think twice before hitting Costco a few days before Burning Man



they descend like a swarm of sedate wasps,
heaping-high wobbly carts with desert-friendly nectar
cases of crystalline water and burnt umber ale,
sani-wipes and 50 spf sunscreen
(no counter-cultural affects apparent at this very moment)

i secretly envision bare-naked bodies and circus themed
clothes in bright primary colors, floaty-gauzy fabrics
bedecked with heavy jewels and sparkly tiaras
when the arid playa of the black rock desert transforms,
overnight, into the third largest city in nevada,
proudly boasting its 65,000 old-young citizens
riotously celebrating a plethora of arts
under the ever-watchful eye of the bureau of land management
and the pershing county sheriff’s department

an already-frazzled guy just in front of me (in the slithering line
snaking all the way back to the ladies clothing table
piled high with gloria vanderbilt jeans in early autumn hues)
pushes his cart loaded high with health bars
and sturdy flats of gatorade (orange, blue, yellow-green and blue),
sighs and advances, at last, a couple of feet toward the checkout stand.

ten days from now, they will emerge, caked in mud,
dump their thrift store clothes into the nearest dumpster
and queue up in another line at the car wash up the hill.
they will leave an empty playa in near-pristine condition,
will donate battered bikes to be cleaned, refurbished and,
perhaps, given to needy kids, if not reclaimed again next year.
these weary burners will return to the drudgery of day-jobs
leaving us all-the-richer for their presence
(and consumption.)

Written for dVerse Meeting the Bar. Bjorn asks us to use a generous amount of modifiers in our writing today–contrary to the best of writing rules. And since we in Northern Nevada are welcoming hoards to Burning Man where breaking the rules of culture is the norm (along with celebrating the arts) I just couldn’t resist–especially after my trip to Costco this morning. OyVey

Help Me Understand, Monsieur Vincent–dVerse Open Link Night

Help Me Understand, Monsieur
an Echo Poem

Monsieur Vincent, are those your boots?
My boots?
They speak of pain, hard work and tears.
And years,
of agony, darkness and loss.
The cross.

Or did they belong to some miner who died
To those you served in those early days?
I prayed.
Those days of darkness and loss and tears.
And fear.

Monsieur Vincent, why did you try?
To die?
You saw the world in orange and blue.
True blue.
A world of agony, darkness and pain.
No gain.

Did you wear those boots the day you died,
I tried
and failed to find the love you sought
For naught
You never knew fame, only darkness and pain,
In vain?

Last week, Mary introduced us to the Echo Poem. I wasn’t able to participate then, but chose an old poem that I had filed in my binder titled “Edit or Trash” to rewrite using this technique. The form lent itself to a sort of dialogue with Vincent Van Gogh–someone I really hope to meet in the (not) distant future. In his early years he chose to minister to miners who lived (and died) in the worst of circumstances. He failed, even in that ministry.

And so, here is the first draft of a revision–if that’s not an oxymoron–for dVerse Open Link Night. Please join us with a poem of your own and be a part of the conversation led by Bjorn about performance poetry. 

they say that smell is the sense most associated with memory

Photo: The Daily Mail

Photo: The Daily Mail

they say that sense is the smell most associated with memory
a haibun

My first day of the first year of school, way back in 1948, calls to mind the sawdust scent of freshly sharpened #2 pencils, that pungent/musty smell of cheap, tan-colored paper with pale green lines spaced so that when we wee ones wrote we could differentiate between upper and lower case letters.

We arrived sparkling clean, a cloud of Ivory soap, or, perhaps, Camay, surrounding us—hair in tight pigtails, parted down the middle with bows around the rubber-bands. I still remember that sweet fragrance of bars of blue starch melted in warm water the day before we were to return. It’s aroma lingered on stiff white fabric of the blouses of my ugly school uniform. By the end of the day, the starch had melted, the snowy fabric bore reminders of rough-housing recesses and bows hung limply, untied.

“oh, Mommy, don’t go
the sun says it’s still too warm
for me to grow up

Today, I can’t smell peanut butter, or the sulfuric scents of hard-boiled eggs that my mom packed into the metal lunch box without remembering. Over time, it acquired its own unique nose, blending assorted meals with a bit of rust. The squat thermos reeked of sour milk.


This morning was the first day of kindergarten here in Washoe County. We encountered a small child, sandwiched between Mommy and Daddy, clinging to them…a portrait of fear, a resurgence of memory.

“ ‘morning little one”
it’s too soon, you know, for school
summer still beckons.

Linked to dVerse Poetics where we are writing about the first day of school. Please join us.

poetic lyricism of the west: you are horse

Photo: Nevada Museum of Art

Photo: Nevada Museum of Art

poetic lyricism of the west, you are horse
the sculptural art of Deborah Butterfield

sweeping epic, primal presence
powerful yet vulnerable
masterful mustang

formed of branches, twigs and bark
fragile ambiguity
formed into a story told for the ages

twisting, tying sculptures
reconstructing deconstructed life
now cast in molten bronze, applied patina

retelling stories of vast openness
encroached and threatened
nobility woven from the past
reminders for the future.

Written in response to Abhra’s prompt at dVerse poetics where we are invited to dip into history. I’ve chosen Deborah Butterfield, a sculptural artist from Montana, who uses found articles to fashion the powerful horse, a symbol of the West. Today in Nevada, where I call home, the mustang still roams free, though in lesser numbers. There is much controversy surrounding round-ups by the Bureau of Land Management. When we first moved here in 1993, wild horses came down into neighborhoods to the East of town to graze. We have one of Butterfield’s sculptures here at the Nevada Museum of Art. A few years ago, when I was still a docent, we had an exhibit of her work. The largest gallery was overtaken by a magnificent stampede of equine sculpture. I encourage you to read more about the process this artist uses in this YouTube Video Here

Photo: honolulumuseumofart

Photo: honolulumuseumofart


I used a sort of erasure form of poetry, borrowing words from an exquisitely-penned article in the Seattle Post Intelligencer (1998-2003) written by Judy Wagonfeld.

in the hour just before morning

Photo: V. Slotto

Photo: V. Slotto

in the hour just before morning

flowers close tight, their buds still chilled
by frost-threatened air, huddle together
in leaf-nests, await sun’s sweet warm breath.

robins stir, tune their voices—magnificent
orchestral artists preparing to greet morn
in symphonic wakening trills. harmony.

dew prepares to glisten in spider’s web,
on blades of grass—dons her rainbow hues,
ready to dazzle the wakening world.

within the womb of an old house an old lady
nestles ‘neath a down-filled comforter,
pulls it snug to cradle the aching toll of her years

down the hall the coffee maker gurgles to life,
infuses the home with scents of comfort.
the husband arouses, stretches
while the dog shakes sleep away.

a crescent moon slips silently in the west,
hiding behind snow-covered peaks
while sun reaches out, pulls herself up
on horizon’s ledge and peeks.

at a distance, the long, long, short, long blast
of the six o’clock train strikes a final
exclamation mark on the day’s opening act.

Linking to dVerse Poets’ Open Link Night where creativity and fellowship flow. Please join us with a poem of your own.

The title an excerpt from a poem  by Mary Oliver…which one? I don’t remember.

the cricket’s song is surely a prayer



the cricket’s song is surely a prayer

the drought-deprived truckee
slows to a trickle,
slogs along toward city center.
gladiolas begin to droop,
daisy’s wilt.
on the vine, clusters of grapes

we sit in the dark in silence.
count stars and sip chilled pinot gris.
the quiet fills with cricket cries,
an urgency to mate
before the chill of a first freeze—
a prayer for continuance.

Toni, for dVerse Poetics, is asking us to share those lazy, hazy days of summer known as the Dog Days. She gives us a good overview of what exactly this means in astronomical terms. Stop by to read her informative post and drop off a poem of your own. The pub doors open at 3:00 EDT on Tuesday.

The title of this poem is borrowed from Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Cricket and the Rose.” She seems to be my major go-to for inspiration these days. If you get stuck, I suggest scanning the work of a favorite author/poet, looking for a line to jump-start your own poem.

like a flower of the field we bloom

like a flower of the field we bloom
(adapted from Ps. 103, 15)

i found its feathers ‘neath the birch
beside a rose blood-red.
i’d watched her nest above our porch,
we waited for her brood.

such emptiness that fell that morn,
a weight that crushed my heart—
this life is such a fleeting thing—
a breath, a flame, then dark.

but such is nature’s flawless plan—
we live—too soon we die.
a hawk or owl feeds her young
down by the river’s edge.

Today, I’m hosting Meeting the Bar at dVerse Poets’ Pub. This poem is written using common meter, a form that is easy to write poorly, but which Emily Dickinson used with great success. In the prompt, I’ve listed some of the techniques she used to make it work. I hope you’ll stop by to learn her secrets, then give them a try with a poem of your own. The doors open at 12:00 EDT.