May Gardenias

May nights are a conjugation
of old scents. Magnolia. Jasmine. Gardenia.
Hunkered in darkness, they jump up,
Buss you on the lips and keep
their own counsel, as a favorite grandmother would.
All lace and grey hair, last century style.
Nature listens to no one. Prefers old school.
And though I don’t need to approve, I do
relishing her timeless scents.

Red Sweater


I remember your red sweater.
and the cold.

Looking for patches
for the present and
for the future,

Leather to upholster the holes in our lives
applied to the bends,
joints and joinings.

Looking for a place
of being.
A place of unity
and understanding.
Of belonging.

Cosmetics Are Not the Fountain of Youth

Vernonica Lake Woodbury Matched Makeup Ad

You believe there is no evidence of your youth
left in your countenance. But it’s there. I see it in the
wave of your hair. Unchanged since 1942, it rises,
sweeps across your lined forehead and resolves in a bounce
that just embraces your chin.

Your cheeks rouged with the same peach-glow blush of
eighteen wear their color a bit more discordantly than they did
when you were young. The color you apply is now less natural on your
paper-thin skin. It’s not quite garish; it’s more as if a carpenter
wiped the wrong color stain on the wood, and the wood is betrayed.

When you walked into the pancake house, even though you move
more stiffly, less fluidly, you hold your neck just so, and there is a
saucy glint in your eye as you address the server. I see the girl who
taunted those boys. Off to war they were, but first eager to dance
with you. Feel your soft hair against their cheeks, your pliant hand in theirs.

The aura of grace clings to you now, as it did then. I see the
young woman in the grand lady you are now. Perhaps you also
see her, catch glimpses of her as you pass the mirror. Seeing her,
you startle at your reflection. You carry on, however, with strength
learned then and which more than cosmetics could ever convince me
of the power of youth stored in your cells.

Photo credit: flickr creative commons user cliff1066™

Light Gatherer

Spring in the snow

I have lived a cluster of sterling days
chased with silver light. Radiance
bounces from crystalline snow
halos your hair lending
you a glorified look. Your smile shifts
Transmuted it flies to tiny dendrites
transformed into electrical jolt
felt at the base of my spine
it radiates to extremities
I capture your shoulders
grasp hard, compose my lips,
close the gap.

Photo credit: stock.xchng user bcch

Fire Starter

The Fire Starter Kindled a Bonfire in Me

As they sat in the open on a warm, starry night, he reached out and started the fire. The tinder was parched, and the flames raced the length of the limbs as they burned.

And before she knew it, she was on fire.

He kept adding bits, knowingly stoking it to a roaring brightness.

She encouraged him as the flames lit her eyes, raced to the ends of her hair.

This is the conflagration she’s always hoped for.

Years later, she learned he was a fire-starter, carrying the spark to eager kindling wherever he found it. He couldn’t resist setting fire. He loved to watch it burn.

In most, the flames died out quickly. But her fire was one he could not control, and it began to burn him too.

As she healed, she wondered if he was burned as badly as she.

Now as she awakened on All Souls Day two decades later, she could feel the effects of the fire and her desire to burn again.

That he was no longer alive relieved her of the fear of burning, but not the longing.

And on this morning, the soul of him snickered into her dreams and singed her parched edges.

Southern Tragedy

Mama and Daddy with the airplane-She stood by her man, perhaps too long

Today, I heard,
is the birthday of Tammy Wynette.
What does it mean,
This stand by your man stuff?
How long do I stand and where?

Do I stand where they did?
Those women of post war fantasy,
By the stove, aproned, lipsticked and coifed?
In the aisle of the Winn-Dixie,
or the waiting room of the pediatrician.
By the bed of a child?

And while I stand there
I wait for the “Atta girl”
that Bill gave to Janet.*
I thought, that if I did those things
like a paint by number;
1: committee meeting,
2: field trip,
3: shiny floors,
4: homemade birthday cakes,
that I would wake up to the trumpet calls
and blue ribbons of Gabriel and the county fair.

But I didn’t even get an honorable mention.
And I completed my picture.
And I didn’t color outside the lines.
I was a good girl.
Step by step,
I completed all the requirements.
Well, why then,
did I wake up in the Piggly Wiggly
with my soul screaming for salvation?

This poem was inspired by an announcement of the birthday of Tammy Wynette on Public Radio. This poem was written when I was trying to come to grips with my Southern upbringing, my choices, and my future.

*refers to Pres. Bill Clinton’s supportive comments to Atty. General Janet Reno following the Waco, Texas massacre of the Branch Davidians.

Driving Into Eternity

Driving Into Eternity

Riding downhill into the wind
I awaken to the joy of possibility.
Exhilarated by the speed
I am propelled into my future.

Driving the straight-away with ever increasing urgency.
Competently shifting
Clutch, shift, accelerate
Clutch, shift, accelerate
I explode through the barrier into the unknown
Flying into my dreams.

Phosphorescent flashes light the blackness
Black on Black
Magnesium explosion on green
White core into day night
Resolution into blindness