Wednesday, December 29, 2010

buckle, evade, wedge

The more he evaded the truth,
the tighter his testimony
became wedged between the incredulous and the ludicrous.
Finally, it buckled--right there in the witness stand.
And he was left entangled in the wreckage of his own deceit.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Educate, Object, Silence

They say that as the twig is bent, so grows the tree...
and I have seen it--crooked little saplings forced to cower.
They wrench their twisted limbs and drop their flying seeds haphazardly to scavenge midst hard roots. Their boughs are educated to bend low and make no answer.
Yet I have heard them shriek--an awkward, unbecoming, and completely futile objection to certain fierce storms--before they droop to seethe in distorted silence.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Lean, Dabble, Utter

Hush! The lean Cassius
Dabbles in a regicide

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Sky and Trees

Polychrome backdrop
Bronze silhouettes
A splendid morning

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

November Fire

I took these pictures of trees this morning, in my yard and this evening grabbed the sunset on my way home from buying groceries.

It's warm right now, but a North wind is blowing.

They say the storm will strike us all tonight, so I had to capture this last fire before the ice.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

The Gentleman from Gadara

They said I had a demon--but I knew better.
A thousand of the dirty things were screaming through my mind,
and, when I counted echoes in the caves, I heard a million.
They compelled me.
They controlled me.
They consumed me.
Until I--like a tortured breath of smoke--quivered, crying while they stormed, broke chains, snapped locks, and raged.
I was a mad, mad man in a world of shrouded, swine-smelling darkness.
Until the morning--the morning after that big storm.

It had raged all night.
They had too, dragging me along for the frenzy.
I was so tired at dawn's approach,
so collapsed and curled-up in the cave,
that I almost missed the sound of His light footsteps.
a foreign flame that kindled my last longing...

Could my little smoke escape them?
Could I run blazing through that pandemonium palisade,
a spewed chunk of tinder trembling through the sky in a feeble arc of fire?
 No pause before I sprang; no time for second guessing,
just a savage leaping toward the man ascending from the dock.
I charged, shaking and I ran straight to him...
Then I crumpled at his feet--
for they had caught me.
All awake and stomping, they were roaring in my throat.
I couldn't talk. I couldn't beg. The nasty things were crowding, stifling the scream of my so-desperate soul with their incessant, endless babbling, leaving me no voice at all.
Then, merciful Heaven above! The things were leaving!
I felt the pain of thunderous clawing as they trampled in their haste to slam the door.
In the faint and far off distance I could hear them--squealing, snorting--
as they dove off jagged cliffs that lined the shore.

The most beautiful nothing I'd ever felt.
They brought me clothes. I ate some bread.
And then we talked. No noisy interruptions.
My whole voice was mine again.
So I offered it to follow Him.
And I told my I'm telling it now,
over and over in my own still voice.
What a difference a day made!

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Tin Man

So today I journey on,
each step a pinch of pain.
Dust rising from the road
stresses my tin-stiff skin.
"Oil!," I cry, "Oh Oil!,"
but my eyes stay dry,
stoic and unbended,
as I keep creaking
up the long road,
wanting tears
with all my

Written for "We Write Poems." The Prompt was "Wizard of Oz".

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Above the Steeple

A shimmering pink
effect of the sun on an
immense evening sky

This sky greeted us when we stepped out of church last Sunday evening. I went running to get my camera and met Claye, my daughter, who had already anticipated that action and was bringing it...snapping pictures all the way. At first, the color was more of a tangerine but it soon gave way to this. Within a few minutes, it was gone to gray. This lavish beauty splashed out randomly in the sky overwhelms me some times. What an artist!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Limerick--The Obscure Woman

A woman who yearned for great fame
Had a long, unpronounceable name.
When asked, Are you mad?
She said, Not at my dad,
It's really my mother I blame.

He wanted to christen me Jane.
She said, Oh my dear, that's too plain
Let's call her Ophelia,
Lorraine, or Amelia
or Opheliaamelialorraine!

I could change it to Jean or Marie
And be famous in no time, said she,
But I'd come back to town
As a woman of renown
And no one would know it was me!

The Prodigal Receives a Valentine

Be mine,
He said, but I, reluctant, turned away
And blindly ran, and furious from his face
So he waited, and he watched and he called from far behind…
Be mine. Be mine.
Faintly I discerned it through the party noise and wine
Be mine. I still love you, Valentine.
And I drowned it out with music and everything was fine
for my head no longer echoed with
Be mine... Be mine... Be mine...

Then a crash...a terrible quietness... the silence was sublime!
All I had for hearing was the snorting of the swine
And the seconds madly ticking as they counted out the time
Then I wanted
Then I waited
Then I missed
Then I listened

Though it seemed a desperate chance
my life was on the line
and I thought I heard a shadow of a voice that said
Be mine
A voice that seemed so distant it was difficult to find
Yet I made the desperate journey
Cowed before his holy face
He was Justice. I was Crime

And He said it one more time

Be mine
And I surrendered
I am thine

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Wishing for a little Rain

I'm not complaining about the clouds, mind you.
I'm not unappreciative of the wind and the shade. Nor do I mind the gorgeous shards of white and gray created by the sun's poking around trying to find a way through the swirls of cloud that cover the entire dome of sky.

I just want rain.
Enough dust already!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Suit Limerick

A man who owned only one suit
Wore it proudly and said, What a hoot!
It's as comfy as can be
And I got it for free
For stealing a bank full of loot.

When asked what he thought of the style
He answered, Well after a while,
the stripes get annoying,
And the odor is cloying
But complaining would just be futile.

First line prompt #3

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Story Turns into a Poem

For many weeks I scrubbed it, that spot so white, so dead.
I told myself it couldn't be, but then the patches spread.
The doctors gasped; I found myself alone outside the city;
I wept as people watched in fear, their loathing mixed with pity.
Alone I begged beside the path where once I'd proudly walked; They threw me little scraps of bread, but no one stayed to talk.
I missed their touch, my son's small hand, my father on my arm, my wife--If she should get it too--
"Unclean! Stand Back!" "Alarm!"

I waited...and I wearied...I'd forgotten how to pray.
I grew cynical and surly, and I dreaded every day
One evening brought two hurried men; I heard their tattered speech: "He's meddlesome...he'd better leave...he angers all the priests. He breaks the sabbath, quotes the scripture as if it were his own,
Talks to sinners...and touches things that were better left alone."

At a distance in the evening gray, I saw them all outlined,
a dozen rushing far ahead, and a weary one behind.
I dared not think. I only ran, with a burst of speed that drained me,
feet tearing on the jagged rocks; but nothing would restrain me.
Then in the dust beside the road I crumpled overcome,
I bled unclean upon the path. To what depths had I plunged?
I heard my own heart throbbing, then footsteps on the path.
I covered my head to shield it from the traveler's certain wrath.

Footsteps tired...slowing....stopping. I dared not face the man.
I just cried "If you are willing....Sir I know, I know you can."
Then I felt it. His hand upon me. "I am willing. You are clean."
He had touched me. I was human. I was not a thing obscene.

He had touched me! The untouchable!
"Show the priests that you are well."
"Don't tell anyone who healed you.
But of course....I had to tell.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


A woman who readily cried,
Was a most unforgettable bride
Her mascara ran down
And covered her gown
Why was it so heavily applied?

(Another limerick "bake-off" . We are given the first line and have to finish it.)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Caffeine Limerick

Every now and then I like to respond to one of Mad Kane's Limerick Prompts. Her latest challenge is giving a first line and asking readers to finish it. This week it was: "There's a fellow who loves his caffeine..."
Here's my entry.

There's a fellow who loves his caffeine
And his handy espresso machine
He blames, with conviction,
His mother's addiction
And claims he's inherited the gene.

I found this great picture to illustrate it, a machine worthy of a coffee addict's love.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Meditation on the Art of Clearing Ones Mind

I try to clear my mind--I really do--
but things keep pouring in to grab the space.
I hear the breeze and wonder why it's blue;
I feel the sunlight shadowing my face.

Resolved, I shake my head and toss them out--
the ponderous questions, maudlin songs and cries.
I litter the air with shreds of stubborn doubt,
with shards of joys and poignant little sighs.

I empty mighty hopes and random dreams,
Throw out the tedious ramblings and the rage,
Out whispered hunches--anything that seems
To take up any space! Get off the stage!

But endless are the sources of this spring
I cannot clear my mind of everything!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Kenesaw Mountain

Time has erased
the blood in this place,
No trace of the brothers
Who fought one another...
shooting from anonymous
lines of smoke.

The gray morning
Turned blue.
but they never knew it.

Kenesaw Mountain, Georgia, 1864

Our three words: Erase, Trace, Meadow.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


"Such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere."

This quote from Elrond in Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring is one of my favorite quotes about heroes. No, they weren't super heroes. In fact, when the most difficult time came, they would have faltered but for a grasping enemy who expedited their task. And yet they were heroic-- persisting, assuming certain death at the end of the journey, yet plodding on. They had no special powers, no mighty, earth-shattering abilities, no extraordinary mental acuity. Nothing, really, to qualify them for adulation and fanfare. That's the kind of hero I admire.

There are many such heroes in the world today; we just don't know their names.

Our Sunday Scribblings prompt was super-hero

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Noble Intentions

Long he worked in golden fields
while gems bloomed beside the fences,
and in his sweat, he dreamed of hidden treasure:

Ancient secrets, sacred writings,
silver fountains, long since silent.
Just the thought of his ambition brought him pleasure.

But the sun each year was hot; rain was scarce; the tractor faltered; prices tumbled every time the yield was rich.

There was just enough to raise the kids, enough to pay the taxes,
So his left his dreams of treasure in the ditch.

Now he sits and quietly listens to the memories of their laughter--
as his children come, concerned, to hover around him.

And he never roamed the world,
never dove for a single pearl,
never panned a stream...
but somehow treasure found him.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

In Theory

In theory...
They are ambitious--
Ambling over high Andes
Nimble on narrow corridors of clay that were
fired by a thousand hoofs and time.

In theory...
They are disdainfully defensive
Spitting on strangers who come to photograph the flock
or simply stop to watch the sheep as a diversion
from an early morning walk.

In theory, that is...
I couldn't get this fellow to budge!

Three word Wednesday--theory, nimble, budge

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Abandon, Gradual, Precise

With gleeful abandon, she sang
A gradual crescendo maintained
Each note as precise
As a crack in the ice.
Applause was a torrent of rain.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Fearsome Dragons

This evening I fought the thirteen fearsome dragons once again. All of them. I entered the circle to announce my presence and caught the little black one asleep. Jumping up onto his flat belly, I blared out my intentions to the others, who snorted and pawed at the edge of the ring:

"Alright. Here's the rules! I'll fight only one at a time. Line up, you scumbags. No fire breathing. No attacking from behind...absolutely no ganging up and no running away until it's all over and I've won. Because I WILL win, and you know it."

There were a dozen more of them, and I'd nothing to do but attack immediately.
The second beast I squeezed to death using just my mighty arms.
The third I easily swept out of the way with a series of vicious side kicks.
That fourth one was a little tricky, but intimidation won at last. With a fierce shake I pulled him toward me and thrust him away, rattling his head until he turned and collapsed in a pile of dragon scales on bone.
Ah, but the fifth one was uncommonly devious. Before I knew what I was about, she pinned my arms above me and I was left defending with only my feet. Kicking and kicking I strained the muscles of my calves against her leathery, relentless hide, until she released me at last and cowered back into her fetal position.
Not taking a moment to rest, I assailed the sixth with a series of upward thrusts to nail his jaw. Over and over I attacked until this treacherous reptilian foe squawked like a wet hen and crumpled to the floor.
Dragon number seven jumped onto my back and doubled me over. I think she thought she could snuffle me into the ground and smear my face on the mat...but no. I sat up...and sat up... and sat back up, until her claws released their grip and she stiffened with a sigh.
I ran for number eight, even as she whirled around behind me. Grabbing her arms I forced them forward, twisting and ripping relentlessly. She was no match for me.
The ninth dragon was an old fellow and much taller than I. He positioned his nasty, scratchy paws on my shoulders and heavy was the weight I felt as he forced my knees to bend.
"No. You shall not conquer!" and I struggled to my feet again and again with iron resolve.
At last he too was forced to quit the battle and I moved to the tenth and final enemy in the circle. Like Moses fighting the Amelek, I flung my arms into the air. Now I was winning. Now the dragon. Back hands to the sky! I was winning. Then the dragon. Then I. It took twenty times, and the last two or three my arms were shaking, trembling with fatigue and pain as again and again I held them high.
The sighing and creaking stopped. So silent they sat. Steel and not so formidable after all. I determined to chase them home. "
Run. Run. You sadistic creatures! I've bested the worst o' ye, I have!"
Alas! It wasn't over yet. Dragon number eleven came charging from the back room and took off running; I gave chase, running on a road that never led to anything, trying my best to catch up to him, but never gaining, never losing. There. With a last feeble peep, he stopped; but scaly beast Twelve took off on skies, and I slogged behind until he, too, fell still and smoldering.
Leviathan Thirteen took a bicycle; I grabbed mine. I pedaled. Again the feeling of inevitable defeat, as the road beneath was the same...same...same...same...
Then I knew...I could not kill them. Tomorrow they would be here again, in their circle of challenge, frothing angry and stronger.

Oh but I will be stronger too.

We meet tomorrow.
The fearsome dragons and I.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

depart, ignite, rotten

Today, I'll compose a poem, I think,
and depart from the usual prose
remembering conventions, yet not forgetting
to weave in the three words you chose.
They prime the creation of countless responses
Ignite the imagination
And cause several wanna-be poets to say:
"This is rotten!" and give up in frustration.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


Yesterday we went to the Rattlesnake Derby.
Crowds, of course, milling around staring at rattlesnakes and drawling in Texan.
Booths in the streets and traffic in the alleys.
Carnival squawking and smells of strange things cooking.
Rattlesnake meat
Deep fried turkey legs
They shared a turkey leg--not bad
They tried some rattlesnake--like a tough chicken neck
But those crawdads!
Oh those crawdads!
They looked and smelled as if they had just crawled up from a stagnant drainage ditch and died in the broiling sun.
My husband was giddy with delight.
He bought a couple, cracked them open and scrapped out the tiny bits of white meat.
Only my son-in-law was brave enough to join him in the feast.
They pronounced it delicious.
I made sure they carried the garbage out to the dumpster.
So many strange things people caller dinner!
But I can't bite something that looks that much like a trilobite.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


I think we all have a great desire to show someone something marvelous...simply because we love that look--that amazed look of wonder. I don't remember the first time I saw mountains or the ocean or a jumping frog...but I remember seeing the amazement on the face of my little brother and sister when they saw them. I remember that great sense of glee that pervaded me. They were now closer to me, because they had been awestruck by the same natural beauty that had bowled me over years ago.

My children's discoveries gave me a sense of satisfaction: I had been given the honor of introducing them to the world. Beauty and Majesty were properly assigned, and the word "Awesome" was now understandably reserved for the Creator of something beyond our power to produce.

Today, I take joy in watching my grandchildren as they see the same glorious marvels. My favorite pictures are those in which their minds are focused on discovery and wonder!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Politico

So smooth! Never brash! How they doted!
A saint! All his speeches were quoted,
His words lubricated
With promises stated
And remembered--til after they'd voted.

Our three words were: Brash, Saint, Lubricate

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Last Minute Instructions:

Here. Wear this old leopard skin so he can’t identify you as human. Hold the sword just so. Don’t deviate from anything I’ve taught you. Go for the jugular when he raises his wings and comes at you. That will saturate his larynx and quench the fire.

Remember, if you so much as deviate by a hair’s breadth, the acetylene tank will burst prematurely, saturating your clothes with its volatile explosives. There won’t be anything left to identify.

Saturate your skin with this scent, dahling. It helps maintain the right attitude. Don’t deviate from the center of the stage…just hold your head…so…turn your shoulders and freeze until the announcer starts to identify the designer, then turn, smoothly, and walk down the aisle!

Trust in this law, my Son. Saturate your mind with its statutes. Don't deviate to the right or to the left. Then I will bless your ways and all those who see you will identify you as one of mine.

Keep it simple. Identify your three main points. Don't deviate from the subject. Don't over-saturate the audience with words.
And, most importantly of all: Say something!

Our Three Word Wednesday Prompt was: Deviate, Identify, Saturate

Monday, April 5, 2010


Arms out, eyes intent,
stretching for the next footprint,
she follows my lead.

*I borrowed this picture from a blog--here.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Caustic, Hunch, Sacrifice

I had a hunch he would sacrifice his queen
to save the passing pawn
so I let her go and set my bishop after the understated heir,
and by the caustic look he shot me,
I knew I'd guessed correctly.

Twelve seconds later, my bishop died.
It was three more moves to checkmate.

I'd forgotten the fury of a queen mother.

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Pessimist

He pondered. He stewed.
He fretted and brooded
over every somber dawn.
His life was weighed by worry
As fearful visions scurried
across his eyes.
His tired face was drawn.

How ponderous
How heavy
The future stretched before him...
days like stacks of ironwood
piled up in endless cords
He sighed his mornings all away
They vanished quietly one day
Like dust.
Time wasn't heavy anymore.

Our "Week-end Wordsmith" prompt was Ponder/ponderous.

Friday, March 26, 2010



My second most favorite online puzzle.
The game is from Puzzle Pirates.
The picture is my own little pirate working at the apothecary.

Someone out there wanted the link to this game: Here it is.
Also, here is a link to an old blog entry of mine which shows thirteen of the different kinds of puzzles you can play--yes, there are more.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


He nuzzles at the brazen boots of fame--
Survives on stingy praise slopped out like gruel.
Back home she waits and watches out the window
His biggest fan.

Our three word prompt was: Brazen, Hunger, Nuzzle

Saturday, March 20, 2010

I Demand...

I demand that you sit there and listen.
I demand that you pay me to sing.
I demand that hotel rooms be fit for my taste.
I’m a super-star media queen!
I demand ‘cause you swoon at my presence
You’re the slave and you live in my light!
Yet you sigh and you scream just to fulfill my dream!
And you never suspect that there’s something not right
With this picture…

Our Sunday Scribblings Prompt was "Demands"

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Pulse, Shard, Weary

Shard of Silver Spear
Pulse panics; face grows ashen!
Weary warrior falls

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Modify, Obedient, Veil

Inside my black veil

Obedient, I beg you

Modify this law!

Sunday, March 7, 2010


I remember an old story of a young, stuttering Greek who wanted to become an orator. Every day he put pebbles into his mouth and stood on the stormy seashore screaming at the waves. Oh to be understood!
As a teacher, I sometimes feel the same despairing need for fluency. How can I reach them: Those ears anesthetized by i-pods; those eyes so mesmerized by random image assaults of cool, meaningless bangles of trivia; those senses battered by rushing overloads of excitement in games and rides and toys and human drama on the screen.

Oh for a child who can still be amazed!
For that one, I'll spend hours at the beach, stuffing pebbles into my mouth.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Amaze, Frail, Sacred

Ezekiel's Haiku

Seraphim amaze
with sacred, solemn, singing
I'm frail and mortal!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Generate, Meager, Tease

Three words: I suppose they might do
For one meager limerick or two.
I'll tease them and weight them
Then de-generate them
And use them again for Haiku.

Why must you tease me!
Can I generate a poem
From such meager words?

Three Word Wednesday Prompt

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Occur, Tidy, Ragged

It occurred to me suddenly this week
That in trying to be tidy and meek
I have worked myself ragged
My edges are jagged
and my writing is somber and bleak.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Poetic vs Pragmatic

"Fear not for the future Weep not for the past"

It sounds so exciting...but how can it last?
A flaming, a laughing, a life for the present,
And why should you think about all that's unpleasant?
Why have a regret?
Why care about duty?
Just live like a butterfly--savor the beauty!

So history happens again and again
And man never learns from the places he's been.
Compassion and caution are lost in the laughter
And nobody grows up. . . or cares what comes after.

But mankind is learning, and much to their sorrow....
to weep for the past,
or tremble tomorrow.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Legal--but not Ethical

My seniors study a bit of philosophy, and we just finished a unit on 'ethics'. One of my students from Indonesia, who aspires to be an honest politician, has latched onto this phrase and uses it in odd moments--at the concession stand, for instance, when someone wants to sell the leftover,overcooked and bursting cheese sticks with the advertisement: "Cheese bursts--an explosion of flavor!"
"Legal, but not ethical", he cautions, happy to have caught me at my own game.

It isn't quite true that we cannot legislate morality; otherwise why would there be laws at all. not driving under the influence, buying someone's goods and services instead of stealing them, nurturing children instead of stringing them up by their thumbs or chaining them in the basement, not slandering your neighbor in court: these are moral behaviors and we legislate them all the time. We prevent anarchy by controlling what people do.

But there is a morality we cannot legislate; it is the morality of the heart: The "ought" in "What ought you to do?" It mimics the character of God and flies contrarily in the face of what is easiest, and what may seem beneficial at the time. Ethics is about others, and our desire to give them the same consideration we want for ourselves. It is about not taking advantage of someone's subservient position, innocence, or ignorance in order to advance our own pleasure at their expense.

Ethics holds true even when the law goes contrary to conscience.

My son has an elderly Russian friend who grew up in Communist Russia. He asked her why her uncles had been arrested and she said: "You ask the wrong question. The question should be "What year were they arrested?" The law had clearly become it often does.

Ethics is about what is right. That doesn't always square with what the current law demands.

Germany had a holocaust and murdered over six million Jews: Legal--but not ethical
For years, slaves from Africa were sold around the world: Legal--but not ethical
Many native Americans were driven from their lands because of broken treaties: Legal--but not ethical.
In some countries today women have no basic rights: Legal--but not ethical.
In others, unwanted children are murdered before birth so they "won't be abused" afterward: Legal--but not ethical.

And while I respect the laws of the land, there is a law within me that I have to live with--a higher standard. If I don't, I will have to answer for it, and a poor defense will be: "but it was legal"

Our Sunday Scribblings Prompt was: Ethics/Ethical