Monday, August 31, 2009

Learning the Alphabet

we learn the alphabet in order
to excel at life; the hierarchy
of the letters, that B must follow
A teaches us to respect our
teachers and parents.
once we learn the alphabet,
we can’t throw tantrums
in public or later, curse
at our boss without getting
the dreaded “F” marked
in red pen.
and once we get to Z,
we only know there are no
more letters, but we have no
more answers.


Sunday, August 30, 2009


she has her habits, of getting
up and making her tea, a bit
on the weak side with agave,
of turning on NPR at a certain
volume, half listening as she
makes her breakfast of banana
and cereal, checking her
email, reading the Daily Camera
on-line and the poem of the day
on Writers Almanac.
(she doesn’t like Praire Home
Companion but she likes his poetry
when she goes upstairs, she has
to give Daisy her treats so
she can get dressed without
ankle attacks.
she dresses and goes
outside, nothing in particular in
mind, she thinks, until this morning
when it’s not quite the same and
the day just doesn’t go quite

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Runner

he passed me, on foot;
I was on a bike.
what happened to mechanical
advantage, that each stride
he took, propelled him further
up the steep hillside than
each pedal stroke.
as he passed me, he asked
me for water at the top.
i finally caught up with him
half way down Sunshine
canyon, now gravity helped

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Bus Stop

they sit and wait for the bus
every afternoon after having
coffee downtown at the Dunkin’
Donuts, the one with that nice
man at the counter who gives
them free refills.
black, white and pink,
and I don’t mean pink gay,
I mean pink, dressed like a
flamingo out to catch a
new man, a feather headdress
two feet high, and those shoes,
my, those shoes meant for
she’s not talking so much
to the others, keeping her
eye out for action.
the others
chat amiably, a little drowsy
after their decaf and donuts.

photo courtesy of

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Peach Pie

they will walk in at midnight
to find themselves enveloped
in the smell of freshly baked
peach pie.
they will find some raw dough
sitting in a bowl on the dinette
table, a small vice he
always loved.
they will see that the bed
is made up, the scent of
newly washed sheets
will smooth the frayed
edges of travel as
they drift off to

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Lives of Objects II: Tablecloths

I saw them from a distance
heading my way, two beloved neighbors
carrying two boxes of cast offs
for the neighborhood yard sale.
Knowing they were in no mood
to sit in the sun selling their treasures,
I started to open a space on my table
to display the items; a cheesy snowman,
a vase for an amyrillis (no doubt,
the one still sitting in my closet
from three Christmases ago), a partially
empty box of Hanukkah candles and
three tablecloths.
The Hannukah candles sold for 50 cents;
selling the snowman was hopeless.
One woman kept coming over and fingering
those tablecloths and I had to tell her
they had stains and damage so she’d go away.
I took them home; they look quite nice.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Weight Trainer

between sets
he gazed down at
his bicep, gently
stretching the skin
over the muscle to make
it stand out while watching
himself in the window,
wondering if the girl
in his heart will notice
and appreciate his

Monday, August 24, 2009

Good Question

every girl wants the answer
to the question I saw posted
on the back of a truck
parked outside Lucky’s
Market today.
not every mother can answer,
nor can every father, but I
can answer this one question
for my daughter; Mommy,
what is a derivative?
(of course I had to laugh at my assumption that this was a math question)

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

In the Rain: Robert MacNamara, 1968

the other boys and their fathers
were inside, eating hors d’oeuvres,
drinking hot cider to take the
chill out of the air, I was outside
looking in, at the reflection of the
dancing flames on the dark mahogany walls.
I willed my father to reappear next to me
in the room with the other families;
he stood in a pool of light in a distant
phone booth, head bowed, the rain
unable to cleanse us of this war.
Thanks to DC for sharing this image of Robert MacNamara in 1968 at an event in a small boarding school in New Hampshire where he attended school with the son of RM.

Friday, August 21, 2009


it’s night,
the crickets are chirping;
a cool wind blows in the window.
it’s quiet and there’s no bike
parked in front of the house,
blocking the sidewalk,
no speakers stored on the
front porch, only one pair
of cast-away shoes sitting
silently by the
front door.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

His Last Night Home

I remember when he was a little boy,
running down the lane,
then turning to look back at me.
We were always together, he and I,
even when it didn’t seem so fun
at the time, innumerable bedtimes,
bathtimes, getting ready for school.
I remember when I sat on him so
he would not run out into the
rain, his backpack stuffed with
a box of Raisin Bran to keep
him fed during his adventures
into the big world.
Now he’s seen a lot more of the
big world, and he is off with his
friends, drinking the alcoholic
version of Rookie Magic, the milkshake
we drank so many times at the Red
Robin next to the Safeway
when he was a little boy.
He’s not a little boy anymore,
towering over me; tomorrow he
will lean way over to give me a hug

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

the masseuse

a non descript man
called me into his office;
i’d be hard pressed to remember
his face; i will always remember his
hands that smoothed away the
everyday worries that cemented
themselves into a muscular rigidity
that kept my head from turning to
see you smiling at me.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Death by drinking

i lost the cork.
fruit flies love wine.
i love wine.
do i love wine
enough to drink that
glass that has six
fruit flies floating
lazily along the
surface in a drunken
stupor; two
brethren having drifted
down into their blissful

fruit flies win.
i lose.

Monday, August 17, 2009


she talks around the topic
so that no one follows her down
the street as she returns home.
she enters alone, removes
the keys from the lock,
but before she closes
the door, she looks hopefully
outside to see if by any chance,
someone did follow her to
share a glass of wine, or a bite
of cheese on freshly baked bread.
Seeing no one there, she closes
the door wistfully and climbs
the stairs alone to bed


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Male Beauty

he was peeling the
exfoliating mask off his face,
wandering around the kitchen
wearing high black socks a la
Bird Man, his navy bathrobe
circa 1979, emanating a slight
smell of mildew; his new
Ed Hardy shoes from Nordstrom
Rack gracing his feet.
Ah, male beauty.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Daisy goes to the spa

she was an unwilling participant
in her beauty routine, perfectly
happy with her Rasta do and long nails.
I scolded her for letting herself go.
Just getting older is no excuse;
we sat on the front porch and
worked on her hair first, patiently
working the finest teeth of my comb
through her dark undercoat.
Her pedicure followed, combing her
hocks and cutting her nails.
She looked great after all, that, and
I’m sure she felt better, too.

Friday, August 14, 2009

A Wedding

six bridesmaids
in matching rose colored
Photo courtesy of, but then I kind of changed it....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Honeycombs and Micrometeroids

the air flow from one cell to another
is described by the simultaneous
solution of coupled differential equations
and my daughter says my sentences make
no sense.
fragmented verbs, split infinitives
and generally disjointed thoughts
are clearly the result of high speed
impacts by micrometeoroids
from space into delicate
biological tissues.
my daughter thinks I’ve
gone off the deep end.
I have, a bit.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Harvard T-Shirt

I’ll sit there in his office
for my review, he’ll open
the manilla folder and gaze
at it, look at me over his glasses
as if he has some kind of power.
Then he'll notice my Harvard T-shirt
and his lower lip will sag, spittle
dripping down onto his dockers
and blue striped shirt, his employee
badge soon covered with half
digested Marie Callender pasta.
I'll just lean back in my slightly
stained blue jeans and smile.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Entrance

entering through
the canopy of green
strips the milky sac
of worry and fatigue
from my tired body;
my skin glows again
my feet dance lightly
from stone to stone
my thoughts are pure.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Oh to be Julia Child

oh to be Julia Child,
enjoying life in Paris with her
husband, the diplomat, sampling
all life’s pleasures at her leisure;
she decided to cook after all.
oh, to be Julia Child, who
was never cross with her
husband who adored her
without reservation, coming
home each day for lunch and
a nap with his beloved.
oh, to be Julia Child who
made the French start laughing
with her instead of at her,
Julia Child, the quintessential
American woman, the woman
who taught us how to master
the art of French cooking.
Photo taken from Julie and Julia trailer

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Lives of Furniture VIIb: The Futon Couch

the couch has been moved
but is restless perhaps, not quite
happy under the weight of
the Belgian family, perhaps
wanting to go home.
she’ll sleep on it a few nights
and let me know what she
decides and maybe we’ll borrow
the truck again and go get her.
it’s her decision after all.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Riding to Sunset

it’s the end of the road;
the small circle sends you
back down from whence you came,
past the Turnoff to Switzerland Trail,
past the little yellow house
on the left, the pond loaded
with overfed trout on the right,
past the old narrow gauge
train stop for the miners, where
Greg and his black cat, Emory
live now; he’s come back in
from watering the dirt road
in front of his house to keep
the dust down.
Pass the Assayer’s museum
on Wall Street, which is open
the third Saturday of every month
from 10-12 a.m.
The young man working on his
motorcycle has gone inside
to call his mother like he does
every weekend.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Lives of Furniture VII: The Futon Sofa

she bought it with her first husband,
when futon sofas were a new thing and
the futons were hard as rock and good
for your back; they were tough back then
and in love.
she and the sofa traveled on alone,
some friends carried it out and placed
it in a truck, leaving the husband
behind with the flowered
couch that they had also bought together;
they each needed a couch for reading novels
late at night.
it was a fort, folded down, a place
for five little girls to sleep for an overnight,
it moved upstairs and the second husband
sat on it, listening to music, ignoring
the world below.
the second husband left, and she and
the sofa continued without him;
they did not care if he had a place
to read a novel or listen to music.
today, she separated from the sofa
and watched the two most important
men in her life carry it outside and
load it into a truck.
she doesn’t need the sofa anymore;
there are so many other places
in the world to read a good novel.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Les Tartines en Québec

Je veux manger les tartines
en Québec, sans cuire le pain
moi-même, contente que le
pain est bien fait ici.
Je veux marcher dans les
vieux églises, avec les
fenêtres en bleu, rouge et
vert et le soleil qu’on voit
derrière autant que les peintures,
les bancs, le croix seraient dedans.
On se promènera dans la
vielle ville et s’arrêtera dans
tous les musées, âpres qu’on
ira dans une petite café, pour
manger une tartine avec du
beurre et confiture, que je n’avait
pas cuit moi-même.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Le Creuset knock-offs

The pyrex casserole with the
glass lid was taken reluctantly
across the street to the neighbor
who returned from her travels
and who I know cooks a lot.
The latest loaf disappeared into
the mouths of babes; neighbors,
children, skeptics and others.
I wandered randomly, or so
I pretended (to no one but myself),
into stores that may carry something like
a Le Creuset casserole, in navy blue,
the one I have always wanted,
although my mother’s would do
if she weren’t using it.
Possibly less expensive
options and red would do.
Miraculously, I walked out of
a store that did carry knock-off
Le Creuset casseroles, a red
one in hand and went home
and baked bread to fill the mouths
of neighbors, Belgians, skeptics
and others.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Judges

the Europeans know about bread,
never having suffered through eating
Wonder bread,
(although balling it up and using it as
a projectile was fun),
so I offered the bread to them,
the woman from Slovakia,
the friend from Belgium ;
they approved with a smile, followed by
disbelief at the method, only in America
can you find a way to make bread
which tastes European without

Monday, August 3, 2009

Generational differences in Breadmaking

Grandmother makes bread precisely
this way, exactly 1 5/8 c of water,
instant yeast, fresh from the grocery store,
2 ½ c. white unbleached flour,
½ cup of whole wheat flour and
1 ¼ teaspoons of salt.
Exactly 12 hours of rise time in
a cold oven and remove the dough
this way: spray a thin coat of cooking
oil onto the spatula to prevent sticking.
Set the timer to two hours exactly for the
second rise time in a floured cotton
towel laid into a 9” basket.
Give at least 30 minutes for
Le Creuset casserole to heat to 450 degrees,
every so carefully transfer the dough
from the floured towel to the casserole,
setting the timer to 30 minutes when the
cover can be removed, then another
15-30 minutes more to cook.
Once baked, remove the bread immediately,
letting it cool at least two hours before eating,
preferably one day.

Mother doesn’t have Le Creuset, breaks
into neighbor’s house and finds covered
Pyrex glassware, does not have instant
yeast but finds that dissolving active dry
yeast in warm water with a little sugar
will give the same result, doesn’t wait 12
hours because does not fit schedule and
does not wait 2 hours for second rising because
does not fit schedule, and realizes timer
is not working because the battery died so
does not know how long the bread has been
baking, eats bread steaming hot while
driving off to a camping trip with boyfriend,
bread is gone within 12 hours.

Daughter does not have time for second
rising, mixes up dough, lets rise for
as many hours as seems reasonable or fits
schedule, dumps dough into floured
dish, puts it in cold oven, turns up the heat
to 450 degrees and figures that’s good enough
for a second rising, goes to coffee shop
to meet a friend, comes back, takes the
cover off for a few minutes, calls it good
and eats the whole thing with butter and jam
with some girlfriends in 10 minutes.

Oh how things change in a couple generations.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


i knew she would show up eventually,
perhaps a husband in tow, or not,
maybe a dog, in a car or on the bus,
a phone call perhaps, a knock on
the door.
i knew she would show up eventually,
likely without a return address, but
promises of one, maybe here,
i mostly knew that whenever she
showed up, i would be happy
and i am.