nice place

you have here
a personal book
shelf celebration
painfully unanchored
if not disorienting

you have here
an original coffee maker
one rocking chair
8 women
3 children

you have here
clean bathrooms
scented candle
modern curtains
brunch items

you have here good
and well 
my foot
pointing south
back to normal


[MZ at Real Toads wants to know the
weirdest thing I’ve heard this week.
Cutest boy asking his mom “Can we go
back to normal?” He meant home.]

it’s home

I. Spring

it’s the tallness
of pompous grass
the leanness
of poplar trees
i know

II. Summer

it’s a glass of sugar tea
ice cubes swirling
around a slender spoon

it’s a garden hose
draped in my hand
my thumb knowing
what to do
to fan water
evenly over my plot
before dusk
hints at turning
the sky pink,
orange and red,
then black

III. Winter

it’s work boots

IV. Fall

it’s the kids’ tree
swing i tie off
on a sturdy branch

it’s done


dad makes a home for RT

The Kingdom of Cows

It’s no different here.
One sun. One moon.
A city of cows
&velvet-nosed horses.
High-rise stalks
of empire flowers,
a scratch
of baled hay.
Dad engineers soil
&mom makeshifts
wreaths for cemeteries.
A wind kicks up,
chopping tree limbs into
sticks that shuttle
furiously down the creek.
Winds save us from

day 25 NaPoWriMo
for Real Toads

Dreams &Fortune Cookies

Last night I hid my pain
not so secretly in a dream
where we drove off
with only half our children.
I quizzed you. Did you forget
something? &you cooed,
I know, I know.

One of ours was sitting in
the grass. Cross-legged,
currently counting the
ladybug population.
Another was further down
the road, so I couldn’t say
for sure what was happening.


when morning cracked
my bleary eye beyond repair,
I bleated, but spoke it not,
another one’s leaving
us dear &you hummed
I know, I know.

And my subconscious
kept rehearsing scenes,
like the last time she &I
had lunch directly.
She’s struggling to crack
her fortune cookie &mine,
turns out, is empty.

day 20 NaPoWriMo
for Poetic Asides

My Folks Call

Lordy, Lordy, I git to talk in another language
and my children git to listen. Ev’ry time I pick
up the phone, I pick up that twang, as if I were
the one with a drawl. My kids say I git real “slow
and Southern,” even though Kansas ain’t nowhere
near Southern. She’s ’bout as middle of the road as
you can git. And she’s just as beautiful a place
you’d ever wanna see too– Abilene, Abilene,
purtiest town you’d ever seen. Ah, you’d think I’d
of been a preacher, the way I git to talking with
such a swell of love and tenderness in my throat.
Home’s kinda like that, I guess, sneaking out from
your insides without any coaxing at all. I sure hope
that when my folks quit calling, on account of them
being gone, there’s still a sweet swell in my throat.

day 18 NaPoWriMo
and linking with Real Toads


As only the lucky
breathe foam
only breathe
the rhythm of
give &take
salt &knees

As only the lucky
drink morning
in a bay the shape
of a perfect
half circle
a cupped hand

As only the lucky
I sometimes stand
in a doorway &reach
for the sweep of
a blessing

As only the lucky
&I know how
we extend flesh
like seaweed
liquid sunlight

day 4 NaPoWriMo
for Real Toads

Soft Couches

Where there was something and suddenly isn’t … Mother, father, brothers punching each other, full bed with yellow sheets, soft couches, forks & spoons, carpeting, wallpaper, cracking sidewalks, laundry chute, dogs & cats, backyards & bicycles … I go foraging for something to remind me of home.

I turn on a desk lamp, hide cinder blocks with a quilt, lay a scrap of carpet, put slippers on my feet, join a sisterhood club, join a German club, find boys, make air popcorn every single day. But I grow weary of these discomforts.

Empty: I drink, I binge, I cheat on tests. I fail. I vomit. I give it the old college try. I transfer, eat less popcorn, meet a guy with a full-on beard. We sit on couches, watch TV, go to movies. We date, break-up, write letters, break-up, get married.

And suddenly, and actually. There’s something where before there wasn’t. I begin setting-up house. I bring in soft couches, a TV. It’s dusk. I am home.

[first clause taken from Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem, “Burning the Old Year”
and submitted to dVerse Poets]

Open Whitest Bell in a Snap

it’s the
the kind of work
(the girl explains
to the boy)
that must be done

it’s the kind of work
where eyeseyes
are on the appearing
of a fine paper
white bell
(a hijinks for
parent’s 13th)

must jinx mom’s
vindictive teeth
(the girl says)

with the softest whitest
bell that opens like
(like this)

we must hang it prettily
enough in the living
room archway
like mistletoe

hijinks, jinx
explain, explained
they won’t fight about
that, that alone

get the scotch
instant tape
we don’t want to leave
a mark

like the,
like hers

for Real Toads

Sending Flowers

How many times was I wishing
I was home during tornado season?
But what’s the point if a twister
can’t lift me over all of blasted Arizona,
if it can’t hurtle me long past the Rockies
to land on your side porch at 304 Charles,
sad & empty, Road? I’m sorry for myself
& shamefully sit in California’s sun
sending flowers in your name. “Ilene”
What a beautiful name, I mean.

Someone from Kingston, Canada phoned
to inform me there aren’t any roses
at this time, but that’s okay. Really okay.
I instructed the daisies to be your sunshine,
from me, from the Rockies, from the Mojave,
where I’ll sit slack-jawed today near I-5 which
looks an awful lot like I-70’s good old belt
in Kansas that stretches &holds on, &on
near the Enterprise cemetery they’ll bury you in,
our blessed, our beautiful Ilene. “Ilene.”

for Blogging University &Grandma Ross

Lost Language



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.