushes to
take a pee and little Mary is reading her book.
Suddenly, Fred was drawn from his reverie about
Priscilla’s curves by a white streak headed their way.
IN an instant, Little Debbie’s wafers and
the left over bologna sandwiches were
vaporized, as were Martha, Fred, Priscilla
and Little Johnny and Mary.
50,000 years later,
just another mellow day picnicking on
the rim of Meteor Mesa in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Tallulah and her life partner, Zephyr
barbeque Tempeh burgers over organic
mesquite coals, while their adopted
children, Garrett Nash and Paris Emilie,
stare transfixed at the screens
of their individual DVD players.
The details change, the story
stays the same.

Friday, January 23, 2009


I had something to say,
but I did not say it.
I felt something but
I did not reveal it.
I hid something that
I could put on the table.
I balanced the good
and the bad, and I
chose to keep my
own counsel.
for now.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Life on the Road with Justy

We’ve done a lot together,
remember the time we went
on that trip to Avalanche Ranch
with the kids and the luggage
blew off the roof after making
enough noise to raise the dead?
how about that winter when the
ruts on Grove Street were so
deep, my little 14” wheels
didn’t even reach the cement?
Going way back, that first
trip we took together to
Canyonlands to meet your
sister and you didn’t know
that the gas gauge was so
non-linear, heck, we almost
ran out of gas in the middle
of nowhere. That was a close
one. We carpooled with
LeRoy and Harlan, dropped the
kids off at elementary school,
middle school and a few times
just a few blocks away at
the high school.
Yeah, we have a lot of
good memories, you and me.
Seems like you’re ready to
step out a little bit more
now, though, and my old engine
just can’t barely make it up
the hill to Louisville.
So, pass me on to another
family with some little kids
that need to get around town.
You go ahead and spread
your wings, with that new
1992 Toyota you just picked up.
I’ll be fine.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Snapshot Poetry

Snapshot Poetry

a poem that captures a snapshot
in time, a moment when our eyes
met, when he placed his hand
on the bible where Lincoln had
placed his hand, when the dog
stopped on the trail because her
new boots hurt, or when we all
laughed at the expression
“food hunting”. A poem that
captures that look, that feel,
that expression, that experience.
Snapshot poetry.

Snapshot Poetry is the name of my
new business creating custom poetry that
captures a moment in your life worth
preserving. Weddings, memorials,
birthdays,….invitations, frameable
art, place cards, poetry gifts, etc.
Want more info? Email me at

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Trash Blowing in the Wind

The world ground to a halt
all eyes, all ears tuned to
the words of the new president, we are
reminded of the depth of the challenges
to be faced, of our capacity to make
a difference, how each and every
educated child, how each gallon of
gas left unconsumed, how each
offer of assistance to a neighbor, how
each new small business offering even
a single job makes a difference.
I watched the TV along with millions
of Americans, Europeans, Asians,
Africans, I listened to the poetry,
I listened to Aretha Franklin and the
benediction, and I saw, as everyone
walked away, the piles of trash
blowing in the wind,
did not anyone
hear, really hear
the call for sacrifice,
the call to put that
small piece of
trash in your own

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Lullaby of the Tick-Tocks

The Lullaby of the Tick-Tocks

I collect clocks
the black cat clock, tail swinging back
and forth, back and forth,
the electric antique tea kettle clock
two kids sipping sodas at the ice cream parlor,
the clock reminding them to go back to school,
Elvis in his blue striped jacket and gyrating hips,
the Roller Rink Luncheonette neon clock
that lights up the kitchen at night.
I collect clocks so that every night
my breath takes on the steady rhythm
of the clocks, drifting off to
sleep in the company of
the black cat, the tea kettle,
Elvis, the lunch lady
and the kids sipping their

Sunday, January 18, 2009


she said she doesn’t do birthdays anymore,
bypassing all the opportunities to demand
breakfast in bed, making everyone else
watch the latest episode of “24” even though no
one else knows the plot, petulantly demanding
that everyone follow her schedule for once.
on the other hand, maybe she is on to something.
maybe she just expects everyone to treat her
every day as if she is something special,
which she is.
Just like me.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Boots

She stepped out smartly
in her spanking new
red and black boots,
black straps tight around
her ankles,
highlighting her long, lean legs,
prancing like a
stepping high,
grinding to a halt.
No amount of leash pulling,
cajoling, bribing, pleading
would move those spanking
new black and red boots.
As soon as the boots
disappeared into R's
pockets, along with the
leash (after a furtive look
for the dog police),
she ran off, tail wagging
furiously, disappearing
into a bank of white

Friday, January 16, 2009

The Familiarity of Family

She's away for 10 days in Hawaii
but no, it's not really vacation
it's a family event, and yes, she
missed home and me, that's all
good, isn't it? Family is familiar
and we all know that familiarity
can breed contempt, or at least
discomfort. Maria will be happy
to be home and so will we.

Thursday, January 15, 2009



One hundred eighty-seven employees
received a yellow manilla envelope

unwillingly perhaps, but shoved into
their hands by their managers

who may have been appropriately
sad, or distressed, or

perhaps just glad they were not
on that side of the table, this time.

one hundred eighty seven mothers, fathers,
sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles

were marched out the door, manilla envelopes
in hand, five minutes to grab their purses

make sure their wallets were in their pockets.
It’s just another cold day in corporate America.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The First Meeting

The First Meeting

the train was arriving,
pushing forward a mass of air
she held her skirt down as
she rushed to the platform.
Ten minutes late after two
years of correspondence,
she scanned the crowd
looking for the man in the
picture she held in her
hand, listened for his voice
that she had heard over the
phone so many times.
There he was, waiting,
smiling at her, in spite
of her tardiness

Poem based on wedding description of Marianne Van Pelt and Jonathon Self from

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Tyranny of the Calorie

oh how easily that chocolate bar
slides down your willing throat,
after a mere slither across your tongue,
exciting every taste bud into
delirious delight.
then your coach tells you after the fact
that you have to ride your bike for 2 hours or
weight train for an hour, or stroll for three.
the injustice of it all, the tyranny of
the calorie, the harsh reality of
the consequences of that brief moment
of self indulgence, of unbridled enjoyment.

This poem follows a sobering presentation on weight loss by Davanti Cycling: Good news is she told us what to do!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Fresh Snow

to wake up
to the sight of freshly
fallen snow
the formerly drab
outside my window
is to feel delight

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Walking in the Gate

Walking in the Gate

the gate needs to be repainted,
the white paint is now dotted with
dog prints, tire tracks and footprints.
It swings open, with that intentional
creaking, a poor man’s security alarm.
the gate slams shut, the latch catches.
the sidewalk has been recently shoveled,
there are two door mats at the entrance
to the house, one with a lady bug
decoration, the other a plain black mat.
there are three doorbells, two that ring
in the downstairs and one that rings
upstairs. No one ever uses the ones
that ring downstairs, even though
that’s where I always am, unless I am
sleeping and I don’t want to be
woken up.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


I hate leftovers.
Most good cooks do,
unless it’s lasagna.
Lasagna tastes better
the next day.
Leftovers linger
lazily, left to languish
in the back of refrigerators.
Unless you have a boyfriend.
Best reason for having a boyfriend?
To eat leftovers.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Disappearing Candy

The Disappearing Candy

It’s late and it’s Friday.
Whatever self control may have
existed has long been dissipated
over the course of the week.
It’s really true that we only do get
a certain amount of self-restraint,
and that once it’s gone, it’s gone
and who knows what might happen.
That bottle of wine might just
get drained while absently mindedly
watching another segment of “24”,
the dishes probably won’t get done.
In the morning, I’ll see the empty box
of Reese’s pieces peanut butter candies.
It won’t be my fault.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rochelle and David Finally Cut a Deal

Rochelle and David

in the end, they stood at the altar,
but it sure took a long time to get there.
from the beginning, it didn’t look
too promising, she didn’t even
remember him a week after a
deliciously flirtatious conversation.
hurt, he sulked for several months,
refusing to be friendly to her even
though she lived in the same dorm.
that was effective.
time passed and they grew up a bit
and became the best of friends, too
good of friends to risk more.
through illness, job disappointments,
the fact that he thought New York was
too noisy and expensive, there
weren’t enough reasons to stay
together, in spite of the book she
wrote, 500 reasons why
I love you, for him.
in the end, they stood at the altar,
such an unexpected event after
four years of thinking of each other
and never picking up the phone.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our Aching Backs

they used their backs to
dig coal in deep mines under
dim lamplight, to plant
seeds in the spring sunshine,
to tend the fire for cooking.
at night, they rested, their
backs recovering from long labors.
today we use our backs to carry
our worries, feeling them cramp
up as we sit in front of our computers,
our bodies frozen at our ergonomically
designed work stations.
at night, we toss and turn, our
backs never releasing the worry
in our guts.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

No Poem

he was sure I would write
a poem about our discussion,
so I won’t, not wanting
to be so terribly predictable.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Cooking is Life

I taught her last year how to
roll out the perfect pie crust,
pour in the precise amount of
batter to make the most delicate crêpes,
which recipe makes the best Christmas
sugar cookies.
This year, we learned how
to wrap corn tamales,
cut and crimp the edges of raviolis.
We cooked up Insanely Simple Chili,
baked one hundred baby cupcakes
and arranged thirty mini cheesecakes.
I finished teaching her how to cook
long ago and she is already planning
menus for warm summer nights
prepared in her own fragrant kitchen,
in her little apartment.
Tonight I say good-bye
until next time, watching the
red blinky lights on her bike
disappear into the darkness.
I have nothing else to teach
her about cooking.
Cooking is alot
like life.

Sunday, January 4, 2009


I gradually became aware that
you were always looking back
to make sure I was still there,
gracefully adjusting your speed
and position so as to
offer me the illusion
that I could keep
up without your help.

In appreciation of Donna, on her 50th birthday.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button

their paths crossed and locked in the middle of their lives,
she with the lithe body of a ballerina,
flowing red hair, freckles and a sweet smile.
He was now so much younger than when
they first met, the crutches and wheelchair
tossed aside, their union created a child.
their paths diverged, as she became a mother
and he became a child.
her lithe body moved more and more slowly,
her red flowing hair swept up into a grey bun,
her sweet smile lined with sadness.
his motorcycle became a bicycle, a tricycle
and then a stroller, as they watched
each other recede at twice the speed of time
until she held him in her withered arms
and he slipped away.

Friday, January 2, 2009

High Tea at Dushanbe Tea House

High Tea at the Dushanbe Tea House

three tiers of fat and sugar delights
following seventeen days of sweets and alcohol,
it’s not yet the time to stop
the indulgences, not yet the time.
We savor the bottom
tray of puff pastries filled with artichoke and cheese,
fresh blueberries, scones we slather with Devonshire cream,
lemon curd and homemade apricot jam.
Progressing to the
the middle tier, three little sandwiches
of cucumber and cream, a sprinkling of
fresh strawberries disappear.
Arriving finally at the top tier of chocolate cake, tiramisu and
small tarts filled with chocolate custard somehow
evaporate into thin air.
All that remains are three tiers of slightly soiled white doilies.
We stroll out into the dusk of early evening,
drunk with self indulgent feasting.
Oh divine!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The New York Times vs Cleaning the Kitchen

If you don’t read the New York Times
cover to cover every day, there’s no
hope for you to be listened to in this house.
If you claim to read peer reviewed journals,
you can pull additional rank.
(Youthful impetuousness adds fuel to
the certainty of arguments.)
Once those credentials are in place, the
sky’s the limit on what can be claimed as truth,
backed by sources, dates, times, authors.
And so, the debates and arguments roll along;
whether the study of literature or science
is most relevant in today’s world,
whether reading the classics is a waste of time,
whether homeowners with foreclosed houses
deserve help or not,
whether affirmative action is good or bad
for underrepresented groups.
Some stated facts fall to the wayside with
a simple Google. (That’s my contribution
as I have no other accepted credentials.)
After awhile, I drift off to do the dishes,
pondering the interesting things I have heard.
I hear snippets of ongoing debate over the
soft shuffle of my slippers on the floor, running
water and the sloshing of dishes in the sink.
Left overs get put away, counters get wiped
and the floor gets a quick sweeping.
Order is restored in this small kitchen, as a
balance against the chaos and uncertainty
outside our doors.