The rain moved just like our momma did when she’d tuck all three of us in.


16: American Sentence for Real Toads


Postcards From the Garden of Hermit and Home

Some super light heavy reading
From: Mom in the middle of Ks.

A cow’s sticking out its tongue
“Who needs a beach?” I swear it

I could feel the spittle from
The 1,500 miles I was away

Why on Earth… I could hear her,
Was I way out there in California?

It could fall off into the ocean
At any time (According to Grandma)

I don’t write back. Not for spite,
But because I’m entertaining

A newfound idea of becoming a mermaid
(That’ll be something to write home about)

day 14 NaPoWriMo
for Real Toads

Answers to all Our Questions

Damn &shit, if it isn’t always the mom.

We did wonder &ponder why Dad’s mouth was so raw.
Some swear words were sworn better than others;
and mom had another thing coming we guessed.
But, hell if she’d play his game. No pander! That woman
would shout, I’m not your mother!  Then, by God,
you’d swear his lips rolled back into his Tom Selleck
mustache, defiling our image of that cavalier man.
. . . So we took it upon ourselves.
to search out his despair in his mom’s wander,
in the new dress he walked to the store at 18 to buy her,
in a pair of white gloves too tender to ever cover
fingers too busy. Always fingers too busy.

for Real Toads

Home-Grown Tomatoes

They are crutched on vines
with soft green ribbons
well beyond their youth.
Wire cages like ribs protect their girth.
They start as white star flowers not unlike jasmine
but without all the perfume,
because it’s too hot for that.
Ain’t got time for that, mama says
when all you want is a home-grown slice of heaven.
So she eats one whole, followed by two, three, four.
Hand over mouth.
Doctor said it’s too much. The acid. The pulp.
But the first of my brothers inside her tummy
swells to an unexpected weight;
a fist size of the fruit she loves.

for Real Toads after Jane Hirshfield’s
“Green Striped Melons”

Let Me Tell You


Remember how we started?
In that room, both afflicted
With dumb &dumber doctor
A nurse/slash/judo chopper
“I think I can see the head!”
And that vase beside the bed?
A yellow breath of fresh air
Your father saying a prayer

~Happy Mother’s Day~
For mom, (a very short!) rhyming poem, even though I much prefer writing it all out less contrived, &more conversationally. Mom will re-tell our story today through grateful tears, reminding me how Dad cried, and how he never cried. 

Nobody Knows She’s Had a Stroke

“Open your eyes and then open your eyes again.”
― Terry Pratchett, The Wee Free Men

confusion calls
on speed dial

it’s raining
&it never rains

i’m sitting in my car
facing a brick wall

mom’s crying
&she’s telling

she wants to die
&i see rain

splatter clinging
to glass

heavy seeking
a reservoir

or i’m supposing
i’m her holder

for Real Toads


Deliver me from dinner.

I loaf to my backyard.

Something in the wind

Is my mother.

Or tomato seeds

sliding around on a plate.

My soul slurps the juice.

And it’s an ordinary Tuesday,

But something else–

She showed up for dinner.


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.


For Kendra

my heart’s eye
the ministry
of the moon

coming down
in collective
bits of sunshine
pouring past the sill

and no earth
stood between
her pearl bath
and my pillow

and these three
words pressed in-
first love
(and) mother


I Answer My Mom

It wasn’t one of those
heavy-breather calls
I could humor for five
seconds and be done,
but a barely breathing call
forty years in the making.
At 1:30pm, on a
my small mom
was trapped far away in a
pink carpeted corner.
She was on the line
as the wolf thumped
on the downstairs
bathroom door.
A distant lawnmower
cut someone else’s grass.
On a second line I called 911,
naming the wolf–
spelling out his
first, middle, and last
as an order of protection
three days later
mom would ask
if she could crumple up.
Her right eye still black–
not even yellow.