Old Bits and Thoughts (A poem of remembering)


I remember Billy Searles jumping up to kiss me on the cheek

Because I was so much taller than he was.

It was out on the playground.

It was my first kiss; full of embarrassed pleasure.


I remember hating family drives every Sunday in Connecticut.


I remember visiting Disneyland right after it opened;

It was Christmas. There was a magical swan carriage

Full of Dickensian-dressed carolers.


I remember swimming in Waikiki with a smashed finger

That I had to hold

Up over my head

Out of the turquoise water.


I remember Harriet Hohmeyer and I

In the woods between our houses

Taking turns jumping off the weathered teeter-totter to

Send the other one crashing down.


I remember that my sister bit her nails down to the quick;

Everyone said she was nervous.


I remember dragging unbelievably prehistoric-looking horseshoe crabs

Out of the water on Jones Beach, then letting them go back.

I remember Pooty hiding under my parent’s bed and

My dad using the curved handle of his umbrella to

Drag him out by his collar.

I remember wishing that Roy Rogers and Dale Evans were my parents.


I remember pedal-pushers and poodle skirts and white bucks

And pin curls and saddle shoes and black flats.

I remember holding hands with Steve “Lyle-style”.

I remember happy, prickly butterflies inside me.

I remember the smell of Steve’s white shirt when we

Slow-danced to Johnny Mathis downstairs in the rec room after

Everyone else was asleep.


I remember my mother yelling at Jean when

She scorched her expensive green and white wool

Miramonte High School pep skirt,

And I remember that, even though I was the young one

Who was in trouble way more often, I said,

“Mommy, she didn’t mean to do it.”


I remember licking red candied apples till the crust was

Thin enough that I could crunch through it

For a cinnamon-sweet bite of apple.

My sister ate cotton candy, which I thought

Was yucky.


I remember watching my sister disappear into the fog, walking

Down Tacoma Avenue on her way to

Thousand Oaks Elementary School.

I remember asking my mother how soon I could go to school.

“When you are five.”

I remember thinking I was three and so

It would be infinity

Before I got to go with her.

April 29, 2016

Our Mother Nature (A poem of Haiku lines)


Winsome as the night, crawling through my berry patch tasting deepest black.
Lithe as water falls pouring over smooth-worn rocks, caressing my face.
Impeccable as pebbles rolling on the beach. chattering softly.
Subtle with power, Mother Nature offers me a feast of senses.

Just a Nod (A call and response poem)


In front of the group, she assumed I’d read Kant;
I knowingly nodded my head.
He mentioned Ronsard, that poet of France;
I knowingly nodded my head.
Our group spoke of Gaddy, a master of blues;
I knowingly nodded my head.
Trotsky and Lenin, Guevara and Marx;
I knowingly nodded my head.
Kierkegaard, Voltaire, Heliodorus, and Barth;
I knowingly nodded my head.
There’re places and times, I’m embarrassed to say;
I’ve knowingly nodded my head.
It’s not quite a lie…well, maybe it is,
When I’ve knowingly nodded my head.
But sometimes it’s easiest just to agree,
So I’ve knowingly nodded my head.
Please admit to this n0w, and all do it with me:
We’re all knowingly nodding our heads.

What Light! (begun with a stolen line)


What light through yonder window breaks?
This window now lies broken!
I do not know which road to take
Now that my window’s open.

I’m free to flee, explore the world,
This jail no longer holds me.
A million thoughts now dance and swirl;
No jailer can control me!

I could go left; I could go right;
I could fly up or down,
Or maybe I should just sit tight…
My visage holds a frown.

I’ve never had to face a choice
So open or so varied.
The world has never heard my voice;
I’ve been so safely married.

Perhaps this all is just too much;
I shall not take the chance.
I think I’ll nail the window shut;
I will not choose to dance.

The Universe is far too vast;
I fear to be adrift.
I’ll crawl back to my comfy past,
Recline my chair and sit.

I beg you not to chastise me
Or judge my choice unkindly.
Forgive a coward’s fear to flee,
I have not chosen blindly.

Domestic Stewardship (A poetic union of the sublime and the mundane)


Crepuscular orange sunlight
Streams through my
Dirty windows,
Exposing ubiquitous dust mites.
Ephemeral as used dental floss,
Incandescent as track lighting,
They circumnavigate my
Smelly sneakers,
Passing dirty socks
On their anitpenultimate journey,
An evangelical mission
Reminding me to vacuum my
Disheveled tenement and thus
Eradicate uncleanliness.
I must foreswear unproductive
Anaerobic exertion to
Embrace perpetual housework.
A vision of domestic stewardship!

Challenge (A sonnet)

th[7]A sonnet? Do I have the wit to write
A poem with its rhythm and its rhyme
So ironclad that some may think it trite,
Or think it only for another time?

Tho’ Will, the bard, was fluent in this verse,
With honeyed speech and velvet-coated words,
I fear that what I write is surely worse
And will not flow nor strike melodious chords.

The glove has slapped; the challenge has been made.
I dare not trace a coward’s path away.
I will not let my reputation fade;
Retreat is not an option for this day.

So now, with bated breath I lift my pen,
And pray, dear muse, return to me again!

Mama (A poem for Earth Day)


Hot as the sun’s surface
My core burns.
I gave you my
Beautiful face.

I offered you
You could need.
F0r a hundred thousand years
You loved me
You thanked me
You knew you were a part of me.

What happened?

The Gingerbread House (A poem from a minor character in a fairy tale)

In Hansel and Gretel
The gingerbread house
Would have a big problem if
One day a mouse
Made a nest ‘neath
The window or
Under the door or
Up in the attic or
Down by the floor.
It never would matter,
The spot that he chose,
Since whenever he wanted
He’d follow his nose
To the left
Or the right,
Going up or straight down,
The mouse would be smiling and
Never a frown would
Change his small face from
A vision of joy
Whether she was a girl or if
He were a boy.
Either way they’d be happy
With food everywhere,
They’d live there forever
With never a care!
A gumdrop for lunch or
A frosting-filled snack,
To keep a fat tummy
They’d not need a knack for
Tracing down nibbles or
Finding a meal, in a
Gingerbread house they’d need
Only to steal
A bite of a roof beam or
Nip of the floor, but
Caution is needed
‘cause if they ate more
Than a careful allotment
The danger might be
Being smothered in crumbs
As their sad destiny!

La Lengua (a kennings poem, a riddle)

Ice cream licker
Secret plotter
Stamp sticker
Cherry stem knotter.

Forked fibber
Barb thrower
Teasing ribber
Whistle blower.

Silence breaker
Soapbox stander
Love exclaimer
Pep-talk hander

Curry taster
French caresser
Ear-lobe baster
Salt assessor.

Pleasure grantor
Erogenous knower
Sex banter
Joy bestower

Honeyed speaker
Wedding toaster
Toy squeaker
Selfish boaster.

Truth discourser
Oration spieler
Rule enforcer
Wound healer.

Poem rhymer
Phoneme sounder
Agreement chimer
Phrase rounder

Silvered talker
Thrust and feinter
Metaphor stalker
Word painter.

What am I?


How to Greet a Rhesus Monkey (a didactic poem)

When you meet a monkey you
Don’t wish either to scare her or
To let her intimidate you.
If you face a rhesus monkey
straight on,
With stiff arms and legs,
And look it in the eyes,
You will threaten her,
And she may threaten back or
Attack you.
If you smile and curve your body
Sideways to her,
She will see you as a coward,
And may slap or nip you to
Show off.
Approach slowly,
Facing the same direction as
The monkey.
Gaze toward him or her, then
Quickly arch your gaze away.
While doing this,
Smack your lips in a
Kissing gesture as you
Turn your head away.
Sidling one step closer.
If she lip-smacks
Back to you,
She may likewise sidle toward you.
After you’re side-by-side,
You may groom her,
But be sure to use
The three correct gestures,
Pick, slide, scrape.
(Detailed instructions for
correct grooming techniques will
Follow tomorrow.)

Goody, Goody Gout (a poem of grandma McMillan’s words)

“Goody, goody gout, your shirt tail’s out!”
Grandma reached one finger in to tickle my side
as I skipped past her sewing machine.
I squealed and twirled and
tried to wriggle her hand away.
“Land o’ Goshen! What did you spill down your front?
C’mon, we’ll get that changed before supper.”
With her soft, bony hand on my shoulder,
she led me down the hall.
“Skin the cat!”
I raised up my hands and she
slid my little white undershirt
with the pink bow
right over my head.
She turned away to
rummage through
my bureau drawer,
the shiny white one with the
bunny decal on the side,
“This one will do you.”
Grandma pulled the sunshiny smell of
blue and white stripes down
over my head.
“Now help your sister set the table and
don’t forget to put out a gaboon.”
Jean and I would be full-grown adults
before we learned that other folks
have no word for an empty bowl
you set out to hold
chicken bones, corn cobs, and such.

After dinner, when I asked to be excused
from the table she said quietly,
“You don’t eat enough to keep a bird alive.”
But when she went back to
her sewing,
she let me ride on her knee as she
pumped the treadle.
“Singin’ my little sewing song;
Singin’ my little sewing song,”
I whispered my tune in time
with her knee’s rocking.
Grandma smiled.
She liked it when I sang to her.

Murder in the Kiva (A poem of S.W. archeological excavation)

There was murder in the kiva
They’d been diggin’ for five days;
The sherds were non-existent,
But the crew was drawin’ pay,
Till the boss came back from Boulder
Where he’d been a day or two;
He looked into his favorite trench –
And there he found Magoo*.

The boss looked down in anger,
He said it wouldn’t do,
“You’ll never get anywhere
Diggin’ with this here Magoo!”

Then right before his eyes
A shovel-full sailed through the air
And landed on the back-dirt pile
That was a-settin’ there.
Magoo himself had just revealed
Before the angry man,
One hundred-sixty inches down,
A rusty old tin can!

A silence fell upon the crew,
They looked up at their boss,
But he wasn’t sayin’ anything,
His eyes took on a gloss.
There was murder in the kiva,
But no one ever knew;
The boss himself, quite silently,
Just buried old Magoo.

*Al Lancaster, former Mesa Verde chief archeologist’s term for a grey-clay sterile soil found beneath any known living layer in the park’s stratigraphic soil layers.

Koloa, Kaua’i

82 degrees today.
Tradewinds 13 mph.
Plumeria in full bloom,
(Please sweep the blossoms off your lanai).
Export: tranquility.
Dress: optional
Seen on the street:
Na kane with tight little na ‘okole
Sharing a cold pia with
Na wahine with swaying na kikala,
Most common sounds:
Chattering mynahs.
Favorite sport: surfing.
Age of surfers:
Five to ninety-five.

While Koloa children dream of dancing in rainbows
Just down the road
The Barking Sands Naval Station
Locks eyes with
North Korea,
Aiming missiles.

Morning (a san-san; a-b-c, a-b-d, c-d.)

Silence at dawn.
A dove coos on her branch.
Gently she will awaken.

At sunrise a mother wakes her fawn;
Dove and deer, each gently takes the chance
To lift her voice or nudge with love,

To leave the dreams they have forsaken,
A gentle doe and cooing dove.

In Index of Ghosts (An index as a poem, imaginary)

African, 97;
Asian, 112;
Ceremonies for, 229-287;
Communication with, 137-184;
Cultural understandings of, 31-133;
Definitions of, 1-22;
Ectoplasm, 15;
English real-estate laws regarding, 133;
Fantasmas, 12;
Ghostbusters, the movie, 192;
Haunts in southern US literature, 202;
In literature and the arts, 185-228;
Native American, 121;
Ouija boards in relation to, 171;
Scientific studies of 288-320,
Sounds, voices of, and noises made by, 23-30;
Universality of, 321-385,
Use in A Christmas Carol , 203;
Various frustrations with the living, 386-495.


Barely cooled by
Tropical waters,
The sun crisps my back.
Below me a
Vibrant turquoise parrot fish
Crunches coral.

A cleaner wrasse
Waits for business at
His pink coral station while
An army of sergeant-majors,
Proud of their black stripes,
Troop past.

From beneath
Brain-shaped outcroppings,
A polka-dotted
Box fish
Emerges from her coral cave, while,
From his larger rocky hole, a
Moray eel
Gapes razor teeth,
Spying at me with one
Beady eye

Is there a somewhere in which
Einstein still
Contemplates the Universe?

The Road (A “Book-spine Poem” of titles)

Tired of being
The Keepers of the House, tired of
Alice Adams and Olive Kitteridge asked
The God of Small Things for
A Little Life. They told the god,
“We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves!”
They were seeking
The Comfort of Others and just a bit of
Ordinary Grace.
Without Waiting for Sunrise they began their
Journey in the Dark.
According to
The Moor’s Account, they felt
Euphoria at their
Without a single
Possession but with a
Curious Mind,
In a Free State they sought to satisfy
A Sacred Hunger. They were setting out on
The Narrow Road to the Deep North,
Passing through
A Thousand Acres into
The Garden of the Evening Mists.
But little did they know it was
A Famished Road
Where their Troubles began!
With no Luminaries to guide them
They met only
Tinkers and The Fisherman.
In the Remains of the Day
They had The Sense of an Ending.
Oh, Pioneers!
There were following The Ghost Road with
The Bone People!
The Orphan Master’s Son and
His Family gave them only
Death with Interruptions and a
Return of the Bones.

Alas, Now in November,
The Snow Child at Wolf Hall
Sees nothing of them, hearing only the
Small, sweet song of
The Goldfinch.