Sunday, May 17, 2015

a sonnet for the night

As twilight succumbed to night’s inkish cloak,
A melodic penumbra enticed me.
It beckoned me nigh, the instruments broke
Through a distance that tends to define me.

Abreast of the band pulsed the undulant
Crowd as the bass ground my hips to its groove
The saxophone wailed a lick of consent
To the trombone that had nothing to prove.

The drummer kept pace, our rhythms entrained
As the energy wound us together
The shadows, we pushed, the players, they strained
Over the improvisational tether.

Hands lifted high, momentum increased
To the infinite night our desires released.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

the muse

The ancient muse who comprehends

the unexpected ebb and flows

and language where all language ends

relieves the snow with spring’s amends

while keeping steady in repose.

That ancient muse does comprehend

the breath between two souls transcends

tornadic tangoed lovers’ throes

and language where all language ends.

More fragile than the mind intends

(while hide and seeking) to disclose

the ancient muse does comprehend

the cages made to self-defend                              

but gently coaxes out from those

in language where all language ends

a whispered, “yes.”  The heart extends

a slow-unfolding gossamer rose   

to the ancient muse who comprehends

the language where all language ends.

The repeating line "language where (all) language ends" was taken from Rainer Maria Rilke's poem,  "On Music", which arrived in my inbox through Every Day Poems on Tuesday April 14.

I read a poem a day.  At least.  And you can, too.  Just click   HERE to subscribe.

Monday, March 30, 2015

lent 3

If I stood before you, Jesus, stripped

of accomplishments
of wealth
of nourishment
of power
of security
of health
of intellect
of control
of friends
of family

Then what, Jesus?

I hide so well, my own nakedness frightens me
I study and praise and seek
I toil and pursue and fight

But rest, Jesus, to rest?
To listen, to breathe in the stillness
to trust You are working
before me
behind me
around me
within me
To sacrifice my chaos

For the peace of Who You are.

lent 4

Though I wave palm leaves with the crowd
unsure of what is happening 
but wanting to belong

Though I cheer "hosanna"
believing you are a king of this world
arriving to conquer my foes

Though I cry out "crucify Him" with the mob
when expectations fall short
and my warrior king comes as a lamb

Jesus, today I say “yes”
prostrate in the shadow of the cross
awaiting the mystery of the empty tomb

and the promise of redemption in You.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

lent 2

How easily I forget, Jesus, that without first Your sacrifice,
My love moves from the center of my sin:  my need, my desire, my conditions

Only when I know, fully, Your love
Can I release  my judgement
Against Your Created Ones
And give of myself
out of the abundance of
Your death on the cross

Empty me, that I may overflow
A single act of love
From the Eternal One,  

Who loves us for eternity

Sunday, March 1, 2015

lent 1

I stand before you now, Jesus,
At the edge of the desert within me,
My mind set inward, to my weakest places,
Where I long for love, for relief, for refreshing
Jesus, I stand and meet Your gaze,
Soaking in the intimacy that is born
When deep cries out to deep
And soul greets soul beyond a veil of separation
On this Lenten journey I pray:
Repair my sight with Yours, Jesus,
That I may connect with just one person,
Whether familiar or a stranger,
whether like-minded or opposed,
And meet their gaze as You see me now,
In my weakness, wholly precious to You.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


though once i loved the scarecrow (that stupid silly scarecrow)
the heartless tin man and even the cowardly lion

i pulled back the curtain to reveal oz for who he is
(just a man no more no less)

i had the power all along

no technicolor fantasy to back me up
with each step i follow my own brick road

Saturday, February 21, 2015

on being a writer: write

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word to paper.”  EB White

This topic, “write”,  emerges halfway through the 13-week plan I created for the start of my 2015 writing life.  Since this is Chapter 5, I am only a bit behind!  During weeks one and two, the workload at my practice was considerably light, and I had the energy to write every night when I came home from work.  I also wrote about my writing in on a google doc of running dates.  For 8 days.  Then the writing about the writing stopped.  And soon after, my work schedule increased and my daily writing frequency dipped in the other direction. 

This lull in my written output is typical when my business life gets busy. I treat patients almost back-to-back patients for 8-10 hours a day, keep up with the necessary documentation, communications and office needs, and return home at night close to depletion.   I need the evenings to relax and process before I go to sleep.  My words have been spent, albeit wisely, in other efforts during the day.  This can initiate several weeks of silence at the blog before I have a little break and I have the emotional energy to write once again. 

In the past I have accepted this rhythm, but now I want to change that pattern and write through the busy times, too.  I was surprised this past month when I couldn’t stick to my daily plan, thinking I created reasonable goals for myself, though I haven’t fallen as far away from writing as usual. (In 2014, I participated in three online courses through Tweetspeak and published 20 posts total at my blog.  So far in 7 weeks of 2015, I have published 8 posts). I spent time hashing out thoughts on this with my writing partner in our weekly chats, and refined some of my goals and expectations for my writing life through this process.

I am grateful for my writing partner.  It’s given me joy and encouragement to share what I am writing, and the accountability has kept me connected to my plan.  During weeks three and four, a week passed and I didn’t have anything written to discuss, so I chewed on my barriers during our discussion.  Another week went by, and still I had no writing to share.  The start of the fifth week I was motivated to write SOMETHING.  I was stuck on a piece that didn’t seem complete, but before my next online chat, I published it anyway (see “notice”).  Even reading it now there are lines that I would edit, but surrendering perfection allowed me to move forward.

I know that for me to keep writing during these intense phases, I need to have some prompts to work on, whether it’s blogging through a book, refining journal entries and thoughts, or participating with other writer’s/groups prompts.  When blogging through THIS this book, I am provided with guidance to hone my skills, and often have a topic bubbling right at the surface to develop.  I enjoy the notebooks of my notes that I continue to mine.  I have been writing and re-tooling some of these thoughts, even if I don’t publish them at the blog.

Most importantly, this week I have been evaluating how well my goals support the vision for my writing life.  Right now, I am not writing to earn a living, but I am writing because I feel a passion to do so and I want my writing to continuously improve.  The pressure to write daily is actually taxing my motivation to write regularly.  I have decided that each week I will look at my calendar and schedule 3 blocks of time to write that fit flexibly within my composite schedule.  I am going to keep the rest of the goals as I initially established them, and look forward to exploring the next chapters in this second half of my 13 weeks (I can still finish “on time”). 


all is not lost if, in parting,  
you release your drowning grasp
and offer the remnants
of love’s creation to the sea

the vessel of your dreams,
though empty, will not perish,
fractured in violent and
reckless transformation,
brokentumbled edges,
smoothly ground,
once whole and held fast,
that vessel resembles 
nothing of its original form

sunglinted seaglass scatters
at the ocean’s edge,
seedlings of hope for new love’s birth

I wrote "seaglass" this week with my friend Nancy Marie Davis on my heart (see her work here), and before I had a chance to share it, she posted the photo above to her timeline. Enjoy our synergy wherever you are in your journey, knowing that it is in the breaking we become beautiful.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Sunday, February 15, 2015

halley's comet

you linger in the air
long after leaving

like the tail of a once (or twice)
-in-a-lifetime comet

I blush to chase

Saturday, February 7, 2015

on being a writer: notice

Washington Square Park, July 5, 2014

I exit the cool air of the train at the Christopher Street station.  Negotiating a heated wind tunnel to climb the staircase from the platform, I emerge onto the sidewalk into blistering sun.  I squint and shield my eyes as they adjust to the light, slipping my hand into my bag for my sunglasses, then head east toward Washington Square Park.

While walking, I adjust the straps of my backpack and slip both arms back through for a better balance.  The bag isn’t heavy but its contents fit awkwardly in the space: phone, wallet, a baggie of trail mix, a large bottle of water, pens and my journal, and my new camera.

Most locals are out of town for the holiday weekend, leaving Washington Square Park to us visitors and tourists.  I am a visitor; not native to the city by any means, but one who frequents the parks and shops and museums and restaurants with a degree of ease and familiarity. A visitor takes no detail for granted, but unlike the tourist, is not on a sole hunt to document these details via selfies for Facebook.   I have my pick of seats, and I choose a wide, flat concrete bench so that my back is to the Arch and my view is set on the fountain.  An a capella doo-wop group harmonizing behind me draws a crowd; the people sway and clap along with the tunes.

I sit down and jump up from the heat on bench’s surface that threatens to sear my white skin.  In the summer sun my legs actually look a little nuclear in their glow.  I sit again, gingerly, close the edge so my shorts protect my legs.  I take off my white ankle socks and grey Converse All-Stars ®, but the ground is too hot for the soles of my feet so I rest them atop the empty shoes.

The sun is almost directly overhead and the shadows are harsh, so I decide to write instead of taking pictures.  Do I seem a cliché as I observe here in the park with my recycled paper notebook and gel point pen?  Or does anyone even notice me?  Probably the latter.  The invisibility here in the park, among other artists and citizens and visitors and tourists is a comfort, and I settle into my space and have a closer peek.

Parents stroll past me, singly or coupled, swaddling babies to their bodies with slings and pushing strollers.  A precocious toddler breaks free of her stroller, running ahead (not quite as far as it seems to her) with chubby legs and a banana’d belly, stopping short and turning to let her dad almost catch up.  An older girl whizzes past on a blue scooter.

A man stands next to the bench one down from mine, leaning against his bike. He stares off in one direction, not idly but as if scanning a crowd for someone to emerge.  There is no crowd where he is looking.  His sneakers are like mine, but black, and his socks were probably once bright white like mine. Now they are mottled, clean but thrown in one too many times with a washload of colors.  He holds an iTouch in his right hand and places the ear buds with his left.  I wonder why he would choose the isolation of a personal soundtrack over the streaming sounds of the fountain or the silliness of people splashing in it or the voices and languages too numerous to count and too comingled to identify, or the harmony of the doo wop group or the beats of the drummer across the circle.

The wind carries spray from the fountain to my skin. I wish I didn’t carry all this stuff with me so I could slip my feet in the fountain without getting my supplies wet.

A man stops beside me.  Hard-worn Nike flip-flops expose the most weathered digits I have ever seen.  They are thick with elephant skin wrinkles and callouses.  The yellow toenails curve on the edges a bit too much, grotesque cookie cutters pressing into slabs of dough.

A kid with a guitar is sitting on another bench 15 feet away from me.  I sense the beat of his foot tambourine and I see his mouth moving.  He is strums his guitar but his song is imperceptible from where I sit.

A  Hispanic man with a grandfatherly countenance sits across the fountain with two drums.  A small boy, not his own, sits on the bench next to him.  The man is patient and warm, smiling as he shows the boy how to add his beat to the man’s.  Both look up and smile at the mom who snaps a picture of the moment .  They boy and the mom say thank you and walk away but the boys hands are stinging with the vibration of the skins (his and the drums and the mans) and his heart was changed, just a bit, forever.

Suddenly, I am filled with longing and hot tears threaten to overflow my lids. I wish I was brave enough, or hopeful enough, to walk over and sit with the man myself.

A tiny girl walks by, probably a petite 2 ½ year old.  She is VERY sure of her steps with her tart lemony pants and sweet strawberry sandals.  When you were that little girl I cared for your every need.  Now that you are gone I only feel the care I need.

An older woman wearing  orthopedic black shoes, a white blazer and black polyester pants walks slowly through the park.  She is tall, upright in her shuffle, pretty with silver hair coiffed into pincurls and lacquered, unmoving in the wind. She has been here before and will not cease to return, although today she wears too many synthetic layers for this heat.

Soon it’s my time for me to board the train that will bring me home. I tuck my notebook and my pen into the backpack, finish the water in my bottle and discard the remains of the trail mix that has melted in my pack.  The sights and sounds of the park fade into the distance as I descend the stairs to the platform below.

Monday, January 12, 2015

on being a writer: surround

                                                   New York City Poetry Festival, Governor's Island, NY, July 2014

As a holistic speech pathologist, I spend much of my work day actively engaged in the occupation of listening.  I listen to the monologues of children who have difficulty with social cues, and help to shape better conversation.  I listen to children who lack spoken words cry and discern the meaning:  I don’t want to do this, I am sad/angry, I am relieving my stress and thank you for hearing me.  With my sight, I listen for responses in eye contact and body posture.  Using my hands I listen for changes in tissue tension and respiration rate, for the tensing and relaxing of the body as it readies itself for processing and learning new skills.  I listen for distortions in vowel production in connected speech to tell me how the articulators form the vocal tract during the complex motor acts of speech sound sequencing.  I listen to parents as they share the concerns and triumphs of their child’s journey.  I give physical and emotional support, knowledge and provide a sounding board when needed, in an intimate, intense exchange for 6-8 hours daily. 

When I am working, I have designed my room to be as distraction free as possible.  I keep the same traffic flow, use soft lighting, and the walls are painted the blue of Bahamian sea and sky.  The womb-like atmosphere fosters a soothing space that allows the children to initiate thoughts and ideas, to be heard and ultimately challenged to grow.  It is very easy to stay in that concentrated mental state when I leave work, but that type of intensity isn’t necessary, or healthy, for the rest of my life.  I find that a change of scenery every few weeks helps my brain to reboot.  I will go into NYC for the day for a meal, or to a museum or concert, by myself of with a friend.  Sometimes I meet my daughter when she’s at work and enjoy some awesome Mexican food at the Hotel Tortuga.  I often escape to Ocean Grove, New Jersey, most likely in the off-season, to feel the crisp salt air, collect shells and to walk barefoot on the beach.  Weird sidebar:  When I walk barefoot on the beach in the winter, instead of getting cold, my feet actually heat up to the point where they feel like baked potatoes.  It’s a very wild sensation. J

My home contains mementoes of these trips.  I’ve traveled some amazing vacations, but mostly I’ve ventured out on day jaunts and short detours when I could capture the time.  There are memories and stories and people associated with most of the objects I have on display.

Last year, due to a series of unfortunate (and unrelated) neurologic events, I was homebound most of the time I wasn’t working (and I was working a lot less than usual).  My ability to focus for reading and writing was seriously compromised, and I started many thoughts, projects and books that I didn’t finish, or even forgot about completely.  As I am recovering, I have set up a new plan to organize and deepen my creative writing process.
Firstly, I have a pile of notebooks, books with pages marked, papers clipped together, notes on my iPhone and other bits and scraps of written phrases and ideas.  While that (lack of) system used to work when I wrote sporadically, it’s no longer practical and doesn’t feel as “artsy” and cool as it used to feel.  Instead, it’s become an island of undeveloped ideas that are waiting to be brought to fruition or laid to rest.  I plan to take these first three months of 2015 and mine this pile using the “adapt, achieve, abandon or archive” approach to dealing with them.  So far, it’s been fun to gather these ideas and work them out or file them accordingly, either here at the blog or in my simple system at Google docs. 

I have also committed to reading more fiction, especially short stories.  Over the last two years I have mostly read poetry and other “formation” books, either spiritual or artistic.  I am going through this pile that I have accumulated.  It’s not an obscene amount, but it needs attention.  Some of the books need to be prioritized to read, and some need to be passed along or returned because their focus is no longer relevant to me.  I am also going to read at least one short story per week, in preparation, perhaps, for writing one of my own.

This plan is really a continuation of habits that I started last year with the physical off-loading.  I am going to use up what I have already on hand before I look for something more to add to my writing life surround, and pass along what some else can use better.  An extended artist’s date without leaving the comfort of my home this chilly East Coast January.  

Sunday, January 11, 2015

prayer of reconciliation

You know my heart, oh God, and how much I desire to belong
You designed me, Lord, to live in unity with Your Body,
Yet that knowledge alone seldom satisfies my need for security 

I seek the similar so I may feel safe
I serve the weak so I may feel strong
I harbor offense so I may feel righteous
And in my short, selfish sight, I fence myself into isolation
Forgive me, Lord, for every person I have shunned
Through too much activity, or not enough response
Through bitterness, unforgiveness, or the cutting blade of judgement
Let me break bread with every outcast and foreigner seated at Your table
Without first asking if they deserve to partake
For I, too, outside of You, am unworthy
To eat of Your flesh and drink of Your cup
But in communion, am reconciled to You, and Your people, and made whole.



we were torn apart
(she and i were torn apart)
a detachment
a specter of myself
and i was afraid
to be her
afraid that she would
shatter on contact or
pull me into her current
sweep me away
in her riptide

although she had no body she was drowning


inexplicably entwined
we once upon a time
made peace
reacquainted we spent the day
building sandcastles at the shoreline
the safest place to be
where the incoming tide
erased mistakes with ease

what is constant in this inconstancy
the roar of our great mother
the ocean
drowned out curses
and our pleas
to each other
to be right
to be loved
to belong


the tides will rise and fall
the moon eventually
switches place in the sky
with the morning sun
(who is not an equal partner
by any means
but the source
of sustenance
for us all)

everyone knows he would be nothing without her


arms of seaweed wave at me in the surf
and I reach for the gift
taking time to braid each strand
so at least to the casual observer
there seems to be some order

in the beauty