My lemon tree. The pool.
Avocado-colored everything.

Black wrought iron, bar stools
at my kitchen counter. This is
California, where I followed
my parents, had a husband
and three children, and now

a divorce. I wear my hair big.

I pretend to be younger than
I am. Leslie knows the truth,
but I don’t see him often, or

his wife and children. I can’t

help it that I was always
Mother’s favorite. She calls
me Phyll, comes over a few

times each week. She knows
my children well. Leslie could
have had all of this, too. He
chose to stay in Ohio when
our parents moved. That’s
right—he chose! And now

I see him bristle when
Mother brags about my

children, treats his like

the visitors they are. Well,

we all make our choices in

life. I chose a lemon tree, am

happy to have everything

that came along with it.




For NaPoWriMo, Day 20. Sorry it doesn’t look as Ryu-tastic as usual. One of Ryu’s quirks is that if you copy and paste, it doesn’t autocorrect the font for you. Sometimes I can manage to type directly in the WordPress window, and sometimes I can’t. WordPress users … Have you encountered this with your theme, too, and if so — any workarounds? Thanks!


Unequal Bittersweet

Sparse dove! What is in your Lazarus jewel box?
Do you know what is under your Peruvian hat?
O, my false cup-and-saucer, why are you false?
I wear the heavy bonnet of your deceit; it is
a ghastly miter. Even now, I would be your
Strawberry Top; you could again be my
Woody Canoebubble. The old names, our
old love, under this incised moon–no longer
this shoulderblade sea cat, unequal bittersweet.



For NaPoWriMo, Day 19.


Change in Going Far

At home again, back on this couch.
My eyelids droop; I am a grouch.
When it comes to travel in a car,
I’m not so sure that I can vouch

for refreshing change in going far
and stopping in some hotel bar–
to piped-in music’s thumping beat,
crossing the lobby like a star.

Nor having different things to eat,
no vegetables but lots of meat.
Now I’m back to peace and health,
but, oh, that detour, short and sweet!



For NaPoWriMo, Day 18.



Lies in Springfield

I don’t wish I were downstairs in the No-Name Bar
or still looking out at the greenish, clouded moon.
I’m perfectly fine sitting on the toilet to type this,
and I don’t feel like a jerk for the under-door sliver
of light while my family is sleeping. I never feel bad
about any of these small gaffes and blunders, the
many ways I am inconsiderate, oafish. Actually, I am
never oafish. I swan about and am pure delight to
everyone I meet. I skim over the surface of the earth
like a low-lying cloud–a kittenish cloud, all foggy
caress, never causing low-visibility accidents, my
wet fingers never ever wrapped around your eyes.



For NaPoWriMo, Day 16.


Jell-O Mold


How it glistens in the candles’ glow,
the star of every luncheon plate.
Who is it who could ever say no

to the salad dealt to her by fate?
With mayonnaise from a crystal dish
too elegant to contemplate–

the flavors of lime and tuna fish
meet at last, in quivering embrace.
What more could any hostess wish

than to see such joy on every face?



For NaPoWriMo, Day 15.




A Brief Pause for Some News about My Chapbook

Hello … If I may step away from the NaPoWriMo poems for a moment, I’d like to let you know about some big progress on the chapbook front.

You might recall that my chapbook Secret Rivers received the 2013 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from the fabulous Evening Street Press. It now has a cover photo and an author photo and everything, and is due out in June — and it’s available for preorder here! You’ll need to indicate which chapbook you want, mine or the finalist’s — but of course, you really want both. 🙂 I’ve ordered Lucia May’s Blond Boy and look forward to reading it.

That’s all for now … Tomorrow is NaPoWriMo Day 15 — hard to believe, isn’t it?


Plural Grief

So, will it snow today or not?
Will I wake up again in the middle of the night?
Will I be sure that I have lost my mother’s amethyst ring?
Will I roam around, fruitlessly, trying to find it?
Will I realize that I still have it (though not my mother)?
Is the day coming when I don’t wake up filled with dread?
Is another day coming after that?
Is it going to be OK, everything that I’m worried about?
Would it help if I could call my mother?
When I could call her, why did I so often not?
When she called me, why did I so often pick fights?
Why did I so often take the bait?
How did I think I’d feel now?
Does it ever really satisfy, being right?
Am I ever really sure that I am right?
How do other people manage their lives?
What do they do with their big griefs and small griefs?
Is it possible for grief to be plural?
If I lose my front teeth, can I afford to buy new ones?
How long would it last, the grief for my teeth?
I check every few minutes but still don’t see snow.


For NaPoWriMo, Day 14.


Your Girl of the Houses

Come, my swan of blood. Let us feed the eagle.
Our wave-swine, our sea-steed, stands ready
under the sky jewel, this glory of elves. Come
Unsheath your onion of war, your wound-hoe.
The lord of the gallows calls us; the wolf’s father
already prepares our reward. Will we find it,
the serpent’s lair, before our sleep of the sword?
O, my breaker of rings, breaker of trees. I will be
your girl of the houses until I am flame-farewelled.



For NaPoWriMo, Day 13. The prompt involved Nordic kennings.



A Very Cute Ladies’ Desire

Desire was designed for use on a boat and is
traditionally worn without socks. Modern desire
was invented in 1935, inspired by a dog’s ability
to run easily over ice without slipping. Desire
is used by sailors and has become fashionable
in America, Argentina, China, France, Portugal,
Spain, and the UK. Desire is usually made of
thick cloth and has a rubber bottom. It is low
and nonslip. Here is a very cute ladies’ desire
with all the benefits of Dubarry’s performance
expertise. And here is desire for a trendy male;
the comfort and style are beyond comparison.



For NaPoWriMo, Day 12.


A New, Sweet World

Meet me here by the 3/4 box of Franzia,
and I will tell you the new plan. Unscrew

the cap on the Boone’s Farm Wild Island;
let it breathe. Let it speak to us softly of

pineapple Life Savers and tropical
dorm-room nights. There’s something
in the air; it smells of supermarket jelly
doughnuts and the joy of our union.

You and I do not waste time on fine wine
and artisanal baked goods–not when

there’s so much work to do: Can we
build a new, sweet world before
the old, sweet world expires?



For NaPoWriMo, Day 11. The prompt was to write about wine and love.