Friday, June 26, 2015

boy enthralled

            BOY ENTHRALLED


Saw him at a party, left for the world wowed, scrawled

smart-ass postcards all summer long: "nothin could be finah

than to board an ocean linuh in the mawning..." "At the Coliseum

watched lions maul Christians... We are appalled..." 


"We're in Pompeii; something bad has happened here..."

He loved the postcards before he loved me. Next summer

was green as peacock feathers, and nothing stalled. 

We romped in rivers, played guitars till morning


blanched the sky, tramped through emerald woods to the bald

of peaks, no complaints of torn shirts, pricked fingers,

when we picked blackberries. He passed the crowd

of others.  No bad moons, snakes, mosquitoes. No poison ivy.        


I'd tear my body from his before daylight bawled

us out for picnicking, breast-stroking those crowded seas: beer

and bourbon. I didn't know what it was called

to wake with woodsmoke in my hair, head bursting loud.


He felt like home; I wanted us to be avowed, called

to the same destiny. My pulse leapt to catch his eye

across any room. I steadied him when floors undulated,

he me after the heat of family brawls.  His family didn't yell.


The day our hands let go, and I sprawled away,

into a solitary orbit, was forty years

from when he first bowed and snatched my heart

standing on my front porch, a boy enthralled.

Monday, June 15, 2015




No toys, my nights and days perfumed

by wrappers, a craze among the boys

on our postwar California base.  Consumed by ghosts

of Popsicles, Dreamsicles, Fudgesicles,

I rose earlier than any boy to exhume

their casings: neon heliotrope, orange, lime.


Sour milk and chocolate-redolent, I mined

khaki trashcans: plumbed row and acre

of grassless corrugated tin humps, crammed my shirt,

combed that numb landscape, planned. 

You could trade those envelopes sticky with spills.

I stuffed them melting in my bureau until


bulging like stolen money in gangster movies

they seasoned everything. Days and nights

stank of grape, lemon, and cherry.

Sticky collars berry socks cocoa nightgowns

wrestled in my drawers. Pressed smooth, they felt like bills.

The first two hundred from my pungent store


I spent, sent for a bracelet that said

I LOVE YOU in fifteen languages. At eight

I thought that silver metal would somehow speak

the words, stowed the flagrant trove beneath my bed,

redoubled my efforts, nose-dove headfirst

into banquets of bones, cans, moldy celery cores,


came up with gold. I lived on essence,

deprived of the icy sweets in my belly full of nothing,

I sucked dry the catalog from the PX that illustrated

each pleasure and what it cost in lucky numbers.

The clunky bracelet came, bad buy at any price,

shedding its silver skin in a week.  Clear nail polish 


wouldn't stop the leprous peel of shine.

I was an optimist, bottoms up in beer bottles,

offal, rubbish.  I'd show them, glamorous through suffering. 

You'll get sick, parents warned, die of all that filth.

But what was death to the first prize of riding

my new bicycle for fifteen thousand wrappers?


I dreamt in my counting-house, bounty spread

before me on my bed, my world free for enterprise.

Now I stir up my own face cream, rent the garage apartment,

cancel paper, cellphone, tv, gather greens, sumach, chanterelles,

free feasting, grow my savings same as I did those sticky bags

the winter of forty-six, a jubilant child again.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Playa del Carmen, humidity so dense the palms drooped,

I'd specified No Salt in my margarita, and It arrived

salted on the edge. I hailed the waiter,

sent it back. He grabbed it up, swished away,

I waited five, ten minutes, summoned him loudly.

Five minutes more, and I welcomed the replacement.

One taste: it was salty, clearly the same margarita,

only the lip wiped clean, salt fallen in.

I took the drink to the bar myself, complained,

ordered a fresh margarita, No Salt. Sin sal,

I enunciated. Back at the table, waiting,

vented my annoyance. My handicapped daughter

rested her head in her hand. Mama, she said,

he's doing the best he can. No, he's not,

I retorted, but she was probably right. Possibly

his mother just died, or his lover left

for another guy. Jennie is often right about things.

Friday, June 12, 2015


Cats and roses,
a lesson of the universe's:
things sweet and beautiful
bring their own curses.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Here a table, clear finished, dusted, so shiny, it looks liquid.
Sun lights the hue to butterscotch.
But under the table hide unspeakable bags,
mildewed boxes bloated, dark dirty things too scary to touch.

You sit across, we slowly decide and pull up some shameful artifact,
set it on the table. I move backwards as from an abyss
wanting to tell you and myself, that is not mine,
those belong to someone else, I never owned this.

Why did I pull my hair out? You don't show repulsion
at blood or spit or snakeskin, the kitten I drowned to see
what it would do, a turtle I squashed, red rubber hose,
bald and naked dolls. You explain how we are all kin.

But here is the dress I stole, earrings, a pink scarf I never wore
The rabbit I put alive in the garbage. "You were three,"
you say. "Yes, but thirteen when I thought I needed that dress,
and there were five dollars I took when I was six from a friend.

" You say, "Children have no morals. How much allowance
were you given? He wouldn't let you cheer because the outfit
cost too much? Every child steals and lies. It's a stage."
We weave talk and reason, and when I leave you shove them back

under the table, where they dissolve away, get lugged out
with the garbage, or turn to dustballs.
But sometimes alone now I can drag out some damning flaw,
say my fantasies about the musclebound half-dressed guy

on the corner with the big jackhammer who might be
named Eddie. He wipes sweat off his face
and turns his hungry hot gaze at me. You say, "Everyone fantasizes."
"Tillotrichomania is common, a response to anxiety," you say.

"Your father daily threatened to kill you. I can only imagine
what that must have been like." I touch those things cautiously.
They stay dead. Now I make the leaps you make,
and sometimes I wipe the table clean all by myself.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Oh Horrible!

Anyone out there who could tell me how to get the poems to stay in lines? There are lines when I put the poems up. But then when I hit publish, it erases the lines, and the pomes don't look as they should. I am going to try again here in a minute.


Scene: Cozumel: small island
inhabited by 50,000 Mayans
and two million tourists: Father
going through piles: "Oh, look,
here's one your size. Isn't it terrific?"
Kid, three or four: "I love that one!"
Father: to small, mild, Cozumel storekeeper,
"How much is this one?"
Mayan, "Twelve dollars."
Father (throwing it down)
"Are you crazy? Twelve dollars?
For this piece of junk?
Come on, Aidan, we're leaving."
Kid begins to howl as father jerks him out of store.
I make a sympathetic smile at the Mexican,
whose face remains a neutral mask.

The poem is there now, in its proper lines. If I hit publish, will it stay? Let me see. k

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Hello, Friends. I have decided to post some of my poems, which I started at the beginning of my divorce in 2002, when I was 64. This is one that won a prize. Tell me what you think. I'm going to post a poem at least every few days. If you like them, tell me and I'll continue.


It's nightfall when I spot her, let's say outside
the dusty plate glass of an antique store,
plated wares a-peel behind her head.  She owns
something of my husband's sorry soul.
I remember losing it, but swore it was
to Stoli that Russian beauty who knocked him out. 
How could it be this woman, so cool,
so heavy-lidded, long-nailed, when I thought
it was my noisy clutter that he loved?
And how to garner grace when this time comes,
those plated wares so perfect as a backdrop?
A friend once asked me if I'd rather not
have had my retarded child. "Oh, no!" I said,
the words bursting from me. "She's such a blessing!"
I hastened on, "If I have any good in me,  
it came from having her." I didn't always feel that way.
All I’m saying is I know  how everything can change into its opposite. 
I perceive grace as finding, when that moment comes,
what to say to her, something kind, something true.