Friday, April 27, 2018

MORE RANDOM THOUGHTS (or not so random)

1. Reading Patricia Hampl's new book I discover she too has a complicated relationship with to-do lists and books started and deadlines. Her new publication, "The Art of the Wasted Life", is an eye-opening parade of feelings and thoughts about time and work and what to do when.

2. She writes "waste your life in order to find it." What she calls "waste" is actually "daydreaming" she says.

3. She writes about baby boomers - like her and me - who think they are young forever, petulant, and past ambition. Are we? Am I?

4. What the heck are hashtags (#) for? And why does everyone crowd their writing with them?

5. Sometimes - when I'm waiting for someone at a café - I half-wish they don't show up.

6. Hampl writes about Montaigne, considered the first essayist, and I think: essays in Spanish are ensayos: rehearsals, practice. Is that what we're doing? practicing for real life? rehearsing for the actual show?

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


1. I've started reading eleven (11) books in the last month. Haven't finished any yet. What's the deal? There is always a more interesting book out there and I have to have it. I think that's like thinking that everyone else is having fun while I'm left out. Left out of what? And I think that comes from growing up as an only child and needing friends all the time, company, needing to be the center of attention.

2. Being an only child sucks. There, I said it.

3. This morning I heard on the radio that anyone can baptize a child into the Catholic religion. All you need is to spring some water from the faucet and recite a few words. Can I charge for that?

4. That's like being an officiant at weddings and funerals just by getting a certificate online. I should try that. After all, I've tried so many other "unusual" things.

5. When I ride by a neighborhood where I used to work at or frequent and see it renewed, it bugs me. What's wrong with me? Am I anti-progress?

6. What does it mean when your teeth fall out in a dream?

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 18

In the desert we are fleeing
and fighting. My four front teeth’s caps
fall out. I try to stick them back on
but to find them I have to search first
because  my palm holds all these other things:
pine cones and dates and assorted insects
lie among my teeth's caps. Then, on a bed,
in the middle of the desert my colleagues
gather around. We walk and walk
to reach a building where our offices are. 
Finally I manage to put my caps on but
I’m afraid they’ll fall out again. What does
it mean? when your teeth fall out in your dream?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 17

How to make a fire  

Light a match. Watch the blue wedge

flutter in the strong wind, weakening,

weakening. Hurry up. That’s your last

one. Throw it on top of the woodpile

swiftly, before it goes out.

Sit and wait now. And hope the red flame

grows big enough to warm you up in

this dank crook of the world, chilled

to the bone as you are. Breathe

deeply and watch: the darkness might

bring uninvited guests. Sooner or later,

the sun will rise, the wind will die down.

It will be your time to stand up then, to go out

into the world and start other fires, other fights.

Monday, April 16, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 16

BIRDS IN “EL PARAISO” (San Miguel de Allende, Mexico)

A vermilion flycatcher flutters around the shrubs,
bright red breast, black head,
could not be more beautiful jumping from branch
to branch, hiding in the tall trees in
the distance, coming closer to my window. 
A red slash against the blue sky, impossible not to admire. 
Two grackles walk back and forth across the street,
their long black tails sweeping the cobblestones,
determined and purposeful.  Sometimes
one of them perches himself on the dome
above the house and calls out
to who knows who - a mate? a friend? us?

Thursday, April 12, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 12

Flat earth, bare trees, where I live 
we welcome warmth unabashedly. 
We wear our legs bare too soon, as soon
as the merest hint of weather change
announces itself. Sun. We wait all plants
to bloom and blossom, to explode
in yellow, red, pink, blue,
orange, purple, many more. We sit
at sidewalk cafes and on park benches,
we open our eyes and our mouths
to breathe in and swallow what has
been denied us for so long. Trees no longer
bare, earth still flat, we begin to smile
slowly, slowly, the new season has arrived.

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 11

a junco skips on the deck
picks a seed
picks another
then skips some more
I watch his white belly caress
the wood, his grey back shine
under the welcome sun
this morning that promises
the warmth
we've been waiting for it

now a house finch in a red coat
and a multitude of sparrows and
a chickadee
or two
they all visit our birdfeeder
all day long
sometimes a male cardinal
graces us with his presence and
brings along his wife

silence and peace reign
this morning
only birds disturb but
we're not complaining
we're happy
we feed them and watch them
and worry about their well-being

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 7/8/9

I missed a few days thanks to life's unpredictable predictabilities.

Here is today's contribution.

You are the polio survivor too for sure

with your limping leg, your loose foot

that doesn’t obey, doesn’t act properly,

doesn’t walk the way it should:  lifting the heel first,

then the toes. No, you just lift the entire foot,

the leg up from the knee, then

you stumble, you slip, you fall. Sometimes

you roll down rocks, knock your head twice

and come to rest for the third time on the clearing.

Your husband watching in terror. Dumbfounded.

What should I do he thinks.

You say I’m ok, what happened. 

You don’t lose consciousness or pass out or forget

your name and address, just a myriad of bruises,

cuts, some blood, pain. Looking like an abused wife

you walk into the hotel where people stare. I’m ok you say.

Embarrassing you think. Stupid you berate yourself.


your foot, your leg, they just got sick one day,

a long time ago. Not your fault they say. Yet you don’t

believe that. Shit! you say, why do I have to walk

like that? Trip? Stumble? Fall and keep falling.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 5


The last time I saw her

she was lying in a casket.

With hardly any wrinkles – her skin

smooth and pale, she always

looked younger than her age:

hair, still black and shiny at 92,

lips full, cheeks rosy. If her eyes

had been open, their large black pupils

would’ve astonished you. Always

a beautiful woman, she delighted to say

that she looked exactly

like her mother.


When I look in the mirror

I see her.


I am 6 years old.

The middle of the afternoon on a week day.

After school, after lunch, to bed, to nap.

I can see her sitting by the window,

looking at the sidewalk across the street;

the winter air filled with cold and wind,

the sky grey. I imagine

she wonders why she’s there,

what she’s doing so far from home.

But it’s too late now.

Home is many thousands of miles away.

And she has a husband and a child.

I imagine she gazes at the house across the street

its gleaming white walls and iron wrought entrance.

Perhaps one of the neighbors is walking home

from the day’s errands saddled with shopping bags.

The light in the room

pale and weak

and all I can see

is her silhouette,

sitting by the window,

framed by the white drapes,

a glimpse of trees outside,

the light blue walls.

I imagine she can see the afternoon get dark.

Days are shortening,

light failing too soon,

and all that is left is darkness. And sadness.

Unimaginable sadness.


In the old days – she used to say–

parents were not like today. They

didn’t hug

and kiss

and cheer their children on. 

She would say

don’t cry.

You make me cry.

She would say

don’t complain.

She would say

why are you unhappy? You have


We were like ostriches

digging our heads in the sand, avoiding any unpleasantness.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 4

It's been a long time. Forty some years
since I landed on this land. It was cold
then too, like today, even though then
it was February. A newcomer with all
the newcomer's fears and anxieties,
insecurities, what am I doing here?
Why have I left my home for this?
How will people receive me?
Will they appreciate my wit,
my intellect? Will they accept me?

It's been a long time. Forty some years
since that time and I'm still afraid.
Whenever I walk into a new situation,
with new people,
my stomach knots, my heart beats
just a little fast, armpits moisten.
Will they appreciate my mind,
my humor? Will they focus
on my looks, my voice, my accent?

My accent - that red light of foreignness.
A clear marker of difference. The tiny voice
with sharp vowels and misplaced prepositions

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 3

Wet streets today,
gray sky,
chilled air on my face:
I nevertheless go out,
against my better judgment?

No, this is a good judgment.
Go out into the world,
smell the damp breeze,
feel the drops of rain on your eyelashes,
sit and read
and write!

What's the point of living if you don't
What's the point? Really...

So much happier when you do that.
Even for a few moments,
a handful of minutes or even
a number of hours. Sometimes.

Monday, April 2, 2018

NaPoWriMo Day 2

The runaway

i wanna go home
i’m scared
can you help me?
i’ve been sleeping
in the streets
since last week

I listen
Careful not to interrupt
“Aha” ing and “I see”ing
every now and then lest
the young girl think I’m
not listening, her voice thin
and hesitant, yet determined.

i need
i left my house
and walked
for a long time
then i hitchhiked
a trucker picked
me up and
brought me to florida

She needs empathy and
support more than anything
else right now. She needs
a safe place to sleep and
a warm meal, some options
on what to do - too old before her time.

i know nobody here
i have no money
my father was violent
my mom on drugs
i had to leave
what can you do for me?

She’s seen too much, she’s hurt
more than anyone should’ve at 15.

Sunday, April 1, 2018


What's that? you ask. It's the poetry version of NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. We're supposed to write a poem a day for the month of April - National Poetry Month. There is a website and everything. If you want to participate, go ahead, jump in. You'll swim, I promise.

The prompt for today is writing about a secret shame or secret pleasure. Well...if it's secret, I don't know if I want to divulge it. Plus I have so many!

Some of them involve parts of the body
that are not supposed to be touched or
delved into, at least not in public. I always
try to be discreet. But lately I find myself
forgetting that I'm out in the open or
(somehow-for some reason) not caring.
What happened to me? Where did my shame
go? my following societal constraints and
rules and restrictions? Did something
happen to my frontal lobe? You know,
that's the one where the rules and morays
grow and store. If you injure your frontal
lobe, you are apt to behaving bizarrely,
shamelessly, flouting norms and customs.
I think as you get older, the frontal lobe
just slows down, gets lazy, says "fuck
it, do whatever you feel like, who cares."
That's right. Who cares. Be yourself,
to hell with rules and society. Pick your nose,
fart, scratch your crotch, who cares.
If they give you pleasure, that's all that matters.