Saturday, April 30, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 30


At night, I brave mosquitos
and crack the screen-less window

To hear the all-night chorus
of the frogs' raucous love

Pea-brained amphibians
they have already forgotten

The snow and icy winter
that held them encapsulated in their tombs

Unlike me who sees the hyacinths
and daffodils and crocuses

And remembers my numb fingers
clawing away frozen mud

While planting five dozen bulbs
last Halloween

And those flowers make my heart ache
for I know we'll soon be parted

So I can't just enjoy their fragrance
while it lasts

I feel the same about my children
who every day grow more like men

Instead of embracing this day
I shed a tear for yesterday and tomorrow

It's time I learned a lesson
from those pea-brained amphibians

And stayed up all nights singing
for this only life I have

Phew!  I did it.  30 poems in 30 days.  Thanks for stickin' around with me through it all.  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 29

For E

(by a minute)
and smallest
(by an inch)
you might be
easy to overlook
look over and
forget the end
of the line you
might be the last
one to do anything
everything ho-hum
seen it all before
except I've never
before seen orange-
fleece-pants striped-
turtleneck rainbow-
legwarmers inside-
underwear and shirts
just as likely as
never before have
I heard anyone
whistle through
his top lip a broad-
winged hawk song
never before did
I know anyone who
could play kickball
and chest or Uno all
day (as long as someone
lets him win) never
before did I hear
language as inside-
as your clothes:
opposed to 
and my favorite
Hammerhead Lincoln
youngest and
smallest you
also happen to
be the loudest
just to make sure
we don't fail to
notice you to
see and hear you
and know that you
are there and you
are loved

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 28

Something's going to change
says the rain to the dejected
seagulls crouched on the boardwalk

Something's going to change
cry the roiling waves washing
trees down the rising river

Something's going to change
calls the wind whip-whipping
the flags clinging to the flagpole

Something's going to change
says the rain rat-a-tat-tap dancing
on the hoods of vehicles parked
and waiting for something to change

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 27

The Limitations of Facebook

I cannot friend you,
dear friend
There is no people search
that will hit on your name
Not even Google 
can reach you now
(I've tried)
Which is the trouble
with expecting technology
to fix everything
To bridge continents
And span time

The last time I saw you
In your grim Iowa apartment
I gifted you a poster
of green water and red desert
that I dug out from the back of 
our road-weary Volvo
that it could color the
bleakness of your 
internal landscape as well

Yet, in the way of
young people on the move
(before Facebook)
I lost touch with you
And when my Christmas card
returned, undeliverable
I knew you were freed from
your impenetrable loneliness

A Knitted Necklace

I knitted this necklace for my friend and neighbor who was diagnosed with throat cancer a short while ago.

It took me from the time of her diagnosis in February until she had finished her radiation treatments two weeks ago to make it--that tiny yarn is some hard to work.

I told her it was like a prayer shawl, only much smaller, and secular.  It's to bring good health to her neck and throat.  The succulent merino wool feels so good, it's sure to be healing.

Ravelry notes (such as they are) and link to pattern here.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 26

A Short Poem About Time

Didn't anyone tell you?
The stream only
flows one

Monday, April 25, 2011

Our Easter

We had a quiet Easter at home, opting to forego our usual hike at Dodge Point and rest up from our vacation.  We did, though, need to dye some eggs.  Once again, I tried the natural vegetable dye route, and once again, it failed (if only I had read my own blog post from last year's Easter!)

Naturally-dyed eggs not all that different from just plain eggs.

All I succeeded in was making the house smell like a Soviet-era tenement from all the boiled cabbage.  And Z (who apparently has total Easter recall) insisted that he wanted to do the eggs "like last year." So I actually ran out while dinner was cooking on Saturday night and joined all the other idiots last minute shopping for Easter and picked up a Paas kit and a jug of vinegar.  (I had actually gone shopping earlier in the day, and I actually had "food coloring" on my list, but I picked up a purple cabbage instead).

Kids actually enjoying dyeing eggs, rather than waiting for them to boil.

And how much more fun was that?  100%.  Sometimes I can be such a blockhead.  And how much prettier are the fake-dyed eggs?  100%.

We had them for breakfast, along with hot cross buns and, of course, candy.

I try to keep the candy fairly minimal, and I've managed to trick my kids into thinking yogurt-covered malted milk balls (they think it's white chocolate) and fruit-juice-sweetened yogurt-covered raisins are treats.  They weren't too thrilled by the Bunny Grahams, though (of course if I bought them any other time of year they'd think they were in heaven).  And I had picked up some natural-flavored and colored jelly beans at Trader Joe's earlier in the month, and they were sooo good.

The Easter bunny brought the boys these little critters (pattern here)

And these tiny gnomes from the same shop (which, I'm embarrassed to admit, I bought pretty much right after Christmas, because they were so cute!)

C and the boys had the idea of doing an Earth Day/Easter trash cleanup along the road, so we spent the afternoon doing that.  I have to admit, I hate picking up trash--I resent cleaning up after other people (hmm...maybe I should have thought about that before having three kids...).  In about 1/4 mile, we filled up three big garbage bags (and left the two tires and the gas tank behind...the deer skeleton we left to pick up another day).  When we got back to our driveway, C gave the boys a little lesson, "See how much trash we picked up, on such a short stretch of road.  Now imagine how much trash there is all along this whole road and along all of the other roads.  People are disgusting."  There's an Easter lesson for you.  Oh, and also that tons of people apparently drive along our road drinking beer and throwing the empties out their windows...makes me feel great about letting my kids ride their bikes along it.

After a long hot shower to clean away all that filth, I made Easter dinner.  For some reason, I like having Greek food on Easter.  Often I make spanikopita, but this year I made Spiros Polemi's Grandmother's Plasto--it's kind of a pie, with a polenta crust filled with tons of feta cheese and greens--from the A-1 Diner cookbook (if you ever find yourself inexplicably in central Maine, that is the restaurant you should go to--really well-done diner classics, plus a whole specials board of gourmet yumminess), served with roasted potatoes, rosemary bread and mixed olives. 

 For dessert I made lemon pudding cake (also from the A-1 cookbook), hoping C wouldn't notice the puddingy part of it (he has an aversion to creamy desserts), but he did...which means I'm going to have to eat all of the rest of it myself.  After that, I'm giving up sugar. 

Month of Poetry, Day 25

M---, at Nine

Look at you, my baby,
All sweet hip swagger in patched knee jeans
cuffs rolled up over new black sneakers

Look at you, high-kick runner,
through-the-mud bike rider,
baseball-bat-swinging boy of nine

Look at your tangled blond head,
bent over your math book, buried in a long book
cracking codes, solving puzzles, spelling long words

Listen to you, Johnny-Cash-blues-guitar-playing
Bungalow Bill on the ukelele-strumming
funny-joke-teller, Beatles song singing in your soft, sweet voice

Listen to your back-talk, your sassy, sassy smart-talk
big words rolling off your tongue, 
just like, "Actually, it's an excavator," did when you were two

Look at you so smart, so sure of yourself,
nine-going-on-ten, almost double digits,
almost too long and lanky to fold into my lap.  But not quite.

What's in Philadelphia?

That's the question pretty much everyone asked before we left on our trip.  I might have been all haughty like, "Only the birthplace of our nation, that's all," except it was probably a question I would also have asked before C and I went there a couple of years ago.  We went for one night and one-and-a-half days, to see the exhibition of King Tut artifacts at the Franklin Institute (yes, I'm a bit of an ancient Egypt nerd), and managed to see the rest of that museum and some of the city's other sites.  We realized there was a ton of stuff there for kids, and resolved to return with ours some day.

So, what is in Philadelphia?

First, there is the long train ride, perfect for games of checkers,

reading, knitting, poem-writing,

and napping.

There is a twenty-eight story, twelve-sided hotel

with a greasy, free breakfast and two TVs in the suite, so that three TV-deprived kids can watch Harry Potter in one room and Cartoon Network in the other.  And it allows for ample, creative sleeping arrangements.

And, if you can ignore the boys wrassling on the fold-out couch, you can pretend you're a hip, young, single, modern-day Mary Tyler Moore, living in a one-room high-rise apartment.

There are sculptures and fountains and parks everywhere,

And amazing architecture, in the neo-classical tradition,

There is, of course, Ben Franklin,

(now, finally, E and Z get why he's on the $100 bill, even though he was never president).

There is, I'm sure, amazing food, though we found take-out sandwiches eaten in the hotel room more suited to our manners and our budget, though we did have one lunch at the City Tavern, where our founding fathers once congregated for a pint (I stole the recipe for Thomas Jefferson's favorite sweet potato biscuits from one of the cookbooks on display), in the room where the first Fourth of July was celebrated.

Don't forget about the Liberty Bell,

And this room in Independence Hall, where the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of the Confederation and the Constitution were all signed.  

The main part of the hall was under restoration, with that funny shroud showing what it would look like, but for all the scaffolding.

And when your dogs are barking, you can opt for a roll in the grass (as E said, "we don't have grass like this in Maine!")

And there is science:  at the Academy of Natural Science there are dinosaur digs,

butterflies that land right on your shoulder, 

dioramas for budding artist/naturalists to copy,

and at the Franklin Institute, there are airplanes to fly,

as well as electricity to play with and Leonardo Da Vinci's machines to marvel at and a scary Black Hole planetarium movie and an Imax airplane movie.  And, of course the jars of brains and conjoined fetuses at the Mutter museum of medical oddities (two of our party had to leave early--they were too grossed out, but E, M and I stuck it out through its disgustingly disturbing delights)--no photos allowed, though.

Of course there are plenty of grownup place to go, like the Rodin museum and the Art Museum (we didn't even walk down that far, 'cause who wants to explain the Rocky Balboa statue to three already rambunctious boys?).  Despite C's insistence on calling it "Filthadelphia," I found it a remarkably clean and lovely city (no doubt we avoided the seedier parts), incredibly walkable and so full of interesting things to see and do that I could almost imagine living there.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review

Check out my review of Kristina Riggle's The Life You've Imagined and Cassie Premo Steele's Shamrock and Lotus over at Literary Mama today.  This is that review that was like alligator wrestling back in February (the editing even more so), but I'm satisfied with the result.  I'll be giving away a copy of each of these books after my poetry giveaway is done, so stay tuned.

Month of Poetry, Day 24

Come to me,
Come to me where I lie
Barefoot on the futon
Sun streaming in the west windows
Nose in a book, as they used to say

Come to me
Through my red pen
On the back of an envelope
This back-of-the envelope calculation
Calculation of my soul's cadence

Poem, poem
I know you are there
Lurking in the laundry
Fluttering on the line outside
Waiting in the wind-bent trees

Are you bubbling
In the red potatoes
Simmering in the Swiss chard pie
Lying in wait in the lemon cake?

Poem, poem
I am impatient
For your sinuous syllables
Your heart-beat rhythms
Your sit-up-and-listen lines

I put down my book
I am waiting

Come to me
I am yours

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 23

I have felt the city's thrum

I have felt
the city's thrum
I have walked
its humming streets
till, footsore and weary
I have sat
on its benches
and watched
its many-hued waters
flow past me

I have followed
its rippling glass
to the sky, exalted
in its marble columns
of neo-classical pretension

I have prowled
its halls of art, science,
and imagination
I have stood
on the steps
of history
and remembered

I have handed quarters,
dollars, to its discarded,
others I have looked
in the eye and
passed by,
hands in pockets

I have feasted
at its table,
laden with the fruits
of many lands,
licked its juices
from my fingertips

I have said goodbye,
traveled miles
to trees and frogsong
and backwoods shacks,
I have wept by startlight,
the city's pulse
still beating
in my veins

Friday, April 22, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 22

Reflections on Maine from Philadelphia

It is probably cliche
to notice
how, in the city,
humanity's highs
and lows
come together
to lock elbows

In the streets
the pillared buildings
exalting art
and science
and the humble brick ones
revering history,
we push through
the throng and rush
of bodies
painted with the
broad brush of
social stratification

Beneath stone and
bronze effigies to greatness,
business men on Bluetooth
and crazy homeless men
both mumble
like monks reciting

Past them
swish high heels
in spring coats
and heavy ankles
toting cheap shopping bags

I can't help thinking
about the place
where I live--
where art and history
are hidden away
and human suffering,
instead of looking me
in they eye to ask for
a dollar,
crouches in the
shadow of crumbling
trailer houses
I speed by
on country roads

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 21

Waiting in Line to See the Liberty Bell

Head bowed
over Franklin,
I am a mountain
Before me,
a sea of youth
Behind, families
foreign tongues
Above them,
the scaffold-
shrouded cradle
of our nation

I think to roll
my eyes at this
flawed symbol
of a flawed nation

But when I
step before it
I want to kneel
and weep

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 20

Three Country Boys in the City

These are the things that thrill you:

Pulling the wheelie-bag through train stations
(one of the last tasks you fight for the privilege to perform)

Mastering escalators
(you're all experts by ride #3)

Squeezing into the back of a taxi cab
(even if you did want the red one)

Twirling through the revolving door of our dodecahedron hotel
(you can never stop at one revolution)

Guessing which of the three elevators will come first
(you fight over the buttons, too)

Rushing out onto our 24th-floor balcony
(it makes my stomach drop every time)

The bottomless supply of pancakes at the breakfast buffet
(you don't seem to notice the syrup isn't real)

Sky-high walls of glass, bronze and marble statues every block,
copper-domed churches, the Swann fountain
(you run around and around it, toss in pennies, stare mesmerized at the water)

Pigeons, house sparrows, flowering cherries, tulips, giant magnolia blossoms
(as if we didn't live right in a clearing in the woods)

And me?  What thrills me is watching your eyes grow wide
(even as my nerves grow as tired as your feet)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 19

The View from the Train

Where is the poetry
in mountains of scrap?

Generations of junk
thrown down the bank
behind rows of crumbling houses,

A line of white laundry
strung out to a dying tree?

Cities turn their backsides
to the tracks,

Burnt-out factories and
warehouses, a gas pipeline
terminal, with its flare torch,
like a beacon of hope.

Yet there is grace and
beauty, if you look
arched Art Deco-style
over the tracks, an
ancient, abandoned
depot like a tiny
pagoda, and trees

Trees grow up
through mountains
of garbage and
hopelessness, as
if to say, here
amid death,
there is life.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 18

Beautiful Bodies:  Early Morning in the Locker Room at the YMCA
(with apologies to Kathy Stinson*)

Lumpy bodies
Frumpy bodies
Early morning grumpy bodies

Squishy thighs
Cushy thighs
Lumpy-to-the-tushy thighs

Saggy boobs
Baggy boobs
Tired-out and draggy boobs

Jiggly arms
Wiggly arms
Pasty-white and piggly arms

Wide butts
Side butts
Don't even try to hide butts

Freckled bodies
Speckled bodies
Mr. Hyde and Jekyll bodies

Dutiful bodies
Fruitful bodies
Bountiful and beautiful bodies

Beautiful bodies

*Author of The Bare Naked Book

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 17

Your poem
hollows out
a lonesome
core inside
of me

A deep,
abyss that,
really, has
been there
all along

covered in
smiles and
laughs and
biting sarcasm,
and more
than weekends
to share
with them

Your poem
is about
I knew,

And though
I recognized
her right
she would
not know me,

And even
if she did,
I could
never know
anyone the
way you
know her

makes the
rim of my
crumble in
on itself,
away and
down long
echoing trails
till all sound
fades away

She saw
in me that
even I didn't
know was

Or maybe
she just

I lean over
the edge of
that hollow
and call
into the
dust, ask
how it is
to be
of a poem

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 16


She knocks,
swings the white
door closed behind
her, surprised at
its lightness, and
stands before
her past.

She says words
she has rehearsed
all day, only they
come out better
than she planned.
So do the responses.

Tears prick the
corners of her
eyes, the trailing
edge of a flood,
and she is engulfed
in a warm woolen
embrace that
steadies, reassures
her that what she
once did matters,
that, perhaps, she
matters too.

She exits through
the thin white
door, walks away
on unsteady legs
toward the future.

Friday, April 15, 2011

The Hap-Happiest Season of All

I had a little window of opportunity to wash and hang out all of the coats, snowpants, hat, mittens and scarves (at least all the ones I could find).

I have been avoiding washing anything for the last month, because I wanted to wash them all ONE LAST TIME for the season--even to the point of turning my reversible coat inside out when one side got too gross, and ignoring the blood on Z's coat from his eye incident.

I hadn't checked the temperature before I got started, but when E was ready to go outside, he did.  "It's 35.8 degrees.  Where's my coat?"

In the washer, kid.  Wear a fleece...winter's over.  Luckily there were a few dry hats, that I had not planned on washing because no one ever wore them all winter.

Now I just need to tuck them all away for next year, or for Coats for Kids, and it will be warm enough to go coatless from here on out.  (Don't worry, my snow tires are sill on my car as a talisman against a late April snow storm).

Month of Poetry, Day 15

How to Enjoy Dinner Out when You Know Too Much

Lift a warm golden chip from the basket in the center of the table.
(Round-Up Ready corn)

Dredge it through the glistening red bowl of medium-spicy salsa.
(Tomatoes picked by slaves in Florida)

Scrape a dollop of cool white sour cream
(Recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone)

from the small plastic cup.
(Will float away on the ocean and choke an albatross)

Sink your fork into warm, tortilla-wrapped melted cheese.
(Antibiotics and pus)

Drink deeply from your frosty glass and lick salt from your lips.
(Hope the worm was treated well before being dropped in the bottle)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 14

Remember when we
went to Africa,
And lived in a mud hut,
With our solar-powered
short-wave radio?

We spoke French and
I wore that straw hat
You gave me for my

You helped the village
men dig a well--or
was it a cistern?
A latrine?

I worked with the women
to develop a small loan bank,
a baby-sitting co-op,
a sewing circle, an apiary.

At night, drunk on palm wine
and quinine and equatorial heat,
We wrapped ourselves in Kente
cloth and darkness and sat in
front of the hut, listening for
Jackals and malaria mosquitos,
the shortwave crackling inside.

Remember when we went to
Africa and saved the world?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Month of Poetry, Inspiration and a Giveaway

Thanks for bearing with me on this Month of Poetry.  Thanks for the comments and the kind words on my somewhat melodramatic post the other day.  I wish I could say it's all just melodrama, but I do think everything is at least as bad as it seems, and going to get worse.  The days and weeks and months ahead will tell.  In the meantime, back to poetry.

I wanted to share with you some of my poetic inspiration. Most how-to-write advice goes something along the lines of, "read, write and live an interesting life." So, along with writing poetry, I've also been reading poetry (not much I can do about the interesting life bit...).

To begin with, I pulled out this book:

Tender Hooks by Beth Ann Fennelly.  I bought it at the bookfair at the AWP conference last April after attending a panel at which Fennelly read and talked about poetry.  I really enjoyed her on the panel, but when I got home, the book got added to the boxes of books in my closet, "to be read someday."  So as a bonus, in addition to inspiration, reading this book has helped me declutter.  Yea.

Anyway, back to the book, many of the poems radiate the rapture of a new mother for her infant daughter, but she also explores love, sex, friendship and her own past in rhythmic, radiant language.  I have savored every poem in this book. (Yes, I did just use radiate and radiant in the same sentence.  And I meant it).

I've also been reading Sage Cohen's Writing the Life Poetic, which I've also owned and ignored for about a year.  

I took Sage's great Poetry for the People class a couple of years ago, but after I got this book, it just kinda sat on a shelf.  I don't usually get very far with technique books, because there's always an exercise at the end of the first chapter (and every chapter thereafter), and if I don't have time to do the exercise, the book languishes.  I usually don't have time to do the exercises.

I'm letting go of some of this rigidity, in part because many of the exercises in the book mirror exercises we did in the class.  Despite not following it lock-step, I am still getting a lot out of it.  For instance, I read a chapter on writing a poem about something made up (to make the point that poetry is not all autobiographical, and even when it is, it takes on a life of its own, outside of the teller and her story) one night before bed, and the next morning I woke up and wrote a made-up poem.  Another night, I read a chapter about point-of-view and immediately was able to attack a subject I couldn't approach in the first-person.

I want to give away a copy of Writing the Life Poetic to one reader of this blog.  Here's how it will work: Each comment on any post this month with "Month of Poetry" in the title will be one entry (including this one).  At the end of the month, I'll have a wrap-up post in which I ask you to choose your favorite (or maybe top three or five) poems.  Comments on that post will count double.  I'll put all entries into a hat and draw out the winner.  The more posts you comment on this month, the more chances you have to win.  Sound good?

Month of Poetry, Day 13

No Time for Poetry

Green lentils rain
into a one-cup measure
Onions hiss in the pan
An Uno game is in the offing
My hand already dealt

By the time hot soup steams
in rainbow bowls
The timpani of green pulses
and the slap of Wild Draw Four
Have turned into vapor

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 12


You have to
become a

To protect
your soft

From sharp blows
that leave you

You must
grow a

Hard, bony
Plates or

There are
many designs to
Choose from

I chose a

Like a smooth
stone in the

Pull inside
everything that will

And when

Stretch out your

Hiss and snap
your powerful

Monday, April 11, 2011

Month of Poetry, Refuge

Last week was hard.  Very hard.  Not in any way related to the content of this blog--family, home, health, finances, marriage all fine--but that other half of my double life was rocked to the core.  And I did not handle it very well.  I spent a lot of time angry at the wrong person.  I cried.  And cried and cried and cried.  I was beastly to my children.  I spoke to someone in authority in a way that was not very, er, respectful.  I knocked some stuff off some shelves.  Broke a picture frame.  (Turns out I can rage a little bit after all).

I tried to exercise my coping skills--I went to the pool every morning, tried to keep my mind focused on the water, my stroke.  I ate lots of chocolate.  Drank wine and margaritas and spent time with friends (what?  emotional eating and drinking don't count as coping skills??).  Finally Friday I remembered my walk and spent a few minutes nature journaling.

But my true lifeline through it all was poetry.

I keep this notebook in my bag,

and I found myself pulling it out in the parking lot of the Y, at red lights, after meetings, in the middle of the night.  I poured my broken heart onto the page, just like I did when I was 12 and the world was coming to the end because the only cute boy in the room did not return my adoration.  A lot of crap came out of my pen.  Some of it made it onto this blog, but the worst of it will stay in my notebook.  And a few words, lines here and there, maybe even a whole poem or two have resonated with me.

I don't have a really good, objective way of telling if a poem is good or not.  I read a poem and it may baffle me, do nothing at all, or ignite me.  With my own poetry, I feel there might be something there if I run the lines over and over in my mind long after putting them down on paper.  Does this mean it will light another reader on fire?  Or at least not make them groan?  I have no idea.

In Sage Cohen's book, Writing the Life Poetic (I'll talk more about it later this week), she speaks of Receptivity...being open to receiving poetic cues from the world around you.  I think because I started this poetry project, and was already opening up in such a way, that poetry became the natural vessel into which I poured my suffering.  Normally, I write one poem every three or four months--last week I was writing three or four a day.  If I weren't in this poetry-writing mode, I might have written long, rambling journal entries, or just stuck with the wine and crying.

Poetry is also a good medium for tackling topics that you are not willing or able to write about head-on, because in poetry you can approach your subject tangentially, using metaphor and symbolism, and take your own personal little crisis and blossom it out into a universal that may touch someone else.

I have been amazed, this past week, to discover how intensely I care about what I do (or at lest what I did before the New Sheriff waddled into town), about how intensely personal the political is (I dropped my child at a birthday party at the home of a person whose bumper sticker, proclaiming their allegiance to a particular politician, sent me home trembling with anger, as if that person had personally snatched my future out from under me--I went home and, guess what, wrote a poem).  And I have been amazed at how, even if it can't fix anything, poetry has been my refuge and my solace through it all.

Month of Poetry, Day 11


With a
I trace
the white
the knuckles
of my
left thumb,

A one-inch
that once
I shaved
away a
sliver of
with a
shard of

said I was

The pencil
digs in,
a smoky

was always
the easiest
way to
other people.

Sunday, April 10, 2011


Friends, it is here.  It is really here.

On Friday, I heard a spring peeper and saw a mourning cloak butterfly.

Saturday, these flowers bloomed before my very eyes.

Sunday, I set aside my down coat and wore a spring jacket.

There's still a lot of snow everywhere (not pictured), and it chilled off in the afternoon so that I was sure it would snow again, but once you have flowers and frogs and hope, there's no turning back, is there?

Month of Poetry, Day 10

Once, I was handed a
poem, whole

Like an apple picked
from the tree

I needed only to lift
my shirttail, and

Polish a word here
and there.

But today I work
the ground

Under the

Turning over shovelfuls
of applesauce,

In search of fruit that
is not rotten.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 9

How to Keep Your Children Safe in the Absence of Comprehensive Chemical Regulation at the Federal Level 
(Or, Why We Need the "Nanny State" to Do its Job)

Get a PhD
in Organic Chemistry
or Toxicology.

Preferably both.

Review all of the records
of the US Patent Office, the
US FDA's Food Contact Material
approval database, and the
US EPA's Inventory Update
Rule Nonconfidential Database.

From this information,
Attempt to Infer the
Chemical Constituents
of your house paint,
your baby's teething ring and
your daughter's pajamas.

When this proves impossible,
Contract the services of a
Hacker to break into the
Confidential portion of
the IUR database,

And the computers of
Every manufacturer
of every Product
in your home
To determine who
their chemical suppliers are.

So that the hackers
Can then break into
those computers to
Ascertain the chemical formula of
Veterinarian Barbie and
Hotwheels Speed Trap and
those pants you wear every day
that you never need to iron.

Learn to say words like
Hexabromocyclododecane and
Perfluoroctane sulfonate and
Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate and
Tris(chloropropyl) phosphate.

Read and evaluate all of the
Toxicological literature on
every chemical in every product
in your home.

Be sure to
Maintain your relationship
with your alma mater
so that you can access their
online subscriptions to
Scientific Journals.

(Each article
costs more than
Thirty Dollars).

Spend a few weeks
Naked, in your
Bathtub, curled in a
Fetal Position of

Throw away
all of your
Possessions and
move to a mud
hut in the

Subsist on
Parsley and
Spring Water.

Never let your
near a birthday
party, a sleep-
over or a School

Friday, April 8, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 8


Some people,
when they get mad,
rant and rave.

Others, in a
fit of pique,
stamp their feet,
smash crockery.

Still others,
in anger
throw punches,
or bombs.

So why,
when I want to rage,
can I only weep?


Thursday, April 7, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 7

Long before I ever thought of having children, I dreamed one night
of walking down a suburban street--like the one where I grew up.
A little curly, blond-headed boy ran ahead of me and I called and
called for him to stop, wait for me at the corner.  When I finally
caught up with him, an old acquaintance crossed our path.  "This
is my son," I said.  "We call him 'No-Ear' because he won't listen."

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Instant Collection

I mentioned last week that part of my suite of coping mechanisms for dealing with March in Maine involved rash purchasing on Etsy.

It all began with my search for a spring tablecloth.  While scrolling through pages of vintage tablecloths, I ran across several with  Mexican and/or Southwestern designs.

I've always wanted one of these (outdoors, I may be in New England, but inside I'm in the Four Corners), so I did a few searches and came up with several lovelies in a reasonable price range (though I'm sorry to admit that I tend to be willing to pay a little more online than I am in real life...don't know why that is).

At fist, I ordered three, but then, somehow, two more added themselves to my collection (there are still three or four more in my Favorites, that may work their way into my collection after all.

This is a prime example of an impractical collection, since not one of them is big enough to cover my table (two might, just barely, if I took the leaf out).

I wondered, too (belatedly), if the ones that portray people perpetuate cultural stereotypes?  I like to think they celebrate the culture, but that's just me justifying my purchase.

I do think they're lovely, though, don't you?

I briefly considered opening a Mexican restaurant, with rough pine tables custom-built to fit the table-clothes, and covered in thick glass to protect them.  Then I thought, maybe I'll just have a Cinco de Mayo party, instead (for which I'll need these, and some of these).

What have you been collecting lately?

Month of Poetry, Day 6

Work-Life Balance

I come home
Watery-eyed and

At first, I speak softly,
Drop to my knees
Build Lincoln Logs

But later,
After leftover pizza,
Plates aligned
In the dishwasher,

When the pebble
Between my eyes
Grows into a boulder,
And I crave only silence,

I chase you, jumping,
Shouting, laughing,
Up the stairs,

Before I count to three,
Or else

This is what
They don't tell you
They mean by
"Work-Life Balance,"

That when they hand you
Two overfull vessels
And tell you to run,
You can't keep one
From splashing into
The other

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Month of Poetry, Day 5

F*cking winter, how sick I am of you.

I'm sick to death of your filthy roadside snowbanks,
encrusted with sand and salt and exhaust particles
and, probably, dead cats.

Sick, also am I of the morning rush, in search
of dry snow boots, snowpants, coats, matching mittens or gloves
and for warm winter hats.

I am tired, tired, tired of cabbage and
beets, yams, and potatoes grown flaccid in the cellar
growing out reaching arms.

Except on nights when C throws another log in
the stove, and I wake, kicking off blankets, I fear I'll
never again be warm.

As much as I am fed up with your snow and ice,
Spinning my wheels in deep snow in the unplowed driveway
Where I'm once again stuck,

My patience begins to grow even more thin with
the harbinger of your waning days (we can but hope)--
muddy, slippery muck.

It is now time to go, you have stayed your piece,
outworn your welcome, let me get your hat, help you pack,
go on now, shoo, shoo, shoo,

F*cking winter, time to go; we are all sick and tired of you.

Monday, April 4, 2011

A Hat for Z

After I made E's hat, I felt I should make one for Z, too (they are twins, after all).

He usually wears this adult-sized acrylic reversible hat that's camouflage on one side and hunter orange on the other.  But he also has strong memories of the hat he wore when he was three, which someone must have picked up at a church sale and given to him--it was 3/4 turquoise acrylic ribbing and 1/4 tan cashmere.

I thought I might repeat the design--lots of ribbing, with a stockinette top in another color, using the leftover dark and light blues from E's hat, but Z didn't like that idea.

He really wanted tan.  After searching in vain through my stash (tan?  why on earth would I own anything tan?), I finished it off with some tan-ish cotton borrowed from my friend on at knitting night.

The ribbing didn't turn out as long as I thought it would--I was hoping it would be long enough to turn up once.  And I'm not super thrilled with the tan cotton (I should have sprung for a skein of tan wool).  Z was not thrilled that it wasn't exactly like the old hat, with "light blue" on the bottom, and soft tan on  the top (I would not have sprung for cashmere).  

But, he actually wears, it, even to school (which is the big test--M has never worn any hat other than the 99 cent hunter orange acrylic hats from Reny's outside of the house).

This is my third knitting project in as many months (I actually finished it March 31).  I'm tentatively toying with the idea of finishing one knitting project for each month this year.  That would be really something, considering just a couple of years ago I realized I'd been knitting for 12 years and had only produced 12 knitted objects.  Wish me luck!

Month of Poetry, Day 4

Wasn't it You?

Wasn't it  you,
who, at bedtime
used to kiss me long and hard on the mouth,
your pudgy arms barely reaching around my neck?

And didn't you
always leap from chairs,
low walls, the fourth stair up,
confident that I would catch you in my arms?

I feel sure you
always shrieked
when I went out of sight,
around the corner into the kitchen.

Though your brothers did that, too.

I know for a fact
that, one day, I planted you
in the chair in the farthest corner of preschool,
so you couldn't catch up with me when I ran out of the room.

Now, today, you
breeze past me and
march onto the Kindergarten bus,
without a backward glance.  And later, when I pick you up
at daycare, you'll duck under my outstretched arms.

And at night,
when I put you to bed,
you pull the covers over your head and shriek,
"No kisses!"

But I pull up
your shirt and plant one
between your shoulder blades,
where you can't reach to wipe it off.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

April Yellow

April puts me in mind of daffodils and lemon desserts, even though the view from the kitchen window on the first day of April was about the same as it has been for the last four months:

The boys and I had a snow day April 1, which we all relished, once we'd gotten all the mileage we could out of, "It's only a two hour delay, get ready for school...April fools!"

We decorated for spring in the morning.

E and Z spent most of the day playing Easter bunny, taking turns wearing and old rabbit costume and hiding plastic eggs around the house.
They took a short break from Easter Bunny duties when we all went out into the snow.  E and I got busy building a snow bunny (not the first around here),

And Z promptly demolished it.

Once they had exhausted themselves with snowball fights (I have never seen the appeal of getting hit in the face with clumps of frozen water, have you?), they set to work trying to pull all the snow from the roof down on top of themselves while I attempted to go for a walk in the woods.  The snow, still up above my knees in some places, was not especially fun to walk in (I didn't think to wear my snowshoes).

I asked C to bring home some daffodils from the florist's, and he brought three big bunches.  I will get flowers at the farmer's market in the summer, but otherwise I don't buy cut flowers very often--it seems so wasteful, and I worry about the chemicals used to grow them, but it was nice to have some springtime inside (even if not outside).

We hadn't had a spring feast on the equinox, so I decided to make one for April 1--trying to coax springy flavors from winter foods:  sweet potato souffle (using this recipe here, subbing steamed sweet potatoes for the carrot. PS, if you make it with carrots, I recommend cooking them first too, rather than grating, otherwise it comes out all fibrous and paper-pulp-like in texture; otherwise, it is delicious), lemon-blueberry muffins, cabbage salad with grapefruit and a sprinkling of fresh cilantro from out sunroom garden.

The tablecloth I found on Etsy--I really wanted a spring-like vintage tablecloth.  I had in mind bright yellow with tulips, but it is pretty hard to find a vintage tablecloth big enough for our table (this one, a Vera, is, but just barely), which I don't get, because didn't everyone have big families in vintage times?  It started me on a bit of an Etsy shopping spree that I'll tell you more about later this week!

By the end of April, surely, we'll have our own daffodils, or at least crocus (I planted tons of bulbs last fall).  I'll make lemon bars for Easter.  The sun, our yellow friend, will spend longer days with us, steeping us and the ground in warmth and hope.
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