Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Ultimate Duel


Draw your sword
it is time to fight
to rise above 
the madness of the mind
Fear is crippling 
hopelessness death
and they creep so stealthily
surprise surprise
But do not cower in the corner
And if you find
you are on your knees
stand up and do it again
Draw your sword
it is time to fight
it has always been
For the battle between
a human's ears
is the ultimate

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Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

The Worn Path in the Carpet

Lately I feel like I’m turning into my grandmother.

I’m going through walnuts like they’re becoming extinct. My nana’s cheeks were perpetually bloated with the masticating remnants of an assortment of nuts. She somehow managed to keep them from spewing out as she multitasked between chewing, housework, and yelling at us kids. But never in anger. Always questions, like how many pieces of butter toast did we want for breakfast.

And speaking of multitasking, she did it every minute of the day, but she didn’t do it well. I pride myself on being an esteemed multitasker. But I find sometimes these tasks are not completed, merely started and left to sit unfinished like Nana’s breakfast dishes. She would “wash” them all day long. It would be time to start dinner and the toast crust would still be lingering on the edges of the Currier & Ives.

There are days when my breakfast dishes are still stacked next to the sink when the sun is setting and I’m searching for the wine opener.

Nana also loved chocolate. Fudge to be exact. She made three homemade pans full (with nuts of course) in the afternoon and by evening they’d be scraped clean. But the woman never gained a pound. Her house boasted a pea-green carpet that had a path worn thin from her constant moving about. I don’t think I ever saw her sit down. My floors are tile so there are no threadbare indications of ceaseless activity. But at least a half dozen times a day I will enter a room and say aloud, “Now why the hell did I come in here?”

But in the evening when I’m walking in the kitchen I know exactly what I’m there for. The chocolate.

Nana was also very scatter-brained. She eventually ended up with Alzheimer’s. Lately I have lost the spatula and the dustpan, and for the life of me have no idea where they could have gone. I also lose track of my point or story mid-sentence, and sometimes call my son every name except his own. She used to do this too. When she got to the dog’s name, Fuzzy, we knew she was close.

The fact I feel I’m losing my mind recently is cause for concern. Am I really becoming Nana? Am I gonna get Alzheimer’s? I still know the key is for the door. I just don’t know where I put it.

At Nana’s funeral they played Glenn Miller’s In the Mood. We all sat, heads hung low. I imagined her swinging with Papa at some cool speakeasy. And then I imagined her the way I remembered. Her taking time out of the daily and nightly grind of tending to husband and house and kids to stop and just cut a freaking rug. Usually in the front room next to the stereo turntable. I always loved that she danced.

Nana dancing

Nana always danced with me.

When I have my kitchen dance party, or cut a rug in the living room, or groove in front of the bathroom mirror I am channeling some of that energy.

She is within me. I am a part of her. I hope I’m not going crazy. But if I am, I hope I’ll be dancing all the way to the nursing home. And I hope a bar of chocolate will be in the top drawer of my dresser. Just like we used to leave for her. But please let it be dark. With nuts, of course.









Filed under Yep I'm Becoming My Mother

Was it Me?

A fragrance of wildflowers 
traveled to my nose
and into that place
in the brain
where scent and memories
coagulate side by side
And I saw the image of
a young girl
running through
a field of daisies
Was it me
or the opening
of Little House on the Prairie?
I faintly remember
this scene
as I have imagined it before
But I do not know
what is real or fiction
Or is it a layering of both
I know my mother wore 
a dress stitched with blossoms 
when I was in the womb
And I know there was
a vacant lot 
across from my early childhood home
where flowers grew
But the girl in the field
so carefree
happily joyously running
Who was she? 
Was it me
or the opening
of Little House on the Prairie?



Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet

Fuji Pro, Kahlua, and an Old Friend

Barry was the first person who ever took the time to teach me about photography. He wore over-sized early-80’s style glasses. He always cleaned them smudgy on the corner of his plaid shirts, which were half tucked around his round belly.

We worked together at a retail photography store in the late 90’s on the heels of my college years. He was one of the top salesman. I was a Customer Service Associate– fancy title for cashier-who-must-be-polite-to-whatever-idiot-walks-in-the-store. Barry and I would make fun of the weirdos and assholes who did walk in and thankfully walk out. He had an aversion to anyone of religious identity. I had an aversion to the perpetually drunk woman who swore it was our fault her photos were always out of focus.

Barry was one of those coworkers essential to making it out alive in the tumultuous world of retail hell. He made the pain of standing for hours on end a little lighter. He made jokes when the clock was moving so slow we thought we were in a time warp. He spouted off random facts I’d later recite to customers when they asked me questions a lowly cashier had no clue about. He made goofy faces. He laughed at himself. He took me under his pale, sarcastic, hilarious, genius, kindly peculiar wings.

Some nights after work I’d follow him to his house after a quick stop at the liquor store. This was before my wine days so I was still in the process of figuring out what my drink of choice was. I was in my White Russian stage so he’d buy me a four-pack of mini Kahlua mud slides and bourbon for himself. We’d drink our respective beverages in his basement, which he took over as his nerd lair.

He was an amazing photographer, specializing in astrophotography. He’d sometimes set up his gargantuan telescope and we’d catch the light of the stars he recognized like the freckles on the back of his hand. He had thousands of photos he hoarded in his basement. “They can’t pay me what they’re worth,” he’d say sneeringly when I suggested he try to sell some of them. He also had a mad collection of albums he’d play on his souped-up stereo. He was the first person I knew to have internet access from his television. He introduced me to The Daily Show and South Park.


I went with him to buy his second Honda Hatchback, which he paid for in full from the money he saved working at the store. He took care of his mother, who lived above his nerd lair. He bought her mayonnaise and butter and bologna, the only “food” she would eat. Barry microwaved Lean Cuisines for himself on lunch break, two at a time.

I’ll never forget the time we had worked two weeks straight during the holiday shopping mayhem. It was Christmas Eve, our store’s metal chain-link security gate was half closed, and we were doing our final count of all the drawers. Some last-minute shopper ducked under the gate and begged us to let him buy a camera. Barry frantically took care of him while I tried to make sense of the day’s numbers. The boss was at home eating a warm meal with his family. Barry and I hadn’t eaten real food or seen the light of the sun in days. The last-minute shopper finally left and Barry and I continued our closing duties. The shelves were in disarray, the carpeted floor speckled with paper liter, and our count was way off. Barry grabbed the calculator for the fourth time and it slipped out of his hand, spinning in the air and crashing on the concrete floor below his feet. “Goddamn it!” he yelled in exasperation. “Screw it,” I called back as I ran to my purse, grabbed my cigs, and proceeded to light up and give one to Barry. We stood there laughing hysterically, puffing away, trying to fix the calculator.

I found out this morning Barry passed away. I hadn’t talked to him in years. I hadn’t sent him a photograph Christmas card since the one where my son, a toddler at the time, is waving at the camera. Barry told me it looked like he was waving at him.

I don’t want to imagine Barry in whatever way I’ll find out he died. I want to remember his silliness behind the counter, or crouched behind a wall of purple pansies teaching me macro photography, or sipping Jim Beam under Arcturus.

Rest in peace, Barry. Thank you for the lessons, the friendship, and most of all, the laughter.



Filed under Picking Up Strays

Pedaling Left

My feet pedaled
left today into town
instead of right into the woods
as they had for weeks
perhaps months
And they pedaled fast and smooth
as the wind lay
welcoming spring's bloom
The cross lights changed quickly
offering a speedy glance
on all that had changed
in just a short moment really
The vacant lot
where I once imagined
a shotgun house
now bloated by a
tasteless modern dwelling
And Eli's Friday BBQ smoke
was not wafting through the Live Oaks
Empty benches 
No snowy egret 
waiting for scraps
But the once dry 
and lifeless garden there
had blossomed with
thick, dark greens
And it made me smile
And the Spanish moss
thicker than ever
And the leaves of the Jacaranda
the color of the shallow sea
And the streets sparsely scattered
with happy morning people
who smiled back at me.



Filed under Sunday Night Sonnet