Thursday, December 31, 2015

so dull and grim
and then a robin red-breast
hops hops above the grass
and a lady walks past
her red scarf
with glitter gold bees
floating on the breeze
so bright
against the grayness
of the sky
the old year
giving way
to the new

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

flowers meet the sea

a pilot
in a tiny plane
floating in the air
tosses her bridal flowers
to the sea
the engine
purring quietly

the bouquet
rides a wave
the foam white
as the ribbon
that binds the stems.
the flowers scatter
the wedding dissolved
the pilot breathes in
the salty air
and sighs out
as she turns back
toward the shore

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

happy birthday

your dad held the camera
your brother held a popsicle the nurse gave him
and i held you
seven pounds of life
a few hours old
welcome to your family

Monday, December 28, 2015

There are few folktales, myths, songs, or stories from history that celebrate the experience of giving birth. The most notable exception is the Christmas eve celebration of the Nativity, the Biblical story of the birth of a Jewish baby two thousand years ago who was named Jesus and who became the holy man who is at the core of Christian religions. Whether or not one is Christian, many appreciate the story, and all that it carries, of a baby born far from home in the starry night in the only housing available to the journeying parents: a barn with a feed trough that was a perfect size to hold a newborn. It's the only story I know of a birth surrounded by other species on our planet: the donkey, the cow, possibly some sheep and chickens, some angels, and eventually a camel or two. It's the story of the birth of a specific child, but it's also the story of every birth, the story that every newborn is a wondrous gift.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

nothing better

shrill and happy
the voices of children
as they run
down the hall

up the hall
down and up
down and up
like there is nothing at all
they would like better to do
at this very moment

like this is it 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

record player

Walking past a shop window today, I saw a record player. It looked both new, and old-fashioned, say 1962. There was a round black vinyl record, perched on the turntable, and the long arm with the little needle at the end. The case was pearly white and sunny ocean blue. It looked sturdy, as though it could survive many years of use. School classrooms had access to similar models back in the 1960s, used in language classes, or for dance music, or singing songs, or listening to stories. People bought them because they were portable. You could bring the record player and a stack of popular 45s to a friend's house. Then equipment grew more refined and complicated, and people wanted multiple, bigger, clearer and more powerful speakers to get stereo sound, and there arrived the 8-track tapes, cassette tapes, and compact discs (CDs). But frankly, if all the various stereos and equipment from past decades were available today, I might pick that little record player in its brand new case.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

four dryers

two on top
and two on the floor
4 stacked dryers
have round
glass windows
colorful clothes
and linens within
turn clockwise toss
and tumble
in cheerful unison
at the neighborly

Monday, December 21, 2015


the kites were there:
and diamonds
blues, greens
reds, yellows
kites big and small
on the south wall
the east wall
the north wall
of a baby's room
and blessings

of gentle winds
to carry him high
and carry him far
through all the trials
and storms of life
to the welcoming goodness
of those he would love
and loved him in return

kites for now
and kites for then
and for forever

Saturday, December 19, 2015

the blue heron

in yesterday's dream
of nomadic fishes
and calling frogs

poised in the mist
and greatness
of silent archetype

Thursday, December 17, 2015

hedgehog & roses

under the rose vines
fur limned
with fine lines
of fine light
all the sun
warmth rays

the roses
from above
bright with
yellow pale
and peachy color
nodding shyly
toward the
neighbor under

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Family First Aid

There was blood all over her sock.

Ana was so shocked by the sight, her mouth was open but no sound would come out. Tears ran down her face.

Dad pointed to Jeff. Jeff ran to the back hall and returned clutching a cloth horse by its mane of string.

'Here, Ana,' he said. 'Here's your horsie!'

And she hugged it to her chest.

Dad held her foot. His back was to Ana, and she could no longer see the sock, all red and white. She could not see her foot.

Jeff watched Dad at work, then looked at Ana. 'It's going to be ok,' he predicted.

Dad stood up. Ana turned away then looked back at her foot. It was wrapped up in a bandage, clean and neat. No more blood. Her toes stuck out the end and she wiggled them.

'There,' said Dad. 'All better.' He kissed Ana on her forehead.

'Bo-bo,' Ana said to horsie. 'All betta.'

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Sunset, Corpus Christi, 1983

from the third floor balcony
we watch
twenty seagulls
close by in flight
lithe and strong
graceful rising
sudden diving
weaving up and down
never crashing
never battling
flying for joy, perhaps,
or sensing the awe
of us wingless humans
at their mystic flight

Monday, December 14, 2015


the poplar's
flowing robe
of browning leaves
shimmer and shake
with ecstatic applause
toward the autumn sun

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Sugar cane grows in segmented stalks, much like bamboo.

'...Sugar cane is grown chiefly from stem cuttings placed in furrows (narrow grooves) in the field and covered with soil. The buds on the nodes germinate into leafy shoots that emerge from the soil...'

(from The World Book Encyclopedia 2015 Edition
Volume 18 So-Sz)

The process of manufacturing sugar granules from sugar cane juice may have originated in India over two thousand years ago.

(From Wikipedia, 'The History of Sugar')

Friday, December 11, 2015

The pigeons fly above the busy road - the flock moves in waves over my head, around and around and back again. They are much like the minnows who swim in the creek. The pigeons are creatures who, like us, live in the air, the planet's atmosphere; the minnows those who live only in water.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Pat the Cat

Pat the Cat
stretches out on the floor
in the rays of sunshine
that slip through the door
his soft fur glimmering.
He rolls on his back,
his paws in the air
lightly furled,
his spine arched
and flexed,
at ease as he naps
in the daylight.

Pat explores the shadows
within a brown paper bag
left on the kitchen floor.
He sleeps
in the darkest corner
of the closet curled 

in the rumpled people smells
of the laundry basket
or in the safe shadows
beneath the bed
where we can't see him
the cat who seeks
the dark and the light.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

paired colors

Have you ever thought about uncommon pairs of color? Something about two unlikely shades side-by-side draws your attention? I never thought much about that until these last few years when I started to draw and paint a lot and when I learned to knit. Certain colors stand out more together than they do alone, I've noted.

I also think about combinations from the past. When I was a teenager, my mother bought me a long-sleeved blouse, a print with dark, goldish-brown patterns on purple fabric. Many times, sitting in a class with my arm resting on the desk, or at a dining table, I stared at that fabric, and that paired combination of colors is imbedded in me. Another memorable fabric decades back had a background shade of cream, with purple and green vines and flowers - a dress I wanted but didn't buy and have never forgotten. Orange and gray originally caught my attention on a bakery counter, and this showed up in my drawings for some time. Pink and gray - when I was a kid, we played The Game of Life and I'm still fascinated by the gray plastic car carrying pink pegs (representing babies born in the game of life). Pale yellow and gray have a pleasing gentleness. Sometimes when I am knitting, two skeins that I think have no compatibility look bright and inseparable sitting side by side near the chair. Knitting those colors together is a happy adventure.

It's not just about the colors though; it's about how those colors are intercepted by the observer, like the third corner of a triangle.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Jessie's Apple Salad
(A sweet, cool tradition for holiday meals.)

apples (2 large or 3 small)
raisins (1-2 tablespoons)
celery (1 stalk, sliced thin)
toasted pecans or walnuts (1/4 cup chopped coarsely)
maraschino cherries (8, sliced in half)
liquid from the maraschino cherries (1-2 tablespoons)
mayonnaise or plain yogurt (about 1/2 cup)
orange juice (1/4 cup) or lemon juice (a few squirts)
miniature marshmallows (about 1/3 cup)
one small banana

Chop the apples into half inch chunks. (You can leave the peel on for color if you like.)Coat with lemon or orange juice to prevent browning. Add raisins, celery, nuts, and cherries. Combine mayo and/or yogurt with maraschino cherry juice and stir until smooth. (If you have no cherries, orange juice can be substituted.) Add the sauce to the apple mixture and combine until coated. Chill in the refrigerator. Before serving, add marshmallows and sliced banana and stir.

Monday, December 7, 2015

your crazy beat

i'd love
to hear
you play piano
let me stand
just once
and watch your hands
run across the keys
and pound
out sound
fill the room
with you
your crazy beat
your slowing

Saturday, December 5, 2015

goat trap

the goat is crying
across the field
i roll and tumble
from my bed
and throw on day clothes.
across the damp summer grasses
i stamp and stumble.
the juvenile billy
is caught in the fence
in the graph-paper path
of the wire.
the squares
four inches by four
were just right
to accommodate
his head
as he stretched from the pasture
to the grass that is greener
on the other side
he poked his head through
ate his fill
and cannot return -
his curving horns
have trapped him to the fence
i cannot free
his strong neck.
his eyes bulge
he smells of panic
his calls vibrate
again and again
mehhhh! mehhhh!
i fetch the wire-cutters
cut him free
he bounces and leaps away
back to the herd.

Friday, December 4, 2015

the book is on a library shelf
The Story of the First Atomic Bomb

there's the picture on the front cover
the picture on the back cover
set the book back on the shelf
it remains on the mind
some things are so big
there is nothing to say

Thursday, December 3, 2015

I haven't done a whole lot of travel outside of my country (the United States of America), but have visited Canada, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy.  When traveling, I learned something requiring very little effort had a powerful lot of positive effect, something that worked like a key. You don't have to know the local language to have a pleasant trip. If you just learn a few words, how to greet, say please, and thank you, in the local language, and use those words with some frequency, everything runs much more smoothly, and you become more like a friend than a stranger. Por favor, s'il vous plais. Grazie, donkeschein, merci, y muchas gracias. Bonjour, guten nagen, hola! grietse. This little bit of manners that works wonders far away works here at home, too. Good morning! Please. Thank you so much. Ciao.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


One of the wonderful aspects and contributions of the history of humankind - or, at least, one of my favorites - is fabric. This is an odd facet to explore but it is a behavior that distinguishes us from most species (exceptions including for example some spiders and their webs; some species of birds who weave their nests). We humans think of fabric as that which we use to cover and ornament our bodies.  There are tapestries that are embroidered (some, such as Les Tapisseries de Bayeux, recording historical events), and samplers embroidered with numbers and letters and quotations (the fundamental learnings of a schoolchild). There are curtains and altarcloths, blankets, nets, and tents. There are fabrics of plant fibers such as cotton and hemp, and there are fabrics of petroleum such as polyester and rayon. There are fabrics of the fur of various mammals such as goats and sheep, and fabrics of the silk of caterpillars. There is cloth imprinted with fascinating art, fanciful designs, and images of people, buildings, animals, trees, plants, and popular landmarks.

The traits of the weavings - fine and dense or open and rugged - the fascinating weaves and patterns - capture my attention and awe. The colors of the threads and yarns, the soft weight and especially the flow (or drape) of the fabrics make me happy. The delicacy and finesse of the work of tailors and seamstresses can be so remarkable. A simple shirt can be a work of great craft and artistry.

There is something graph paper basic in the physics of weaving that brings up the workings of the universe, the fabric of the dimensions, of time and space. The fabric of the mind and its connections to data entered via our senses, and whatever possible reality that data represents, is a big horizon. Our familiarity with tangible interweavings such as fabric provides a physical analogy that opens our mind.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Book Cover

It's a flimsy structure
standing in the shallows of the sea
green against greens and gold
A polar bear
sits on the edge
legs dangling

It's just the cover of a book,
but the simple art
has a kind of force

I'm on the edge of my chair
glancing back
now and again
at the bear
the structure of green
its reflection of green
on the motionless sea.

(regarding the hardcover book
The Island
by Marije Tolman & Ronald Tolman