life changes



I got enough.
I got all I need.
Got strong legs to hop
Got pointy beak to peck
Got sharp eyes to hunt
and a field full of grubs.

Said the broke-wing raven

Flight’s overrated.
There I was, aloft
and wham
here I am.
Friends up there in the trees
spending all that energy.
Don’t need nobody.
Don’t need no one.

Said the broke-wing raven

It’s all good.
Y’all go on without me.


Salad Days

Jill sat at the glass-topped table, aimlessly moving a piece of lettuce around the plate, like a wayward jigsaw puzzle piece that does’t match the box photo, not at all, whose idea was this anyway, stupid lunch with Flynn that just wouldn’t serve any..

Well, it doesn’t matter anyway. Flynn didn’t show, and so she ordered this salad that she didn’t even want. Who cuts these black olive slices into precious little stars, anyway, some underpaid college student no doubt trying to work her way to a degree that is useless and probably marrying the totally wrong kind of person to get out from under the loan debt, who would stand you up for lunch even as the divorce papers…

Anyway. The grackles fussed over a discarded disk of bread, a lazy bumblebee (hah! she knew it was not lazy at all, such a human misperception of the life of bees, for godsake they worked so hard for so little, just a bit of yellow powder clinging to their…) hovered near the slightly ratty bougainvillea. Perfect landscaping for this nondescript little bistro Flynn picked for their, what, maybe last ever lunch together. And Flynn. Where was he.

Well then. Jill pressed her fingers to her wrist. Pulse, a little accelerated. She could feel a moistness on her forehead that foretold a headache coming on (Oh, come on, really now, she had been disappointed so many times before, rack this one up to The Usual…).

The problem was, she knew that after this flurry of dispiriting missed meetings and misdirected anger, they would be friends and probably no certainly this was for the best. Still. He could have at least picked a better restaurant to make his final, dismissive statement.

Jill relished the last drops of iced tea (formerly iced, rather), sucking noisily through a straw and enjoying the glances of fellow undiscerning diners. A warm glow spread through her stomach (maybe this headache would lay her low) as she rose, left some money on the table, and left the lettuce and little star shaped olive for the grackles to share, or not.

On Loan

Are memories
where the softness of time
and the muscularity of the brain meet? Time says,
Here is a note, a scent, a color for you to hold
just for an instant.
The brain says thank you, will you be wanting this back?
The answer is always yes, for now.

Time grows less soft, and more persistent.
Brain goes less muscular, and more furrowed.
And then when they meet, you may keep the flower, the song, the sweet kiss
for just a little longer, and more often.

Not because time is kind, exactly,
nor the brain greedy;
this is simply the agreement they made at the outset,
at the first imprint.

Bright Angel

My father in law, Herb Van Brink passed away Friday, June 7, 2013. He will be missed.

It looked to be just a stop —
Majestic, grand yes of course,
but still
a stop on a road trip.

They stopped and looked and
changed forever
at Bright Angel.

Those bright souls
traveled on
across country and years —
kids, grandkids, friends,
chasing eclipses
bowling strikes
dwelling in quiet times,
hard times,
and bright times along the way —
less bright, now, by one magnitude.

The canyon abides
and the Angel keeps watch
over us travelers and lovers,
together but ultimately alone.

Goodbye, Herb.


Once I realized, all grown up,
that my signature was a thing of power
(a thing that could incur or forgive debt –
validate ideas, even bad ones –
make legal and binding a decision to stay
or to flee),
I sat with nib at paper, practicing,
scratching away at the curves and loops
trying to feel the weight of its meaning.
But like those mornings when you stand at the mirror
with a new hair cut,
I couldn’t decide whether to make it messy
or elegant.
I finally settled on a nonchalant scrawl, and have since
wasted that spiky cursive on bad checks, rude letters,
and a failed marriage.
Now I apply my signature much more sparingly.
Like my hair, still a mess, but a considered one.

I heart California

When I first got to this State
I promptly got depressed.

The worst of it was,
an endless procession of sunny days
would not let me stay there.

The more I tried to burrow in
the stronger the oppressive sun shone
the deeper blue the too-big sky

There was no place to hide in my beach bungalow
with its whitewashed walls and picture windows,
in earshot of boardwalk screams and crashing waves,
All designed to quash my brown study and wash it in light.

So I gave in
and got joy.