Our waiflike 5th grade art teacher
tutors us in sustained
tool-to-medium contact
during the expression
of one’s inner artiste.
She implores us to sketch lines and circles,
patterns and squiggles
hearts, homes, moons and dreams
in one constant, glorious, sweeping motion.

FILL the empty spaces, fill it ALL.
Turn the page over and start again.
Draw. Draw!
There, there and THERE.
And, class
— this is key, she tells us — never lift your pencils.
You and your art must swirl about in a continuous FLOW!

Her fists pierce the air,
arms swoop and flap
like a great winged heron in flight.
Mrs. Haukoo punctuates every word,
she gesticulates for emphasis —
her soul positively on fire —
while we sit there
in awe of this strange woman,
her wild gestures reminiscent
of African tribal ceremonies
we’d seen in grainy B&W films
in the AV room when teachers
were absent, home sick with the flu.

Lackluster skills fail to
mirror creative intent
but soon the paper erupts with
scribbles and flares of my own
native designs.

But when I flip the page over
I struggle as
pencil tip traverses
the slender slice of paper’s edge.

Gaining purchase: impossible.
I seek guidance, frustrated with my ineptitude.

Teacher’s eyes
grow wide
behind her oversized
cat-eye frames.

Silly goose, she teases.
I didn’t mean for you to take it literally.

Coyote lopes toward ancient moon,
sheltered in numinous light
high on the dense chaparral,
brushed in California coastal sage,
ridgeline glowing pinks and purples.

Alpha-male howls at amber orb.
Its clarifying echoes
soothing validation,
precursor of ancestral gold
coursing crimson through veins
flush now with renewed courage.

Actions born of paralysis
Actions born of reckless abandon
Actions born of undue persuasion

Sail your heart on restless currents
Rejoin the day despite every mutiny

Drifts of dirty, graffiti-white snow
sculpted by blizzard winds
beneath an angry winter colossus of grey,
what would thou teach us?

What secrets dost thou hide?

Warmth of spring, her nourishing rains
will wash thou away
yet thy majesty remains
though soon forgotten
until the hot August sun
framed in achingly blue skies
endears us to thy frigid beauty
and cool charms
which we,
ungrateful humans
in the dead of February
fail to appreciate,
we who never quite know
what we want
or require.


Can’t think of a thing to say…
I wish I could. I’d like to.
Lying here in my teal-blue flannel jammies
poetry reaching out from the page
connecting with my brain.

Rocking me.
Moving me.
Making an awesome impression.

I want to do that too.

I want to write
powerful words of eloquence
with a touch of grace
humor to boot
wisdom so profound
and so gut-wrenching,
readers will nod their heads
with knowing approval
whenever my name is mentioned
(in reverence)
some fifty-odd years from now
at poetry circles
(slams will have become


How am I doing so far?

         At first, I was afraid, I was petrified…. I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor

I fail in my embrace of Ms. Gaynor.
She empowers me
for only as long as the music still plays.
I am unable to translate her song into action.

Or resolve.

Time and again, I crumble
just as she vows she will not do.

Unsteady on my feet,
in every way that matters,
heart not (yet) forged in steel,
I feel almost broken.

I am always alone
and fear a future,
forver unwanted
never loved.

Still, fraud that I am,
I sing strong and proud.
But it is only for show.

Why can’t I be enough?

Vermin of verse
rise up against the wind
steady among every remnant of language
needlessly tossed aside.
Streetlamps shine at synchronized intervals,
providing cover for naughty girls
and those who seek them.
Cigar smoke chokes the minds of young boys
oh, so eager to become men
even as riderless beasts thrash
through emerald forests
uncertain and unafraid
waiting for lightning
to calm their outrageous skies.

Summer smiles,
highway miles.

Two rash and reckless
ensconced in a white
’76 Mustang,
with a thin red racing stripe
to match its plaid cloth interior.

Manual transmission,
chrome wheels
and Glory Be to God:
an 8-track player,
the center console
laden with The Hollies,
Hall & Oats,
Golden Earring,
Jethro Tull
and The Knack.

Launch it!

Our Girl Power
pit stop
battle cry,
a necessary prelude to Rolos, Pringles,
and Diet Cokes,
travel tackle for the ages.

With state lines yet to cross,
we savored every kick-ass song —
in its entirety.
Once that ignition key stoked the carburetor,
and my wing woman
pushed the tape back into the slot,
we watched those white lines melt away
in our side-view mirrors,
destinations unknown.