Search This Blog

Thursday, April 30, 2015

It's All in the Attitude

On those days when I think about writing
a poem,
wrinkle my mental nose at the thought,
think longingly of reading a book,
calling a friend,

I check my email and find time to do some research
on that presentation I am going to make later next month.

I return to the blank page and sigh, begin to put
thoughts on paper,
with my editor working full time on every word
I write.

Thank goodness for the subconscious mind that wills a voice,
or the character that perseveres,
for the ability to move my fingers,
for those that have gone before and are going with,
for the courage to share my innermost.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Finding Information on YouTube

Looking for apps to recommend
to parents of special education students.
My first thought is to Google.
But wait, there is a video on YouTube
showing how the app works.
Wow! How many other videos are on
YouTube about apps?

Too many.
Remember the old days, when you had to
use gopher through text menus?
Remember reading article after article
only to find it is not pertinent?
Remember having to filter through
page after page of topics that might be
related to what you want,
or might not.

Wait, we still do that.

Just Read the Damn Poem

Well, I need to revise this a lot.
It's not very good.
I didn't realize I was going to have to read it.
I just wrote down some of my ideas.
I don't want to read this.
It's not very good.
I can't write like you do.
This is just my first draft.
It needs a lot of work.
It's not very good.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Dean's Company picnic was a family affair,
with three-legged races, beer for the men,
Eskimo Pies for us kids.
We went for a walk behind the hill.

You began to howl.
I said, "Hush! You'll wake the rattlesnakes!"
I could hear them all around.
I was supposed to protect you.

Our parents laughed.
They heard us from the other side.
no rattle snakes, just locusts.
A short walk later, we were safe.

Now you have gone behind the hill,
and I cannot follow.
No parents to rescue us,
we walk our paths in solitude.

In the Kitchen

Yesterday at the Poetry Fest in the Chicago Library, Poets and Patrons sponsored a wonderful workshop called "Love Poems that Work!" We were given the following assignment. Think of a cliche and give it a twist, use at least 8 of the following words, (pretend, table, glimmer, flip, excuse,dishwasher, parakeet, Velcro, ghost and appetite), and write a poem in 8 minutes. My first thought was, "there's no way I'm able to do that!" but I tried anyway. Here is the result. Not my best work, but I did it!

In the Kitchen

You don't stand a ghost of a chance, unless that ghost is Abraham Lincoln.

The parakeet you gave me has no appetite.
I Vecro your excuse to the dirty dishes and
pretend the dishwasher is your coffin. I flip
the switch and no glimmer of love remains.

Long Sentence

The Long Sentence

It was a sorry existence that Mary lived,
going to the store for groceries to eat,
trips to the doctor for her latest complaint,
waiting for the end of life so
her back would stop hurting,
her loneliness would end and
she could sleep forever.

Thursday, April 23, 2015


I buy my security.
Furniture, pastimes,
books, food.
Yet I know
my real security
is the belief
that you've
got my back.


I heard this morning you had a stroke.
I remember your happy face,
loving, energetic, smart.
We have so much in common,
you and I,
Swedish ancestors
suburban childhood,
excellent education,
creative endeavors.
You had better get well.
Yes, you had better.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

The Way it Was, Is

There was a time when cold fronts came from Northwest.
They'd blow up a storm you could see forming for miles.
In a bad storm, there might be one tornado.
The warmth on the south side of the front passed,
leaving much cooler air after the rain passed through.

Now we have hot weather with no rain for months at a time.
A front full of moisture pushes up from the Gulf.
Seventeen tornadoes rip a path through a swath of the state.
Twin tornadoes form, tornadoes
the width of seven football fields
travel thirty miles northeast.
Will my grandchildren see the end of the earth?


My parents were glued to the TV.
I noticed, but had no fear. I was fourteen.
I had been prepared in school
to take cover under my desk
in the event of a nuclear war.
Anatoly Dobrynin and Adlai Stevenson
became familiar names.
Thirteen days they watched,
wondered if the earth would cook.
For once, the military did not rule.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015


You say you have a book someone gave you
for free?
Yes, I'll take it, and read it, someday.

You're moving and you have some furniture?
I'll take some, and cram it in
my townhouse.

You have some fabric you don't want?
Of course, I'll take it.
I can make so many things!

There's a special on tea?
I'll take two boxes, unless
they're really cheap - then three.

Is one of my students needing paper,
pencils, pens? I'll buy more
although I can't fit any in my drawer.

Consumer Reports has a new magazine?
Utne is about to expire?
Don't forget Quilters Newsletter.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Quilt Workshop

Quilt Workshop

They arrive as soon as the library opens.
Women with sewing machines, suitcases, bags.
There is one man today. 
The teacher is a genius, making 350 quilts
in her adult years, any one of which would
take me 10 years. She demonstrates 
the New York Beauty with paper pieces.
It's not easy to picture the seam under
two layers of fabric and a piece of paper.
But it's worth it. Although I "unsew" 
a dozen times, my finished arc has nice points.
My arcs go together, then the quarter circle
inside them, a finishing outer corner and 
Voila! I can do it!
Good teacher.
Fun class.

A Poem from Robert Peake's Poetry Writing Prompts

This is an attempt to use a poetry prompt from Robert Peake's Page.

The Leaning Tower YMCA

As we approach the Skokie landmark,
a gaunt homeless man drags his plastic bags
to the Touhy bus stop. Young men with their packs
don't notice. They drink liquid from plastic bottles
beneath the streetlamp poles under starlight 
unseen in the pink glow of light pollution. 
Their griefs are real to them, a broken heart, 
a friend's betrayal. Winters will be kinder to them
than to the invisible one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Tax Day

"I am leaving this state.
The taxes are too high."
said the young man
riding the train
into the city.

MOOC Education

I might try that. It looks good.
University of Iowa is known for
its writing program.

Hmm, a different platform.
How do I post?
Where did my post go?

465 people have posted
their assignments.
Won't be reading all of those.

You want me to write
four poems by Friday?
Sha right!

Monday, April 13, 2015

What Kind of World is This?

What Kind of World is This?

When a man reads that his company has gone bankrupt
before he learns he is laid off.

When a woman goes to work only to learn
her contract has been canceled.

When retirees learn the income they depend upon
will be taken by our government.

A contract used to mean something.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

The Free Shoe Shine

The Shoe Shine

"Shoe shine?" asked the middle aged man 
in the lobby of the Olive Tree Hotel.
He had a comfy chair just waiting for me.
I looked at my boots, all dusty from hiking. 
Suede. "No thanks." 
"It's free!"
"No thanks."

A long day later, dust from Herod's Palace,
the Dead Sea Scrolls and Jerusalem covered
the boots. He judged my fatigue well,
"Shoe shine? It's free!"
In a moment of weakness, I nodded
and sat down. If felt wonderful to rest.

I got up to leave.
His hand went out.
"What? No tip?"

In the Country

In the Country

I know each season from the bugs
that strive to leave through window’s view.
The ladybugs, the wasps and bees, and
mayflies, Junebugs, beetles, too.

The pesky ones are all about.
Mosquitos, flies, ticks and ants.
They bite, they feed, in house or yard,
and sometimes even in your pants.

When crickets jump into the house,
Box elder bugs are close behind.
My spider friends have laid their eggs,
their insect traps I never mind.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Adeline, Violet and Anshu

Adeline, Violet and Anshu

How to fight depression:
"When you feel sad, think about three things 
that make you happy," said my daughter.
Adeline, you are so beautiful without
being proud, so smart without bragging,
so kind without being wimpy.
Violet, your eyes and mouth show
your intellect and passion, you light
up the room just by dancing into it.
Anshu, you are the dark, handsome boy
who surprised me with your life, 
your humor and your loving spirit.
And then there's my three children.
And then there's the pets.
And then...

Preschool Special Ed Job

The Interview

She asked, “If I asked your students to give me
three words to describe you, what would they be?”
I giggled.
I was teaching high school students
with emotional disturbances.
Just this week I had been called a Nazi.
They waited.
I felt I should explain my giggles.
I didn’t get the job.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Anshu's "I Spy" Quilt

Ninety-nine squares, ready for the quilter.
My favorite is the pig in a convertible.
Sisters' zebra and giraffe watch over you
as you sleep. In the center square,
"Grandma loves me just as I am."

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

After Hearing Ender's Shadow from the Library

It Was Dark in Space

On the space station, all was quiet.
The humans had all gone to sleep.
Slowly, down the long hallway to the kitchen,
a very small cockroach crept along.
His rear left leg scraped a little as he walked.
It had been injured when the Pretallin insurgency
was in its infancy and insects were
the least of our problems.
As he entered the doorway, a mervin
stepped on him, and all went dark.

Monday, April 6, 2015

After Watching Law and Order

for ten minutes, I went to the kitchen,
found paper and pen, and sat down to write.
Ideas came easily - riding horses in the Andes,
the ache for human touch, quilts I have known,
stages of banana color.
Alas, my editor was working overtime.
She didn't like any of my ideas.
I'd like to put her in the TV for a while.
Maybe then the programming would improve.

Suddenly It's Spring

And everywhere I go
are my mother's blue flowers.
She reminds me of her great love
and the promise of Easter.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Spring in the Country

Farmers in the field plow and fertilize,
a hawk sits on the fence by the wind-stripped tree,
while Grandpa rows upstream with his grandson
in a rowboat on the Rock River.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Like Father, Like Son

Like Father, Like Son

Complaining to his dad, I once said,
“Josh is unhappy because
I am putting the pancake on his plate
wrong side up.”
“Well, he replied,
"no one likes to look at the holes.”

Thursday, April 2, 2015

When the Garden Spreads into the Lawn

When the Garden Spreads into the Lawn

and tiny blue blooms burst their bonds,
those flowers were lovingly planted.
Blue flowers in my mother's yard
will spread long after I'm gone.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

National Poetry Month

Last year I tried to post a haiku every day in April. This year, I shall post a short poem each day. They are not necessarily new poems, since I really don't think I have the stamina for that, but I shall write each day. I won't burden you with poems I think are terrible. Of course, I have a low bar to jump if last year's poems are any indication of what I like. Here is my contribution to  April 1st - April Fool's Day. To my children's father:

April Fool's Day

You were so easy to fool.
Just go to the window, look out, and say,
"Aw, darn it! The sows are out again!"
Your mood would darken.
Grumbling, you hurry to get dressed.
"April Fool!" 
You always laughed.