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Child to Mother
It's not the time you spent
in the nursing home
forced to sit in a wheelchair
and attend therapy sessions
I want to remember.
but us chopping our garden,
the way I laughed when I pulled
from my pants a turnip leaf
that had stuck to them
like a piece of felt,
picking the tomatoes
just before they turned red,
pulling up the largest onions
to mince for chow-chow,
the feathered, embossed
and sequined frocks
we made from fabric fragments
fit only for my Barbie dolls.
I want to remember you wearing
your grey pin-striped suit,
four-inch suede heels,
red hat with its floppy brim secured by your pearl hat pin.

Madame X


X, letter, not last name,

a subsitute for a name

no longer wanted.


Madame, French for Mrs.

drop the e and in English

she's a whore.


Sargent dropped the left strap

of shiny off her shoulder,

plunged the neck line,

laid bare the full chest,

cinched the already small waist,

had her coyly twist her arm.


When scandal ensued,

he returned the jewels

to their place,

kept the name,

maintained the portrait

was the best he'd ever done.

My Peace Prize


108 sun salutations completed 

on the autumn equinox 

counted with lemon drops instead of beads


A Mala Celebration


—a risky idea for the Christian South


It has to sound familiar 

    has to be fun

        draw a number 

    win a mat    

        a towel    

    win a bag    

        a shirt 

            maybe a nice flower


    PIZZA and BEER SOCIAL after activity     


108 sun salutations completed in three hours,

recognized by an anguished, inspiring lily


    Why have I won, a potted flower?

    I have cats!

    It’s gonna get eaten!


Maybe I should set it on the grave

of some person unknown


    No, that feels wrong. 


Mom.  When you died, I was given a lily—

it had wide green leaves with one perfect white bloom

appropriate—when there’s someone to be remembered


now, in my house, the plant looks . . .odd


In the thinness of twilight,

 a dog howls

the neighbor’s puppy whines

my dog barks while pacing the floor


At, sunrise the woman across the street 

that once saw a shooting star and said

“A baby been born!”


 when the sky turned green, she said

“A tornado coming!"


when she saw an owl, she said

 “I’m gonna get that money I been praying for!

     Hallelujah! Praise Jesus!”


—the woman I plan to ask about the dogs

doesn’t wake 


108 sun salutations done for personal healing


108 sun salutations for resolving conflicts with friends


108 sun salutations to cease all wars


108 sun salutations offered in gratitude to the Divine 


    One lily for an eighty-eight- year old soul 

While Driving


A grave digger turned into the subdivision before me

with his helper sitting in the back

where the pulley    shovels   and    sandbags

take most of the free room and I knew. . .


the light held long enough for them to disappear

before the white hearse followed by one white family car

and a broken possession sped down Main Street


a quiet entombment just after breakfast

before the white summer heat

begins to bake the living


it’s been a year and two days

since I‘ve been in a grave yard


you didn’t want me there after the funeral

didn’t want more tears

no more fresh flowers

“Give me my roses while I still live and can enjoy them”


it’s been one year since the features of your face

were forced to forever live only in my memory

in my picture album


the rituals of death still fill

my throat with the thickness

that reminds me of the fresh salt free peanut butter

we used to buy from the Whole Foods store

it came in a white and navy blue tub


I used to try eating it by the spoonful

it always had a small amount of oil on the surface

but still stuck to the roof of my mouth


I reach for my drink bottle—empty. . .

you would have poured me a glass of water

the only elixir for this fullness

that can’t be—won’t be—swallowed

Evening Guitar


Someone loaned me a book

filled with images of Mississippi,

of people washing clothes,

fishing, pressing hair.


A collage stretches across

its cover: a divided blue room,

one side filled with daily living:

bucket, broom, chicken, lamp,

a guitar for Saturday's singing.


Behind the partition, a woman sits

rubbing the top of her foot

while reaching for a blue dress

piled on the seat of a straight back

undersized chair.


The book smells of smoke,

from the coal burning stove,

sharing the table with the lady's

porcelain tea service,

the pages repeatedly read,

savored between long sips.

Dressing for the Day


I have to buy a black dress

not another little trapeze

one like I wear for cocktails

nor one with a full, floor length skirt

I might wear to the opera


No . . .I need a simple straight dress

that hits at the knee

to wear with a single

strain of pearls. . .faux or real.


I see a rack of glass beads

white with china blue swirls

I hear myself say

Mom would like these

and force myself to turn away

to find the dresses


Unable to decide

I let the sales clerk choose

Her choice. . .a little black sheath

that falls mid-calf

with a black poke-a-dot jacket

and white-broad brim hat

with tulle and feathers


It didn’t make me look proper

like a British Lady on Derby day

Not the way it would have you

but it was hot at Lucas Place

grave side funeral,

---- it didn’t matter

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