Thursday, May 9, 2013


I wrote this first one in the 90s. And this is the first time I've read it in a long time, but my sister reminded me of it today with talk of hydrangeas.


White and purple hydrangeas grew against
my grandmother’s house. We’d take the large leaves
and fashion them into wings, wanting to
fly off the pier, over the Bay, into
the ocean. The petals became snowflakes,
tossed from the swings onto summer bodies,
teasing the crabs. Each day was too real.
most were spent barely clothed and bare-footed
walking to the playground at the drive-in
snacking on the honeysuckle and wild
gooseberries along the way. Behind the
swings even the foot-threatening holly
tree was our ally, its shade cooling off
the silver slide for half of the day. Then
we would go fishing, spending hours in
search of worms often found under the bricks
that encircled the tigerlily bed.
we'd gaze into the rusty creek water
waiting for a hungry sun fish or perch
to appear. Later we would try to scrape
off the scales of our catch. Getting even
more scales on ourselves. Little shiny flakes
that we had to hose off. This would lead to
a water battle that would end only
when we heard Nana’s yell about drowning
the grass. We floated over each minute
until the sun left.

I wrote this one more recently. Gone are the innocent reveries of my youth!


Two hundred thousand miles below the moon,
the water splits over a rock and casts,
atop the blackwild sea towards the shore,
an afghan, white—the kind my mom crocheted,
composed more of the space between the yarn
than yarn itself. Its complex pattern snagged,
provided little warmth. I’d brush it off
like salt that sticks to me on morning swims.
But Nana’s blanket made from mismatched wool—
her leftovers from other work—with squares
knit so tight light can’t pass, I let enfold
me like the flattest, calmest lake. We sold
her empty house and pier when I was nine.
The pain that’s coming tugs like undertow.

Originally published in 32 Poems Spring 2012.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

"Just as well I didn't win"

"As a sophomore, she came in second to Sylvia Plath in a poetry contest. She longed to beat Plath, her nemesis. Later, though, she would toss her head and say, 'Just as well I didn't win.'" --Tad Friend about his mother.

Fairy Tale Ending

Each time it floods, the propane tank becomes
dislodged, resulting in a maple smell
in my apartment—leaking gas. The first
time it occurred, I spent the night downstairs
in a spare flat. The second time, I wedged
the doors and windows open, less afraid
of bugs that might creep in. Then after that,
the screens only. I ached the whole next day.
Last night I woke up cold and closed them all.
Turned off the fan. To me, the head-inside-
the-oven-trick has always seemed absurd,
some self-inflicted gingerbread-house end.
Why be the witch? I woke this morning dis-
enchanted, like all sleeping princesses.