On a Tuesday

don’t know when,
or where the light switch went
who, or what grabs the unquenchable flame?

how do I stand if I can
among desks, dead concrete,
smoke and loose leaf limbs?

it’s the way he said it,
in a red badge moment
i wiped away blood from
the inside of my glasses and rose;

for everyone who can stand
stand now, if you can
help others, do so.

-The Red Bandanna by Tom Rinaldi
a 9/11 Tribute to civilian Welles Crowther

for Real Toads


50 Pound Limit for Middle Earth

Not that I’d know firsthand. But
you might want to bring a raincoat.
It’s probably green for a reason.
And hey, you might want to take
a flashlight that doubles as a
lantern, which also doubles as a
blunt weapon. I’ve checked. They
don’t allow tasers in checked baggage
or carry-on. Promise you’ll take a
couple of warm fuzzy jackets. Upfront
you won’t know another soul, and who
knows what a Wellington Winter is like?
You might have taken us too. But you won’t
gain a lick of independence that way,
so take our Go-Pro from the desk in our
bedroom. Just go, and break in your new
hiking boots, – their lovely blue spell
shell shuffling their way through Middle Earth.

[for Real Toads] some new shoes for my eldest daughter’s upcoming adventure studying abroad in New Zealand. I’m thrilled to announce she has also opened an obligatory blog to journal her travels to NZ and Thailand… you know, so her dad and I can see where all our money’s going:) Follow her at Mackenzie In Middle Earth to see her wearing those new Ahnu Boots we got her for Christmas. Her trip begins this February.

Ask Your Hostess

To toss or not to toss?
Yes, Sirree, it’s a
full blown salad
so let us go with our
happy illusions
and bragging bits.
Let us -go-lightly with
copping a feel
forcing a six Pence hand
,because of vagina
,because of hombre
,because of a cockamamie
fence. What’s this sloppy
stuff doing on my plate?
I can’t stomach it, –
mor(t)al oppositions.
Dear fellow rednecks,
for(ce)give me. Nasty
women, what more can I say?
I’m starving in these
salad days. Too afraid
to order the meat.

[how this election makes me feel
for Michael at Real Toads]

This isn’t a poem. It’s me talking to you outside of a poetic line.

I just wanted to say I’m heading back to summer camp with all my loves. (I’m serious. This isn’t a poem.)

They installed wifi this year in the dining hall, but shhhh, we’re not telling the campers.

We still like camp being an electronic-free space.

IMG_0256  IMG_0212

I will be absent from my blog for awhile, but I’m hoping you all enjoy your summer.

Just promise me you’ll get some fresh air now &then.


Oh, and wish us luck getting our pup into the ocean with her new life vest.

(This isn’t Sky in the picture. Our dog’s cuter, &she’s a girl!)

And hey, maybe –just maybe I can smuggle a live-action doggy pic to all of you soon.

(I’m such a hypocrite about the no electronic thing.)



To Say My Story, Is To Tell Theirs

It’s the one mom still knows–
because Alzheimer’s can’t steal it.
She starts &finishes with gusto–
same cadence, same inflection,
same certain laugh. Every time.
About a minute or two after the punch
line, she loops back around with,
“You know our story, don’t you?”

Daddy didn’t like him. Thought
he’d amount to nothing. Mom went
&told the justice of the peace not
to marry us before we came walking in,
but that justice said he couldn’t
legally stop anyone from marrying
if they were of age, and we were,
and that made daddy hotter than hell

Comes knocking on my apartment door
telling your dad there are four ways
out of this town– take any one of them.
But plenty of times I didn’t listen.
How I convinced your Dad was something else.
He got clear out to Colorado before he
turned around, wondering how I dug my claws
into him– “You know that one, don’t you?”

for the Daily Post
& Real Toads

I’m All In

I’m still the same girl I used to be; dreaming of wild new swing sets complete with chutes & ladders, bells & whistles. I never played pretend with plastic Barbies. Too busy and had no inclination.

As a pesky kid, I convinced my Dad to hang a rope swing in our backyard. Sadly, he took it down after he saw I was killing the grass.

Undeterred then, and even now, no obstacle has stood in the way of my dreams to fly through the air, to climb new heights. I’m shameless and stupid like that. My guardian angel is the best.

Tomorrow is the first day of summer vacation with my kids. Of course, I’m taking them to ride the newest roller coaster on the mountain. It’s twisted, come on! Then, in late summer (after 4 weeks at our beach job/yes there is a God who blesses me) we’ll trek to Colorado and breathe life in from a mile high up. In my opinion, a breezy suspension kind of day with bungee cords, chains, and bridges to traverse is the best kind for living.

I’m all in, Summer! But you already knew that.


On A Back Road

I knew that this was right. The old farmer’s truck
Carrying the new. Moving 55 mph through Avenal’s cut-
Off road. A slow blinker slices through a dust cloud.
And I’m braking. Hung up behind this haul, and close
Enough to really see the life on the tires, the body,
the bumper. The dichotomy between the upper and lower
Deck. And I know this is the old man carrying the new.
And I’m thinking about this for the next forty-five
Miles… and years, because it’s so goddamned right.


For Play it Again, Toads! [truck, road, dust cloud, years]

Helen of Puerto Rico

images-8The space we shared was ideal. The building was on campus and clean, and I knew the boys next door. There was a rooftop balcony big enough for two people to soak up the faithful Pasadena sun, which I did. But not with you.

I was twenty-something doing cartwheels down the hall, and you were forty-something lubing your hands up every night and sleeping in gloves. You had a way of not taking my phone messages and erasing the recordings. You had a way with your tiny grocery cart on wheels and umbrella in hand on perfectly bright warm days. You had a way with your drawer full of vitamins and fish oils. You had a way with doing light morning stretches in your lycra in front of the double door living room mirrors. Oh Helen, you had a way of brushing your dark hair repeatedly at night in silence. Swoosh, swoosh, swoosh.

It seemed to me you made grad school your permanent home, while I plowed through as quickly as I could. I tried to tolerate you teaching me to “pass a cloth over it.” Your suggestion for my lackadaisical bathroom cleaning duty. And on one occasion, your meek response to my explosive words stopped me short.parkingmeter-300x200

Finally, when you gave me a rose at my baccalaureate it pierced me like a sword! Oh beautiful and strong Helen of Puerto Rico, what ever became of you?

Lost Language


Lost: Like pearls on a pig, I lost my country drawl, my ease of slow-talking people. My ease of doing nothing instead of something. Adding sugar to it until it’s right.

Shoot a mile if I can’t find it in my mother’s purse, those pearls of wisdom like ‘shit’ and ‘bitchin’, and calling a spade a straight up spade! Sometimes I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, but I want to call it like I see it again.

Prompted by my new book, 642 Things to Write About, and my recent visit with my parents.

What I Want for Christmas

December 11: Mom called.  “Do you know what I want for Christmas??”

I knew very well what she wanted, because she’s made the same request for the past 5 Christmases since her mind’s been slipping.

“A calendar?” I played along.  “…And do you want to know what I got you?? ” Her response was irrelevant.  “A calendar!” I blurted.PhotoFunia-34e34cf

I told her to keep our secret when she opened it, and she forthright practiced a prepared line of utter surprise and thankfulness. We laughed, but I knew the calendar really would be a surprise by the time the 25th comes, because of the Alzheimer’s.

I can’t wait to give her the 2015 calendar, because to her it’s like liquid gold! I added all of our faces to each page, and a thumbnail picture of each honored family member celebrating every anniversary or birthday, hoping this will help her keep track of the people she loves.

New Mom needs a little help. She is a sweeter, softer, slightly shorter version of the mother I knew growing up who knew EVERYTHING about everything, and let everyone know it!

The girls will get to know this little lady a little better this year, because she’s coming to stay with us. It’s obvious I got my smile and laugh from her, as well as my hot foot! I’m sure Mom won’t venture to drive on our California freeways, but something tells me she’ll be egging me or my brother on to “get into the fast lane,” and to “step on it!!”  Some things never change, for which I’m grateful.

She will celebrate her 49th Wedding Anniversary in March, and turns 67 in November. But this Christmas, I want time to stand still so I can hug her a little too long and breath in every part of her familiar fragrance. I want to sit beside her on the bed at night after she rubs Oil of Olay lotion over her face, so we can relive the day’s events before they slip away forever.

I want my mom for Christmas.