Mud Pies–dVerse Poetics

Image: Pinterest

Mud Pies

When we were young, two little ones at play,
our families thought that we belonged together,
so sweet, like milk and honey.

Sticks were our bows and arrows, then
Look closely. See that scar you gave me,
reminders of a rough-house game of kick-the-can.

When we played house (you acquiesced),
“That’s not a game for boys,” you said,
so I said nothing when you fed mud pies .
to my beloved, fair-haired doll.

Now, in my garden, thoughts of you swirl in the loam
—the scents of clay, the grainy texture of dank earth.
No longer play, but poignant memories tinged
with just a hint of sadness, just a hint of wondering

what might have been, had you not died so young?

I’m tripping back sixty-some years to a time when, living in a rural area, my only neighbor was a boy, a year or two my senior. We played together in the wild outdoors. He made a tomboy of me and I tried to domesticate him. I would be writing an epic poem if I tried to recount all our exploits.

I recall so well, after we had moved away, one evening during dinner (we were eating chop suey) the phone rang and I learned that my dear playmate, at the time only about 13 years old, had been crushed to death when he and a buddy had climbed a fence and tried to ride an oil well.

Please join us at dVerse Poetics where Bjorn invites us to play with words and dirt.

Anger–dVerse MTB

Art: Clyfford Still, on Pinterest

Art: Clyfford Still, on Pinterest

Depression is Anger Turned Inside-Out
A Narrative Poem

She hadn’t touched her paints for a while. In the other room an unfinished canvas lay propped on an easel. Orange and cerulean blue paint danced in cacophonous colors and screamed at her in taunting ecstasy. One evening she’d smeared a palette knife of black paint in a thick wavy line down the middle of the canvas—the result only heightened the drama. She abandoned her work for now—she couldn’t paint and wouldn’t write—not since he told her he wouldn’t see her anymore.

Today, dVerse Poets, hosted by Frank Hubney, invites us to submit a narrative poem–as I see it, a bit of prose that is written poetically. That implies incorporating poetic elements such as metaphor and sensory details, active verbs etc. This is a tiny piece that I adapted from my novel “The Sin of His Father.”

Ma Barker’s Boy—the One You Never Heard Of dVerse MTB

Ma Barker’s Boy–the One You Never Heard Of
A Haibun

When I regained consciousness, the gravel pitted in my flesh stung as though I’d been dancing with a sea creature whose tentacles held me close, slowly releasing their poison.My recently vacant mind, now an amalgam of dark thoughts, muddled its way through a fog of nothingness. No one heard my anxious calls for help. No one cared.

I struggled to lift myself from the brick pathway, grabbing hold of a chain link fence nearby. A multitude of notices affixed to the metal announced concert venues, lost dogs and items for sale. Two signs warned me “No Trespassing” and “Post No Notice.” Nothing prohibited me from using it to stand, to keep me from losing my balance.

Once again, though I’d cheated death, I’d lost the war. Everything I’d planned for, had worked for, failed. I grabbed hold of a nearby trash can and puked. Disappointment, my constant companion, lingered like a bad taste in my mouth. I couldn’t go home. I couldn’t tell Ma. I headed in the opposite direction and followed my own path to the future. In a nearby maple tree, birdsong erupted.

mockingbird chorus
celebrates hope, sings of joy
life begins anew

Linked to dVerse Meeting the Bar. I’m hosting today and asking for first person poetry, perhaps written from an alter-ego. I’m still playing with the mockingbird theme that Kelly asked for Tuesday, for poetics. 

I do hope you will join us at dVerse today. The pub opens at 3:00 PM EST.

New Beginnings–a Haibun

Photo: flicker Labeled for Non-Commercial Use

Photo: flicker
Labeled for Non-Commercial Use

They closed the door on all that had been and headed down the rocky path to the dirt road. Miriam glanced over her shoulder as she hefted the tattered bag that held all her belongings and all her dreams. She saw a rat run across the wooden porch and disappear into an opening in the floorboards. Bile rose in the back of her throat and she swallowed it, forcing herself not to vomit.

Zach lead the way and she followed, as she had before. Could she trust him this time? Could she trust her future?

in morning darkness
mockingbird breaks into song
defies hopelessness

Linked to dVerse Poetics where Kelly is asking us for narrative poetry with a nod to the mockingbird as we reflect on the life and death of Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Please join us.


Le Mendicant

Photo: flicker

Photo: flicker

Le Mendicant
A Narrative Poem

I make my way slowly toward la Gare du Nord, pass la Rue Phillipe de Girard. I lumber along at a slow pace. The ache in my feet shoots up my legs. The night was cold last night and us seventy-something’s have poor circulation, especially when we sleep in alleys.

At the entry to la Boulangerie, I pause, take in a deep breath and dream. The smell of bread, just coming out of the oven, fills me with pain. A young woman, dressed in a tweed business suit, three-piece, and three-inch heels, exits. She turns abruptly and walks hurriedly away from me. The scent of the baguette lingers like an expensive perfume. Its rough texture and golden color remind me of better days. Today I haven’t a sou in the pocket of my tattered jacket.

When I reach the station, I take my seat on the rough concrete of the steps leading to departures. The chill penetrates, creeps up my spine. As I extend my callused hand, I know what they think, but they don’t know my story. It hurts to look into their eyes and see them avert their own in embarrassment as they rush by. A few drop a coin or two, not enough for a loaf.

Counting them at the end of an hour, I think I may have enough for a small, day-old roll and a cup of black coffee. I stand, stomp my feet in hopes of regaining some sensation, and straighten my old back a bit at a time. Grasping the railing, I climb back to street level and make my way back to the bakery.

Maybe someday, someone will stop to listen and offer me the bread of understanding.

Written in narrative poetry, from a first person perspective, this is a fictional collage from a few images that linger with me from the time I lived in Paris. The reality is true world-wide.

For dVerse Poetics. The prompt is Bread and the pub opens Tuesday 3:00 PM EST. Hope to see you there!


If I Knew–Monday Meanderings

Sunrise on Coachella Valley, California

Sunrise on Coachella Valley, California

If I Knew That Death Would Visit Me Today

I’d rise at six to watch the sun bleed color into darkness and stop to listen to the symphony of birds—
the caw of crows and coo of doves and brrrz and twitters of the tiny ones.

I’d walk more slowly, taking in the scents of orange blossoms and petunias. Today I’d let the dogs meander, sniff out every tree and hydrant and anything else they fancied, as long as it was safe.

And then I’d golf—Hole #15 only, hit it over the dreaded water on my first try and be ecstatic with a bogey.I wouldn’t do laundry or clean the house. I’d leave the bed unmade, the dishes in the sink and revel in the imperfection of it all.

I’d read the comics and, if none of them gave me a good belly laugh, I’d drag out my collection of Calvin and Hobbes or The Far Side.

I’d make sure that those I love know it and thank them for making my life happier, for their staying power. I’d ask forgiveness and forgive where needed and not forget to forgive myself.

I’d read and reflect on John 14-16, the promises Jesus made at the Last Supper and hold tight to the hope of things unseen.

I’d write one last poem, pour my joy and angst onto the page. I wouldn’t worry about syntax or grammar–nor even effusive sentimentality. There’d be no edit to obfuscate the things I need to say, no worry about who might read it and what they would think.

In the evening I would slow-sip a glass of Rombauer chardonnay on the patio as we watch the sun jump off the edge of earth,
then I’d slow-dance with my love to strains of a B-Flat clarinet wielded by Kenny-G.

flickrWe sit beneath desert skies and try, once more, to count the stars and if we fell asleep in one another’s arms, that would be okay. If not, I’d wait  in silence for whatever’s next.

The other day when I was walking the dogs, in a hurry as usual, the idea for this poem came to me. I guess the obvious conclusion is: Why wait?

Drought–dVerse Meeting the Bar

“Living (now) is like walking through a great weeping. It is like an ongoing funeral, a huge shedding of the life of the world…When the heart knows sorrow and never weeps, the sorrow gets locked like a storm inside the heart. When the sorrow can’t pour out, it turns…to stone.”
Michael Meade

Photo: These hills are usually brilliant green this time of the year.

These hills are usually brilliant green this time of the year.


Last night Earth and I sat down beneath a moonless sky. The stars danced to music we could not hear. She sighed and I waited, listened for her to speak, but she held silence cradled to her heart.

“Do you know,Gaia,” I began, hoping to draw her out, hoping to touch the pain palpable on her dry, cracked body. “Do you know,” I said again, “the Mayan word for tumor means solid stone?”

She sighed again.

“Last week,” I continued, “I drove through one of your valleys. On either side of me brown, barren hills marked my passage. ‘I thirst,’ I heard them whisper. They brought to mind parched lips of the dying waiting for a kiss of water, fearing a lick of flame. Back then I gave comfort. I gave water. I gave hope. Today I have nothing to offer.”

I felt a tremor, heard another sigh. I waited for a tear, but there was none.

We sat together in deepest silence yet a while longer. In the distance I heard the howl of a coyote, the call of crickets. Together Earth and  I sat in quiet thought, waiting, hoping.

At last Earth turned and faced me. “When you, my children weep,” she said, “I will join them.”

While parts of the world are experiencing significant storms, in the West we are faced with a serious drought. I am near the San Andreas fault at right now and we experience a good number of temblors, most of them we don’t even feel. Just moments ago, as I wrote this, as if to respond, we felt a small earthquake that rattled the windows and shutters…Earth shuddered perhaps!

Written for and linked to Sam’s prompt over at dVerse Meeting the Bar where he challenges us to write Narrative Poetry. Drop by and check it out. The doors open at 3:00 PM EST.

Perfect Family

Photo Credit: Benjamin Kinsland via Google Images

A Perfect Family lived next door—perfect mother and father—three perfect children—two boys and a girl.
They went to church every Sunday as we slept in—Bible Study on Thursday evenings while we drank beer and watched football.
They didn’t yell or curse like we did—like the couple on the other side of us—Their lawn was perfectly manicured.
The oldest son went off to college and was an honor student—my son went to work after high school at an auto repair shop.
The middle daughter was the star of the soccer team—she played the violin and practiced for hours in the evening and on Saturday.
The mother didn’t work because she cared for the toddler—and began home schooling when he was five years old.
On summer evenings the father would come home from work and change into his Ralph Lauren polo shirt and barbecue steaks or ribs.
The aroma invaded the neighborhood as the rest of us sat on our porches eating hot dogs with potato salad and baked beans.
One such evening my son was smoking a Marlboro and drinking a Bud—my daughter was pregnant and I wasn’t sure where my husband had gone.
Fireflies danced in the dusk before the shots rang out – five of them.
My dogs skittered into the house through the dog door as I grabbed the phone to call 911.
They called it a murder-suicide—the weight of perfection—too heavy to bear I guess. Everybody said so.

Today, over at dVerse Poets’ Pub, I have the honor of hosting Meeting the Bar. I’m discussing an important aspect of fiction/non-fiction writing with an eye to how it can be applied to poetry–that is, characterization.

In this poem, written years ago, I’m including snapshots of two families with the hope that the brief descriptions paint a picture of the tenor of both. Please bear in mind that I have the mind of a fiction writer and much of my poetry is fiction, as this one is. Sometimes people in my past (or present), newspaper articles and other snippets of news serve as a source of inspiration, so that something factual may be borrowed and embroidered.

I hope you will join us at the pub to read some incredible poetry and, hopefully, to offer up something of your own.  The doors open in forty-five minutes (1500 EDT). I look forward to reading your work.