Road Trip

When I was a kid, I loved old movies. Abbott and Costello. Martin and Lewis. Hope and Crosby. Mishaps and wrong turns. Laughter and travel. Or maybe it was the whole buddy thing. Bonding over a shared experience. Whatever it was, I always felt like I had escaped something from own life and had a glimpse of something to which I wanted to return.


Road Trip


It wasn’t exactly Martin and Lewis but it felt close.
First leg of our cross country jaunt and almost over.
He secured the final hitch, warning over his shoulder
Remember, you can’t back this baby up. Always
pull through. He patted the Uhaul’s side, handed
the keys to you. We huddled over the map, paper
those days and turn-by-turn, and plotted our start.
Tired from steering the freighter-weight truck, you
aimed for the closet space, forgetting the car
hitched behind until almost too late.

That night we both shivered at the near miss.
I became captain of our ship because my yelp
Don’t! made the near miss a reality. From there
we drove almost without mishap, telling each other
stories of other almost-was and never-had beens,
thank God. We saw this country from marsh to flat,
open lands to crops to open again. At times only we
held the road, sign after sign touting giant rodents
and other unnatural wonders. I hadn’t signed on
for such things but was glad I’d shared them with you.




They are outside a train station, beige with dark green gingerbread trim.
Maybe they are in another country. In Europe. The where is not important.
The tickets matter here. Timetables, tickets and their cost. Yes, that is it.

The station booth sits there under roof, embraced by the train tracks. Open
to the air and all looking to shift body from home to somewhere not here.
They fret, tongues thick in their mouths. Minds lively with fear and random words.

The woman inside cannot decipher their jumbled asking of how much. She only
shakes her head in confusion at each word left in the air in offering. English first,
other tongues — Spanish, German, Italian — linger cryptic in an uncloud.

This is a necessity. This train, black ribbon against such verdant hills, coming
shortly.  Heads together — this man, this woman  — move a few steps away,
shoulders a droop inside their clothing. Another try in other tongues; failure.

His hands know the way. They swoop and rise, dart with fingers fluid and sure.
The attendant smiles and she answers, her own arms, hands, fingers bright
in response. A veil of unknowing flutters groundward at this epiphany.

Mesmerized, the woman watches. She stands beside him, this new knowing
blooming fierce in her. He has an answer but she can only stare. Now,
there is another necessity.  He is hers now — this dark horse of a man —
and the father of all she will bear. One last thing to ask and he does with her

standing  close behind, smiling. Again he speaks, hands like birds,
airy and supple, talking to the woman in the booth.

Tower of Babel

According to an article by Heather Altfeld, “[I]t will take between ten and fourteen days from now for another of the world’s 6,900 languages to die out. So let’s say that today the last speaker of something somewhere is dying.”  

As a child, I felt torn when I heard the Bible story about the Tower of Babel. I was devastated that people wouldn’t be able to communicate with each other but I was filled with quiet glee over the beauty I heard in languages other than my own.

Mother Tongues

When she thinks of language, dreams stand shoulder-close
like clothes laid across her back to judge the fit.

Alone she speaks words collected from other tongues,
last speaker of an ancient language greeting Charon.

Tonation, she believes, is key to the first voicing
ere wo/man forgot to listen to self-blood in another.

She, paragon of close study, casts herself conduit
ferrets out the filament of all communings.
Our fate, she knows, depends on her.


I spent the morning walking through a local park. As I walked along the lakeshore near the end of my walk, one of the wading birds, a black gallinule, broke into a run, aimed right at me. It stopped just short of where I stood and gazed at me expectantly. It was hoping for food, I know, and I was just an avenue to get it but the excitement in its response was surprising. And a bit gratifying, I have to admit. Years ago, I had a somewhat similar greeting with happy shouting, no less. That time I was the focus.



there on the street
the green damp of rainforest
perfumed around all
flowing past that place

you two
shiver first in recognition
later in memory     distance
crossing time        glances
locked one to the other


I write a column, Writing Small, for the writing website DIY MFA. It’s all about short form writing — short stories, poetry, essays — and how to improve your writing overall. I’ve just finished a Writing Small article about what we writers owe their readers.


Ideal Reader

I write to you
about fears, triumphs
my daily fumbles
to use as examples
of what not to do or say
or what can be shared


I write to you
who may be tall or brown
rich or bespectacled
gardener or astronomist
allergic or depressive
who looks like me or not


I used the April 2018 PAD Challenge prompt yesterday. It worked so well I’m going to go with it again today. (Only 11 more days in this month and I’ve written every single day.)

Here it is:
Take a line from an earlier poem (preferably from this month) to begin your poem for today.


Will I go to hell if I say this?

That I spend days unraveling God,
searching for the first mention,
the ideated answer for why.

I have walked the other side,
antonym for this present
seen that which is not here.

Is it that I convinced myself
passed a self-made counterfeit
for what neverwas and willneverbe?


According to Junot Diaz (and ok, a lot of other writers), world-building is important in all fiction writing. Actually, I’d expand that thought to all writing–and life.

Writers or not, we all are world builders. We choose between the couscous or the rice pilaf. We choose friends and lifemates. With every decision, we make our world.

Juan Felipe Herrera unveiled his project, la familia (the family), for his stint as our new U.S. Poet Laureate. La familia (the family) is a collaborative project open to all Americans to help in telling America’s (our) story.

World-building, if you will, and giving us all a part in it.

I’m excited about having a chance to be part of such a big thing. I want to dive in and add my voice to project…BUT I’m also afraid. Afraid my voice is too insignificant, my writing too juvenile. That I’m too…silly, somehow.

So I’ve decided to start on a small scale and locally (or as local as the internet and social media allows) to begin, InCollaboration, my own collaborative poem project with you. I invite you — poet and non-poet — to help me fashion a series of poems.

Together we’ll build a world.


I Often Feel Silly

It grabs on the point of waking
a previous night’s remark
or the moment of my birth.

In the middle of joyful dance
I become ankles, elbows,
geometric angles.

After the echo of our lovemaking,
I cringe. There is no place, no
time, it is not. Even here–

my voice, now,
speaking to you.