Thursday, September 29, 2016


Downtown waiting for a bus
The homeless man in a sleeping bag is sitting up, alert.
There is still a lot of night ahead,
hours of darkness and he has batteries to spare in his flashlight.
He's testing them, lighting up the streetlight standards.
Dancing his flashlight up and down the length of the pole,
cheap fun while the batteries last and a good a way as any
to while away the caged minutes between sundown and exhaustion
when the cycle of surviving the city streets
can begin again.

He flashes a limp pool of light far into the night, dancing it up and down the street
barely illuminating a man on a ten-speed bicycle who rides by now.
He sits high in his saddle. Hands-free like teenagers in the suburbs of the '70s.
His bike is silent as it rolls down the hill.
The rider turns his head to track the source of light
appearing suddenly his peripheral vision and he glides by
the three of us waiting silently at the bus stop,
bowed over our smart phones, oblivious
 to the dancing shadows and flashing lights of the city street at night.
The only sounds are wheels on the road and the crickets on the pavement.

It's a quiet night in the city.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

7 Wonders Of My World

So I have seen the 7 wonders of my own tiny world
which ranges from seething edge of my freeway commute
to frothy tips of my every morning coffee
And from my car window and over my morning cup
I have seen marvels and miracles such as put a pyramid to shame.

Just last week the skies above my city turn beautiful amber
scorched golden by raging fires in the mountains beyond,
a horror that turned daylight into liquidy loveliness that was shameful to enjoy.

And was I the only one to see the tumbleweed
large as a christmas tree pinned
to the front of a tractor trailer by forward motion at freeway speed
ingeniously hitching a ride out of town while delighting me with its message of hope?

Wondrous, indeed, was the cashier at my local Costco
who processed 10 customers
with mounds of mass market consumer goods
in the time it took for me to send a simple text message with a photo
4th Wonder of My World
generating a retail experience beyond my faint hopes.

There is a tent city that presses in on the freeways
concrete, nylon and corrugated cardboard jockeying for space in an incongruously cheerful ecosystem of despair and determination.

And how about a tree that spawns a kite bloom
when the conditions are just right,
shooting muted striped panels across an open sky?

I lay on my back in the city under a midnight sky
purged of darkness offering
a perputual twilight freedom from the nameless fear
of the lightless night.

But it is you who amazes me the most
with your relentless smile and easy gait.
You, who rise daily from the grit of this city of dust with your face turned to the east
like a sunflower at dawn, always tuned to the sun.
You, who shine brighter than neon.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stuck in the Past.

Sanctuary. Until it wasn't.
The appointment was almost as good as the first two had been. The same dreamy music. The salon-style room with soft lights and muted earth tones. The acupuncturist was swift and certain. Needles slipping into tissue effortlessly. I lay there on my stomach breathing deeply and trying to feel meridians activating. I lost count of the needles. Hands, arms, back, neck, ankles, thighs.

Leaving the room, the doctor dimmed the lights until the room was lit solely by the diffuse orange tones from the heat lamp. I slipped into the already familiar quiet bliss: meditation, sleep, somewhere in between.

Or maybe sleep, because then came the bad dream that I have periodically, a sign of stress. My dreams routinely return me to a hated boardroom in my past where I am doomed to eternally relive a shameful scene of a dismissal in my distant past. A nasty twist on deja vu.  The music clicked off at the end of the CD and I was left with my own thoughts. Thunder between my ears. And then the heat lamp click off and the spa atmosphere slipped down the walls, across the cement floor and out the door, leaving the room more cell than sanctuary.

My skin began to chill and I started to count the needles, imagining I could feel the cold metal in my skin. I could hear muted voices in the hallway and calmed myself. They will come any moment and remove the needles and all will be well. Because, of course, everything was fine and I was fine and this was just me. I was embarrassed to be so childish. This was a wonderful experience and I was just being... me.

And then one or two of the needles started to hurt. And I was cold and in my panties only and embarrassed to be afraid. My back started to hurt. A dull ache in the low back amped up under the strain of my anxiety and I thought that I absolutely had to move. I pushed up onto my hands and knees and one of the needles in the back of my thigh pressed against my calf and the point stuck in a bit further. I cringed and leaned forward to free the needle and felt the same problem at the back of my neck. And then my wrist. I was stuck and cold and naked and panicky and getting fired over and over again. I tried to call out for help, but I was so embarrassed that I couldn't bring myself to call out. I quietly moaned for help until tears came and sobs.

The sobs may have been loud; help came.

Friday, May 6, 2016


image of moss that provoked musings about alzheimer's
My hands ache from the power washer. I am cold and wet. I have cross-threaded the hose and the intake which allows huge amounts of water seep from the machine like piss from a soggy diaper. Even so, the power washer is a brutal force and I am battered from its vibrations and spray.

I am waging war on moss. A bright green softness that has oozed across the walkway leaving a beautiful spring-toned fog where stone should be. The powerwasher slices through the thin layer of moss on the walkway like a scalpel, each pass leaving the thinnest thread of bare stone. I work frantically, pass after pass ripping through the moss that seems to dig deep into every recess, every purchase, every corner. I can't stop and I just can't clear the moss from large enough areas to rid the walkway of the beautiful treachery.

Just feet away, my uncle sits in front of a tv waging his own war on the fog that clings to his mind as stubbornly rooted as the moss on his front steps. And slippery. Memories slide from underfoot with shocking ease; one minute a sharp edge from his past, the toe-hold of a story, then a blur and the vague descent into a depth from which words cannot emerge. And in his eyes, something like fear and the knowledge that the moss grows back as fast as he can blast through to lay bare the thoughts that are dulling beyond recognition.

I pause to stretch and consider my progress. Looking up, I see my uncle at the head of the walkway considering my progress. "That's a big job," he says, abruptly pulling himself back behind the door and into the living room where the cable tv news is on a steady, evergreen repeat cycle. I can still see him standing there while the news seeps into the walkways of his mind leaving a faint mark like a footprint on spongy moss.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

A Death on Facebook

Social media and social networking have brought me to a place where I just watched a friend die on FB. Not literally, of course, but pretty damn close. I was virtually inside her hospital room as recently as a few weeks before her last breath. I saw her breathing apparatus and the scooter that was needed to keep her mobile. I knew within an hour or two of her death, and even more ghoulishly, had been watching it approach for weeks.

This is access beyond the boundaries of our friendship. I would not have dared IRL to ask for the information that I have about her fear, pain, breathing, medication and financial status. This is access out of proportion with the celebrity-obsessed newsworthy nature of her death. Hers would not have been a public death;  the paparazzi were not staked out at the hospital doors. In their stead, her mother, brother, friends and business partners covered the sudden illness and the drama of her failed attempts to arrest the progress of a fatal disease.

I have wept at their very real anguish. I watched her friends use the past tense to refer to her while she was clinging to life support and cringed at her family's terse reminder that she was still alive, all while opening a Facebook event page for a celebration of her life. Death was nearby, but not yet settled in. Death in real-time.

I do, however, need a social media cleansing now. A social media confessional booth. An electronic smudging. I am diminished by the experience and shamed in ways that elude my understanding. Did I lose sight of the line between caring concern and prurient interest? Or have I just been given a deeper experience of someone whose life crossed mine in a way that  might otherwise have left lighter footprints?

And the ghost that haunts my facebook feed today is large and growing in size and density. The spectre of photos, playlists and anecdotes are posthumously deepening my connection, creating new memories and scaring the bejeezus out of me.

Someone pass me the sage. Is there an app for that?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Hallmark Moment

Image of a retail display that led to my writing about love
What card can house this love,
this earth-mover, bulldozer of a love,
this axis-shifting love
that won't lie pressed between two sheets of paper
like a tamed wildflower
dry and faded,
a parody of the riot of colour that dotted the hillside.
No this love won't lie still
Won't behave
but runs through dappled meadows on a summer afternoon
ripe for exploring and adventure
This love won't be contained in a helium balloon with a pre-thought sentiment
nor a heart-shaped box
but bursts from the confines like a summer storm
hot and unpredictable
This love is laughter in church and kissing in the bright sun
It is the space between breaths
the shadowed edge of the garden where the forest becomes
where we become and have always been.
Will always be.
This love. This day.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Winter Fences of Colorado

Image of fences in the snow tracing a natural design
Fences make good neighbours, he said. But these fences had moved beyond the politeness of bounderies and borders and slipped into the realm of art, arcing studded lines across the white curving fields of Colorado's winter landscape. These  winter fences more form than function, breaking whitescapes into foreground and background, hither and yonder, far away and fading into infinity, specs tracing a line into the foothills.

And why not? What use these barriers thrown up against the unlikely advance of feet in January's impassable pastures? And who would turn away a chance visitor in long dark nights? Who could close the door and turn away from the warmth of an encounter to embrace the cold loneliness and muffled silence of yet another night? What fortification against the onslaught of the coming storm - there in the clouds, breaching the headlands of the mountain.

Saturday, January 23, 2016


I can see you, even with the blinds drawn. Peeking out from the safety of the warm living room. I can see you looking at the snow and heavy gray sky that lies swollen over the day like a thick wet blanket.

I see you. You have pulled down a slat on the window blind to see what you are missing. Maybe you just noticed that icicle. Or maybe you are looking for signs of the thaw. Blue skies, or a squirrel moving along the branches, a glimpse of the earth beneath the obfuscation of snow. Can you hear it? The muffled breath of the day, the softly beating heart of the earth patiently waiting for spring.

I am calling you. Play. Come play. Winter is nothing. Just the pause at the top of the inhalation. More night than death. Open the door. I am calling you.

Monday, January 11, 2016


Airborne and westward bound, we chase sunset from above for one long moment out of time. We skim time zones, slipping past mountains and rivers, whisking over clouds and traffic jams and empty desert trails.

Fingers of darkness jockey with shifting streaks of colour for dominance over the late day sky, ever westward, ever earlier. The flamboyant shades of sunset a final defiance of day over the silence of the night.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Last Call

The party was in full swing, but Sheila was still nervous She would be the first one to admit that she wasn't good in a crowd. She just wasn't able to get the words out fast enough or loud enough, she thought. She had a lot to offer, but people didn't seem to notice her carefully crafted witticisms and pertinent political repartee. It always felt like the night was getting away from her. She was always disappointed.

Tonight would be different. She had read a self-help book that offered her a hard-edged strategy for successful party mingling. It involved mantras and deep breathing before arriving, and a scientifically-calculated amount of alcohol consumption, to be paced over the evening. She had programmed a schedule of sips and gulps into her new smart phone which she hung from her neck so she wouldn't make any mistakes.  The phone had a sleek and shiny case and a rhinestone encrusted lanyard, so it didn't look out of place. If anything, it made her look interesting and modern.

The plan was almost foolproof. She had practiced the two days beforehand in the privacy of her own home, and although there was no-one there to watch, she could feel that a new sense of ease and confidence was emerging. She had been looking forward to this party all day.

The first half hour of the program was a huge success, but when the bar was closing for an hour for award speeches and presentations, she had to act fast and make sure she had the right sip applications in hand for the evening. Shortly into the second of three glasses, when she forgot to hit reset on her smart phone party app, there was a little miscalculation. Sheila's confidence was high, but her timing, was wildly off and the night was a bitter disappointment.

Friday, January 1, 2016


3-2-1 Happy New Year
The television feed from Times Square in New York says "Live," but by all reports, the countdown to midnight in New York had taken place three hours earlier. Here, on the west coast, they had watched a new year roll across the planet. They imagine each time zone bursting into boozy renditions of Auld Lang Syne at one hour intervals. From Los Angeles, the Times Square ball dropped anew at 1200 precisely, as it had at 1200 one, two and three hours before in waves across the continental USA. This staggered staging of the precise ball-drop moment when 2015 ends and 2016 begins makes the two uncomfortably aware of the arbitrary nature of time and the artificial construct of a point in time where the reset button is pressed and the count returns to 1.

Still, they drank their champagne and sang those words of Auld Lang Syne that they could remember (could old acquaintance be forgot and hmmmm hhmmmm to mind... could old hmm hmm hmm doo do do and do do auld lang syne) and in the morning they mumbled white rabbit (at least, she did; he mumbled rabbit rabbit, because they remembered the rules of the new year superstition differently.)

They planned on pulling down the old calendar and putting up a new one like always, but they forgot and their smart phones slid a new day/month/year across their screen without fanfare. Besides, they liked the picture of the waterfall from December 2015 so time stood still in the hallway and flowed like liquid in their pockets.