You locked the door,

put your hand over our mouth,

ground against us.


Now we have many doors,

and they are all open.

We have a voice


and we are not ashamed.

You thought to grind us small

but together we are bigger


than you can imagine.

Truth does not need bluster and shout.

It is your turn to be afraid.


Nie mój cyrk, nie moje małpy.

~Polish aphorism

But this is my circus: 

the bareback rider dancing in perfect balance 

between the prancing horses, 

the spangled artists on the flying trapeze. 

The fire-eaters are mine, 

the jugglers,

the troupe riding unicycles across the wire.

The whole sideshow is mine.

These are my elephants, stolen from the forests;

these are my unhappy lions.

The clowns, of course, are mine,

emerging from their tiny car,

swarming around the ring, 

beeping their noses,

stumbling over their feet. But

the monkeys? 


Not the monkeys. 

This lot of monkeys

was never mine.


published on the facebook page “Rattle Poets Respond,” July 24, 2017

Winter Prompt #26: Ripped Paper


In memory of Ursula K. Le Guin

Winter Prompt #26

Tear it all up—

old bills and tax returns, bank

statements, stock certificates,

manuals and guarantees.

            But don’t stop

there. Tear up all the useless

books: archaic sciences, outdated

histories, smug theologies,

the whole thick body

of masculine pronoun,

life as battle,

possession as the highest good.




If someone says

You didn’t see that,

say But I did. 

And I heard it, too.


If someone says

Surely that’s not

what you think, say

That’s what you think.


If they say  

You shouldn’t feel

that way,

say Ha!

should has nothing 

to do with it.


If they say

You shouldn’t say

things like that,

say Just listen.




I went there

when I was lonely or bored.


As if it were a place

like the back porch of my house

where I sit with the dog

or The Bakery where people I know

go to drink their coffee

or the yarn shop full of color and light.


I liked

things there so casually,

not the way I like

a cat on my lap

or a walk in the field with the dog

or sitting beside my husband on the sofa,

each with a book and a mug of tea.


I could share

things there mindlessly,

not the way I share

worries and joys with Meg

when go for our morning walk

or the way I share with my Real Godmother

Eleanor when we email every morning,

or the way I share recipes and rants about the news

with my old friend Kathy

or the way I share time on the phone

with my sister or my son or my grandson

or lunch with Linda or Megaera or Carol

or pie with Jean and Mel

or energy with the Tai Chi class

or books with the Heretics

or life with the Spring St. Poets

or music with Encanto.


They said it was always free

but not as free as making music

or knitting socks or reading Proust

or weeding the garden.

Not free

like the smell of bread or apples,

like sunset across the meadow

and sunrise through the branches of the gingko tree.

April prompt#28: LIMERICK APOLOGY

april 28 prompt

You have been sent to apologize to a foreign power on behalf of our government.

Do it in a limerick.

Ray’s #4

(Except I cheated and wrote it nearly a week ago while walking in the woods and when I drew another one, I put it back because I wanted this one today  since I have to go to an all-day Tai Chi workshop again and call my mother’s old friend in Norway first.)







Here in this country called US

The system is all in a muss.

The rich guys control it,

Politicians extol it,

‘cept Bernie, who’s making a fuss.




Our fabric is woven so tight and fine,

garments stitched up with pride—

gunbelts and helmets and gold—

We have the combinations,

watches, buttons, colored shoes.

This hat will keep you safe.

This cloak will end your pain.

See us in parade, wearing

mirrors of our own devising.


But where is the little child?

Around the next corner

on the street of clowns?

Down by the river

where improbable ducks dive

below the ice to feed?

Beneath your coat,

under your itchy skin?

Somewhere in your throat

they’ve worked so hard to close?

How much it is like death

to hear your fear exposed.



They say it’s like turning a battleship.

They say they’re making progress:

the vast bulk of iron against the swell

that rises and rises and against the wind

that never, ever, for a moment, lets up.

All hands are doing what sailors do–

–turning cranks, watching dials,

running to and fro.  It was more obvious

when the ships were under sail,

when it had to do with lowering and raising,

with ropes and anchors and chains.

Like turning a battleship, they say.

Something that big, pounding along in a fixed direction,

thousands of tons afloat

inflexible, ungraceful, lumbering, loud,

not like, say, whales,

who turn their enormity

graceful and swiftly, who breach and sing and whisper and fly–

and porpoises–

and kayaks, currochs, dugouts,

sailboards and surfboards

skimming and slipping the surface–

and leaves in autumn–

russet from the ash trees, red from the maple,

brown from the oak–

and golden birch leaves–

how they blow light and high, following

every whisp

of wind–

and ravens somersaulting–and hawks–

and little birds

flipping so easy above the corn–

and snowflakes and snowboarders and

children on swings and monkey-bars–

and ballerinas, gymnasts,


parachutists, politicians,   bass guitarists–

and all those World Cup footballers

turning on a dime.

I wrote this in 2006. An experiement, since wordpress doesn’t let me use my own formats. Here’s a screenshot of the poem–the words aren’t too legible, I think, but this shows the shape of it.

Screen Shot 2014-11-29 at 6.38.57 AM


Traditionally, the rich partook of diamonds

in the drawing room just before dinner.

Butlers filled and passed the heirloom lith-bowls

made of ebony or jet, and subtly shaped

to show to advantage the clarity, the fire.

To employ a family crest or other personal symbol

has always been considered execrable taste but

at State and Embassy functions, it has not been uncommon

to see one’s country’s flag displayed in coloured gems

on a small rectangular tray above one’s service plate.

However, since good cheap synthetics are available now,

many discriminating people have turned to laser-shaped obsidians

imported from Armenia or Greece, or hand-knapped flints

from paleolithic sites in Middle Belgium or Southwest France.

A small monogram may be engraved on each.


The newly rich debate the merits of river stones

from the Amazon, the Volga, the Nile.

They choose colors that match their decor,

shapes that complement their latest dinnerware,

textures that enhance the dining experience.

They arrange the stones in individual dishes

garnished with rose petals or eucalyptus leaves,

or on polished boards of exotic woods, or in perfect shells.

They are careful to select compatible wines.


Vegetarians, Progressives, and others of that ilk

use organic pebbles which they gather from pure sources

in local mountains or deserts  and pile in pottery crocks

or scatter in fountains of filtered rainwater.

They select and swallow a few any time of day,

whenever they feel the need.


The poor grab whatever they can get:

broken cement, beach glass,

a handful of winter gravel

left over on the edges of the road.




MP  May 16, 2008


Do something.
They are everywhere.

Louise washing her wrinkled self
at the conference center sink,
naked and unashamed,
singing a hymn;

Elizabeth unafraid
to die in her house alone,
leaving the nasty nursing home
on the arm of her 90-year old attorney;

Hazel, Marion, Jean–
Three Graces, Weird Sisters–
dirty jokes about the curate,
roses from the old gay priest;

Bea by herself at dawn
along the lake,
hunting warblers,
fossils, walking fern;

Susan in her goatskin gloves
plucking nettles,
killing chickens
in their sleep.

Ann sharing her cane-stool
with the young ones
in Washington
just before the war.