caught in transition


The week escaped me while I was trying to find the password for my thoughts: a poem for Sunday, wise words for today; stockpiling posts for the coming fortnight against my out-of-country trip. And that’s not counting the out-of-control immediate to-do list of preparing to be absent.

Nonetheless, I found the password: stay present!  And so I shall. May you, as well.

hot pink crayon and a power drill

One of the privileges of my work facilitating circles of writing women is that I hear all kinds of wonderful asides – sometimes as prelude to shared writing; sometimes as random reflections; sometimes, like this one, as earnest attempt to make a point.

In this case, that the purpose of sharing writing and asking for specific feedback is to gain a set of very specific tools for the writer’s box. Not every response or suggestion will be useful in the moment. One may even have no idea when, where or how some kinds of feedback will ever come into play. The point is: you just never know. In our circles, we strive to accept each and every offering as just that – an offering from another perspective. A fresh set of eyes and ears, directing us to a new way of hearing or living our own words. Something to take home, mull over, sample and try on. Encouragement to take an idea out for a spin, see if it livens or clarifies that straggling struggling sentence or coheses that confusion of clashing syllables.

It doesn’t get much more relevant than that. So whether it’s formal poetic structure, tangible steps to character development or a hot pink crayon and a power drill, my advice to you is take it. You just never know when you’ll reach into your toolbox for that very item. And your toolbox may be the only place to find it when you need it.

with thanks to Thursday morning writer AK for the inspiration

the dance


I find myself at a confluence of Big Life Events: two years since moving to our cozy condo after The Big Downsize; two months until my son returns from his six-month stint in Ghana —  events connected with reference to the following poem.

Suffice it to say, he is much on my mind as we have begun to discuss what music to dance to next June 29th. Another Big Life Event. For all of us!! And we are prepared, having danced and played many rhythms en duet through these past two decades of his growing up.

They lean, one fore, one aft, a
moving frame in simple walk
sway side to side, their steps
acquired through pairing years.

One bends to pull, his partner
shifts. their balance sure,
contact complete –
their steps complex, a turn,
a feint, a helping hand;

their rhythm known
between themselves – no music
tells the when or where; their

watchful coach scans their steps,
hand out to guide
their moving feet,

as one’s hips swivel
subtle ocho, settle, place;
a few slow preparatory breaths;
then the measured

the key of breath, the angled pitch,
bracing hard with all they’ve got
against forces from behind, two men

hoist our baby grand
up stairs to level ground.


how do YOU say ‘hello’??

Credit: Jeff Ellenwood

This question has become a perennial in our writing circles, if only because  the traditional ‘how are you’ implies such limited options. Door #1: ‘fine, thanks’ is generally nothing short of a placeholder. It neither conveys any real information, nor does it offer an opening to more. Door #2, however: ‘well, since you ask . . . ‘ can be an invitation to information overload, unwelcome intimacy, an antsy exit.

What if we greeted others with a genuine statement of interest? ‘I see you are . . . (rushing, wearing a new hat, holding a legal document).’ Or perhaps, ‘what have you been pondering today?’ Something, anything, to engage in immediate genuine exchange.

I cannot help but reflect on how dogs greet one another. They are restrained but up front. Nose to nose, tails tentatively awag; the ritual circling; then the action. If it’s an older dog my pup has met, she ‘gets’ this and doesn’t even try to engage. She politely wags, sniffs and walks away. If the dog indicates a playful nature, mine is off and a game of chase is on. If the dog comes at her full-face, a good–natured tussle ensues, usually involving ears.

This morning we had an unusual greeting. I was a bit ahead of my dog, when a familiar old fellow circled into the trees to our left; perhaps, I thought, trying to hide.  Bad hair day, I guessed. Then, without warning, he charged from hiding right into her! And then departed without so much as a wag. We’ve all had these kind of sniper-attack greetings from a snarky, got-out-of-bed-on-the-wrong-side types.

But seriously. Isn’t there something to be said for the in-tune-ment of a canine greeting? It is immediate, grounded in the very here and now of the two meeting. It is interactive, requiring each to be forthright and intentional. It is respectful, giving each party a moment to communicate intention, interest. It lasts only as long as each is engaged. It leaves everyone with a clear sense of having communicated effectively. There is no doubt about the messages conveyed. And there are no hurt feelings. If this one doesn’t feel like chasing or chomping, perhaps the next one will.

We leave each canine interaction with a certain sense of completeness and optimism. Our day is better because of each greeting, however guarded or exuberant. So I invite you, today, to experiment with different ways of saying ‘hello, how are you?’ See what feels interesting to you; what engages the other. And then report back. I asked my Thursday writers to bring their new greetings to the circle tomorrow.  I’ll add them here, too. Let’s see what we can create together that might bring more connection and more soul into our largely unconscious human habits of greeting.

the buzz

AND NOW – for something completely different! In case you have the mistaken impression that I write only serious poems.

Where DID they come from,
this invasion of fat flies
flitting and darting from window
to sash? Our normally quiet
evening abuzz with slap
and squish as my daughter
grim glint growing in her
swung and struck, savoring instinct
and skill of this new-found sport

to kill [SWAT!]

            one [SWAT!]

                     after another [SWAT!]

We charged and swatted, quite besotted
with the challenge to chase and destroy
each buzzing fly
frantically lunging
against our ceaseless
assault upon battery;
bodies dropped
in drabs, then droves
from window, table, doorjamb, wall
a pile of corpus delecti mounting
with every hit.

But WHERE did they come from?
That day – and that one only –
placid peace lost to raging revolt
a change so alarming
for the next many days
it was all the buzz.