Photos for January Stones and April PAD 2012 property of M J Dills (exception 1/16)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Ekphrastic Poetry

November 11, 2013  - For today’s prompt, we’re going to write ekphrastic poetry–or poetry based off another piece of art. 

(I've been wanting to use this photo for something. I took it at my friend Cassandra's house one late afternoon in October.)

it was time that melted
while you spoke
in smoky drones;
redwine smudged your teeth
and bluesky turned to black;
i crept
like a mouse
(some might say rat)
my small ear cocked in the direction of your murmurs…
just to know
(before the candles were blown out…)
the chances, luck, the secrets of our destiny.
my shadow slid against the wall
and one of you said
“did you hear something?”
and the other said
“it’s nothing”
as if I wasn’t there…


Crescent Moon

The moon
A crescent
Rolled over on its back
You could toss your hat in the air
Land it on the chin of that moon
To say hello to me


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Today's prompt is to write a perspective poem

November 6, 2013


We fly home across the lake
And stop to rest and watch
you beneath us
On shiny roads
In your cold metal bugs that roll along with big gleaming
Lights that dangle from the
sky and flash
Red Green Yellow Red Green Yellow Red Green Yellow Red Green Yellow
We talk amongst ourselves and complain about the way you
To one another
And rushrushrushrushrush
All wanting to go the same way at once

No need for us to be in such a hurry
We preen and cackle and fight a little, too
And then
In our own smug way
We fly home across the lake

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

A concealing poem and a not-concealing poem:

November 5, 2013

I have chosen as the subjects of my poems two that are fraught with revelation and the lack thereof:

Death and Poker 

My mother died in the middle of quick.
Not sudden;
nor slow and agonizing.
She took her news and made her plans.
As day turned into another day,
she died as she lived,
crossing things off her meticulous list.
When ready, she closed her eyes
And waved goodbye.
Not a crashing, shocking end,
Or the agonizing, drawn out, emaciating finish
But in the middle of quick;
a good leaving.


I know my hand. I glance at it from time to time
and make a habit
of keeping my eyes on the
I’ve played what’s been dealt and at times
pulled to an inside
straight, against the judgment
on my shoulder.

When chips were
I’ve called a bluff and
once or twice, tapped out. It's
not in my nature
to fold
but I learned from the
when odds are against me, to not raise my

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013 Poem a Day Challenge

Prompt: write a poem using "sheet"

Winter arrives and billows
Like a sheet covering the dead;
Time is a harbinger of the wind
Whistling tomorrow

Sunday, November 3, 2013

a “the last time I was here” poem

November 3, 2013

there was no bloodletting; only sorrow
the will to have a hollow heart …
yet all the tears that once filled an ocean
had turned to salt and stood like a pillar in the land of Lot.
we stood akimbo from one another
chins of steel
elbows piercing
one to the west, the other south.

if only I had allowed you to spend your back on mine, to feel the warmth, to nuzzle, coo and let go of a tiny giggle…

A "News of the Day" Poem

November 2, 2013

gerardo i herandez
whose name was continually mispronounced
will be honored
until sunday
with blue columns of light
(that guide tourists in and out of the city of angels)
because he died
for no reason
at all

Saturday, November 2, 2013

An Appearing Poem

November 1 ~ An Appearing Poem

the moon continues to appear
sometimes to my astonishment
and month turns into year
the moon, with her admonishment
seems to croon
don't give up too soon
we await your accomplishment

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


I had the honor of winning the KPLU Food for Thought Haiku contest August 28th. Below is a link to the podcast.

It was a heady experience, competing with nearly 500 contestants. First prize was a $200 gift certificate for Uwajimaya, which has four locations, including the Uwajimaya Village in the International District downtown. We're planning a family outing to spend the day, shopping and having lunch, once we can get all the go-back-to-school stuff ironed out. It'll be a nice adventure for October.

Mila was my wingman and upon arrival, we met Nancy Leson, who I immediately identified as coming from my home planet. We felt very at ease with her as she guided us to the broadcast room. Dick Stein was far away in the Tacoma studio, yet... just as close as the earphones on my head. Mila stood by and observed me flub the spelling of l e t t u c e as I spoke into the microphone, which magically (with help from Stein) edited that, and everyone's um's and ah's. The runners up went first, then me.

"My pomegranate 
Embraces your persimmon.
Lettuce rap our love."

The studio was an experience in and of itself. Mila followed wide-eyed as we spied on Marcia Ball doing a live performance in the large studio, reserved for KPLU broadcasts. We watched her play the piano and met her at the end of our tour of the premises. That tour brought an introduction to Nick Morrison, Production Manager/Jazz and Blues Host and I tried to not gush, but I love the guy.
We also met Bellamy Pailthorp, the Environmental Reporter for the station and the back of Gabriel Spitzer, busy working on a Health and Science piece. Simone Alicia, an intern, had her own desk and headset and both Mila and I expressed our envy, when we heard her in a detailed report a few days later, investigating the new rental car rage. What fun it would be to work at KPLU!

Our tour ended at the Wall of Fame, where guest artists sign their names on a white board. I thought about the disaster that could ensue, leaning against it. Nancy pointed out John Pizzarelli's self portrait of his nose!
There are some impressive autographs on that wall and I was humbled, wishing I could take the time to peruse the length.

Mila and a gorgeous cupcake, compliments of Tom Douglas Dahlia Bakery.

Mila and I had lunch at the Cherry Street Cafe and while we were munching away, discussing how much fun we had, my phone rang: Nancy Leson, hoping we had a decent photo for the website. Good thing Mila had taken a couple with my phone.
The next morning we rose too late to hear the first broadcast of Food for Thought but caught it in a later segment and there was my voice, which my friend, Linda, far away in Germany,  told me sounds light and youthful and beautiful. Thank you, Linda.

And thank you, KPLU and Dick Stein and Nancy Leson and all the wonderful people who voted for me. I am incredibly honored.


Friday, August 30, 2013

We're the Government and We're Here to Help

I’ve been notified that I owe the government money; Employment Security to be specific. For those of you who don’t know, that’s “Unemployment” and if ever there was an oxymoron…
The amount is $409.00 because “the information provided is different than the information provided by [my] employer or other resources for the same period.” Sigh. Those were my bonuses. I shared them with my co-manager, too, but the checks were made out to me.
Considering I get approximately $194 a week from ESD, this will take a big bite out of my crime.
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the funds filtered into my bank account every week, enabling me to barely make my rent, pay my bills and depend on friends and family for fun and frivolity.  I would be getting more, if not for the fact I receive $575 a month in the form of rent stipend for a job that I put in somewhere between 65 and 80 hours a month. Break that one down. The money, I must assume, that I’ve made from bonuses, is not, indeed, bonus money at all, but regarded as income. So screw me if I want to have a latte, or buy a book or take a ferry ride or go to a movie. Never mind an extravagance like a nice dinner out and/or a concert, new boots, yoga classes, a road trip (but that would require my car, which is a whole other story.)
I know what you’re saying: So, get a J O B.
Yes. I’ve been working on that. As a matter of fact, Employment Security put me in touch with the Department of Vocational Rehab, who have been so kind as to help me get hearing aids, since my hearing loss is one of the reasons I am limited to what type of job I can get.  They also looked into helping with auto repairs to further facilitate my job seeking, which was greatly appreciated, though it didn’t work out. The woman who’s been helping me referred to getting the “breaks” on my car fixed. I overlooked it, as we all make mistakes and after all, spell-check probably wouldn’t catch that. But when I asked her if the DVR would be willing to help with payment for classes, I was told the courses I was interested in taking didn’t really fit with my profile and she wondered if that make “since” to me.
I don’t see myself as some flaming intellect. If I were, then maybe I wouldn’t be in this situation in the first place, where my retirement funds got eaten up by some national debt monster or bestowed to some global purpose that I had missed somewhere in small print.
The DVR put me in touch with one of their employment agencies. I would need a new profile. After being flipped around to three different people within that agency, one who chewed gum throughout the entire interview, I was assigned to a young lady who explained that she was an expert in resume writing and could really help me out. She proudly presented my re-written resume to me, with experience misspelled three times. She made me look like a whiz kid by including that currently I simultaneously managed a dental office, restaurant, two business offices and apartment buildings. If I did all that, I doubt I would require her assistance in finding employment. (I manage an apartment building in which there is a dental office and restaurant. The other information she simply fucked up in general after I repeatedly gave her details.) 
I’m not afraid of work. I do lots of it, get paid little and what I’m collecting from the government is a bit of a joke. An insult. And now they want me to give them money. For my bonuses.  

Beware of: We’re the government and we’re here to help you.

Monday, August 19, 2013


After asking why didn't I self-publish, a friend recently wanted to know how long I would continue to promote my books. There was no hesitation in my response.
“I will always continue to promote my books.”
My first, Nothing Gold, is a memoir. It’s totally on the shelf now and if I ever have time to devote to such narcissism, I’ll pull it down and put it through a re-write. Nothing Gold is about my husband, how he got sick, almost died, recovered and turned our world upside down. We’re not married anymore and to me he's dead, because the person we knew vanished, replaced by a stranger whose brain was deprived of oxygen for sixteen days.
I completed Mozo in February 2007. I was busy at the time doing other writing and didn't put the effort into querying that it deserved (and I was over confident, the plague of all first time novelists). But that was okay, because it desperately required a complete re-write, which I finished in 2009 and proceeded to have properly edited. I changed the name to Seven Waves and in 2011, received some serious interest from a couple agents, one who hung on to it until all the tequila had evaporated from my query battery. I have changed the name once again to Sing, and Don’t Cry and my heart is buried somewhere within the pages of that book. I’m counting on it to be a great follow up to my first publication.
In November of 2011, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo; the once yearly effort of many crazed and sleep deprived writers who, with a minimum of 1667 words a day, turn out a 50,000 word novel in one short month. Not, Actually was born. I came up with the name from some late night thread where a writer was asked if she knew what she was writing for NaNoWriMo and said “Not, actually.” It struck a chord and I headed into the future with my past. I wrote a book about a nineteen year old na├»ve farm girl, who ends up in Los Angeles, pregnant and directionless. Her mother arranges for her to place her baby with an adoption agency but Robin, the protagonist, proceeds to marry a cute British boy, who happens to be gay and in need of a green card to stay in the country so he can continue his relationship with a South American. With their financial help, she is able to take care of her baby, whom she miraculously retrieves from the adoption agency. That was my own personal history and I started to pound it out on the keyboard early in the mornings, before I took off to work at a snobby little boutique in the University Village. Those were long days.
After I got my NaNoWriMo badge, I kept going and ended up with over 90,000 words. Then I went back and did a complete re-write and after much consternation, came up with a more workable title: The Story of Robin Dockery and Her Songs. This book is partly cathartic, because it lets me end things much better than they have actually (there’s that word again), plus I have been able to get a story out there that begs to be told, regarding the 60’s/70’s and what it was like to be an innocent pregnant teenager, without any guidance. There were many of us, believe me.
I began sending Robin out on July 26, and have thirteen total queries submitted, as of date, with four form rejections received and eight messages floating in the ethernet. On August 6, I had an amazing turnaround of twenty minutes when Kathleen Anderson of Anderson Literary Management responded and asked me to send a FULL HARD COPY. I dropped everything and went about getting a new flash drive, making a full copy and sending it via FedEx. The clerk at Kinko’s backed off a bit when I kissed the manuscript and slid it into the envelope. It cost me an unsightly $67.69, which is a lot of money for someone who has taken the year off to finish writing a book. If I get another request like that, I may have to wander down to the local 7-11 with my paper gun.
Now is limbo. FedEx left Robin at the front door of Anderson Lit on August 13 and I’ve heard nothing since. I’ve preoccupied myself with things like the KPLU Haiku contest (link below), reviving my blog and polishing old silver platters that haven’t seen the light of day since last century.
I’m also working on Carlos at the Broken Arms, another novel. At dusk last night, on my walk, when deciding who I would dedicate my first book to (ah, perchance to dream), I realized the ideal name for Carlos’s dear aunt, whose death sets his new life in motion. Authors manage to find ways to literally bestow honor, assign heroes, villains and misanthropes. That’s why we write.
And that’s why we continue to sell ourselves so we can share what we write.
So… until the cold front warms up, the land of rejection decides to no longer embrace me, and the warm meadow of acceptance, contracts and undivided attention to honing my craft opens up like a reluctant clam shell, yes.

I will keep promoting and querying and hoping and praying. Always. 

Thanks for reading.

To vote for me in the KPLU contest, use this link. I thank you ecstatically. 

Saturday, August 17, 2013



Peaches, being a baby’s first food, were never in short supply in our old farmhouse. Fresh in the summer and obtainable all through the rest of the year, they beamed from a long row in the pantry, jar after jar of canned smiles.
Every August, on a mild weekday morning, before the sun made an appearance, I dragged my sleeping children into the gas guzzling Gran Torino station wagon and buckled them in. With wobbly heads they fell back to sleep instantly.
Once on the road, I had time to listen to the radio, twisting the dial when out of range, hearing agriculture reports along with weather and road conditions. I listened to everything, relishing stolen quiet moments until one yawner awoke and quickly roused the others.
The drive from Enumclaw to Union Gap, over Chinook pass, was about three hours and by the time we got there, I had hungry travelers. Their first meal of the day was a big, fat, fresh peach, fuzz removed with whatever buffer available. They didn’t actually mind the downy skin and begged for more. There is nothing like a fresh peach straight from the orchard.
Once I made my purchases, usually three lugs, approximately 75 pounds, we headed back to the other side of the mountains. Ordinarily we pulled into the driveway shortly after noon. The kids were wired from the long ride and tumbled into the yard, chasing chickens, doing cartwheels and unloading pent up energy.
I hauled the lugs onto the tailgate and started picking out ripe fruit. The canners were already on the stove, filled with water and ready to be loaded with jars, which had been sterilized and covered the day before.
The next two days were spent canning; first dipping peaches in scalding water, then into a cold bath, peeling the skin and halving them. The sink was full of pinkish water skimmed with peach fuzz. Dinner was late on those nights and kids fell asleep somewhere in the vicinity of bedrooms if they were lucky. The baby usually was located in a Johnny-jump-up or infant seat, following my every move with her eyes.
Today, the peaches one buys don’t taste, regardless of where you buy them, Whole Foods, Co-op stores or the like. By don’t taste, I mean they aren’t like the dripping, sweet, candy-like peaches I hauled fresh over the mountains and fed my family throughout the winter.

The other day my friend Marni brought an apron-full of peaches from her family orchard in Kettle Falls. The taste is like juicy sugar heaven. I miss having a baby in the house who I can introduce this first fruit. I nearly ate them all myself.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Sickened, Saddened, Embarrassed, Ashamed

On Saturday evening, I posted “Sickened, saddened, embarrassed, ashamed” on Facebook.

I got some interesting comments, wondering if I was okay, what was happening in my world. One friend even promised to come for an overdue visit, but I assured him it wasn’t about me; and I could excuse a comment from someone who doesn’t live in the US. However, most were aware that I was referring to George Zimmerman’s acquittal for the Trayvon Martin murder. One friend, who I hope to retain as a friend, because she is not just a Facebook friend, commented: “I don’t understand why you say this or feel this way?” You know how it is when you love the cat but you want to just rub her fur the wrong way, only to see how she will react? I know how the cat feels.

Let’s face it: the trial started off with a knock knock joke in Zimmerman’s attorney’s opening statements. Once the trial was over and his client had gotten away with murder, the same man, Mark O’Mara, stood before cameras and boldly stated “Things would have been different for George Zimmerman if he was black for this reason: he would never have been charged with a crime.”

And that is why I am sickened, saddened, embarrassed, ashamed.”

Earlier this year, a Black Florida woman with a master’s degree, Marrisa Alexander, mother of a toddler and 11-year-old twins, with a clean record, was sentenced to twenty years for firing a warning shot at her husband, who did have a prior record, much of it for domestic abuse, and had been served with a restraining order by Alexander. Which should case you to pause and say “What the Fuck?”

Obama has cautioned that we must have respect for the Zimmerman trial jury’s decision. I do sometimes disagree with my president but this time, vehemently so. Juror B37 is widely reported to already be in the process of a book deal (at first I thought there would be blood but now I realized there will be profit.) She is one of five white women on the jury. The one non-white woman on the jury, B-29, who was described in Voir Dire as Hispanic, enjoys “The Real Housewives,” has an arrest record and recently moved to Florida from Chicago. Not one African American present on this jury of peers.

The stand-your-ground law states that a person may justifiably use force in self-defense when there is reasonable belief of an unlawful threat, without an obligation to retreat. As observed in the Alexander and Zimmerman trials, it can be interpreted in many different ways and in the Zimmerman case, with no corroborating story for the defense (the victim was unable to defend himself in court, since he was dead), in only one way: Zimmerman’s.

We must begin the process of changing the laws that victimize America’s black communities. Michelle Alexander in her 2010 book, The New Jim Crow: “Denying African Americans citizenship was deemed essential to the formation of the original union. Hundreds of years later, America is still not an egalitarian democracy. The arguments and rationalizations that have been trotted out in support of racial exclusion and discrimination in its various forms have changed and evolved, but the outcome has remained largely the same.”

Did you know that Ann Coulter was caught on video cheering after the acquittal on Saturday?

An unarmed boy, innocently walking down the street, was killed by a man armed with a gun, who followed him after the police ordered time to stay in his vehicle, and a jury has said that, under the Stand Your Ground law of Florida, no crime has been committed. Ann Coulter is cheering. I am sickened, saddened, embarrassed, ashamed.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I’d love to turn you on.

I saw the news today. I get my information from radio, eschewing papers and television. I heard about the tragedies in Boston late the afternoon of April 15 via phone text. Through the days that followed, I listened to my news source: NPR/KPLU affiliate. I saw no photos until things started showing up on Facebook.

I miss all that on purpose. I’ve no interest in witnessing carnage. My brain does a more than sufficient job presenting images. I don’t see violent movies; I’ve got enough of my own material on damage and mayhem.

What I saw today challenged my sensibilities: the image of a young handsome boy, sweet looking, eyes widened to the wonders of life. I did realize who he was before I read the caption but in one fleeting moment, he was just a boy.

I like to keep informed but I don’t want to see any more photos. Actually, I’d like to skip any more enlightenment on this subject all together.

We would be a much better world if this entire tragedy was analyzed and tried behind closed tight doors from this moment on.

The more attention to something the more power it possesses. That’s a fact.

A quick trial, bartering for information for no death penalty, and the promise of several decades in solitary confinement in an undisclosed location. No news coverage and no international attention. That’s rational and it’s also just.

Alan Dershowitz stated the obvious: “…he will want to put on a jihadist-type defense – I did it, I’m proud of it, I would do it again; I want you to kill me, I want to go to paradise.”

My humblest opinion begs for the cessation of news, photos, feelings, shock, anger… until an outcome. The less interest we show the less likely the perpetuation of evil.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy Birthday, Breeze

Yesterday Breeze turned 70; he was on my mind. It’s been ten years since I’ve seen him but I get periodic reports of sightings. Next January will mark twenty years since he became ill on a cold winter weekend. Those next three months we spent in hospitals; saving him, nourishing him, rebuilding him and rehabilitating him after skin grafts and amputations. He’d been a vibrant, jolly young fifty year old when he was diagnosed with meningitis and sepsis. The man I brought home in April '94 was old, deaf, completely disabled and mad as hell.

I miss him the most at Christmas time because he was the epitome of Holiday Spirit. Everything was a surprise and a giggle. No one loved to entertain quite as much as Breeze. Our parties, at any time of year, 4th of July to Easter, major, minor and sometimes completely contrived, were executed and planned weeks in advance. There was always a celebration on our pending calendar.

Family was important to Breeze because he’d never really had one of his own growing up. He gave the eulogy at my father’s service and for the next several years, made my mother a chief priority. That was sometimes a challenge for both as they didn’t always see eye to eye but he tolerated her sharp remarks. In turn, she softened and completely enjoyed his company, often accompanying him to Sonics, Seahawks and Mariners games and yelling right alongside when the games were on TV.

What happened to Breeze is terribly sad and when old friends conclude that he made some stupid decisions and totally messed up his life by plowing through his inheritance, forsaking most of his old buddies and consorting with undesirable people, I do point out that he didn’t ask to get sick.

When I talked to a good friend and doctor who had been on Breeze’s case from the beginning, seeking his advice when Breeze seemed to be spinning so far out of control that all the saving had been for naught, it was explained to me in unminced words how badly he was brain damaged, the multiple infections, the deprivation of oxygen for days on end. He was actually doing a lot better than the medical staff had predicted. He was just a little crazy.

The man I married has long been dead to me. The guy who came home from the hospital was a stranger. It’s been longer now that we’ve been apart than the seventeen years we were together. My home is full of reminders of our good life together and I’m glad we had it, short as it turned out to be. I hope he had a fine birthday, turning 70 yesterday and that he’s taking care of himself.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dear Mr Julian Fellowes

Spoiler alert!!

Dear Mr Julian Fellowes,

Sunday night, the Oscars were on television, so we didn’t miss Downton Abbey as much as we might (even though Seth MacFarlane made it painful to regret.)

After somber meditation on the subject, I’m thinking perhaps it’s time to say goodnight to Carson, Mrs Hughes, Lord and Lady Grantham and the entourage. If I want to watch soap operas, I’ve got access to the best… in Spanish, no less.

For me, your ending was too contrived, Mr Fellowes. I can’t forget the sunlit backdrop in the hospital room after an early, yet otherwise uneventful delivery of the Crawley heir, Mummy and Daddy bursting with love and pride, followed shortly by the view of the one lane country road (always a good setting in English drama). Did you insist on the ghoulish scene of Matthew tossed into the leaves, blood pouring from his ear? Or was that someone from the writing team’s idea? Because that we could have easily done without. If you had to kill in him in a crash, a more subtle approach could have called for the scene to be left with the smiling image of the new father and savior of Downton Abbey, hair blowing in the breeze, happy as can be, rushing back to share news of the precious arrival. The unsuspecting milk truck barreling from the opposite direction would have left little to the imagination.

I truthfully thought Matthew would meet his demise in the Highlands, mistaken for an elk, this time the bullet doing the job it hadn’t been able to accomplish in Season 2. That would have been ironic; I'm afraid what you gave us was pulp. I’ll admit, the first time I saw that shiny new convertible, I didn’t like it. I knew it was more than a prop. It was a leading story line that was going to spell the demise of someone but I’d hoped you’d spare Matthew and find another exit, since we all knew Dan Stevens had demanded to be let out of his contract.

Now we can look forward to Mary Crawley growing bitterer day by day and eating poor sister Edith alive at the breakfast table. Edith, who will be living a life in sin with her editor, with no regrets, seeing what happens to people in the household who marry in proper fashion.

It’s all too predictable. I’d like to perhaps let those loveable characters live on in my literal mind as I last saw them: the family having their aristocratic summering in The Highlands with their servants deservedly frolicking at the fair. It may have been their last Carson ages, he’ll get crustier and downstairs will end up on lockdown.

Bates and Anna seem content; let’s allow them some happiness. O’Brien’s mischief is getting old (I roll my eyes and brace myself each time I see her lighting up in the yard); if you were going to kill anyone, it should have been her. Branson must remain in England, and overlording sheep will get quickly boring. The chance of an affair with one of the maids has been ruled out. There isn’t even any tension left in the homosexual advances of Thomas towards darling Jimmy.

Could it be that Violet is simply having a dream; will she wake up in the 21st Century with a remote slipping from her hand, admitting that, indeed, Downton Abbey is a watchable show?

Or will the writers who’ve replaced you while you’re seek lasting fame in Hollywood bring back the badly burned Patrick? He can fall in love with Mary… or maybe Tom? Now there’s a twist. We know he’s lurking in the wings somewhere. His departure was not final; he seemed to go away much too quietly. As I said, Bates and Anna seem content...who knows what other things are hidden in the evil past?

As much as I moan, you know I’ll be back for Season 4. I’d be a liar to pretend I wouldn't.

I wish you luck in Hollywood and don't let them lead you down any one-lane paths...

Discordantly yours,

Lady Dills