Little bro


We often say
that time passes too slowly
when we all know
it slips out of our grip
way too quickly

I didn’t pay attention
and time has rambled on
and I remember
(don’t forget)
the old times
(don’t forget)
I remember some good times
(they weren’t all bad)
and I remember some very bad times
(but they weren’t all bad)

A birthday’s just a day
and today it is your turn
to be man of the day
little boy with a deck of cards
and a magic wand
grown up, come on little brother
show me some magic
because I’m feeling tired

Then let’s toast to the days coming
the ones we look forward to
and the ones that will lead to eternity
for there are many smiles left
of your reflections
your golden faces looking up to you
for some good old days

Friday nights

That was my stool I would sit on
once a week next to my sister
and we’d talk and talk over dreams
and wishes, like kids
at an overnight

As the night wore down
and the head grew more inebriated
we confessed all our sins
baptizing one another in club soda
with a twist

Waking up next to each other
with all our confessions
cut into paragraphs
spending our Mondays
pasting them back together

My friends need dusting

You said
you pictured me in a great library
in a great house with a huge kitchen
where I cook amazing meals
and sumptuous desserts

I  never told you
how I gave away my life-twice-
donated and left behind every book
I had collected-except
what I could run with under my arms

Now I have begun
to replace them-to purchase again
these dusty old books
that bring such joy and peace
and also a great, big dictionary

But I panic
at the thought of running again
with that in tow
for he and I are friends now
and no man will be left behind

Making supper

Rubbing salt and olive oil over the meat
I recall my boyfriend in 1986
he didn’t love me and I didn’t know what love was
besides some fluffy feeling I used to get
listening to Elvis Presley

When he took me out I was scared
as he was nothing like anyone I had known
but when we got alone in the dark
before he was ready to take me home
it was me he was frightened of

Tenderizing the pork shoulder
I can’t help but wonder what became of him
if he kept zooming 21-year-old’s
in dark parking lots, or if he settled down
with the bartender with the teased hair

Jenny, don’t cry

(written for Jenny Lind, a character in one of my stories
as I’ve been fleshing out the character in twitter)


Don’t you know girl this defeat never stays that long, taking
two rooms in your house, dense and impermeable
every sadness now is just the mortar between the bricks
the glue that keeps all the memories from flying about

In your pink world, you make everything possible
and when he knocked you flat, you thought you were through
but these are changeable times and they pass
not only the good but the bad times too they go

So tie up your hair in a satin bow and sing with me
let’s sing about your sweet cakes and the friends you seek
shall we sing of grief and soft desires, or shall we
burn up on the fire all the memories to make way for new


The brittle days
the times I make you crazy with me
wanting you to see me
jumping up and down–
a child in your field of vision
at a responsible age

(I tell you I’m hiding but you always see)

School was something
I never wrapped my mind around
Sublime the patina of my scars
inside and out I am healed
miles away still
from your smoke stacks
and your yards

(even when it hurts I want you to see me)

not this sweater-covered
faux bon vivant
edging towards sanity
just enough
to keep things interesting
your eyes with hoods still

(you look through but not through me)

I never felt the same way
about a butterfly
with a pin through it
under glass
sacrificed for the greater good

(it can be seen, can’t it)

hotter than eggs on a pan

sitting in my own sweat
t-shirt sticking to the car seat
I go back years
the scent of patchouli
and a badlyrolled joint
the backdrop for us

you and me and he
a triangle of the craziest
she nearly took my head off
guessing what we were up to
the day covered in southern comfort

so glad Mom didn’t know
what I was up to
sizzling summer days
on eagles wings no matter
how we grasped at them

good and bad it all passed
there was a beginning and an end
it wasn’t the best time in my life
but it also was not the worst

memories etched
in the rocks at the lake
impressions of our bodies gone
as sand shifted and water seeped in
before anyone could say for certain
that we had been there

there are things we say
when we are

what we might not
have said

without the grief of

d i s t a n c e

growing words
loving words


I miss your face

fears of the fathers

sailing through cherry blossom days
and crème brûlée nights
she wasn’t going to lay down her arms
for a mere brat of a boy
saving up her trinkets for later
giving him all her daydreams
and night sweats

he did not know the tango
but they moved through summer
amid a soundtrack of Ravel
and Aguilera
all second thoughts
stuffed under the mattress

back in the town onto which
they shook the clay from their shoes
all their dues, paid
if you took into account
their mothers’ latent wishes
and the fears of their fathers

Answer: never

Jeopardy question: When is it ‘too little, too late’?

In 1989 I met a family that a year later I would become a part of. I had come from a place and family from the mid-west U.S. and was about to enter a very American-European family on the east coast. I was insecure about fitting into a family. Put me in a room with 30-100 strangers and I was the life of the party. Put me in a living room with 15 folks that were about to welcome me as sister, daughter, etc, and I had utter stage fright.

I came from a family where I had not hugged anyone in years, except a side arm hug at the airport and a bear hug from my mother who had longed for that for years herself. I entered a house where every face was kissing me and every arm was hugging me. But I still felt outside. Why?

I didn’t know how to express affection that way. I wanted it, but I was afraid of it. I questioned their motives, I assumed they didn’t accept me. Didn’t like me.

Didn’t get me.

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