One Dozen or So From the Archives: Episode 14

Another installment of poems still waiting in the archives to be heard. This is the last one. The loose ends are tied up or trimmed, however they should be.

If you want more details, here’s the Big Long Explanation. Otherwise, just read as many or few of these poems as you’d like. And thank you, as always!

These poems are all from Repairs, published 2017.


The fine soft yarn
not much thicker than the hair
of the baby
wearing the sweater made from it
The pink satin ribbon woven through eyelet lace
on a little girl’s dress
The chains made of colored construction paper
hanging from the light fixtures
in the first-grade classroom
The curly ribbon ringlets topping a birthday gift
quick and hard you ran a scissors blade
down the lavender length
The coarse brown string you kept in the kitchen drawer
to tie up packages and
stake tomato plants.
The thread you cut at the end of every seam
you ever sewed
A zigzag rope made of chewing gum wrappers
Plastic lacing two colors four strands
braided into a lanyard for your Girl Scout knife
Shoelaces broken and new and
tying up the straps of your bathing suit
Fabric strips knitted into a rug

Frayed ends you cut off the bathmat
because the cat liked to chew them

Knotted together
Rolled into a ball
There are no loose ends
in this life.


As One As Many

cut-off ends
knotted together
fingers down the line
knot by knot
You must
each one
to know
the whole.



No cloud in the sky
this morning

last night

every one
fell to the ground

this morning
for me to find

in puddles


The Frog

The frog
bellowing three times and silent
having said
all he wanted to say
for no audience but himself

that I heard it
passing as I did
before the screen of trees along the bank

but I did hear it.


Scared Me

Along the sidewalk
down and to the left
not planning on seeing
nothing to see
blank windows
brick wall
just a movement of my head
knee-level to me
a face in the window
pale and wide-eyed

scared me
I’d already passed
on to the next window
blank and dark
I did not
look back


Tested and Proven

If you close up the building
walk away from it
let it sit
year after year
let the slates on the roof crack
drop off in shards
let water in
let rain
fall all the way to the basement
brick walls lose mortar lose bricks
windows pull out of the walls
parapet lying in a dent in
the lawn
that is grown up knee high
go around back
some kind of vine crawling
through and over
the sun porch a sagging empty
dark hole
You put a Condemned
Keep Out

on the front door
such as it is
rotten soft and weather-scoured
All of this and
We remember, don’t we?


Suburbia Off-Kilter

The old man
moving at no speed
drags the hose across the lawn
a defect-free swath
of fake-looking real grass
to the thick-mulch plot
placed with just that little bit of awkward
you don’t know if it’s for
asymmetrical effect
or just off-center
Full of red geraniums
spaced too far apart to chat
but yelling would be rude
so, they sulk a bit. Each one
The old man gets that hose in position
aims the sprayer.
The geraniums would turn their backs
if they could
but as it is
they just have to take
the turned-up-one-notch-too-high
as best they can
holding on to green leaves
while red petals fly off
spatter the mulch in sodden heaps.
The old man cuts the flow
starts to turn
all of a sudden
squeezes the handle for one more hard burst
The geraniums shiver.


Modern Architecture

The cool room indifference has made
the bare walls
the clean floor
the chair not needing a cushion
the window without a curtain.
The quiet
the composure of this room
I have paid for this indifference
I have earned it
it’s mine
I rest in it
Leave me to appreciate it.


It is Not Just the Coat

Navy blue wool coat
straight cut
calf length.
Coat sleeves lengthened
my wrists being
one inch beyond the standard
Only I know
of the pieced-in lining
one inch
slightly different shade
of navy blue
My fingers sliding over the seams
when I slip my arms
through the sleeves
Only I know
this coat has amended
adjusted itself
for me
interrupted its wholeness to make room
for me
I recognize

I am well-dressed
when I wear this coat
wrapped in its navy-blue warmth
and good looks
I am confident
Even when
this coat is hanging in the closet
it has style
shares it
gives it
to me.



Oh too cold the wind
the indifferent sunshine
the concrete sidewalk
too cold. The glass door
to the lobby. Wool coats
vents breathing out dust-dry air
toasted muffins in the coffee shop
floor polish


Housekeeping on a Budget of Limited Resources

The unironed clothes
your hands shaking
the pile of dishes in the sink
your head pounding
the grimy kitchen floor
your nerves scraped raw.
The chairs askew
at the table
the bills unpaid
and out of date order
the refrigerator
full of too much food
it must be made into
all of it


Asphalt and Car Horns

Hot concrete
and hot dogs
from the food truck
on the corner
a car honks at me to hurry
across the street
though I have the light
already I am sweating
in my dress and jacket
meant for my air-conditioned office
instead of straight-down
lunchtime summer sun.
I eat my hot dog
leaning against a brick planter
full of sagging petunias
next to the bus shelter
stealing its shade
Marked as I am
a local
by my office clothes
tourists ask me
almost every day
for directions to a good lunch spot.
I say
Right here.
Right here.


Wedding Planner

You’ll need help
the paperwork can be confusing
so many different hairstyles to choose from
and our catering staff
is thoroughly professional
when it comes to waffles
our specialty.
We can also provide a sketch artist
or hidden cameras
Alterations free with your purchase
We’ll do whatever it takes
We accept personal checks.


10 thoughts on “One Dozen or So From the Archives: Episode 14

  1. I really loved the first poem (Ties) and the way you describe the textures of all of the different types of ties. What also struck me about that poem was the way you conjure up acts of creativity and acts of care that are woven into the fabrics of each tie.

    The rhythm and structure of “Housekeeping on a Budget of Limited Resources” is really clever in that it really builds the sense of overwhelm and stress. I really enjoyed the conceit of “Becloud”. I think that idea of the rain clouds descending to become the puddles is a really refreshing take on the idea of the storm as the sky falling. I liked the poignancy of “Tested and Proven” – even though I am eagerly awaiting the demolition of a building just like it.

    • Thank you. I re-read all these poems and remember what I was thinking when I wrote them, or what memories they came from. It is kind of a diary for me. And then I really enjoy hearing readers get from them. I so appreciate your close attention to them, and how you see beneath their surfaces. “Ties” is full of things that are true in my own life, I guess I do see so many things through the way I use them, rather than what they are. Housekeeping, well, there are those times you go through that strain you, and the house is where the feelings are carried out…As for Becloud, when I was little I thought it so interesting that the pieces of water falling from the sky combine to make a whole when they get here, rather than staying separated.And those buildings, they fight to stay alive, even when no one wants them to, it is emotional to me somehow.

  2. Suburbia off-kilter made me laugh and feel sad at the same time. I’ve seen a similar display of impotent power – though the target was the roses….

    • I saw a version of this happening as I was on a walk, and I just wanted to grab the hose away. The flowers looked so miserable. And the man looked kind of too satisfied.

Comments are closed.