Category Archives: poetry

just an ordinary thursday, really

morning.
wrangle kid into clothes
potty training
vacuum
sweep
clean up kidspill
make pancake batter
make coffee
feed dogs
flip banana pancakes
make beds
open curtains
talk kid into eating
unload bookshelf
move bookshelf
reassemble
move chair
sweep
pacify meltdown over end of tv time
transition toddler into creative play
research the gyan mudra for monday’s tattoo design
make more coffee
coax kid to eat more breakfast
find missing ball kid desperately needs
rewash husband’s pen-stained work clothes for 4th time
move file cabinet
organize an entire family worth of paperwork.
answer several important emails which require Thought
chat with my momma friends
make lunch
deal with 4 spates of whiny crying intermixed with throwing and hitting
shower
clean up spilled juice
kid hucks the potty
offer him the choice of peeing outside
we stand on the porch together
his tiny bare feet on mine
it is raining softly
and he gets sad
at naptime he holds my hand in the dark
and we listen to Gillian Welch sing “the way it will be”
he falls asleep in a blessedly short ten minutes
and I emerge to sit
alone
in this room
try to figure out what to do with the beautiful solitude
launch myself into action
and try to build up enough inertia to carry me through
tackle the mess on the desk
recycle, put away, categorize, rediscover, trash, sort
dice an onion and sautee it in olive oil with thyme and smoked salt
put on Macklemore’s Can’t Hold Us
and dance
answer more emails
file more papers
stir the soup
and
try to scrape together enough of myself
to remember that once I wanted to be a writer when I grew up
and drag myself to the keyboard

So we put our hands up
like the ceiling can’t hold us

kid wakes up with a 102 degree fever
and i spend the subsequent 5 hours with his tiny frame pressed against mine
hot forehead searing against my skin in the carrier
coaxing him to drink
persuading him to take a thermometer
coercing him to swallow tylenol
and soup
and finally,
soothing him to sleep,
lay there staring at the ceiling
drained

just an ordinary thursday, really

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Filed under basic goodness, Family, Food, love, motherhood, Ordinary, poetry, stories, unrepentantly unedited, watching it all go by

newyorkminute

photo 4

It wasn’t until the last day that I sat on a corner bench and raised my collar against the cold and cracked my journal: for four days I followed his tall and purposeful stride through the subways and the sidewalks and the elegant lobbies, beneath the sky-filling spans of bridges and down the hallowed and corrupted aisles of urban cathedrals, through the temporary winter foyers of artful restaurants and past the legions of doormen, (some of whom i am convinced we have interrupted in the midst of composing poems), along the curving sidewalks of frozen Central Park and over the very ground where John Lennon breathed his last on the day my mother heard my heartbeat for the first time, in and out of taxi cabs and up the stairs of the Jane hotel for a cocktail but not a 99$ room, into the darkened bustle of gay bars without women’s restrooms which makes me laugh, buzzed on gin and freedom while musicals are projected onto the walls and the scarcely clad bartenders ply their trade, past graves marked and over graves unseen and through gusts of paper confetti drifting onto sidestreets after a Lunar New Year parade, taking refuge from the biting wind over yet another cocktail and elegant scallion pancakes, seitan marsala with figs unrolling on my tongue and fennel soup eddying across my notion of what is possible, exorbitant shop windows and resilient beggars, and meanwhile there are ghosts, millions of them, Ginsberg ogling muscled Puerto Rican delivery boys in the East Village and Dorothy Parker tapping her pen on the tabletop next to her drink at the Algonquin, the woman who shares my name who was murdered in Central Park a few years back and whose face I know from the pictures, precious babies who died from adulterated milk in the tenements by the thousands because their malnourished immigrant mothers couldn’t produce breastmilk what with all the stress and work outside the home, each of us here chasing our own particular version of the American dream in this island city built on ancient bedrock and washed over by the storms of the Atlantic and I’ll just stop there for now because the laundry won’t do itself.

KP and RR… crazylove and wildgratitude.

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Filed under Americana, basic goodness, death, Food, gratitude, History, Homeland, love, meditation, motherhood, poetry, stories, travel, watching it all go by

for Jack Heil.

photo(4)

it would seem that there are not too many threads
between you and I

your exit came nineteen years before my arrival
and I have only a few snapshots
in the stark black and white
of the postwar years
when you married my grandmother
and held my mother on your lap
in a white tank top
with a St. Christopher medal around your neck
and a bottle of Imperial in her tiny hands

and I have only a few stories
of how you traveled for work
and how the six kids would pile in the car
to drive old highway 99 to the airport
and see you off
back in the day when you walked across the tarmac
and up the stairs
if you needed to take a plane

of how you were at a convention in Florida for work
with my Grandmother
and there was a sitter for the kids back home
and the last night you sat with her on the beach
and watched the waves
and the next day, she took one flight
and you took another
and you did not come home

of how your death tore a hole in your family
and how your widow stitched it together as best as she knew how
and your children healed in their own ways
and they grew with the scars.

Some scars never heal,
some are open even now,
fifty years later.
Your grandchildren have seen them.
We grew up bathed in the echoes
of what seemed to us a distant tragedy
and so you are part of our lives
and now we are trying to fathom
which part
that is.

so I have a few photos
and a few stories
and tonight, it occurs to me that I have something else
I am your granddaughter
I am one-fourth you.
I do not know which parts of me come from you
but it cannot be denied
that we are connected in ways
that are timeless and unknowable

and I have your headstone
and I visit it sometimes
with cedar boughs or incense
sometimes I bring you coffee
and your great-grandson,
and I wonder what you would tell me
if you could
speak
now

“maybe death
isn’t darkness, after all,
but so much light
wrapping itself around us–”

― Mary Oliver

In memory of all those lost on Northwest Orient Flight 705

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Filed under basic goodness, Change, death, Family, fathoming, History, love, meditation, memory, Mothers, poetry, stories

Josie B

“Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”
― Mary Oliver

Josie B,
Josie B.
how many shifts has it been
how many married ketchups and quiet moments of sadness
how many big trays
how many tickets stabbed
how many laughs that we drank down like water
to sustain us
how many slights
how many sweetnesses
have we shared
in the last five years

This past Sunday,
you folded your apron neatly
rolled it up
and slid it across the table.
i’ll take it for now,
i said
but someday i’m gonna follow you out

Out into the uncertain world of
the Good Work
we went to school for

you are setting out to do art
with people who have been discarded
people who struggle to make peace with their own minds
people who battle addiction and incredible pain
you are frightened, and justifiably so,
and you are brilliant, and ready
and so very loved.

photo(3)

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Filed under basic goodness, Ordinary, poetry, Uncategorized, Waitress, waitressing

chopping garlic with Patsy Cline after the two year old spends an hour unsupervised.

Fighting off a winter cold,
I laid down on the couch
after putting my son down for a nap.

woke up an hour later to discover
he’d gotten out of bed
emptied the dental floss container
built a train
liberated some tortillas from the fridge
and finally
come over to pat me on the shoulder
and deliver a bottle of homeopathic throat spray.
We snuggled.
Not bad for at least an hour of unsupervised two year old time,
I reason.
And later, when he reveals to me that he successfully
unwound an entire roll of toilet paper,
its hard to be appropriately stern,

as he’s beaming and proud
and I’m listening to Patsy Cline
and chopping a mountain of garlic.

sweetness in the doldrum days

sweetness in the doldrum days

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Filed under basic goodness, Family, Food, love, motherhood, Ordinary, poetry, stories, watching it all go by

making soup from what we have

photo 1

sit by an open January window
and study the healing
of the half dozen cracks and gashes
the work weekend left behind on my hands

sip lukewarm coffee
and watch a slight wind stirring in the damp boughs
of a cedar tree that is maybe a century old

think about the questions of the day
What Ought We to Do…
about potty training the toddler
about the epidemic of gun violence
and the erosion of abortion rights
How are we to love each other, best
and how long is this stomach virus contagious
when will we finish the bathroom remodel
and catch on to the violence
of American poverty

the issues of the day seem insurmountable
but are soon forgotten
in the thickening pile of months
and years

make soup from what we have
which is collard greens, black beans,
farro grains and summer tomatoes and basil, frozen in blocks
from a warmer time

make playdough
watch him knead the warm, wheat-colored lump
into dogs and sticks and gingerbread men

and continue rowing
through the thick greyness
of the doldrum days

photo 2

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5 AMpThu, 31 Jan 2013 10:47:44 +000047Thursday 2009 · 10:47 am

a dead gull and a map of the world

(orderpad note 1/19)

Driving home from Violet’s 2nd birthday party,
which was sweet in every way imaginable,
Callum and I discussed the colors of the things we passed,
orange backhoes and green trees, yellow cars and blue signs.

I passed a seagull in the righthand lane,
its wings were outstretched,
and it had been run over several times.
And I thought about the colors of the scene,
and about flying
and how sometimes life is wrought
with unpredictable happenings.

Callum chattered in the backseat, showing me his party favors in the rearview
Ahead, I saw a crumpled piece of trash dancing along the shoulder of the highway
I reached one hand into the backseat to receive
the item my son needed help with
and in that moment
the trash lifted up into the wintersky
and was unfurled
by the wind

revealing before me a perfectly unfolded
map of the world

i exited the highway
and drove up the hill to our house
demonstrating
how to blow into a paper whistle party favor
which was yellow
and unfurled with a tweet
at the end of the curl of paper,
much to my two-year old son’s delight.

and that was the end of the poem.

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Filed under basic goodness, doldrums, gathering, gratitude, January, love, meditation, motherhood, on writing, Ordinary, outside, Peace, poetry