“Do you know," Peter asked, "why swallows build in the eaves of houses? It is to listen to the stories.” ~ J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan


i didn't cause i didn't wanna

standing still somewhere in the nowhere
focused on the nothing out there in the distance
across the water
under the sky
in the place of i didn't

i followed my muse into the deep part and floated, doing nothing, letting go, letting go. 

i didn't write one word.  i didn't paint.  

i didn't.  

it was exactly where i wanted to be.
not doing, 
not chasing my dreams,
not nothing.

i once knew a photographer who was a fabulous cook - i may have told you this before, how he made the best gumbo ever, how once michael and i sat in my november living room while it stormed and iced outside the walls, and dined on that gumbo - a gift of the very best kind - while george bailey's wonderful life played across the tv screen. those were the days when my tv was only black and white and tiny tiny, but it mattered not, i didn't care, i have memories of those days that are anything but.  this gumbo, like i said, was the best ever, and every batch was the best, so good that people always told the cook he should give up photography, open a restaurant, he should sell that gumbo, he should something besides just cook it and eat it and give it away, and he would always shake his head no and reply that there once was a time when he liked taking pictures.  and he would smile.  



last friday

to my left lies the west and the fall of the sun, a slow slow tumble from high noon to night, from early summer all the way to halloween.  the brightness of day slides through the door and across the table; at a bit past 6:30, it is still warm out there, in the low 90s.  by 8 the light has gone pale gray and the cicadas are welcoming the night.  there are birds making last flights, exchanging phone numbers, heading nestward.  a summer evening moving in.

but in this image, the afternoon lingers, pushing its way past bottles of water just back from the lake, fresh from the cooler with cokes and beer, leftover watery ice poured into the creek as a treat for the birds.  in this image the memory of the lazy sunburned day lays silent on the table, keeping still in the shadows.  in this image my feet are bare and propped on a white wooden stool and my hair is wet from a shower and my skin is relaxed.  in this image, if you look hard enough, you will see a bottle of topo chico and a glass of ice.  the tv is on, the sound is off.  in this image, you might even hear the christmas carols i listened to while driving.  i sang along with jingle bells.

friday, may 25



internet silence

this is where and when and how summer begins for me.  when we catch up at work, when all the spring rush deadline gotta-be-outs are out, when there is a blank space of time before we begin our summer season, when we are catching up on all the odds and ends and small stuff we forgot, when we shift to 4 day weeks to soothe that we-never-get-vacations  thing.  it begins with a 4½ day weekend to kick it off.

it begins on a different lake than the one pictured above and with a bit of a bit of a sunburn - good for my soul and my aches and my pains.  it begins with calling insomnia just staying up late with the stars.  it begins here & now & it begins with internet silence.  no facebook, no twitter, no pinterest, no email, no blog.


i'll see y'all on tuesday.




summer light and i say a thank you.
even now, here at the other end of day.



the weekend and all there was

did they wrap it up
was there a bow
did someone hold her finger
right there
in the middle
while someone else pulled the ribbon
which was the poet?
which was the poem?
the finger
the ribbon
the pull?
was there a box please say no.

there was only the small stuff of days:
three crows saturday overhead chasing
one moth wing torn silver side shimmering
two feathers striped trampled still singing

there was only standing witness to the last breaths of another moth,
creamy wings striped with orange,
final flutters in the shade of the magnolia tree.
there was only the first baby owl of the season
perched in a knothole shaped like a heart,
if you viewed it from the exact right spot.
there was only a sunset eclipse hiding behind the trees.

there was only this sign and a wounded tree,
weeping sweet sap onto the street.



the stories i know: east texas juju

the movement of water in springtime.  late, almost summer.  daylight lingers farther into the night and there are once again owls in the trees.  my mother's cat has claimed a spot on the rock wall next to the creek and embraces the warm darkness.  home.  i catch my second wind after midnight, bumping into sleepiness.  a white moth flies through the open door, bumping into walls,  a frantic flutter against a black lampshade.  silence, and then a slowing flitter behind me.  silence again.  last night it was a black moth, and yesterday a butterfly caught by the cat.  

these are the stories i know.
small nothings.
bits of sweetness.
the sound of crickets,
the trees overhanging the creek.
honeysuckle and pears a step outside my door.
east texas juju.

beware this coming summer.



almost done, almost there. almost.

the last of the christmas danglies.

it's still alive and hanging from an otherwise empty blown out of the pecan tree
wishbone limb
and i'm only mentioning it to let you know me too,
except for the hanging part,
and i'm not near as sparkly.
but i'm here just trying to get through the busy end
of the spring part of our business,
just working and watching baseball
and hoping for sunshine on the weekend.

when we catch up - soon, soon -
i will have some words.
and i will have others' words, also,
i know y'all think i've forgotten,
but i haven't.
those stories outside the pages are waiting to be told.

muchas gracias for your patience.



the cemetery. mother's day.

i took pink tulips
and the ducks came up from the pond
and walked among the graves.
i could feel my mother's laughter.



dos gatos y dandelions y mother's day

it's a silly thing, really, just the making of a new story, there's no telling it, not yet, just these two cats figuring it out, or not.  just a silly thing, the way my heart feels when they are not working it out, when the jingle belle cat stands at the door i have been forced to close, staring in with her slanted blue eyes, just waiting.  when skye cat refuses to yield any space, when she looks at me as if i am a traitor, when i think i can read her unhappy thoughts about the whole situation.  when i let jingle in anyway, knowing i cannot go back.

last year i ignored mother's day.  i didn't write about it, i don't remember it.  maybe i went to the cemetery.  i probably did.  i think i did.  i think i stayed a minute and left.  last year come mother's day, skye cat had been living me only a week and i had at last managed to exhale, if only a bit.  i was still in survival mode, still trying to figure out the logistics of my mother's death.  that part hasn't changed much, but her cat now calls my home her home, and as i type those words, she leans her head back across my left arm and says hello.  the white underneath part of her neck needs rubbed.  i have learned her language.

this year feels more real.  this year i miss my mother a lot.

constant storm warnings,
then silence,
but i still keep my eye on the sky.
never mind that it's blue and the clouds are white.
never mind the afternoon sun across the lawn,
never mind the just-a-breeze moving the dandelions in a soft sexy dance,
never mind.

a year or so goes by and i start to feel again.  aches and pains seem a constant companion.  they come and never quite go.  they are waves on the water, nothing more, in and then out.  i watch them recede, knowing they will splash over me again.  inhale, exhale.  in, out.  life, death.  one cat, two cat.  

and so i let the two cat stay, let what will be just be.
i want to move like a dandelion;
i want to sway and revel in my inability to do otherwise.



the next door down, the one with poetry and paint on the doorknob

i think i will.

i want the door past political correctness, coolness and big daddy government,
past no cigarettes or coca-colas or white shoes after labor day.

i want to cough my way past the smoke and lies
and find the people with paint y life under their fingernails,
people with ideas bigger than botox and what their next tattoo should say;
say adios
to small conversations discussions gossip conjecture wishful thinking
about who's divorcing who this year,
which will change next year anyway,
musical chairs
and ring around the rosy

'scuse me while i kiss the sky.



balance my chakras with cherries and plums

i have eaten many a homegrown tomato over many a kitchen sink, and like baseball, the views from the windows over those sinks are a constant through all my years.  i can draw for you pictures of the plants, the sun, the heat, the overhead trees, the smell of rain hopefully coming.  the pink and purplish four o'clocks of my grandmother's backyard, a tomato eaten at her back porch door; from her kitchen window, chinaberry trees and blackberry brambles and my uncle's sandy yard, always the color of dust in my dreams and rememberings.  another house, a horse beyond the fence, a path into the darkness and shade of deeper woods.  my mother's many views: her arizona kitchen, clothes drying on the line as fast as they were hung, vegetables planted along the edges of the yard, babied into ripeness by her texas hands; her last home with my father, a shady courtyard, a pond with goldfish;  the kitchen of her final years overlooking yet another back porch, dogwoods, azaleas, red flowers, a fig tree.  and my home now?  butterfly bushes, wisteria.  a cat asleep in the shade.

the tomatoes always taste the same.
they taste of god and sweat and heaven and heat.


last week.  massage night.  magic with therapist.  it had been a bad day, and as she worked a particular spot near my right shoulder, we began to talk.  we seldom do -  i like the lights low, the conversation minimal, and so does she, feeling her way through my last two weeks, finding the argument i shouldn't have walked away from, finding the sleepless nights, the too many hours on the computer, the too heavy tote bag i keep saying i will empty.  it had been a bad day and i was shaky again, a tight chest from holding my breath too close, and we began to talk of tomatoes, warm ones fresh from the earth, washed and salted and dripping  under the summer sun, and i saw the sandy rows of gardens i have known, saw those kitchen sinks, saw the views out those windows.  we talked of salsa, homemade, and okra and plums and blackberries, and cherries, which she said would cure insomnia.  avocados, i said, will do the samebut i could taste those cherries, and i began to breathe.  

on the way home, i stopped at the market.
no cherries yet;  i bought plums instead,
and apricot jam.



there's a reason cinderella had new slippers

i was going to write about shoes, but then a black moth flew through the open bathroom window,
past the white curtains, wings sliding across the curl of open screen,
and the day was still sitting on the butterfly bushes,
the sun just beginning to entertain thoughts of the moon,
and a dove, i think, began to call,
though sometimes they sound like owls and i get confused,
and by then i was barefoot with toenails painted i pink i can,
and shoes seemed unimportant with summertime teasing in that way she does.

but there's a reason cinderella had new slippers and there's a reason for dorothy's ruby reds
and there's a reason we paint our toenails suzi & the lifeguard or frankly scarlet,
and i think it's called magic.
i think it's called adventures await.
new shoes = who knows what will happen?, and
old shoes = comfort and i know this road, and
bare feet with a tickle of color on our toes = joy you betcha baby mmhmmm.

magical object thinking, yes, but objects have only the magic we give them
and when we put those wings on our feet, we fly,
past the white curtains into the day still waiting for us,
into the night.

i saved only one pair of my mother's shoes and they are abracadabras if ever you've seen any,
slippers that took her who knows where -
i never saw her wear them -
but when i saw them amongst her everydays and flipflops and proper church heels,
i smiled.
she had a secret, i thought.
she flew.



the cure for what ails you

                            i thought this would be a poem. 

it's wild wild plums for a wandering heart
picked from the side of the path as you go
but it refuses to pay any attention to the way i shove the words here and there
when that same heart is hungry, hurting, and hollow,
jalapenos with honey hidden inside.                                                                                           

it's apples for anger and swallowed adventures 
and so i will stop shoving and pushing and adding too much water or too little ink and i will just let the damn things find their own places  

it's a quiver of arrows for the questions unanswered    unasked and unwanted    
they're paying no attention to me anyway 
a moondance with the monsters under the bed
they just jump in wherever they want

it's bare feet for boredom and the idea of paris . . .
you see how that's done?  how the words just push wriggle finagle insinuate their way in though they have no idea how they should end?  as if i know what the idea of paris is a cure for when i don't, never mind me, never mind my not-knowing-mind, the phrase just decides it wants to be right there and right there it sits no matter how often i pick it up and move it somewhere farther down the page. it always finds its way back.                                            

it's crumbles of cookies, sin on your tongue, for kisses unkept and shaped like the moon.
it's unmarked maps for untold truths,
 rosehips and raspberries for all those regrets.
but for unflown flights, the fever must burn.

it's the timing of things and the sitting still, and it's the way the words circle me; i see the movement from overhead, the space between myself and the words ever widening, they dancing happily hand in hand while i slowly turn, confused and addled, unsure whether to reach out and grab one, or wait. i keep writing.

it's a dance with yourself when the doors close behind you,
the call of a cardinal, her nest in a tree;
it's a dress of blue flowers that dares to remind you
of days full of yesses that should have been nos.
it's an unsteady boat for the too early mornings,
and a jump overboard into cold calming water,
jazz under your breath under a dark night tree, magnolia blossoms
light your way . . .

and suddenly i understand why paris is there, or at least the idea of paris, and i grab all the words put the lime in the coconut and shake 'em all together and they fall right into place right where they were supposed to be all along.

jazz under your breath, under a dark night tree, magnolia blossoms
light your way.
wild wild plums for your wandering heart,
easy pickings on your side of the path, no need for that quiver
of arrows,
questions unanswered,
for unmarked maps of untold truths,
for kisses unkept and shaped like the
sin on your tongue with crumbles of cookies,
tasting of yesses that should have been nos.
my feet are bare and i follow with apples,
with apples and anger and unasked for adventures
my dress torn from the sky,
for my flights still unflown.