Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sitting next to a baby on the airplane

I brought ear plugs.
No need for the new mother to worry about the baby screaming in my ears,
I have them in my pocket, I'll remove my hearing aid and replace it  with white foam,
they're the best, not the orange ones that hunters use.
Trust me, I have tried them all, at 2 am when the bars close and our street is filled
with a stream of drunken, happy, or not so happy, girls and boys headed home.
I offered to head to the bathroom so she could change the baby,
the odor was more than I could take, even though her smile was so cute,
her little toes and fingers so adorable, I wanted to see if they would curl
around my finger, I didn't try it.
Yes, I even offered to take the nicely packaged soiled  diaper to the bathroom
when the flight attendant politely, but firmly, declined to add it to her garbage bag.
Do they recycle and compost after all, or just too toxic to mix in?
I had one, or two, after all, I know diapers, crying children, tired moms,
the least I could do was what I did.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Izzy, the Min-Pin

Doberman Pinschers were the dogs chained to a pole in a back yard
somewhere in my blue collar neighborhood, lunging, teeth bared,
I was terrified the chain would break as I walked by, envisioning
my leg dangling from its mouth as I tried to crawl away.
Izzy was more intent on a chipmunk than me, not even seeming
to mind the rather undignified pink leash and striped saddle bags.
She reminded me of someone I used to see all the time; she wore
high heels to seem taller, not recognizing that height has nothing to
do with it just as Izzy knows she is tough no matter the pink and stripes.
that chipmunk that approached within a nose of Izzy just didn't
recognize her power even though we did, we would have rushed
away just as I did from that Doberman when I was a child,
recognizing power when I saw it. 

Friday, July 26, 2013


mountains, rain forest,
lakes, wine, ferries, highways,
rental cars, compact or budget,
inns, campgrounds, on the ground,
in a soft bed, dinner served, carry
it all in and expect little variety,
extra shopping, small flowers that
look like stars, animals rustling in
the trees, washing coagulated
dishes with 2 T of cold water, night
stars, UV sterilized water, mud,
sunshine, driving, sleeping, eating,
long naps, dry vs rainy, cold, warm
by the fire, water, no wonder,

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday wishes for Friday

Thursday wishes for Friday,
Friday and Saturday are happy
and Sunday wishes for Friday,
the working life wishes for a few
less hours, a few less stresses,  a
few less assignments, longer lunches
and personal assistants who can read
your mind when you don't feel
up to it.
work is wonderful in smaller doses
than what I got Monday through
Thursday, Friday, pass quickly
to happy hour, then linger as
long as possible.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Collect the Positive

Collect the positive like the
Namib desert beetle harvests fog on a high ridge,
precious droplets of water stream down
his back into his thirsty mouth.
The perfection of nature.
Collect the positive like each perfectly ripened
tomato off the vine in the front yard,
or each luscious rasberry  to top
with yogurt for breakfast.
The old black dog that wags her tail
for each walk around the block.
the flowers that bloom and know when
it is time to fade, gracefully in perfect
harmony with nature.
Gather the positive in the pocket of
your apron, casting the rest into the
wind, like a freshly washed sheet flapping
in the wind on a warm,sunny day.

Photo from

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Walking while eating ice cream

there must have been fifteen cute girls packed on their front porch,
giggling and talking in confidential whispers;
I waved and continued eating my ice cream.
two young dogs played "bite my face" games in the park
while their owners shared a couple of beers;
I laughed inside and was glad I did not have a puppy.
a young couple were sprawled on the grass waiting
for the bus, their eyes only for each other;
I remembered those days with fondness and
am glad I am here now.
I had planned to go to Two Spoons but it
was getting too dark, too quickly, my dress
was sticking to my hot skin, so I went in an ice
cream place I have never been for some chocolate,
how far off can one be with chocolate?
it's a hot night, and dark now, the fan is
blowing cool air across my skin as I
reach across my desk for a novel calling
out for my attention.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Show me your whatever

show me your whatever,
the smile in your pocket,
the thunderstorm in your purse.
show me the piece of watermelon
you hid inside a bowl, or the poem
you have inside your mind, that mind
that picks up bits and pieces
from gutters and sidewalks.
show me your whatever
that you hide during the day
and dream about at night, it rouses
you from your sleep and you drift
back only reluctantly.
share your whatever and I
will share mine.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Green beans and zucchini

they grew when I was away under the drip drip drip
of water, no sprays from this garden, no water running
down sidewalks into gutters or spraying onto dogs
walking by, their owners running for cover.
only the silence of a droplet of water every few seconds
for a few minutes every day, a droplet that seeks its
home in the darkness of the finest capillary,
its canopy reaching up towards the sun,
the drip makes the sound only earthworms
can hear of the water seeking and soaking each
tiny speck of soil, of loam, of clay, of withered leaves
from last winter, of old coffee grounds, half eaten
salads that have found themselves again in the service
of growth, for that zucchini and green bean that are
perfectly balanced on my fork, their aroma rising into
my nose, their taste soon to please my tongue. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Gordon Conference Last Day: Droplets Dancing in Hot Skillets

I never wondered, only noticed, droplets
dancing on hot skillets, the way to tell if the pan
was hot enough, or too hot, for pancakes on
Sunday morning, my mind more on luscious
blueberries and maple syrup than physics.
I never thought about superhydrophobicity, or
that a thin layer of vapor was responsible for
such things, only whether there was still some
whipped cream in the refrigerator and if I could
eat the small rest of it without anyone noticing.
How could I not marvel, wonder, need to know
why droplets danced on hot skillets, I wondered
at how I could not have wondered at this
wonderful dance.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Gordon Conference Day 4: The Anesthetized Chameleon:

In spite of droopy eyelids and a great sense of fatigue,
the anesthetized chameleon hung on to his narrow wooden stick
as Marleen ever so gently pulled off each pad by pad one by one, carefully recording
in her notebook the pull-off forces. 
the chameleon was so lovely, green dappled in blues and pinks,
she could not help but sing to him as she worked laboriously
to record his wonderous sticky toes, each setae reaching deep
into microscopic crevices, such a high Hamaker constant!
finished with her work, she offered a tasty treat for when
he could come to, and waited patiently to make sure her lovely
charge fully recovered before she, too, could nod off into sleepy
delight after a long day at work.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Gordon Conference Day 3: The life of a pollen grain in Carson's lab

it's a long fall down
from floating dreamily from one pine branch to another
under a blue sky, not a care in the world,
abruptly captured in a butterfly net
and pushed into a Ball Mason jar
for further study.
Surrounded by white men in white lab coats,
an assault on its freedom,
entrapment in super glue
attached to an AFM tip,
now dragging its lonely spikes
across unfriendly surfaces
all in the name of

image from

Monday, July 15, 2013

Gordon Conference Day 2: Wood to Nanocrystals

a droplet rolls off a leaf
from a well-aligned row of trees
all private in their solitude they
await their fate as a bulldozer lumbers
towards them.
in a bath of sulfuric acid they
release their nanocrystals, transparent
gems to make windows, solar cells and more,
or less refined to manufacture paper
or chairs,
a beautiful canopy of leaves  reduced
to surfaces which absorb so many droplets
falling towards earth, the mother
waiting to absorb her own  child.

Gordon Conference Evening 1: The Talks

bondlines on aircraft, x-rays and lasers
I'd be drinking coffee and writing poems
if I were not here, eyes glazed over
from incomprehesion as equations roll
by on a screen, multiple powerpoint slides
of mathematical modeling of multiscale systems,
oh theoreticians who expose us to symbols
so late at night, we who are jetlagged and
not very mathematical!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

sleeping in the heat

splayed across cool sheets in afternoon heat
arms and legs flung wide to dissipate the sweat
beaded up from riding home under a searing sun
and wind that fries your lungs.
it's hot.
it's so hot that once asleep we doze fitfully
as the sheets heat under our skin and we shift
to a cooler spot, seeking some relief.
some people use air conditioners,
brilliant but I prefer to experience
heat and store that feeling
for winter.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Swimming Slides to Conjure Posters

nights, weekends, dreams, fantasies, nightmares
they're all there, dusty and clean, different colored
curves and the Moon and even Eugene Cernan
has joined the ride on the poster that is flying
with me to Massachusetts.
we'll hang out together, my poster and me
with butterflies and pins, bottles of dust for
show and tell, dust that doesn't stick and
dust that does, it'll be fun speaking French
and Arabic, German and Italian, Russian
and English and Science and Wine and
Naps when we get a break mid-day and
I will snore in my little dorm room hoping
no one is listening.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Graduate school blues

one day at a time, I remembered that,
when eventually I trusted that I would have that
piece of paper in my hand and could call my own shots.
well, I can pick my clothes out in the morning and ride my bike
and well, life is good with this Ph.D. after all, but I remember
when he tells me about his life as a Ph.D. student, I feel
for him, I remember, all you want to do is finish
and I wish that somehow it could be done
but a Ph.D. is a sign you can tough it out,
it's a 1, you finished, or a 0, you did not,
no analogs here for those who quit.
that's life sometimes.

Monday, July 8, 2013

The burden of belief

Tell me the truth or let me make my own,
one life where she dies and one where he does
depending on the color of your bracelet.
We talk about it in two places, the blue world
and the red world, red and blue do not make
a beautiful lavender, rather a morose blackness
that I can live in without too much encouragement.
I'd rather neither were true and that things
were like they used to be where we all joined
hands, even Oz, the dog down the street.
Tell me, love, the truth of it all
to relieve my shoulders of the burden of
believing the absurd, the impossible, the
relics bouncing inside an old musty chest.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Les films francais

On a vu un film ce soir, francais,
d'habitude il y a une personne dans un chaise
qui parle avec quelqu'un pour deux heures, sans musique.
But tonight, wow, there were helicopters and guns,
and a cute girl who had to be rescued, it could have been
an American film except the special effects were from
the 70's and we don't do that anymore here in America.
On a bien rigole et on a regarde nos montres pour
voir quand on peut continuer nos vies americaines
avec lots of big guns, special effects, big houses
and fireworks.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Mixing Languages

Conocer es como connaitre
but who does that help when he does
not know what connaitre means, or
saber or savoir or ..what does he know
besides that he loves his little black dog
and me, we who are so lucky that he
knows what love is, where the treats are
even when she does not deserve them,
when he passes out on the couch even
when I'm struggling to play a high F#.
connaitre, conocer, saber, savoir,
he knows enough for me.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Watching Fireworks

are the English celebrating that the bratty Americans
are no longer annoying them,
we are celebrating freedom with fireworks launched
so high, blues and magenta, purple and green to
match our newly painted house, we are free to paint
our houses whatever colors we want, to eat french fries
and coca-colas, to watch whatever we want to
enrich or rot our minds, ahh, Americans, let
us use freedom for good!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Oz, the Big Puppy

paws big enough to float on top of snowfields,
long ears flopping off the couch when his head droops down
in fatigue after chasing dad and mom all day long,
they never stop and keep asking him to go out and pee.
legs prematurely beefy for how much he's going to weigh
after chowing down all that food, the plan to gain 2
pounds per week ..indefinitely, or until his shoulders
are at your waist.
he's a big floppy puppy, cute as a button with monster paws,
sleepy eyes and big bones,
we all hover round him and he wishes we would just
leave so his ears can flop off the couch, his paws can spread
without his toes being tickled and his beefy legs can just
relax until his dreams take him to distant fields where
they will move in rhythm in a sprint to capture
a bird flying high into a blue sky.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Playing cards with the devil

be careful playing with the devil,
he holds the cards close to his chest, reaching
under the table to swap and shuffle them to his delight.
be wary, then, but smart, attentive as you pull them from
your sleeve to win, to mock his evil powers. 
four aces will do to smash the skulls leering
out from under the table, they will turn
into the smiles of goodness under your

Monday, July 1, 2013


east and west meet again, a wall tumbles down,
the other woman fell under the bus and the bikes
swirled around her, stars and stripes forever.
we are reunited today, the black dog, the redhead
and the scientist come home from the mountains
after pondering posters over red wine and laughter.
the bikes are put away, bags unpacked, the black
dog is in the living room snoring, the fan is
turning warm air into the cool of a lovely
summer night.