All the day I longed for Italia
remembering the blue green sea.
I thought if I could purchase
Parmesiano from the grocery
or drink Limoncello, tart and cold,
to cleanse the palate and soothe the throat
or eat aciuge, salty and bold,
or read tales of Dante I could quote,
Ah, then, I’d be in Nervi for sure;
the olive groves, the vines of grapes
where on terraced hills a warbler trills.
But to be in the Italia I know
Stop’n Shop is not the place to go.




once upon a time


Charmed, I’m Sure

I ride each day
with my brother.
We travel from hovel to hut,
dawn to dusk,
armed with a see-through shoe.
Is there no end to the
bunions, warts and hammer toes,
calluses, corns and carbuncles?
Oh the agony of de-feet.



Anchors Aweigh

She sashays across the pier
in Sweethaven,
siddles up to the sailor.
Her eyes undress the one-eyed runt.
his anchor tattoos ripple on muscular forearms.
New in town, sailor?



starting over




Starting Over

A bleak morning.
Ground fog, again.
It never used to rain so much.
And then,
the mist bows to a casual cumulous,
and evening cadences fall from a cloud-mouth of stars.
The future catches in my throat,
musky and delicious.
Its name is Begin Again and
it sits between us
like the last piece of candy in the box.








I clean out the house.
It is harder than the burial.

A story of sixty two years
cannot be erased like a careless checkbook entry.

I take everything of importance to me
and walk away.




homage to the tomato: a prose poem




I thought about my father today because the tomatoes are coming into season. Heirlooms, the old ones with the past curled up inside. I love the heft of them, these fleshy female fruits that fit in your palm just so, that one heavy for its size, this one cleft in two, plump lobes so like a heart it almost beats in my hand. Who knows what their names are? Specials, he called them, from Italy. He carried their seeds wrapped in small squares of white linen to America, to the stew of rich earth on Hospital Hill. The ground mist rising, my father plants the seeds grown from what has been, nurtures them to what will be.  Seeds from a distant place, paradiso, before.  I can almost see him in those fabled fields, snow still thick on the peaks of the Apennines, listening to the tread of soldiers tramping through the village and through his head. But old nightmares settle into the soil, even the memory of war erased, as he plants in lines and curves like the graceful handwriting on creamy pages of old journals. I do the same, sow seeds like pearls, see stems rise like delicate pale sprites, dark green leaves curl, unfurl, forks of branches spread out and up. I watch bees pirouette and pollinate the clumsy blossoms -extravagantly yellow- and eye the red sloppy tomatoes, etched with brown scars that zigzag over healed splits like lightning flashes and, on stem ends, sport green bits like vestiges of dragonfly wings. The scent of them ribs the air, these caricatures on sprawling vines, infused with light, decadent crimson and gold, hidden in shy tangles and laced with dew. One calls me over. With a flush of pleasure, I oblige, pick it, and cut a piece. Warm from the blade, I taste its freckled cheerfulness, and decide to leave the poem, following the row across curves of continent and ocean that stretch all the way to paradiso.



in a cow’s eye


In a Cow’s Eye

Clouds stall overhead.
I stand in the field flanked by pasture and barn.
Shorn cornstalks winnow back and forth, back and forth
and gangs of crows gather to eat.
On a scab of hill, wild turkeys perch
and down below roosters scream at hens.
On the porch of the crooked clapboard house
the Spencer brothers sit and wait
like men on the deck of a ship.
The wooden railing runs to its imperfect corners,
its knotty posts, split and twisted,
like telephone poles on the dirt road.
A lonely crowd poses ankle deep in the grass,
tagged and tattooed.
In a cow’s eye I see the sun ignite.
By degrees
the sky goes rainbow wild.



gym rats



Gym Rats


Here comes the girl with the serpent tattoo who hangs her iPod on a string around her waist,

the Harley rider in black leather, do-rag, and shades,

the woman with the crooked smile who neck wrestles her llama,

the veiny-cheeked fellow angular as a poisonwood tree,

the pony-tailed waitress who uses her keys like brass knuckles-

they all meet at the gym and, oh Lordy, they sweat.

From morning till night, they bench press barbells,

squat and lunge to the insistent throb of Aerosmith, hear Steven Tyler wail

……….Got to get that monkey off my back

I’m quittin’ sugar, says the woman who gulps bitter tea. .

……..I made believe the devil made me do it

I chucked my Zippo, says the man who cleans his ears with matchsticks,

and emptied my last bottle of Kickin’ Chicken. …….

.You best believe I had it all and then I blew it

These are the gym rats, in this cave of city brick yellow as smoker’s teeth,

weighed down by remorse, regret and dimpled thighs.

Bakers and bookies and painters and plumbers stare at mirrored walls,

the half-truths in their eyes.

They labor, fail and try again and oh, they sweat.

They feast on that moment of flawless form,

a fleeting moment of perfection,

and breathe in the present before it becomes the past,

never to be perfect again.



midway through 2014 April PAD at Poetic asides

Words We Women Write


 April is National Poetry Month ~ and National Poetry Writing Month.  


NaPoWriMo for short.

And it’s a crowd-pleaser.

imagesNaPoWriMo began in 2003. Poet Maureen Thorson decided to take up the challenge (modeled after National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo) and invited other poets to join her. Since then, the number of participants has grown larger every year, and many writers’ organizations ~ local, national and even international ~ host NaPoWriMo activities. robert_lee_brewer_hsI’m celebrating here ~  at Poetic Asides, a website hosted by Robert Lee Brewer, senior editor at Writer’s Digest. It’s the 2014 April PAD Challenge, a poetic bacchanal. BYOP, of course. The “PAD” stands for “poem-a-day.” So each and every morning, there’s a new poetry prompt. Brewer throws out a life preserver along with it ~ his own attempt at the prompt (wished for and welcome), then it’s my turn. And yours. There are plenty of poemming days left. Post as few or as many…

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elegy for the littleton diner

John Christ and Diner May 07 038

Elegy for the Littleton Diner

Bette Davis came here in 1941,
to Eugene and Stella’s place,
for her world premiere of The Great Lie
and nursed a raspberry-flavored lemonade at the gleaming silver counter.

Nostalgia hangs out by the cash register ~
a first date,
the malt after the school dance,
the rumble of the glass-pack on a 57 Chevy,
muscle shirts and polka-dot bikinis,
ducktails and bobby-sox,
red-ribbed seat in a hot-rod convertible.

You can order up a North Country Burger and a slice of America,
drop an affable one-liner,
stay a while,
take it easy.
And in the back booth,
you can almost hear Eugene and Stella having a high old time of it.




love note




This is just to say

I have taken the last piece of pie
that was left in the tin
and which you’d probably expected
to see this evening after dinner.

Forgive me
It was so tempting
And, yes, as irresistible as you.

( with thanks to William Carlos Williams)






The Eve of My Conception


January, 1949
Wind steered sleet sideways.
Russia had the nuclear bomb
and the Cold War dance shuffled on.
My father drove through the tempest,
not thinking of tensions between East and West
or imagining men in cloth caps foraging for food.
He came home dog-tired and scrubbed off foundry grime.
Maybe he sat on the couch in front of the Philco,
eating his wife’s chicken soup and
listening to Perry Como croon,
‘A you’re adorable, B you’re so beautiful…’
He might have smiled when she settled close,
and put her hand over his,
warming the space between them.
They did the washing up,
then climbed the stairs
without words.




hiss off!






Hiss Off! : A Sonnet

Rows of tomatoes planted on hillsides
remind me now of the boy who threw snakes.
He made the cats howl, he riled up the drakes
and spooked the old nag that took me for rides.
He made it a sport; he tormented me
by tossing a snake headfirst at my face
and shoving one in my collar of lace,
making me scream when it tried to get free.



This cruel vicious boy who inflicted pain
his treatment of creatures was inhumane.
It was always my wish for that pervert
that he could feel how much it hurt and
that just one snake he pulled from its lair
would be a constrictor and him ensnare.



army surplus in times square



In The City

There’s an obstacle course in Times Square ~
unopened cardboard boxes clog narrow aisles,
broad-shouldered parkas jam crowded racks,
platoons of shoppers forge through
an Everest of military paraphernalia
in Kaufman’s Army and Navy on 42nd Street.

Don’t scoff at the possibilities in this slightly unclean bazaar:

bazooka bags and military vests,
medals from distant armies,
blue-and-white-striped Russian Navy sweaters,
olive drab Austrian army jackets,
British motorcycle goggles,
ammo cans,
black Cadillacs,
gas masks ~

stuff you never imagined you’d have a sudden desire to own.



gut reaction


My Bacteria Is Dying for a Hershey Bar : A Villanelle

Craving for chocolate scientists explain
lurks from deep in the gut
where bacteria reign.

Chocolate lovers, in the main,
seemingly, no matter what,
have an acid, glycine is its name.

But abstainers who refrain
have more taurine to strut
where bacteria colonies reign.

For chocolate lovers it is plain,
your HDL will take a cut
and a healthy number you’ll sustain.

Where the research leads is germane
to the intestines in your gut
where bacteria colonies reign.

Skip the chocolate, white and plain;
Come o’er to the dark side lickety-cut.
Craving for chocolate, scientists explain,
lurks deep in the gut where bacteria reign.


the future ain’t what it used to be




When I am dead, my dearest,
and you are ripe as a bull in heat,
discourage the woman who struts like a jay
and go boil water
for a single cup of tea.