Wednesday, March 31, 2010


nothing to say
nothing to lay
down on paper

nothing important
nothing to regret
not yet. . .

not anxious or worried
not manic or hurried
and yet. . .

nothing to pass on to others
no way
no how
no more
no less
than expected
more than deserved
but less than desired

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Dream

He dreams beyond his reach
desires more than he can have in one lifetime

He envisions a hacienda, stucco enclosed courtyard
sheep grazing, pretty girls riding in the arena
manicured orchards, a small family mausoleum

He can almost hear the mariachis playing,
smell the spring lamb on the spit
in celebration of the holy day of resurrection

Sometimes his sleep is filled with loss
a nightmare full of failure,
the house, the land, the family: all gone

He wakes in terror, reaches across the bed
for the warmth of the woman at his side

What She Needs

Joanna digs around in her purse for the Medicare card. The pharmacist waits with that patronizing smile she’s grown to expect. “Are you on file with us?” the young woman asks.

“No, I usually go to Safeway. It’s closer.” She seldom carries cash in the hope that she’ll be less likely to overspend. She wants to be more careful with her money, now that she’s not working. But she can’t bear the thought giving up searching for treasures at her thrift store.

She doesn’t actually hide her purchases from her son and sometimes even shows him the more interesting ones: the tiny clay cat made in Scotland, the cowbell that looks quite old and was surely a bargain at three dollars.

But mostly she puts her treasures in moving cartons and stacks them in the garage which is almost full. Maybe if she reorganized some of the boxes in her storage units there would be space for more. She’s already given away the washer and dryer and the oak dinette set. And maybe she could get rid of that king-size bed since she sure doesn’t need that anymore.  

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Crazy Love

Artwork by Arthur Joura

He’s angry
takes it out on the one
who loves him
Longs for the mother
who did not protect him
who allowed him
to be separated
from the only thing
that mattered
mother love

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Her grandmother died in December. In January Eisenhower was inaugurated and she went to live with her father and his new family. They told her new sibling to call her Sister.

Her new home was a thin-walled box: living room, kitchen, two small bedrooms and a tiny bathroom. And for the first time in her life she shared a bed. 

At her grandmother's house she had slept on a narrow army cot under the window in the front room which also housed a huge old quilt box, an oak armoire, and an open grate stove. In the winter, when her grandmother lowered the quilt frame from the ceiling hooks, it created a warm cocoon for the girl and her dog. 

Her old home was in a small town where everyone knew her family. Her new home was way out of town on a dirt road and only one neighbor down the way. She rode a school bus into town where there was only a school, one store, and two churches. On the good side, there was a small black and white tv and she got to watch Captain Kangaroo in the mornings and What's My Line and The Hit Parade in the evenings.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

More Texas

As an only child, Isabelle has learned to entertain herself. So being in a community hall with dozens of cousins, smoochy aunts, gobs of food, and a whirlwind of talk and laughter could have been quite intimidating. 

But it wasn't. She's her grannie's granddaughter to be sure.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Things I Didn't Know

My sister Sheila to me: Ever body always knew that you were the smart one, I was the good girl, and Sherry was the pretty one. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

If You Were to Return in Dreams

If you were to return in dreams
I’d turn away, afraid to look,
Afraid to hope
that it could all have been 
a loathsome trick
a mistake.
The speed, the wall
metal splattering across the median
the phone call, the disbelief
the searing acceptance,
the scream.

If you were to return in dreams
what would we talk about?
The children impoverished 
in ways beyond counting
the empty places in the family album
where you will never be middle-aged
a grandfather
a proper old-man corpse.

I’d try to say how sorry I am
for harsh words, unanswered phone calls
tough love that led to unimagined consequences
for loving too much, trying too hard, 
not trying harder
for being the first to blame
but also glad that I was always
the last to let go of the possibility
that things would get better.

A Blog Not to Be Missed

A wonderful tribute to Cindy's Aunt Rose. Do check it out!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I'm an old woman and I'm so crazy for Towne Van Zandt that I feel like a teenager on coke. He reminds me of my mother; he reminds me of what I could have been; he reminds me of what I wanted to be; he reminds me that it is all so, so dangerous. 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Losing Mawsie 2

Next morning Mawsie was still sleeping but her breath wasn’t so hard. Me and Ethan took turns all night seeing to her. When I touched her hand now, it was still warm, but not hot. I made Ethan feed the chickens and let the milk cow out to pasture then sent him on to school. He didn’t want to go but I made him anyway. Folks was on us all the time to do right and git an education. I wanted to go too, but I knew Mawsie couldn’t be alone. I hoped the widow woman would come back, but I couldn’t be sure. So I moved the rocker close to Mawsie’s bed and sat down to wait.

I wanted to open the curtain and let in the morning sun but I worried it might be too bright so I just set in the half dark and thought about our Mama. I was about three going on four, when Ethan come along. Before he was even walking, she took off to Memphis, said she was going to get a job and then come get us. I guess she either didn’t find no job or she thought better of having a couple of kids dragging along with her, cause we never heard from her.

Mr. Clark’s cousin who works as a salesman said he saw her one time, working in a place out on the Jacksboro highway. He didn’t say what kind of place, but we figure it must be a cafĂ© or a dance hall. Mama don’t have much schooling but she’s always been real pretty with long red curly hair. She had a nice singing voice and used to sing in the church choir when she was a young girl. So maybe she was singing at that place.

Mawsie never said much about her, bad or good. They was about ten years apart and Mawsie thought Mama was their daddy’s favorite. When he died with the cancer, Mama was about my age, maybe 15 or 16, and she run off with one of the boys from church. They got married but his family made them get unmarried, her being not of age.

She run off again a year later with our daddy. They didn’t bother to get married, just got them a pickup and a little trailer that they pulled behind it. They say she had me in the trailer. But I don’t remember none of it. When I was about two years old she left me with Mawsie and went looking for Daddy.  I guess she found him, cause the next time we saw her it was to drop off Ethan.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Still Missing Old Time Radio

I listen constantly to NPR, but it will never quite live up to my childhood memories of listening to the radio with my grandparents. For example: My Friend Irma, which featured a ditzy blonde stenographer named Irma Peterson (played by Marie Wilson) and her logical and dependable roommate, Jane Stacy (played by Cathy Lewis).

I think decided back then to be the sidekick, the sensible one who figured things out, (though I did briefly flirt with being a blonde).

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Losing Mawsie

The first hard times came when Mawsie got too sick to take care of us. We didn’t know what was happening at first. We thought she just needed a rest or a little quiet. But when after three days she didn’t get up at all, just stayed in bed, her face to the wall, we knew something was bad wrong.

I sent Ethan out to fetch the widow woman down the road since she was the closest to doctoring we could think of. She come quick, carrying her satchel of roots and powders. She held Mawsie’s hand for a bit then took out a long brown cloth and dipped it in the pot of warm water she had us fetch. Then she reached in her satchel and took out something that looked like snuff. But it didn’t smell like snuff. It smelled worse. She sprinkled it on the cloth and wrapped it around Mawsie’s neck and fastened with a big safety pin.

All this time Mawsie didn’t make a sound. Her eyes were red where they was supposed to be white and her lips were kind of rolled back showing her gums which was also red looking. The widow woman brushed her hand acrost Mawsie’s eyes and begun to sing, her voice so soft we could hardly make out the words. But it seemed some comfort and Mawsie’s breath come slower and it seemed like she was going to sleep.

“She’s got to have water ever hour,” the widow woman said. “And quiet, so’s she can rest. Or she’ll die.”

Ethan and me looked at each other and then away. We couldn’t even think of being without Mawsie. She wasn’t our real ma, but she was all we had.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hwy 101 Northbound

tires, hubcaps, empty cans

dead animals, abandoned vans

boxes, buckets, orange rope

old clothing long past hope

broken glass, rubber gasket

cardboard tube, easter basket

fender, rope, soda cup

beautiful trash when I look up

Friday, March 5, 2010

Impetuous Youth Revised

“In America, sex is an obsession; in other parts of the world it’s a fact.” Marlene Dietrich

At 17, she ran away from home with a 22-year-old airman. They drove to Juarez where they searched the back streets, trying to find a quickie Mexican marriage. No one would perform the ceremony so they went to a movie and then checked into a cheap hotel room. The next morning she boarded a Greyhound for California to stay with his parents and he drove back to the airbase.

Within hours he was thrown in the brig. A phone call to his parents and he was released and she was carted off to Juvenile Hall. Raised fundamentalist, she threw herself into Catholicism, spending her nights saying the rosary and imagining herself as victim.

Her days were filled with bad tv, bad food, and boring chores. When she and another girl were assigned to strip the wax off the ancient yellowed tile, they mixed bleach and ammonia to try to get the job done quicker. Whisked off to the infirmary to escape the toxic fumes, they were reassigned the next day to simpler jobs like dusting and washing all the silverware in the kitchen.

A month later, her parents drove to California for the hearing. She told the judge she would run away if they didn’t let her marry. Ready to agree to anything that might get life back to normal, they said ok. The 1100 mile drive home was quiet and not as unpleasant as she’d feared.

The wedding took place in the home of the church pianist. She borrowed her cousin’s white wedding dress and made her own “going away dress” from pink brocade. Family and friends came through with practical gifts, mostly what she would need to set up a kitchen. They spent their first night as a married couple in a motel room on the way to Roswell.

They set up housekeeping in a tiny apartment and she helped him rebuild the engine in his ’57 Ford Fairlane. By Christmas she was having morning sickness, so they bought a trailer house with two bedrooms and moved it out to Air Base Road. She loved her husband and was glad to be married and excited to be having a baby. But, like Marlene, most of the time she really did want to be alone.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Independence Day

Ooops! For all you 49'ers (i.e. citizens of the 49 states who were NOT independent countries before joining the union), you probably can't fathom what the shouting is all about. 

But, to those raised on stories of the Alamo, San Jacinto, Sam Houston, Jim Bowie and other heroes and historical events that led to the short-lived (9 year) Republic of Texas, it's still a big deal.  

Think of it as a little look-see inside the brain of some of the wacko birthers, etc. that you see on nighttime news. So, "Remember the Alamo."

Fog and Ice

She dreams of how it will be
when she is old and he,
not much younger
will decide she is no longer of use
to herself or others
and consign her to the home
away from home

The home where old men and women
locked in rooms at night
are left alone
to face the silence
and unanswered questions

What was it for?
How could it have been different?
Who am I?

She fantasizes a different outcome
one based on legends
movie scenarios
where the old are set on ice floes
no food or water
left to drift
to die alone

Without drugs
without machines
without somber-faced relatives petting hands
and wiping away the spittle
Without their unspoken prayer
“God, let her get on with this
So we can get home and get some sleep.”


"Face" by Mirit Ben Nun,

suddenly her face
all over the place
making believe 
that she isn’t alone.

make book,

hither and yon
she looks for proof
that it’s real

this life
this longing
for love and connection
but never detection
of the truth.