Friday, February 28, 2014

Headline Poem 2/28/14 -- On Cottage Street

(Photo credit New York Times)

Today's headline poem is inspired by this article from the New York Times about a heroin problem in Vermont. There is one house in particular on Cottage Street that has frequent visitors.

On Cottage Street

they creep
cats unafraid
    of who
      is watching
  cold snow
     on soft pads
white and icy
follows them home...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Headline Poem 2/27/14 -- Like a Repo Man at Midnight

(Photo credit FoxNews)

A remote camera in Southern California has caught a mother mountain lion and her two kittens enjoying a midnight feast of mule deer in Malibu Creek State Park. This headline and image made me think of a repo man coming for what's owed...  

Like a Repo Man at Midnight


He shows up, and
The light from Jimmy's Garage outside my window blinds me
The glare's stronger than the one my mother gives my father when he sits down and asks what's for dinner before even saying hello
The inevitable clanking of chains and wrestling flashlight stream in the air
Bring comfort, strangely
Routine of hunt and gather
Night after night
Like a repo man at midnight 
Coming for what's owed

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Headline Poem 2/26/14 -- Celebrity Endorsements

(Photo credit L.A.Times)

Short and sweet today. Today's poem is inspired by this article in the L.A.Times about celebrity endorsements. Michelle Kwan is endorsing Coke and promoting fitness at the same time. Others are not doing homework on the origins of their products, and some are not keeping promises. Celebrity endorsements may sound like a great idea, but can easily backfire. 

Celebrity Endorsement

Know what you're getting
When you ask for what you want
Know what you want 
When you ask for what you're getting

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Headline Poem 2/25/14 -- Deception

(Photo credit Google Image)

I read this article today from the Sydney Morning Herald, about a new task force to deal with domestic violence in Australia. This piggy backs on domestic violence news earlier this month from Afghanistan, the death of schoolboy Luke Batty at the hands of his father, and the NFL's various controversies regarding domestic violence. Unfortunately, this headline poem could be written every single day. According to Center for Disease Control, 1 in 4 women will suffer at the hands of a domestic abuser.


My jaw rattles from the impact
front right tooth loose from the last time
now, dangles, bloody before it hits the floor
my tooth, like me, so small
so fragile, so smooth,
unattached, knocked away from the rest, alone
lying in dirt and stains from the past

i scream through drool and blood
get out of here
my slimy voice echos
your teeth are too little
to rattle to the floor
only to sit
and wait for more

The promises never stop
like the beatings
i can't protect them
so i take it instead,
hoping those hands will never 
ruin their precious heads 

Bruises are easy to explain
the car door, the shed
another tumble from the bed
the limp is hard to detect
i can usually fake it
until i flop into bed, sore, again
my teeth i am unable to replace
they do not grow back
or fade away

Today, someone will know
someone will see what he has done to me
i pray it is the right someone,
someone stronger than i,
who can see me
through rattled brain and missing teeth

Monday, February 24, 2014

Headline Poem 2/24/14 -- Tell me about yourself

(Photo credit Google Image)

Today's poem is based on an article from U.S. News about the 7 most common interview questions, and how to answer them. This is not breaking news by any means, but hey, it gave me a chance to write about my beloved Altoids.

Tell me about yourself

It's funny to think
about the opening question
answers come to mind
completely irrelevant and unimportant
I eat a banana a day, but do not like banana bread
My favorite color used to be blue, but now I prefer red
I worry about sun exposure, but love the outdoors

The pressure mounts
as you anxiously await
the few minutes you have
to tell complete strangers
(or those you have worked with for years -- you already know this!)
everything about your professional life
leading up to this point

If you're anything like me,
you are nervously, yet calmly,
eating a sugar free Altoid,
so much smaller and milder than regular ones,
and completely vegan, and kosher, go figure!

Water is offered
you don't want to be rude,
but you don't want to drink,
and then have to use the loo
right when they call your name
she was here a minute ago?
you look down,
noticing the ridiculous small talk on the container --
something about pregnant mermaids
it's almost time

You rehearse again,
in your mind
how you will stand, smile, and shake
approaching hands
thank you for having me...
for having me?
nice to meet you
how do you do? Too formal, be yourself
The most common questions may include
how will you excel,
and what do you hope to do?
You answer, one at a time,
about new challenges, initiative,
evidence of both

Ahh you are done
You leave, relieved
Pop another Altoid,
and head on home...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Headline Poem 2/23/14 -- sleeping with your gun

Mexico's top drug lord, Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman has been arrested. There are different reports about how he was captured. 

Sleeping with your gun

Found in a restful slumber
Naked, kind of funny
Like you weren't expecting company,
Yet you were cuddling with your AK-47

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Headline Poem 2/22/14 -- In the house with the purple door

(Photo credit Mail Online)

Jessica Tatiana Long is a 17 time Paralymic medalist swimmer from Maryland. She was born in Russia, and was adopted by an American family. When she was 18 months old, the lower half of her legs were amputated due to being born with fibular hemimelia.  Tonight, her story, "Long Way Home" aired, which documented her travels back to Russia to visit her family -- both parents now married, and her brother and sister. Her mom was 16 when Jessica was born. Their house in Siberia has a purple door, and inspired today's poem.

In the house with the purple door

secret spring lovers 
upon the snow covered streets
    a dog barks
awaken heart, 
today we sing our battle cry.

words written in the dark
too young for raising
welcome baby girl
we release you.

so sweet inside the halls
a shadow hovers over love
crippled, but not broken,
under an endless sky
not alone 
two halves make a whole.

set free to fly,
uncertain if she will ever know
where she first was given a name
changed, she has two.

calling her home where sun 
settles on the windowsill,
she returns to feel the wonder of them.

around the small table, 
they gather
in the house with the purple door.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Headline Poem 2/21/14 -- sleeping while the moon is full

(Photo credit Google Image)

In 1974 a man reported his Volkswagen Beetle stolen. Forty years later, it is found in Detroit, but the owner has yet to be located. The phone number given is no longer working. The car is being sent overseas to be restored.  I'm not really sure how a missing car headline led to a poem about sleeping while the moon is full, but it did, and here it is...

sleeping while the moon is full 

the man at the counter says I look like his niece Alexandra

she doesn't take no for an answer either
and looks at him with the same crinkled, confused face,
she thinks it is impossibly foolish to 
attempt sleeping while the moon is full
she says we are not meant to lie down easily when the night sky is so bright
that is when we should hit the road and drive all night
I smile
he smells like coffee and cinnamon rolls
his eyes are fierce with regret and mistakes,
and I wonder if he realizes what his own face looks like

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Headline Poem 2/20/14 -- here in the middle

(Photo credit The Ski Channel)

Here we are nearing the end of February 2014. I have grown to love and look forward to my daily poetry writing time. Today's poem is inspired by the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The U.S. Women's Hockey team lost in overtime today to Canada. Maddie Bowman won the first ever Gold Medal in the Women's Half pipe, while honoring the late Sarah Burke. There are so many stories from around the world of triumph and tragedy and everything in between. This poem is about the collection of athletes at the games. I cannot do justice to the trainings and sacrifices, and all that is required to prepare for being an Olympic athlete, but here in the middle of my house, I close my eyes and imagine.

here in the middle

sometimes i close my eyes when i write because
what i am doing has nothing to do with the places my words want to go
there are more errors this way
but luckily i can always go back to clean things up
they close their eyes, but everything they see is planned out and neat
not left up to chance, sometimes no time to dance

somehow when my lids go down
i see more clearly
places of complete transcendence
that i have seen only in national geographic magazines 
as if i am there -- how can something be so foreign yet so familiar
in color and smell and direction?
they know exactly how fast to go and when
the turns are choreographed from beginning to end
airports and convention centers
tracks and slopes and jumps
preparation is what is served for breakfast, dinner, and lunch

there are fields of wild yellow flowers
then i climb the mountain until i hit snow
boots and socks are solid, but still my feet are cold
i stop when i want to sit and stare
the snow is so pure up there
i know i am the only one who has ever touched it, but it is not mine 
they are never alone... surrounded by coaches, teammates, spectators, fans, crowds, and training companions

i open my eyes and see them on tv
i have never been to russia
but i love skis and boards, and lifts, and chairs, the rush of the cold wind in my hair
i know the feeling of gliding over ice and powder, the noise of the board when it is natural or artificial
there is nothing that compares to the repetition of riding the chair up and soaring down
green or black diamond
it has been far too long since my legs felt sore the next day
they dedicate their entire world to their sport, and after each Olympic Game must decide if they have it in them to continue to train

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Headline Poem 2/19/14 -- much to marvel over

(Photo credit Rick Smolan/Against All Odds Productions, 2012)

Today is Amy Tan's birthday -- Happy birthday! She wrote an eloquent and reflective Facebook post this evening about how grateful she is to live the life she does -- as a writer, wife, dog owner, daughter, granddaughter, and friend. Her post ended with this line, and has inspired today's poem... "I wish you many things to marvel over."

much to marvel over

sometimes its's hard to be grateful
without sounding superficial
and materialistic
because really
all that matters
is food,
and love
there are those
who do not have what
we consider to be enough
they lack,
but are rich in ways
that those with money for days
are not
(poor are those who sit as the sun goes
down and only notice the bugs)

much to marvel over
when you have someone
who looks at you
and knows
when it is time to stop
and talk
and when it is time to walk away
(do they know you better than you do?)

much to marvel over
when you know when to follow
the recipe
and when to play it by ear
a pinch of this, a pinch of that
a meal on the table,
cooked with love
(perhaps with a little more salt and butter than you're used to,
but you're not complaining)

much to marvel over
when there is a soul
in this world
that can silent laugh with you for four minutes straight
triggered by a childhood memory
or running late
(bonus when it is your mom
who you used to make fun of
for the way she dressed, especially the colorful socks that matched nothing else)
and now in subtle ways,
you are proud to become like her
when you simultaneously and uncontrollably
until you can barely breathe
needing a tissue to wipe the happy tears
from your shiny face

much to marvel over
when you enter your house after a long day
knowing there will be free entertainment,
which may include
magic tricks,
a fresh game of go fish
dancing to music you know nothing about,
or silly, wiggly jumps from the couch
(back up, back up, you are too close)

much to marvel over
when you make connections
to the things you feel
and see
knowing your gifts and limitations (and sharing them)
times to push
and to
let things
simply be

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Headline Poem 2/18/14 -- The Noose of Ole Miss

(Photo credit Washington Post)

A noose was found hung around the neck of a James Meredith statue on the campus of the University of Mississippi. He was the first black student to enroll at the school in 1962, when it was an all white campus. Here is the article from The New York Times. 

The Noose of Ole Miss

a noose
and tied
the neck
of Ole Miss
to strangle,
but not to death

to the suffocating
knot of hatred
(like anywhere else)
history is thick
with a ground
still moist
from sweat
and blood
of brothers hung
on display
to portray
the clinging
of a stolen tradition

the vulnerable neck
of the smooth,
statue of James Meredith
is draped
with fabric
in an attempt
to silence
the voice
of a man who
enrolled alone
in spite of the
sweltering distaste
of a thing

color lines are drawn
where they were erased
like the answers
on a used test,
still there
in gray

some ancestors
the woven noose
others hung with it
our children
do not choose
to hang or cradle
the next generation
with love or hate
young eyes watch
the actions of elders
and if they hold
what is intended
for warmth,
in front of them,
it will hang us all! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Headline Poem 2/17/14 -- son of the desert

(Photo credit ABC News)

4-year-old Marwan, pictured above, was found alone in the desert by UN after being separated from his parents while fleeing Syria. He was later reunited with his family.

son of the desert

walking because 
instincts say to keep moving
barely able to fend for himself, 
his legs just go
no one to persuade 
with tantrums and selfish requests
he carries his belongings 
in his bag
a warrior, 
an eagle on a dusty road
he will die alone, 
thirsty and hungry 
at best
a victim turned victor, 
he is found
lost enough, 
all he needs now
is a hug, 
and for someone 
to tenderly wash his face
reunited, but still displaced
son of the desert, 
he will march on

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Headline Poem 2/16/14 -- Oconee River

(Photo credit

Today's poem is inspired by news from Georgia. There are several competing headlines from this region today -- earthquakes and aftershocks, weather delays, and deaths. One particular story about the snow took me back to my days at The University of Georgia, and a snow day I vaguely remember, but will never forget.

Oconee River 

The news hit the campus hard
There was a killer on the loose
A new mother, 
bloody from the birth, 
and then death of her newborn child
Who is so scared to have new life next to them that they cut the cord and then stab a baby to death? 

Oconee Hall at the University of Georgia in Athens
The body was found in the dumpster outside
It was a cold February night
When I heard the news, I ran down to the river with the same name
Out of breath, I threw a penny from the bridge
I wanted to throw up
I was confused  
I made a promise to the dead baby and her tormented college mom,
Embrace what comes your way, 
a lofty, idealistic goal

I went home and sang to Hootie and the Blowfish, and talked about Philosophy until 2 a.m.
We tried to forget, though it was hard to imagine, 
but being young women, we tried
She could be one of us
A bearer of secrets, who gave birth in a bathroom, with scissors taken from her dorm room desk 

It snowed the next day, and they cancelled school 
The bus couldn't get over the bridge 
We spent the day drinking hot chocolate and watching Friends until we couldn't stay up any longer, and went to bed 

When the sun came out, 
the quarter ended, 
and I said goodbye to the Oconee River

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Headline Poem 2/15/14 -- A rock full of love

(Photo credit ABC News)

Ellen Page came out as a gay woman yesterday at the Human Rights Campaign's Time to Thrive conference benefiting LGBT youth. This poem is for her, and all of those needing a rock full of love. 

A rock full of love

There's been a boulder on my chest
Smothering my every move
Controlling who I love,
and what I show the world
Rocks aren't supposed to hold you,
or make you feel a fool,
But mine did because I let it, 
even it was confused. 

Most days I didn't care if my rock stayed there forever
Maybe it's for the best that you suffocate me so,
taking my life by squashing my breath,
the world doesn't need to know. 

Then I looked around at all the others stuck,  
and I called out --

Those fake rocks are hollow,
like paper mâché 
Not of the earth, they are man-made. 
Like balloons filled with water, or dirty air,
those inflated stones are heavy from our own despair. 
We can pop them. 
We can lighten their weight. 
We can control their strength. 
Together, we must give those ugly mounds a shove
They are not to hold us down.
From my rock I stand now, free and unafraid
My voice echos in the canyons... 
More love is made. 

Friday, February 14, 2014

Headline Poem 2/14/14 -- Loyalty

(Photo credit me)

In honor of Valentine's Day, a not-too-mushy poem about loyalty and love.


There is nothing more beautiful than a man in love
Weakened by a woman, and unafraid 
Constant as the break of day,
Loyal like thoughtful children who gather to listen, and to tell their tales of adventure
and sleep
Despite the arguments and miscalculations, 
He is comforted knowing she'll never leave
For although sometimes there is no bliss, there are always half-asleep reflections,
Woven apologies,
And the moment their hands meet
There is nothing more beautiful than knowing the birds will sing in the morning,
And she, loyal, will be waiting with a kiss. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Headline Poem 2/13/14 -- No one tires

(Photo credit Jane Goodall Institute)

A chimpanzee named Wounda was released into a chimp sanctuary in the Republic of Congo last June. Before she says goodbye, she gives her caregivers hugs. The chimp's name means "close to death," and it is clear she appreciates their efforts to bring her back to health. The video and pictures of this event are just now gaining momentum because Jane Goodall's birthday is in April, and she is hopeful that images like this one will help her foundation raise more funds to save more animals. Today's poem is based loosely on this story.

No one tires

No one tires of the soul's genuine work and wonder,
fresh straw and rice grow without distraction or tampering,
natural the way lovers embrace, after a journey, by the moon, with the sun,
wind the only thing able to change direction

Honey from the bees, smile and say thank you
sweet and warm, there's always a bit that lingers at the bottom of the cup,
it is the sweetest, though many never discover it
drink from the one that's cracked, for it has had use, and is soft
no need to turn it around when visitors come,
the wise know there is no need

The soul's garden reveals when it is full of grief or love, unable to hide in the shadows
open like a mystic's eye that even when closed knows how to see
time lapses with the light, which retires and brings a new day
it will not remember the dirty heat, or the chains which some bear,
it is too in love with living to to feel anything but divine strength
drink it up because that is the essence in which we travel,
in which we are traveled

Sixty years hence, they will say with astonished energy,
remember the tests of nature
like raisins on the ledge,
treasures on the clay, golden from life
intelligent from the simplicity
wise from the freedom
younger because of desire
time wants nothing but what is beauty for the soul,
and no one tires of it

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Headline Poem 2/12/14 -- On display

Today's poem was inspired by the Westminster Dog Show.

On display 

You drive by three times a day
Chipped red nail polish
And a broken rear view mirror
Forget closer, these images do not even appear
Blind to the crowds and the looking glass
Your job is to smile as they position you last 
On display today, and every day,
They've taken you in,
And as a champion you'll end 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Headline Poem 2/11/14 -- Farewell Shirley Jane

(Shirley Temple's favorite photo -- Little Miss Marker, 1934, photo credit Paramount Productions, Inc.)

Actress, dancer, ambassador, wife, mother, daughter, and grandmother, Shirley Temple Black passed away at the age of 85. Today's poem is for her.

Farewell Shirley Jane

Big, round circles in the sand
erased with the tide,
will come around again
from your first dance in a major film,
to Monday's departure three days before a full moon
we stand up and cheer, for you

You sat on the shoulders of dignitaries from foreign lands,
cuddled and danced while holding the hands
of prestigious co-stars and military greats
you won hearts with your wit and your grace

You were the littlest rebel
with a list that is long
of those who you captured
as we sang along
from Will Rogers,
Duke P. Kahanamoku,
your big brother George
and little Ching-Ching, 
To groundbreaking performances with your talented Uncle Bill

You lifted spirits during the Great Depression,
chatted it up with Caesar Chavez and J. Edgar Hoover,
fell asleep in a car, ending up a stowaway with Robert Young,
and ran with your beloved 24th Street Neighborhood Gang

You celebrated with Disney, and the seven dwarfs, 
and Captain January, Buddy Ebsen, himself
Smiled through Indian Signs with Martin Goodrider and Chief Yellow Kidney

We cannot forget the elegant Joan Crawford and
humble Eleanor Roosevelt,
Helen Hayes
Andrew Hotchkiss Jr., (your first love)

Clark Gable
Noel Coward
Orson Welles
Sargent Jack
Cary Grant
Prime Minister Mackenzie King
Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney
Ronald Reagan
your first leading man Georgie Smith, in 1932

You retired from acting at age 22,
Married the love of your life,
And didn't fall in to the washed up trap
You showed us beauty is more than dimples, curls, and cash --
Heck, you became a diplomat and
kicked cancer's ass!

Today, we salute you.
Goodbye Mrs. Black,
Farewell Shirley Jane,
Now and forever
In our hearts you'll remain. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Headline Poem 2/10/14 -- hold the phone!

(Photo credit

This just in -- lawmakers may ban phone conversations on airplanes. Should the government protect you from being annoyed? 

hold the phone!

when you fly in a plane high above the clouds, rivers, oaks, and streams,
the last thing you want is to hear someone else
blowing their hot air for all the traveling world to breathe
in, out, in, out
there is no getting away

should listening to you yap, yak, and blab be illegal?
you're a fool if you think I care about your dog having diarrhea, 
or whether your mom and dad are lying out by the pool

take the air out of that tire of a thing and give us some rules!

we are captive audience members up here in airspace, 
and if I wanted an earful, 
I would fill it with things that make more sense...
like music, wisdom, nails on a chalkboard -- the last would be better than you
going on and on about nothingness and crumbs
your mouth is still going? 
I'd rather hear the captain chewing gum
Hubba Bubba or Bubblicious?
somebody stop them in their popping tracks

go to the bathroom and stay there for a long time
I don't want to listen to you talk about staplers,
or mowing the lawn,
or taking a drive

yadda yadda yadda

I can't get away,
there is no where for me to go, no where to escape
your conversation is suffocating me, 
it's tighter than the belt around my lap
sign says 'stay in your seat,'
I will
for eating, sleeping, and keeping entertained
I will stay in my seat until this plane lands
and I can hear myself think

I'd rather fly through turbulence than to listen to this crap

is it time to regulate, or are you leaving us alone,
to punish and reprimand on our own?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Headline Poem 2/9/14 -- Mermaid Divers of Japan

(Photo credit Iwase Yoshiyuki Estate)

Today's poem is based on a story I saw on CBS Sunday Morning about the Ama Divers of Japan. One particular woman diver highlighted was an 80 year-old grandmother. What a beautiful story of stamina and tradition. It definitely makes me want to learn more.

Mermaid Divers of Japan

Lungs swell
as they take the fearless plunge
in search of sea food
mythical, magical mermaids
dive over and over again
for treasures,
and the thrill of the hunt

Nude bodies glisten in the sun,
under water for hours,
coming up briefly to fill with air,
and deliver the goods

With humble dedication,
he sits in the boat, 
like he has for years,
armed with a little less stamina and a little less fat,
he knows this is a woman's game
and his role as loyal husband, is to wait 

Clad in a wetsuit now,
she'll take hundreds of dives
for 50 pounds of food
30 miles off the coast
of Hegura Island 

Rich with sleek-physiqued tradition,
beautiful mermaid divers,
a celebration of daughters,
and no time to slow down

Now, she trains her granddaughter to carry on

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Headline Poem 2/8/14 -- The greatest love story

(Photo credit CNN)

The Beatles, four guys from Liverpool, still have people talking after all these years. 50 years ago, the band visited America for the first time. This weekend, people are reflecting on that first visit, and the significant performance on the Ed Sullivan Show in February 1964. They showed America how to sing, and we are still in love. Today's headline poem is for The Beatles.

The greatest love story

the greatest love story starts
with a soar,
not obligation,
but genuine admiration

in spite of faults,
softening bellies,
and aging hands
horrible about returning favors,
not in famous rock n' roll bands

you love
because when they look at you,
you know
they adore the person you have become,
you hear the laugh down the hall,
and you laugh just because

love is a combination,
an invitation,
gathering people from all over the world,
to tell them, I want to hold your hand
they listen

love is when
your heart matches theirs,
you hear the beat
in rain, sleet, sun and snow
come away,
you can say,
we have enough,
let's go...

the greatest love story
is like fresh purple grapes
on a February day
juicy, dripping with taste,
seeds to spit out,
sometimes in haste (that's how you learn)

love is breathing them in
with shaking hips
and glowing skin,
learning to see the
world differently, and again

lovers write their own songs
the words theirs,
but when shared,
become ours
open once they begin
John, Paul, George, and Ringo, in love we are still in


Friday, February 7, 2014

Headline Poem 2/7/14 -- when you

(Photo credit Pinterest) 

Today's poem is based on the images and news of violence in Central African Republic. I am not sure what else to say other than it is hard to read about this and believe it is real, that it is not make-believe -- a horror movie, or bad dream. For some, this is life. 

when you

when you are not afraid to kill a man
in broad daylight
cameras looming
balking at leave no trace

when you will not be punished for death, 
words come out worse than fools
edit them out

when you drag him out to pasture 
like an old race horse whose time is done 
useless now to the men who sit and smoke imported cigars
useless now that he cannot run the way he could
useless now because he talks to the people who won't talk back 

when you touch his hoofs 
they are smooth in the wrong places, 
too flat to make a difference
something should be done with this one

when you see the man's boots are bloodied
and that no amount of grass rubbing or soap will ever take that away
the color will fade, but never disappear
the smell will linger, 
like a skunk who sprays and then laughs in your face
take that! 
long after I'm gone
you took my body
but my scent lingers on
you are the bastard

when you see his body has been hacked into pieces
there is always a first time 
for seeing a man's brains
lying outside of his head
this is the hardest one 
you beg for there to be no more

when you lie awake in fear
there are no nightmares
because there is no sleep
you cannot dream or weep

when you are left in villages
to fend for yourselves
while neighborhoods are emptied and destroyed
there is no escape. 

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Headline Poem 2/6/14 -- Soccer practice cancelled due to rain

(Photo credit me)

Short and sweet today. We have rain in Southern California. It's been a long time... so long that it's a headline.

Soccer practice cancelled due to rain

I love the rain
Especially today
I get to stay home with a fire 
And an IPA. 

Oh, what a bummer! 

Headline Poem 2/5/14 -- Those certain roads

(Photo credit Robert Knudsen/John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, Boston)

Today's headline poem is based on an article in the New York Times about Robert Frost, pictured above talking with Jacqueline Kennedy at a White House dinner in 1962, a year before his death at age 88. "The Letters of Robert Frost" will be published in a projected four volume edition of all the author's known correspondences, and is said to soften a battered image. The article was titled "The Road Back," and triggered a walk down a few of those certain roads...

Those certain roads

There are certain roads you know by heart
X marks the spot
dot, dot, dot,
the anticipation of every curve,
knowing when to slow down,
knowing when to swerve

Mockingbird Canyon was one of those roads
I drove it at least two times a day
Windows down with my hand catching wind
in my 1969 turquoise Volvo
flower stickers and striped interior
The heater didn't work, 
and the windshield wipers
barely did their job, 
but the radio played all of my favorite songs,
while I drove along 
alone or with friends,
Singing like The Indigo Girls, Patsy Cline, and The Grateful Dead

There were sections
That required no thought
Easy and straight, 
until the big dip
I lost my stomach every time,
even though I knew it was there 
Then came the curve
many didn't make right
seems each day the signs increased -- slow down,
and go away from the house directly behind

more twists and turns,
past the nursery,
where the friendly woman lived as a wife
then an older woman --
her waves became slower
until she hardly came outside at all
eventually, she sold the land, 
and it became someone else's home

Those certain roads hardly ever change
the moon shines in the same spot,
depending on the day
dead rabbits, wandering dogs
the occasional drunk and disorderly
looking for a log 
   to rest 
   and sit
Horse back rides, and running through the woods

Those certain roads called me home 
from college and trouble, 
I could tell you stories of motorcycle accidents and fallen trees
(The neighbors denied they saw a thing),
but that was long before my driving began

From Diamond Drive at the bottom of a hill, surrounded by forests and a familiar chill,
To Harley John and Stallion Crest,
Those certain roads,
Where I always felt safe

Walls do talk, and mine were covered 
With Bop magazine boyfriends,
And maps of places I'd once travel 
Those certain roads are etched in my skin, part of my memories, always within

They welcomed visitors from near and far
Seems like Mars now,
Foreign but familiar, 
Like a place I recognize, 
By the corners and colors, 
But will never discover 

Those certain roads
Make me smile, 
I'm glad they were mine for awhile...

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Headline Poem 2/4/14 -- hidden alaska

(Photo credit CNN)

Today's headline -- Alaska has the highest report of rape in the nation. CNN columnist John D. Sutter recently traveled to the 49th state to try to find out why. 75 villages in Alaska have no law enforcement presence. 59% of women in Alaska will be raped, beaten, assaulted, or threatened with violence in their lifetimes. Here is a link with ways to show support, and to help make Alaska a safer place.

hidden alaska

there is a hidden alaska
the tourists don't see
hours of daylight
with no rescue plea

cruise ships swish past glaciers
on the wide open sea
but she has secrets,
hidden by waves
suffocating from being on display
always near, on the edge
like reading tea leaves without a key

the scenery is beautiful
but then they go away
left with hurt and decay
another one was raped today

always vulnerable.
no one to call
rotten relatives
passed out on the wall
not a cop in this place.
only airplanes in winter,
hours away
never safe. 

it is a cycle they are trying to break

Monday, February 3, 2014

Headline Poem 2/3/14 -- Can we teach the world to sing?

(Photo credit Google Image)

In 1971, Coke created a commercial that had its beginnings in an airport -- essentially, after not being able to land in London because of fog, travelers had to stay overnight in Ireland, included in this inconvenience was a Coca Cola creative director. The next day, in an Ireland airport, he saw people laughing over the beverage. He realized it brought people together, and saw what would lead to the $250,000 commercial shoot on a hilltop in Italy. "I'd like to buy the world a Coke" lyrics showed the world that Coke connected people, all kinds of people. 

During the Super Bowl yesterday, Coke aired an ad that has been deemed controversial. Why? Because a patriotic song, "America the Beautiful," was sung in English, and other languages, and featured multicultural people -- light, dark, gay, exposed, in hijabs, and frankly, it pissed some people off. The point of an ad is to sell, to have people remember your product, and to get people talking, or singing. Love Coke or hate it, is there anything more global or American than the fizzy liquid in a red and white bottle or can? America speaks many languages, and I am wondering if we will ever be able to sing together? I wrote this with the 1971 tune in my head. 

Can we teach the world to sing?

There are people who do not want to 
buy the world a home, 
nor furnish it with warmth and love,
They'd rather be alone

We kill apple trees and honey bees,
and even white turtle doves

Can we teach the world to sing, 
in perfect or imperfect harmony?

I don't give a shit about what you buy,
or who you keep for company

Is there such a thing as a real thing?

What the world wants today
is not real clear to me

If we gathered on top 
of a great big hill 
in the countryside of Italy, 
would we really bring 
a bottle of Coke,
and sing in harmony?

Would you look at the people all around, 
and ask them what language they speak?
Would you tell them that
there is a song
that's just for you and me?

You can only sing in English,
no other languages allowed
America is beautiful, 
but she is multilingual

What the world wants is not real clear to me
What America wants is not real clear to me

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Headline Poem 2/2/14 -- Philip Seymour Hoffman

(Photo credit

I figured my headline poem today would be about Super Bowl XLVIII 48 -- Seattle Vs. Denver. Instead, the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman has my attention, and the fact that a talented actor and father of three is found dead at the age of 46 has me writing, and thinking. 

Philip Seymour Hoffman 

F the drug that
Rushes through your veins
Your talent is immense
But you devastate your brain

It can't compete
Our love making, babies, and walking  through the park, 
Your art is deep,
But it takes a back seat 
To the cloud-floating

Touch me, I scream
From the top of my lungs
You and us, we're here
We're real
I'm right in front of you
Yours for the taking,
But instead,
You lock yourself in the bathroom,
And stick a needle in your arm

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Headline Poem 2/1/14 -- A Sochi Parade

(Photo credit Reuters/Thomas Peter)

Today's poem is about the upcoming Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. I lived in Orange County when the Summer Olympics came to Los Angeles in 1984. I remember seeing many improvements in preparation for the various events. Then I remember after the Olympics were gone thinking about how strange it was that we were put on parade for the whole world to see. They did not see what was here before or after, but only this small pristine, graffiti-free moment in time. I look at pictures of Sochi, Russia and wonder what they must be thinking as the hustle and bustle of preparations continue, all leading up to the moment when all things Russia will shine. "A crumbling Sochi hides behind Olympic facades" and "Sochi's indigenous people" and "6 of 9 Media Hotels are ready" are a few of the headlines that contributed to today's headline poem. The picture above is an Asirkhan villager named Ashkirkgan Chachukh. She is 82, and her great-grand daughter Saira is 4. This picture was taken in their living room in the village of Tkhagapsh in the Lazerevskoye district of Sochi October 26, 2013. "The Olympic Games are far away, they don't concern me. The only thing I wish is that they pass peacefully. God forbid, only no war! Then everything is good" Chachukh said. Tkhagapsh is one of the few remaining settlements in the Sochi region, that mainly consists of ethnic Circassians, Sochi's indigenous people.

A Sochi Parade

At a snail's pace
life happens as it should
when the machines come,
the shells are crushed,
unable to move
beaten and passed by
the road is longer,
and the slime lights the way
for the out of town guests