Category Archives: recession

word to the mama

We have so many things to tell you,
about how we are literally inhabiting different bodies,
in which entire hormonal plotlines have been cut up
and rewritten

about how our understanding of the Feminine Mystique has evolved
and how quaint we now find the memories of our former selves,
about our newfound empathy for mothers in ratty yoga pants everywhere,
battered by sleeplessness and worry and exquisite joy,
and for people everywhere who are doing all they can


to get


how brutal, capitalism,
on the caregivers, the aging, the children, the laboring, the exhausted, the sick….
how unromantic, the trips to home depot for paint and nails and replacement toilet parts

how heartbreakingly beautiful small conversations can be,
how vast and bottomless your love

and how nothing we anticipated intellectually could begin to come close
to This

but when someone wakes up from their nap 15 minutes early,
or wants to be picked up
or fed toast
or grapes
or directed to the nearest bulldozer dumptruck airplane
or they refuse to wear pants,
or come out from under the train table
or they bust out a pretty loud and articulate argument
for why you need to watch them throw a ball
right now
and then someone spikes a fever out of nowhere,
and the the diapers have to get moved
to the next wash cycle
or you won’t have time to dry them before your shift tonight,
and sorry, i hear silence, something must be wrong
and hold that thought, i hear crying, someone’s hurt
no, that’s a play cry,
continue with what you were saying
oh, i was talking
i can’t remember what about
yeah, sometime we’ll save enough for the new furnace,
in the meantime why don’t you shoo the dog off the couch and
take the seat by the space heater

and we might earnestly try to work out which wave of feminism
This is
for a moment
but someone has to run to pick up the kid from preschool,
and the kettle is boiling

when this is your life,
it is hard to form coherent sentences,
let alone finish the thought in your mind
that bore them.

word to the mama.


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Filed under basic goodness, blue collar, Family, feminism, motherhood, politrix, Pregnancy, recession, unrepentantly unedited

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


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


Last night, a homeless man politely propositioned me for cash at a gas station.
I held up a fistful of ones and told him we’d dragged the seat cushions for these,
and I couldn’t spare any
and he politely said
no worries sweetheart,
happy holidays.

Inside I handed over eleven dollars to the Sikh cashier,
and watched the homeless man standing against the cold.
while my husband pumped gas I rummaged through a canvas bag full of Hanukkah leftovers.
Returned to the homeless man with a glass container
and asked him if he was hungry
yes, he said
and I apologized that the latkes were greasy
he tugged his glove off and accepted the leftovers into his palms
and said thank you
and I replaced the lid and said you’re welcome.

As we drove away into the dark I rubbed my oil slick fingers together
and caught myself feeling relieved for having allayed my guilt
over having more
rather than less
and thus descended into a hyper-intellectual narrative
about privilege and inequity
and altruism and leftovers

Then it occurred to me
that the homeless man’s fingers were slick with the same cooking oil
as mine
and our bellies now held the same food
and that maybe it was enough to leave it at that

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Filed under basic goodness, coexistence, Food, Ordinary, recession, stories, winter


the 80-year old trees that ring our house are thrashing in the wind,
and a gold-grey stormlight is glowing on the last few tired, tenacious leaves
high school students walk down the street in their backpacks,
hooded sweatshirts cinched around their faces

I dash out into the wind and uproot a handful of leeks
the babe on my hip babbles into the gusts and gasps when it blows in his face
Going back in, I stop to
stare at the glow in the spaces between the trees

There’s something eerie about stormlight, something prescient and uncanny
Maybe I learned it from the Wizard of Oz,
or my mother’s stories of witnessing tornadoes,
while visiting her grandparents in the Midwest as a kid.

Lack of northwest tornadoes notwithstanding,
I’m conditioned to respond when the sky takes on these colors.

Get ready,
they say
its going to get worse before it gets better.

The wind strengthens as the night passes.
We eat potato leek soup and biscuits, and startle as the power flickers.
I leave the house to run an errand at eight,
and on my two-mile drive home,
I pass eight different aging campers, all parked streetside and providing homes.
My headlights catch a man’s face, sitting in his camper in the dark,
as the wind whips wet leaves off the curbs
and plasters them against his thin-walled home.

We loose the power at our house few hours later,
and we light candles and take stock of what we have to loose in the fridge.
Put the babe to bed by flickering candlight, and enjoy the cosiness,
as the wind howls against our house like a coastal storm.
We may not have much, but we’ve got walls around us,
and money to pay the power bill,
and so we enjoy storms for their novelty.

I am aware that winter storms are not novelties for those living in campers,
who were most likely once people with mortgages, or apartments at least.

they say the recession is over,
but none of my unemployed friends are finding work.

i think the campers are their own kind of stormlight.

take a breath, they seem to say,
its going to get worse before it gets better.


Filed under autumn weather, layoffs, recession, winter