Monthly Archives: May 2014

Sock Talk

Sock Talk

It’s Here! The first proof. It should be available on Amazon in print and Kindle versions within a week or two. This has been a looooong learning process, but two more (Sunup/Sundown Song and I Really Want A Puppy) are now formatted, awaiting illustrations. Going much more smoothly for the second and third books.

In the Motel Breakfast Room: Poetry by Prescription


In the Motel Breakfast Room

That little boy
is screaming and mad.
At eight in the morning,
he’s already bad!

He tasted his waffle
and doesn’t want more.
He just dumped his Fruit Loops
all over the floor.

His mom didn’t see
from her side of the room.
The attendant was swift
with her dustpan and broom.

She removed all the cereal
dumped at my feet
by the brattiest child
I ever did meet.

I came to this place
for some coffee and quiet.
I didn’t expect
to encounter a riot.

He’s having a tantrum.
He will not sit down.
His voice at screech level,
his mouth set on frown.

Does he want to go back
to the room? asks his mother
as she struggles to feed
both his sister and brother.

At this breakfast bar set up
for all of the guests,
regrettably, no sign says,
“We don’t serve pests.”

Last night when my friend
went to get us some ice,
“Excuse me, Excuse me,”
the desk clerk said twice

as he ran down the hall
in a manner uncool
heading straight for the door
that leads into the pool.

Now I can imagine this
terrible kid
pushing some button.
(I bet that he did!)

that signaled “Emergency
Call 911!”
watching the panic
and calling it fun.

The manager thinking
“perhaps a cracked head!”
but encountering only
this bad boy instead.

Now this morning my coffee
was ruined by his cries.
This early-day tantrum
a rite I despise.

I started to gather
my coffee and fruit,
then grabbed a few
creamers and sweeteners to boot.

When from my eye’s corner
before I could stand,
at the edge of my table
I saw a small hand.

I looked up to encounter
a smile ear-to-ear.
That horrible child
looked ever so dear!

He flashed me the smile,
for a moment stood near,
then departed the room
nevermore to appear.

When I looked at the table,
an astonishing sight.
He’d left me one Fruit Loop
right there in plain sight.

That child’s behavior
now leaves me in doubt
whether I should remember
the smile or pout.

Was my disapproval
so plain to see
that this tiny child
could see right through me?

And had he the wisdom
to do what he did
simply to remind me
a kid is a kid?


Note: The event described in this poem actually happened on May 24 at a motel in Des Moines, IA, where I was attending my nephew’s h.s. graduation party. And yes, this is “the” Fruit Loop, which I still have.  The subject was prescribed by Duckie, who, when I told him what had just happened, said, “You gotta write about this.”  Poetry by Prescription. You suggest the topic.  I will write about it.

In the Open


In the Open

The day is balmy
with segmented clouds.
The African tulip tree
spreads its boughs wide
over the seated ones
as well as the one who stands in front of us,
leading us to ground our feet,
relax our arms with hands palms up
and to go inside ourselves
to watch our breath
and be in the now,
in the state that she calls openness.

To be in the future is not openness, she says,
and to be in the past is not openness.
Only the now is really living.
And it occurs to me
that when I think I want a cup of coffee
and leave my studio to go in search of it,
then, in the kitchen,
can’t remember what I’m there for,
(and the reason why so many
friends my age are doing the same)
is because we are in this state of openness
more frequently
as we get older.

Wanting a cup of coffee is in the future,
and remembering we wanted a cup of coffee
a few minutes ago
is having to remember the past.
Standing here in the kitchen
listening to the baby birds’
loud cheeps
from their nest in the kitchen overhang
is being in the now.

And so it is that all of us, as we age,
are in the deepest stages of meditation
most of the time
and should not worry so much
about Alzheimer’s or dementia,
because we are where Tibetan monks
and ladies leading meditation
would have us be.
Open. Living the now
with increasingly
less memory
for what was
or was to be.

Immigration, Misspelled Inspiration and Soap Dispensers

"Southern Icons of the 20th Century"  By Joni Mabe

“Southern Icons of the 20th Century” by Joni Mabe

"Travelers"  By Larry Walker

“Travelers” By Larry Walker

Yesterday, I arose at 3 a.m. (after just 3 hours of sleep) to be driven by taxi to the Guadalajara airport to catch a plane to Dallas/Ft. Worth where I would catch a connecting flight on to St. Louis, MO. After visiting Mexican immigration at one end of the airport and pulling two heavy bags the length of the airport to wait in the American Airlines line for an hour, I discovered that bad weather in Dallas had caused them to cancel all flights, and would it be convenient for me to come back tomorrow? No, coming back tomorrow was not convenient! Not only was a friend waiting for me in St. Louis, but the additional two taxi fares would amount to my taxis costing more than my airline flight. American was able to schedule me onto a later Delta flight and so it is that at the hour when I should have arrived in St. Louis, I am instead in the Atlanta airport with three hours left before my flight leaves, sitting next to a man who snuffles like a pig every 30 seconds, held prisoner by the electric power strip providing juice to the loyal MacBook Air that is making it possible for me to tell you today’s story.

If you’ve ever gone through your customs and immigration check in Atlanta, you probably already know what I have discovered: that the Atlanta airport has the longest walk and most circuitous queue lines of any airport so far experienced, after which you arrive at an automatic passport check where you scan your own passport, pose for the most unflattering picture possible, then go through yet another maze that is nothing short of an endurance check/ordeal after which you wait in line forever along with 500 other travelers to again be sorted into lines by an immigration employee on the job for the first day (she told me so) who for some reason has a grudge against your line to the point that the other two lines are empty before she sees fit to select people from the pariah line to again get in line to see one of the 4 humans assigned to double check our worthiness to enter the U.S., walk for another 15 minutes to retrieve our luggage and then wait in yet another line for customs.

By the time I actually made it through customs and began my loooooooong trek to where I could catch a train to another concourse, I was as perspiration-soaked as if I had been through an hour-long workout at the gym. You will have guessed right if you are thinking that once I arrived on “B” concourse, I discovered that my gate was the last one on the concourse. Of course it was! There is, however, a fact that mitigates all of the frustration previously endured, for the corridors of the Atlanta airport leading from the plane to Immigration are lined with some of the best and most varied art I’ve ever seen in any airport exhibition and most art museums. Collage, wall sculpture and paintings made me wish the automatic walkways would stall to give me time enough to actually look at the art—with the result that I got off the moving walkway to walk back to do just that. With no hands free to record any of the names of artists, I’ll just have to leave it to Google or airport authorities to give you more specific information, but the art was whimsical, colorful, original, thought-provoking and sometimes naïf. (For certain of those outsider art pieces giving exhaustive social commentary, do not judge the artistic merit by the spelling.)

A $13 pulled-pork plate assuaged my appetite as at that time it had been 13 hours since I arose to drive to the airport and begin my long day’s journey. But it was a trip to the ladies room that assured me that I was in fact back in the good old U.S.A. Spotless cleanliness, two full toilet paper rolls, paper seat covers, a hook to hang my purse, enough room to store my carry-on rolling bag without having to squeeze myself into a corner to do so, a self-flushing toilet that actually flushed and the piéce de résistance—A SHELF TO PUT MY DRINK ON!!!! Upon my easy exit from the roomy stall, I enjoyed an automatic foam soap dispenser installed in the sink next to the warm water faucet, then found paper towels and trash can within easy reach. This of course made me remember (with no nostalgia) the new movie theater in Ajijic, Mexico—my home town for the past 13 years—where only one sink of the eight present actually works and is, of course, the one furthest away from the only towel dispenser. Ah, Atlanta airport. I forgive thee for all other sins.


Happy Mother’s Day!!!

With everyone posting pictures of their moms, I couldn’t find one on my computer, so this will have to do. The wet hair tells me my mom has just finished washing my hair by having me lie on the counter and put my head in the kitchen sink. I have on my pink chenille bathrobe with brown flowers with yellow centers and I’m sure I’m talking to Lynnie Brost on the phone. Someone on our party line might be listening, but what secrets might two five-year-olds have that the whole neighborhood cannot know? Later my mom will put my hair up in curlers for those awful sausage curls that I thought were the only way I would ever wear my hair. Mom, in an hour and a half, I’ll leave to go read a poem about you at Open Circle. Wish you were there in the audience. Perhaps you will be. oxoxoxooxox to Eunice King Dykstra—remembered by all who knew her as “Pat.”


Poetry by Prescription: “Alone”



Alone is not lonely
And single’s no sin.
Solo is only
a state I am in
because I need time
to do what I do.
To scan and to rhyme,
to create and to stew
both poems and soups
without watching the clock
or jumping through hoops
or having to talk.

I really like cooking
dishes for one.
I’m simply not looking
for “coupley” fun.
I like doing art
far into the night.
This freedom is part
of traveling light.
Going solo is groovy.
Single-handed is fun,
and it might behoove you
to try being “one”

instead of a brace
or a duet or pair.
You’ll have all this space.
You’ll have all this air.
Your closet’s your own
to fill up with shoes.
No sharing a phone
and no bathroom queues.
You won’t have to fiddle
with left or with right.
You’ll sleep in the middle
every night!

You’ll eat what you want to
and dine when you wish.
You’ll get to eat tofu
and never eat fish.
You can stay up till dawn
to finish your quilt.
You’re nobody’s pawn,
so you’ll never feel guilt.
Leave coffee cups sitting
all over the house?
It’s behavior most fitting
when bereft of a spouse.

Pop bonbons and read
all day in your bed.
You can meet every need
when you’re no longer wed.
On the other hand though,
you must walk your own dog
and when water comes slow,
must unclog your own clog.
When you blow out a fuse
and your lawn goes unmown,
there are no “honey do’s”
when you’re all on your own!


Today’s “prescription” came from my friend Betty Petersen, a wonderful artist, who asked me to write a poem about the single life. If you have a topic you’d like me to write about, please post it on my blog or send it via Facebook or email.


Stop stoning of gays and others in Brunei

Brunei wants to start stoning gay people and other people convicted of ‘crimes’ like adultery.

Brunei is small and wealthy, but has international ties that could influence its leader, Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah. He’s linked to some of the world’s most exclusive hotels in the US and Europe. Brunei is also negotiating a high-profile trade agreement with countries like the US. The Beverly Hills Hotel is one!

Together, we could push elites to stop doing business with Brunei while the Sultan lets innocent people be stoned to death – and raise a global outcry against this cruel law.

This part of the law hasn’t gone into effect yet – but it will soon if no one does anything. Will you sign the petition asking global leaders, companies, and celebrities to stop doing business with Brunei in response to these brutal punishments?

Sign now:

Getting governments, companies, and celebrities to loudly pull out of doing any business with Brunei isn’t just about hitting the Sultan financially. Brunei’s setting a dangerous example by adding, rather than ending, the death penalty. If there’s not a massive global outcry, other leaders might do the same, thinking there’s no personal or political cost for them.

Some celebrities and companies have begun to move their events, refusing to give money to the Sultan’s world-famous hotels. But, it’s not enough – the CEO of the hotel chain just went on the record calling the boycott unfair and refused to comment on the law.

If we can get thousands of people from all over the world to sign right now, we could stop travel companies from offering these hotels to their customers. The bigger the protest gets, the more likely the outcry could affect the trade agreement negotiations. We could turn this from a small annoyance for the Sultan to a serious problem that requires him to pay attention to the global condemnation of the new law.

Sign now to get governments, companies, and celebrities to stop doing business as usual with Brunei:

All Out members all over the world have gotten key corporations to speak out in response to anti-gay laws. During the Olympics in Russia, we helped raise a huge outcry that got some National Olympic Sponsors to speak out against Russia’s anti-gay law. And, recently, we got Orange to pull ads from a tabloid that outed lesbian, gay, bi and trans people when the Ugandan anti-gay law passed.

Now we have a chance to really raise the alarm about Brunei’s new death penalty in the media and in the circles that the Sultan and his family move in. Will you speak out now against Brunei allowing gay people and other innocent people to be stoned to death?

Poetry by Prescription: Goodbye Old Paint

Old friend, new friend.

Goodbye Old Paint

What have you eaten that we have forgotten?
What lost earring resides
in the deepest recesses of your front seat?
What coins shaken and pushed into your crevasses?
And do you remember the song made up on the spot
and sung just once, then left forgotten in Nevada?
Do you still carry the dust of Tonopah
or that yearning to actually see something extraterrestrial
on the Extraterrestrial Highway?
Do you carry shards of his boredom while driving
mile after mile of Utah beauty?
Do you still carry my expectations of sharing
the giant faces of Rushmore
and echoes of the fact that he expected more?

What of molecules of the Mississippi crossing
or dreams of the memories of Hannibal?
What sweat from those Mississippi hours
waiting outside the B.B. King Museum?

Salt grains and chocolate crumbs
and DNA of those few souls who rode along in you—
all parked in a parking lot waiting to be bought
by someone who will never know the hidden you.
Just like the rest of the world,
frequented by interlopers.
Only we, leaving you, will murmur “Goodbye Old Paint”
and know that although you neither hear nor answer,
somehow our past is locked up inside of you
and there a part of us will stay
while we depart without it.

The prompt today was by Forgottenman, who wanted me to memorialize his faithful automobile companion, Old Paint (pictured here to his right). To his left is his new love, Soul Red.  To see his prompt, go to his blog here.

Poetry by Prescription: A Single English Teacher’s Lament


Today’s prompt was suggested by Ann Garcia, another “reformed” English teacher.  Her prompt:  Write a poem about grading homework.

A Single English Teacher’s Lament

Two periods of composition
have put me in a bad position.
With class size swelled to 38,
no longer have I time to date,
for teaching all to write a thesis
means my workload never ceases.

Each weekend I take home a pile
to check and grade and reconcile.
To try to sort them out is hard—
each sentence shuffled card by card.
Each comment must be made with tact,
their logic looked at fact by fact.

Each student had to write just one.
Now handed in, their toils are done.
While I have 76 to grade,
and now regret assignments made.
How many more? I have to ask,
imprisoned by this grading task.

I have created my own repentance.
I gave myself the thesis sentence!

Thesis: noun: thesis; plural noun: theses

  1. 1. a statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved.”his central thesis is that psychological life is not part of the material world”
  2. 2. a long essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a college degree.”a doctoral thesis”


Nesting (May 3, 2014)

For most of the day on Thursday, I wondered at the profusion of birds whose cheeping seemed to be filling the air outside my kitchen, but as the afternoon wore on, I realized that the sounds—like a cross between a puppy’s squeeze toy and a handful of fingernails scraping across a chalk board or 5 squeegees being pulled across dry glass—was coming from my kitchen. A dining room chair served as a step up to the counter top, where I stood as I removed  the terracotta statues and pots from the top of my cupboards. The sounds seemed to be coming from there, but I found nothing but a half-inch crack between the concrete wall overhang and a triangular piece of board that had been placed in the corner to seal the gap.


I went outside to see if I could locate what I now was sure was a nest of baby birds making all the racket, but I could see no place other than the half-cylindrical teja roof tiles where the nest could be. Meanwhile, every time I drew close to the corner where the sound was coming from, they grew quiet, but when I whistled for the dogs, the little chirping choir resumed, as though I’d called out to them and they were answering. The next morning, I feared the worse, as for an hour there was no sound, but when Yolanda arrived to clean, they started out again, and she was as intrigued as I was about where they could be. We got a ladder and Pasiano climbed up to inspect every inch of area on the outside of the house where they could be. He peered up a six foot long expanse of tejas but could see nothing up the tubes for as far as he could see. Yet the chirping went on for all of yesterday as well as today.


The biggest part of the mystery is that I have never seen a parent bird enter the tejas from any side. The babies are quiet in between chirpings, which seems to indicate a mother bird arriving with fresh nestling fuel, but I can’t figure out how she is getting to the nest—wherever it is. Needless to say, as irritating as their shrill chirpings have grown to be, I prefer them to the opposite—the silence that indicates the mother has not been coming back and that her nestlings have met with a premature demise.

Birds abound here, if not in the same profusion as when 13-year-old vines covered every surface of the walls and palms, but this morning I was awakened by the loud peckings of three woodpeckers on the now-exposed trunks of my 80-foot-high palm trees. I scrunched my eyes up to watch them hop up and down a 20 foot expanse of palm, working their way around the circumference of the tree as well as up and down, their very loud pecking forming a percussion background to the chirping coming from the kitchen. For once, I knew where my camera was, so I snapped a few shots.


I had thought to spend this day in isolation to get some writing done, but sometimes the quieter our day, the more activity we find in it. Bottle rockets as loud as cherry bombs have been going off in the hills all around me for the past two hours. I don’t know what the celebration may be, but I’ve grown accustomed to their weekly if not daily presence. There is a birthday or a communion or a wedding or a quinceañera being celebrated. Or a holy day or some national holiday.

Even if I stay inside my house and do not answer the phone, the world finds me and I can’t complain, for I always have something to write about, even if it is not the topic I had planned.