Tuesday Morning Poem


Nostalgia is an illness you might die of

Last winter I lit a candle, placed it in the window
to guide the night birds to me so I could sleep.
Morning now. I face a slice of pink sky and await
words, dormant bulbs interred in dirt. Your absence
invades my slumber, I will die of it. The rawness
is too much. The final verdict was disclosed
as the blinds were closing, closed. I think of when
we sat at the rough-hewn table where we speared
pears and dared lay slices in each others’ mouths
with the knife. Maybe you believe in angels still.

I should ask for help—
a kiss, a pill.

Original version published at Ithaca Lit 




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Sunday Morning Muse on the Road



If you are reading this on Sunday morning, I’m on the road to a poetry retreat in California. Hope to get some work done on a new manuscript. Meanwhile, very excited that my poetry collection, Slight Faith, which will be out in May, now has a cover. I think it’s gorgeous! Thanks to Mary Meriam, for suggesting the art,  a painting by Hilma af Klint and Lana Ayers, MoonPath Press, who makes such beautiful books !

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Tuesday Morning Poem


An opening, a hole, a window
A pale stream of greenish fluid
A small boat sinking in horror
Tock-ticking doggedly, forgetting why it’s important
Stricken, awash with grief
Clear amnion and maroon clots
Is that, is that, is it not that?
There are so many starting points
The hardest thing is waking
Does facing east make it easier?
Suicide would be a heart attack in the early hours
No one need know
Still, a latte and lemon biscotti are the artery’s blueprint
The dead are not as sad as the rest of us
The 12-year-old doesn’t cry, but is pale as ice

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Sunday Morning Muse Without Rain

All day Saturday it was sunny on the Olympic Peninsula, right when we had almost forgotten what a sunny day could do for one’s spirits. And, to boot, a glimmer of dawn arrived around 7:00 AM. The air was cold, as is often the case in winter when several weeks of showers and rain are washed out by a cold front, but it was the sort of cold that feels like a harbinger of spring. If you know what I mean. Or maybe you’d have to live here to know.

This got me thinking of all the places I’ve lived and how each had its own stunning beauty, yet each so very different. The cold in Sequim is very different from the cold in New York City  or Tallahassee Florida. I always pay attention to how people drive so differently in different locations. Also, cuisine, slang, and all manner of manners, from “eyes down” on the NYC subway to the compulsory “hey” walking down the street in the South.  In rural Washington, everyone gossips and wants to know your business, while in Seattle, people are polite and coolly disinterested.

I’ve been struggling to figure out how to connect back with blogging, so I looked back at blogs I wrote 10 or so years ago. I’ll patch in a segment here, apropos of nothing in particular. And then I’ll sign off. For this Sunday.

Every day, I wonder if I’m making the best use of the time loaned to me for this life. And what to call this season? I am far from young, but I am not quite old. I still have to hold a job, and will likely have to work for more than another decade before I can “retire”. And though I love the work I do, I feel too exhausted to work this hard. Foolishly, I pray every day that I will still have my mind and my fingers when that time comes, as if I could forestall, much less count on, the writing that I plan to do in the next era of my life.  -9/15/07

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Tuesday Morning Poem

From Slight Faith, forthcoming from MoonPath Press, May 2018.
 Pre-orders profoundly appreciated!

Abiding Winter 

How we made it through another winter’s
not the question. Nor is it an answer
since one of us was left behind in winter.

In Spring, in buoyancy, you asked a question.
Cups stood their ground between us, tea and coffee.
You wished to be the answer to your question.

Then winter comes again and yet another,
a darkling season full of melancholy. The yanking
of my soul back to the gutter, that other

place where questions have no answers,
and answers only placate. It takes rafters
of steadfast faith, or mettle, to seek answers.

Truth is brutal. So much we can’t recover,
years I’ve begged for you to wait for Spring to bloom,
living in despair beside each other, and another

stormy season while we tussle for an answer
or a coda to the sum of all of life’s bother.
I’ve learned to hold my tongue, to question
nothing. Questions are another sort of winter.

 Originally published at Autumn Sky Poetry Daily



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Sunday Morning Muse with To-Do List

I have a lot on my mind today, mainly poetry stuff. This is a day in the life of a working nurse practitioner who is also a poet and a poetry editor. Here is my to-do list.

  1. Respond to emails that accumulated during the week, while I was working my “day job”.
  2. Wash clothes, I’m totally on my last pair of underwear.
  3. Write this blog!
  4. A little yoga? Maybe.
  5. Coffee with Janie, my neighbor and good friend. We do this every Sunday morning.
  6. Send off a draft of my  new manuscript to someone who has graciously agreed to read it. Tinker with it for hours first.
  7. Prepare for an upcoming event in March, the annual AWP conference, where I will be selling books and cards for Headmistress Press and hosting an off-site poetry salon for our poets and friends. Very nervous about pulling this off!
  8. Package up HP books to send out for awards by deadlines that are so close it’s gotten scary. Eeeek, just peeked, I did miss an important deadline. Sorry!
  9. Breakdown cardboard shipping boxes that are cluttering up the office. Take the trash and the recycling out to the road for pick up tomorrow.
  10. Set up my schedule for doing hospice visits tomorrow.
  11. Listen to The Moth Radio Hour while making soup. I love soup.
  12. Read. Current read is: Sing, Unburied, Sing (Jesmyn Ward).

What I’m not going to do today is listen to the news or watch football. 



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Tuesday Morning Poem

From Slight Faith, forthcoming from MoonPath Press. Pre-orders profoundly appreciated. 

Southern Faith

comes to the door
wagging a tale for sweet iced tea, then sways
her hips, serene on the porch swing, sipping
between handfuls of boiled peanuts.

I didn’t invite her here, you know.
But I’m always the obliging one
mimicking Southern slang,
If you don’t feed her, she’s a goner.

I left the South in a flurry
of blunders. Yet here she is
in Seattle, whistling gospel
for anyone with ears.


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Sunday Morning Musing on “Moving On”

I am working on a new manuscript, having sent the final, final version of Slight Faith off to its next stop: publication on May 1st. I’ve already found a word I feel I *must* change, and I really want to stop that craziness and move on to the next thing.

At my job, the next thing is surprising. I had a horrible past year at work, as things were changing so much politically and on so many levels. Not to belabor details, but I have worked for decades as a nurse practitioner, and for the past six years I’ve been following chronic pain patients in a large rural family medicine clinic. If you’re following me here, you’re thinking  “yeah, that’s about opioids, heroin, overdoses” but it’s also about misplaced blame for the “opioid epidemic” aimed at low hanging fruit (in this case, me).

I will stop here to say simply that I have moved on and it feels good. I am no longer seeing chronic pain patients, but, thanks be, I do still  have a job–  probably the least stressful one I’ve ever had  in my work-life.  These days, I spend one day visiting hospice patients, and 3 days in the clinic seeing walk-in patients, and counseling patients on behavioral change, be it for weight loss, smoking cessation, reducing alcohol use, and so forth. It feels doable. I hope to work two more years, and then retire.

Like many poets (and people generally) when I’m under a great deal of stress, I function pretty well, but the stress shows up in dreams, and when I’m able to honor it, through poems. My new manuscript is a departure for me, it is more intimate and risky. It’s full of pain, but also hope. May we all survive this year.

In the crush of regret subject and object
exchange garments. Time is a notion too
liminal to survive. If you’re willing to amend,
there may be hope. For a moment, the stricken
sparrow’s shivering heart still beats. It’s time
to loosen the strangling cord that binds us so
painfully to one another and consider freedom.


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Tuesday morning poem

Poems from Slight Faith, forthcoming from MoonPath Press in May!
Pre-orders profoundly appreciated! 

The Slightness of Faith

Having stumbled on faith,
I’ve learned how little it mollifies, how slapdash the veil
that seemed bountiful as the sky, how narrow the channel
once entered.

A moment submerged in faith,
and my attention scuttles back to its foxhole to shroud
what I’ve allowed too close. I’ve watched how hands at prayer
plead for tenure on earth.

Having stumbled on faith,
I’ve learned to speak in tongues. I’ve learned to bless and curse.
I’ve opened up my purse and slept in dens of whores. I’ve cried
and not known why.

Faith knows there is nothing
on the other side for certainty to dine on, no ode of ovation
or aroma of baking bread, no fond family reunions, only the fission
of all the familiar.

Faith will always be for sale,
and men of cloth have always lied.  No angel watches over me,
although I pray for one. My God, I lost my only son. Is my god
done with me?




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Sunday Morning Muse without Power

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