May 20, 2017


I am waiting to be a child again
I am waiting to know if it is possible to be
               a child when you’re old
I am waiting to find out just what it is about
               children that I want to be again. 
I am waiting to know if being old is or isn’t
               another part of being a child.
I am waiting to eat the things I loved as a child
I am waiting for rice pudding and corn on the cob            
               and porkchops on Sundays
I am waiting to swallow carefully, the way I did
          as a child
to feel the food going down
I am waiting to be told, don’t talk 
          with your mouth full
I am waiting to write with my mouth full
I am waiting to sign my name to whatever document I 
          have to sign
to be a child again
I am waiting to be stricken with the diseases 
          of old age
I am waiting to know if they are better or worse 
          than measles, mumps and broken arms
I am waiting to be the parent to my own childhood 
I am waiting to be the child to my own parenting 
I am waiting to explore what lies beneath 
          the vantage point of
seven decades done with and
I am waiting to see what the view from the top is 
          because maybe childhood was the bottom?
I am waiting to find out if childhood was the top
I am waiting to wear no shoes
I am waiting to wipe my nose on my sleeve
I am waiting to scribble drawings on the wall
I am waiting to sing made-up songs
I am waiting to lie in bed and not nap 
          watch the curtains move
I am waiting for the leaping zebras and tigers to 
          jump over my bed
I am waiting to play hopscotch and jump rope again 
and do them well
 instead of always losing
I am waiting to see my old friends and 
          put my right foot in and turn it
       all about.
Turn it all about, turn it all about.

~  March 26, 2013 to use anaphora

June 10, 2015

What I'll Write On

        What I’ll Write On . . . If  I Lack Paper 
                  March 2015

            For lack of parchment, I’ll write on lace,
          For lack of bark, I’ll write on dog hair,
                     For lack of felt, I’ll write on feathers,
        For lack of silk, I’ll write on stones,
       For lack of rust, I’ll write on brick,
      For lack of books, I’ll write on roads,
       For lack of chamois, I’ll write on fences,
        For lack of blackboards, I’ll write on walls,
         For lack of papyrus, I’ll write on bamboo,
          For lack of skin, I’ll write on shadows,
           For lack of vellum, I’ll write on leaves,
          For lack of clay, I’ll write on windows,
         For lack of plastic, I’ll write on water,
       For lack of glass, I’ll write on reflections,
      For lack of lead, I’ll write on silver,
      For lack of tombstones, I’ll write on dust,
     For lack of bone, I’ll write on porcelain,
              For lack of hide, I’ll write on rags,
             For lack of veneer, I’ll write on wax,
            For lack of ivory, I’ll write on eggshell,
           For lack of slate, I’ll write on whiteboard,
          For lack of cream, I’ll write on dusk,
          For lack of sand, I’ll write on sky,
           For lack of you, I’ll write on me.

July 10, 2014

          POLE VAULT

Of two closets in my NYC apartment, the tiny one was for coats, boots, television, and tool box). The other was for clothes, and was five feet wide by 18” deep.
     Anything needing a hanger went in that closet, on a thin wire hanger. My left bicep was notably stronger because I shoved loaded hangers to the left when fitting in another item.        
     Reading one night, I heard a muffled sound of slope collapse. Although ongoing demolition next door had come within two bricks of my inside wall, it was midnight. The thick pine closet pole, sturdy enough for fifty pounds of clothes, had given up. Again! Last warning! One end had gouged a track down the left wall, the other slumped on the floor. The clothes, still on hangers, had folded themselves as the pole went down, and cowered on my shoes.
     The next day, I put anything that wasn’t black, gray, off-white or beige (no matter how much I loved it or its colors -- turquoise, crimson, marigold, vintage prints, equable plaids), into garbage bags and lugged them to a thrift store. 
    I tried to fit the weight-warped pole back into its socket hardware. But it was now too short. I got my tool box from the other closet, unscrewed one socket, shimmed it with cardboard, and screwed it back with longer screws. I hung up my austere black, gray, white and beige clothes. They were patient -- there was plenty of room.  

April 23, 2012


She looked at her watch to see time move. Soon it would be time to defend her status as a UP – Useful Person of the Realm. She looked in the mirror and smoothed her gray hair. THAT would count against her. Old gray mare.
    The five Realm Masters sat at a long polished table, the dim sun from the windows caught no dust motes, made no shine on the clean floor. Work of time and other Useful Persons – the dulling and the polishing.
    “What have you to say for yourself?” the Master in the Middle asked her.
    “Ipickupbrokenglassintheriver,andnailsintheroad.” She had practiced saying it in the mirror. But she said it too fast.
    “Don’t speak so fast, you waste our time by having to repeat yourself. Don’t speak slowly either,” said the Master on the far right.
    “I pick up broken glass in the river, and nails in the road, your honor.
    “What are you paid for that?”
    “A week-old poppyseed bun, every other day, your honor.”
    “Hah!” said the Master on the left. “I don’t know as I’d think that was worth it, just to be alive.”
    She smiled at him. “Oh, some of the glass is very pretty!”
    “And I suppose you’d say that the nails might cause injury.”
    “Yes,” she said eagerly. Might this Master be sympathetic?
    “Except for the fact, Person, that no-one has tires and no-one has bare feet, except for Useful – and UNuseful – Persons. Expendable, and I rather like making bread pudding with the stale buns. Add eggs, milk, raisins and sugar.”
    She caught the drool that started down the side of her mouth. Eggs, milk, raisins. Sugar!
    She waited.
    The Masters huddled toward the center. They appeared to be conferring, but she could hear them saying “Raspberry raspberry raspberry,” just like crowds on the stage. Finally the Master in the Middle spoke.
    “Carry on, then, but try to find something more useful before your next hearing.”
    “Thank you, Masters of the Realm.” She backed away, careful not to scuff the floor. Maybe she should crawl out, with her knees under her skirts polishing the wood as she went. Maybe she should catch that wasp that had somehow found its way into the Hall of the Realm, and would sting someone. She thought it might be worth another bun, today perhaps. She reached out and caught the wasp. She felt it vibrating, preparing to stab her hand.
    “What is that you are trying to take away from the Great Hall?” asked one of the Masters.
    “A wasp, your honor, a wasp that might have stung one of you.”
    “That wasp, you silly Useless Person, is my particular favorite wasp of all the wasps in the realm. I have trained it to fly about and look fanciful.”
    The Master stood up behind the table. He was just barely taller than the table itself. He shouted at her, “Let the Wasp of the Realm go free!”
    She opened her swelling hand. The Wasp of the Realm, drunk on her useful blood, spread his wings and flew away. She was able to bow and get out of the door and get back out to the street before collapsing. She could see a nail just inches from her face; if only she could just reach out and get it.

October 24, 2011

Memorium to Brown Dogs

Brown dogs
  Mix. Mix, match
Brown to brown --
Hair and hair, generations of bones and dust,
All the dogs in the world
Mix, match, mix
Until they are all brown.

What love they bring.
And what love we have for them.
Rejoice for every happy dog,
Mourn for every unloved dog,
And please, God, bless their souls.

All those dogs, brown,
Black, white, tan, gray, blonde, red,
Speckled, dappled, brindled, spotted
Dressed up with white chins and feet,
  Shoulders strewn with ruffs of black,
  Withers stroked with fingers of platinum,
  Tails fringed and tipped in white,
  Eyebrows fooling with spots of brown;
Eyes of gray, blue, brown, amber, gold, and black,
  fogged cataract eyes,
  car-struck sockets sewn shut over beauty.
Flesh, blood, bone and sinew, nerve and instinct.
Match, mix. Mix our
Memories of our brown dogs.
God bless their souls.

August 19, 2011

Auburn Blood

  I keep sleeping on my blood-stained pillowcase. Even the pillow inside I have not tossed away – even that I have kept because the blood is from the worst injury I have had in years (knock on something), and it was to my head. I have slept on the historical pillowcase for 47 nights.
  Just before I turn the light off I look again at the stains and smears, drops, and suggestive smudges on the pale green pillowcase. Secretly, I am glad that the pillowcase my head rested on that first night is pale green.
  I looked this morning at the pillowcase. The place on my head still hurts a little and there is a bump, but the last bit of blood leaked out over three weeks ago from where the scab had clung, even as tiny hairs tried to grow through it.
  This morning it is time again to dye my hair. It was due about the time I fell on the asphalt.
    Miss Linda, I gotcha, I’m not gonna
    leave, Miss Linda,”
said a stranger named Sonny,
    who held my hand until the ambulance came.
    I could hear my friend behind me say to 911
    "There is so much blood,
    there’s blood all over.”
    Sonny said, “Don’t worry, Miss Linda,
    I ain’t goin’ nowhere, I gotcha.”
  As the gurney rose into the air, I looked at the asphalt. There’s blood all over, so much blood.
  My head was cauterized and glued after hair was cut off. Now it is healed and the glue has come out and the scabs have come off, and my hair was cut last week. I'll dye it redbrown -- one auburn or another – whatever is on sale.
  With the color mixed I squirt it on my hair. At first it is deep purply red, like blood from your liver or some other dark innard which hides blood. It drips on my face, my neck, one drip rolls down my chest and stops at a nipple. With plastic gloves, I hold a hand mirror, and see a niagara of purply red pouring down my neck.
  I wipe that off, and even as I do the color begins to turn auburn. Auburn more and more like blood.
  Now I am redheaded again, and I will be more careful. Tonight I will sleep once more on the bloodstained pillowcase; a little dye might rub off.

Dog Days of Wisdom

The dog days of wisdom speak with barking voices
  and small growls of jealous appetite.
They lick my mother-hand -- or bite;
  They whir like needledragonflies, hovering clouds
Over hot dogs restless in the moving shade,
  Bothering those driven by heat to
  worry at beggars' lice or imaginary fleas or
  The broken stick from next door's tree --
  Dropping it, pausing, and chewing the end again.
All will settle down when cooler days
  point toward Autumn.