I’m reduced to looking up old prompts and combining them. This is the result of two: “make up the world,” and “new proverb.”



In this world, nine stitches

hold Time together.

You’ll  need waxed thread,

a curved bookbinder’s needle.

When you have finished

sewing up Time’s spine,

all the eggs in your basket

will hatch at once. One swallow

will settle on your hand

to twitter up the summer

and two will call from a bush,

then lead you on.

Follow them to a meadow

where a red morning sky

is opening the roses. 

All the horses you have wished for

will thunder from the mountains. 

Choose one and look in its mouth,

but don’t believe a word.

Words: By Way of Contrast







Grandmother’s silver coffeepot—

fine filigree around the handle,

chasing and repoussé patterning the lid.

The matching creamer, 

sugarbowl with tongs.

Her white linen napkins,

bone china cups.


My Mr. Coffee maker.

My red ceramic sugar bowl

patterned with spirals and stars. 

My white creamer—novel souvenier

from Columbus, Ohio.

My red-checked tablecloth.

My heavy blue pottery mug.


from a prompt



The chambered nautilus expands,

seals off each outgrown space,

and yet the empty rooms remain

as spiraled witness to the change.


The growing shell is not a burden

to the wanderer inside

who uses it to stay afloat,

and when it’s time, to dive.


And thus may we use all we’ve known

and all that we’ve believed

to navigate the sea we’re in

as long as we’re alive.

MEMERE–prompt #75


Prompt #75: Invent a Grandparent


Once she stopped a runaway horse before

the horse ran over a little boy. The boy’s

father was so grateful, he got her pregnant.

He set her up in a shack on the edge

of town and paid her every month, enough

to get groceries for herself and my dad.

That grandfather died before I was born,

and I am just as glad.


Memere always had dogs, stray ones she tamed.

She could tell fortunes by watching crows.

I liked visiting her. Dad didn’t mind,

but Mother worried every time.

I used to sleep in her loft

on a feather bed she made.

She taught me how to kill chickens,

how to bait a hook,

how to build a fire with wet wood.


Memere had different names for the stars.

She had three books:

The Oxford Book of English Verse,  

My Antonia, and

Moby Dick, which she knew by heart.

She never did believe in God, she said.

What went on in the woods and sky

gave her enough religion to get by.

PAGE 56, 2017

With thanks to contributors. You know who you are:


PAGE 56, 2017


The temperature was dropping

and a light snow was falling.

Even the sky above the City

had a green tint,

and the rays of the sun were green.

It had, however, but a bare

and uninteresting church,

built in the latest and worst

period of Perpendicular,

with a slate spire and no bells to speak of.


The Manichee, therefore, was entirely

embedded in the visible world.

To the new generations of country

and village boys now pouring into

the university in such large numbers,

she had become, in a curious way,

an instructor in manners,–what is called

an ‘influence.’ A lady doctor dressed

in silks was an oddity, and Oscar

Maroney’s curiosity, once engaged,

had to be satisfied.


They asked her where she was

making for, and she answered: “You are come

to the very edge of the Wild, as some

of you may know. ….Because it is not ‘engaged’,

the Faith becomes vacuous. In the strict sense,

however, the term historical

criticism refers to the ways in which

a historian might use the New Testament

to learn about history.”


Italics signify the couple of little tweaks I made.



~Prompt–for a book you haven’t written



First of all, I must thank my parents.

Without them, I would be normal,

and this book would not

have been possible.


My husband did not

comment on it, or even read it.

In fact, for the past eight months,

he has been living

in a tent in the woods.

I love you, sweetie.

Words cannot express

my gratitude.


My children are grown

so I thank them for not

getting in my way

(except for two hysterical

phone calls which only

kept me awake nights

for a week or so).


I am grateful to my agent,

despite her claim that

I was the direct cause

of her most recent breakdown.

I am not responsible for everything,

but she is responsible

for finding a home for my work.


All my editors—every single

one of them—have been



The Spring St. Poets

have provided occasionally helpful

feedback and comic relief for years.

Thanks, guys!


It takes a village

to produce a book, so I owe

a great deal to my neighbors

who put up with my midnight

hurdy-gurdy/bagpipe fests

and afternoon target practices,

and only called the police three times.


These poems

are for them.



MP   March 1, 2017



Prompt #39

The poor thing can’t sit still.

She cries a lot, wrings her hands.


I ask her to come outside with me

but she wants to sit under the table


in the dark. She wants to tell me

stories about the terrible things


that happened, or might happen.

She’s fussy about her fingernails,


the fit of her socks. She goes to bed

at the same time every night and rises


every morning at sunrise

or just before. She never has time


for anything important, and

she never does anything


trivial. I don’t take her anywhere

but she follows and precedes me


everywhere, asking, asking,

Who is to blame?


What do you want?
Who is imaginary? What is real?


A few years ago, I was mentor for a high school student working on poetry. We did assignments together. Here is my poem about the vowels.


A shaft of orange light, unexpected

before the end of

a long gray day


Eel black, luminescent

through the thick green river


I am winter-pale peach,

being, thatched with white and black


O luminous apple-green:

Mutsu, Greening, unripe Mac


YoU are fresh and blue,

tinged with the scent

of summer clover


And Y is it sometimes silver,

sometimes jade,

flickering just on the edge

of visible light?



Dec. 12, 2006

STILL RESISTING–a prompt poem


Prompt #3 again: What did you most resist before you found it suited you?


I don’t do things I resist.


I resist swimming because

I sink like a stone,

I don’t like fish nibbling my toes.


Running makes my hips hurt.

Bicycling is too much work.

Inflexibly, I resist yoga.


Beets taste like dirt, only worse,

so I resist them. And goat cheese.

And martinis. And cocktail parties.


And answering the telephone

before noon. And attending

meetings of any kind of committee.


If I don’t like a book

or a movie, I stop. I resist

literary criticism with a passion


that borders on insanity.

Resisting does not diminish my life.

It suits me. I like


screens that keep out the bugs.

I like jackets and boots

that keep out the wet and cold.


I like my resistances.

They keep me unbitten.

They keep me dry.



What do you call someone who has memorized the Bible?

Be that person.




In the beginning, I thought I’d learn

a verse from each chapter.

But, mercy! how to choose?

Everyone knows the sweet bits,

good shepherds and lilies and such,


But I could not resist the obscure:


Of the children of Zebulun,

by their generations, after their families,

by the house of their fathers,

according to the number of the names,

from twenty years old and upward,

all that were able to go forth to war; 

And Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little;

and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it.


or the erroneous:


And God made the firmament, and divided the waters

which were under the firmament 

from the waters which were above the firmament: 

and it was so.  And infamously:

These are they which ye shall have in abomination

among the fowls;  they shall not be eaten, they are

an abomination; the eagle, and the ossifrage,

and the osprey. . . And the stork, the heron after her kind,

and the lapwing, and the bat. 

or embarrassing bits the songs leave out:


So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: 

and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, 

and the people shouted with a great shout, 

that the wall fell down flat, 

so that the people went up into the city, 

every man straight before him, and they took the city. 

And they utterly destroyed all that was in the city, 

both man and woman, young and old, 

and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword.


Choosing has never been my forté.


Your favorite song?—food?—

movie?—lover? —string quartet?


So many, and different reasons.

It’s always simpler to do it all.