Tag Archives: Carolee

from the lake: a new series


Since it’s where I’ll be for the next couple weeks, I have decided to try a new series of poems: observations from the lake.  The first is a letter poem, written to Carolee as I sat watching the children drift out to the middle of the bay on a raft. It doesn’t feel completely finished, but it’s a draft, and that is progress…


Dear Carolee:

Here at the lake where grass and leaves rise
out of the water without any more purpose
than the empty snail shells dotting the beach
it occurs to me I have done little with my thirties.

Thirties—as though the decade was a pair of dice,
a hand of cards, a six-pack of cold long necks
sweating on a picnic table in the sun.
Ten years floating between luck and vice.

The crow cawing madly to its invisible mate agrees.

…………………..(Have you done with your one wild and precious life?)

I read between the lines….listen between the notes.

When the second bird answers—
another country heard from—
I can’t tell if she is agreeing
on the state of my empty-shell years:
or, from one mother roosting,
bored on her nest, to another
trying to make me feel better.


the parable of the anvil and garter



Today’s assignment for Summer Poetry Boot Camp is to write a poem from an image. One of my favorite artists working today is Carrie Ann Baade. I visited her latest collection, Tales of  Passion and Woe, looking for inspiration and, naturally, was inspired by the very first painting I looked at! Even the painting’s title, The Parable of the Anvil and Garter, is inspiring, don’t you think?

The problem I’ve been having with poems lately is their tendancy to morph into stories, or narrative. But not just any narrative…they are all taking root in magical realism. Which is fine, actually one of my favorite forms, but I’m having trouble telling tales. I suppose I just have to take what comes.


The Parable of the Anvil and Garter

After a painting by Carrie Ann Baade

I waited all night by the window for you,
hero, you and your white steed,
but you never arrived.
I would have mounted even a black horse
had you ridden up on purity’s dark seed–
any horse in a storm, brute muscle and sweat
saving me from lightning, hail, electricity gone wrong.

Meanwhile, the dishes piled up, dinner scorched
in the womb of the oven missing its controls
and the children straggled in with a rusty anvil
recovered from the neighbor’s garbage.

Without the steady hoof beat of rescue
to march by, flying seems the only option.

Outside, in an absurd reversal of strength,
a single raven flees a host of sparrows
giant predator diving and swerving
to avoid the sting of lesser beaks.

Leaving the house in blue garter and bustier
proves much easier than explaining why I am astride
a gleaming metal weight, why the very burden meant to drag
me down is allowing me to soar above the mossy rooftop.

Every parable has a moral. Draw conclusions at your own risk.

zombie love–it’s all the rage


Gah! This is my new favorite word. It expresses everything from frustration to utter meltdown. This latest poem for Carolee and Jill’s Summer Boot Camp has given me trouble from the start. The start, this being Monday, was a line from another poem–a borrowed line. The borrowed line itself * wound up not making it into the poem, but still, the poem begged to be written. This poem is also a response to Carolee’s latest which is a response to mine, which is a response to hers. Gah!


Even as I fiddled with it just now, I imagined tearing this poem apart at my writing group. My poet friends will help, I thought! And boy do I hope so. Still, I am in boot camp, and writing poems is what I do. So here it is…


* The borrowed line was “It was a bright inviting, freely formed…” from Medbh McGuckian’s “Painting by Moonlight”


Consider Your Daughters: A Zombie Fable
I am considering them, silly woman! I would much rather their minds be engaged in the deadly arts than clouded with dreams of marriage and fortune, as your own so clearly is!”

p.– Mr. Bennet, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith


It was a bright evening, fully formed,
and the tip of the crescent moon snagged my sleeve.
When the moon, love-orb, reaches out for you
what can you do but surrender to its gold bidding.

I chained myself to the zombie on the lawn—
(the undead being all the rage in suburbia)
the best way, I imagined, to save what is almost extinct.
Time, I imagined, to harness a will of my own.

We strolled the neighborhood, a shocking trio:
zombie, refugee, lamp torn from the sky,
searching for love in suburbia’s illuminated windows.

On the maniacally manicured lawn next door, Zombie dropped
an ear, thinking the man sleeping with his weed trimmer
might like hearing what his pretty wife whispers each night.

From the home where hearts break like dishes, I slip
a little black dress from the clothesline. Relic from evenings
when the couple inside stepped out together, the A-line has hung
at half-mast since wife danced off husband’s floor for good.

Tangled in the trees, the moon slipped from my shoulder
disengaging slick as a hook from a fish’s mouth,
taking my shirt with it on its ascent. Ever the gentleman,
Zombie tore the skin from his chest, warmed me
with what used to be his heart. This could be love.

I wrap him in my black linen
pull the dress low to cover the chain binding our legs.
We are a secret team, the lives we save not our own.

who knew you could learn so much from an unmown lawn?


It’s slip ‘n slide time here in suburbia.  While watching the kids make knee dents in the soggy grass (and have a blast doing it), I thought about Carolee’s recent series of poems about her home/house/road.  And I realized, as per usual, she and I live parallel, but different lives, because I, too, have sad clover.  The poem came and I wrote it.  And now the dynamic duo has a new project: call and response poems.  From Phillips Road to Delmar Place and back again.  Huzzah!


You Think Your Clover Are Sad? …A response to Carolee’s poem about sad clover

I don’t mean to steal your idea
but the white clover here at 34 Delmar Place
is feeling neglected, too, multiplying
like white blood cells gone mad,
lumbering in from the edges
(where a picket fence ought to stand)
toward the front steps—small zombies.

Bless my clusters of undead,
scattered across the ragged grass.
I rest among them, press my ear to the ground
to hear what they are trying to tell me
until I remember—zombies only moan

and moaning, no matter the tenor or tremble
is not an answer, but a prelude. This haphazard formation
(unmown lawn) is an alphabet, suburban hieroglyphics.
To decipher their morbid message
read my future like tea leaves
I need a boost, a way to climb high in the maple tree.

It would help to have someone, Amelia Earhart, maybe
to lift me up above this wild landscape
fly across the unknown for a clearer view.

back to our regularly scheduled poetry


It has been way too long since I wrote a poem.  Even longer since I posted to my blog, poor thing.  With summer coming on, and with it summer vacation (ie: kids home all day every day!), Carolee and I have enrolled in Poetry Boot Camp.  Well, we run the place, …wait, what’s that? A whining 5-year-old?  Ah, the sounds of summer.

Anyway, I pledge a poem a day all summer long.  Well, except for Friday which is edit & submit day.  If I don’t, please come to my house and use any means necessary to elicit a poem.

First poem, inspired by the wordle over at Big Tent Poetry!  Yay!  A poem!  And what an interesting list of words: resent, praise, hungry, milk, dull, cough, dangerous, part, stars, dark and comfort. I’ve been working with some revisionary myth-making lately, and Red Riding Hood seems to keep popping her hooded-head in…


Little Red Riding Hood Discusses Her Costume

It wasn’t the warmth of Grandmother’s bosom
that sent me alone into the forest,
but the stars’ dark comfort.

This is the part of the story they keep from children:

Not how I threw caution to the wind
…..how I put my trust in a hungry foe
……….how the rattle of a sly cough
could sound so much like a song I’d heard before.

But how I grew to resent my own dull milk
…..how I was not a foolish girl, but a lonely woman seeking praise
……….how I left home and hearth for the handsome woodcutter
carried a basket filled with oysters and wine, truffles dug by hand,

the cape and hood being nothing more than a clever disguise.

Good things happen when you’re not _________


…insert verb here.  I wasn’t looking/thinking/paying attention when out of the blue, my pal Jo asked, very quietly, if Carolee and I would like to be editors on her beautiful, gorgeous literary journal ouroboros review.  I expected fanfare!  Loud trumpets!  An Ed McMann look-alike at the door with balloons and flowers!

This is a dream come true.  Very much like when I stumbled on the building for rent that would eventually become my art studio.  I had always daydreamed about opening a children’s art gallery.  Then it just happened.  Well, I have always daydreamed about being an editor of a literary journal.  I have been bugging Carolee for years to start one with me. 

The DetailsChristine Swint, the other founder (along with Jo) of ouroboros, is heading back to school for her MFA (lucky, lucky!).  This led to her very tough decision to step down from editing the journal.  Life changes, timing, instant karma…Jo had a need for some assistance and the rest is…well, not history, but (hopefully) a beautiful future!

Please check out the current (and past) issues of ouroboros.  It’s gorgeous!

PS: Ironically, I just realized, we are, all three of us…suburban mothers.  But we are so much more!