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







Saturday, October 16, 2021

 WORDS

Too many words, not enough time...

This morning, as I lay in bed, reading David Remnick’s lengthy New Yorker article about Paul McCartney, and The Beatles, I mused at how much time I was wasting, not getting up, walking the dog, getting water on for tea. They I mentally smacked myself on the head and settled further into the down, to savor every word, my little Penny snuggled up to my side, happy to not brave the cold outside.

Mornings, I skim over saved articles, online and off, from the day before, or week, month, year…and try to read as much as I can. I have books piled in every horizontal space of my house, am currently reading three: Facing the Mountain, by Daniel James Brown, The Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, and Saved by a Song by Mary Gauthier. Plus I’m writing my own novel, Sparrow, the story of a songwriter, who overcomes obstacles personal and political, to fulfill her dream.

Some articles are saved on my computer, others ripped out of magazines, and still more held in publications that continue to gather dust on shelves and tabletops.

As a child of four, I taught myself to read under the kitchen table, using my brothers primers, which he tossed aside to run outdoors and join his friends with bikes, bats, balls. He turned into a voracious reader as he aged but, in the beginning, there were more important things to do, especially when bats turned into guitars and balls into turntables. I was also a fan of outdoor adventures, and starting at the age of nine, carting my younger brother around, as well. But whether inside or out, the world of words captivated me and it wasn’t long before I began to craft my own.

The library was my second home when I was a kid. The tiny Enumclaw library seemed like a vast compilation to me. Then, the first time I walked into Suzzallo at UW, tears involuntarily sprouted. What a world! The smell; they all have that old papery odor. It starts in bookstores and then melds into something else. In 1974, when I returned to Enumclaw, after six years in Los Angeles, the librarians greeted me with familiar warmth, and handed me the most recent bestseller, Jaws. I read it that night and returned it a couple days later, remarking, “Well, there’s a book they won’t be able to make into a movie.” I never did see it, preferring to dwell in my own visions of terror. Books have always meant more to me than film, though I do love a good movie with feelings and messages, father than fear and violence. I'm more into Olive Kitteridge, Local Hero or Ivory/Merchant creations. 

                                              Suzzallo Library - University of Washington

The Remnick article made me melancholy,  reminding me that Paul McCartney is 80. I’m 72 (I talked about that in my last blog.) John and George are long gone. Many years from now came a lot faster than we wished for. I’ve so many words to read and write, so little time. Better get busy.

Thanks for reading.

(Photo of Betty Wiebe reading to a bunch of spit-shined local kids on the patio of the Enumclaw library. Betty was a friend of my mom's, and I still have a couple books she gave to me, knowing what a reader I was. That's me on the little stool looking up at her.)

Monday, October 4, 2021

 72

When I think of 72, I imagine an old person. That’s not me. Until, of course, I glance at a mirror, and then it’s kind of a sudden surprise. Every time. Yup, it's me, alright. 


I’ll be getting a consultation later this month about cataracts. My eyes are one of the things that are slowly failing me, and it’s irritating, knowing how well they have stood in my stead for all these seven+ decades. I thank them for all the things they have helped me see well in my lifetime. An eagle flying over our boat in a nasty storm, guiding us to port. The birth of my first grandchild, who entered the world blue and with raging eyes of her own, turned pink, and has been watching us all with great contemplation ever since. A panoramic view from my house in Mexico, Villa Margeaux, and the beach below, where I met some influential people in my life. Mount Rainier from a plane window, pink with the rising sun. Mount Rainier from every window on the south side of my childhood home. Thousands of women marching down Pine Street, Seattle, led by indigenous women in traditional dress, carrying signs and singing songs. From balconies, seated in large auditoriums, close up and far away, some in intimate settings: Joyce Carol Oates, Paul Auster, John O’Leary, Desmond Tutu, Timothy Leary, Mara Liaison, Bill Gates, Tammy Duckworth, Ann Patchett, Gary Trudeau, Wally Lamb... and so many others. Hale Bopp Comet. A mare foaling, a cow calving. Whales breaching, dolphins following us in huge pods, manta ray flying over the water's surface, octopi swimming under the surface. The Charles Bridge, Prague. Hamlet's Castle, Denmark. Glacier Bay, Alaska. Pyramids in Mexico. Volcanos in Hawaii. Mt Rushmore, Grand Canyon, Paul Revere's house. The statue of Barbara Jordan at AUS, Texas. Cenotes in Tulum. Brooklyn Bridge. Sequoias, redwoods. 

    With some good people at the Villa                     Room that got well lived in at the Villa

 

Sights, yes, and sounds, as well. I’ve had difficulty hearing since about 1985, so over half a lifetime. I’m looking forward to the infrastructure bill getting passed and my ability to afford hearing aids that work for me. Aside from the list of notable sees, my list of hears may be impressive to some: Beatles (twice). Don McLean, album debut of American Pie at Doug Weston’s Troubadour in Santa Monica. Ravi Shankar. Dexter Gordon. Mel Tillis. Pearl Jam (several times, for an old lady). Carly Simon, album debut of Anticipation, also Troubadour. Toots Thielmanns, Mose Allison, Maceo Parker, Kurt Elling, John Hammond and many more at Jazz Alley, Seattle. Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Mamas and Papas, Beach Boys, Keb Mo, Taj Mahal, Turtles, Animals, BJ Thomas, Judy Collins, Neil Diamond…the list goes on and on. The latest Herbie Hancock at The Paramount, Seattle. The precious voices of Mila and Coco, Luca’s cello, their various instruments, sounds and productions. On stage I’ve had the immense pleasure of viewing Maggie Smith, Anthony Hopkins, Patti LuPone, Samuel L. Jackson, Lily Tomlin, Kate Hepburn (twice), Richard Chamberlain, Lawrence Fishburne, Tom Skerritt, Judd Hirsch, Harold Gould, Cleavon Little, Tom Hulce, to mention a few illustrious talents. My god, I miss live theater so much. 

Other body parts. Knees are 72. That’s for sure. Hips catching up, too. Too many accidents, skiing, biking, boating. I guess it's my brain that I've had issues with for most of the 72. I've gone in and out of deep depression all my life, from about 10 or 11 years old. Sometimes it's bad, suicidal a couple times but too smart to put my family and friends through something so awful. I don't talk about it but heck, 72...it's a good time to let some things out of the closet. I'm sure many have been vaguely (or not so vaguely) aware of this. I've tried therapy but it has never gone anywhere for me. I'm much better now, healing with age, I assume. Of course, there are life events that've had an impact but sometimes the boogeyman shows up for no reason whatsoever. When I'm feeling good, and I call that my sense of well being, it's like a pink sunset that I wish would last forever and I always acknowledge it, knowing how lucky I am. 

Boating is one thing I miss. There’s something about being on the water, fresh, river, lake, ocean. I’ve seen a fair share of the Pacific coastline and a bit of the Atlantic, Baltic, Bering, Caribbean, Hawaiian Islands, but if I had one wish and a shitload of money, I’d buy a boat and sail around the Salish Sea. I could man (or should I say woman) the helm as long as the weather didn’t get too rough. I only need a good crew and a somewhat steady set of legs, from the ankles on up.

                                                                Some lucky bastard on Lake Union 

The one big change in my life was at the beginning of the pandemic, when I adopted Penny Lane, the sweetest dog in the world. I got her in June of 2020, but it probably took a few months for us to completely  adjust to one another. Penny gets me moving, which I think is probably the primary thing a person of 72 needs. Some of those hip-and-knee-involved accidents over 72 years have caused joints to seize up and refuse to obey brain-to-body orders, so first thing out of bed in the morning, we are on the trail, rain or shine (and sometimes snow, which is awful, but tolerable). She is a rescue from Puerto Vallarta and after spending months alone during Covid, she made semi-isolation a lot nicer. She is full of character and keeps me smiling.


                  Penny Lane  

I’m glad I had kids. My daughters have been a real comfort to me. They got me through a nasty bout of Covid in January 2020, and I never want to be that sick. Ever. Again. I thought I’d die. So did they. I fell ill on January 24, exactly 26 years to the day that my husband was admitted to Swedish Hospital and our lives were changed forever. The past 24 years I’ve been a solo act. In the beginning it was not easy making decisions on my own. I got brave one day and went to a movie (Shakespeare in Love) alone, something that seemed so odd to me. It broke the spell of alone-fear and after that, I didn’t mind living, eating out, traveling, going to movies and plays, jazz clubs, meetings, and so many other places, on my own. I learned to enjoy my freedom and now I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I look forward to many more years… I have plans. I have a legacy to leave. I have places to go, things to do, people to meet.

Thanks for reading.

.

.

.

 

Saturday, September 11, 2021

 

 

Penny Lane, my wee dog and I walked up our Interurban Trail to Walgreens, to pick up a prescription. It was a cool day, early September, autumn in the air. A young man was by the doors as we approached. He was carefully pawing through the top of the garbage bin. Long dark hair and a handsome face, dressed in jeans, hiking boots and a light jacket, he opened a discarded meal container, made a face at the contents, and tossed it back.

“You hungry?” I asked. He smiled, a mouth full of beautiful white teeth, punctuated by dimples.

“Yes,” he said.

“What would you like?” I asked, hoping it was something that might be available in the drugstore.

“Anything,” he said. 

Where do homeless people come from? Where are they going? What are they doing here? These are questions we all wonder. Are they dangerous? Are they on drugs? What happened to them to make them homeless?

I told him to wait for me. The pharmacy was busy with covid testing out their drive-up window, people inside getting vaccinated, and two people in front of me who appeared to have extremely complicated issues. While I stood in line, properly distanced, I decided I would get a twenty and let the young man go shop for himself. But when I asked for cash over the purchase, the clerk rang it up and forgot to click that button. She said I’d need to make another purchase to add cash to my purchase, and I’d already made my purchase. Half an hour had passed. Frustrated, I wondered if he would still be there. He was. I was struck once again by how young this not-much-more-than-a-boy was. He was clean, he looked like he took care of himself, good-looking.

“Walk with me,” I said. “Let’s go over to Trader Joe’s and you can pick out what you want.”

Penny liked him. That’s always a good sign. On the way, a couple short blocks, I asked his name. Matthew. From Palmdale, California, and not in contact with his mother, who has problems of her own, and kicked him out long ago, while he was still in school, and no, he didn’t graduate. Matthew does have regular contact with his grandmother, who he’s close to, and always lets her know where he is, and that he’s okay, and she worries about him, all the time. Twenty-three years old. Homeless for all practical means and purposes. Matthew and his dog are on their way to Whitefish, Montana, where there is migrant work. He travels with a friend, and they take turns guarding their tent and staying with the dog. They were in Seattle, waiting for their connection to Whitefish. Often, they ride in empty boxcars. They never try to get in while the train is rolling but sneak in while it’s in the yard. Usually there are security people who do see them but let them be.

I carried Penny into the store. No one paid any attention to this older woman and young native man. Matthew took his time carefully choosing something to eat. It was a tuna wrap.

“Get something for your friend,” I said.

“You’re sure?” he asked.

“Of course.”

He grabbed an Italian style wrap sandwich and when I told him to get something else, he took a chicken Caesar salad. I asked if he’d like some fruit and we had a look at apples and oranges.

“I think the cut-up fruit would be better,” he said, and I reached for the largest container.

At the check stand, I made sure I was going to get cash back and handed Matthew $20.

He was so grateful, tears in his eyes, as we stood outside the store, and it was clear he wanted to hug me.  We grasped each other’s elbow instead and he gave Penny a pat. The bill was $17.66 and I later kicked myself for not getting him dog food.


Low-income migrant workers are amongst the most vulnerable to exploitation and abuse.

1 in 10 young adults ages 10 – 25 endure some form of homelessness in a year.

People of color have an 83% higher risk of homelessness.

A big challenge for homeless people looking for jobs is not having the right skill set.

We have attitudes about homeless that are rarely based on facts.

I’m not a religious person. My friends are aware of that. I do weary of Christians in our society who rely on certain types of media to get justification for their actions and judgments. However, what a difference it would make if they simply applied lessons from the scriptures, which they ignore in favor of those they choose to interpret to validate their own causes.

Matthew 25:35-36 – For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger…

Matthew 25:40 … Truly I will tell you, whatever you did for the one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Thanks for reading….

(This is not a photo of Matthew; it is a stock photo.)


Wednesday, August 25, 2021

POPO 2021

Can you believe it's been a year since I blogged here? I told someone the other day "2020 is just a big bird dropping splotch on our calendars. Nothing happened, or so it seems." Now we've rolled around to another Postcard Poetry and I shamelessly will promise to get better again about blogging and hope to have some good news before this year in over.


In the meantime, here is PoPo 2021:

                                    The Great Wall of China in Six Parts


Can you see me up there at the top of the hill? 
All you need to do is enter, step...step by step. 
Up, up, follow what path has been given you, 
a map, unnecessary when it's all laid out for you. 



A window, 
essential to seeing in, 
and seeing out. 
Vast, 
with so much promise, 
all that is required is to 
open 
eyes 
wide 
shut.



The Chinese wall,
intended as protection,
was a path for 
travelers...and so one could move, 
stand still, 
balk, 
reach, 
reject, 
run to or from, 
fear, 
admire, 
care for, 
or seek to destroy.



And I stand and wait, 
watching moons and suns ascend, descend, 
stars come out and diminish, 
comets vanish, 
planets born, die, change names, 
and a plan for your return 
in the distance, 
where I can make out 
the thin form of your resistance. 




Where it begins, ends, 
falls in disrepair, 
seems invisible 
from the blind eye, 
rolls, 
like the blood in your veins, 
connected, 
never completed severed, 
always pulsing, 
always present, 
always struggling. 





Spring arrives each year with hope, 
a new possibility with 
a non-holiday holiday. Cruises
into summer, on the edge, 
the opportunity to reject once again, 
just like autumn does; and winter disappoints, 
over and 
over again. 


Family Legends


The stuff for family legends isn't always worth repeating even though details may be clear and unforgotten. When my son was lost at sea and there were helicopters searching dark waters, his father trying to figure out how he would explain to me he'd lost our boy, who was sound asleep in a deep bunk midship. Rescue teams cheered while we fumbled with untrusted emotions. 


However I'm Dressed

I know you think this is an invitation. 
It's not. 
It's me, 
being me. 
On the beach, 
the pool, 
walking down the street, 
over the bridge, 
in school, 
at work, 
in the grocery line, 
at the theater, 
wherever you see me, 
however I'm dressed, 
no matter how much skin 
I choose to show, 
or hide... 
this 
is 
not 
an 
invitation.



                                      LOSING YOU

                                   


Losing you was losing a part of my history. 
There were things that only you and I 
could remember and now 
I must remember them on my own. 
With no one to validate the memories. 
And the sadness is not so much 
that you are gone, 
 it's that we are gone.



aLmOSt NoRmaL

We almost started
being a little normal.
Trader Joe's even took down                               
their plastic shields. 
Masks were optional 
for the vaxxed.                                                        
Too soon.                                                                            
Wildfires make the skies hazy.
Again.
This.
This is our new normal.
Masks fulfill multiple purposes. 
We are all frogs 
in a warming pot.
The canary has sung.


Chinooks



Lavish Saturday morning 
breakfasts at Chinooks. 
Laughing family laughs, eating 
honeyed butter, and the tingly taste 
of orange zest. Seagulls 
piercing the calm of the drizzle 
hanging under the sky, scolding 
us for living too well, telling us to 
go home, 
pack for the future. 

Forgiving Myself


Flipping through old notebooks, photos, clippings, poems, quotes, flattened matchbooks. Hours pass as the sun floats across the southern sky on a warm summer afternoon and I, caught indoors, forget the garden, the dust and dishes and all other duties, forgiving myself for places I meant to see, words left unspoken, dried up tears, ships that have sailed. 





Life Redirected

Once I had submitted to the life 
that had been redirected for me, 
I dove in headlong. Limbs
no longer were a matter for
prom gowns and 
summers at the lake, 
ski slopes or wooden stages. 
I became a leg to cling to, 
a vessel of milk, rich and blue,
arms never empty, 
a backbone 
stronger than my mother 
ever predicted. 
New shoes, 
a different hat. 



The Summer of '66

The summer of '66, 
I thought I had 
everything figure out. But 
I missed some things. 
How to protect myself. 
How to fight back. 
How to say "no." 
My outlook 
was always cheery and 
I was confident. There were 
leading roles in my future, 
straight A's, 
the Dean's list. There were 
other lists, too, which 
I could not have foreseen. 
I have no regrets but 
I have some good advice.




Makah 1993 Neah Bay 

Our heads were filled with magic 
and a new ancient language. 
We walked on whaling beaches 
where history has been forgotten 
by those who choose to change it. 
The songs, 
the food, 
the stories, 
the mystical words, 
clicking and soothing, 
the craggy beautiful faces, 
the clamshell yearning 
for a different time and place



Master Thief 

I'll teach you how to steal he said. 
First you take the little things
They go unnoticed. The big things
are harder; you're always being watched.
But it's not impossible. You must be
brave and put on a face, as if
you don't care at all. Pretend
it belongs to you. The 
difficult part is when 
they steal from you. Some 
have nothing of 
value. He taught me how to steal. 
He was a Master Thief.


New York September 2019 

East Village
was a perfect time 
in the city garden 
with Marta, who had
the key to let us in to the
fairy lights and 
marjoram, parsley, 
Simon and Garfunkel warbling
over speakers meant for
dayworkers. It was a 
sister kind of night,
young and brash,
old and wrinkled,
in between,
imparting stories, opinions, guidance,
raucous laughter, tittering giggles,
bold invitations, glasses never
half empty, pushing the morrow
out of our minds.




CATS

My son wrote a little
personal essay once about our cats; past,
present, and future. He was 9 at the time 
and it was 
one of the sweetest things 
I've ever read by anyone. He
laboriously typed it out on my "Selectric" 
and I still believe I will find that yellowed
piece of parchment paper in a box
someday. I miss all those cats.





Brave

Looking back, I can see 
the crack forming when Brave 
died. A strong beautiful hen, 
so named because 
Brave 
was who she was. One of the
original brood, she 
carried so much weight 
on her tiny feathered wings;
so many expectations,
future dreams,
silent songs,
little secrets,
prospects for a formidable foundation.
Hope.



Peanut Butter Memories

My bro and I shared a love 
of certain edible things. 
Popcorn, 
tacos... and peanut butter 
on warm toast with butter melted 
and dripping! You bite into it 
and it oozes between 
your teeth, gets stuck 
to your cheek hollows and 
you wash it down with a cup of 
good strong coffee. All 
those things 
make me remember him; 
olfactory memories.




Kornfeld

He was just a guy 
who lived in my building. I 
collected his rent 
every month. He smoked 
so I saw him outside 
usually. I 
talked with him 
and his son about 
football, croquet, 
dogs, the weather. He 
died alone in a hospital 
room while others 
were attended to. No 
one was saved. I 
was the only person 
he said goodbye to. 



    Childish Summer

    Mornings were soft and fresh... 
    smell of dust from 
    the alley, green wet 
    grass. Trees, with gnarly 
    roots, to create spaces under, 
    outdoor sanctuaries with 
    rock-lined borders, little imaginary 
    shops where fairies visited 
    after dusk, when children 
    were meant to be 
    indoors. 
    Dolls dragged out of 
    bedrooms, then found 
    in the morning dew, forgotten, 
    then retrieved and 
    loved again. Kool-aid 
    with so much sugar
    it hurt your teeth, soda 
    crackers, peanut 
    butter, fresh picked 
    berries, slightly 
    dusty. Barefoot 
    for weeks on end; 
    toes splayed in September. 
  

Battle Lines

Battle lines
were drawn.
One of us fought hard, 
the other with a short stick, 
keeping monsters 
at bay. It ended 
in an emotional rout and 
open wounds closed 
eventually but 
the salt remained. 
Ships sailed. 
Horizons fell dark 
but never stayed that way. 
New shores harkened. 
Castles were built 
on sand.


California

Songs have been written about California, 
the beaches, the palm trees, the sunset pigs, the hotels. 
It pulled me until I got fed up with partial truths, earthquakes, 
and broken promises. 
I won't forget the swarm of baby hummingbirds, 
Olvera Street, mean geese in Sacramento, canyon bike rides, 
being taken for rock stars, Paul Bunyan, the pier, 
candles in wine bottles, and your hair.




Fall 1968

I loved the market, 
even the odors of raw fish, mixed 
with the pungent smells of mums 
and marigolds. It wasn't a tourist 
attraction yet, just a place to buy 
from vendors, the deli, and a newsstand 
with hundreds of selections; 
I could've hung out there all day. I 
bought pudding from 
the sweet Asian lady, 
a peach, 
and a tomato, 
which I ate whole, 
sprinkled with salt. 
You told me I was pregnant. 



We Saw the World

From the time I was 6 or 7, my bicycle was total freedom. No one really cared much where I was in our safe, small town. I was GONE, down the street, around the corner and into the wild. When he was 2 and I was 11, my baby brother joined me, perched in the basket on my handlebars. We saw the world. Our world. We had no borders and wide horizons. 

Another Country

 I loved you in another country
There were maps leading us down roads, over seas,
into mountains and jungle, that we imagined
or simply conjured. So we could
go our own way, like birds
in a murmuration, whirling,
changing with a whim, impossible 
to follow.
Off the charts.




CHURCH

Anklets, bare legs all the way up to the Sunday panties, Mary Janes
that pulled socks down over the heel, like a tiny determined conveyor belt, 
repeatedly. Impossible to find two socks that matched, per order of Mom.
Late. Snow splattered on the landscape like crispy sugar. Holding a heavy green
hymnal with crackling pages, wishing to be home
having hotcakes with Dad.



The Eye

I miss you, Dad. You always had an eye on us, 
even when we were far far away.
You were all seeing and you knew
everything.
At least we thought you did and
that was good enough for us.




OUR HOUSE

Our house was a very very very fine house, 
on the best street, 
on the best hill,
in the best city,
in the best state,
in the best country, 
on the best planet. 
We used to sing this song 
when we thought nothing could change, 
fooled 
by our image of reality. 
We were so wrong. 

 

Distant Smoke

In the distant smoke of the future, I will not acknowledge
pain or sorrow. I will see my beauties as full-grown
human sculptures, perfect in every way,
better even,
having gained wisdom 
through ears and eyes. May they 
always think of me,
who loved them completely,
as one who cradles them through 
distant smoke.

And now another year of PoPo has been completed. I ask the post office to hand-cancel my little poems as they are sent abroad and near, in hopes words will be left clear and legible, but there is always some overzealous postal worker, who needs to run these tiny pictures through mean machines. One hopes they arrive somewhat intact and if not, here are all the words, and the images, too. Cards are collected at estate sales mostly and these poems are rough drafts, written as prompts, using the postcard for inspiration. Many will be reworked and polished. Look for them and others in my poetry chapbook, available at the end of the year.

Thanks for reading...

I can be seen/heard reading three of these postcard poems from a session that drew our Poetry Postcard Fest to an end of September 2, 2021. There are many beautiful poems to observe from an abundance of talent, but mine are found from 7:45 - 10:30. https://ppf.cascadiapoeticslab.org/2021/09/05/post-fest-open-mic-video/


Friday, September 18, 2020

POPO 2020

 

Never have I been so late getting out my PoPo mail. Postcards that should've gone out all throughout August are finally getting sent mid-September. It's been a strange year and I'm simply not going to give a list of justifications, because they would likely fall on deaf ears. So many of us are living in upheaval. 

I did things much differently this year, writing poems as the August days bumbled on, meaning to transfer them to postcards and send, but ended up with a typed out list of short thoughts/poems. I promised everyone in Group 1 would get a card, I just didn't say when. I jokingly promised myself I'd get them out by my birthday, which is today, and I gasp to think it took that long. The time came for me to put the whole project together and I decided so as to make them legible, I would do as some others have done: cut and paste. I loved it, because what it forced me to do was find (out of a pile of postcards collected in my travels, visits to various local and faraway places, and estate sales) the exact right card to go with a verse. Sometimes it really hit the mark; other times you may need to use a bit of imagination.

These pieces are written with the same abandon all PoPo cards are written; spontaneous, unedited, naked. There has been no editing done in the cut-and-paste procedure.

There is no particular order, since they didn't get sent out Day 1, etc. I apologize to my PoPo friends and promise to do better next year, in which I'm hoping to figure out a way to send cards I've found at estate sales that were once written on and sent by strangers, with me writing something about their words. It will be exciting to see how that might turn out. 

Some of these cards I've hung onto forever and felt it was time to send them on their way. I've left some notes about a few of them.


POPO 2020

Looking out into the humid night, the sounds of tiny animals screaming, the weather getting hotter with every minute, relentless night creeping slowly to a hotter dawn, waves crashing on the cliff below, the only rhythm inducing sleep, fighting in the air with cicadas.

 




 




********************************************************************************

My life has been a revolving door 
of opening chapters, 
all suitable for short stories 
some on the edge of terror, 
other narratives of bliss. 
Maybe I should write a book.

(Little Oddfellows - One of my favorite reading/writing/meditating/lunch/meeting places in all of Seattle. Just on the edge of the CHOP/CHAZ.)


                                                           **********************

   

 A man being a boy again

Faded red fenderless Schwinn

His shirt flapping behind him

Plaid, black and white, open and free

Coming down the hill

In the shadows of impending dark

A man being a boy again

No mask

Remembering


                     

                                        *******************************************




This morning my daughters call me
Bring scones
I arrive
They’re sitting outside around
The fire
Smiles
Their children not in sight
Teenagers off on perfect errands
It’s just the three of us
This is home


               ****************************************************************



Pre-covid. It’s a thing. Last February we weren’t even sure what to call it. Coronavirus. Covid-19. Covid. The Rona. Now it’s part of our natural speech. A thing we live with every day. Will we say post-covid at some point? What will it mean?

(Here was a postcard that I've had for a long time from a collection of my mother's, who passed ten years ago. It was hard to let go of, but I know it's now going to be in someone else's precious collection.)

                                                      ****************************




I pieced ears.
Anybody’s.
I didn’t really like it, but they asked.
A raw potato half, held behind the lobe
A thick darning needle thrust deep
With thread to pull through
Black thick
With instructions
Of care
As if I was a hippie nurse
A girl for all ages

(I hope people see the humor in the choice of this card. When I came upon it, looking for the right car for the sentiment, I nearly collapsed laughing.)


                ****************************************************************



 
The bees used to bother us
Now it’s a surprise to have their company
At the beach or park or dinner table
We’ve invited them to come
But they’re busy attending bee funerals

(It's been tough letting go of my Carl Larsson cards. I love them so; I wish I had a large house, with a huge room, where I could hang prints of all his pieces. Such a marvelous artist.)

******************************             ********************          *******************************             *******************
 
 

Some years are just bad.
It’s not only 2020
I remember 1994
My world crashed
It never was the same again
Nor will this be
We need to find bright angels
In these years
And tell them to follow us home.
 


 (Turner is another fantastic artist. Some of his pieces look like washes and nothing more, until you look closely. This is The Sun of Venice Going to Sea. Absolute magic.)

*******************************************     ************************************************




Summer’s finally come
now it’s the end of summer
while it teased us along for weeks on end.
Green tomatoes – will they turn red
given the eastern morning sun?
Or will it be another year of
no other satisfaction than smelling
the rich deep vines and
pouring water on the tender arms.

 

      (I hope Rosina enjoys this card. It's a local artist Molly Norris Curtis. 
        I love it and send it on to a new  home.)


**********          **********          **********          **********          **********          *******


Floating around the pool, 
holding hands to not drift apart, 
giggling, gossiping, 
people thinking you were 
my boyfriend. Back to my place 
for an intense game of scrabble, 
dinner roasted on my open grill, 
then you, 
off to meet your boyfriend. 

 


*****************************************




March 

How we imagined August. 
Or did we even dare to think about 
August then? Masks kept our faces 
warm and let us scowl at strangers. 
Come August, we continued to scowl.
August barely existed as we’d imagined it.

(I'm glad I have a photo of this card. It's been hanging around for a long time and I've always loved it.)

*************  *************  ***********  **************  *************  ***************  **************



Flesh was a color in the crayon box. 
Bandaids were all the same hue.
I lived in a small town in Washington. 1962.
A young black man wanted to go to school
JFK federalized the Guard.
In my town is was hard
To imagine. 
 



             (A dismal image for what still continues to be a dismal situation.)



*******************************************************************************



Now we’re looking for good deals
On masks but we want
The fashion statement type, not those plain ol’…
I like your Seahawks mask. Where’d you get it?
The smaller size for kids
With Sponge Bob and Elsa.
My granddaughter has one
for her Teddy bear.
I want one that says VOTE!

********************
 


I walked by your door yesterday
The old wooden stairs
Up to your loft where you lived
4 floors up with 2 spoiled cats
And watched the night life
and the day life below in the
streets of 1st Ave. You live in
Barthelona now and your
life has always had a
hint of mystery.

(This is my last card of artist Marjett Schille. She was a friend of my mom and at one time I had several of her postcards. Mom is long passed and not sure what happened to Marjett but her whimsical art is a treasure.)
     
********************                     *********************                ***************************               *************************

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And one was blocked by an impenetrable wall
But the view was clear
Yet I was forced to take
The other
Though it clearly was not my choice
And struggled on the way to way
It has made all the difference
Of the bitterness that surfaces now and again
With recollection of the road not taken.
 


****    ****    ****    ****     ****    ****    ****    ****    ****    ****    ****     ****    *****



I struggle to be a poet
It’s like time is against me, 
and technology thumbs its nose 
at me as I take two steps forward
and three steps back.  Sometimes
the stumbling gets the better of me.
When I fall, I get back up again
Slower each time.
It's a good thing I'm not a pianist 
Or a brain surgeon.

**********************************************************************************

To sir with love… Sidney Poitier. 
White girls could love him 
like my mom loved Harry Belafonte 
and Nat King Cole. Then Janis Ian 
wrote that song. And we nearly got whiplash 
Wanting what we'd never wanted before.
 







********************   **********************  ******************   *****************



Morning with dew lashing my bare toes 
as I walk the dog, hoping 
warm weather will last into September, 
a small fog hangs at the end of the road, crows 
and seagulls competing in the big green 
bins for morsels, a moon still pasted 
on the horizon, gossamer, fading fast.

(J.M.W. Turner again. Magical shapes on canvas.)



**********************************************************************************



Mom had something against those who sleep in the morning, pulling us out of bed to do chores on weekends and summer days. Now I luxuriate, catching up.


(Carl Larsson again, such clarity, as opposed to Turner)

 

********      **********         ***********    ********      *********    ********  *********



We once wandered through the Farmer’s Market, making slow decisions, back and forth from one vendor to another. Now we hurry, moved by a line behind us, masked and distanced, willing their way in, while we wind our way out.


(These are almost the last of my Van Gogh's)


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I keep missing the moonrise
and now when I see it, 
high in the sky, 
I mourn a little, not being able to 
garner the energy I could 
if I’d only pay attention 
and make myself available to the sky.

 



                                 *************************************************




Sunday morning on 
the waterfront. Fog has just lifted 
with a chill still in the air, 
promise of a true summer day, 
with everything going my way.

***************************************************************************************

 


When I lived in Mexico and people would ask where I was on vacation from, I told them I was on vacation from life and expected to last until I died. Unfortunately I only lasted until I had to pull up tent stakes, sell the condo and use different talents.

                                         *****************************************



Our flag used to represent our nation, .
not it only seems to represent 
some of us. 
But who? 
Which side am I on? 
Even as I search the boundaries 
I don't know which piece of cloth 
To use in case of surrender.

 ***************************



In the park I hear a child crying, 
everyone looks. 
His father bends to commiserate 
while people crank their necks 
to hear the pleas 
of a woe begotten preschooler 
in need of another popsicle.

*****************************

 

Three Days
Feb 28 - the Opera. Yardbird, half empty seats; 
after all, the opera is a bastion of the elderly. 
Nervous, we sat close, far from others. 
Feb 29 - the school auction, half empty seats, 
knocking elbows with friends. 
No hugging, shaking hands. 
No masks. Yet. 
The school made almost $1 million , 
so somebody was there besides us. High Hopes. 
March 1 - family breakfast, still no masks. 
Kisses hugs. Last ones for three months.


**********************************************************************************



 

You’re a different person now. You’re 
Philippo with short hair and 
a mind boggling diagnosis. You’re 
still as carefree and goofy, but your beaming face but now 
shows the serious decisions you must make, 
and only you can be in charge. Now 
you know who loved you’ve always been. 

In the clearing stands a boxer – 
a fighter by his trade.

(When I went to pull a postcard out of the pile for this sentiment, my hand grabbed this Carl Larsson for our friend Philippo, who will fly this weekend from Puerto Vallarta to Los Angeles to begin treatment for brain cancer, an astonishing revelation that brought his little community in the jungles of Yelapa together in their customary way, Mexicans and gringos alike. It's been a long process already for him and it's just begun. My wish for Philippo is the peace this room conveys.)

**********************************************
 

I don’t always trust Siri and Alexa. 
Are they really my friends? 
Do they like me? 
Are they telling me the truth? 
I don’t think they’re government spies 
but I do think they would stand me up 
for coffee and scones. 
They’d probably meet with each other 
and talk behind my kitchen.

(I can't describe my delight at finding this particular card for Siri and Alexa, no two ghostly roommates.)
 


                                            ***************************************************



Writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s also the thing that makes me happiest. I live between berating myself and reading something over and over because I know it’s good. I’ve lost all my writing jobs due to covid and now I write for myself though I can’t even seem to post a blog. There’s no closure with writing. It never stops. There’s always something new.


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Thank you for reading