Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash. Leonard Cohen

Monday, December 30, 2013

I Wanted To Say: For Andrea

I wanted to say
that you inspire me
to speak the truth
I wanted to say
that you are so strong
and brave
that you make me feel
strong and brave too
I wanted to say
that I admire
your forthrightness
and your total lack of bullshit
I wanted to say
that your words
are beautiful
and sad
and uncomfortable
and challenging
and meaningful
I wanted to say
that you have opened my mind
and my heart
I wanted to say
that I'm a 50 year-old straight woman
wife and mother
who has a wicked crush on you
I wanted to say
that you look a little thin, sweetie
and I'd love to invite you to my place
for pasta and homemade sauce
(bring your adorable dog too!)
I wanted to say
thank you
for reminding me
that words matter
and that poetry is powerful
I wanted to say all that
and more
but when I saw you in person
all I could say was
"Can I give you a hug?"
Thank you
for saying "yes."

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Open Link Monday

Sunday, December 22, 2013


photo by MyBlackPrince
Her mama called her Angel
even though she was conceived in sin
Never knew her daddy
Her mother never saw him again
She was the prettiest baby in town
Never cried when mama brought the men around
She just looked out her window
and listened to the city's sounds

How can angels fly
when they're born with a weight on their wings?
The closest Angel got to Heaven
was when she heard her mama sing
a sad song about flying away
They'd go together some day
Until then, be a good girl
Be an angel

Angel went to school
but she didn't have too many friends
Couldn't bring them home 'cause
she never knew her mama's plans
Sometimes she found a man behind the door
or her mama passed out on the kitchen floor
Angel saw the worst of Hell
and quickly learned to ignore

How can angels fly
when they're born with a weight on their wings?
The closest Angel got to Heaven
was when she heard the radio sing
a sad song about running away
Someone would take her one day
Until then, she'd just pretend
There were angels

Angel was sixteen 
when she saw the guy on her street
He told her she was pretty
talked to her so low and sweet
Angel thought he'd give her a new life
She didn't know that he already had a wife
He gave her some cash then
told her to forget his name

How can angels fly
when they're born with a weight on their wings?
The closest Angel got to Heaven
was when she heard the church bells ring
She prayed forgiveness for her sin
Sometimes you end up right where you begin
Angel had a daughter
who never knew her daddy's name.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A Very Fine W(h)ine

It tastes like cherries and sadness
With just a hint of despair
The plum notes contain certain madness
that releases when it breathes the air

The body is quite melancholy
It lingers with a pronounced dread
To drink it would be total folly
Let it age well like any good red

When you try it, I'm sure you'll agree
It has a distinctive bouquet
that tickles the nose with ennui
from terroir with a subtle dismay

Grown on a most morose vine
These grapes make a very fine w(h)ine.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Sunday Challenge, All In the Family in which we were to ask for a poetic first line from a family member and then write the rest of the poem. This first line came from my daughter, Baby Mouse (17).

Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Seventh Crow

Seven Crows by Merlyn-Gabriel

One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told.
 I am
the frenzied heartbeat
the whispered gossip you can almost hear
the gibbering beggar on your corner

I am
the madman in your basement
the lady with vulgarly smeared lipstick
the lunatic in your attic

I am
the eleventh toe
the devil in the details
the feather in your pillow that pokes your dreams

I am
the frayed wire
the kink in the system
the unaverted catastrophe

I am
the sinkhole of irrationality into which you slide
bit by bit
180 degrees from okay.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Get Listed with FB

Friday, December 6, 2013


Did you know
that there are over 100 words
for "outsider?"
Each word 
conveys a subtlely different meaning
from every other word

Take "nigger," for instance
This word and "cracker"
both refer to skin color
However, each is a different shade
of hate

Then we have "kike" and "hebe"
I've had both terms
applied to myself,
my religion
I've flinched
in a slightly different way
when each was said

Since this is a poem,
let's rhyme -
"Dyke" rhymes with "kike"
You could even call someone
a "kike dyke"
This would refer
to a particular type of lesbian,
should you be a particular type of bigot

As long as we're discussing
sexual orientations,
how about "fag," "queer," or "tranny?"
So many labels for "different" and "unacceptable"

Let's not forget
"wop," "chink," "wetback," "camel jockey," "frog"
So many ways to say
"You are not one of us."

Isn't language wonderfully fascinating?
And did you know
that the Eskimos have
over 100 words for....?

submitted with apologies if I offended anyone's sense of decorum to Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Out of Standard with Izy, Eskimo

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ribbons of Red

Ribbons of red to celebrate
the holidays, good times ahead
We wish, count down the days, and wait
Ribbons of red

I'm thinking of you, instead
How your numbers are of late
Hope you're well on the new meds

Whether chance or whether fate
connected us with life's fine thread
To you, my prayers I dedicate
Ribbons of red.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Our Town

Meagan could still feel her Daddy's hands
touching her, she couldn't understand
Smelled the stale beer on his lips
Any place is better than this
Lives behind the Safeway with her friend

Sally used to work hard as a cook
til she threw her back out and she took
pills her doctor gave to her
Kept on needing more and more
Lost her job, her house, and still she's hooked

Lindsay locked herself inside the john
Her daughter cried and pounded for her mom
When her friends knocked down the door
Lindsay lay blue on the floor
Needle still was stuck in her left arm

Nicky always looking for a mark
Hooked up with his friend outside the park
Later on he stole his car
Didn't make it very far
Cuffs around his wrists 'fore it got dark

Camille called her mom this Sunday past
Said she needed just a little cash
Promised her she'd pay it back
Found her man and bought some smack
Father said that girl was always trash

Under every town's pretty facade
The underbelly's waiting to be prod
Take a peek, the edge is frayed
Out where the outliers strayed
Dying 'neath the gaze of a flawed god.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

White on White

Black and white
held up to the light
As I wait, biting
what's left of my nails

Black or white
Yes or no
Clean or not
Stay or go 

Black and white
but something's not right
The evil could hide
in plain sight when
there's not enough night
to contrast with the day
on the x-ray 

White on white
Cotton in snow
doesn't quite show
so how do I know?

Fifty-fifty chance
they miss a spot,
report that it's not
and then, what?

Black and white
And I sit tight
trying to fight my fears
All of these years
Being told I'm clear
but all may not be
as it appears.

Poet's Comment: I don't usually explain my poems, but this is about early breast cancer detection and it's important. Did you know that breast density influences the accuracy of a mammogram? Dense breast tissue is comprised of less fat and more glandular tissue. On a mammogram, dense tissue appears white and cancerous tumors also appear white, making it nearly impossible to "see" the tumor. While mammogram can find about 98% of cancers in women with fatty breast tissue, it finds only about 48% of cancers in women with dense breast tissue. If you have dense breasts, you may want to get an ultrasound or MRI in addition to a routine mammogram. Some states now mandate that information about breast density be included on a mammogram report. Find out. Check out this site for more info.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Kerry's Wed. Challenge, Black and White

Monday, November 25, 2013

'Tis the Season

'Tis the season to be marginalized
'Cuz the Christian majority can't realize
that holidays come in more than one size
Or maybe they're not celebrated at all
Not everybody decks the halls
or hangs those colored Christmas lights
Yeah, that's my menorrah shining bright
for eight nights, oy vey!
Not all gifts come on a sleigh
Though every year, the same old scene
My eyes assaulted with red and green
as the stores roll out the Christmas machine
And what about the rest of us?
Always there to make a fuss
when we protest the nativity
in a public space for festivity
or ask for a kinara too
or a Star of David in white and blue
(isn't that just like a Jew?)
to try and make us all rephrase
"Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays?"
But would it really kill the mirth
to have a little peace on earth?
To acknowledge and embrace
those of more than just one faith?
So while you defend your Christmas cheer
Remember there are others here.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Sunday Challenge, Woodie Gurthrie (protest poem)

Thursday, November 21, 2013


They say that cats have nine lives
I have only one life but
nine tails!
With each year, I gain wisdom,
Poor kitties!
To die eight times over
To be reborn ignorant and small
Watch me grow older and better!

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Words Count With MZ, Sleepover Edition 

Kitsune is the Japanese word for fox.  Kitsune are a type of yokai, or spirit, believed to possess supreme intelligence, long life, and magical powers. Kitsune may have as many as nine tails. Generally, a greater number of tails indicates an older and more powerful fox. Some folktales say that a fox will only grow additional tails after it has lived 100 years.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

November Swan Song

 One of my boys, Puck <3

Mist over the moon
Early morning cricket song
Just me and the dogs
Leaves crunch beneath our ten feet
November sighs quietly

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Open Link Monday

A Toad's Favourite: Rita Dove

"I believe even 5-year-olds can get something from a Shakespearean sonnet…as long as you DON’T tell them, ‘This is really hard.’”  -Rita Dove

Rita Dove was born in Akron, Ohio in 1952.  She received her B.A. from Miami University of Ohio in 1973 and her M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in 1977. She served as Poet Laureate of the United States from 1993 to 1995 and Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2004 to 2006.  She has received many academic and literary honors, including the 1987 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry and the 1996 National Humanities Medal from President Clinton. In 2011, President Barack Obama presented Ms. Dove with the National Medal of Arts, which made her the only poet to have received both medals. 

Author of nine poetry collections, a book of short stories, a novel, essays, and a play, Rita Dove is currently Chair of Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia (where I, lolamouse, attended grad school!) She currently lives in Charlottesville, Virginia with her husband, the writer Fred Viebahn. She has one adult daughter.  The Rita Dove HomePage has extensive biographical information as well as photos, readings, videos, and interviews. 

Rita Dove is one of my favourite poets, and I had a difficult time narrowing down her extensive writings to even a few of my very favourite poems.  Dove’s writing encompasses political, historical, and personal  themes. Although I find her writing quite accessible and forthright, I always come away with something new to think about or a new way of looking at the familiar. 

When I was a new mom, struggling with the demands of a difficult baby, Dove’s poem “Daystar” was an epiphany. It is from a collection of poems, Thomas and Beulah (1986) based on Dove’s grandparents. When I first read it, I felt that someone understood my mixed feelings about becoming a mother, the loss of privacy and identity that comes with having a child. I clipped that poem from our newspaper and kept it tucked in my dresser drawer to read whenever I felt overwhelmed and unappreciated. It is still there today.


She wanted a little room for thinking:
but she saw diapers steaming on the line,
a doll slumped behind the door.
So she lugged a chair behind the garage
to sit out the children’s naps…

For complete poem, see link at Poet's Choice from the Washington Post, 1/23/2000

Here is a video of Rita Dove reading her poem:
Another favourite poem, "Teach Us To Number Our Days," takes its title from Psalm 90 but speaks to cultural and political issues of today. It begins

In the old neighborhood, each funeral parlor
is more elaborate than the last.
The alleys smell of cops, pistols bumping their thighs,
each chamber steeled with a slim blue bullet…

For complete poem, see the Poetry Foundation website

    Rita Dove is quoted as saying, “I prefer to explore the most intimate moments, the smaller, crystallized details we all hinge our lives on.” I think this is one of the reasons I love her poetry so much. She takes the personal and makes it universal and the universal and makes it personal. She is able to focus a light on those quotidian moments we all have and, with her words, elevate them to things of lasting beauty. Read and enjoy.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

That Kind of Storm

Photo by Peggy Goetz
The rain
pelts the window glass
like thousands of tiny fists
in impotent fury

The sound
does not soothe or
amuse me
as it did earlier when the rain
pinged upon car hoods
with the sloppy rhythm of popping corn
like little bird feet tapdancing
on the roof

This storm
sounds serious

The wind
howls like a feral ghost dog
in the night
and sends my own dog,
a cocky Maltese,
under the bed quivering

I make a strong cup of tea

It's a teakettle kind of storm
The nagging beep
of the microwave just won't do
I want to listen
to the whistle, brave
and persistent

I hold
the china mug between my palms
It warms my hands
and wards off the demons. 

Poet's Corner

Mike Worrall, Poets Corner, oil on linen, 122x155cm, 2002

I walked the labyrinth until my feet were sore
Discovered that bliss and blisters do not happily coexist
I sat and meditated until my ass went numb
Emerged no more enlightened than when I first began
I prayed to God, the saints, the Devil, the muses, and Jesus
It was the religious equivalent of mixing ammonia and bleach -
Yet here I am, still dumb as a bag of rocks
and empty as a Halloween pumpkin in the head
The music I create is birthed between my legs
Oh well, at least it makes you happy to sing along.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Sunday Challenge, featuring Mike Worrall

Monday, November 4, 2013

Peace By Peace

Peace by peace we make things right
When we can talk instead of fight
When understanding counters hate
Our differences are not so great
An open heart lets in the light

Not everything is black or white
The shades of grey enrich our sight
Let’s join together, share the weight
Peace by peace

There is no day without the night
Two sides to stories we may write
When we listen, we create
A bridge to connect and relate
Those once opposed some day unite

Friday, November 1, 2013

Siren's Song

Siren's Stare by sanguisGelidus

I am called Monster
but I am no different than anyone or
anything else
Mortal women bleed,
I swim
I sing
Do you blame the songbird
for the song?
It is his Nature
Time was, I had feathers too
A beautiful gown of feathers,stolen
for another's crown
But my voice is mine
I sing my Nature
Do you blame the flame
when the moth burns?
Do you blame the spider
for the sticky web?
Yet you blame my song
Blame me
Blame my Nature
for Man's weakness
If you cannot be
in the presence of sublime beauty
without being destroyed
I am not the one
to blame.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


mASK me
I can be anyone you want, just
mASK me
I can be naughty or nice
Sweet or nasty
Your angel or
your whore
It's really all the same
Treat me however you wish
Pretend you don't know my name
Know my shame vanishes under the mask
So mASK me.

inspired by a glance around our local Halloween costume store in the Women's section, where every costume, it seemed, was overtly sexual and provocative