Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Final Quarter

 Final Quarter

I have work to do.
English term papers
fan across the table
and wait for me to
question them in
unreadable green
cursive (never red).
I stall with little
chores here and there,
swapping crisp
dishtowels for
damp ones, and
throwing a tennis
ball to the dog  
across patchy grass.

I have work to do.
But first, I’ll toss in
a load of laundry
and hang up a few
shirts. I remember
when they were new,
before their cute
cuts and slinky
softness became
worn like the rest.

I have work to do.
I’ll get to it, as soon
as I figure out what
to do with that stack
of photos, blurry
snapshots of lake
parties, favorite pets,
and nameless faces
drinking and playing
cards. I pause at a
glossy 4” x 6” of
some unfamiliar
blonde smiling
at the person
behind the lens.
She was adored
in that moment,
captured forever.

I shove the photos
back into their corner
and straighten my back.

It’s time.
There is work to do.

Friday, March 31, 2017

I Could Have

I Could Have

I was going to write a
poem tonight about what
love could be and what it
cannot, about promises
and apologies that hang
in fog between hills and
roll across harbors, heavy
air that muffles all sound
but that of my own voice.
I had hoped to weave some
witty metaphors about love
without need, and need
without love, like anchors
without ships, and ships ...

well, you get the idea.

But it’s Friday. So rather 
than ponder this trite and 
well-worn path about the 
human condition, I took a 
hot shower and will paint 
my nails Sugar Fairy Grey, 
just like I did on Fridays in 
high school when I realized 
I enjoyed my own company.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

These Days

Late winter can’t be
trusted. Warm and
sunny February days
beckon bits of green
to pop and push
through hard ground.
Riots of purple crocuses
join the party. They
should know better.
How easily we forget
the truth about these
days. How quickly we
deceive ourselves with
fantasies of summer’s
long shadows. It’s a
fool’s dream, as the
thermometer again falls
and the bells of our
copper rain chain –
last year’s anniversary
gift – are clogged with
ice. So I retreat again to
the view of our snowy
yard. The crocuses,
buried for now, will
emerge unscathed as
they do each year. I rely
on that as I long for days
of brighter light and
warmer air between us.

Friday, February 3, 2017

I'll Rant As Well As Thou

There is a moment in
Branagh’s Hamlet—a
raw, fleeting moment,
the kind that lifts the
heads of high school
students from desks
and begs tissues from
varsity football players. 
A moment shared by 
teenagers in dim 
classrooms. A bonding 
moment for seniors, 
though little and maybe 
too late for some. Still, 
finally, and without fear, 
Hamlet surrenders to his
truth, “I loved Ophelia!” 
And we are all Hamlet. 
And we are all Ophelia. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017



Let your heart be
cradled by someone
worthy of your
but who won't
limit you to them.
Let your soul be
fed by someone
who won't dismiss
your greatness with
a heavy shrug of

this is who we are,

but who grabs your
hand to leap into 
deep oceans of

look at all we can be.

Monday, January 16, 2017


Tonight at dinner, my youngest son (age 12) asked, “Why do so many little girls want to be princesses?” I opened my mouth to answer, but my husband beat me to it. “Because Disney told them to,” he said.

He’s not wrong.

I can honestly and truly say I never dreamed of being a princess—with the notable exception being Princess Leia. I wasn’t even allowed to have a Barbie doll as a kid, because my mother thought it would send me the wrong message about women’s beauty standards. This was in the late 70s and early 80s, and she was in the minority when it came to this line of thinking.

She wasn’t wrong.

As a child, the types of women I looked up to in pop culture—Leia, Wonder Woman, Jo from the Facts of Life, Mary Tyler Moore—were not Hollywood’s typical distressed female characters in need of saving. I admired their sass and cleverness. I was in awe of their independence and self-confidence. I wanted to be half as cool as any one of them when I grew up.

Then I turned 12, and I no longer saw myself as equal to boys. Instead, I let their opinions about me define me. I became precoccupied with how to be the most unique conformist among my peers. I wanted to be my own person, but I had no idea how to do that and still be accepted--especially by boys. So, I assimilated. And for several years, I pushed aside that plucky little kid who wanted to change the world and instead looked toward a list of vapid Molly Ringwald characters for inspiration. I ditched individuality for a decidedly John Hughes-ish definition of success: be different but not too different, be strong but not too strong, win the cool boyfriend, and live happily ever after. 

It took a long time to unlearn that.

In the meantime, I invested an embarrassing amount of time and energy to dating—and even, at one point, marrying—self-proclaimed punk rock stars. I logged thousands of hours over many years sitting in on practices, listening to demos, and going to shows in crappy bars six hours away in blinding snowstorms. I spent many nights helping load equipment into bars on the lower east side, and I spent equally as many early mornings driving back to New Haven from those shows. I racked up a lot of great memories and even some good friendships from those years, but most of that was centered around the art that someone else was creating. As bad or as good as it may have been, none of it was actually mine.

And even though I was a stereotypical skater Betty of the music scene, I didn’t even get a song written for me. I mean—come on. In all the years I spent lugging stupid cymbals and amp heads around—from high school through my mid-20s—I didn’t get a single song. I would have even settled for a cover. But no. I guess I didn’t earn it. I did get some legendary mix tapes from some non-musician guys that I dated. They were the guys my mother actually liked, so of course I managed to sabotage those relationships. But the guys playing three-chord punk rock behind the mic? Nothing.

It wasn’t until I went out with a decidedly un-punk rock guy that I was finally serenaded. On a sunny and hot August day, during a lunchtime date in Edgerton Park, he hopped up on a temporary stage used by the Elm City Shakespeare Company during its annual run of summer performances. The park was quiet. There were only a few other people there enjoying the peace of the afternoon, and this guy was about to pierce all of that in a way that only he could.

I held my breath, not knowing what he was about to do. And then he began singing. It took a few lines for me to recognize the tune: Elvis Presley’s “The Wonder of You.” He sang it well, and he sang it straight to me with a huge smile on his face. He captivated the small group in the park and bowed for them at the end of his show. It was romantic and sweet. But at this point in our dating, I also recognized it as part of his well-worn shtick, along with the roses occasionally left on my windshield. His serenade formally inducted me into a large club of women for whom It Would Never Work with this guy. Now, on the rare occasion I hear that song, it makes me think of just one thing: the beginning of the end.

Today, I’m married to a non-musician who falls into the “makes awesome mix tapes” category. For years, he DJ’d local parties, and the boy knows his wax and rock. I don’t get serenaded, and I’m pretty sure at this point that I’ll never have a song written for me. But I’m okay with that; I’ll write a poem for myself and call it a day. 

This Saturday, millions of women will march arm-in-arm making their voices heard for the rights of all. What really thrills me is that so many young girls will bear witness to these events. What a glorious thing—for young girls to see women assert and validate themselves with their own voices. But I won’t be there. While I’d like to go, I’ve made the decision to stay home and see through my commitments as a mother this weekend. I will be providing food for 45 kids at my son’s fencing meet and cheering on the boys and girls who compete equally in their matches there. Then I will hop in the car and drive to my son’s hockey game, where I will support his team of 12 year old boys—and one 12 year old girl who is just as good as any boy on that team, and who is unafraid to show it.

It’s not rebellious. It’s not ground-breaking. It’s not monumental or historic. But it’s important. And me and my hockey mom voice will be there, cheering her on.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Saveur (13/365)

It is a talent to savor
the juice of life as it
pours into our open
hands. We rush
moments without
tasting the warm
candy of lips that
seek ours. We fear
shocks that tingle
spines and set
throats ablaze
when two eyes
hold ours across
a crowded room.
But what’s to fear?
That fire heats this
big world. We must
master it to survive.
So be alive to the
warm hand at the
small of your back.
Trust the fingers
that trace your jaw.
Treasure the promise
of your whispered
name, but don’t cling
to it, baby. Remember
that the story you tell
yourself is the only
thing you can claim.
Rewrite it. Dare to
release your grip on
the hemline of
expectation, and tilt
your face to the
the warm kiss of
today. That is all we
are given, anyway.
It is more than
enough if we let
ourselves enjoy it.

Monday, January 9, 2017


Notice (9/365)

Why do we allow
greeting cards to
tell us which moments
are of value? Sure,
we keep sacred the
gowns of baptism,
graduation, and even
marriage. But these
events are no more
or less holy than sitting
alone by the light of a
Christmas tree late at
night, or stretching
bare legs under favorite
sheets with no hurry to
rise, or the gut-busting
laughter of young brothers
as they talk in their room
after a long day of school,
or a 12 year old skipping
rocks on a snowy beach
beside a lighthouse with his
old, black dog. All these
things and so much more—
like real maple syrup on
Sunday pancakes, or
spitting cherry pits into
June grass, or the crack
of a bat, or the smack of
a hockey stick, or a warm
forehead kiss, or driving
alone and unexpectedly
hearing Bowie’s “Heroes”
on the radio and crying a 
little because, hey, there's
magic in that song—are 
what keep us alive again 
and again. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017




I never really know how it’s going
to turn out from year to year.
Overall, the garden usually yields
something decent, like teepees of
green beans for miles or bushels of
sungold cherry tomatoes that snap
in my mouth, sweet and warm
from the August sun. Lettuce does
better when confined to containers,
and the herbs should always be
potted, lest they overtake the yard.
But forgive me. I don’t really know
what I’m talking about. I’m still a
novice in the garden, with my
unturned compost and thirsty
marigolds. (I hear they keep the
pests away.) I try to learn a thing or
two from the neighborhood nonnie
and poppy who grow enough
zucchini and plum tomatoes for
the Amalfi coast, or at least for our
block. Same difference. There is no
compost in their garden. No mess.
Not a single weed. Plants stand in neat
little rows. Netting covers the fruit.
And a perfect robin’s nest is at
home just above the aluminum lawn
chair where poppy listens to his Italian
soccer broadcasts. It’s hard to imagine
squash withered by vine borers here or
eggplant flowers that fall, fruitless, into
the soil. But nonnie smiles, handing me
a brown bag of plum tomatoes. 
“Sometimes, you know what you get? 
You get nothing,” she says and shrugs, 
palms lifted the sky. “What are you gonna 
do? You just gotta try again. It’s a pain in 
the neck, I tell ya.” She laughs, tilting her 
face to the sun. “Other times we get so 
much, we gotta give it away." She sweeps 
aside this riddle with a small, strong hand. 
“It don’t matter, honey. Either way, it’s 
good to be outside.”  

Sunday, January 1, 2017

1/365, 2017

Happy new year and all that jazz! 

I have no profound words of wisdom to share for 2017. I have no major declarations or predictions. I only know what I’m grateful for: my children, health, faith, work, love, and friendship--the latter of which is measured in quality, not quantity.

I also know what I’ve promised myself, and I’m definitely not sharing all of that here. Nope. That’s just for me. But one of those promises is to write something every single day, and some of that work will make it into this space. I thank you for reading whatever makes the cut, whatever it is that I am brave (or foolish) enough to share. 

2016 is history, kids. We made it.

1/365, 2017

I stop
and look
at the grey fingers of
naked, branches grasping
at January’s blue sky.
I notice
the bittersweet pop of red
and orange polka dots amidst
tangles of brown vines.
I hear the soft honk of
geese as they make their
way from here to there, always
I feel the steady, strong
beat of my own heart, happy
for another run,
another day,
another year,
another chance,
to see, to hear, to feel,
to get something right.