The spotlight frames the fiend

center stage and so true

to life we all adopt

fake smiles to mask horror.

He’s not my monster, we affirm

and form uneasy alliances,

refusing to glance behind us

at the shadows lurking.

And then this sonorous voice

reaches our eager ears,

a mischievous grin,

pink glasses, musical parody

masterpiece jabs

at the darkness too huge

to ignore or banish.  So we call

them out, laughing all the way,

singing satiric choruses

with glee, skewering with song-

flames, well-done, it’s all a play

on words, and we are

the poets, the rhymers,

pacing prompted daily

to wake up our friends,

our families, our slumbering

selves, quivering in the nightmare

that seems to smother our flames.

Wake up, wake up,

the fire’s burning now

it’s time to sing.


Inspired by: Sonorous, Alliance, Eager, True, Adopt

and by the recent work of Randy Stewart Rainbow, especially his remake of Camelot.

The Magnetism to Light

That tumultuous energy rises up

and naptime is over.

He’s wide awake and oh,

such passionate overwhelming

joy and utter despair.

His older brothers are exhausted

chasing the escapee

— he’s fast and committed,

there’s no hesitation to meet

this wild and wonderful world.

Inspired, I feel the tug

an invisible cable connecting

our resplendent hearts.

The enthralling blaze

burns away time,

surmounts the past

and flings us into the present.

And we’re running

with no care for the sudden

scraped contact with sidewalks,

the reddening flesh that surely

will bleed but now

we pick ourselves up

again and embrace

this vital force,

the life that wants to live

bursting through our cells

calling, come on, Bibi, let’s go!

And I’m here, my darling,

filled with gratitude and awe

by your two-year-old healing prowess.


 Inspired by Cable, Resplendent, Enthralling, Surmount

Joining The Chorus

…a prayer that he sends from his heart’s deep core,   
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings! ~ Paul Laurence Dunbar

Tell me more about
fortuitous blessings that arrive
after my diligent practice.
The number-crunchers assert
the planet won’t bear my weighty
insistence on posh digs
with my kind, careless
poisoned carnival-goers
making merry
while the bodies writhe,
the bonfires blaze.
And so I sit.
Center inside
and still
I crave assurance
that the miracle can arise
like breath
or fog on the cool dawn lake.
The atrocities reverberate
down the generations
bomb-blasting our present
ears stunned by this tone-
deaf assault.  In our knee jerk
reflex, we stand, speak
to the smirks and sneers.
Listen, we beg, and try
to chop the slippery
truth into bite-sized pieces,
now frantic in their swift
sweep under the rug.
How do our voices hold
the whole notes with these
hands covering our mouths?
Locked in the dark room,
the air sirens silenced,
the blitzkrieg so relentless
warnings are no longer
needed.  We know.
Together, holding hands
with every wretched being,
the bleeding wounded and
the sword-wielding
in the darkness, our inner fire
holding this space,
and where, oh, god,
where is the grace?

Inspired by:  carnival, smirk, slippery, fortuitous, posh, number

Hear Loud and Clear

This group of exemplary

old white men have no idea

how to cajole us; instead

they threaten and scoff,

excuse and dismiss.

This is how it goes:

you are a woman

lying tramp,

and you need to shut up

about what happened in the dark,

it’s all your fault, we need

to get on with the important

business of deciding

what you can do

when we deposit

our glorious seed in your body.

You’re a slut either way,

so don’t expect handouts

for the brat.  And if your child

of rape becomes desperate,

we will incarcerate him

for life; he’ll never get a vote.

We white men age differently,

we’ll be boys — don’t judge

us.  We make mistakes, but

that shouldn’t ruin our

lives.  Only yours.

Inspired by: cajole, exemplary

Legato  (To play smooth and connected)

In the early morning I pause

before plugging in

my instrument, craving that crashing

data-flow that hurls me

into the tempest

with no life ring

to cling to.  The habit 

of convenient concatenation

so deadly.  There is no time

and yet we must create

it to move through the

storm of chaotic crests

and troughs.  An unaccompanied

minstrel’s grabbed the wheel

warping with thrown

tiny anchor 

unerring aim

into the wall of water.

We’ll surely sink, capsize

in confusion, overwhelmed

by this ocean of information-

reality that clutches 

at our frantic outstretched

arms.  Our sister facing

a hurricane, our sons entering

a forest fire — the need

to connect, even though

I reach out to them

in dreams, our messages

zinging through my heart.

My choice is to contemplate 

the voice singing through the web

— a song of panic or aloha?

I take a breath and then

another, deepening my access

to the calm place

where all the strings are plucked

to still the fretted note



the accented silence

now emerging


this continuous moving song.

Inspired by: Convenient

Fall’s Enclosure

There is an ominous

feel about this rainy chill

after such a roasting summer.

I’ve been playing games

to avoid the niggling feeling

— it’s bad.  I watch myself

with compassion, curious

about why I cannot put:

down the game, 

out the words,

myself into what

steams like fog at

concentration’s edges.

Sense into it sideways,

this very early cage.

Perhaps when my mother left

to have my baby

brother, in weather just so,

I was mishandled

by people she trusted.

My panic and tears when she

finally returned dismissed

in the confusion of infant wails.

Resigned to my torment. 

No words, just

a cave painting etched deeply

in a place too difficult to reach.

Even so, I set down this game,

admitting the inutile distraction 

and just look into the darkness.

My bare feet chilled.

No stars, even the dock lights

dulled by the rain, this feeling

raises a finger.  Hush.  Pointing

to the trail of smoke, a cartoon character

following the scent of pie

from the open window.  I’m not safe

and no one understands.

Is this why I taught my own

children to speak early?  Not knowing

then that I could mother

myself.  It’s dark and cold

here now

I’m alone again.

I finally 

allow myself in.


Inspired by: Enclosure

Weather Report

He pauses on the threshold,

frowns into the sky.

“It’s raining,” I say, excluding

his favorite destination — outside.

He’s a two-and-a-half-year-old

scientist, and this puzzle

is perplexing.  One foot on the dry

step, a hand raised, he ponders.

Surely, if one applies a burst

of speed like a natural-born sprinter

obeying the shot — and I admit

I don’t sense it firing, so although

I usually trot alongside him,

I am blindsided now

by his abrupt

exhilarating release

and he is gone

disappearing behind corners.

The drops still find a moving

body and he is ringing

the front doorbell in the cold

discovery.  He’s surprised

to see me behind him.

Soaked and laughing,

we shiver like poplar leaves

before wrapping up in warm

towels.  “It’s raining!”

He tells me, and huddled

and dripping, we let

the conclusions of this 

experiment seep into our cells

like poetry, claiming these

layered meanings,

this simple phrase.


Inspired by: Exhilarating, Alongside

Reaching Consensus

Ceaselessly she paces

until the sound of her passing

weaves the tapestry that holds me.

An energy web, too circuitous

to perceive, a cage

watched patiently outside of

time. I beg to be turned

and she sets aside

so much frustration

— but I feel

this tight bloated belly and

the band drumming

at my temples. I can’t meet

her eyes, scurrying

panicked, sure

that I’m missing

some piece

— have I dropped it?

Impelled by this imperative

to complete the puzzle,

the laps,

the movement

without a map

or even a clear sense

oh, who is the mouse

who is the wheel

and who is watching?

Inspired by: Tapestry, Consensus, Energy, Circuitous

Rewriting The Definition

Tall black-eyed susans push past

a low cloud of moonbeam

coreopsis. A crowd at

the strictly enforced border.

A blushing nymph

waterlily suns herself in the lake,

invasive as all get out

a pithy warning —

settlers’ sly insistent creeping.

There’s no room.

We squeeze each other out,

every inch of this perfect

green lawn saturated

with poisons for perennials,

marauding insects, crushed. The sweet autumn

clematis has leaped

to the shoreline, her bold daughter

blooming in white fragrance.

Chocolate mint escaped a container

to luxuriate in this lakeside

property.  The natives are absent

except for one ancient poplar

and her old granddaughter.  They hold long

conversations underground

minding the aquifer.  Their silly leaves

play peek-a-boo with the beings

who flitter in branches and sing

nursery rhymes.  The chill

in the foreboding air.  The after-

taste of toxins.

Surely spring

is bound to follow

winter with vibrant new

species, resistant to the cancers

so carelessly created

as we succumb, unseeing

in our technodaze

to the newest wave of life

wanting to live.


Inspired by: definition, pithy, absent, bound

Games People Play

Time a complicated videogame

we approach at the used-

goods sale, insidious

and gripping so in all 

likelihood, we will buy it,

take it home and plug in.

A high probability we will lose

our sense of it, clutched,

lured out of this fair

and glorious space

very small children know.


Sitting on the sidelines

I tune in

to the presence

you will surely call

yesterday or tomorrow,

winding my way now

through the love

that pops out, peek-a-boo

until I collapse in cackling glee.


Inspired by: probability, prognosticate, insidious, fair, approach