Friday, April 30, 2010

The End of the Story

Is this where our story ends?
We won’t know
until we turn
the page.

When you recount
this fable we wrote,
what will you say?

Words are fragile.
Unwrap each one with care.
Each has its own story.

Thursday, April 29, 2010


It’s hard to fit in this room,

he said, what with the elephant here.

Everyone stared at him like

sheep gaze while grazing.

He squeezed his way past

but when conversation turned

to inconsequential subjects

another pachyderm arrived.

As conversation increased both

in volume and vapidity,

another pachyderm packed in

and then another, until

eventually he was pressed into

a corner, hidden by the herd

where his cries went unheard

and everyone wondered where

he had disappeared to.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 28 -- Prince Charming

He was a Buddhist,

riding his meditation,

the horses hooves his mantra.

He breathed in rhythm with the trees.

The princess was an illusion.

The kiss a metaphor

for what he did not know.

And he, like others before him,

knew that where the story ends

is actually its beginning.

April 27 – Hansel and Gretel Go to College

She enrolled at a well-known liberal arts school.

Studied ethnology, folklore, myth

learned to decode symbols like wolf,

stepmother, wicked witch.

He chose culinary school.

Moved to the city.

Opened a bakery

specializing in gingerbread.

April 26 B. B. Wolf

I know you want me to be black.

I am gray.

A mixture between dark and light.

It’s where I live, like the forest itself,

sunlight and shadow cohabitating.

Sometimes though you have to watch your step.

It can be difficult to live in a world

always hungry for a villain,

instinct versus intelligence.

My money is on instinct all the way.

While I may or may not have threatened some pigs,

chased a basket of goodies along a path,

I never broke any laws.

Consider my actions “food shopping”

like the old ladies at market.

My name is whispered late at night,

come take a walk and hear it,

if you’re not afraid of the dark ….

April 25 What I Don’t Know

… in trying to heal the wound that never heals,

lies the strangeness, the inventiveness of a man’s work.

-- Garcia Lorca

I know about the strip searches after our visits

as if our presence left you with a piece of humanity

that had to be removed.

I know how you kept to yourself reading,

praying, adrift in a sea of darkness,

to avoid answering difficult questions.

I know you were embarrassed by the number of letters

arriving daily, signs of those you loved, who missed you,

while those around you were often alone.

I know how on the nights you could not phone, you asked God

to send us a message so we would know you were safe

and we could sleep quietly and dreamlessly.

I know how you saved apples and crackers, stockpiled

them like treasure, to improvise pie and a slice

of home on a Sunday.

I know how you learned and unlearned trust every day.

What I don’t know is how you survived the unspeakable,

the fear, the loneliness, the despair and how you returned

to find the night sky, the open space nearly unbearable.

There’s a black spot in you, I don’t know how to reach,

deafening in its silence and every day it wrestles

for one more piece of your soul.

April 24 [untitled]

The words that cannot be said

bed down with things unspoken,

exchange a knowing wink,

an elbow nudge.

They live on the edge

slip in when we least expect

and then back out again.

The words that cannot be said

hang like ghosts, cobwebs,

the opposite of oases,

they add nothing,

take away all.

Friday, April 23, 2010

April 23 -

The Wicked Witch Reaches Steps 8 and 9
(wherein she must apologize and make amends to those she has harmed)

Dear All,

I hate to write a group letter; however,

I would hate to miss any transgressions.

I have reached a point in my rehabilitation

where I have acceded to my Higher Power and

I am ready to make amends.

To those whom I have caused physical or

emotional harm, I am sorry.

To the frogs, snakes and other creatures, I realize

what an insult it has been cursing humans

with your life form.

I am sorry.

To all small children, dogs, and small magical beings,

I should never have threatened or terrorized you, with either

my size or power.

I am sorry.

To stepmothers, crows, crones, old women,

people with warts, my actions have given you

a bad reputation.

I am sorry.

As a positive step, I have divested myself of flying monkeys.

I am now a vegetarian and no longer drink

potions. I avoid sweets. I grow my own vegetables.

I hired an image consultant, had my colors done.

I gave up the color black. Turns out, I’m a Spring.

I am taking voice lessons.

I am writing poetry instead of incantations.

I have gone to counseling for my self-esteem.

I can only hope that from this day forward you can forgive me

and we can live happily ever after.

Best regards,


Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22 Goldilocks

She and Baby Bear remained friends for many years.

They corresponded regularly in the warm months,

she in her nearly perfect script

he in his childish scrawl.

She never married,

never found anyone “just right,”

having grown accustomed to the coarseness

of winter fur tinged with the scent

of gristle and bone.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 21 – Sleeping Beauty

Every night the prince calls out to me

to return to bed and his dreams.

Insomnia is my friend now.

I have no use for sleep these days.

For those who criticize, I say

let me wander with Death

atop the walls of the night,

for only in that darkness

do I truly feel awake.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 20 – Open Space

It isn’t the stories that trouble me,

it’s what you leave in the silence.

What you hold back is a team of wild

horses on the edge of a cliff

and I pray you are able to jump clear

when the wagon goes over.

Because that space is just too large

like the desert sky at night

and I am but a tiny star falling,

burning in the flash of an eye.

April 19 – How to Be a Poet

At night keep your nose in books,

by day put pen to paper.

Keep your head in a fog

of descriptive metaphors –

as red as a pimple on a teenager’s face.

Imagine a room full of editors exclaiming

over your works.

Inhale inspiration.

Exhale for good measure.

Walk down the street as if

you were writing with your footsteps --

leave an imprint wherever you go.

April 18 – The Poem I Tried to Write

I started a poem today

but the dog ate it.

I wrote a beautiful opening

but the cat had a hairball.

I had a lovely rhyme

but I was kidnapped by aliens.

I had an inspired ending

but I insulted the muse and she left me.

So, …

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 17 Deposition of Rumplestiltskin

1. My name is Rumplestiltskin.
I am an Enchanted Being.
My occupation is spinning straw into gold,
but I also garden, play banjo and raise chickens

2. I deny perpetrating fraud.
It was the girl’s father who boasted
of her skills. I actually do know
how to spin.

3. I am not a kidnapper.
It was never about the baby.
I felt sorry for her, but I needed collateral upfront --
you’re a businessman, you understand that.

4. I gave her every opportunity to guess my name.
Off the record, I had secretly hoped
she would escape. By that I mean
take the baby and run far away.

5. I would have told her to marry for love.
No one can spin that.

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16 Little Red

She posted a sign near the edge
of the forest: Estate Sale
Everything must go!
Items include: one used hatchet,
one hooded woolen cape
(frayed near the edges),
one picnic basket, furniture,
assorted household items

Grandmother was gone.
There was nothing
to tie her to the countryside.
So she sold her belongings,
changed her name; moved.

Walking the gray city sidewalks,
black rain coat, leather briefcase in hand,
her ears pricked
smell heightened by the iron scent
of her own blood.
This time when the wolves came,
she would be ready ...

April 15 -- Snow White's Math Problem

If seven dwarves each own
seven shirts, seven pairs of socks,
seven pairs of pants, and
seven pairs of boxers,
then how much money does
Snow White have to pay
for laundry, so she
can hang out in the forest
with friends, smoking
and reading cheap magazines?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010



I’ve cut my hair.
Keep it short now.
I like the solitude.

I’ve also modernized the tower.
Installed a dumbwaiter.
It’s simpler.

The outside is overwhelming,
all that open space.
I prefer my tower,
where the sun enters my narrow
window in trickles and I get
my reality in small pieces.

Admit it.
Everyone likes a good tower,
the security it provides.
Only some prefer to call it
by another name, like career
or marriage.

The prince once told me,
You’ve made your tower
now live in it.

I do.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Cinderella Reflects

Gazing in the mirror,
Cinderella notices the accent of crow’s feet,
silvery strands among the gold.
Turning the mirror over,
she braids her hair with a sigh.

She was not happy, one could even say lonely.
No one to talk to in the castle.
Servants (except her own maid)
were considered beneath her and
Charming too busy running his kingdom.

Cinderella glanced about the room.
She had never really fit in here
surrounded by luxuries -- jewelry, ball gowns, furs.
Perhaps she had merely substituted
one type of servitude for another.

Then there were the shoes --
colors and fabrics she could hardly imagine,
maybe a few she couldn’t.

She had never admitted to anyone,
even her personal maid,
how much she despised shoes,
how even the glass slippers had pinched
made her feel confined.

She preferred to be barefoot.
Feel the earth, the ground on her skin.
The ground never lies to you.

Just like late at night she preferred to sleep
near the fireplace, in solitude,
where her maid would find her
hands and feet dirty from stirring the ashes.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12 - CInderella -- The Older Years

(with apologies to any fairy tale purists ...)

Prince – now King – Charming worried.

His once youthful princess seemed distracted.

Ella (liked calling her that, to remove

the Cinders from her name),

his Ella had been pining for her childhood

showing indifference, even

forgetfulness, toward the step-

sisters, -mother who had tortured her.

Ella had been discussing the issue of mice

with the servants in the castle,

although life had been rodent-free

for years. She called them “her liverymen.”

He worried that she had never truly

found happiness in this fairy tale world.

One day Ella disappeared.

When she did not join them at supper

Charming went to her room,

bits of fairy dust glittering in the corner,

he found both glass slippers under

her dressing table. Ball gowns hung in rows

awaiting the parties for which they were made.

Not Ella.

After some time, tales came to the castle

of a wandering woodsman, who saw

a handsome woman, silvery blond hair

braided down her back,

walking barefoot in the pumpkin patch,

speaking softly in the vines, now where’s my carriage

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 11 -- Ode to the Sun

Millions of mile away

you burn.

A shiny pinpoint on

the velvet darkness of space.

Another number (G2V)

in a numbered galaxy.

But to us, not just some

luminescent ball of gas.

Our one.

Our only.


Morningstar, with many names

Sol, Helios, Surya, Ra

you blaze and scorch and shine and kiss

and melt your way into our lives

radiating through even the tiniest chinks.

We adore you.

Nay we worship you.

All the world’s flora crane their necks

to follow your gaze horizon to horizon.

We mourn your absence

even for a night

(our satellite purveying only

cold recycled light).

And when you hide for days on end

behind a curtain of clouds,

we wither disconsolate in disappointment.

One wink from you is the road to pure bliss.

We, the inhabitants of your blue

and green planet, one of your octet,

(unless you count Pluto)

know we are different.

Why else the water, trees, flowers,

grass, bees, bugs, pollen, bacteria,

landscapes teeming with life?

Your constancy is a mask

we see through, like the little ways

you show appreciation. Your tricks charm us

like the one where you bend your white rays

over our sky in an arch or two of color

showing us the full spectrum of your affection,

or when you blaze through the gases of atmosphere

bathing us in your glow before you depart.

You hide your feelings well

and if we could look behind

your splendidly brilliant corona

we know what we would find …

our one

our only

life-giving Sun.

April 10 – Mint


menta spicata

Passing yourself off as an herb.

I call you menace – spearmint.

There are not enough juleps or teas

to make up for the damage.

Oh, you’re a sly one!

Starting our innocently,

tiny purple flowers

but turn one’s back

and there you are

in bed with the Italian

oregano, warming your runners

until your next conquest.

Lavender pales with your tendrils

under her skirts,

and one can’t even imagine

what happened with the French

tarragon you silently crept up on.

There seems to be no end

to your evil.

Some day I expect you to take over

the entire world.

This afternoon you’ll start

with the neighbor’s yard.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 9, 2010 April is the Cruelest Month

Three bright blue eggs in pieces on the grass

the last strand of string sways,

tethered to the holly branch.

The nest, intact and abandoned,

must have blown sideways

attacked by gales of wind

a sudden spring storm.

He places the nest in a safe spot

just under a skirt of low branches.

He hopes the birds will find it

but in his heart he knows

the robins will not return.

He is saddened by the spring rain,

bringing life to so many,

and an end to these few.

Friday, April 9, 2010

April 8, 2010 Prevarication

He looked me in the eye

then he lied to me

his lips never sneered

eyes never flashed.

But he lied.

Then I could see it –

the lie – just beneath

his skin, moving around,

as if it were some parasite

burrowing, becoming part of him.

And when he smiled

it almost disappeared.

When I said I love you

all I could hear was the lie,

chewing away inside him,

burrowing deeper.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

NaPoWriMo April 7, 2010

Man you are dust, and into dust you shall return ...

This dust is alive.
Protons of pollen
powder thrumming

a catch of breath, tears in our eyes
fingers drum hearts race
in time with primal rhythm.

life vibrating through us
we sing on the same frequency
the particle physics of Spring.

Everything Hangs

I want to write a poem

but I can’t.

It’s time, Dad says,

to move into a smaller place.

I need less stuff he says.

I want to write a poem

but I can’t

begin to fathom

selling the house where

we all grew up.

He sends me some boxes.

The attic is nearly empty,

he says, let me know …

he says, when they arrive…

I want to open them

but I can’t

Pandora’s box of memories

I may not be able to recover

what I unleash.

Everything hangs in this moment

like sunshine on that porch corner

where our bikes used to sit

gleaming turquoise and white streamers

ready to be ridden.

Exactly like that.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Spring in Washington

A plague of tourists,

nay a terror of tourists.

In pestilent parades down the Avenue.

Tired toddlers in Easter best,

drag cheap souvenirs (sure to break at home).

Screaming gaggles of teenage hormones

clog walkways.

Metro trains vomit globs of strollers and backpacks.

Monuments groan under the girth of their numbers.

Camera lenses steal our souls

while we dodge mis-directed map readers.

This vernal plague has no cure.

There is no inoculation for the locals,

no tourist-icide spray to prevent

walking six abreast on sidewalks, or

hanging from statues like moss in a swamp.

All we can do is take refuge in our unknown quiet,

private gardens of delight.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

April 4 – Too Many Words

It’s too many word he says

reading over my shoulder.

I’m anxious to finish,

to walk in the sun.

Too many words? What does he know?

He’s a baker, not a poet.

The slap of dough on the counter

matches the scratching of my pen.

His strong hands massage the past

sugar, yeast, flour, water

into sinewy strands of gluten,

gently pushing this way and that

quietly rolling and shaping dough

as I shape word on paper.

His strands knit together

a perfect boule, Xs on top.

I smell yeast as the oven closes.

Easter dinner is a promise right now.

Spring taunts me through the window

no amount of leavening could

lighten my words.

In the end I cede to the baker

silence may be golden

golden as the crust on his steaming bread.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 3, 2010 -- Easter at the Jewple

His mother can’t read the sign, whose script letters

-- the only embellishment on the shabby corner –-

appear to spell “JEWPLE”

instead of “TEMPLE”.

This old bodega, made over into a home

for evangelical, baptist, Pentecostal

Christian practitioners, where the testifying

and singing of the congregation and its Sunday converts

weaves its way around the sirens,

thumping music, and voice of the city.

The building rocks with religion

and tonight of all nights he knows

that they will be singing and witnessing

and praising as if they alone were raising the dead.

He is secretly thankful for their presence

although he cannot explain why.

When his mother asks him if they celebrate

Easter at the Jewple,

he can only smile and say,

“I don’t know Ma.

Let’s open the windows and listen.”

Friday, April 2, 2010

April 2, 2010 Inshallah


(for Ellie)

See you soon I tell her

as I bend to kiss her cheek.

God willing she says at the door.

The ride in the convertible makes her hair stand

at attention so she looks taller.

But, framed in the window, she looks small,

fragile like old china.

She, who joined the army as a teen,

took up guns and ammo and bombs,

who watched walls and buildings disintegrate

and families disperse like seeds on the wind.

She came to us from a world of no tomorrows

with strength, faith, hope,

instincts of a hungry animal.

She no longer smells the sharpness

of gunpowder on her hands, but she sees

trails of tears left by those who disappeared.

Tonight we have come from her 80th birthday

a party where generations celebrated her,

ate, sang and danced like there was no tomorrow.

As she waves goodbye from the window,

I know that she knows

one day her tomorrow won’t come

-- perhaps unexpectedly like the heart attack

that stole her husband.

I watch for the light to go on

the curtains to close

god willing I whisper to myself.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1, 2010

Some days I feel like a mis-matched sock,

separated from it mate by a laundry mishap,

standing out of place, barely visible

between shoes and pants legs.

Other days I am the lost mitten in the cupboard,

catching pieces of sunlight in the curve

around the hinges as the door opens and shuts

and I am left alone.

Unless it’s the days I am a single shoe

on the road, reclining sideways

leaning into the windy wake of cars

propelled by high velocities.

I sit unmoved by time

while the world turns around me.

Tomorrow I want to be

the shoe on the other foot

and then I’ll spin around myself.