ENVY

I wish I had an owl

a small brown

wide eyed screecher

like the one who’s made a home

on Margaret’s front porch this winter

there he rests, nestled

between paneled ceiling and bricked ledge

nearly invisible, quietly still —

waiting

 

turning his head slowly to watch the indifferent dogs,

the little boy painting rocks on the porch,

or Margaret reading mysteries in the sunlit window

 

waiting for dusk, following moonrise

across treetops, chasing starshine

with a whoosh of wings

 

soundless soloist, stealthy stalker

disappearing into darkness

without a trace, like magic

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Epiphany

Yesterday, while a radical mob

tried to destroy democracy

I baked muffins with the babies

2 granddaughters, in ruffled aprons and diapers

sat at the counter in their high chairs and stirred

beside me, adding sugar, oohing as the eggs fell

dramatically from cracked shells into waiting bowls

counting out the paper cups and

spooning batter generously

 

we waited till the timer beeped

then sat on the floor taking small warm bites

infused with love and berry kindness

holding the rioting world at bay

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Snowday

Winter squall announced itself

by snowplow’s amber lights, streaking

slow across my bedroom wall

by morning, December steeped in stillness

driveway drifts rose three feet tall

neighbor boys broomed backyard rink

I laced up new white skates, as frosty

flakes sustained their silent fall, later

dragging red saucer and sled, answering

snowbanks’ siren call, we spent all day

laughing, ignoring the cold, careening

down hills — wooed by whistling wind

I hold a snowglobe in my mind, shake it till it shimmers

Long winter settles into view, frozen childhood glimmers

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Winter Wonder

Solstice

Brings glad tidings

In the shape of a star

Night sky, bright shimmering prayer

Hope-filled

Nightsky

Planets align, cosmic clockwork

Timeless moon, boundless hope

December bright

Solstice

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Coffee klatch

line of white cars

parked in a polite row

out they step, one by one

clutching oversized satchels

donning freshly pressed denim

and sky-high boots

unmasked and hugging

their privilege close

laughter ringing, high and bright

ignoring the sting & December’s cold bite

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Making Art

Painting by Charles White

My art teacher paints these

virtual cloud lessons

speaking with precision

first, prepare your palette

use a rosemary brush

you must start with the white

then add in some Payne’s grey

above this green tree line

blend using gentle strokes

I do just as he says

my amateur eye sees

what my hand can’t get right

the sky is too blue and

I leave out the old barn

he’s painting a landscape

but as hard as I try

I’m painting a dreamscape

an impressionist scene

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Off you g

Click Clack Click
Mrs. Whalen’s heels
echo 
down the long dark corridor
of my mind
 
she is holding my hand
too tight 
walking too fast
as I slip and slide
beside her
 
earlier, I stood at the end 
of our driveway
nametag pinned on
light green pinafore
sunlight bouncing off ivory buttons
 
my mom pacing 
watching for the bus 
that never came
air draining slowly from 
kindergarten’s first day 
 
long shiny car pulls up
blinding yellow like the sun
nosey neighbor, Mrs. Whalen 
leans out, nails tap-tap on hot waxed metal
rescue words exchanged
 
Don’t worry
I’ll take her
Hurry up
Get in
Wave goodbye

mom frantically waving
two toddlers by her side
as noisy car speeds off
disappearing in a 
dizzying blur
 
my heart is racing
forward lurch and lunge
screeching to a stop
rush rush rush 
through schoolhouse doors
 
Mrs. Whalen’s heels 
echo-roar while I hang on
slip sliding down tile
buffed to a shine
in ink black leather Mary Jane’s
 
rap rap rap 
on heavy door
 
tap tap tap  
her toes count time
 
Sister Bernadette
with her scowl of welcome
lets the door swing wide
rosary and wimple mocking
holy words exchanged
 
Neighbor child
Very late
I don’t know 
Take a seat
Now off you go
 
Mrs. Whalen lets go my hand
shadows fall 'cross silent rows 
quick retreat now echoes soundly
click clack click 
down empty hall
 
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Before We Knew Her

Nanny leans    

against a tree

in 1929

posed in profile

first hints of 

life inside her

ballooning her dress

that falls just below the knee

revealing dancer’s legs,

though she’s not a dancer

those legs

caught papa’s eye

those legs

caught him swooning

still, forty years hence

nylons rolled 

to her ankles

at the end of another long day

singing

oh dear, bread and beer

if I was dead

I wouldn’t be here

In 1929, she stood, in a dancer’s pose

So far from whence she came

So far from where she ended 

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O’Neill

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Solitude

Screen Shot 2020-08-01 at 12.25.37 PM

There is an old trunk room

on the playwright’s estate

where I’m typing these lines

just for you

I’ve wandered the grounds

ambled through the old barn

read my fill in the library, quietly

crammed ceiling to floor

with dusty old tomes

dying to speak

I’ve prayed at a tombstone

beneath an old walnut tree

marking the spot on a hill

where he buried his heart

along with his dog

a very long time ago

I’ve watched a lone hawk

circling slow overhead

a gracefully hypnotic skydance

while lizards sunbathe

and rattlesnakes laze

and the touch of the poet remains

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