Category Archives: Writing


When I was in love,
when I was madly in love
I knew it wouldn’t last—
that there would be
an explosion,
an after—
I knew what I felt
was temporary
but it felt like something
and significant
even if it only meant
that I was human—
that I could feel everything
I was supposed to feel
even at this age
even in the middle of my life
even halfway to death
or maybe only a day
away from it—
when I was in love
there was no limit
to what I’d do to please
to satisfy, to elevate, indulge—
there was no fear that I could
give it all away—
but love began to
take take take
as I gave gave gave
and what love left
is a permanent pattern of holes
that collect and store
the constellations of joy
that now
feel light years away.







Tell me
tell me how
you can love me
without knowing
where I am
right now
tell me how
you spend the days
I love you
you love me
tell me
you robbed me
of yourself
tell me how
tell me when
tell me why
your love
allows this distance
this absence
tell me how
to be patient
tell me
how to stand
how to lay down
without you.


You watch him
walk into the kitchen
for a drink of water
watch him turn
to open the cabinet
for a glass,
his profile sharp
against the soft pine,
and by now you know
he isn’t going
to offer to bring you
while he’s up,
and he helps himself
to a bowl of berries
before returning
to your side,
and you will say
something about the
beauty that still exists
in the world
because you are trying
to stay positive
in spite of being
but he won’t respond
he didn’t hear you
or he wasn’t listening…
either way
you are unheard again
as he focuses
his attention on the TV
which is advertising
male enhancement
between news stories
and you wish
there was some magic
potion to enlarge
his heart
which you are
beginning to realize
has always been
a few sizes too small.


It’s my twelve o’clock lunch break
in Brown County State Park
with orange October
glowing all around me,
and this picnic table offers me a view
of a childhood memory:
my brother’s tenth birthday party
was right here in this spot
when I was seven years old,
and Ziggy was on all the plates and cups—
a lovable, last-in-line character back in 1980
when the young girl who used to be me
never wanted to leave the park—
I wanted to stay in the woods,
or cozy up to the fire inside the lodge,
and I never gave a thought
to how I’d feel about having a job here
almost forty years later
or that such a job would indicate failure
once I was old enough
to have spent two and a half decades
trying to become someone
with talents and skills
worth more than minimum wage.
And finding out before lunch
that the boy
twenty-five years younger than me
was hired on at twenty-five cents more
per hour
causes me to feel one hundred percent
to walk back into that lodge
where all the fire inside me will burn out,







The Right Word

What is the right word
if the right word isn’t fair
when a man prepares to leave his wife
after thirty years together,
believing he has found himself
right at home
in the arms of a younger woman
who is about to leave her older husband
because of the way it feels
when she is standing three feet away
from this new man,
knowing that one day
they will close the distance
until there is nothing between them
but a kind of crime
committed in the name of love—
Somehow, fair
is never the word for what it means
when two people
have found happiness in each other
out of order, in the wrong sequence,
even if they move slowly and cautiously
toward the future they’d like to share.
And even if the children are old enough
to survive such an earthquake,
it still isn’t fair
that these two leavers should have
a second life to look forward to
when the ones they leave
will be left baffled and alone.
And who could blame the abandoned
for feeling bitter
as they witness someone else
revive in their loved one an exuberance
that’d been replaced long ago
with boredom?
Only a monster—
or someone who has experienced
the thrilling unexpected shift of love
from one body to another
would dare to call it right.





“An Out-of-Doors Study” by John Singer Sargent, 1856

Street Corner

It’s 10:50 a.m.
and no calls are coming in
from employers
needing my un-degreed skills
to wash dishes or make beds
or sell shoes
or dispatch emergency vehicles
or cash paychecks—
and I haven’t had a payday in a while
but there’s still food
in the fridge and in the pantry
and the electricity hasn’t
been disconnected
and even though
I was only half-joking
with my ten-year-old when I said
I hope I can pay the bills this month
his decade on this planet
has been sufficient
for him to understand poverty
and to cause in him enough anxiety
to suggest we find some cardboard
and make a sign for me to hold
on the street corner
and he didn’t understand
why I said I would never do that
and I told him about pride
and he told me he’d rather me lose it
than the house we just moved into
and I told him that would be a last resort
and now it’s 11:00 a.m.
and I’m thinking about
that cardboard box in my closet
full of my childhood dreams
that could be emptied out
and repurposed with the irony
of a black permanent marker.





“Migrant Mother” by Dorthea Lange, 1936

Perfect Love

My granddaughter
puts on her father’s t-shirt
before bed
on this night the whole family
has gathered
in a hotel for the weekend
and when I see her dance
and twirl and laugh
when she sees that the hem
nearly touches the floor
I am 3 again
and for the first time
in over 40 years
I remember what it felt like
to wear that kind of love
like a gown.






“First Steps (After Millet)” by Vincent Van Gogh, 1890