Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'd rather be a tree

I’d rather be a tree
watching the world go by,
secure in my position,
serene in knowing
that all things shall pass,
good moments will follow
bad, and less fortunate
times will follow
blessed events.
Flowers will blossom
from my branches every
spring and my leaves will
drop to the ground every
fall, as my branches will
be draped in snowfall
each winter and my
roots will penetrate the earth
yet deeper to quench my
thirst in summer.
I watch cyclists speed
by, old men stroll side by side,
moms pushing strollers
and young lovers locked
in each others embrace.
I’d rather be a tree
watching the world
rushing by than be me
rushing by that beautiful
tree on my way home
from work.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Not a Mere Cuppa

I watch them roll in,
bleary eyed on a Monday morning,
their coats slightly damp from
weather that cannot decide whether
to call itself rain, or snow.
The usuals, managers, engineers,
technicians from the local
aerospace sweat shop down the
street, amazing how they
can look so down when they
just launched the most
beautiful space telescope
just last week or so.
I’m going to shock them
today, I’ve been working on it
all weekend with my other
barrista buddies, shows who’s
bored, I guess.
I slide the cuppa joe over
and watch their eyes spring
open, their mouths drop.
It was worth it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Snowperson in the Neighborhood

We are a diverse neighborhood,
embracing all walks of life,
and so on snowy day, a statue
was built embracing all in
one grand snow Buddha,
one with all genitals, all
body protruberances, a faceless
all-gendered statue.
It was beautiful in its curves
and hillocks, its inners
and outers, who could have
thought such artistry existed
in our own little neighborhood.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Lights Out for Earth Hour

many years ago, during war
when lights lead bombs to
destroy homes with families
gathered around the radio,
listening to the latest news
of what was happening
on the war front
I sit here, war is far away
but not forgotten, I listen
to the radio by candlelight,
to the latest reports from
the front, the lights
are dim in our town as
we all sit quietly
alone, or looking at
faces softened in the
glow of candlelight.

Friday, March 27, 2009

International Earth Hour (tomorrow!)

the lights will go out
all over America, all over the world
between 8:30 and 9:30
MST and the glow of humanity
will dim, stars will shine
brighter, the moon will
dip down for a closer look,
satellites will wander off
blind, wild animals will pause
in wonder, power plants will
stop humming, we will see
each others faces
soften in candlelight.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Snowy Day

We spent the day in
bed reading novels,
nestled against warm
corn bags, or maybe,
a loved one.
No riding of scooters,
driving cars, no
appointments to keep,
everything is quiet.
Angels have fallen
from heaven to grant
us peace in our day,
those six sided miracles
called snow.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Waiting for Snow

Waiting for Snow

We wait
for white angels
to float from the heavens
blanketing lime green
peony shoots just emerging
from damp earth,
delicate daffodils
boldly gracing the
garden, the brown
detritus of a long winter.
We wait to see if
tomorrow will be a
snow day, when we can
burrow under the covers
and finish our novels,
or another day to trudge
into work delayed by
icy roads and bad drivers.
So we wait for angels
falling from the heavens,
those six-sided
miracles we call snow.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hemming Pants

most pants don’t fit
real people, with their short
legs or long legs, rear ends that
are too flat, too round,
too big, mostly not too small
in this country of Big Gulps,
Big Macs and Fried Apple Pies.
She takes the pants she bought
for her birthday in January
upstairs to her sewing room,
where she turned them inside
out, pinning each leg in turn,
cutting unnecessary length.
It took three months to hem
her beautiful birthday pants
which she models for herself
in her full length mirror,
enjoying the perfect length.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The beauty of darkness

just beyond darkness
lies luminosity and clarity
carrying redemption and grace.
a silhouette of darkness and
light invites contemplation
an appreciation of contrast,
sunset precedes nightfall,
just as surely as dawn follows
and in almost all darkness
lies a sliver of moonlight.


Sunday, March 22, 2009

His New Car

His New Car

He’s been looking for a new car,
without enthusiasm, wallet's a bit lean,
and he’s not a carnoisseur anyway.
He keeps asking what to look at,
how much is reasonable to spend,
how he can most easily get rid
of the heap he is currently driving,
and I say, I don’t know, and the
process goes on for months,
even years,
Today I saw the answer so
clearly as it pulled out from
a parking spot on Pearl Street
and started rolling down the
A 1979 Chevy Nova, previously
loved, inexpensive and sure to
be the envy of the neighborhood.
I provided the information.
I’m sure he’ll follow up

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Back Yard

They sketched out their plans
for the back yard on the paper
table cloth while dining at a local
restaurant, posting it that
night on the refrigerator of
their first home.
Zucchini, tomatillos, leeks,
lettuce, tomatoes, corn, the list
stretched well down the page,
on top of already
existing rose bushes, a grape vine,
and various unidentified
brambley bushes.
It’s just Spring now, energy
is flowing deep and strong.
Seedlings are sprouting
from peat pots lined up
under fluorescent bulbs in the
bedroom closet.
We drank wine and discussed
composting, mulches, water.
They are young and optimistic,
their yard will become a
beautiful garden.

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Nerds' Wedding

It wasn’t that they were a
month behind when they
married on March 14,
nor was it a random toss of
the dice that they declared
their undying devotion at
exactly 1:59 p.m.
They did not lovingly
feed each other a divine
slice of wedding cake,
opting instead for a piece
of simple apple pi.


Thanks for Scott Robertson for sharing this story of the wedding he just attended.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Not a crumb

the bag was mostly empty,
but I looked forward
to eating the last crumbs
with a tall glass of milk
when I got home
I opened the cupboard
and not only were there
no crumbs, there wasn’t
even a bag to be found.
I know who stole my
cookies, and he knows,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Au Revoir, Les Enfants

Au Revoir, Les Enfants

it was snowing that January day
when the Nazis led Jean away,
his dark curls poking out from
under his black beret.
I’ll never forget his last look,
that combination of loss and
resignation, of knowing and
There was no sign of
accusation for when I looked
back at him, afraid for him,
when the Nazis raided
our school that morning.
We also said good bye to Père,
as he said good-bye to us,
Au revoir, les enfants,
ne les oublions jamais,
let us never forget.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009



They are creeping out from the
storm sewers, yawning after a
long torpor cuddled up with
their newborn young, all voracious,
seeking food, no matter where,
no matter how.
I see one in the dusk on the
bare branches of the tree,
looking towards me and then
away at possible pickings in the
neighbor’s yard.
I growl, low and threatening
and she looks back at me,
eyes wide open, remembering
last summer when we had it out,
that raccoon, her kin, and me.
Last year, I kept my grapes and peaches.
I intend the same this year.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Dusk in Springtime

the evenings
are soft and warm,
we sit on front porches
watching the horizon turn
from blue to orange,
rose to grey,
fading to darkness,
we watch the moon
cross the sky
before we reluctantly
go inside, chilled to
the bone.
(Shocking..the picture is actually mine.)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Apple

The Apple

The instructor set up the still
life for her students to paint;
a single apple she pulled
from her handbag.
A difficult subject, with its
smooth exterior and limited
contrast; it would keep the
students occupied while
she scanned the want ads
for additional work.
She was hungry eating only
a single apple for lunch every
The students struggled over the
apple, shifting their easels in
attempts to find a view that
would heighten the contrast
or make the shape more distinctive.
The instructor saw them struggling
and she was hungry.
At noon, she let the students
take a lunch break,
and ate the apple.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Coconut Curry Soup

We started in good spirits,
energetically checking
ingredients lists, running
to the market to get a
couple we missed.
Two hours later
S. was passed out on the sofa
in his pajamas.
A. and J. were still dicing peppers
and mincing garlic.
The recipe became more
and more difficult
to understand, much
less execute; garlic
shows up three times
in two paragraphs.
Another hour later,
we drenched out senses
in grilled shrimp
floating in surreal coconut
curry broth, tropical
salad and Savignon Blanc.
Another hour later, the
kitchen is empty,
all three of us asleep
in our own little
beds, dreaming
of curry soup.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Revolutionary Road: He said/She said

They agreed it was a depressing film.
She said:
One has to be crazy, mad, to see the truth with
wide open eyes,
to be locked up if he has the audacity
to say it
to be rushed out the door
amid profuse apologies
for disturbing the peace.
He said:
She has to be mad, crazy,
she’s a mother, what else to
be said, she has an obligation,
to be sane, to take care of, to love
even the world does not see her,
her husband does not see her,
she is but a womb, she has an obligation,
she has no dreams, she deserves no dreams,
she will have no dreams.
She said:
If no one sees you
when you cease to see yourself,
when all reflections have been shattered,
deformed, decimated, blackened,
you have no choice but to
become crazy, mad, to
no longer see anything
but darkness
the void.
They agreed it was a depressing
That is all they agreed upon.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hell Yeah

I want to go back to church
after hearing about two congregations
who would welcome an accomplished
sinner like me: Hell Yeah Church of
Love and Forgiveness, and
Scum of the Earth Church.
I received this glad news from
a distinguished gentleman who
would not provide his name or
address, nor would he accept
my offer of a drink at the bar
where I typically hang out after
work on cold winter nights.
Clearly underdressed as well,
with those weird rope sandals,
he was also oddly enamored of the
Snuggies that were featured in
the latest New York Times
Style Section.
Anyway, we chatted for a bit,
then he gracefully excused himself
saying he had others to attend to.
I wonder who he was.

Photo and article courtesy of http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/01/fashion/01snuggie.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=snuggie%20on%20the%20street&st=cse
Anyone who has seen these Snuggis is sure to get a kick out this article. Special thanks to Mike Durall, http://www.vitalcongregations.com/

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I watched him come in,
shoulders slumped,
hang dog, get a coffee
and stare out the window
seeing nothing except the
dark circles under his own eyes.
She sat down across from him,
her hair matted in back, mascara
smeared across her tired eyes.
She crossed her legs away from
him and he backed his chair away
from the table.
I got back to work and forgot
about them until they walked
in front of me on the way to
exit, holding hands and smiling.
Redemption and grace.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Best Movie

It was one of the
worst movies
I’ve ever seen.
It was perfect.
One wife dumped the husband
who was cheating on her and
lying about smoking in the back.
One great guy finally married the
woman he really loved once she
accepted him without the diamond ring.
Alex, Mr. Hard to Get Cool Guy,
fell hard for the girl who never seemed
to get that guys didn’t like her.
It really was a terrible movie.
It was the perfect
salve for
a particularly
trying time.

Monday, March 9, 2009


rage subsists after awhile,
it wears itself out, the angry
waves finally breaking into
ripples which drift lazily

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Just Her

Just Her

She comes with no accoutrements,
no houses, bank accounts,
no fancy dresses or promises.
You can catch her passing smile,
travel alongside her on the same
dusty roads, carrying your own
backpack as she carries her own
small bag of treasures to pass
down to her children and children's
children, small treasures of the heart.
She will share her words that
run like rivers, an embrace,
share a good belly laugh.
She comes with no accoutrements,
love her and travel with her
if you choose, ask nothing else
in return.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Transformation

he whittles away at her
with small humiliations,
a certain tone of voice
a certain look of disdain
passes across his face
so quickly, like a single
frame of a movie we call life.
she has shrunk over time
from large as life to as
small as a church mouse
scurrying quickly across
an unswept floor.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kepler Launch

our dreams launched
at t = 0, along with two
tons of hardware and optics,
our own Kepler space telescope,
mounted on a Delta II rocket.
dreams sometimes obscured
by the day to day mundane,
our eyes shine bright in
the reflection of fireballs
at launch, dimming as she
continues upward towards
the heavenly stars.

a glitter in the
far skies, she finally disappears
into the darkness of night.

A special moment for me as this is the first telescope I felt I had made a significant contribution to its safe design and manufacture. I can’t wait to see the images in about a month or so when we open the lid which is protecting the optics.
Photograph courtesy of http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_space_thewritestuff/2009/03/kepler-launch-cool-photo-.html

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Man in the Park

in the late afternoon
he sat on the stone bench
in the pocket park,
his back to the wind,
his face warmed by the sun,
his large black
duffel bag at his feet.
in the early evening,
he started pacing along
the neighbor’s fence like
a caged animal.
by nightfall, I could see
his face illuminated by
his cell phone, checking
for a message from someone
who has forgotten him,
who has left him,
who will never arrive?
late at night, the black
duffel was gone, there
was no man in the park.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Food Hunting

Food Hunting

Everyone has days like this, when
you start the day with left over
chocolate cake, followed immediately by
a protein-carbohydrate balanced
breakfast of eggs, fruit and yogurt.
Mid-morning, food hunting begins again
and food finding happens at the vending
machine or your office mate’s not-so-secret
stash of cookies and trail mix.
Feeling guilty, you eat the healthy
lunch you brought from home even
though you’re not hungry anymore.
Food hunting begins in earnest about
three, so off to the coffee shop for a
caffeine shot and cookie, a late
healthy dinner at home with the family.
Once they’re asleep, you look in
earnest for that final snack food,
that maybe is not so bad.
The kitchen fills with the sound
of popping kernels, the aroma of
fake butter, until suddenly the smell
is of burning popcorn and the fire
alarm is waking up the kids.
Embarrassed, you turn out the lights
and head to bed, snackless,
grateful that you finished the
chocolate cake today.

NOTE: “Food hunting” is a term used by my Italian friend, Luisa, to mean snacking. I thought it was a wonderful descriptor!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


she told me she liked the house
but it didn’t have enough bathrooms.
Young and single, not an eligible
bachelor in sight, she still needed
two and three quarters, not even
two and a half would do.
Driving an extra half hour to work
to get the extra quarter bathroom
in a new house would be worth it.
Nice girl, pretty and well-educated,
and she knew what she wanted.
Big Papa leaned back in his lazy-boy
and laughed that long belly laugh
of someone who has nothing better
to do and nowhere better to do it.
Back in my day, he started,
we had a two holer in the backyard.
I would go outside at 2 a.m. and
Grandma would be sitting there
waiting for someone to come in,
like a spider in her lair. I couldn’t
even see her by the glint of moonlight
on her teeth, since she had none.
She would grab me when I sat down
and try to kiss me on my mouth,
her white moustache tickling my face.
Ah, he said, smiling to himself
at the memory, to have a single holer
in the backyard would have been heaven.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Neighbors

they were on the front porch again,
smoking, as usual, glazed eyes,
as usual, nice boys, really.
music filtered out, the bass
reverberating against adjacent
houses, echoing in and out,
almost hard to tell where it
was coming from, like a hall
of mirrors, of sound.
one boy looked at his feet,
his whole body slumped at
the same angle as his cigarette.
Prayer flags flapped in the breeze,
a couple of dirty sleeping bags
spread out on the sofa on the porch.
the front door opened,
the music pushed two of us
away from the house,
down the street, seeking silence.
There was none to be found.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Young Man arrives in America

He arrived in classic Belgian style;
uncertain, poor English skills,
ratty looking with his worn
corduroy trousers and moth eaten
sweater. Perhaps he even smelled a bit.
A good European sort.
An innocent.
In his deodorized, sanitized motel
room, he flipped on the T.V. to
learn about his new country.
Nitro and Turbo were the
stars that night and this innocent
watched spellbound through all
ten rounds, wincing at the occasional
display of blood.
Needless to say, he did not improve
his English skills that night,
quite the contrary.
Falling asleep that night,
he marveled at all
this new country
could offer him.