Thursday, April 30, 2009

April poem no. 30

Today's April PAD challenge prompt is to write a farewell poem -- any kind of farewell. Well I feel like saying farewell to poetry month, to the PAD challenge through Facebook, and to my own challenge to post a poem everyday in April here. It's time for it to be over and say farewell. It's time for some other kind of posts.
We'll see what comes up next month. May is my birthday and anniversary month so it could be interesting.

The Long Farewell

Let’s have a long farewell
like young lovers used to do
at the train station.
She, in a flowing white dress
with gloves, shoes, and hat to match,
he, in his new gray suit,
shiny wingtips,
and perfect bow tie,
bends her backward
in an embrace
that makes people gape
as they go by.
When they finally come up for air
he takes her face in his hands
kisses both her cheeks
and gives her another big hug.
She can’t help responding.
She entwines her arms
around his neck
and snuggles her face
into his chest.
But, she must leave him
and teary eyed
she turns to go to the train.
No. he’s not ready to let her go.
He takes her hands
then, as she backs away,
they stay in touch
just by the fingertips
until they can reach each other no longer.
As she steps onto train
she blows him kisses.
He takes his handkerchief
from his suit pocket
and begins to wave
and he keeps waving,
all the while saying
farewell, farewell,
until she is out of sight.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Another poem for day 29

A poem from the 1999 volume Black Wings & Blind Angels, by Sapphire, who is also a novelist. (Her novel Push has recently been made as a movie entitled "Precious," a winner at Sundance which will be released in November.)

Some Different Kinda Books
She asks why we always
read books about black people.
(I spare her the news she is black.)
She wants something different.
Her own book is written in pencil.
She painstakingly goes back & corrects
the misspelled words.
We write each day.
Each day the words look like
a retarded hand from Mars
wrote them.
Each day she asks me how
do you spell: didn't, tomorrow, done
husband, son, learning, went, gone . . .
I can't think of all the words she can’t spell.
It’s easier to think of what she can spell:
I am sorry I was out teacher.
My husband was sick.
You know I never miss school.
In that other20program
I wasn't learning nothing.
Here, I'm learning so I come.
What's wrong with my husband?
I don't know. He's in the hospital. He's real sick
I was almost out the room
when I hear the nurse ask him,
Do you do drugs?
He say yes.
I say what!
I don’t know nuthin' 'bout no drugs.
I'm going off in the hospital.
He's sick.
I'm mad.
Nobody tells you nuthin'!
I didn't hear that nurse
I wouldn't know
Condoms? No, teacher.
He's my husband.
I never been with another man.

I think he got AIDS
he still don't tell me.
I did teacher. I tried
to read the chart at the hospital
but I couldn't figure out those words.
Doctor don't say, he say privacy.
The nurse tell me.
She's Puerto Rican. She say your husband
got AIDS.
I go off in the hospital.
Nobody tells me nuthin'.
He come home.
He say it's not true,
he's fine.
He's so skinny without his clothes
he try to hide hisself nekkid
don't want me to look.
I say you got to use
one of those things.
He say nuthin's wrong.
with him.

He stop sayin' that.
Now he just say he's gonna die
all the time
all the time
I say STOP that talk,
the doctor say you could
live a long time
my sister-in-law say,
he got it so you got it
it's like that.
I s ay, I don't got it,
my kids don't got it either.
Teacher, I need a letter for welfare
that I'm coming to school
on a regular basis.

He's in P.R.,
before that he started messing around
Over the Christmas holidays
he died.
That's where I was at
in P.R.
I'm fine. Yeah, I'm sure teacher.
What do I wanna do teacher?
I just wanna read some different
kinda books.

April poem no. 29

Only one more day to go, and April poetry month will be over. I hope I haven't burned you out on my poems.

Today's April PAD challenge prompt is to title the poem "Never (blank)" and then fill in the blank with a word or phrase. Then, write a poem based off the title.

After yesterday's sestina I decided to do a very simple list poem today. Note that all the items on the list have to do with being up high or going fast. The title says it all.

Never Have, Never Will

Sky dive
Bungee jump
Hang glide
Parachute jump
Mountain climb
Ride in a hot air balloon
Base jump
Cliff jump
Free run
Motor cross
Ice climb
Skate board
Race a car
Jet ski
Rock climb
Try to teach a pig to sing

I know the last line has nothing to do with fastness or highness. I just couldn't resist a little change of tone. After all, I'm a poet. I have a license.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

April poem no. 28

Today's April PAD challenge prompt is to write a sestina (or else write a poem about a sestina). Since I've never written a sestina before I had to look it up. Here's a quick and dirty definition for those of you as dumb as I.

"You pick 6 words, rotate them as the end words in 6 stanzas and then include 2 per of the words per line in your final stanza.
Sestina: 6x6=39+3=39"

Because, as my husband says, I'm enumerate, I don't go for anything mathematical -- even poetry -- and I don't write poems in any other form than free verse. But, today I decided to give the sestina a try. Here's my lame first and probably last attempt.

My 6 end words are: poet, verse, rhyme, form, ghazal, write

Sestina Against Sestinas

The sestina is not for this poet
I would rather write without a form.
I like the spirit of free verse
and not bother finding words that rhyme.
So you can keep your sestinas and ghazals.
Just leave me be while I write.

It’s hard enough sitting down and writing
and living happily as a poet
without restraints like the ghazal
or any other poetic form.
For that matter don’t lay on styles like rhyming.
Free me to create my own Satanic verses.

Okay I know you know I do free verse.
It’s the only way I like to write.
But, if you insist I’ll try a rhyme
or two, just to show off my poetic
expertise. I can take on any form,
perhaps even dancing like a gazelle

someday. But, don’t you dare assign a ghazal
tomorrow. I’m going back to my free verse.
I’m picketing against your damn forms.
I want my way in what I write!
As you can see I’m one angry poet
So, let it be known, I refuse to rhyme.

Okay, okay, if I must I’ll rhyme
and even try my hand at a ghazal.
After all I’m an accomplished poet
I can show you my versatility
and be proud of what I write.
All because of you and your damn forms.

Yay, I’m almost at the end of this formality
and to my credit I haven’t rhymed
or let you have control over what I write.
Sure I could produce romantic couplets, called ghazals
just not today. I really do like my free verse
and keeping my independence poetically.

As you have seen my poems are free form
my verses are without the clutter of rhymes.
Now remember, ghazals and sestinas are not what I want to write.

Monday, April 27, 2009

April poem no. 27

We saw the opera "The Birds" yesterday afternoon, a long forgotten masterpiece by one of the lost generation of composers affected by the Holocaust, Walter Braunfels. Part of LA Opera's Recovered Voices series, it is a lush, late Romantic work reminiscent of Strauss and Wagner, with a little Mendelssohn thrown in. Walter Braunfels freely adapted the ancient Greek comic-dramatist Aristophanes's play The Birds to compose what he described as an "airy play of imagination...everything here is a game, a metaphor." It is a beautiful production.

Today's April PAD prompt is to write a poem about longing. So, I took the longing portrayed in the opera between a bird, the nightingale, and a man to create my poem.

“The Birds”
(With apologies to Walter Braunfels)

The nightingale, bedecked in blue chiffon
and silver beads,
her winged-hand pressed to her heart
cooed in high soprano notes
as she gazed at the man sleeping
on a nearby cloud.
Her voice stirred him
and they met
keeping time note for note
until locked together
in embrace.

In opera sopranos and tenors
sing out their longing,
and declarations of undying love.
Sometimes it ends happily
but in most cases not.
This longing between bird and man
of course was not meant to be.
Really – even in Greek mythology
how could it?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

April poem no. 26

We just returned from a weekend away. The desert was beautiful, the weather was perfect -- not too hot and not too cool -- the flowers were in full bloom, seeing old friends was a real treat, yet as always, we're glad to be home. I wrote this next poem after a 3-week trip to France in 2001. And, then too we were glad to go home -- in fact, we arranged to go home a day early.

The End of the Trip

We’re both tired
We’re both cranky
We’re both snappish
Too much driving
Too much packing
Too much unpacking
Too much money spent on food and drinks
that we could easily do without.

All of Paris will be closed
On Tuesday our last day.
No Musee D/Orsay
No Giverney
No Versailles
No shopping
So, forget about them.
Let them rest in peace
They’ll have to do without us
We’re leaving early
We’ve already arranged it
And, I can’t wait.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

April poem no. 25

I put together a chap book of short poems in 2002. I'll post a few of those old poems today.

Birthday Thoughts

I’ll be 62 next week. How did I get to be this old?
Just yesterday I was 40, the day before only 25
Yet, I know I’ve lived all those years, one second
One minute, one hour at a time. No, I don’t yearn
To have any of those years back. I only want
To live however many I have left
In the now. I don’t want to miss out anymore
I want to see all the pink blossoms
Silhouetted against the sky’s blue canvas
As they sway in the breeze
And the smile of the baby in the wide brim hat
As I pass by.

Girl in the Food Court

Just as I was going to wrap it up
In slinks this tall blonde on ankle strap stilettos
With a baby’s smile. And I have to sit up
And take notice. She’s poured into a mid-calf jean skirt
With slits to her thighs and a nail-head studded leather belt
Slung on her hips. Her black long sleeve fish net shirt
Reveals her shoulders, a lot of midriff
And a not so sexy white bra underneath.

Guard Truck

So, last night we were sitting around the dining table
Having berries and ice cream for dessert
And one last glass of wine
Bemoaning the fact that my nephew, Brendan’s steel gray
1980 K5 Blazer with the four-inch lift was permanently parked
At the end of the driveway
And every time my sister and brother-in-law
Have to get into or out of the garage
They must maneuver around the big ungainly beast.
In fact, a while back my brother-in-law totally forgot
It was there and crashed his Z3 Beemer right into it.
Bad for the Beemer, the Blazer wasn’t phased.
But, you know, it does have one redeeming feature
It looks so forbidding out there – it even has gun racks –
That anyone casing the neighborhood might pass this house by
With a guard truck at the gate who would want to start trouble there?

Picture Perfect Day

This is the kind of day that travel agents photograph
To lure their clients to LA
The wind – cold and blustery
Has blown away all traces
Of the smog/fog that hovers over the landscape.
And, what it has left behind is a clearness
Only seen on posters.
This day Catalina is out in plain sight,
The Palos Verdes Peninsula looks steps away
And the gardens here at the Getty
Are like chiseled Technicolor sculptures.
This is a day to be outside if it weren’t for the chill.
So, I sit in warmth at this table for six,
Writing about the highlight of my day,
Satisfied after a meal of squash soup and lobster nicoise.
I don’t have to write it. It just is.

* * * *

I'll stop here. I'm experiencing another picture perfect day today at La Quinta. I'm out by the pool, I have good wifi reception,
I can watch all the beautiful (and not so beautiful) people out in bathing suits by the pool, and feel just a hint of coolness in the air.

All is good.

Friday, April 24, 2009

April poem no. 24

We're spending the weekend at the La Quinta resort in La Quinta -- out in the desert east of LA. So, it must be time for a travel poem. I wrote this poem while in Maui a few years ago where the weather was similar to what it is today -- balmy, a little overcast, but warm enough to sit by the pool without a sweater. I like the feel of the breeze in my hair. I know, I know this is a Christmas poem, and today we're almost at full-blown summer. But like I said it's a travel poem. Maybe tomorrow I'll have one about where I am now.

Christmas in Maui

We come in twos, fours, hordes
family, friends, moms, dads,
young people – to bask in the hot sun
and balmy Maui trade winds.
Friendly natives welcome us with Leis
of purple orchids that must grow like weeds
they are so plentiful –
like the palm trees that sway in the breeze,
fragrant white plumeria,
hibiscus-patterned shirts and dresses,
rum drinks and sweet fresh pineapple.
Christmas in Maui is a mixed bag.
White sun belies a white and snowy
roof top for St. Nick’s sleigh to light.
Here trees are adorned with white orchids
and hula dancer ornaments.
Fake garlands display glittery pine cones
and a few red balls.
Poinsettias bloom next to pothos
and giant philodendron leaves.
Christmas here is not the same.
But no worry.
Snorkeling, careening down the water slide
fresh mahi mahi, sun bathing around the pool
running on the beach,
yoga by the waterfall,
taking long naps, and
ocean water so blue and warm we all get in
are sure to spoil us for our programmed lives back home.
Here we’ve gotten used to lazy Hawaiian time
and having a barbeque on the beach
with loved ones
this Christmas in Maui.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

April poem no. 23

My The Emerging Goddess book partner and I have been back in touch, and we resolved to keep marketing our photography and poetry book to small publishers. We even decided to attend a small press fair in May. So, with that in mind, here's another poem from the book -- the theme is being Green.


I am Gaia,
your bountiful earth mother.
All beauty
all of nature’s creatures
come from me.
I am life and well being.
My arms enfold and protect you.

Do not bow down to me.
Do not worship me.
Instead respect and care
for my creations,
all that lives on earth
and we will be at peace.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

April poem no. 22

Today's April PAD challenge prompt is to write a work-related poem remembering there are different types of work, such as job-related activities, housework, exercise, volunteering, and in my case, working at looking young and trim.

So this prompt brought me back to the first reason I started this blog -- choices relative to the rest of my life.


Go to the gym
Dye my hair
Get botox injections
Get manicures and pedicures
Watch my salt and fat intake
Take vitamins
Eat healthy
Buy expensive clothes and shoes
Compete at work
Try to look younger
Try to compete with younger women
Lust after more diamonds
Believe that 60 is the new 30 (or 40)
Set impossible goals for myself

Quit my job
Cancel my gym membership or
Go to the gym and work out less
Stop dying my hair
Stop the potions injected into my face
Shop at Loehmann’s
Eat anything I want, anytime
Wear kimonos if I can’t fit into anything else
Have lunch out with friends
Write another book
Write more poems
Pay more attention to my spouse
Go to more plays, movies, and operas
Read all the books in my queue
Let it all hang out

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

April poem no. 21

Today's April PAD challenge prompt is to write a haiku or an anti-haiku. Some traditional haiku poets insist on 17 syllables in lines of 5/7/5. Other contemporary haiku poets feel that the first and third lines can be any length as long as they're shorter than the middle line.

I wrote the following using the traditional approach. I posted the last one for the challenge since haikus normally have a nature theme.

My dream disturbed me
I clutched the canoe’s bottom
while the bird was saved.

I sit and drink tea
every morning at my desk
then I’m up for work.

The crescent moon shown
above the planet Venus
and then disappeared.

O’Keefe clouds overhead
spring blooms in rainbow colors
to exalt today.

Ben wrote a haiku (prompted by a photo) when he was in grade school. I kept it all these years because I thought it was so good -- much better than mine above.

The frog is staring
the turtle is on a rock
they both sit nicely.

Monday, April 20, 2009

April poem no. 20

Today's April PAD challenge prompt is to write a poem about rebirth. So, I decided to take the essay I wrote for WOW and got an honorable mention on and give it rebirth as a poem. Actually, the piece is quite different from the essay. I reorganized it, cut out a lot, and tried to give it some rhythm. You be the judge -- better as an essay or as a poem? (See my February 20, 2009 post -- coincidentally just one month ago.) By the way, the theme of the poem is rebirth, in a way.

Making Room for Me

After six years I stacked Paul’s books and records,
once in alphabetical order on his closet shelves,
in boxes out in the garage,
and finally cleared away all the dust.

I recreated his room and closet,
with a new hardwood floor,
a bay picture window, deep taupe walls,
a white ceiling and crown molding,
and file drawers and book shelves
for storing my poems.

I refurnished his room
in shades of black and orange.
The sofa is like a futon
because he once slept on a futon in this room.
I bought an orange lava lamp for my desk
like the one Paul wanted me to buy for him
back in December 1995.
I didn’t buy him a lamp that day
I wasn’t feeling generous enough.
Now, I know a lava lamp gyrates in time to music.
Then, I didn’t know Paul didn’t just want a lava lamp.
He needed one.
He needed it to keep time with his music
whether it was the music he played on his keyboard
or in his head.
So, I needed one, too.

I put my style and tastes into this room,
but, I didn’t erase him.
Paul has been my muse for so many years.
He still is.

After six years I recreated his room into a place
where I could finish telling his story and mine
about his bipolar illness
and how the medicines didn’t work for him,
about how hard he fought against taking his meds
because he couldn’t live with them
and he couldn’t live without them,
about his suicide
and how I survive through it all.

I am writing this story in his room.
I write sitting at a draftsman table opposite the bay window.
When I sit there
I sometimes gaze out to the garden,
at the three palm trees,
the small cement pond
where birds take a dip,
the ginger and azalea plants and my smiling Buddha.
I can hear the gurgle of the fountain
when it’s warm enough
to leave the window open.

I feel a calm in his room,
and that helps my writing.
Maybe my reminders of Paul also help,
his candlesticks on the top shelf
of the bookcase,
his photo and a charcoal and white chalk drawing
of me when I was pregnant with him,
and a photo of a sunset taken on September 22, 1999,
his last night alive,
showing an orange sun
floating into the sea.
I also have an assemblage
of felt-covered wooden mallets
once used to strike the strings of a piano –
the instrument that kicked off his music career
when he was 10 years old.

No, I haven’t erased him.
He is in there with me.
He is inside me.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

April poem no. 19

Today's prompt is to write an angry poem. But, this morning -- a beautiful Sunday morning at the beach -- I find nothing to be angry about. I can't even dredge up the anger I felt at work last week when -- no, I won't get into that either. It's Sunday, a day off, with an opera to see this afternoon and dinner with friends later on. No need to even think about being angry today or any day.

So, here's my angry poem:

Sunday Walk

Sure, there’s plenty to rant about:
The drivers who roll through stop signs
and almost knock me down as I pass,
the dog debris left for others
to sweep away from the path,
a guy’s hairs falling on the ground
as he gets a haircut
in an outside salon with an ocean view.

But, not today. It’s much too glorious:
the deep blue ocean crowded with surfers,
the Santa Monica mountains
rimmed slightly in LA’s golden haze,
the row of fishing poles
resting along the edge of the pier,
babies in strollers,
joggers easily passing me by,
jet streams dissipating slowly
like clouds in the sky

No, this is not an angry day.
The only hint of anger I can find
is having to trudge
up the Manhattan Beach Boulevard hill
toward home so
I can sit at my computer
and write this angry poem.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

April poem no. 18

This is another old poem -- a fun one I developed from a class assignment to write something that when read aloud, uses a lot of teeth and mouth. So, read it aloud and see how the words feel in your mouth.

Cinderella, Revisited

In the hushed and hollow chamber
She crouched shivering at the hearthstone
Skimpily clad in clammy chemise and skivvies
The incessant cinders swept into the crackling ashes
The pitchfork stuck in the pile of muck in the corner
The screeches and screams of
Her fat flatulent sisters finally ceased
Bedecked, bejeweled and befuddled
They parted in their livery
Into the black celestial night
To trample the toes and hearts of their pitiful twirling partners

While she huddled and willed her
Wishes to fruition, and alas they were
By three miniscule mice and a miraculous squash
Plucked fresh from the pumpkin patch.

Friday, April 17, 2009

April poem no. 17

An old, old poem, and still very relevant today. No matter how much I work out, no matter how many line fillers I use, it's impossible to erase the years. Oh, well. Like in the case of the new phenom, Susan Boyle, we should never judge a book by its cover.


They look through me,
the brawny young guys flexing their biceps
as they reach for the shoulder press.
Their eyes fix on the girl in sleek black tights
with boobs bursting out of her bra.
Strong and slim and self confident
she struts past, tilting her head back
to take a swig of water.

They look past me, the sweaty runners
in tank tops, Adidas shorts and hairy calf muscles
that form a perfect Vee
They see the far away figure on roller blades
with flowing blonde hair
showing more tan than thong.
Fit and firm she moves closer, smiles wide
and raises her hand to give them a high five.

Look at me. I’m firm and slim.
Underneath my baggy tee and sweats I feel 28.
Though my hair is almost white
and my face has lines impossible to erase.
Give me a glance, why don’t you,
a glimmer of recognition
that I still exist,
that I’m still worthy to be seen,
and good enough to eat.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

April poem no. 16

Yesterday's April PAD prompt was to take the title of a poem I especially like (by another poet) and change it. Then, with this new altered title, I was to write a poem. However, the prompt stated that the altered poem did NOT have to follow the same style as the original poet, though I could try if wanted to.

I was familiar with this kind of prompt. I did one like it in a class a few years ago, and I wrote many poems later on in the style of other poets. So, yesterday I decided to write a poem after John O'Hara's "The Day Lady Died" as I did for that first exercise in March 1998.

I'll post both poems here. First is yesterday's poem.

The Day My Son Died

It is 7 am in Manhattan Beach a Thursday
three days after Yom Kippur, yes
it is 1999 and I go downstairs to the laundry room
to fold the clothes left there for days
and think about the notice of my ex-father-in-law’s
death in the LA Times.

I’m wearing my purple chenille bathrobe
that I’ve had for years
and I fold for 20 minutes or so
before I realize no noise coming
from behind the closed bathroom door,
the room next to the laundry
where Paul should be, getting ready for work.
I go to his room
and the door is half open. I look inside
and it is dark. Then I look in the garage
and it appears he hasn’t left yet. His beige Volvo
is still there. I knock on the bathroom door.
No answer.
And I go upstairs.
Bob is just putting on his shoes and socks,
almost ready to leave for work
and I tell him something is not right

and he stops what he is doing and
then we go back where I came from to the downstairs
long hall and Bob tries the bathroom door and
yells, Paul, open the door, open the door,
and he goes out to the garage and gets a screwdriver
and opens the door and goes inside
and when he comes out his face,
red with tears streaming down it, says it all.
He tells me Paul is dead, call 911

and I am shaking a lot by now and
leaning on the stair railing
and Bob holds me
while he whispers Paul is dead,
we whisper, our son, Paul is dead.

Here is the other version from March, 1998 (although I did a bit of editing today).

The Day JFK Died

It is late morning in El Segundo, a Friday
five days before Thanksgiving, yes
it is 1963 and I am sitting in my office
not working, just filing my fingernails.
It is a slow day.

I stand around my boss’ office
with the others
and listen to the news on the radio,
smoking another Marlboro
and sobbing into an
already worn out piece of Kleenex.
I leave work early
with the hordes of others.
By 3 pm the parking lot is empty.
The heat of the day hits me
as I walk over the black asphalt.
I start my Lady Bug, light a cigarette,
and begin the drive up the Coast.

The surfers, still out there without wetsuits,
paddle their boards to catch the next waves.
The children play quietly
with their pails and shovels in the sand.
I wait at the light at Culver Boulevard, and already
The Shack patio is full.
I pull into the Sand Dune lot and
go in to buy some Chevis
and a bottle of merlot – something
to keep us company
while we watch the news tonight.

My husband is already home. He greets me
with a hug. I lean on him
and we don’t say a word.
What more could we say about this day?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April poem no. 15

Every day during April poetry month I receive a poem from Knopf Publishers. I can't resist posting their selection today. I've also included the commentary. Plus, it gives me a break from posting one of my own.

Simon Armitage is one of the most popular British poets today, admired
by both literary readers and high-school students, who are assigned
his work in class, for the frankness, humor, and emotional restraint
he brings to his subjects. His book Tyrannosaurus Rex Versus the
Corduroy Kid, now available on our shores, meditates on youth and age,
monsters and underdogs, on the life of nations and the individual
heart. His use of colloquial language is both playful and serious,
throwing off sparks of higher self-understanding, as below.


You're Beautiful

because you're classically trained.
I'm ugly because I associate piano wire with strangulation.

You're beautiful because you stop to read the cards in
newsagents' windows about lost cats and missing dogs.
I'm ugly because of what I did to that jellyfish with a lolly
stick and a big stone.

You're beautiful because for you, politeness is instinctive, not
a marketing campaign.
I'm ugly because desperation is impossible to hide.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You're beautiful because you believe in coincidence and the
power of thought.
I’m ugly because I proved God to be a mathematical

You're beautiful because you prefer home-made soup to the
packet stuff.
I'm ugly because once, at a dinner party, I defended the
aristocracy and wasn’t even drunk.

You're beautiful because you can't work the remote control.
I'm ugly because of satellite television and twenty-four-hour
rolling news.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You're beautiful because you cry at weddings as well as
I’m ugly because I think of children as another species from
a different world.

You're beautiful because you look great in any colour
including red.
I'm ugly because I think shopping is strictly for the
acquisition of material goods.

You're beautiful because when you were born, undiscovered
planets lined up to peep over the rim of your cradle and lay
gifts of gravity and light at your miniature feet.
I’m ugly for saying "love at first sight" is another form of
mistaken identity, and that the most human of all responses
is to gloat.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You're beautiful because you’ve never seen the inside of a
I'm ugly because I always ask for a receipt.

You're beautiful for sending a box of shoes to the third
I'm ugly because I remember the telephone numbers of
ex-girlfriends and the year Schubert was born.

You're beautiful because you sponsored a parrot in a zoo.
I'm ugly because when I sigh it’s like the slow collapse of a
circus tent.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

You're beautiful because you can point at a man in a uniform
and laugh.
I'm ugly because I was a police informer in a previous life.

You're beautiful because you drink a litre of water and eat
three pieces of fruit a day.
I'm ugly for taking the line that a meal without meat is a
beautiful woman with one eye.

You're beautiful because you don’t see love as a competition
and you know how to lose.
I'm ugly because I kissed the FA Cup then held it up to the

You're beautiful because of a single buttercup in the top
buttonhole of your cardigan.
I'm ugly because I said the World’s Strongest Woman was a
muscleman in a dress.

You're beautiful because you couldn’t live in a lighthouse.
I'm ugly for making hand-shadows in front of the giant bulb,
so when they look up, the captains of vessels in distress see
the ears of a rabbit, or the eye of a fox, or the legs of a
galloping black horse.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

Ugly like he is,
Beautiful like hers,
Beautiful like Venus,
Ugly like his,
Beautiful like she is,
Ugly like Mars.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

April poem no. 14

Today's April PAD prompt is to write about love or anti-love. I turned a recent blog post about what is constant in my life into a poem. Not a grand attempt, but one that does the job.

OMGoodness -- I'm almost half way there in both challenges -- the Facebook challenge and my own challenge to write/post a poem a day during April, national poetry month - though I'm getting anxious for the end.

Love – A Constant in My Life

No matter what I do, what I say,
I know Bob loves me.
I see the look of his love
in his blue eyes,
and half smile
that shows just a hint of a dimple
when he takes my face in his hands.
Throughout all the
illnesses, deaths,
good economic times,
bad economic times,
over our 42 years together,
and times when his scientific mind
and my creative mind
don’t see eye to eye
our love endures.
Our tastes and needs don’t always jive.
But, no matter.
Our love is a constant.
I rely on it.
I cherish it.
I preserve it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

April poem no. 13

Today's April PAD prompt is to write about a hobby. I picked working out. However, instead of posting that poem I'll post another work out poem I wrote just shortly after Paul died. It's much more of a finished product and really says why working out is so important to me.

Making It Hard

The bright room is almost full.
All four walls of mirrors reflect women and men
in baggy shorts and sleek black tights.
The music is so loud
the woman in front of me stuffs ear plugs in her ears.
Lisa G says, “work from the core,
your workout relates to your real life.”
I want to get on with it.
I don’t come here at 6 a.m. to listen to a lecture.
The neon sign on the wall says, “sweat,”
and that’s what I want to do.
The woman behind me complains.
I don’t know her name, but she’s here every week.
Always in the same spot, always complaining, always in black.
Black tights, black sports bra, black thong leotard,
black headband on her head of black hair.
Even her lipstick looks black.

A drill sergeant in baseball cap and high-top aerobic shoes
Lisa begins her mantra.
“If it were easy, everyone would be fit,” she shouts
“Don’t come here and expect it to be easy.”
She doesn’t single me out.
I like it that way.
I like being anonymous here
I don’t know anyone and no one knows me.
No one knows about Paul, that he died
or any other thing about me either.
Being anonymous is a benefit.
It keeps me in shape, calms my mind,
gives me the space to be myself.
It’s a mini vacation from the horrors of my life.
So, I thank Lisa G
for getting me moving,
for making it hard,
For making it hurt,
for showing me how to
trade one pain for another.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

April poem no. 12

Today's April PAD prompt is to take the phrase "So we decided to (blank)" and fill in the blank. Make that the title and write a poem.

I dedicate this silly little poem to Paul. He loved to watch Mr. Rogers' Neigborhood, and I'd sit for hours watching it with him. His favorite part was about the Purple Planet and the Purple People who lived on it. Perhaps that is why purple was always his favorite color. My husband and I liked to use the phrase, "go bother the king," in our interactions with Paul. And, he wasn't bothered by it at all.

So We Decided to Bother the King

Mr. Rogers swept open the door
hung up his jacket
and changed into his cardigan and sneakers,
all the while singing
his little welcome to our
Neighborhood song.
He introduced Lady Aberlin
who took us on the Neighborhood Trolley
to go bother her uncle,
the impervious Neighborhood monarch,
and hand puppet,
King Friday XIII.
The king liked formality,
“Lady Aberlin, I presume?”
and was given to long-winded speeches
and irrational behavior.
He had a temper, but always
welcomed lessons learned
if one of his plans
went South.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

April poem no. 11

Today's April PAD prompt was to write about an object. So, I cheated again and posted one I had already written -- one that has been laying in the bowels of my computer files since I wrote it for a writing class years ago. I did do a few edits and additions, so it is not altogether an old poem.

I still love this object. It's been a part of me all my life.

My Family Heirloom

The pitcher stands tall on the
bookcase in our bedroom
like a poised and majestic flamingo
with hand-painted and hand-signed
art deco magenta and green geometrics
trimmed in gold leaf.
My mother thought it came from Europe
sometime in the 1930s.
After some investigation
I discovered the pitcher was from Europe,
and the painting done later on
in Chicago.
I remember seeing it
first at my grandmother’s
atop her armoire in her tiny
seventh floor apartment
on Chicago’s West Side.
When she died it came to my parents
where it always stood
on a mantel in Chicago, Phoenix,
Los Angeles, Culver City
or wherever else they lived
until my mother gave it to me.
I never told her how much I wanted it.
Somehow she just knew.

Friday, April 10, 2009

April poem no. 10

Today's prompt is to write about Friday. Do I like or despise Fridays? Or about something that happened on a Friday. Whatever!

I thought about writing about my company's every other off-Friday policy and how I hardly ever get to take them off. My sister suggested writing about Good Friday or TGIF. Well, I decided to be clever picked a name out of the past -- the character, Joe Friday, from the radio and then TV show, "Dragnet." And, guess what? I got ready to post my poem and the poem posted just ahead of mine was about Joe and the show too. What a bummer! I went ahead and posted anyway.

Here it is:


WOW! Friday, that sure brings up
a name from the past
Friday, Joe Friday,
Radio and TV detective, Joe Friday.
The man with the deep voice.
clipped sentences,
and dark hair clipped close
to his head,
was famous for the words,
“Just the facts, ma’am,”
after he introduced himself.
“My name is Friday – I’m a cop.”
I never tired of the show,
called “Dragnet.”
They don’t make them
like that anymore.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

April poem no. 9

Today's April PAD prompt is to write a poem about a memory -- good or bad, a blend of several memories, or even of a memory I'm not sure I remember correctly.

This poem is about the afternoon in July, 1949 we found out my favorite Uncle Phil, my mother's younger brother, was in a plane crash. Later that evening we found out he was dead. I was 9 years old, living in Chicago, just after my sister was born. My uncle was on his way home to Los Angeles.

I Didn’t Have Time to Worry

My mom stood at the changing table with my sister
I lay across the big, red plaid club chair reading a book
and, suddenly my dad was standing in the doorway of my room,
silent, not saying hello or anything.
“Look, Daddy’s home,” I called out.
I looked at the clock on the bedside table
It was too early for him to be home.
My mom put the last pin into my sister's diaper,
pulled up her rubber pants, and pulled down her dress.
“Give me the baby,” he said.
His voice was soft and calm.
He was not smiling.
His shirt had circles of sweat under his arms
and his hands were shaking.
As my mother handed him the baby,
she asked in a whisper,
“What’s the matter? What’s happened?”
“It’s Phil," he said.
He looked at me and patted the baby's back.
"There’s been a crash.”
“I knew it, “ she cried, sitting on the bed.
She fidgeted with the belt on her cotton sundress.
She reached for a tissue.
My heart was pounding so hard that
I couldn't understand what my parents were saying.
This was my favorite uncle they were talking about
I heard their words – unscheduled flight,
mountains near Burbank, California,
no word about survivors yet –
as if I was in a dream.
“I was so busy with the baby,” she said.
“I didn’t have time to worry.
“That’s why it happened.
“I didn’t have time to worry.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April poem no. 8

I wrote this poem after seeing one of my favorite operas. Anna Netrebko was in it, and she was just glorious. Of course, her partner, Romeo, wasn't so bad himself. Even though I knew how sad the ending would be, I still rooted for their love to survive all the way through.

By the way, the class assignment for this poem was to write something Wild, Dark, and Passionate. Did I succeed?

Romeo and Juliet’s Wedding Night

The black drapes open
and on center stage is a bed
covered in heavy red quilts and pillows
with a red satin cloth sweeping up
into the rafters from the headboard.
The bed covers and white sheets crumple in heaps
by the bodies of the two lovers on the top,
then underneath,
then on the pillows at the foot of the bed,
then on the floor
as they wrap their arms and legs around each other,
first one on top and then the other,
never separating as they kiss and hug and stroke each other
until almost daylight and it is time to part.
But still they don’t part.
While he pulls up his trousers, buttons his shirt, tucking it in half way,
she, wrapped in a sheet,
her long dark hair covering her breasts like a halter,
her arms out to him,
kneels on the bed,
pleading, “Don’t go, not yet,”
calling to him to come back
crying in full soprano voice,
“It’s not light yet.”
And he turns around and looks into her eyes.
His tenor voice roars,
“Yes, I’ll stay,”
and he tears off his clothes again
leaps back onto the bed again
pushes her back down
and enfolds her in his arms — again.

At daybreak, finally getting up,
picking his clothes off the floor,
he dresses, this time for good.
He pulls her to him,
crushes her body against his
and jumps over the balcony
to the ladder.
He begins to climb down and stops,
looks back up at her on the bed,
the new light glow on her pale face.
He raises one hand to her.
She runs out to the railing,
Leaning, reaching, stretching her arms out to him,
until she almost falls over,.
Their fingers touch once more
before he climbs down and runs from her,
before the full morning light discovers them together
on this their wedding night.
And, we all know,
but don’t want to know
that this was their last night together

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

April poem no. 7

This is one of those found poems. I found most of the words on the menu of an Asian fusion restaurant in my home town. Both the food and decor were gorgeous. Unfortunately, its stay in business was short-lived so I won't both you with its name.

Recipe for Fulfillment

1. Pile chicken satays, sesame-crusted Char Siu buns, Manhattan summer rolls, Indian samosas and crab rangoons into a Dim Sum Tasting Tower

2. Stir fry tempeh with galangal, chilies, kaffir-lime and Javanese brown sugar

3. Mix Tom Kha Gai soup with Thai coconut chicken, lemon grass and galangal and ladle into fresh young coconut shells garnished with paper umbrellas

4. Prepare Komodo Dragoon salad with grilled beef, fresh greens tossed in lime and lemon grass dressing

5. Wok fire flat rice noodles with thin sliced beef, Chinese sausage, eggs sprouts and vegetables and one beef satay to create Malaysian Char Kway Teow

6. Make Chiang Mai by sautéing sliced chicken breasts with garlic, chili, onions, peppers, fresh basil and pesto. Pour around Jasmine rice on a square tea-green charger

7. Drizzle liquid sugar and sesame oil over composed Oriental sticky rice and fresh thinly-sliced mangos and strawberries for a cool and delicate dessert

8. Serve to the couple reclining on huge red satin pillows in the candle-lit corner booth by the window.

Monday, April 6, 2009

April poem no. 6

I'm still a gym rat. No matter how often I tell myself that I'll cut back on my days at the gym or the steps that I accumulate on my pedometer, I don't. During the week I get up at 5 am every morning and get to the gym by 5:30 am. Saturdays I sleep in an extra hour or so to attend a 7:30 am spin class, and on Sundays I take a big long walk along our beach. It's a routine I'm only willing to break if I'm out of town or have to attend a very rare early morning meeting.

Well, it's not all bad. As a result I can still get into all my clothes and I don't have the aches and pains a lot of folks my age complain about.

Here's my gym poem:

Across the Parking Lot, Into the Gym

5:30 A.M.
in the dark, the cold, the rain
lines of cars jockey for the space
yeah you guessed it
closest to the door.
The huge gray flatbed
always in the compact section
just to piss me off

blinding light reveals every pore,
frown, furrow,
sleepy eye, yawn, bed head
every drop of sweat,
every added inch
gained chomping on chips,
shoveling in the cookies
pizza pies, McAnythings.

The same folks line up
like race horses
in rows of stairsteppers
rows of treadmills
rows of elliptical trainers
rows of bikes
rows of rowers
ab crunchers, thigh shavers,
hip slimmers, arm deflabbers, chest expanders
dumbbells, barbells, bars with no bells
and no whistles.

They’re on slantboards, flat boards, balance boards,
wood floors, carpeted floors, balls, bozus
You ask what’s a bozu – it’s a half ball.
You have to be there.

They wear
baggy tees, baggy sweats,
long shorts, short shorts, tight shorts,
skin tights, tight tights,
bra tops, tank tops, see-through tops, no tops –
whoops, did I say that?
Really, they all wear tops.
Guzzling, suckling like babies
their sports drinks
from those ubiquitous plastic nipples.

They’re plugged in
to iPods, CDs, cassettes, radios, TVs.
Anything to drown out the drone
the cacophony of weights bouncing off the floor,
feet clip pity clopping on the treadmill,
Anything to miss
the macho guys yelling across the room,
ridiculing, riling up their buddies,
exposing their pecks
and their sex lives.
Anything to erase
the voice of the brunette with glasses
still gloating over W’s win –
The I told ya sos
And so what?
Others running, climbing, cycling, walking,
flexing, flaunting, strutting their siliconed stuff
The old geezers checking out the babes.
The comes ons, turn ons, hard ons and on and on.

They’re all there when I’m there
every morning
day in, day out.
5:30 A.M.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

April poem no. 5

Today's prompt for the April Poem-A-Day challenge is to write about a landmark. My poem says it all.

Launching A Landmark

I live in a land of landmarks –
the Hollywood sign,
the dinosaurs out in Cabazon,
the big brown donut (Inglewood’s claim to fame),
the light towers at LAX,
the hand and footprints of the stars
inlaid into the Graumann’s Chinese Theater patio,
and the giant windmills gracing the entrance
to our desert resorts.
All touristy and cheesy for my taste
except for the new sculpture
just down the street from my house.
Created from the I-beams salvaged
from the World Trade Center Towers,
it sits on our new City Hall property
aligned to echo how the buildings stood
in downtown New York.
But, I fear it hasn’t reached the landmark stage --
I don’t yet see hordes
of people gaping at it
with tears in their eyes
and sighs of remembrance.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

April poem no. 4

The opera is another one of my favorite diversions. I drag my husband there several times a year. We go to the matinee, so we usually have lunch perched on chairs at the music center patio bar before the opera starts -- that's his favorite part.

The LA Opera never ceases to amaze. The productions are usually infused with the creative endeavors of people from the film industry -- imagine an opera directed by Woody Allen or a set designed by David Hockney. Sometimes the result is a little weird, as my niece says, or avante guard, one of my Facebook friends complained. I'm always enthralled and never disappointed.

At the Opera

The grand salon was ablaze in hues of crimson
enveloping the walls, the settees,
even the floors,
even the drapery, even the hoop-skirted gowns
were on fire in shades of red.
I looked at this sight in awe
of this bordello scene anxious for more
and was not disappointed.
Writhing down the staircase
like snakes, rattling their teeth,
kicking up their tails
came the black cloaked sirens. They disrobed
revealing legs and arms
and bodies encased
in fishnet. Their long red fingernails
beckoned the divas
and their twirling mates,
bedecked in gleaming
ebony patent and satin
and crisp white linen.
The sirens teased, while the divas
bellowing their glee,
pulsated their throats.
Well, what do you know? Those girls
sure can sing.

Friday, April 3, 2009

April poem no. 3

As promised here's poem no. 3 for April poetry month. I wrote this one years ago to express my love of movies. And, it's still applicable. I turn to movies for diversion or escape over and over again. Unfortunately, I can't escape much longer than the length of the movie.

Black and White Dreams

I feel like snuggling in,
feet up on the coffee table
watching whatever inanity
the tube spews out
to attract me. Like the dashing
Paul Henreid lighting two cigarettes
as his eyes smolder in their glow,
Lauren Bacall flipping her hair
off her face
as she gives Humphrey
the come to momma look

There was a world one could live in,
black and white and out of focus,
where one could get lost in dreams.
We’d sing, we’d shout,
we’d kiss and do the Continental
down the wide boulevards of Rio.

All our endings would be happy
as the credits roll
over our bodies
locked in a smoky embrace.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April poem no. 2

We went to Denver last weekend, flying the day after a spring blizzard. And, since the prompt for the Facebook April Poem a Day Challenge was to write an outsider poem, I wrote one today about arriving in Denver in below freezing weather and leaving three days later with the temperature at over 60 degrees. I was a real outsider totally unprepared for the rapid change in the weather. My sister-in-law always says if you don't like the weather, wait 5 minutes. I should listen to her.

Spring Snow

We land the day after
the great Colorado blizzard.
Snow and ice cover everything:
the fields,
roof tops,
budding branches,
our boots,
early pansies,
and the mountains surrounding the city.

I come prepared for 19 degree weather,
with my winter coat
not worn for years
and a wool scarf, gloves, and a hat
resurrected from
a storage box on the top shelf
of my closet in California.

What I’m not prepared for
is the hot sun
and ever-increasing temperature,
so that by the time we depart
three days later,
the walkways are wet with pools
of thawing ice,
and the birds are out again
chirping their Spring songs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April poem no. 1

April is poetry month. My goal is to write a poem a day and post a poem a day -- though the posts may be of poems I wrote in the past.

Seeing photos of Michelle Obama in London compared to those of Jackie Kennedy Onassis in Paris in the paper this morning reminds me of the wonderful time I had with my sister and niece one hot summer day in New York City. We saw the Jackie O exhibit and were enthralled. I imagine there will be a similar exhibit of Michelle's clothes someday.

It's always a treat to go to New York. So much is going on. I wrote this poem while sitting in our hotel lobby while we were there.

A Summer's Day in New York

My back is hot to the touch.
Still, the sun beats down
as the whole world strolls,
taking in the smells at the Union Square market.
Fresh basil, warm bread, cut flowers,
vegetables as vivid as objects in a still life,
have come all the way from New Jersey farms.
We go to breakfast at The Coffee Shop,
across from the square,
and eat mountains of eggs and crispy fried potatoes
while listening to live jazz.
Afterward, we head uptown on the subway
breathing in the soot, the pee stink,
and body odors
to see the Jackie O exhibit at the Met.

The lines are so long we huddle
against the wall for an hour,
but we don't care a bit.
Then we push and shove our way through the crowds
just to get a glimpse of her clothes.
Over 80 dresses are there - by Givenchy, Cassini and
who knows how many other designers
who made those 60s
A-shaped dresses in stiff fabrics
that hit just below her beautiful knees
or skimmed the floors she walked on
with matching coats or capes and little pill box caps
that she wore way back on her head.
The sparkly strapless white gown with gauzy train
made her look like a fairy princess.

We think of her that way,
mouths open, teary eyed while watching
the clips of her upstaging her husband,
beaming at Nikita or Nehru or Charles de Gaule,
speaking French and Spanish like a champ
as she ignored those rumors about Marilyn.
Those were magical times for both her and me
before our tragedies changed everything.

We leave the Met
and walk downtown on Madison Avenue
browsing, trying on dresses, Jackie O sunglasses,
and shoes along the way
until we can't take another step.
So, we perch ourselves on bar stools,
sip some Chardonnay,
and let the hordes of people go by.
We’re in New York,
alive and exhausted,
just the way we dreamed we would be.