Saturday, July 14, 2012


Lots going on lately; sometimes too much for words to contain. But I do have a poem to share. Hope you all are well.


My sons pretend they are
shapeshifters, bodies morphing
for purposes of good or evil.
Boy becomes dragon becomes
bird of prey -- fire-breathing
becomes feathered danger.

And I wonder
what shape I would choose,
how my heart might grow
stronger, my arms to wings.

And I wonder
what shape might move me
closer to being yours.

But make-believe only
makes my featherless arms
more heavy and my heart
weaker by its wanting.

And the fire burns my insides,
because I cannot breathe
a word of this.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Some Poems to Share

So, I fell off the Slice of Life Train, and thought I would get back into gear with National Poetry Month.  Last year, I completed the Slice of Life Challenge in March AND NaPoWriMo in April.  Consistency has not been my strength, in terms of writing, this year.  But sincerity has.  I am worrying less about response and more about speaking my truth.  So, even though I have not written a poem every day this month, I do have a few to share.

It would take a list
to tell you what I love
a list of names
of landmarks
of lost and found
It would take a list
to tell you what i love about
moments that melted time
like when your hand and mine
rested on a common countertop
and we laughed at an inside joke
and just for that half-second I saw
your eyes stop and and soften
and i knew that you
had a list, too.

Sometimes I want to mark you
like a book,
drag my hot pink highlighter
right across your mouth
and in your margins,
scrawl a world like
"remember" or ask
I would underline your eyes,
comment on your fingers
and before I was done,
I would certainly circle
your heart over and over
until my pen wore away
your skin (just a bit)
and the scar might make
you remember me.

My Faults

It's all my fault
The leaves falling fast
The moon's final phase
The way the days

Never seem to last
It's all my fault
Because I believed you
Thought I had to

If you were mine
If you and I
Were tied like twine
Knotted into one mess

That would always hold
But you never were
Mine or even yours
Earthquakes have no warning

Fault lines are pretend
Until they part ways
So I blame myself
Name myself the creator

Of the day’s end
The fall into forever
Crack in the earth
Birth of our demise

Before we were we
I am the red line
Thin on the map
Miles wide across landscape

I swallowed your lies
The fault is mine. 

When I Am Supposed to be Listening to You Speak

I think about your hands,
what they hold :
the remote control,
cold bottle of beer,
the doorknob for a moment too long,
the steering wheel when all you want to do
is drive,
the ballpoint pen when all you want to do
is write. 

I think about your hands,
what they hold:
a family together
you back
up your promises
down a job
everything in your fist
but not too tight
you let it breathe until it lights 
from your palm
free, but without 
the home of you, I think.

About your hands, 
They hold. 

Word Lover

I love the language
like you
the language you lean on
to let me know something I
shouldn't, the language you
let me lick from the space between us
I love the language you leave
inside your mouth
for as long as you can
until it becomes too much
for your tongue
and the only relief is writing it down
whispering it into text, tiny letters
that tell me tell me tell me,
"I love the language. Like you."

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

'Cause I'm Sick SOLSC Day 13

"Can I have some water, Momma?" my five-year-old croaked from his bed.  He had just woken up and I assumed the water request was really just a plea for my attention.  About fifteen minutes later, I heard vomiting in the boys' bathroom.  When I hurried in there, the little guy said, "Told you my belly hurt, Momma." 

"No, sweetie, you asked for water."
"Oh yeah, I forgot to say I wanted water 'cause my belly hurt and I was sick."

And so began the day.  I have to give it to Lucas, though.  He isn't a whiner.  He simply tries to make sense of it all.

Can I have cereal, Momma?
No, no milk when you are sick.
Oh, when I am sick, I can't have drinks?
You can drink, but let's stick to water.
Oh, can I have dry cereal then?

Five minutes later:

Can I have cereal, Momma?
More cereal?  Maybe you should wait.
Oh, I have to only eat one time when I am sick.
No, but let's give that time to settle.

Thirty minutes later:

Can I have a popsicle, Momma? And cereal?
Just the popsicle, dear.
Oh when I am sick I can only eat one food at a time?

Followed by more questions all day long:

When I am sick, I have to eat slow, Momma?
When I am sick, I can't have jelly, Momma?
When I am sick, I have to only hug, but not kiss, Momma?
Can I dance when I am sick, Momma?
When I am sick, I can't eat all of the popsicles, Momma?
Can I have some more cereal, then, Momma, 'cause I'm sick?

Maybe by the time he is better, he will have this sick thing all figured out. I'm pretty sure that I won't, though.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Cupcakes and the Courthouse (SOLSC Day 9)

We teased Michael today.  We were in the car, discussing the Elliott curse -- surely bestowed upon my husband's Irish ancestors by a peeved leprechaun -- and lamenting light-heartedly about the bad luck we often seem to have.  Michael agreed with our curse conspiracy theory and added that he too had felt the harsh blow of the Elliott bad luck.  Just the other day, he had dropped his cupcake at school and then proceeded to smash it accidentally with the leg of his chair.  We teased him and said that it wasn't bad luck, it was God's way of telling him he didn't need the cupcake.  The five of us laughed and ribbed each other a bit more, making the most of our unplanned drive.

And tonight I realized that my husband and I had made the same mistake as our son.  You see, the drive today was necessitated by a traffic citation that had been oddly processed by a courthouse 90 minutes from us.  The courthouse only gives information through pre-recorded message, so the only way to resolve the traffic citation's mix up was to appear in person. The line at the courthouse ribboned out of the office doors; my husband waited in the line, 25 people ahead of him.  And after the hour long wait, we were back in the car and on our way back home, but with the LA traffic, the return trip took twice as long. 

Hence, our discussion of the Elliott curse.

But we had it all wrong.  This inconvenient, somewhat frustrating, definitely stressful citation situation was not a punishment, but a blessing.  An entire afternoon with all of us together -- the boys brought books to read and for the most part, bickering was absent.  Sunshine spilled over the Spring-worthy blue skies and the
warmth of the afternoon lulled us into a sleepy state.  We teased, but we also laughed and listened and learned.  It was exactly what we needed -- an afternoon of togetherness and a bit of peace.  Today was our smashed cupcake and I thought it was wonderful.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sometimes We Have to Stretch (SOLSC Day 7)

There are nights when I wish my arms could hold all my boys at the same time. Instead, I end up feeling too small to be a momma. I can't protect my guys from all bad things, I know that. But tonight I needed to protect them from a good thing. Two of the boys and my husband are involved with Kung Fu and tonight, the younger if the two sons earned a sash higher than his older brother. I know I am not the only parent who has faced this, but until now, the family hierarchy had never been upset and although eventually all was fine, it was a challenge to balance enjoying one son's elation while mending the other son's wounded pride. Since my arms aren't long enough to hold them all together and love them so hard that they have to let go of any negative feelings, instead I had to hold them each on their own and whisper whatever they needed to hear: "Work hard and you will reach your goals," "I am so proud of you!" "I love you no matter what," "You are lucky to have your brother," "Thank you for being kind," and "I am always here for you." Until my arms grow, my words will have to do.

Fries With That (SOLSC -- Day 6)

Tonight I took my sons out to eat after my middle son, Nicholas, completed his Kung Fu testing with a terrific performance. We just went to a fast food place and we had items on the value menu, so it was not a lavish excursion. But they loved it, especially the cookies (which at this particular restaurant are amazing)!And even more than the pseudo-50s decor, or the cheap, delicious burgers, the boys loved the comment cards left at each table. They read each question aloud and conferred about the right answer. They even wrote in their own comments about the deliciousness of those fabulous cookies.

Looking at their three blonde heads hovering over the card, I was reminded that we all want to have a voice -- even if it's just about fast food-- and I am glad the boys used theirs.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Zombie Lessons in Parenting (SOLSC--Day 4)

I was watching the most recent episode of "The Walking Dead" -- a show in some ways completely out of my usual viewing pleasure, but in others exactly what I crave. I could do without the blood, entrails, guns, profanity and zombie-moaning, but the questions the show raises are provocative, important and powerful.  Tonight the show has got me thinking about this: do we raise our children for the world we want to live in or the world we actually live in? And what if the two never meet up -- have we done them a disservice either way? And finally, as flawed, mere mortals ourselves, is it possible to raise our kids "right" or are we all destined to damage our children in some way even while trying to be good parents? Regardless all of the zombie- munching craziness, I have to admit I am hooked.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

S'more, Please! (SOLSC--Day 3)

Sometimes we set out to make traditions, but what I love is when they just take form all on their own. A couple of months ago, I tried to make s'mores sans campfire for my son's Campout themed birthday. They became a hot mess. Literally, a hot gooey mess. (The s'mores, not the kids.) Seeing I was flustered and trying to manage a small apartment full of boys, my husband stepped in and offered to redo the s'mores for me and I gladly accepted. They turned out perfectly.  Now, the boys see Daddy as the s'more king and tonight when he offered to make those wonderful s'mores, we couldn't say no. S'mores are almost a bit too sweet and this slice is probably cavity-inducing, too. But, sometimes at the end of a long, busy week, that's just the kind of treat I need to have.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Definitions (SOLSC--Day 2)

A student asked me today how we know when we love someone.  Her question was not in connection with a romantic relationship she was trying to navigate, but instead stemmed from her feelings for her parents.  "I care about them," she said, "And I would never wish anything bad to happen to them, but I am just not sure that's what love is."

And in that moment, I am reminded again about why I am a teacher.  It isn't really to teach English or to share a love of books or even to inspire excellent writing.  She wanted to ask questions and have it be okay that the answers weren't complete because we are always moving closer to the truth but never quite reaching it.  I am a teacher because that young lady needed a space to speak those words and she needed me to care about them and really consider my response.  She wanted to open her heart a bit wider than she usually does and know I could be trusted with what was inside.

And that's what I told her I think love is.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Listening to My Talker (SOLSC--Day1)

My five year old is a talker.  I mean, he talks from the moment he lifts his little head from his Stitch PillowPet in the morning until the last moments of our evening when his eyes are closing and I have tucked him back into bed. He talks stories and questions and what ifs and do you remember whens. Sometimes he talks in pretend languages and sometimes he repeats conversations he has already had. He talks to strangers in grocery stores and characters in cartoons.  He talks when no one is listening, he talks while he bathes, he talks through any song or television show or movie someone else wants to hear.  Lucas is a talker.

So, when I took him to school with me today, I thought chatting with all of the students would be heaven for him.  A five year old on a high school campus garners attention and I thought he would soak it up.

Instead, every time someone said hi to him , he would look at the ground or hide behind my leg.  I kept telling him not to be shy and to be friendly, but he still refused.  He has a stubborn streak, so I thought it might be his way of trying to get his own way.  Finally, as we left campus, I asked him again, "Why are you pretending to be so shy?"

"Mom, I'm not pretending to be shy. I've just had enough of all the 'Hi, hi, hi.' It makes me tired."

I guess just because a little guy has a lot to say, doesn't mean he is an extrovert.  Lucas isn't shy, but he sure does know how he feels.  And he isn't afraid to share it.  And sometimes that makes me fear the years ahead, but today, it just made me smile.