My Memory of It

My Memory of It

Then and now
and forty years in between the two
but I know I looked out this window
at this oak tree
I know it. I sat here in this room
and looked out this window
I am sure I would have done so
at least once while I was here
for in all that time of course
it would have been impossible not to
certainly it would have
remember this oak tree?
No. I do not.


Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon 2020 Week 51

We are in the last days of 2020 and this year’s Marathon. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I’m ending the Marathon habit with next week’s session, after four years of working in this way plus another year in which I did a quarterly week-long event. In other words, I’ve been Marathoning in one way or another since 2015.

Arcadia University, Landman Library, 2017.

It has worked out well for me, but things have changed, and now I will approach my writing in a different way. I don’t know what that way will be. It will evolve.

Montgomery County Community College, College Hall (Breninger Library is part of this complex).

During these years I have written a LOT of poetry. I had decades of pent-up thoughts and feelings and experiences and memories to express, it seems, all of that inside me and now it’s on paper. I am very grateful that the circumstances of my life have allowed me time, energy, motivation, and the ability to focus on writing as I have done. I also am more grateful than I can say for everyone who has been reading along with me during these years.

Chestnut Hill College, Logue Library, 2017.

As you know, I also really love putting my work into print, and I have a lot of print books to show for it. (Look here on Amazon if you are wondering what I am talking about). I enjoy the tangible record they provide. Maybe someday my little granddaughter (now aged 4 1/2 months) will be interested. Even if she is not, I feel a sense of satisfaction in my work. That and all the support I have gotten from readers means a lot to me. Thank you.


Sounds like this is the winding-up speech. No, we have one more week to go! Let me get back to where we are today.

Here are a few things from today’s session.

I’ve been collecting phrases/sentences for a while – with the criteria that they fit a syllable count of 3, 5, or 7. This way, I can use them for haiku, tanka, or shadormas. You know how I liked counted syllable poems, and I’m really enjoying collecting words like this and seeing what happens. Let’s go!

This haiku started off with the red cardigan. I was reminded of a sweater my grandmother wore. It was a long time ago; she died around this time of year in 1978. I still miss her and my grandfather.

the red cardigan
my grandmother wore it out
many decades past

This tanka began with the neighbors laughing. I wrote it right after the one above, and I was still thinking of my grandparents. I spent a lot of time at their house. This poem is a few of the memory sensations I have from that time.

the neighbors laughing
the broom scraping on concrete
the screen door slamming
the rusty melody of
bringing in the garbage cans

No, you do not have to put up with it.

This tanka started with in the half-darkness.

in the half-darkness
over a box of popcorn
he leers. I decide:
Ladies’ room. Break up by text.
Go home. Good thing I drove.

People meet in all kinds of ways.

This haiku started with the mis-heard phrase through chatty burping.

Through chatty burping
we got to know each other.

This shadorma started with the misprint.

Yes. Let some dreams come true.

the misprint
that led me
straight to you
choose the wish over reason
let some dreams come true

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon Week 47

Busy times at my house. We are embarking on an updo of our basement. We have thrown out or given away a lot of items and continue to do so. We plan to reorganize our much-reduced load of stored possessions and I want to move my painting activities to this area (weare also making changes to my studio space upstairs which is why this last is happening).

An earlier slapdash paint job and floor installation will be updated. New ceiling tiles are being put in place (taking down each one adds to my dismay over how much mouse poop a house can accumulate over the fifty years since these ceiling tiles were installed). I have just finished painting the ductwork black and replaced maybe 30% of the ceiling. I will be starting on the walls tomorrow.

These changes set the tone for this post. I am considering the role of poetry and writing in my life for 2021. I can say now that the Marathon series will end with this year. I’m not able to leave home to devote a day to writing, given circumstances. And the idea of the Marathon was originally to give me a breathing space, a separate place for contemplation and rest – something I no longer feel the need for in the same way.

I would like to integrate poetry writing back into my everyday life, along with home renovations, artwork (I am also making changes here, in that I am no longer going to be doing art shows – art will be just for fun.), and other interests I have neglected, just discovered, or want to explore more.

I named this Marathon “Just Enjoy Yourself” at the end of 2019, expressing what I hoped it would become in 2020. It seems like a cruel joke now, this name, but I have persevered, and will finish things out. And I want to say that though 2020 cannot be described as enjoyable, at least for me it has forced me to open my eyes and see a lot of things differently, and more clearly. I think that is a good thing.

OK. On to writing. We have a very typical November day that’s finishing up now – here is my back yard.

I continued last week’s activity of using random phrases and word juxtapositions to spark poems. Here goes.

This haiku was written from “Dial eight”. A character on a TV show I was watching told someone to get on the phone and call the front desk – “dial eight”.

Dial eight and talk loud
Anybody who answers
Shout’em down. And good.

A tanka. The phrase was “invigorating idyll”. I made this pairing from hearing the two words in different contexts and liking the alliteration. Don’t know how it ocurred to me to write about a spa, though.

  1. Two weeks at the spa.
    Invigorating idyll.
    of recent nuisances done –
    I’m so relaxed now. I purr.

This tanka originated with the word “copyright”.

blurred copyright year
a book coy about its age
charmless and dated
the former belle of the ball
presents her tattered dance card

This tanka is written from this afternoon’s visit from a fox. We have many animals who come into our back yard (three bucks chasing each other went through as well this afternoon, crashing through the hedge – I was amused to see one of them heading off with branches stuck in his antlers…).

This fox did exactly what this poem said. He’s come into the yard before and I recognize him. I like foxes. They are quite confident animals.

skinny fox still young
patchy fur and threadbare rump
stringy tail held straight
no looks and no lack of poise
comes right up to the back door

Thank you for reading.

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon 2020 Week 46

Here’s a bit of trivia from my life: Exactly 22 years ago today, on another Friday the 13th, I ran a fabric rotary cutter over my left forefinger and removed a good chunk of it, necessitating a ride to the hospital in an ambulance.

This form of transport was over the top, yes, for this injury, but I was home alone, I couldn’t drive myself, there was a lot of blood, I couldn’t raise any of the neighbors to take me, there was lot of blood, and I was scared. Every year on this date I am grateful for the guys on the ambulance who calmed me down and got me to stop sobbing and waving my dishtowel-clad hand around.

My finger healed fine, though it’s still smaller than it originally set out to be when it embarked on life as part of my left hand.

In case you are wondering what happened to my rotary cutter, it went in the trash as soon as I came home from the emergency room. Once a cutting tool has tasted blood, it does not go back.

And on this day, November 13, I do not handle knives, scissors, or other sharp instruments. No. I just don’t.


Today, this November 13, nothing so bad is happening (crossing fingers, no pun intended, I don’t want to tempt fate since there is more of the day to come). All I can report is a rainy November morning, lots of leaves on the ground.

That’s good.

Let’s get to poetry. All week I have been working on haiku inspired by five word phrases I’ve picked up here and there. I really enjoy the immediate image or tiny story that comes to me when I read the phrase – and then the challenge is to express it in 17 syllables total, the five I start with and the 12 I can pluck from the air.

The phrase here was “A hundred more times”.

A hundred more times
she wore the dress. And each time
it was wrong for her.

The phrase here was “burliest gazelle”.

in any size crowd
there’s the burliest gazelle
the skinniest pig

The phrase here was “diary orbits”.

diary orbits
circles of daily routines
written in pencil

The phrase here was “twentieth teapot”.

twentieth teapot
the oceans of strong black tea
you do drink each day

And this one, “chalky quarter moon”.

chalky quarter moon
scrawls out white shadowy clouds
on night’s clean blackboard

Just Enjoy Yourself Poetry Marathon 2020 Week 43

This week the Marathon took place at home on October 22. I’ll be illustrating this post with some photos from around my house. Let’s start with this little bee on a zinnia. It is alive, very slow and feeble. It’s cold for it to be still flying around. Somehow the sight of it determinedly out in the world was very moving to me today.

I felt in the mood for words today, any words, just choosing words and then seeing what ideas might arise. I used a random word site I have worked with before and chose the paragraph option – mostly because it would give me a whole lot of jumble of words at one go.

I don’t usually take the sentences or phrases straight from the suggestions – most of the time there is a word or two I like or that makes me get a new idea to run with. But there is no overlooking the idea of serendipity – if there is a string of words to be pulled, I will do so.

Last thing – I was also in the mood for counting. All the work I did was either haiku, tanka, or shadorma.

Now, how about some poetry?

Here are a couple of kitchen items, and I snapped a couple of kitchen photos to go along with them. The first one is a shadorma.

of dinner plates chat
Stray ladle
reaches out
for a unifying word.
A pot breathes out steam.

A haiku.

the red spatula
ministers to the onions
frying in the pan

A shadorma. I do not know what it means. The leaves are from hosta plants in my front yard.

The sun moves
your brassy escort
and over
beyond. The empire gossips.
A gnome breathes out leaves.

My knee is fine, thank you, but I was thinking about some others I know who will be having knee work done. And that led me to thinking about some of my own doctor visits for other items. Next thing you know, here is a haiku.

the doctor mumbles
generic commentary
at my aching knee

A shadorma.

Will the ghosts
mock the medium
up to now
corraling ectoplasm
for a nice profit?

And now I will end with some autumn magic from my yard. Thank you for reading.

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 42

I continued the activity I’ve been doing the last few weeks, writing to fit some random photos I took around my house. I’ve finished up the array of photos so I think next week there will be a new plan.

I also wrote some poems from cards I made from random phrases cut from discarded library books.

I’ll see if I can include some of each of these categories.

Here are two tanka for the same photo. I guess I really like my glue. Here is the first one…

The orange twist-cap.
The rounded contoured body.
The bottle of glue
and how well it fits my hand.
I squeeze. Watch the first drops fall.

and the second one…

His rounded shoulders.
His jaunty orange ribbed cap.
Friend since my childhood.
My sticky fingers grasp tight.
I squeeze him in affection.

A shadorma. I run the thread out until it is gone and then some.

spool of white
unwinds its last turns
The machine
pulls the thread
the greedy needle consumes
beyond the last inch

A shadorma. I used these for various art show purposes; an enormous box cost the same as a few tags. I have found many uses for them.

shipping tags:
blank manila card
hole for string –
this box of one thousand for
as many journeys

I feel as if I may have already written something for this picture. If so, well, I did another version, didn’t I? I have several measuring tapes, and they feature in my earliest memories, because my mother sewed all our clothes when I was a child and we always needed to be measured because we were always growing! Here is a shadorma.

Springed Out
and now gone Disrolled.
Busted off
too-tight Tight
for Detwistification
and then Laid-Out Flat.

Here’s a phrase poem from late last week. I put it on a postcard and mailed it.

frayed-nerves iguana mom
ungainly in looks agile in pragmatism
overlooked the kookiest antics of her daughter
the frothiest flippant teenager she’d ever seen
instead she took delight in
the ultraviolet swoop of her offspring’s tail

Lacking a photo of the iguana mom, here is a view of my studio and my desk in a double exposure. Kind of like my head feels when I have a lot of ideas rolling around in it!

Thank you for reading.

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 41

I’ve got a busy week coming up so I thought I’d get right on to the Marathon today. I might do another session later in the week if there is time. We’ll see.

I continued last week’s theme of writing to photos of scenes around my house. Here we go.

Two laundry baskets and this is what they said to me. A tanka chain.

Two laundry baskets
sit empty on the high shelf
elderly ladies
wearing shapeles shirt-dresses
settled comfortably close

on a bench. They talk,
or not – worn hands clasped in laps –
arthritic knuckles
hold in place loose wedding rings
of a style fifty years old

A tanka. In the closet.

something orderly
salves me. stacks of towels rise
by size and color
linen closet a refuge
a small but potent healing

Pillow on my living room sofa. A haiku.

byzantine plot twists
and the cool gray sofa blames
the patterned pillow

Lamp in bedroom. Shadorma.

cream blouse and
tan-white patterned-dot
pencil skirt
your face young
painfully eager to please.
Sketch: first job first day

A shadorma for beaters from my little mixer. I will be making a cake later this afternoon, by the way.

Cake batter
Mixer whirls the bowl –
Flour sashays
with butter!
Sugar hops! Cake in oven –
Let’s lick the beaters!

Thanks for reading!

Just Enjoy Yourself Marathon 2020 Week 40

This week I was a little confused as to what I was supposed to be doing day to day. No reason for it, just seemed that I was maybe mentally in a different week than the one I was physically moving through?

Ever get that feeling? Sort of like one of those dreams where you suddenly realize you have to take the final exam in a class that you have not attended, did not know you were taking, and to top it off, you never heard of the building where they are giving the exam?

Yes, that was how I felt this week. So for the Marathon on October 2, I decided to help myself out a bit, poetry ideas-wise. I recently posted on my art blog a series of photos I illustrated, items around my house – and the photos were taken to act as prompts for poetry. (If you are interested, my art post is here and the art post refers back to the poetry aspect.)

So let’s get going. Here are photos and poetry from today’s session.

A tanka. The photo is of knitted dishcloths in my kitchen drawer.

the links jangle in
a restless twist together
-their embossed pattern
formed by two colors of yarn –
I hear as my needles work.

A tanka. About a spoon I often use.


Get the holey spoon
that’s what we used to call it.
Get the holey spoon
and holy green peas! drain them
with this wholly useful spoon

A haiku for a tape measure. I have several of these. One of them dates back to 1980, when I first lived on my own and started making my own clothes for work without any help. This one pictured, though, is more recent.

coiled measuring tape
lies like a satisfied snake
nesting in thread spools

This shadorma accompanies a photo of my own work gloves, but I was thinking of how I sometimes use my husband’s pair when I wrote this poem.

just stand-ins
for your hand and yet
your fingers
curl to mine
when I slip on your work gloves
you left on the bench

A tanka. This outlet in the photo is in my basement laundry room. I like the idea of connections, but sometimes they don’t work as I am thinking they might. (Don’t worry – this is not a literal rendition of anything that has happened at my house…)

the connection made
the flow is set in motion
ouch! a short circuit
wires blacken and soot the wall
lights go out. we stare in awe.

I also used another source of inspiration today – a site I often go to that has random phrases, sentences, etc. I don’t always follow the exact words that it suggests, but use it for the associations that come to mind, too. (Watch out for snakes – the site’s name. Yes. Really.)

Anyway, I was using the phrase generator here. You can probably pick out the suggestions/extrapolations I worked from. Try it. Your mind will enjoy roaming around in areas of your imagination that might otherwise have kept on sleeping…

OK, so we were
capriciously hustling a calorie burn we ended up
erroneously stockpiling lactic acid and at the cost of
irretrievably affiliating ourselves with
arduously dirtied pants, shirts, and socks
in other words we hiked in the state park
got lost fell down a ravine and crawled back to the car
haphazardly nibbled by bored mosquitoes
intermittently crying (us, not the mosquitoes)
under a full moon. Is that enough detail for you?

Thank you for reading!

Day Trip Poetry Marathon 2018, Week 38

The Marathon journey continues. Search under the category Day Trip Poetry Marathon 2018 for earlier entries.

On Thursday, September 20 – Brendlinger Library, Montco, once again. We’re at the edge of autumn – these trees on campus are trying to make up their minds how soon to take the plunge and drop some leaves. Looks to me that they are testing out the idea a little at a time…


I went into College Hall


and entered the library. It was early, just after 8 AM, but students are already making the place hum. I set up on the main floor. Sometimes a hum is good background music for thinking…

Montco 9-20-18 #601

I planned some speed-writing poetry today and Little Vines. I continue to add ideas for my fourth quarter 2018 Marathon sessions – the kind of organizing tasks I so love and are not of much interest to anyone else, such as refining my poetry database. I’m also thinking about what kind of writing I want to do in 2019 – a vague and misty place 2019 is for me right now, but also with a variety of routes to choose, I think. For the remainder of 2018, I look forward to new poems and finishing projects so that I can start out the next phase of the writing journey with light suitcases.

I also did some blur photos of my area. Take a look…




All right. I settled down and I got to work. Here are some samples. Let the creative light shine!

Light Montco 9-20-1801


Eavesdropping. I do it a lot.


I sit
in a chair. I fish.
The rush of sibilances
across the room while
I strain to grasp them
squeeze them into hard clear shapes
I can hold on to
but they evade me
slipping through my hearing
again and again. The frustration
of fishing and the fish glimpsed
through the water
not caught and
instead laughing at me
while darting away through
the weeds growing up from the mud
those sibilances promising such a meal
and giving up so little.

I sit across the room
and I cast my line.

I overheard two students talking about living situations. Also, I had fish on my mind from the earlier poem. Now you see where this shadorma came from.

Almost grown
You still live at home
darting through
the windows
of a ceramic castle
set on pink gravel.

The word “gravel” interested me, I think. Here it is again in this haiku.

parked on the gravel
the new car preens and ignores
stones in its tire treads.

Little Vines.

Oh no we’ve sprung a leak, you say
Well, I’m an actress not a ferryboat captain
I can wail but I do not bail

read what’s on this blank piece of paper
just a hunch
she certainly has something to hide

in the hands of the complicit cook
the rogue salt shaker took its revenge
tossing stray chunks of concrete in the quiche

sitting in silence at the kitchen table
whose fears are we evading
whose heart are we cutting in two?

you’re right
it’s not about easy
they are just tired and wanting things to end

Sure, make a run for it
I will admire you from behind
don’t let the flattery go to your head and slow you down

a complicated story
the plot was twisty and multicolored
hundreds of bright red top-shelf conflicts

Hello dear, I’ve been wondering where you were
No no no just tell me and get it over with
Swallow your pride or I’ll puncture it. Take your pick.

audition day
the soapsuds singing
a big clean song

You said it’s raining harder
That news really gave my dear old aunt a charge
Being half-mermaid half-ark as she is

I was confused about my life.
No questions please, said the therapist
Prey belongs in a well-seasoned stew.

a very kind thing to do
but it had
a little bit of a tart taste to it

it was just another ordinary accident of course
just one slip on that polished floor
and suddenly it didn’t matter that you’d been a cigarette smoker all your life

when you remove a wasp nest
they will want compensation for their loss.
stick your arm out and take your stings.

believe me, wherever I am
the sun is in my eyes
my paint is dry and blistered

you went home from work with that high fever
at your funeral it sure was a sympathy marathon
a dirt-nap lullaby with a reggae-salsa beat

severed main thread
disrupted electrical signals
I was so close to understanding why our marriage failed

in the rain it was easier
just sliding along the roof
with the rest of the slithery crowd

Thank you for reading! See you next time.


From Catch Up With Summer, published in 2015.


These days
fat, solid acorns
find themselves crunched under my feet
more often than I would have thought
this still being summer
but I guess that
now is the time to prepare for
if I can say that word or
even think it
on such a hot, sunny day
I do know
I am hearing the acorns say it.

Acorns Portrait 8 9-24 Burr Oak small

Bur oak acorns, 2017.