Saturday, April 8, 2017

Not Tonight

The lights have gone out in Calicon City.
You'll need to tell them.       Tomorrow
Would be a good day.  You need to say, "There is no God
In Calicon City, not tonight."

While we slept, God got torn apart—
Not north by south or state by state, or even zipcode
By zipcode.  No,    God got torn apart neighborhood
By neighborhood, house by house, apartment

By apartment.  But really, it was life
By life, sifted out by the parties they attended
To.      You could ask them to remember the radio;
How it tried so hard to find the middle

But no one had the mindset.
So they said they didn't have the money.
They said, "The churches will save the slums;
Go back to bed."      But

The lights have gone out in Caloocan City.
You need to tell them.      Tomorrow
Would be a good day.  You will say, "There is no God
In Calicon City, not tonight."

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Vespers for the Voiceless

If I were to commission a stained-glass window for my Church,
It would be a single Nightingale upon a beech branch in springtime.
Her tongueless trills would be the Hymns we would sing at sundown—
No noticeable pattern, only an algorithm inherited from the Ancients.

Our Priestess wears her sandy plumage as a sacred vestment,
Her legitimate lineage endows her with the power to Pardon.
Her mutilated blessings would help us to forgive our Tereusian Trespassers,
And dare her Congregation to turn laments into Praise.

Sunday, March 19, 2017


Sap's Rising;
it has been tapped, captured,
heated to pouring perfection.

Seeds're Sprouting,
warmed by layers of grief
and the sun's return.

Sun's Setting
on so many sacred
landscapes.  They need rain.

A magpie is nesting.
Drawing upon his ancestors'
DNA, he builds.
He is not sure why.

Spring's coming —
tomorrow, I think.  The Planet
is ready.  A few things still
need to die.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

who made it possible for you to march?

Who made it possible for you to march?
Tell me, can you tell me

who filled the salt & pepper shakers
your waiter will twist?
Tell me, can you tell me

how much of a tip
you left for the immigrant
who made your bed?
Did you think about her as you drifted
off to sleep, worrying about whether
or not the others
would care if you snored? Or was it only
when it came time
to dole out the few crumpled dollars
you discovered in the pockets
of that coat you hadn't worn in ages?

Tell me you will read them more poetry.
Tell me, can you tell me

who made it possible for you to march?
The husband or wife who picked up the kids,
The partner who prepared dinner (and cleaned up!),
The friend who covered a shift,
The teenager you trust enough leave home alone?
Tell me, can you tell me

what you inherited from your ancestors?  Because that matters.
A lot.

Tell me, can you tell me:

Who made it possible for you to march?

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Ghost Ship Blues

I've never been there, yet I know this place.  It has had incarnations across the Earth, and in all eras. The one I knew was in Portland, Oregon in the early 90's. I was in my early 20's.

I don't remember its name, or even if it had a name.  There are things I do remember, but I don't think I can put them in any particular order.  (Besides, the order of things, once you can read Heptapod.. hmmm... I find myself thinking about the dialogue that might have happened around the table during the making of Arrival...was there an Agenda Item 2b:  Hepta vs. Septa,  or was it just a discussion that began organically, where someone had an idea and the other person said, "Yeah, and..." my money's on the latter...  all the good jobs in the future belong to the creative class anyway... as I get older, I find I have less and less tolerance for meetings with agendas, real or hidden... whatever, my point is that somehow or other they decided to use Greek instead of Latin...and oh yeah, I forgot it was a book first, so the decision was actually probably the original author's, so never mind).

As I was saying:  the order of things, once you can read Heptapod, is less important, and your linear thoughts may well start talking in circles, just like that parenthetical non-sentence above.

The List of Things I Remember in No Particular Order

1.  The Mezzanine that came alive at night
2.  The beyond-handsome Mexican poet
3.  The openness of the kitchen -  every pot, pan, dish, glass on makeshift shelving
4.  The vintage sofa with warm crocheted afghan
5.  The slight chill.  Hence: afghan
6.  The smell of tobacco and herb
7.  The random communal drum kit
8.  The long hair and knit sweaters and trench coats
9.  The gloves with the fingers cut off, on whose hands I longed to have hold me
10.  The sketchy neighborhood (that would become gentrified in ten years)
11.  The openness of everything
12.  The awkwardness of everything

Awkward because I wanted to belong, fully, completely; there was a heady mix of nostalgia for the past and promise for the future that led to art, and which I understood at a cellular level.  But I Didn't. Quite. Belong.  Not Totally.  I was a first-year teacher, trying to adult for the first time, head still full of revolutionary educational ideas, but also full of an MAT degree, lessons to plan, meetings to attend, and students to be responsible for.

I loved it though.  I loved the company and the conversation most of all.

There are so many moments in your hazy young 20's you forget.  But you never forget dumpster diving with the artist boy/man crush (and that one time you found and hauled out your favorite teak desk that is now in your 16-year-old's room), then returning to his cluttered/clean apartment in the warehouse, and smoking cigarettes, and having a 26-year-old Mexican poet drop in to read to you from his journal.

I was never quite sure if it was safer to take the stairs or the elevator.  They were both adventures.

I don't mean to idealize this life, either.  Some of it was filled with drugs, some with despair. But I would venture to say that it wasn't much different than your average home at the time, just less hidden. And it was alive.  Of that, there is no doubt.  I'm also certain that people will start looking for someone to blame, and that the owner of the building is going to have to "own" his part of the tragedy.

Anyway, that's just a whole lotta words to simply say, no matter what the circumstances:
I mourn the loss of the Ghost Ship, its people, its heritage, and its future.  We all should.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Strawberry Fields Forever

I am sitting on the bench that overlooks the Strawberry Fields meadow. I say the bench, because there is only one, and I'm fairly certain the city didn't put it there.

It looks pretty bleak now on this 29th day of February.  The dry grasses are resting parallel to the ground, and the scrub oaks are gray.  But the sky is blue and the breeze is light and new life is waiting patiently below the surface.

The city, however, does not appear to be waiting patiently. Everything is happening way too fast.  Final City Council vote may be in April, they say.  April?!  Why, in April around here we have only yet just begun to see new buds, flowers, and grasses!  How can our city council vote to give away something they've most likely never seen up close in midsummer?! This decision will be HISTORIC, will affect the citizens of this city for centuries, and must be carefully and thoroughly dissected.  That takes time.

Do you know this land?  I do.  I know how sound travels in the canyon, and how I can presently hear a lone hammer working on a deck on the other side, and the chimes from Will Rogers above. Imagine the noises of a wedding pavilion/picnic area and horse stable, echoing in the Canyon.  The Broadmoor is trying to sell us on the idea of public access on the 180 acres they are not using, but I'm here to tell you: there will be horses on trails throughout that 189 acres, and that 8.5 acres that is only accessible by Broadmoor guests will include the loveliest meadow, the one where people can just meander up the hill and find, accidentally.

Last summer, I did just that. While exploring the area for the first time, I came of the woods into the meadow unexpectedly.  Upon seeing the tall grass undulating in the breeze and the mountains surrounding me, I instinctively opened my arms and did a couple of 360's.

In summer, the area of South Cheyenne Canyon around the Starsmore Discovery Center  is a cool haven from the heat of the city for many. I understand that Barr Trail and the Incline are also used by many, but they are athletes and outdoor enthusiasts, not families and toddlers.  It is still a scant few of our population who are able to or desire to do the incline, yet almost everyone is able to access Strawberry Fields.  To have this meadow off limits to everyone who can't pay is immoral.

I am especially angry at how this deal seems to be a "divide and conquer" strategy, pitting the trails people against the open space people.  We should all be on the same side.  That's why it's called TOSC:  Trails and Open Space Coalition, but it seems the almighty "T" is taking precedence.

Two men arrived down in the meadow while I was sitting on the bench.  I wondered whether they were city men, business men, or Sierra Club men.  Turns out, they were sort of all three, and were still undecided. They were there, hiking the land, even the steep terrain that I've never done, to check it out. They noted its appeal, and observed that not many people seemed to use it.  They wanted to see for themselves what the fuss was all about. I applauded them for their curiosity.

That's what I think we all need, a hike in the woods and some curiosity.

And now, a chill wind has come up, reminding me to put my down vest back on. A hawk soars.  The sun has traveled farther to the west, yet still warms the left side of my face, and I have to squint a little to write. My greatest hope is that this proposed land swap will turn out to be a good thing, simply because it has put Strawberry Fields on the public's radar.  Curiosity can lead to other possible solutions. Like purchasing parcels the city wants with TOPS money. No master city parks plan should ever include trading away a parcel it already owns, even if that parcel is largely unknown. Perhaps, since one of the major complaints is that it is not well taken care of,  part of a new master plan could be for Parks and Rec. to improve the trail markings and maintenance of Strawberry Fields. That's their job.  And ours.  There is no reason that the public couldn't raise thousands of dollars to help the city with maintenance.

This swap proposal is the product of a private corporation's greed, and the public's failure of imagination.
(no wonder the Broadmoor wants this land- just look at that gorgeous view of the hotel from up here)

Finally, an invitation.   Mayor and City Council: come walk Strawberry Fields with me.  Name the date, I'll meet you in the South Cheyenne Canyon Parking Lot.  Bring your layers and hiking boots;  it's still winter and the snow/ice patches are slippery. Or perhaps you'd prefer to wait until May, when you can wear a t-shirt and tennis shoes, and I can show you my land, our land - green and growing. You might even be inspired to do your own Julie Andrews impression.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

invitation from a dried thistle

prickly stem–
a minor repellent
that would never stop
the most determined,
like parental threats

dried and delicate–
but not yet ready
to be dead,
like the paper-thin shell
of what used to be
your mother-in-law,
who still has enough barbs
remaining to hurt you
in many small ways

the rattling of seeds in the pod–
keep time to the breath of
fluid-filled lungs

you are invited to play a game–
she loves me
she loves me not.
but where will it end
if the answer is both?

and now you only want to write
about your bread and coffee
and about how it crunches and chews
but mostly how it fills
the places only gluten and caffeine
and love can fill.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Where Were You?

I spent my morning at Mountain Fold Books with Dave Reynolds, creative writing teacher at the Fountain Valley School.  We debated line breaks. He talked about the allure of azure and other Latinates, while encouraging us to stick to the direct and honest Anglo-Saxon for imagery.  Then we read a poem called Where I Was by Dan Brown (not that Dan Brown), in which the author recalls where he was the day Kennedy was shot.  After that came a poem written by one of his high school students, which was modeled after Where I Was.  Her poem was, appropriately titled:  Where I Was, only it told the story of where she was on 9-11.  Then we wrote poems about where we were, on some significant date in history.  There is something about being given a form, a structure, and fitting your story into it, that is not cheating, but rather it is liberating within a constraint.  I think we have forgotten what it means to learn by imitation of the masters.  Anyway, here is mine.  It is titled, of course:

Where I Was

I was sitting in the front row of all
Places.  My eighth grade algebra class
Was solving for x in silence: the
Way Mr. Gunther liked it.   We feared his
Citizenship grade.  Every
Time you talked, he made a red x by
Your name in his always-open
grade-book. 5 x’s equalled 1 grade
deduction, 10 x’s equalled 2, and so on
in predictable function form.

The equation I don’t remember much
About:  your basic exercise
In keeping everything
Balanced.  How whatever you
Do to one side, you have to do
To the other. Algebra is nothing
If not just. The memorable thing
Was that the PA came on.  How our
Secretary began, “Attention, students”-

But not the announcement I expected.  Not
How the after-school dance was
Canceled. Not lunch menu changes.  Not
that the volleyball players
were to be dismissed after 5th period -
None of that. What the words amounted to
Wasn’t the worst thing: not
"President Reagan has been shot."
But rather that I had cheered.  Half the
Class erupted into applause.

Mr. Gunther, for the first and
Only time that year, closed his
Gradebook, stepped out from behind
His desk, and talked to us-angrily but with 
Conviction-about something other
Than solving equations in two variables.
That day,  I learned that compassion
Should always come before
Politics, and that citizenship means more
Than keeping silent and avoiding red x’s.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

"The Kahlil Gibran Quote Written on Burlap that Hung in the Play Room" or "Things My Mother Taught Me"

dirty linen should be washed in public
scrubbing should be an impromptu ballet
stray strands should be measured singly
perfections should be dismantled 

like X's 

or diamonds.

counting should be tedious
the sum of the same
little sisters should be invited
shows should go on
hangings should be hung
words in perfect print should 

burn black, melt

like lemon drops into chromosomes, and
carry us off to college.

daily life should be a seesaw
temples should be teeter totters and when
religion plays Monopoly,
The Prophet should always win.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Exquisite Meadowgrass Corpse

Written by nine people between the ages of 11 and 55, in blue and black ink on one side of a ripped out page of a composition book, while sitting in lawn chairs under the yellow and white striped tent, being entertained by the Chimney Choir, which wasn't a choir at all.

Transcribed here by me in nine different colors.  Remember, in an Exquisite Corpse, the writer can only see, and therefore respond to, the line right before his/hers, as the paper is repeatedly folded over as it passes from person to person.

NB:  All spelling, line breaks, punctuation, and capitalization have been retained from the original.

"Am I really going to desicrate
this grave forever? Of course
I am."

I smiled as I lifted the shovel and
lowered it sharply on the grave

The body of the innocent fell
sharply into the freshly dug grave

Innocence was murdered.  Without a care.

In one shake of a storm

A lonely crow burst through the clouds

Exploding into feathers and
dust, black as the darkest night

that flew into the air

Like a bird dropping on a

Monday, May 5, 2014

sorry, not today

dear deadwood,
     it was a nice attempt at a bridge.
thank you for trying.

dear god,
     you'll want the blue eyeshadow, right?
and cochineal lips?  i can't wait to help you with your makeup.

dear devil,
     i might take up running with you in
garden of the gods someday.

dear deer,
     fleeing on four legs like you would be faster.
and quieter.

dear underworld,
      the fences have fallen.
guarded by sad monsters with patient eyes, you beckon.

dear cloud dragons,
     i'd like to lift my eyes to your breath.
but prickly micky mouse pears threaten
my chacoed toes.

dear dyc,
      i will resist the urge to pick you.
we won't bleed.
our hearts beat too cleverly.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Ten Books

Ten Books.  Thanks, Marie Newell Walden.  I think.

I have to admit that this scares me.  But I'm glad she tagged me, because that means she cares about what I think.  I think.

According to the most recent FB sharing-thingy, you're supposed to:  "list 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard--they don't have to be "right" or "great" works, just ones that have touched you."

I know they don't have to be "right" or "great" works, and that part doesn't bother me so much.(although I do retain a slight envy for some of my friends from seriously-literate homes)

The real problem is that I can't even seem to wrap my head around where to start.  It's that "Don't take more than a few minutes and don't think too hard" part that is troubling me. Because summoning those book titles.......  I know that if I do this right, it will take me back to a chair or a season or a heartbreak or an epiphany.  Good books, the really good ones, are like that.

There really is only one place to start:  6th grade.

1.  A Wrinkle in Time, Madeliene L'Engle:  the first time I realized that there was somewhere more than this world and somewhen more than this time.  See, I can't stop using the word "time!  What the hell IS time anyway?!  Mind=blown.  My absent father's Ethan Allen black leather chair.  Spring Break. Age 12.

2.  The Grey King, Susan Cooper:  Responsible for the fact that I still always spell "grey" the English way.  Lessons Learned:  Honourable Good Wins.  Setting Matters.  Fate.

3.  Flowers in the Attic, V.C. Andrews:   Seriously, if you were in high school in the early 80's, and DON'T include this book, I'll call you a liar.  Evil is Real.  Horrible things Happen.  Is it ok to enjoy this book so much?
And shit, that author has the SAME LAST NAME AS ME!

4.  The Chosen, Chaim Potok:   Easily one of the first real grown-up literature books I read ON MY OWN.  A book I chose (from a selected list of books, however).  Haha!  You see now the power of choosing!  Understanding the idea that within one religion, there are many.

5.  Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte:  Lying on my tiny single bed at the University of Lancaster, age 22.  The moors of northern England were my backyard.  It was early spring.  I was in love with everything.  I was the only one I knew who hadn't read it.  The language carried me away.  I had no idea that a novel could be all this.

6.  The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger:  This kid's life makes absolutely no sense to me, and yet I understand exactly how he feels.  How is that even possible?

7.  Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte:  These characters' lives make absolutely no sense to me, and yet I understand exactly how they feel. Another one of the books I "chose" to read from Ms. Six's list (AP English, Senior Year)  Sometimes wish I hadn't read this one on my own, but had had some guidance.  It truly is, as Dante proclaimed, a "fiend of a book — an incredible monster."   Heeeeaaattthhhhhcliffffff!!!!!!!

8.  The Hobbit, JRR Tolkien:  I didn't read The Hobbit until I was in my early 40's and had two school-age boys.  I was blown away.  I couldn't figure out how in the world I had come through my childhood without this.  I cursed my family.  I cursed my teachers.
I could read it a hundred times.  I want to read it again.  My husband and boys are watching part II of the movie at this very moment. I have no desire ever to see it.  Part I was the sorriest excuse for a movie made from a book EVER.

9.  Jitterbug Perfume, Tom Robbins:  Philosophy can be funny.  Everything is connected.
“The rich are the most discriminated-against minority in the world. Openly or covertly, everybody hates the rich because, openly or covertly, everybody envies the rich. Me, I love the rich. Somebody has to love them. Sure, a lot o’ rich people are assholes, but believe me, a lot o’ poor people are assholes, too, and an asshole with money can at least pay for his own drinks.” 
My husband does not like Tom Robbins.  Sometimes I wonder how I can be married to him!

10.  Lolita, Vladimir Nabokov:  Duh.

These books found their way to me through people, mainly teachers and friends, and sometimes, yes, even family.

Not a single one of them was formally "taught", however.

Please share with me one of your ten in the comments, if you feel the desire.  I would love to learn more about the readerly you....

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Yeah, Phid died.  But I was doing just fine.  Really.  John's sister had arrived, and we were talking about all the stuff that needed talking about:  Where's the will?   How to tell Bill?  Whom to call?  When to have the wake?  All was well.

Until it was time to set the table.

John's in the
living room, with the lights on, strumming
Here Comes the Sun
into the stale air
pushing out the darkness with
"Little Darlin', it seems like years since it's been here..."

everything's so alive
and yellow and light and empty

i enter the dining room with
five white plates
because there are five of us

but suddenly I don't know
where we're all going to sit
because she sat there
and there later, after the wheelchair
and there's no place for us
for all of us
because there's five of us, and only five chairs,
and if i place a plate for all of us
that means there's no place
for her

and i sink to my knees
holding the white plates that i can't

she took up so much space, for so long, and now she's gone,
and i don't know how to fill her place
at the table

Thursday, September 20, 2012

bread and wine

My mother-in-law is dying. I know I've said that before. But this time, it's for real.

Here's what it's like, right now...

For twenty minutes every day, you stab little watermelon chunks with a fork, swirl them in the juice at the bottom of the bowl, and wait for her to open her mouth, the sign that she is ready for the next piece. The rest of your day is go, go, go, but during this time, you stop. You are present. You stare at the lines in her face, the colors of the blankets, the shape of her body under the covers. You try to memorize it all: every color, every curve, every sound.

How ignorant I was then! How could I possibly have thought that artichokes and strawberries somehow constituted some sort of "Last Supper"?! People who are dying don't eat artichokes and strawberries! People who are dying eat...watermelon.

 People who are dying say things like, "a loaf of bread and a jug of wine", and expect you to know what they're talking about. Last Supper, indeed! The only thing your small mind can conjure up is Jesus, until she gives you another clue. You have to ask for it three times, until you finally make out her whisper: "The Rubaiyat...... Omar Khayyam".

And then you mention that you wished you had your computer, because you'd look it up. The dying person knows what he/she wants, and tells you to look it up on your phone. She may be 86 years old, but she knows that you can find anything you want on a phone!

 Thank goodness the caregiver has a smart phone, even if you don't.

 And so you begin to read (I highly suggest you read this aloud.  Just do it.  Please):

 Wake! For the Sun, who scatter'd into flight 
 The Stars before him from the Field of Night,
 Drives Night along with them from Heav'n, and strikes
The Sultan's Turret with a Shaft of Light. 

You scroll down to see that there are "CI" verses. So you go to the middle, somewhere at random, and read aloud some more, filling the room with rhythm and rhyme:

 And we, that now make merry in the Room 
 They left, and Summer dresses in new bloom 
 Ourselves must we beneath the Couch of Earth 
 Descend--ourselves to make a Couch--for whom? 

 Ah, make the most of what we yet may spend, 
 Before we too into the Dust descend; 
 Dust into Dust, and under Dust to lie 
 Sans Wine, sans Song, sans Singer, and--sans End! 

You succeed in barely not choking up and crying. And then, in the scrolling, you see it. And of course you read it. Aloud.

 A Book of Verses underneath the Bough, 
 A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread--and Thou 
 Beside me singing in the Wilderness-- Oh, 
Wilderness were Paradise enow! 

We're getting close, friends. This person is gone.

Monday, December 12, 2011

two things and more

My husband has been gone these past two evenings, leaving home around six-thirty, to be up at his mother's before seven, the time at which the shift of "Bill's Girls" ends...
But that's another story.

Having this time "alone" with my boys, I forget to:
1. think about Dinner,
2. prepare Dinner,
3. clean up after Dinner, and
4. clean up after cleaning up after Dinner.

Don't get me wrong here, my husband appreciates everything (just about) and anything (almost) I manage to get on the table. And likewise. And I really do enjoy it when we all sit down to Dinner, and light the candle, and say nummy-nummies, and talk non-stop about our days. Or at least try to. Usually the conversation does a degenerate doublebackhandspringdismount off the table and into the sewer by the time Dinner is over. Such is family life with three boys.

For the past two nights, though, it's been dinner. Frozen pizza. Michelina's microwaveables, single-serving yogurts, Wheat Thins and cream cheese, juice....whatever else they can scavenge for themselves in the kitchen that requires the bare minimum of preparation. Can't say as I blame them.

Meanwhile, I take a bath. When Bennett interrupts my bath to tell me he wants to listen to Christmas carols, I ask him to ask Grant to put on the Traditional Christmas Carols Pandora station for him. He wants the music on to help him finish up his GT geocity project that's due tomorrow. Grant robotically does what is asked, then returns to his Manga book, which he borrowed from his friend Mika who borrowed it from a friend. In the back of my mind, I think, "That's what makes a book truly good." Even though I could never read it.

You people who have no kids, yeah, I'm talking to YOU! You have NO EARTHLY IDEA what parents and teachers go through during the weeks before Christmas. It's just one deadline and due date after another. Book Project? Check. Final GT project? Check. Scrooge Musical? Check. Orchestra Concert? Check. Concert Band Performance? Check. Poem Memorized? Check. Goodies baked for teachers? Check. Goodies packaged and labeled for teachers? Check. Goodies in backpack to take to teachers? Check.

And those are simply the activities that my family experiences outside the bounds of The Little School. LSV has its own built-in stressor (not counting The Ball and Medieval Day and Robin Hood Family Book Club!): The Beta Quadrant Show. In Three Days. I know what overwhelming satisfaction and happiness will come after we've successfully pulled it off, so it's worth it. But the working up to it....... it's just so

After my bath, I plan tomorrow's LSV schedule with an attention to detail that would make someone with ADD proud (because they do, you know, pay exasperating attention to detail. When they want to.).

What was the main idea of this story again?

Oh yeah, I got to spend time with my boys this evening, just helping them with projects, and hanging out. Which brings me to the fact that all I originally started out to say in this blog post is that I would like to share two funny things that made me laugh tonight, one involving each of my sons.

Bennett's gem: Up in his bunkbed, while hugging me good night, he asks, "What, exactly, is the meaning of humbug?"

"It means when know, when you feel.....well, it means humbug."

Seriously, that was my answer. Good thing the boys thought it was hilarious. Remember when you first realized that some words truly have no definitions? They just ARE? And that to know the word, you have to know so much more than the word? You need its context, its story, its period, its character. Having just played the young man Ebenezer in Scrooge, and actually getting to say "humbug", well... he realized he already knew what it meant.

As for Grant, tonight he finished writing the entire Desiderata in calligraphy. Of course, it's not in any kind of font I tried to teach him, like Carolingian or Gothic. No, of course not. Instead, it's his own script he "invented". Then he refused to use lines under his parchment (ugh!)..... , and refused to start over if he made a mistake (ugh!), but damn! he wrote THE WHOLE FUCKING DESIDERATA in calligraphy! By candlelight. And now he wants to make copies of it, bind them, and sell them at SPQR on Thursday night during the Medieval Fair portion of the show.

Only one small problem while trying to make the copies ... the printer wouldn't work. Grant had just replaced the ink cartridge, and something was wacky. Right at the point when he was most peeved at the printer, I casually, only a bit cruelly, said, "You know, there's a low-tech answer for every high-tech question."

He turned on me as if I were a vampire and he had a wooden stake in his hand. "No. Way. I am so NOT copying this whole thing over ten times. No Way."

It was at that moment, I think, that he truly got the whole "Writing During the Middle Ages" thing. Oh, he knew it on an intellectual level, how monks spent years of their lives copying manuscripts, and about the importance of words and the significance of access to them. But this was visceral. And it was terrifying.

And it was very, very funny.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

a letter that turned into a poem

your pants down
while from your mouth, pain
from the wall to the mirror to your second son to me
like khet
with the eye of horus
splitting your 84 years of shit into angry lasers

no longer will i
after 5 pm
endure the bombardment of
vodka-laced two-way tasers
your anubis

Thursday, November 24, 2011


Most days, I wake up, head directly downstairs, and make coffee. After my cup is poured, I carry it upstairs, throw on some clothes, and pull my hair back into a pony tail. I might brush on some blush, or don some jewelry, but preparing for my day is certainly not slow and deliberate. Getting ready in the morning is a chore. It doesn't help that I really, really hate to get out of bed. Sometimes I wish I could just go to sleep in my clothes; it would make mornings that much easier. No one loves Pajama Day at LSV better than me!

But today, I took the time to take care of myself. While prepping and primping, I realized that I am thankful for:

eyebrow pencils
eyebrow pencil sharpeners


body hair
Quattro razors
warm water

head hair
hair brushes
cute barrettes

Yup, this Thanksgiving, I'm grateful that I am hairy. I'm grateful for all the things I can do to my hair. I'm grateful, even, for the fact that I can remove it.
If I so choose.

Monday, June 13, 2011

an aching kind of growing

When a child first catches adults out — when it first walks into his grave little head that adults do not have divine intelligence, that their judgments are not always wise, their thinking true, their sentences just — his world falls into panic desolation. The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child’s world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.

John Steinbeck

Sunday, March 27, 2011

me as an ape

Well......, I suppose that "Drawing" could be considered an "Elective", right? And during the time it is being taught to my students by Chris Alvarez in his Second Floor Studio, I could be having my "Planning Time" downstairs at Jive's. An hour and a half twice a week to actually plan lessons, complete with all the espresso and breve I could want!

But, no. Instead, I straddle the horse seat thingy, struggle my 18"x24" pad of newsprint onto the easel, embrace my unforgiving Sharpie, and ready myself to listen to the Master.

Drawing. It's something I've never been able to do. Never done. Never learned.

The 90 minutes spent drawing on Tuesdays and Thursdays is the reward I get for planning outside of school hours. I also, of course, hope to show the kids that learning is a life-long journey...... we say it, but do we really model it?

Anyway, Chris's homework was to draw a self-portrait of our face, while looking in the mirror, in a single-line contour drawing. Here's how mine started. Feel free to laugh! I did! Then Bennett came to check it out, and he laughed, too! :)


Then Bennett and I had a conversation that went like this:


And so I continued:


I'm going to try it again, and this time, start at the eyes (the worst part, in my opinion). I'll put on some music as well. And I'll slow down.

I hope, in the words of Mr. Chris, to "fail better".

Saturday, January 29, 2011

unsolicited advice from a woman with no daughters

a poem for Audrey, Meme, Ruby, Finn, and Sophia

they'll say
"Just Be Yourself"
as if that were THE ANSWER
i say
"Be your Many Selves"
keep your closet full of the different
yous and change as often as you like
accept and love them all
your girl friends will be
your source
for everything
this never changes.