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

Friday, September 11, 2015

Le Sang d'un Poète

The blood of a poet
is no more precious than
the blood of a child
the blood of a gangbanger
the blood of a survivor

The blood of a poet
is no more profound than
the blood of a mother
the blood of AIDS
the blood of transfusions

The blood of a poet
is not special
It is not art
It is only human
And that is enough.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Words Count With Mama Zen

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Which Princess Are You?

Photo by Christopher Jobson for Colossal
The princesses of Dismaland
are dismayed
by their company's poor marketing strategies
and lackluster consumer demand

is desperately seeking a hook-up
She checks her phone constantly
disappointed by the dearth of hot guys

Snow White Lives Matter Too
thinks she's socially conscious
and not at all racist
but just doesn't get it

escaped her country on a crappy little boat
filled with convicts and the mentally ill
and nearly drowned in toxic waste-filled water

is a brilliant artist
She is addicted to heroin
and will eventually be found dead in the Castle

Belle Jarre
is quite melancholy
and wanders the park 
with her head in an oven

Chip and Dale
two washed-up ex-strippers
try to enliven the girls by offering lap dances
There are no takers

Even Pluto
the princesses' favorite pet
can't help cheer them up 
Corporate deemed him no longer a character

He now sits outside the gates
howling at passers-by
and begging for scraps.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Tuesday Platform 

Sunday, September 6, 2015

It's Not Art Unless It Has the Potential To Be a Disaster

Photo by Christopher Jobson for Colossal
The gallery’s ready
The artist is in
The crowd stands waiting
For it to begin
The doors are open
The Chardonnay flowing
Critics’ heads nodding
With insiders’ knowing
Wallets are bursting
With checkbooks and cash
While patrons muse anxiously
“Genius or trash?”
The gasp is collective
Rejection? Disdain?
“It’s perfectly awful-
He’s done it again!”

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Summer Night

Nocturne in Black and Gold, James McNeill Whistler, wikimedia commons
Night softens the day's edges
The moon erases
Rubs out distinctions
Sky becomes earth becomes trees
Feet become sidewalk become paws
Arm becomes leash becomes dog
Separateness becomes oneness
Footsteps blend with
the clicking of paws
the thud of heat lightening
the trill of crickets
the bass rhythm of frogs
A soup of sound,
thick and nourishing
We walk,
an aggregate of bone and skin and fur, 
wrapped in the warm muddy mist
of a summer night.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Non-FB Friday, Finding the Right Tone

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Pigeon Superstition

You tell me that you love me
But you run so hot and cold
You hug me then you shove me
I just can't get a hold

You swear to God you need me
And then you walk away
You never wanna see me
Then you're beggin' me to stay

You're random with affection
I just can't seem to score
It's pigeon superstition
Keeps me pecking for more

You say that I'm so special
That no one else will do
But then I find your texts
with all the girls you wanna screw

You plead with me to keep you
You need me by your side
But I can't help from feelin'
I'm being taken for ride

You love me then ignore me
It's paradise or hell
It's pigeon superstition
and it's workin' so well

I love you and I hate you
You got me in a rage
It's pigeon superstition
and I'm stuck in the cage.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, The Tuesday Platform  and a very belated
Pigeon Superstition

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Crepuscular Creatures

Call me
a crepuscular creature
I exist
in the in-between
Not light
not dark
Not day
not night
I inhabit the fringes
the edges
My time
is the time of change
the time of uncertainty
I hover 
along the borders
of this and that
I am at home
in the almost
and the not-quite
I belong to everyone
and to no one.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Weekend Mini Challenge: Poetry Time

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

A Calling Out

This poem is not polite
This poem means to trespass
This poem is angry

You call me immoral
Your morals are conveniences
You are a hypocrite
No, this poem is not polite

You value life
and support the death penalty
Does inconsistency make you uncomfortable?
This poem trespasses on your comfort

The only life you value
is rich and white
Others you condemn to suffer
This poem understands anger

This poem spits at politeness
This poem trespasses through your morals
This poem is angry.

Too many words for Flash 55+ so submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Tuesday Platform

Sunday, August 2, 2015


image by Banksy
I finally got you out of my life
Now stop trespassing in my mind!
You trample through my thoughts
like some pesky kid
who cuts through the neighbor's yard
back and forth from school every day
No matter how many times
I chase you away
You always come back
and always with
that stupid smirk!

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Flash 55 Plus

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Roxy Calls

Roxy calls all the men "honey"
cuz she can't remember names
Halloween bag full of sweets
Every one tastes just the same

Checks her horoscope each day
Acrylic nails tap on her phone
Virgo, the virgin makes her laugh and say
"I was never one of those."

Roxy wears her fuck-me heels
And a mini dress so tight
like a lime green ace bandage wraps her body
She knows that she's looking right

Mama hasn't called in years
(but who's counting?)
Family says that it's a shame
But she's done with all the prayers and all the tears
Roxy says "It's who I am."

Roxy calls all the men honey
cuz she can't remember names
Medicine chest full of poisons
They all make her feel the same.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, It's A Shame About Ray

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Girl In Black

I am the girl in black
I wrap myself in blind heartbreak
thick and dark as pitch
The people have branded me
a witch of sorts
What facile assumption!
I, my dear, am a werewolf

I have no need for spells
or dolls with pins
I have claws more caustic
than a scorpion's sting
Teeth that tear through flesh
easy as butter

Men fear me
I am blood
and bite
I am tides
and howling at the moon
They hunt
what they can not understand
or possess

Are you afraid?
Come a little closer
Can you detect my scent?
I wear my blood like perfume
It is quite enticing
once you get past the gore

I know what you're thinking
"She'd be wild in bed"
Well, come lay with me
and I'll show you wild
I will devour you
Savor your taste
on my tongue
and lick my lips 
when I am finished.

submitted for Magpie Tales Mag 278
and The Sunday Whirl, Wordle 207
and Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Tuesday Platform

Monday, July 13, 2015

Sarasota Summers

Children Playing on the Beach by Mary Cassatt
I walk along the ocean's edge today
I feel the warm, wet sand beneath my toes
Remembering the times I used to play
With grandmother in summers long ago

Collecting seashells buried in the sand
Like treasures waiting just for us to find
Along the beach we wandered, hand in hand
Our shoes as well as worries left behind

And though today  I walk the beach alone
I still keep my eyes cast upon the sand
To search for seashells even though I'm grown
Our treasures there to seek within the strand

I gaze upon my shells and feel so blessed
Those Sarasota summers were the best!

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, The Edge

Monday, July 6, 2015


artwork by Eoin MacLochlainn
You let loose your crows
to pluck the grains from my splintered heart
I stand in the field
cracked and open
Bones escaping skin
Blood colored earth
red clay beneath my collapsed form
A broken scarecrow
Plucked too clean
to even crawl away

I tried to protect what was mine
But your talons were razors
against my flesh
Your beak too acute
Go on and scatter the seeds
of my trust
Your garden will grow to be
such an attractive quilt of lies.

submitted for Sunday Whirl, Wordle 206

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Swimming Lessons

Bathers, 1950 by George Tooker
The smell of chlorine and sweat
stings my nose and throat
My feet scrape against
unfamiliar concrete,
step in puddles 
of warmish water

The sickly sweet scent
of suntan lotion
fills the air with
artificial coconut
My bathing cap
covers my head
in gaudy rubber flowers,
the strap pulled too tight

I gaze around the grass,
try to find an open spot
to lay my towel
and glasses

Now I am a mole
in the overbearing sunlight
I want to tunnel
back underground 
Here I am too exposed
My pale skin protests
the scorching light

Shouts and laughter
of other children
are a foreign language to me
I am an outsider
I know my otherness
will be discovered
any moment

Whistle blows
shrill and ominous
The lesson begins
Cold water assaults
my skin,
uncovered and unprotected

We line up
at the diving board
I feel like a cow 
being herded to slaughter
One after the other
the children jump and dive
Then it is my turn

I feign confidence
and walk to the board's end
pray silently to Poseidon
and jump

The sting hits 
my belly
as it always does
My nose fills
with water
My eyes
with tears

I climb up the ladder
Bright red slap on my belly
and a matching one
on my face
I look at the clock
and calculate 
how many more assaults
I must endure
until the hour is

submitted for Magpie Tales, Mag 277

Saturday, July 4, 2015


The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. Dante Alighieri
Black woman dared
climb above white men
Silenced hatred
Led away
in handcuffs
Black churches
burn to ashes
Barely make the news
Black men
black boys
shot by white police
We shake our heads
Baltimore burns
with anger
and hopelessness
We turn off the TV
Hell is on the way
It's coming for us.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Flash 55 Plus

Friday, June 26, 2015

In the Middle

The last item checked off Friday's list
I jump into my car
Head South
The desk clerk at the hotel
Knows us by name
Our little secret
We take off our clothes
Our identities
Our responsibilities
Giggle like the kids we actually are
Hide under the covers
Two turtles in a doublewide shell
Poke our heads out
Only to get a little water
Or burgers and fries
Come check-out time on Sunday
We reassemble our adult costumes
I drive North, you South
Count the days until next time
In the middle.

submitted for Magpie Tales, Mag 275

60 Words

Ashes to forehead
Hand to the fire
Mold your own morals
Whatever's required

Pray to your God
Know that he'll hear
Hate all the others
The ones that you fear

Enter the church
Wearing your sin
Sit near the preacher
Welcomes you in

Spit out old hatreds
Blue, white, and red
They offer love
You shoot them dead.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Words Count with MZ, 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ode to A/C

You save me from the burning depths of Hell
From life in the Inferno oh so cruel
Embracing me in your arms, clean and cool
If not for you, in misery I'd dwell

But you surround me like an autumn breeze
Though better for your constancy and speed
So loyal, you are never to recede
My love for you keeps rising by degrees

Though some claim you are frigid, find you chilling
You've healing powers to which I avow
The remedy to soothe my fevered brow
What 'ere you ask of me, you'll find me willing

Through August depths you answer all my prayers
I love you, and I'll always put on airs!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Leave a Message

image by Sarolta Ban 
She calls the number every day
just to hear his voice on their  answering machine
Her friends and the kids say
that it's been long enough
that it's time
but she can't erase the message
It's all she has left of him
After all,
his scent has faded
from his clothes and the bed linen
She no longer gets startled
when she awakens alone
So she clings to this last piece
She won't make him a ghost
at least, not yet
She listens to him say
"Leave your message after the tone"
She pauses, then
whispers "I love you."

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Tuesday Platform and
Magpie Tales, Mag 274

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


Men who act like children
We see them every day
Perpetual adolescents
Shout and tease and play

Complain about their bossy wives
Always on their tail
But when they get arrested
Who comes to pay the bail?

Men behaving like children
Serve only to annoy
Women want a grown ass man
Not a little boy!

submitted for Magpie Tales, Mag 273
and for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Flash 55 Plus

Friday, June 5, 2015

Forget Me Not

Wild Violets for Mother's Day
painting by artist Paul Wolber
Pink carnations at the prom
White lilies for the wedding
Roses on the five tier cake
The petals on their bedding

Honeysuckle in the yard
A garland on her head
Daisies in the garden with
the tulips bright and red

Perfume scented lavender
with just a touch of clove
Tucked within her diary
Saved mementos of her love

Violets pressed between the pages
from another life
Faded into memories
when she became a wife.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Bits of Inspiration, Floral Explosion

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


photo by Toni Frissell 

Beyond repair
I drift back home
Some say life
began in water
that existence was crafted
out of a soup
So I chance to return
add my frame to the mix
Bones are a good beginning

I will keep the obol
locked in my teeth
Ride the sea's billows
ready to deal my way 
across the last river

Perhaps I will hear
the mermaids sing
Add my voice
to the sirens' call
the fiery despair
that burns my heart
finally will be extinguished

Even if
I wander the banks
of nothingness 
a wraith 
for one hundred years
What does it matter?
I am already a ghost.

submitted for Magpie Tales, Mag 272, Sunday Whirl, Wordle 205, and Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Tuesday Platform

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Beneath the Violets

Although he should have know he would get caught
His boundless arrogance encouraged him
He couldn't understand how he got got
Male vanity so often makes wits dim

Desirous of both the sun and shade
Well, you know how that greedy story goes
His rendezvous deep in a forest glade
He thought it secret but we know talk flows

They both confronted him with all his lies
Dried tears upon their faces cold as stone
Where trust no longer flourishes, love dies
For all his sins, he never could atone

He's buried in their yard beneath the lawn
The violets now grow brighter since he's gone.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Beginning Witchery

witch by MercuroBCotto
Shannan entered the scene just as Lola finished the spell:
"I warned you to stop catcalling women on the street! Now I'll turn you into a newt!"
Shannan assessed the man, now reptile, and sighed
"You better practice your spells. This is a skink, not a newt!"
Lola countered
"Skink, newt, same difference. He's got 4 legs and a tail."
"Well, by that logic, you may as well have turned him into a toy poodle!" Shannan fumed
"Sloppy spells come from an undisciplined mind. You need to focus, Lola!"
"Quit hounding me, Shannan! You're such a perfectionist!"
And with that, Lola pointed at Shannan and mumbled some incomprehensible words
"Ha! How do you like that, Ms. Perfect?!! I turned you into a frog! Now go hop away and leave me alone!"
The amphibian, formerly human, stared at Lola and spoke in a perturbed monotone
"I'm a toad, you nitwit."

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads,Tuesday Platform 

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Keep Your Balance

The head turns too quickly and
The room becomes a dizzying carnival ride
Mundane objects
pass in and out of vision like Dorothy's tornado
turn sinister in twisted vision:
Here's a stapler
Here's a desk chair
Here's a purse
Here's a window
Here's a pen
All fly by, ungraspable

Here is what you tell yourself:
It's all right
This feeling will pass
Hang on
You can get through this
Don't vomit
Calm down

Here is what you must do:
Lie down (the floor will do)
Close your eyes
Ignore the low hum/high ring  in your ear

When it's over:
Assess the damage
Sit up slowly
Drink some water
Walk a straight line
Keep your balance
Keep your balance.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, FB Friday, Recipe for...Poetry

Friday, May 22, 2015

Bird Watching

City sounds
Urban birdsong
A cacophonous May canvas
"Shoe shine! Shoooooe shine! Shooooooe shiiiine!"
sings a gray feathered bird
his capped head bent over
his springtime work
"Needa fat bitch! Oooooh, I needa fat bitch!"
another's shrill chirp distracts
Pigeons peck at the sidewalk
for crumbs
A small brown bird lands
on my shoulder
"Gotta minute? Gotta minute?"
he chirps in my ear
I pause to listen
Lost nest, hungry babies
Feeling the pull of the crowd
I almost brush him off then
consider the $35 box of gourmet donuts
tucked under my own wing
Give him money for food
and a little more for his family
Then watch him fly away.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Tuesday Platform

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Baltimore Burns

Baltimore burns

Blame the police
Blame the kids
Blame the thugs
Blame the agitators
It doesn't matter who
lit the match
The city is full of  kindling
to feed the flames

Fire fueled
by poverty
empty promises
Watch it burn to the ground

Watch it on our TVs
in our big houses
in our safe, green suburbs
Shake our heads and withdraw
from the insistent sea of angry black faces
Our own fragment of reality
so much more pleasant

We, the privileged,
who send our sons off to school
with a peck on the cheek
don't wonder whether they'll come back
who curse the crabgrass in our yards
not the clay colored stain of dried blood
on our sidewalks
whose souls are unbattered
ungnawed by daily injustices
ground down by despair
who matter
without having to write it
shout it
burn it
into consciousness
to make people pay attention.

submitted to Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Get Listed for May, Pablo Neruda

Saturday, April 25, 2015


I love you like the ocean loves the sand
The ceaseless waves caress and kiss the land
Impossible to separate the two
I'm who I am today because of you
Although we each have lives that are our own
Together we are better than alone
Two colors intermingled become new
Creating a much deeper, richer hue
So like the ocean's endless ebb and flow
Your constancy and love I'm blessed to know
As infinite as sand grains on the shore
I count the ways I love you more and more
Through stormy seas or placid swells we ride
The waves of life together, side by side.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, The Perfect Love Poem (posted late so my husband won't see it before our anniversary on the 25th!)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Where the Softness Resides

I heard your words and
gained courage to speak
Your words
wrapped around me
like a warm, hand knit blanket
The ice began to melt from my fingers
and my heart

Your words showed me
how disappointment and failure
can be beautiful
How confusion and fear
are worthy of love
I keep that blanket
near me always
in case I should ever forget

The edges of that blanket
are most loved
Rubbed threadbare
Chewed on
Warn and frayed
These are the most comforting
It's where the softness resides.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Tuesday Platform

Friday, April 17, 2015

So Sweet

Super Powers by Howard Finster

I've got a devil on one shoulder
and another on the other
Baby, I try to be good
but it's so so hard
with these devils of mine
jabbering all the time

One whispers in my ear
for me to do wrong
and the other one, Lordy
it cheers it on
I listen for an angel
but she's been gone 
gone a long long time, baby
and I don't believe 
she's ever coming back

All of my sin
must've drove her away
just like you say I'm doing to you
I know you speak the truth, baby
but the devils got me tied
up in lies

But, baby, if you could love a devil
just a little 
I could take the heat, 'cause
Heaven knows,
burnt sugar is so sweet.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Behold the gefilte
Is it fish?
It is not
It has no fins, no tail, no gills, no scales
It swims in cold jelly
A lump
Fish lump
Dressed up with limp carrot
Lounging upon pale lettuce
Let us
behold the gefilte.

submitted (late) for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Caution: Tender Buttons

Friday, April 3, 2015

Uterine Blues

Well, I woke up this mornin'
Felt something out of place
I looked in the mirror
Checked my hair and my face
I walked into the kitchen
to start off my day
when, I swear, I felt my uterus
had wandered away!

I've got a wandering womb
Oh yeah, I've got a wandering womb
And a womb that's off to wander
Well, that ain't no good
I'm thinking that my uterus
is misunderstood.

Well, I hurried to the doctor
to get me a cure
The doc, he said, don't worry
He had seen this before
What troubles you, my lady
is quite easy to see
Hysteria we call it
Now just leave it to me...

Oh no! I've got a wandering womb
Dear me, I've got a wandering womb
And a womb that's off to wander
Well, that's really sick
Gotta get my uterus back home
real quick!

Now I was really feelin' anxious
I was a mess
The doctor claimed the cure, it lay
under my dress!
He took a pair of gloves
from the top of his shelf
"No thanks," I told him quickly
"I will do it myself!"

I've got a wandering womb
Oh yeah, still got a wandering womb
And a womb that's off to wander
Ain't really a plight
'Cause now my uterus and I
are feelin' all right!

submitted (with aplogies!) for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, FB Friday, Sing It Toads

Thursday, April 2, 2015


The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,
   Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
   Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
   Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
   Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
   Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
   Up in the air and down!
Source: A Child's Garden of Verses (1999)

Remember the feel of your very first poem?
Remember the rhythm and rhyme?
Pleading with Mother to read it again
Feeling its music each time

Imagining every scene in your head
The rivers and garden and all
The words painted pictures so deep in your mind
Even though you were so small

How I would love to go back to those days
Back to when life was so new
How I would like to go up in a swing
Up in the air so blue!

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, What Sparked Your Poetic Heart?

Friday, March 27, 2015

Keep Moving

Credit: slhy | Shutterstock.com
The air is petrichor and pine
mixed with the spiciness of new mulch
Birds skitter across leaf litter
looking for seeds
The dogs and I
out for a walk,
basking in first warmth
I want to pluck this moment out of time 
keep it in my pocket
but the dogs pull on their leash,
a gentle reminder to
Keep moving.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, An Old Man's Fancy

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Echo House

Welcome to Echo House
The walls are voices
Screams of injustice
Cries of despair
Lost souls comprise
the halls
Come in
Have a bowl of empty
We choke on it every day
We have so much nothing
we are drowning in it
There is always room for more
Stay a while
Bring your shame
your disappointment
your hopelessness
We will nurture them
Leave your dignity
at the door
Should you keep it with you
be warned
The cat will hunt it down
and play with it like a mouse
until she grows bored
and kills it.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Tuesday Platform

Monday, March 23, 2015


I tried to get you off my mind
You came to me in dreams instead
Awakened with you in my head

Convinced that I was not that kind
I told myself that I'd forget
Despite the years, I haven't yet

Afraid of feelings I might find
Avoided what I knew I knew
As I grew older, they grew too

Too far along to push rewind
A silly crush that wouldn't last
was relegated to the past

I wonder what I left behind
The passion I could never show
The part of me I'll never know.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Play It Again Toads #5, Kerry's Sunday Form Challenge, Constanza

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Tired of Your Old Personality?

Hey, guys
Are you ready to
increase the size of your
Update and remodel!
Time is running out!
Pick any identity--
Quirky, classic
French flair
Discover your inner Republican!
Annoy sexy girls!
Remove any unwanted shame and self-loathing!
Reclaim vanities and accents!
Your luck has changed-
Don't ignore this!
Enough online ukelele lessons--
Eat life
Find your concealed genius!
New season, new look!
Order now!
Free returns.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Bits of Inspriation- Spoems in which we are asked to compose a poem from the subject lines from spam

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Wanna Play?

Toril "Wanna Play"
You beckon
I come
Yes, I know better
and still, I come
You are a thief
a deceiver
You will always hurt me
and still, I come
When you look at me
with those pleading eyes
and that beguiling smile
I can't resist
Time and time again
I come
Trusting your words
more than my own knowledge
Such foolishness!
Still, I come
By the time I see
the glint in your eyes
it is too late
Your alabaster teeth flash and
encircle my neck
like a string of pearls.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Artistic Interpretations with Margaret, Art With Toril

Friday, March 6, 2015

You Are Stronger Than You Know

Toril & Tully Collaboration "Beety Babies" 24 x 36
You are stronger than you know
The rain may drench you to the core,
the winter wind may whisper
that you are not worthy,
the snow and ice may envelope your heart
You are stronger than you know
Beneath your battered form,
your roots grow deep
Reaching for nourishment,
Sustaining you in the drought,
Anchoring you in the flood
so that when the sun shines
you may lean into it and grow
You are stronger than you know.

submitted for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, Artistic Interpretations With Margaret, Art With Toril