Wednesday, April 28, 2010

What to Do at the End of the Line

Like a kitten
that crawled past
the edge of the bed
I must decide
to claw
back to the top
or hope
I land on all fours.


A penny
with a hole
a sock
behind the dryer
One has no hope
to be found;
the other
is not worth

Just What I'm Hoping For

A real lover
looks good
when he walks
a good catch.

He’s been there
he’ll be there
he’s there.

He stays
sees you

~ From Adele “Daydreamer”

Not Thinking of You

I don’t care what he wants
when he’s lonesome,
feelin’ love starved.

When I hear him say:
Let’s get away, go somewhere!
Can we?

I don’t care!

Look at my love floating away.

~ From Aretha Franklin “Day Dreaming”

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Parents' Night Out

After we’ve kissed the
little ones goodnight
promise to pay
the babysitter extra
for staying past midnight
we go
giddy as teenagers
headed a house party
we drive
two-seater with the top down
shake our roles out in the wind
we dance
like maniacs
all ten thousand of them
transported to that place
when we could
drop to our knees
lean way back
playing air guitar.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Chicago flight
home to Durham
delayed for three hours
due to “weather” in Missouri
which sounds better than tornado outbreak
but has the same effect:
I wait even longer
to find sleep
my bed

Earth Speaks

I watch the needle creep
to 75 in the 55 zone,
look for red flashing lights
in the rear view while miles
of green stream past. When you face
the sun to warm us, I squint
fumble with the visor, fish
inside my purse for shades.

I don’t see which blue
you have painted the sky
or the shape and depth
of the clouds drifting above.
You want to tell me something,
but I can’t hear, until the rain forces me
to monitor the speed of the wiper blades,
take the car out of warp drive.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

According to What They Say

They say shaking a weight
for just six minutes a day
will shape and tone flabby arms.
But when I tried to exercise this way
it caused my shoulder harm.

They say asparagus
is a miracle cure for cancer
when cooked and pureed.
But it only turned my urine green
and made it smell for days.

They say the greeting card virus
would infect my computer
then turn it into a zombie.
But when I deleted all emails
I missed the friend’s discount at Abercrombie.

They say all these things
to help or protect me
but none of it turns out to be true.
Should I listen to them or to myself?
Dear Lord, please tell me what to do!

Can't Look Ahead or Look Back

I am somewhere
between past failures
and future mistakes.
Boxed-up memories
left miles behind
with cautious promises
to come back.
Asphalt stretches ahead
black and endless
pointing to nowhere.

Let Harley’s hum
drown the chatter
in my head.
Let the rush
of the wind
become a mantra.
Let it be
perfect, for once.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Humpty Dumpty

Surely he knew it was dangerous
to lay his rounded surface on that high flat edge.
To stay up would take more balance and control
than his muscles could muster; their involuntary trembling
wobbled his delicate shell. Was this what he was thinking
when he ignored the fear in his yellow core
to climb that wall, sit, and wait for gravity to work?

Monday, April 19, 2010

To Write Poetry

You must cut your belly open
season your innards
with olive oil, kosher salt,
and fresh ground pepper to taste,
then sear your emotions
in a cast-iron skillet
to seal in the flavor.

When done, serve your soul
on Wedgwood china
lay the platter
at the reader’s feet
and walk away.

Chemical Bonds

Ionic Love

I give up my electron
to complete you,
then disappear.

Covalent Love

Two atoms half whole
find each other, share, bond
stronger than diamonds

Polar Covalent Love

I open to you
You keep your electrons back
Our bond falls apart

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Road Kill

A lump of gray fur mashed
flat on the asphalt.
Something--once living--
didn't make it to the other side.

How will life end?
Like a squirrel
who crossed too soon
or waited too long
to seek fallen acorns?

Or like a baby raccoon
separated from the den
his tiny squeals crushed
under a two-ton pickup?

Or like a possum hissing
on the double yellow line
eyes locked with his doom?

Thursday, April 15, 2010

May 1st

Rent is due.
Time to scrawl half the amount
in letters and numbers
sign illegibly at the bottom
then stuff a check in an envelope
with the one his girlfriend
taped to the bathroom mirror
before she left for work.
But her check and her toothbrush are gone
and he remembers the letter
he has to write.

But what to say?
Does he apologize for the screams of anger
boiled over from lies exposed,
the unrelenting sobs that followed?
The landlady used to say
they were such quiet neighbors
but now when he passes her
on the way to the garage
she just whistles.

Should he mention
that blackened spot on the carpet
stained with sex and vomit
from vodka that could not erase
the taste and smell of his lover
from his girlfriend’s mind?
The security deposit
just one more thing to give up
come June.

He needs more time to think
of the right words.
But for now, he writes
We are moving out.
This letter serves as last month’s notice.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ellis Island

Lone light of this island
holds the dreams of the world.
Lady colossus.


Love spreads from one heart to another
As a bee spreads pollen
to flowers.

All at once the whole field is blooming.
Everywhere signs of spring.

~An imitation of Charles Simic's "Fear"

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Bull City

Brightleaf plants grew her ambitions
and with a lucky strike,
tobacco built stacks to honor her name.
When that flame died, she positioned herself
in the center of the Triangle
touting international educators
to lure biotech innovators as we traded
one drug for countless others.
The Flower of the Carolinas is blooming again
as the City of Medicine, as my home.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Last Ride

The back roads
on the Harley.
Your helmet heavy
on my head.
My doubt heavy
on my shoulders
Our bodies lean
into the curve.
I hang on
though not tight.
I know you
won’t be back
no matter how
much you promise.
Just go faster.
Let the wind
erode my mind.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

6th Inning Horror

Intentional walk
Then I hit the next batter
A pitcher's nightmare.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


She's not ignoring you.
She's talking to herself
or rather, she is listening
while her self talks on and on.

At a party, you may find her tucked
in a corner watching the extroverts
spew personal details around the room
like garden sprinklers on the lawn.

Sometimes she prefers the internal
conversation over the external drivel;
other times she wants the chatter to fall silent
like the birds in Simic's trees.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Classic Craftsman Drill

He picks up the cordless then leaves
my vintage chrome on the shelf.
Even when I shine up real nice,
stack my drill bits just right,
he still takes that gaudy ol’ plastic thing
along for odd jobs. All night she brags
about the freedom he feels each time
he wraps his fingers around her handle.
My cord may keep me tethered,
but I know her battery conks out
before she can finish the job.
Then he comes back around–
looking for me to give him that extra oomph
to power six-inch nails through concrete.
He knows I’ll squeeze out
all the torque he needs.

Until She Left

Every time Maggie came home from medical school,
the refrigerated hummed, filled with milk, eggs and orange juice,
the cupboards could barely contain themselves, stuffed
with all the fixings for Mom’s famous lasagna.
Mom and Dad made a silent truce
not to argue over the latest bounced check.
Sometimes their ceasefire would extend to holding hands
or Dad opening and closing the passenger side door.
I would rush home after my last class
to finish homework and chores
before Mom could bug me about it.
Maggie and I would trade every girly detail of our lives before dinner
Even our older brother, Mike, would crawl out from under his girlfriend
long enough to eat with us, then chauffeur us around town
– to the mall or movies or wherever it was we wanted to go
just like he used to do when we were all just kids.
Our family was whole again – until she left
and our normal lives broke loose.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Most Unkindest

Screen name MoulinRouge number 9
Stole my boyfriend's heart and crushed mine.
She was his fantasy in the flesh
Her smell, her taste is what he loved best.
I imagined her blond, buxom, almost six feet tall
To learn she was my friend was the unkindest cut of all.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Work Overload

I’m IM’ing my manager
on the training call
while wading through the 40 or so emails
that came in overnight from India.
A knock on the door.
No, this isn’t a bad time.
I’ll just put it on mute
and review the PowerPoint slides
on the red eye flight to London.

~Special thanks to Susan Anderson for the real life examples

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Repeating History

Once again tears stream down my face
as I regurgitate half truths
swallowed whole.

In my autobiography
I walk down the same street
knowing where the potholes are
but still falling
head first
still crawling out
hurt and bitter
as if I have forgotten
I can walk down a different street.

But I like him.
His energy
warms between my thighs,
his cool breeze
makes my arms goose bump

So I walk down the same street
knowing where the potholes are
but still falling.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Partly Lying

A tumble of words empty
my mouth. Sorry, never, and better latch
onto pronouns and prepositions, cohere
into what you want to hear.
Then the truth falls out
like rotted teeth
leaving only honesty visible
through the holes.


The sun tries to coax me up
But I dig my roots deeper
into soil that has fed me, kept me
safe through winter’s cold.
I see the crape myrtle–
its bright pink flowers abandoned
for tiny green leaves. I feel the weight
of dead petals heavy on the earth above.
Daffodils droop their heads low,
and in a whisper, strengthen my resolve.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Hidden Pockets

Inside this lightweight jacket, pockets big enough
to hold keys, license, and phone–three things you take everywhere.
Before, you power walked with these pieces of your life bulging
in small outer pockets, kept your elbows clenched to the side
holding everything in. For the first time your arms swing free,
in sync with the rhythm of each stride.