Monday, April 30, 2018

Poem a Day challenge wrap

Well, for April's Poem a Day challenge, I managed to knock out 30 pieces of writing, 25 of which are poems. Which is amazing in that I really didn't begin writing in earnest until April 20. It was the devil trying to play catch-up. Some pieces began as prose and were later shaped into poems. Many of the poems were spontaneous combustion of words, not at all related to Robert Lee Brewer's PAD challenge. Not that he'd mind, in that his prompts are merely a jumping off point. So I have several more assignments to work on during the month ahead, filling in the gaps. A stockpile. I'll post the correct date beneath each late addition. Just because.  Check out Robert Lee Brewer's Facebook page, he's made hand-written cards for each of his prompts. Wish I had known earlier, as they're inspiring.


Cleaning up junkmail on an old account, I accidentally opened an AWAD email from Oct 19, 2016. Of the 1500 or so emails, this is the one had to open. The universe works in strange ways. Synchronicity at its best.
1. Something showy but worthless.
2. Nonsense or rubbish.
3. Deceit; fraud; trickery.
From French tromper (to deceive). Earliest documented use: 1481.
“The room was crowded with a chilly miscellany of knick-knacks and ornaments, gewgaws, and trumpery of every kind.”
Leo Bruce; Case for Three Detectives; Academy Chicago; 1980.
“History, made up as it is of so much trumpery, treachery, and tyranny, needs deeds of valor, of sacrifice, and of heroism if it is to be palatable.”
The Medal of Honor: A History of Service Above and Beyond; Zenith Press; 2014.
See more usage examples of trumpery in’s dictionary.

B/G Sandwich Shops plate, or the tale of Ralph Moody who wrote Come On Seabiscuit!

To coin, or resurrect a word, I'm a nostalgist, I prefer old, used things to the shiny and new. Chipped crockery lives out its last days on my shelves, and when it finally breaks, it lives a second life mounted on my wooden fence outside the kitchen window—not a wall of shame, but an honored spot for venerable service rendered.

I have an old B/G Sandwich Shop plate from San Francisco. I knew it was old but I had no idea that it dated back to the Depression era, or that B/G Sandwich Shop ushered in the era of counter lunch sandwiches. My plate is from the ancestor of the lunch counter sandwich and apple pie with a mug of java joe era. Move over Subway. And fast food.

B/Gs motto was "A meal a minute" "A National Institution," "Purely American," and "A place for nice food."And they served it up in 40 cities across the nation. Nobody knows how many B/Gs there were, LA had six, Chicago had at least ten, and Milwaukee had two shops. What began as a toasted sandwich joint in 1926, expanded into hundreds of railroad car styled diners in 40 cities. By the end of the 1960s early 1970s, most had disappeared. Enter the era of McDonald's.


In the garden, I found an old plate
encrusted with dirt, from my family home,
chipped, and stained, it had seen better days.
But I couldn't bring myself to toss it out.
It's an old school cafeteria-style plate
with a plain boring logo on it: B/G
and two blue lines like railroad tracks.
I thought the initials stood for my brother and I,
so we fought over who got to use the plate,
and it fell to the floor with that ringing sound
and hubub of a train leaving the station,
but it never broke. I never once thought
to turn the plate over to find the logo,
of an Indian hunkered down making pots
for B/G Sandwich Shops, in PA.
Who says plates can't talk?
So I Googled it and found a story
of a man who came out west, Ralph Moody
to manage a sandwich shop on Market St.
When things got tough, my family would yell:
Come on Seabiscuit! He was a rebellious horse
who won races but only when he put his mind to it.
Ralph lived between Tanforan and Bay Meadows,
and because he'd tell tales of his storied life
as a ranch hand, a hobo, a stunt rider for the movies,
someone suggested a night class in creative writing.
It became a book, followed by another,  17 in all.
He penned a story, Come On Sea Biscuit!
Guess that old plate had a story to tell after all.


Friday, April 27, 2018


Climbing Half Dome a 3rd time is on my anti-bucket list.
Never again. What was I thinking the 2nd time around?
On the way back down, I developed a fear of heights.
I sat on the ledge at Glacier Point, beyond the guardrail. 
I also sat on the lip of Half Dome. What was I thinking?

When I climbed Yosemite Falls, I had a high fever,
the view from above was to die for, but not worth dying for.
Coming down the slot canyon was a total bitch.

I probably won't climb Mt. Whitney again.
I  crawled on hands and knees, across the summit,
a knifeback ridge with a straight drop off on either side.
I practically kissed the rocks at the top.
Then I had to descend. What was I thinking?

I will never again climb the crevice at Sonora Pass,
the view from the ridgetop was stunning,
but then I had to back down the chimney,
I was fatigued, with overtaxed muscles.
My boyfriend guided me down, step by step,
but to fall, sans ropes, would be certain death.

I have literally scaled the heights of Machu Picchu.
Another climb I will not do again, is Huayna Picchu,
with that loose steel cable barely anchored to the cliff,
I probably won't hike the Machu Picchu trail again either.
My knees simply wouldn't make it.
Ah, impetuous youth, well-spent.



The power of art: 81 years ago, Pablo Picasso’s Guernica, the most political and polemic artwork of its time, was painted for the Spanish Pavilion at the International Exhibition in Paris in the summer of 1937.

Picasso refused to set foot in Spain as long as Franco was in power. By the time the exhibition took place, the Spanish Civil War had been raging for a year, Madrid was under siege by Franco.

The Republican Government commissioned Picasso in Paris to make a mural, tentatively called, Dreams and Lies of Franco. But during the spring of 1937, Hitler carpet-bombed the small Basque town of Guernica into rubble on Franco’s orders, ushering in a new kind of warfare, terror from the sky, indiscriminately killing 300 civilians on market day.

This war crime became a symbol of fascist barbarity.

When Franco’s propaganda machine tried to blame on the Basques, Picasso set to work to tell the truth of Guernica. The painting became a world-famous icon against fascist barbarity and the horrors of war.

Following Picasso’s wishes, Guernica was eventually housed in the Prado, Spain, behind a bullet-proof glass screen, once Franco had died and democracy had been restored.

Picasso said, “a painting isn’t made to decorate rooms. It’s an offensive and defensive instrument in the war against the enemy…”

Like Goya's Los Disastros de la Guerra, reduced to the stark reportage of black and white, Picasso's painting Guernica denounces the bloodshed without using a drop of red, it's painted in monochromes, to resemble newsprint.

It is difficult getting the news....

I have seen Guernica twice, and I have wept, more than twice. The first time I did not know the full backstory, the second time was during the second Gulf War, when carpet-bombing had become the norm.

And now, Syria.

Thursday, April 26, 2018


Notty Bumbo handed me 
a word to poemize: nictitating.
as in nictitating membrane, 

the translucent inner eyelids of cats
(from Latin nictare, to blink). 
I knew the word since childhood,
when my cat lost his eye in a catfight, 
love gone all wrong in the night.
I learned how to clean the hideous wound,
and was plagued with recurring nightmares.
But I always thought it was spelled
nicotating membrane, which also means 
I've been saying it wrong for decades,
and I wondered what nicotine 
had to do with caterwauling,
or the inner eyelids of cats, 
other than they were smoky 
as ghost topaz and burnt quartz.
The smoking after sex part

would escape my attention 
for several years to come.



Ken said: How about using respectable, 
unmade-up terms that sound archaic & obscure, 
like escutcheon? It's short, to the point
& still polysyllabic! I love the sound 
of escutcheons, flanges, and finials—
But such odd words for a poem to make.
Take, for instance, Gül Baba's tomb
on the banks of the Danube, 
on Turkish soil in the middle of Budapest,
with its finial, a spire & crescent moon
against a breathless summer sky.
And the roses. Oh, the roses!
As Ken held the camera steady,
I nearly swooned in the midday sun.



In Law & Order, the characters discuss pathology, 
how a perp has to escalates the gruesomeness 
of his crime because the thrill is gone. 
He has to keep upping the ante to get the rush. 
If all the crimes attributed to this perp are indeed his, 
it follows a pattern from peeping into windows, to burglary 
to rape, to murder, to kinky murder/rape (with dishes on top), 
but then it all stops, dead. The trail went cold. Why? 
What made him quit? Time? Or did he reform? 
What else don't we know? How did this Nightstalker 
go clean 30 years on the straight and narrow?
This despicable man with an angelic pseudonym,
who dispatched his victims with cudgels and ropes,
who balanced stacks of dinner plates on the naked backs 
of husbands, to keep them quiet under threat of death,
while he raped their wives, but murdered them anyway.
DeAngelo told them if he heard one plate drop—or even rattle
he’d kill them both, then he tucked in, raping the wife.
One victim said he left her ravaged in the living room,
stomped into the kitchen chanting, I’ll kill ‘em, I’ll kill ‘em.
One couple’s Christmas turkey leftovers were taken
from the fridge. The killer stayed for a snack.
During one rape, he paused for a slice of apple pie.
Another victim said he mentioned his mother,
sobbing, mummy, mummy, over and over again.
Sometimes he called his victims to chat. A former cop,
and perhaps a thwarted poet, he's said to have penned,
“Excitement’s Crave."
Sacramento should make an offer.
To make a movie of my life
That will pay for my planned exile... 
See you in the press or on T.V....
Your East Area Rapist.
Well, he finally got his day in the sun. 
Surely there will be a movie yet to come.
What will it be called?
The Golden State Killer,
The Original Nightstalker was a play
on serial killer Richard Ramirez’s nickname.
Did his friends call him Jim? If he had any, that is.
His downfall, he collected memento morii: ID cards,
engraved wedding bands, and monogrammed cufflinks. 
He was caught up by his own DNA, on national DNA Day,
from a partial match of a relative's DNA profile,
and now his surviving victims may finally sleep at night.
So many friends of friends terrorized by deAngelo.

Is there any such thing as a reformed serial killer? 
Of course, it's harder to imagine a fat 72-year-old 
crawling through windows at night, let alone, 
getting it up. But that's probably how it all began,
stalking single women living alone, for the thrill.
How did he live with himself all these years,
knowing what he had done? 
And what of his daughters? 


Wednesday, April 25, 2018


—with thanks to Stephen King

The literary road to hell
is paved with weak verbs,
flaccid nouns, excessive adverbs,
anemic adjectives, Latinate words,
and gratuitous exclamation marks!


OBSCURE WORDS, takes one, 2, and so on....

Overfond that I am of obsolete, 
chiasmic subjunctive-sentence constructions, 
like Would it were true! I have been known to gambol
among the the dulcet chimeric inversions of speech,
and I have lost entire days perusing the OED 
for Anglo-Saxon onomatopoetic imagery,
and the desuetude of obscure Latinate words.
Call these vagaries of speech antediluvian if you must,
but these defenestrations of language 
are sometimes more pellucid
than the vainglorious riposte tongues
of our so-called modern argot.



Escutcheons, flanges, sconces, and finials
such odd words for a poem to make.
Take, for instance, Gül Baba's tomb
on the banks of the Danube, 
in the very heart of Budapest,
with its finial, a spire and crescent moon
against a breathless summer sky.
And the roses. Oh, the roses!
As you held the camera steady,
I nearly swooned in the midday sun.



Notty Bumbo handed me 
a word to poemize: nictitating.
as in nictitating membrane, 

the translucent inner eyelids of cats
(from Latin nictare, to blink). 
I knew the word since childhood,
when my cat lost his eye in a catfight, 
love gone all wrong in the night.
I learned how to clean the hideous wound,
and was plagued by nightmares from it,
but I always thought it was spelled
nicotating membrane, 
and I wondered what nicotine 
had to do with the inner eyelids of cats, 
other than both were smoky 
as burnt quartz.


OBSCURE WORDS, TAKE ONE, or what passes for word-wanking

Unable to pull a suitable obscure word out of my hat, I Googled Google for Googlisciously weird words. I found a list of 30 weird words, but I've already used some of them like crepuscular, and petrichor already in poems. The rest are boring palimpsests, not that I can pronounce palimpsest, repurposed skin burdened with multiple stories, each obscuring the other, it's a bit chcthonic, so much of this is underground, where is Cthulhu when you need him?

I too dislike that Eliza Doolittle schwa-sound that drove 'Enry 'Iggins to drink, oenopihile, that he was. Dipsomaniac, more like. Any cook worth her salt knows what umami is without knowing the word for that bitter yet savory mouthy feel. The four sacred sensations of the tongue, plus one.

That leaves tmesis, which I ab-so-fucking-lutely do not want to use, or say, ever. Is the t silent or not? I'm too much of a nebbish to use that word. How about skeuomorph, that plastic Adirondack chair, a form of mimesis, or lucubration? Pedantic writing created in the wee hours while burning the midnight oil. Writing that sheds little light for all its efforts. But who works by lamplight these days, er, nights? Gaslight, maybe.

We all know far too many ultra-crepidarians on social media opining away, over their heads, offering free advice. The Greek painter Apelles overheard a cobbler criticizing the way he had rendered a foot, so he chapped the cobbler's hide for presuming to judge beyond the sole. A bit like how all this piece is cobbled together.

The idea of zeugma intrigues me, I like the economy of two-for-ones. She stole his heart, and his wallet. Poetry banks on that one. That's right up there with synecdoche, that simultaneous understanding where one thing stands for another.  That's poetry's bread and butter, a form of metonymy, a subclass of metaphor. Hoover it up, boys. Which brings me to flahoolick, from flaithulach, Irish, that is throwing your money about. Not that I have any money to squander.

As to chiasmus, like being dyslexic, it's a story of my life, but Kennedy said it best, "Ask not what your country can do for you," or to Byron's "Pleasure is a sin, and sometimes sin's a pleasure." The sin is all mine, I'm sure.

This frivolous persiflage is right up there with the aeolist, or the dark, secret cultist, who meets up with the panglossian singing "Always look on the bright side of life." Brian, is that yew? Chalk it up to the rhetorical pretensions of paralipsis—did I fucking say that out loud? Again?

Hiraeth, a notion I am intimately familiar with —the nostalgia of the past, a home that one cannot return to, hiraeth informs my writing, while I yearn for another undiscovered country, wanting the couthy comfort of hygge. The warmth of a fire, a cat, a book mid-winter, with the storm lashing at all the windows and doors. Nesh means being unusually susceptible to the cold, it has no synonym, but the freezing sensation that my days are numbered, is not. This is no time for cold feet.

Zugzwang is a a no-win chess move. It all comes down to loss in the end. Damned if I do, damned if I don't. Just don't indulge in schadenfreude, that malicious joy. Whatever happened to non-zero-sum?

And who can even pronounce Eisenbahnscheinbewegung, it makes my eyes spin. It's that false sensation of movement when you're sitting in a parked train, and see another train depart. And the train hasn't even left the station. Is leaving the station. Will never leave the station. Sort of like Pogo's statement: I have met the enemy and he is us.

TG Donaudampfschifffahrtselektrizitätenhauptbetriebswerkbauunterbeamtengesellschaft wasn't on the list. Hint: Danube steamboats and electricity are involved. That's the second-longest word in German, BTW. 

German dropped its longest word in 2013, rindfleischetikettierungsueberwachungsaufgabenuebertragungsgesetz, a beef label, after an EU law change.

The longest word in English has 189,819 letters, and takes 3.5 hours to pronounce, which is a chemical name for the titin protein found in humans. Is that really necessary?

The second longest word in English, at a svelte 45 letters long, is pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis, or silicosis from inhaling too much volcanic smoke, or vog, for short. The citizens of Pompeii never stood a chance. What's with this scientific oneupmanship on naming lengthy diseases? Nanner-nanner-nanner, my disease name is longer than yours.

Here on the Big Island today,
cough, cough, gone to Maui.

It bumped the previous lengthy contender, electrophotomicrographically for a loop. At least you can grasp the meaning of this word. Squirrel it away for Scrabble.

And all this time I thought that antidisestablishmentarianism was the longest word in English. I got it right in a third grade spelling bee.

I won't mention Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, (that's llan-vire-pooll-guin-gill-go-ger-u-queern-drob-ooll-llandus-ilio-gogo-goch), or Saint Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near a rapid whirlpool and the Church of St. Tysilio of the red cave, an-18 syllable word longer than the trainstop itself. I've been to Llanfair-pwll, for short, but I've never successfully pronounced it. Talk about Eisenbahnscheinbewegung!

Steatopygous should never be used to describe a woman's bottom, no matter how callipygous it is, unless it's Queen singing Fat Bottom Girls. And who the hell describes a sliced papaya as yonic anyway? I'll take mine with lime.

But I digress, this piece has become tediously prolixian and persiflageous, I'm in danger of becoming dunandunateous. This is going nowhere fast. All this work, and I still did not get a suitably obscure word for a poem. There's a reason why most of these words are obscure, and perhaps they should stay that way. Begin again.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

ANYTHING FOR BEAUTY, and Retinol as a night creme?

An advert for Retinol Night Cream.
I wondered, what's the point?
Bald men's shiny pates aside,
who wants to extra hair on their face?
An anti-aging cream erases deep wrinkles
while you sleep. But the skin elixir backfired.
One woman said her temple hairline
was dangerously close to her eyebrows.
Another woman thought she had developed
a rare disease, policyst ovarian syndrome.
Yet another was convinced she was channeling
Frida Kahlo's famous unibrow.
A single man, intent on tightening up his pores,
sprouted velus hairs on his nose and cheeks.
He must've slathered the elixer on,
even his eyebrows were thicker,
he was well-pleased with the results.
No mention of downunder, TG,
The hirsute women, however,
were experiencing mid-life crises,
sprouting downy hair on their faces,
with their wrinkles still intact. 
These dewy-cheeked matrons,
seeking the elusive Fountain of Youth,
have taken up shaving.
Anything for beauty.


Retinol as a night creme?

An advert for Retinol Night Cream for women took me aback. I wondered, what's the point? Bald men's pates aside, who wants to grow hair on their face? So I Googled it and found this: This anti-aging cream visibly reduces the look of lines and deep wrinkles on your face while you sleep. OK. I get that. But then I found this: How I Accidentally Grew Hair on My Left Temple with Retinol. It looks like the skin plumping elixir sometimes backfires. One woman said her temple hairline was creeping dangerously close to her eyebrows. Another thought she had policyst ovarian syndrome. Another thought she was channeling Frida Kahlo's unibrow. A man, intent on tightening up his pores, sprouted velus hairs on his nose, cheeks, and bonus eyebrow hairs. I guess he was overgenerous with his application because he had a systemic reaction. He became hairier all over, and was well-pleased with the results. The hirsute women, however, were experiencing mid-life crises! Sprouting downy hair on their faces, and no sign of wrinkles going away. The dewy-cheeked matron, seeking the elusive Fountain of Youth, has taken up shaving. So very Neanderthal. Talk about a close shave. Anything for beauty.

Monday, April 23, 2018


I should get up, do something useful,
other than lounging beneath an umbrella
reading a stack of books from a dead ex-lover,
their covers curling in the heat like nuns' wimples.
I'm looking for traces of myself in his old poems,
but there's so little of me there,
there's nothing left to do, other than to crow,
But I was there! I was there! So what
if I am reduced to a her or a you,
those impersonal substitutes that sting and maim 
the memory of a relationship long after it's over.
A namelessness, a negation. A particle of speech.
Then I realized my path leading to uncharted territories
was never about being la mujer de John,
included as a footnote to the future.
I took a camino of my own choosing.
Perils and risks, part of the baggage
we always carry with us.
Making us who we are.


Sunday, April 22, 2018


This time, last year
I was standing on the Carrizo Plain
a week too late for the superbloom,
another bucketlist item checked off,
like Antelope Valley, but the long drought
had thwarted the poppies for another year.
I resolutely admired how Soda Lake mirrored
the sky and the Temblor Mountains.
You could still see vague yellow swaths
painting the crevices. I sat down in the tall grass,
annoyed by our late start, the plants whipping me
in the strong winds, wanting a riot of color,
angry to have missed the bloom of a lifetime
by a mere week. I swatted the plants aside,
they were oddly shaped, then I noticed
they had pale pink throats, and snowy petticoats.
They reminded me of a flower I had seen before,
but what? Then it hit me, I was sitting in the midst
of a superbloom, they were a kind of delphinium,
like nothing I'd ever seen before, alkali larkspur,
thousands of them facing east toward the Temblors.
The hillside was covered in snowy splendor
like a vast frothy cotillion ballgown.
Sometimes you just have to look aslant
to see what's right in front of your face,
and then you can hear the music of the wind.



In the Galapagos, I met a blue footed booby 
who liked the cut of my jeans 
and he danced for me with his blue feet 
waving like little racing flags, 
singing Ayeh, ayeh aheh, are you my mate?
He bowed to the sky, then gazed at me 
with his mad blue eyes, so like John's.


Poetic sendoff for John Oliver Simon at Jered's pottery shed

We attended John Oliver Simon's literary memorial at Jered's Pottery, a warehouse in Emeryville next to the railroad tracks. Sarah Kobrinsky arranged the event, which was fairly well attended. Tobey Kaplan was emcee: Jack Foley, Rafael Jesus Gonzalez, Clive Matson. Lots of poets from his Poetry Inside Out program, Sophie Dahlin, Lilian Autler, Temina, I took photos. Somehow I expected more people.

The day before was John's birthday, and judging by the amount of people who wished him a happy birthday on Facebook, I'd say that some of them aren't aware that he is gone. I was going to say, gone from this planet, but even when one is cremated, one is still of this planet, even in the form of ash. But having a poetic send-off on Earth Day was fitting. No stardust need apply.

Saturday, April 21, 2018


There is an inherent danger in the way
bedclothes mingle with rampant abandonment,
or the way that dirty laundry begets
more dirty laundry, and the cat ecstatically
rubbed its jowls along the inside of your shoe,
the one that was lost under the bed.
Remember the time you reached under
to grab his lost collar and came up
with an irate alligator lizard latched to your hand,
the cat's sudden interest in things abandoned,
a flight of fancy, somewhat like the day you left
and never looked back, leaving me wondering
whether you were dead or alive, I never saw
that danger sparking in your eyes,
nor how the open road beckoned.
I never saw the signs warning me to yield,
for soft shoulders, dangerous curves ahead.



I may not know the Latinate names,
or sometimes even the common ones,
I cannot key a plant for the life of me,
so I remember native blooms by sight.
Except for all the little yellow ones.
They're a seething sea of mystery,
Except buttercups and butter & eggs.
And the cream cups, of course.
If a buttercup reflected light under your chin,
it meant you loved butter,
but the cows avoided them,
their cool, peppery odor
staining the milk
with the taste of sunlight.


Friday, April 20, 2018


      —para John

After I gave you a blue lapis heart,
which you always wore on your vest,
you said: if I love you am I trapped forever?
We didn't know the answer was an infinitive Yes.
Even when I left. I had to. And yet you still loved me
the way I loved you all this time. No matter what.
At least at the end, we were able to say, 
I love you once more to each other,
and really mean it, no holds barred.

Goodnight, Sweetheart.
I give you back your blue lapis heart,
lost so many years ago in the wash.
You were never alone in the dark, nor unloved.
Safe journey, mi amor, and may your ashes
enrich those desert oases you loved so deeply.

Right up to the very end,
poetry was your other woman,
but the desert was your real lover.
Perhaps that blue lapis heart
is waiting somewhere on the trailhead
whispering secret words of love
to the pale desert sky, waiting
for the next star-crossed lovers
to cross its path.



Someone wanted an identification of a wild lily,
once called Zigadine, now Toxicoscordion fremontii.
My eyeballs weren't yet awake. Batting 50/50,
I mis-ID the bearmat as gold-back fern.
Then realized no self-respecting gold-back fern
would ever grow out in the open like that.
And the location, pine foothills...
But I know a death camas when I see it.

I loved saying the old name, Zigadine!
One of the few Latin plant names I know by heart.
The way it explodes off the tongue
and becomes something like shooting stars.
I never once called it a Fremont lily,
for John C. Frémont was a toxic mass-murderer
of the California Indians. And he fomented a revolt
for personal gain, choosing a bear as his bandolier.

I never knew the other moniker, and was horrified
to discover that I had transplanted death camas
to our lower field where we grazed horses in spring.
No wonder the gophers always left it alone.
And luckily, the horses did too.

As for the bearmat, aka kit-kit-dizze, 
which is also a placename where
poet Gary Snyder lives, on North San Juan Ridge.
My old boyfriend from Grass Valley,
who admired Gary Snyder from afar,
and accidentally introduced me to poetry,
said that the bears liked to roll on it.

I loved the tarry odor of the leaves, but they're clingy.
Some folks call it mountain misery, or bear clover.
Despite its lovely white rose petal blossoms,
bearmat is the bane of careless hikers and dogs,
because it's so stickery, and its seeds are hitchhikers.
It has some redeeming qualities as well,
you can make rheumatism tea from the leaves.
Maybe the bears had rheumatism too.
We were always on the lookout for it.
And the bears. But when the words found me,
much to my old boyfriend's chagrin,
he ambled off into the mountain misery,
never to be seen again.



Santa Rosa—The nearly naked thief
clearly didn't have good taste in beer
stealing a Coors' beer truck like that
in broad daylight, before noon,
dressed only in boxers and sneakers.
Someone commented: It's the water—
and a lot more. Well, maybe not so much more...
If only it had been Duff beer, she said.
Man in the Buff heists Duff.

Now, if it was Pliny the Elder...
But then, he'd have to rethink the wardrobe,
American flag boxer shorts just won't do.
A toga, maybe. And sandals, not sneakers.

But you know how it goes—
Coors beer always comes out
the same way it goes in. Unadulterated.
The police apprehended the thief
cowering in the bushes.

Ya ever notice how no one
ever steals a Miller High Life truck?
Ya can't make this stuff up.



OCD-minded that I am,
I spent the morning re-formatting
blog pages from April of 2009,
because someone had asked me
who was the most famous person I'd ever met.
I couldn't choose just one, I chose many,
so I looked up an old blogpost of mine,
and noted that it needed a little tweaking.
I fixed a typo here, an extra space there,
an unfinished thought with the verbs gone missing.
It was a good a place as any to begin, scrubbing text,
and whipping those old pages into shape,
but one bad post invariably led to another.
What was Google thinking,
changing formatting mid-stream like that?
It makes me look like an idiot
in retrospect. How many more pages?
Wrestling with bad HTML code
is like grappling faulty memory banks
with gaff hooks, reliving the past
viewed in errant type and odd spacing
is a stubborn clown's holiday.
The broken code just won't let go
of that sudden blossom of words
in extra large type, or in a different font,
midstream. You have to strip it clean
of all commands, and begin again.
Or you can't see the bleedin' forest,
or even the trees, for that matter,
on the cyber page. This mayhem
a frog's breakfast of electronic ink
gone awry.


Thursday, April 19, 2018


I inherited my grandmother's thread basket
filled with wooden spools labeled Coates & Clark,
bone buttons from longjohns laced together like necklaces,
the heavyweight linen thread, waxed and aged,
a dented thimble, rusted needles, an awl,
a long hatpin, a woman's first line of defense
as she traversed the city streets enroute
to the Rixford mansion where she was a tailor and nanny
to the wealthy scions. The daughter threw it all off,
became a pein air painter, leaving my grandmother
tiny postcard-sized canvases of marshy landscapes
that would disappear beneath the weight of prosperity.
But the stock market crash took care of that wealth
just as she was making a name for herself. Claire,
a name for light. My grandmother married,
had eight children, moved to the country
but she never painted. Instead, she waited for her daughters
to imagine landscapes stitched with fine brush strokes,
but she couldn't nurture that fey spirit in herself,
there was always the garden, the next meal,
or a mountain of laundry that needed washing and mending,
her grey hair, a halo, as she bent over her children's clothes.
That click of her teeth as she severed the thread
from the needle, as she surveyed her handiwork,
the knot and heft of time well tied.


Sunday, April 15, 2018


Jannie Dresser lost her one-eyed wonder,
Mona, a tuxedo cat, who went missing
on a souped-up Saturday night.
She slipped out, thin as a shadow 

through the crack of the door 
into the darkness that beckoned.
Her lone eye fixed on the siren moon
while Jannie, heartbroken, walked the alleys
crooning for her lost cat. I said:
Cats sometimes go on walkabout,
and return a little worse for wear. 
Perhaps she's searching 
for the lost dreams of her other eye.
What tall tales she'll have.

(the cat returned five nights later)

Saturday, April 14, 2018


I am saddened to report that,
having fallen sufficiently behind in my writing
while on the road, I can't seem to close the gap.
I'm always a fortnight out of sequence,
no matter how I try to bridge the distance.
The adage, you can never make up for lost time,
is true. I'm sad to say. Sadder still,
are all the lost lines that spontaneously arose
as we hurtled across interstates,
I never wrote them down, said I'd remember them.
But they disappeared, like the ephemeral
mirage on a dry playa in the mid-day sun.
Crossing the valley I couldn't tell the difference
between solar panels and ghost lakes.
I am left with a thirst for those lost lines
that I will never quench.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018


Donkeys were our early warning system.
No one could sneak into the barn, or the tack room
without a hefty announcement from the burros.
Full moons set them off too,
you could hear their cackle and haw
all the way down Arroyo Road.
Pity the would-be thief who forgets the mordida
when the desert nightingales are on patrol.
They take no prisoners.
Sneak up on you with no warning.
Demand their pay in oats.
Unless there are carrots.
Then it's all bets off.



I'm running on empty,
where will I pay for the dawn lights?
My grandmother whispered
and the waves answered
while the fish flew with the doves
into the somber clouds.
The moon rose, pirouetted,
a symbol of the divine dance.

4/11/19 2018
from word cards

Tuesday, April 10, 2018


I'll make you a deal,
you can have all my past sins,
all those dark hosannas
that I flung along the country road
like a trail of venial stars
while walking a mile and a half home
from catechism on Thursday afternoons.


Bill the Bass

The first time I met Bill, the Big Mouth Bass, was in a guest loo at a small dinner party.  Bill was a game fish, hung above the toilet tank. I thought it an odd place to hang a hunting trophy. And even odder to name the fish. I wondered if my host ate him before he was stuffed. Coincidentally, we were having fish for dinner. I guess my host admired his trophy fish anew whenever he took a piss. I must've been talking to myself in the bathroom, because suddenly the fish went postal. I shrieked, and then giggled. I had no idea there was even such a thing as an animated fish. He slapped his tail, looked me in the eye, opened his mouth wide, then began to sing Take me to the river. Put me in the water. When I emerged several minutes later, after a good singalong with Bill, everyone was asking me if I enjoyed my pitstop and meeting Bill. I was red-faced, caught in the act of singing in the loo with a talking fish.

Sunday, April 8, 2018


While scanning old photos, I found one of me
sitting on top of the world, at the Kalahaku Overlook,
Puʻu ʻUlaʻula on Haleakalā, the House of the Sun.

The crater at the summit was Māui's grandmother's home.
Māui's mother Hina, complained that her kapa bark cloth
wouldn't dry because the days were too short. All that work ruined.
So his blind grandmother helped him snare the sun with a net
made of his sister's hair to slow its journey across the sky.
The sun pleaded for its life, they came to an arrangement
that the days would be long in summer and shorter in winter.
It 's a good story, no matter that we're close to the equator,
where the days and nights are nearly equal.

Going down the Sliding Sands Trail into the volcanic desert
was the easy part, like schussing in snow,
only it was made of red pumice.... We took giant strides
where each step took us one body height downward.
It was like walking on the moon as we descended 2000 ft
to the crater floor in minutes. Our ears strained like divers.

Will Staple and Gary Snyder opted to take the trail
down the mountain out the bottom of the crater.
I had to hike back up to the observatory by myself.
I felt abandoned. I was alone on the steep slope,
with only my restless thoughts to accompany me.
The sun scorched my arms, until I was on fire.
The thin air at 10,000 feet whistled,
my tongue was like a dry stone.

I had opportunity to study the rare 'ahinahina,
or Haleakalā silverswords, looking like porcupines
or a bouquet of swords tipped in the purple blood of flowers.
They may live a century, but only bloom once,
one chance to make seeds, no multiple families.

I slid back down the trail backwards a half-step
for every step forward. Pumice singing beneath my feet.
Then I had to face the long drive back down the mountain,
jelly-thighed, I just wanted to sleep by the side of the road,
become part of the mountain, and wait for Māui to push up the sky.

rev. 4/21/18


My heart is achin'
for trout dressed in bacon caught
by the stream of life.

Broken winds behind
your back and the road is long
without such good friends.

On Route 66
may you always find your way
back to the garden.


Sunday, April 1, 2018



Deep in a slot canyon Trümmelbach creek 
drains the meltwaters of three glaciers.
You can hear the thundering and roaring falls
from the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the valley of 72 falls,
but you can't see the ten waterfalls 
because they're hidden deep inside the mountain,
You have to enter the darkness in order to see 
the brilliant light of the subterranean falls.
It all boils down to black and white.


this evolved into TRÜMMELBACH FALLS

For the complete list of prompts, visit Robert Lee Brewer's A Poem a Day challenge. I have a jammed month, then we're off to Vegas, so these are placeholders for when I can get back to them later. If I've a poem, the title is in caps, if it's lower case, then I haven't written the poem. It's merely the prompt. The only problem with filling in the poems after the fact, is that the creation date will be different. So I'll date when I wrote the poems at the bottom.

Unused Robert Lee Brewer Poem a Day Prompts

I deleted these prompts as separate posts because I never got back to them to write poems for each of them, and my blog is hard enough to navigate as it is. The links will take you back to Robert Lee Brewer's original posts.