Sunday, December 13, 2009



high above
the silent city
she spends
her hours
leaning out
toward the
high towers
and piercing
spires –
the bells
her desires
to breathe
through the
holes they
punch in
the black

from them
the air –
her from some
ancient hill -
or the breath
of a mystical
sweeter still

and now
to fall
silently down
toward the
of snow
and the
dark blue

the stars
watching in
as they brighten
their glow
and the earth
and waits
for the blow
of another
poet gone
mad with
thinking -
or with the
that makes
it so

but the
poet is an
aged thrush
who flings
her frail
frame into
the wintry
gust of
iced flakes
and crystal
shapes of
every blush
and with
her might
she fights
to flutter -
as wings
bend and
songs stutter
while her body
tumbles down
through the
pall of night

just as
the winter
the snow
the paper
endures the
words of
the poet
as she goes
down through
the night
in her flight

Sunday, November 29, 2009



In a passing
about writing,
a poet friend
said she thinks
metaphors are
scary - such as,
“water is blood.”

I don’t want
one thing to be
another thing,
she argued.

Yet, she made
it clear that she
is keen on similes,
explaining - with
a grand gesture
of her hand,
“life is a simile.”

…Is it me?

Sunday, November 15, 2009



here’s what
brought us to this -

that cold steel
that sought me out
and blood and bone
I suffered alone…

you kept vigil over me
in my troubled times
on the mountain
and you let me see
your beating heart,
however faint

your voice behind me
in a hush of love,
assuring me of eternity

and youth – transitory,
like any other thing
that is here for a
moment and gone,
was hidden away
under old forest trees
where the only light
shone from our eyes

one sweet day
after another
sweet day,
each longer
than a year,
and that special
grace holding off
imminent sadness

how many nights
did we confess our
sins but were never
we never needed
I know that now

we put our
heads together
and changed
the universe -

stars from
different galaxies
exploding into
a billion shards -
still traveling
through a dark
and endless space.

Sunday, November 8, 2009



Breath is holding form now,
as the promise of sleep whispers
seductively in the cold fields.

Up on the hill, the wild pears
hide crystals of ice inside
their sweet white flesh -
as tendrils of pumpkin vines
lie in dark and delicate rot.

And weeds, that so carefully
multiplied themselves
in the heat, now shiver boney
and brown in the wind -
their rustling, a death rattle.

At the edge of the field,
high, in the interlaced
branches of a walnut tree,
a plague of gregarious grackles
marshal themselves.

They scold me - and scream
their disapproval of my
aimless wanderings.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Richer Than Croesus

like gold coins
and red jewels,
tumble down
from the
and pile up
at our feet -
making us
richer than

Saturday, October 24, 2009



How could I eat under the gaze
of an orange sphere, the black hands
telling me when I could become a cat!

I squirmed in the circle of humanity
and watched the pale thin lips
that would soon speak to set me free.

Outside, the wind was calling to me,
and the dogwood scratched my name
on the side of the house for all to hear.

It’s time!
Down the long hall to the mirrored
room we marched, as if cats already.
One by one, our arms stretched out
into black cat arms, as we flexed
our claws, hunched our backs,
unfurled our tails, and put on our
feline faces – and MEOWWWed.

The mama cat was the last to show,
with laughing eyes, and a proud grin.
She loved her family of cats.
She had chosen well for this night.

With faces all same,
we stair stepped down into the town.
The people all turned out
to see the family of black cats
and called out their approval,
as we walked proud and mysterious -
just as our mama cat had taught us to do.

I loved being a cat!
I smelled rats in the air
mixed with the pungent smell of smoke.
I lurched forward at the bark of a dog,
who was fortunate to have a family
of cats come to call at his front doorstep.

I hissed and spewed and swung my
claws at all the monsters who traveled
to and fro on the ribbon of white -
under a huge milky moon.

…and now…

The faces that were all the same
are gone – given away long ago,
ruined in floods, burned in fires,
forgotten in some trunk,
– turned to dust.
Who knows? Only the
memory of the masks remains.

But - we were a family
of cats one October night –
a proud and mysterious lot.
We laughed and meowed
under a huge Halloween moon,
in the cool evening air,
sweet with the smell of leaves.
Yes, once…we were cats!

Saturday, October 17, 2009



Under an ashy moon,
we walked between
twin oaks – where just
as the street brightened
with the most delicate
of lavender lights,
we caught a face,
ghastly and ghostly,
in an upstairs window
of the old academy.

No paler skin had we
ever seen, nor eyes
like liquid coal – a
skeletal face looking out
upon us, as we shuddered
in the autumnal cold.

In that elegant space of fright,
words stuck in our throats
and our candles hissed
in the shadowy night,
burning down to nubs
in a matter of seconds,
as we stared in disbelief
at the gruesome phantom.

The black wax of
our burned down candles
dripped and hardened
on the cobbled streets -
where countless crushed
and mangled men lie
tangled through eternity.

In the shadows,
pages of prayer turned
in alabaster hands
like flames in wind,
as demons rested their
putrid chins on our
shoulders and licked
our cheeks with their
searing hot tongues.

Screams tore out
from deep within us,
but the night swallowed
up the sound, and no one
looked around toward us,
as if nothing unusual
was happening on those
scary streets in town.

And from somewhere
far, and from somewhere
near, an army started
to march – and we fell
in among the bloodied ranks
of the rebels and yanks,
who never went home,
in body or soul, from
the Battle of Gettysburg.

Was our fate sealed,
we wondered, as we
stumbled along with
the soldiers marching
through the streets.
Had we been caught up
in a eddy of eternity -
with the ghost soldiers
of the war between
the states?

Just then, a hand reached
through the marching men -
a hand of lavender light,
and set us free and on
our way through the
streets filled with tourists
laughing in the night –
all hoping for just one glimpse
of a vaporous apparition –
just one long look at a
ghostly, ghastly ghoul!

Dazed and mystified,
we walked lead-footed,
away from Seminary Ridge -
never once looking back
at the marching ghosts or
the face in the window –
of the old haunted school.

Friday, October 9, 2009




Over on the banks of the river
where the townsfolk divided their time,
there lived a man whose hands
were made of wood - polished
to a deep, rich gleam. They were
walnut stained, for no other reason than
he was as poor as a piper.
(Walnut stain was free for the indigent
and no one pays a piper.)

The hands were grainy, with intricate
one-of-a-kind patterns, figures, and whorls.
Dark wooden hands - do dark wooden deeds.
(Didn’t he beat Elaine to death?)
Ended up in some archaic prison.

His hands were his undoing.
He died fairly young. Asbestos Poisoning.
His wooden fingers wouldn’t let the pipe
cover alone during those years spent in
the prison’s machine shop. (Pick, pick - Chink, chink.)
Lethal white dust.
(Jesus, didn’t he write his name in that stuff?)

He was laid out in his mother’s parlor.
(Slicked down black hair - red lips,
pink circled cheeks, eel’s skin suit.)
But, where were the wooden hands?
The dark, grainy, walnut hands that made
him who he was and who he was not?
His mother’s teeth clicked as she said,
“Oh, I could never get rid of them.
They’re in a shoebox, under his bed.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009



Walking hot on a sidewalk white,
She stepped inside a cavern tavern
That reeked of stale beer and tobacco
of cheap perfume
of the musk of men
But, offered as a consolation
Dark, cool air.

Sitting sticky on the red vinyl,
She ordered a rum and cola and
Lit a cig with trembling hands
trembling lips
trembling legs
And inhaled the smoke clear
down into her aching lungs.

Sweating sweetly on her green silk,
Her white-cottoned finger pressed
The moisture above her lip
between her breasts
behind her knee
As she looked around to see if
Anyone could see.

Hearing loudly a remembered tune,
Wailing forth into the dank air,
She absentmindedly tapped her toe
tapped her glass
tapped her mind
As the dancers took to the floor
Under the yellow paper stars.

Standing shyly on worn floorboards,
She turned to walk toward the door
When she heard his voice in her ear
in her hair
in her heart
Talking that familiar lingo of long ago
That always shocked her sensibilities.

Smiling appreciatively at his face,
A face that years ago she would not
Have even looked upon,
She took the hand of her partner
of her lover
of her savior
And laughed appreciatively
At his crude remarks.

Monday, September 21, 2009



A black feather,
in the stillest of air
and in the quietest of moments,
moved of its own volition
across my clean swept porch,
making it the only true
marvel of the day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009



god - what a curious fancy
you are as you fill your
arms with night’s breath
and balk at the barking
dog star’s bite and skip to
the songs of woodsy sprites

I want to follow you
I want to tell you that
you make me laugh and cry
but I cannot form words
in my mouth of stone
nor move in this pull
of air around me

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

I feel as though I have been away for a hundred years or more. My days have been rich and poor, sad and joyful, painful and euphoric, productive and destructive, tiring and exhilerating - and filled to overflowing with love and wonder.

I can only thank you from my heart and tell you how much I appreciate your standing by. Your comments were like little flickers in the dark of night. I hadn't really planned on returning today, but when I read that Rick was going to hold his breath - until he turned blue - waiting for my return, I got scared! (love you, Rick)

I am afraid I will be sporadic for the next couple of weeks in visiting your blogs and posting, but honestly, I do plan on returning in great profusion by month's end.

I leave you with this small, yet significant poem (for me anyway) - scratched in haste, as I sat in my flower garden this evening.


in the last
chapter of summer

I find my existence
as with the bee balm’s

that's gone tattered
and shaggy now

with the constant
meddling of bees

Monday, July 13, 2009


I meant to write earlier to let everyone know that I wouldn't be around for awhile. Actually, I thought I would be back by now and didn't feel the need to say I would be away - If you can follow that.

However, I realize now, I can't come back just yet - lots of stuff going on - none of it bad. I'm just really busy with matters that came up suddenly.

I'm sorry that I'm missing Jason's contest, but I will be sure to read all the entries at some point. I certainly wanted to enter - even had a good idea, which I will work on and post, at some point, on Old Mossy Moon. Good luck to all of you who are entering. It's always so exciting!!

Sorry, too, that I can't visit your blogs for a time. I'll miss that, but will catch up with everyone soon.

Best regards to all of you wonderful writers and poets,

Tuesday, June 30, 2009



On the steps
of the museum,
I sit pondering
our times,
when Pushkin
breaks in with his
melodic language,
a blend of Slavonic
and vernacular Russian.

The bits of years,
that lay hidden
and closed off,
are suddenly free.
They fly up from
my lap in a powder
of everyday words
that intoxicate me.

I cry for
Eugene Onegin.
“Life is so unfair,”
I say to comfort him - and,
"You hang in the
balance between
fiction and real life!"

Walking home
late in the afternoon,
I stop by the pond
to watch the reflections
of the swans, and not
the swans themselves.

There is something
about their reflections,
those watery
forms of expression.
I know what they are
when I see them,
but they are still unclear -
sort of like
19th century Russia.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Photograph by Steven David Johnson


In the absence of light,
the harshness of day
is sloughed away
into a reflecting pool of night,

where a billion things shine
that are not stars -
but fireflies caught in jars,
illuminating your face and mine.

Here what passes are not ships,
but silver dreams with golden masts,
with billowing sails sewn from the past,
moving in breath blown from an angel’s lips.

Monday, June 22, 2009


The roses have nothing to do with this post.
I just wanted everyone to see my beautiful roses!


I was tagged by Vesper at Chick With A Quill.

Looks like fun – so, here goes:

Four Movies You Can See Over and Over

The Quiet Man
A Streetcar Named Desire
To Kill a Mockingbird
The Godfather

Four Places You Have Lived

Pratt, WV
Hansford, WV
Richmond, Virginia

Four TV Shows You Love(d) to Watch

Miami Vice
Law and Order
The Deadliest Catch

Four Places You Have Been on a Vacation

Jackson Hole, Montana
Niagara Falls
Sanibel Island, FL
Yellowstone National Park

Four of your favorite foods

spaghetti w/sauce
crab cakes
chicken and dumplings

Four Websites You Visit Daily

Four Places You Would Rather Be

right here at home
English Countryside
Key West, FL
Italian Villa

Four Things You Hope to Do Before You Die

Turn 90
Learn to play the piano
Publish a book of poetry
Read Moby Dick… and enjoy it – I’ve been trying for 30 years!

Four Novels You Wish You Were Reading for the First Time

Anna Karenina
The Clan of the Cave Bear
The Thorn Birds
The Secret Life of Bees

Tag Four People You Believe Will Respond

Monday, June 15, 2009



with me
it’s not the

sweeping me
with their

it’s the ravaging
of the night
the digging

and the
fright and
the animal

sounds that shift
in the cavity
of my skull

like wind
or an endless
throb of thoughts

it’s the sifting
of earth beside
my dream

just there
a wall

where roses
let go their
petals quietly

in a
slight wind
of reverie

at my feet
like concrete

with me
it’s not the

it’s the
absence of

that I hear
so piercingly
at night

Monday, June 8, 2009



Following Candide’s advice,
I cultivated my own garden
in rich black humus that was
as soft and as cool as the
earthworms that churned there.

I became a messiah
to the strawberry plants –
the expected deliverer of the fruit.
Day after day, I worried over them,
as if they had mortal souls to save.

They strayed from the righteous path and
climbed into the beans, tomatoes, and corn.
They were not interested in possibilities,
but wanted only to live for the here and now.

I absolved those murderous strawberry
plants that strangled the delicate snow
peas standing innocently in their way -
strangled them until their blossoms lay
white upon the ground like translucent
eyelids cut from tiny alien corpses.

Beyond tired, I would sit under
the tulip tree at night to rest.
I would try to forget the
strawberry plants for a while.
But always, looking toward
the garden, I felt restless -
as if I were about to be betrayed.

Saturday, May 30, 2009



Crows rose like black rick rack
into a sky of blue violence,
up from the golden wheat fields,
where boots had trampled
a sad and solitary path.

Listen to the screams of the crows
as they furiously flap their oil black
attempting to ascend the boundaries
of the earth, only to be caught
forever in a flight of vain striving.

The crows advance toward the
observer in a wave of
Here, the diverging roads lead
nowhere, and traveling them brings
only darkness forever – and peace.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


Tigers’ Revenge

“I hate this God forsaken place,” Robert Fisher grumbled under his breath, as he made his way on the wet streets of Lower Manhattan.

The smell of Chinese food, wafting from every corner of Chinatown, repulsed him. He drew out his clean monogrammed handkerchief and covered his mouth and nose, as he headed down Canal Street toward his destination.

He walked along the narrow street with his head down, avoiding eye contact with anyone. It startled him when an old woman, pushing her cart through a puddle, splashed water on his ostrich leg shoes.

“Watch out, you stupid Chink! Are you blind, as well as stupid?” He screamed at her as he pushed her cart over, and then bent down to wipe his shoes with the handkerchief. He didn’t notice the group of young Chinese men standing within earshot of his comment, but they noticed him.

Robert turned in an alley and hurried to a dingy building with a smiling Panda painted on the door. Inside, the small room overflowed with cheap souvenirs.

“You want Tiger bone?” A middle-aged Chinese woman asked, stepping out from a back room.

“What’s wrong with you? I’ve been coming here every month for two years and you ask me this every freakin’ time. Of course I want the bones!”

“They gone up, now. You pay more,” she said, paying no attention to his rude behavior.

“What! What do you mean? Oh, shit! How much more?”

“Three hundred dollar more,” the woman said.

“Are you crazy? I’m paying fifteen hundred now. It can’t have increased that much in a month. Let me talk to Lin!” He yelled, as he looked past her to the entrance of the backroom.

The woman retreated behind a doorway of red hanging beads.

Keeping her voice low, she said in her real American accent, “Woo, that rich, rotten bastard who comes in for the tiger bones is pissed because the price has gone up. He wants to talk to you.”

“Oh, crap! I’m in no mood for “Mr. Warmth” today.” He took a drag from his cigarette and handed it off to his sister, as he rolled his eyes, then took a second to get into character.

Woo Lin hunched his shoulders, ducked through the beads, bowed and said, “Can I help you?”

“Yeah, what the hell’s going on, China-man? My medicine has increased three hundred freakin’ dollars! Why?” He demanded.

“Many people in market for tiger bone. Very potent medicine. Make you live long and youthful life. It illegal trade. Crack down on poachers and smugglers. Less tigers now. All these things make bone scarce. More valuable. More expensive. Eighteen hundred dollar now for month supply. But, every month you take ground up tiger bone pill, you live six month longer. It Fountain of Youth.

“Well, this sucks!” Robert slammed the money down on the counter. “You slant eyes are crooks. Everybody knows that! Come on, give me the goddamn pills!” he screamed.

Woo Lin reached under the counter and brought up the vial of pills and held them out to his irate customer.

Without saying a word, Robert Fisher grabbed the vial and spun around. He didn’t hear the Chinaman curse him under his breath, as he slammed the Panda door behind him.

The rain had stopped. Heavy fog filled every recess of Chinatown. Robert could not have seen the group of men who had positioned themselves surreptitiously in the alley. These were the same men who had seen him push over the old woman’s flower cart. They were members of the Silver Dragons, a self-appointed group of protectors of the Chinese community.

This wasn’t the first time they had witnessed Robert Fisher’s irreverent conduct. In fact, they had been monitoring him ever since he grabbed an immigrant by the neck. The newly arrived Chinese man had given him the wrong change after Robert had bought a men’s magazine at his newsstand.

“You short changed me you sneaky, yellow thief! That was a twenty I gave you, not a ten!” Robert had said.

“So sorry, so sorry,” the immigrant had been truly sorry for his mistake.

Robert had disappeared into the crowd that evening, but not before one of the members of the Silver Dragons got a good look at him. That was the first of many offenses deemed inexcusable by the Chinese men who watched over things here.

The next morning the rain had moved up the coast and the fog had lifted. Pale sunlight slanted in, as merchants and tourists started to mill around the streets of Chinatown. At the end of Canal Street, several detectives were busy questioning bystanders.

“Ah, come on people! A man just doesn’t get dead and nobody sees nothin,’” a detective was saying. “Somebody’s gotta know somethin’! It happened last night – probably sometime after 7:00 p.m,” he pleaded with a few merchants standing in the crowd that had gathered.

A forensics officer took something out of the dead man’s pocket and studied it for a few seconds. “Hey, look at this,” he said, as he held it up to the detective who was questioning people.

“Yeah, what is it?” the detective asked.

“Tiger bone pills. That’s what it says on the label. And get this. It says to take one pill daily to promote longevity.”

The detective looked down at Robert Fisher’s dead body. “Yeah? Well, maybe he forgot to take one yesterday.”

Sunday, May 17, 2009



In the cold regions -
in the sad and lonely
youth-killing regions,
where cheap paneling
is everyone’s answer,
the roads are arms and legs,
the hills are hips and thighs,
the fields are backs
and the destination
is the back of a head.

Here, the trucks and cars
don’t need oil and gas.
They are pushed along the roads
by young children who want
to be with their mothers.

The roll and drone
of the vehicles soothe
the ragged nerves and
relieve the sore muscles
of the mothers, who, for their
children’s entertainment, walk
back and forth for miles a day
casting stones into make-believe
streams, until they give out
on purple horsehair sofas.

With eyes closed against their pain,
the mothers are happy just to know
where their children are playing,
and fall into a deep sleep,
devoid of worry and fear.

Monday, May 11, 2009

My sister's wedding was a wonderful celebration of family and friends, unity, and love. The ceremony was everything it should have been - food and drink, music and dancing, laughter and tears, remembering old times and making new memories.

As my sister said, "A Pisces marrying a Pisces on the's a good sign."

Here's to Lolanda and Gerald!
May your wedding vows forever echo over the historic waters of the Potomac and your words of love spin eternally in the eddies of time.

I love you both with all my heart.

I wrote this poem a few years back, as part of my "Sister Poems" series. Lolanda is the youngest of five daughters. I am almost ten years older than she - so, I remember the night she was born. She was born at home. The country doctor had a flat tire on his way to our house to deliver her. His car was left on a bridge that crossed a creek. He and his nurse walked to our house in the dark, during a spring storm. See the water connections again? The name Lolanda is of Native American origin and means "little one".


where are you
soft round head
with downy nape
solemn face
too young to be so

sea crystals sparkled
on your fingers
you were the first
of your kind to be born

you were careful not
to break your mother’s back
on those smoke filled days
of dark indigo skies

there you are gentle beauty
grown from shadowed halls
where we lived for hours
in blue glass stars

sweetness of innocence
lightness and dew
you traveled with a
companion for the
forbidden fruit
lost in a world that
is forever gone
we found you
there unharmed

a scream in the night
denied by one not much older
claimed my love for all time
and became an imprint
on my spirit forever

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We're heading down to Old Town Alexandria, VA for my sister's wedding. She's getting married on the Nina Dandy Cruise Ship. We'll be cruising on the historic Potomac River, and when we aren't looking at the bride, or eating cake, or dancing - we'll be checking out the monuments in D.C. and looking at other sights along the way.

Everyone behave while I'm gone!! ;D
I'll be back to post a new poem and to visit your blogs on Monday.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


I sit in a cool
triangle of shade
beside a sunny lake,
overtaken here and there
by lily pads, accented
with white blossoms sitting
in the lotus position.

I imagine gold fish,
as big as Buddha,
resting in the tangle
of roots below -
in silent meditation.

I remove my sandals and
walk along the grassy edge
of the lake, holy ground,
where clear water puddles
and pools in silence.

Suddenly, a sparrow lands
on a willow tree branch,
just above my head.
She sings and points
with a delicate wing
to the gibbous moon,
mysterious and pale,
in the late morning sky.

It is her gift to me.
What else can she give?
What more could I want?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Art by Donald Axleroad


In the dead chill of emptiness
where sound cannot vibrate
alone I remember being sick
in the mountains almost always

Corners were cut close then
beside daffodil elixirs spilling
over onto chimney stones pitched
on the sides of steep hills burnt by

I wonder now if those monsters
were merely chimaeras welcoming
me into paradise standing under
the flutter of peacock wings and

Or did they breathe and roar
and grow hair just for the travelers
who would pass them at light speed
rejoicing only to slump back again

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Painting by Cash Garrison


In the hollow of the mountain,
thunder booms and reverberates
like the sound of kettledrums,
- rising and falling -
resonating over the maidenhair
ferns and wild orchids,
blowing chaotically in the wind.

Searing flashes separate
darkness from light,
and, for a split second, we
see the crown of the mountain
looming high above us,
and below us the bright
rush of the creek water.

In the explosion of light,
the tall pitch pines seem
newly created – then,
quick to disappear again,
they leave us only with
their brilliant negatives.

Our faces press the windowpane
to feel the notes of the rain
and the percussion of thunder
- a crescendo -
exhilarating, yet, terrifying.

As the storm passes,
we listen to the eerie melody
rumbling down the corridor
of Appalachian rock
in a haunting echo.

Deep in our sleep, we dream
about the music of the storm.
We remember being a drop of rain
in the torrent – becoming one
with this primitive world,
still in the making.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Atonement of Atomes

This poem first appeared on Jason Evans' excellent blog, The Clarity of Night, as an entry in the "Midnight Road" short fiction contest.

Photograph courtesty of Jason Evans


on that dark day
of the crucifixion
the sky opened up
and the moon
illuminated our sins

was it sweat or blood
that ran that day
was the altar marble
or pale cold skin

why still the darkness
creates our shroud
that hangs off beaten bones
and stirs us to awaken now
as undivided atomes

we were electrified
by an Ionic Savior
his words in us were charged
did not we feel them
stirring in our wombs and
burning in our hearts

we lost an electron
on the midnight road
but in our souls we keep
electricity to light the way
and tears of blood to weep.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Kahlo Tribute

fate is locked
in a painful garden
doors are knocked
in anxious despair
weeping mourns
the hour upon her
in the frenziedly painted air

Tuesday, March 17, 2009



Joaquin Carvel Lyrics & Maladies tagged me!
I’m to list 25 writers who have influenced ME - as a writer. This is harder than I thought it would be. Like Joaquin, I don’t know where admiration ends and influence begins – or the other way around.
I will divide my list into 12 novelists and 13 poets. The novelists have certainly inspired me in many ways, affecting my writing in one way or another; or their works have influenced my thinking in some way. The poets listed are the poets I read consistently, on an everyday basis. There are many more poets whose work I admire and read – but, for this exercise, I have chosen the top 13 who, I feel, have “taught” me how to write and have given me an appreciation for poetry. – They have most definitely enriched my life with their excellent verse! Honestly, this was hard. I feel guilty about the ones I left out. There are many! ;(
I’ve mixed modern day with historical poets.
Well, here goes! I worked for a couple of hours just paring down the list! They are in no particular order of importance.

The novelists:

1. Somerset Maughan
2. Ann Tyler
3. John Steinbeck
4. William Faulkner
5. Pearl S. Buck
6. Tennessee Williams
7. Flannery O’Connor
8. Conrad Richter
9. Hans Christian Andersen
10. Robert Louis Stevenson
11. Eudora Welty
12. D. H. Lawrence

and the poets...
13. Ruth Stone
14. Walt Whitman
15. William Shakespeare
16. Charles Baudelaire
17. Hart Crane
18. John Keats
19. Theodore Roethke
20. Ted Kooser
21. Jane Kenyon
22. W.H. Auden
23. May Swenson
24. Marianne Moore
25. William Carlos Williams

And now, I am instructed to tag 3 people!
Karen Keeping Secrets
Bob Browning Life and Times of a Sometime Poet
Catherine Vibert Witnessing a World of People and Places

Wednesday, March 11, 2009



It was early spring,
when we walked
between the mountains,
bloodroot blotching
the ground like
patches of snow.
Chimney smoke
layered heavy in
the Appalachian valley,
obscuring the fruit
saplings in blue haze.

Over by the creek,
we came upon an
old mountain woman
eating turtle egg soup
in the shadows
of the beechnuts -
her mouth a darkened
slash in sallow skin,
eyes dark lined
and bright blue;
her hands two knots
and sweet smelling
from the black lye soap
she made from the
rendered fat of her pigs.

The soup and her smile
were both offered to us,
and we took both kindly –
the soup in delft bowls.
You slurped yours to be
polite and I spilled mine
out when I knew she
wasn’t watching me.

The old woman smiled
and wiped the grease of
the soup from her lips
onto her black mourning
sleeve, until it shone
like a mirror - reflecting
the shapes of the clouds
above us.

She laughed as she
hugged her shy old breasts,
and bade us to return one day.

Later in life,
when I was starving,
I dreamt of turtle eggs
rolling off marble sills
onto polished floors.
Like ping pong balls,
they bounced and rolled
into all the corners
of my existence,
piling up against
the doors and windows
of my youth,
falling and rolling
into my middle aged years –
soft, leathery, cream-colored
giant pearls, mystical
in their spherical-ness…
falling and rolling.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Merissa Gilbert Garrison


The sun shines through my molecules,
making little kaleidoscopic designs
on the early morning walls of my room.

I want to be a child of light
and lightness,
I whisper into the stillborn air.

I want to be that lacy rendering
blushing on the blue -
and what moths are drawn to
on old nights of mossy moons.

I want to be that brilliant point
at which you stare, until I
disappear into the soft air
of black firmament.

I want to be the shine
on the wings of
crows - rainbows
on oily plumage.

I want to be the glint on the white
skin of water that slips over
the ancient stones in a stream -
or in your dream.

And, when the time comes -
I want to be the glimmer
you call hope.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Painting by Merissa Gilbert Garrison


The narcissus bulbs
she forced in shallow
pots of stone and water,
stretch up, papery white,
in the window,
tall, slender sentinels.
Some of the weaker stems
droop over in agony
against the frosted glass
of March’s night.
The newly arrived storks
shift in their man-made
nests on the roof above her,
impersonating the souls
of the dead poets of Vilnius.
With her heart,
she listens for a whispered
word from them –
some thrilling word
to help her write,
but none will come.
Instead, she hears
the hollow rattling
of their bills clattering
far into the night.
In a few months,
the storks will lift
from her roof in a quiet hush,
catch a warm stream of air
and without a single
flap of their wings,
they will glide
all the way to the Baltic Sea.
Unable to concentrate
on words any longer
and with no lover
in the city now,
the poet will beg
the storks to take her
with them on their flight.
For her passage, she’ll promise
to speak for them,
as they have no
voices of their own.
But the storks,
afraid of losing their independence,
will refuse to take her along.
Forlorn and detached,
she will crumple page after
scribbled page, and throw them
into the blackened fireplace –
long into winter’s night,
as she waits for the skies to turn white
with the wings of the returning storks.
For her - it is not enough
to pen the poem;
she wants to breathe it.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009



we stop
we hold
our breath
we watch
we listen

by the look of things
by the sound of things
we guess a miracle
has taken place

we grasp hands
just for a moment
the wall of silence
opens up between us

we laugh and cry
we sing and sigh
just for a moment
we touch beyond

what we have been
to each other all these
years for a moment
and then
the moment is gone
and so are we

Thursday, February 12, 2009



Masquerading as a goddess,
she looks out upon the city
as her lover sleeps.
The city looks different to her,
now that he has come back.

She marvels at this,
as she presses her face to the
dark, cold glass of winter,
studying the lights,
and the buildings -
the bridges, and
the streets below.

Knotted tendrils of hair
fall over her shoulder,
and her legs tremble,
as she looks back to
her lover who beckons
to her now.

Glancing out the
window one last time,
she sees dark animals
running on a windy hill -
and pockets of luminous light
in a dark and foreboding sky.

Thursday, February 5, 2009



In the late
afternoon sun
of February,

in a room
with hearts,

we dance
the polka in
old world style

to long-playing
records that skip
with contentment,

while the crows
on the wall look
impassively on.

I see nothing
but your cornflower
blue eyes.

I feel nothing
but your warm sweet
breath on my cheek.

Your expression says,
let’s dance till the
crows call our names.

Thursday, January 29, 2009



We live in the
bare branches now,
our skin splitting
painfully under
the brilliant circle
of a Wolf Moon.

We have been
busy filling the
universe with
our human voices,
mouths open,
sensuously, in the
O of rhetoric;
no time to press
our lips against
the sun and stars.

Somewhere out
in the dark, a fox
slouches low -
and turkeys, as
black as crows,
bark like dogs
and run wild
over the ice.

We try to remember
the names of things,
trees, sky, woods -
fractal thoughts,
meaningless now.


I breathe you in.

The moonlight
shows your
low set ears,
your curved nails;
and now, I recognize
you only by the bristles
under your tongue.

Monday, January 26, 2009

A Winter's Walk Ending With Poem

Numbing Occlusion

Winter’s frosty
breath hangs
on the portals,
and clings to
the windowsills,
with bony fingers
of inert ice.
It settles itself
on the stone walls
surrounding my life,
impeding my movements.