A Flirtation

When phonemes slide up against each other
they don’t pretend to know what love might be,

but instead simply vibrate lip on lip
and curl up, side by side, tongue against teeth.

It is as if words are sweet, and larger
than life. It is a fricative fondness,

a slippery sibilance, this slow joy
of voicing two sounds that rub together

and then open into a shimmering
cascade of vowels, arcing from low to high.


Nevertheless, she persisted.

“The Gestures of the Body must be Suited to the discourse you are upon.” G. Washington

I rise, I ask, I hope there are enough here
who understand careening over a cliff,
out-of-control; the world turned upside down for
refugees, mothers and children, friends, neighbors,
real people. We all breathed a sigh of relief,

slow-walking, halted, and questioning his act,
these dangerous times. I wish we could give
the real world dreamers, justice, help, that right to
race, coming here, have a skill and success,
to like whom you love. Praise commonsense, propose

the handful of secrets now public. Give me
an awesome thing, in the right hands, steady;
in wrong hands, defenseless. Lives misunderstood.
The time is here. Let’s be clear, close, certain,
faithful, fair. We are all responsible to

immigrants, to every LGBTQ person,
to women. I ask, where are the thirty to serve,
to stand up for justice? I urge them to read,
to review a very moving letter, to start
with the most important. Determine whether

the commitment to life and death, shaping
and reshaping, rights and duty is allowed.
There is more — much more. We worked on problems,
also rights, rights for doing it. I know both
thought it inconceivable. I will stand;

I will cast about strong, longstanding, and equal.
Compel leaders to free the awesome, to chill
the free, to serve, to happen to be many,
to march, to struggle, to participate.
Exercise the depth of commitment. Unite.

Stride. Be alive, vital. I don’t think I quite
understand. I am reading, I am simply
reading what it would mean. I would be glad
to repeat it in my own words. Can I ask
a question? I want to understand. I am

allowed, I am asking what this means. The fear
was real, as bones and heads bore witness. Who forced
a march on children? Who? Of all who have suffered
over the past century, who tried to
legalize just one more criminal? Who

had been key? The only sin was being
too grave, selective, critical, “correct.”
Consider questions of who suffered so much.
My husband called it denial, denial
of other problems. If we are going to dream,

we must spirit the unique into respect,
integrity, confident with different
views. I do believe sensitivity. I believe
progress. We have made every dream ring true.
Who will fight hours to keep our families safe?

An erasure poem derived from the words of Senator Elizabeth Warren on February 7, 2017,


The shell you brought for me
from Cape Cod, crusted all over
with barnacles and resembling

an abstracted ultra
deep field view of the galaxies,
tilted every which way,

like a child’s game of jacks
on the floor, following certain
rules while breaking others.

Although, back then, we didn’t know.
Hubble wasn’t even launched yet,
and it was long before we knew

galaxies lay scattered across
the skies pouring out their light like
souls captured in great mirrors,

turning toward their own reflections.
This, here in my hand, isn’t grand
or great. So small, so light,

I can hardly tell I’m even
holding it. Just a half handful
of crystals, small shells faceting

the spiral, breaking up the curve
of the line like Morse Code,
stuttering, or like a fourth wall,

contradicting growth rings
and the subtle stripes of pale browns,
red-shifted and warm. Nothing lives

there now. Just the glossy polish
of the work that was done,
the luminous white of what was.

Just a netted fragment
of dreams carried far from
a place I’ll never be.



“Let your Countenance be pleasant but in Serious Matters Somewhat grave.” G. Washington

First we argue, and then next pretend
we always knew the truth. Butter is
good for you. Who knows? Maybe chicken

skin, too. Or is all you really need
the broth from boiling them? Sure, let’s just
go with that. Galaxies can’t breathe, grow

like lungs that expand and shrink again,
like brains, like empires, like the earth, like
dying stars growing large as they grow

cold. If your hands are cold, you might be
anemic. Or diabetic. Or
tired. Who knows what your hands could tell you?

Palm reading makes perfect sense. Of course,
minds reveal themselves in the body,
and the body changes to reflect

the mind. It’s not like astrology,
you know. How is that supposed to work?
You need to know the mechanism

of action. Like drugs. We know how drugs
work. Well, most of them. Well, we thought so.
At least, we have evidence they work.

That proves something, right? Listen to your
body. It makes up its own laws. You
better figure them out. There is no

such thing as common sense. The waters
are rising. You might have a bit of
a fever. If Vulcan existed

it would have been hot. Sizzling. Pluto
was a planet. A planetoid. Is.
Or not. It’s a fact. Depends on how

you define planet. Words change with time.
Remember when gay meant happy? Then
it didn’t. And now it might again.

Keep asking questions. That’s what makes change.
And watch the answers. Watch what you say.
What did you say? I said, “If.” Oh. If.


/Stumbles Uninvited.

“Read no Letters, Books, or Papers in Company but when there is a Necessity for the doing of it you must ask leave: come not near the Books or Writings of Another so as to read them unless desired or give your opinion of them unasked also look not nigh when another is writing a Letter.” G. Washington

I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to.
We try so hard to be detailed,
accurate. I was doing it
all. Yes, I was doing my best.
I was doing the best I could.
You did the best you could. We both
made mistakes. We all made mistakes.
It was no one’s fault. It wasn’t
either of us. It was just a
mistake. A glitch. An oversight.
An error. A revelation.
A miscalculation. A flaw.
How did I miss that? Yes, you’re right,

I’m not very good at that. It’s
an eye-opener. It’s open
access. I guess. Maybe I was
too open, or maybe too closed.
I don’t know. I didn’t want to.
I didn’t have access. I was
taking notes. I kept good records.
It was a typo. The other
set of data. It was the wrong
sample. The reviewer didn’t
like what they saw. There’s a conflict
of interest. At least a conflict,
anyway. There was some bias.

There was an insertion of bias.
It was inadvertent. It was
the selection. It was biased.
It was the color of her clothes.
Pink. It was the look on her face.
Her face was pink. It was the look
on your face. Foreboding. It was
a misreading. Body language.
It was the coding we used. Black.
Blue. It wasn’t a secret code.
I didn’t understand. Black and
blue. I am confounded. I am
confused. Just blue. I am afraid

I am out of time. I’m trying
to fix it. I’m trying to fix
everything. I said I’m sorry.
Didn’t you hear me? I’m sorry.
I take it back. I swear, I take
it all, all back, all of it. I
didn’t mean it. What? Whatever
you want. I’ll do it over. I’ll
do it again. I won’t ever
do it again. Do whatever
you want. Honest. I didn’t do
whatever it was. I didn’t.
I’m not that kind. I won’t. I’m not.


In Light of Resistance, Universe of Verse, and Poets for Science …


In light of “Poems of Resistance,” “Universe of Verse” (which has a LIVESTREAM tomorrow evening!), and Poets for Science (#PoetsForScience), I figure it’s time to come clean on the underlying strategy of the poem sequence I’m developing through (most of) my #NaPoWriMo poems, specifically the “Civility” sequence. For this poem series, I am writing the poems in sequence, using as titles the theme of the day from the “What the F*** Just Happened Today” working through the first 100 (maybe 110) days of the current administration, matched with the appropriately numbered quotation as epigrams from the “Rules of Civility” as scribed by President George Washington as a child. I have a spreadsheet to keep all the pieces nicely lined up. There have been a few days (considering my injury and recovery) where I have been too much in pain or fatigue to manage it, and a couple of poems for NaPoWriMo are not part of the Civility series, but by and large, this is what I’m trying to do. It’s tricky, and there are layers to where I’m drawing inspiration for the poems that I’m not quite ready to share yet, because it is still very early in this project. I mean, really, talking about 100-110 poems here, and I just wrote #17 yesterday. So, I may not be able to pull this off, BUT, it’s an idea, and I’m trying.

Originally posted on my Facebook stream. Lightly edited.
The image used is a “paper quilt” I made as a gift some years ago from the 110th of the Rules of Civility. Obviously, these are something special to me.



“Be no Flatterer, neither Play with any that delights not to be Play’d Withal.” G. Washington

The water refuses to breathe
for the fish. The air refuses

to slow the light, and the light won’t
mute, gentle, or bend in rainbows.

The garden crawls away from earth,
into wire arcs and plastic tubes.

Ice doesn’t know how to rot, so
it simply melts and fades away.

The chill that slept cozy beneath
erodes, becomes restless, tossing,

and turning, crying out in dreams
of relentless heat and sorrow.

Soil long blanketed becomes raw,
shivers with heat and burns with cold,

prickling root deep and static shocked
as if air’s nerves moan no, please no.