Today I spent 1/3 of my wealth

A full third of my available capital

not knowing when,

or even if

it will be renewed

and bought a flower.

Not even a blooming flower

or one growing

already in a pot

But rather,

a bare root

leafless and needing much care

needing to be soaked and planted

tended and cared for

watered and watched

without any assurance that it will survive long enough to bloom

a foolish expenditure

and yet

necessary to my belief in the future

if I too

   am to survive long enough to bloom



When the ache runs through me

and it sizzles down my arm

and it singes my leg

and my head throbs from it all

I wonder

When I can’t find a place on me that isn’t sore

and there is nowhere to hide

and even my teeth hurt

and I wish it would all flow down my leg

and out my foot

earthing itself, like lightening

I wonder

When it becomes too tiresome

and I haven’t slept all night for days

and I consider how much medicine it would take to make it stop

and think about crashing into bridge abutments

and my eyes leak onto my collar

I wonder



but I suppose it has to be somebody


What Do You Do All Day?

I get up, tea in hand

and go check on life

in my parents house.

Is it progressing?


or just stagnating in a recliner?

I go back out

surfeited on Gunsmoke and old movies

and weed-eat or clean the porch

then go back

to my little nest

in a travel trailer

not worthy of living in the house

and make more tea

and try to write

and then go back in

for a dose of news

mixed with Andy Griffith

my mother complains of my father

my father complains about the water bill

my brother flits about

raving and raging

his mental illness so long ago accepted

his behavior seems normal to them

someone competent must live here

but there are days

I regret

having volunteered


Frost Ferns

frost draws fanciful ferns

on my window

Such attention to detail

if that much heed is paid

to the designs of frost

how can I believe

in random fate?

Why would I think

even for an instant

that there is no order

no purpose

in my life

Am I not more than frost?


Hello, Bill!

I had one more errand to run and then I was on my way home. It had been an exhausting week at work and now here I was doing errands for them on my own time. Traffic in New Orleans was normal, snarled up like a string bag. Just as I pull away from the pharmacy window, armed with the requested medicines, my cell rang. Exasperated I snatched it up and barked,”I just got it and I’ll be there in a minute!”. “I hope so,” replied the voice of my neighbor, “You need to talk to this sheriff,” he added, without pausing for breath. “WHHHHAAAT?” I gasped, nosing my car into a parking space in the drug store lot. Then the deputy was on the phone, asking if I knew Susan _____. I told him she was my roommate. “What on earth has she done?” I inquired, shocked to my shoes. Susan was not the sort of roommate one expected to have dealings with the police. She was quiet, recently widowed, diabetic and rarely left the house for anything but a Dr’s appointment. He told me that Holder Homes was about to hook up the trailer I lived in and haul it off! The sweat that sprang out all over my body had only a minimal connection to the breathless heat and the fact that my a\c was broken. After conversing with the deputy, a nice lady representative from Surity Bank, my neighbor and then the deputy again I felt I had a grasp on the situation. Seems that Susan had not been paying her house note. What’s more, she had prevailed on the neighbor to take her to the bus station a day or two before, saying she was going to care for an ailing elderly aunt. I assumed she would not be returning. Convincing the assemblage to leave my house where it was for the 3&1/2 hours it would take me to drive home I zipped through traffic back to work, kind of flung the bag of medicines at my relief, babbled some incoherent nonsense and jumped back in the car to head for home. I’m sure that trip was my fastest ever. My car was probably mistaken for a low flying jet by casual observers.

The lady from the bank was nice, but definite. Susan had not paid a note for many months. Since her husband’s death, it seemed. The fact that her sister-in-law’s husband worked for the bank is the only reason a repossession had not been done months before. She was sorry, but there was no more time. She was willing to sell it to me, unfortunately the price was about twice what it was worth. I declined with as much regret as I could muster. It was a very small amount. What if I agree to clear the place out, I said. It was the right choice. Susan or her husband, or somebody had been something of a horder and except for the rooms I used regularly, the rest, and the shed outside, were pack floor to ceiling with furniture, old magazines and heaven knows what. The bank lady jumped at my offer, negotiating a time span of 3 weeks, which gave me two useful weeks, as I would have to work one of them. I waved the lady out to her car, picked up the phone and began rounding up help. My daughter was a given, my friends were good souls and the neighbor loaned my a pick up truck. We began making trips to the dump the next morning. In any spare moments I looked for a place to move to.

Finally a new house was found, the junk was nearly gone and I was beginning to pack up what I was going to move with me. Early one morning, before anyone had showed up to help, I began packing up things on a bookcase I planned on taking. The bookcase had been Susan’s, but most of the things were mine. One of the exceptions was a small, black square-ish box at the back of the very top shelf. I had always assumed it was a speaker for the surround sound system that she had forgotten about when she’d sold the system a few months back. As I wiggled it off the high (for me) shelf with my finger tips I thought it felt awfully heavy for a speaker and rather too much like plastic. Getting it within my grasp at last, I hauled it down where I could look at it. On the top of the box was a tag, “remains of William H. _______”. It was Susan’s dead husband!

I put the thing down rather abruptly on the coffee table as I collapsed onto the sofa. Staring fixedly at the box I said the first thing that came to mind, “Well, Hello Bill!”. My mind was spinning its wheels, slipping gears, as I wondered what on earth I was going to do with Bill. About that time my daughter walked through the door, “What’cha doing?” she said, strolling across the room, dropping her keys on the table as I pointed at the box, apparently stricken dumb by astonishment. She picked up the box for a better look. It plopped back to the table rather suddenly as she joined me on the sofa, staring at the box. It occurred to me, having seen pictures of Bill in the past, that it had probably been many years since he had been the recipient of so much concentrated feminine attention. “Naomi, meet Bill,” I said, “Bill, Naomi”. She laughed a bit raggedly and said, “What are you going to DO with him?” An excellent question I thought. “I could give him to you,” I told her. “Nope” was her instant response. Sighing I got up and together we moved the coffee table, with Bill on it, to one side of the room and commenced packing.

Bill sat there for the rest of the move, the subject of nearly all of the conversations in that house. Conversations with everyone who came to help and some who came just to look. There are those who feel compelled to check the veracity of every story. Many ideas for his disposition were presented. Putting him in the river, or on his garden behind the house. Scattering him on theTrace, or into the wind off the river bridge. Mailing him to a random person in an old address book we found in Susan’s bedroom. Taking him to the movies or a ball game and just leaving him in the seat. Even the dumpster or a good flushing. None of these seemed right. Some of them were disrespectful, others probably illegal, and as for the rest, well, I’d never known him while he was alive, so I just didn’t feel qualified to choose his final resting place. Besides, I was sure I’d heard Susan speak of his children by a previous marriage. They might want him. I was positive they would want him more than I did. I was beginning to have unsettling dreams in which I had to lug Bill around with me for the rest of my life due to my inability to decide where to put him. The solution, when it finally came to me, was, like all perfect solutions, elegantly simple. When everything was moved out and the place was “broom swept and wiped down,” my last act, after placing the key on the kitchen counter as I’d been instructed, was to place Bill next to it with a note attached to him directing the recipient to deliver him to his brother-in-law at the bank. I wished poor Bill well as I walked out the door and sincerely hope he ended up someplace nice.


My Mother

grizzled and confused,

let down by time

she wonders where it went

and how much might be left

no longer friends with time

since it’s betrayal

one minute dancing through all her tomorrows

and then

dropped into a backwater

with the current running out

her friends becoming fewer

her relatives falling away

the face in the mirror is a stranger

her mind begins to tangle itself in the long skein of her past

time is the enemy

stealing away your possibilities

and leaving you



drowning in the tide


I Can Feel It….

Autumn makes me vaguely dissatisfied. My lot in life chafes and binds. I want to run off, maybe to follow the geese. I have itchy feet and my normal life looks much like a rut. Nothing fits and I go about in some state of chronic unhappiness. My head aches and I am inexplicably sad. Like the plants in my garden, long before the season changes in any visible way, before the southern heat moderates, even though it is still to hot to go outside in the afternoon, I know. I can feel winter coming. I think, like some strawberries, I am day length sensitive. By Labor Day the shortening of the days has made me edgy. October is sheer torture, as it finally cools off some, though Halloween is generally still warm enough to not need a jacket. I antsy around, waiting, feeling the winter closing in on me. Daylight savings time happens and the evening disappear into the dark.The first hard frost, the killing frost, usually happens between Thanksgiving and December 1st, where I live. I dissolve into the black abyss of depression.
 There is an upside, however, to this daylight sensitive nature. Towards the end of January the fact of the winter solstice and the lengthening days begins to resonate in the core of my being. By Ground Hog Day my sap has begun to rise. I can smell spring coming. Valentine’s Day finds me up to my elbows in the cold garden dirt. Seeds have been planted. Peas are coming up. Tomato seeds are in pots on window sills, hopeful. The official last frost date here is April the 1st. St. Patrick’s Day is usually as long as I can wait. By March the 20th I have normally officially declared it to be spring and am leading an army of plants in an assault on the yard. I am ready!
But today, winter is coming. I can feel it.

A Gamble

I want an oracle
 or the IChing
to tell me what to do.
I want to roll the dice
or consult the cards
and let them decide my fate.
I want God to call out
in a loud, clear voice
unmistakable instructions on my next step.
The decisions are much too grown up
to be left in my fumbling hands.

The Spider Dance

I had to have the lawn mower guy come out today. He’s an older man who I know who repairs a few lawn mowers so that he has something to do with himself since he’s retired. He says it keeps his wife at home. He headed for the back yard where I usually keep the mower. I stopped him and pointed to the machine off in a patch of woods, next to the side yard, lodged against a tree. He stared at it for a moment, taking in its position on a slight down hill slope, one front wheel kind of in a hole, one rear wheel slightly up in the air, front end shoving a smallish tree into an acute angle. When I told him that it was also out of gas he quit looking at it and began examining me with interest. I began to flush just a bit. “What were you doing?” He asked. Keeping my face absolutely stoic I said, “Mowing the picnic area.” “Nooo,”he persisted, “When you drove it into a tree, what were you doing?” “The spider dance,” I replied, “And I did NOT drive it into that tree. It did that all on its own.” The lawn mower man is a nice fella and other than grinning hugely and emitting a few quiet chuckles he said nothing further, at least not to me. He just set about doing what needed to be done for the mower.
 I didn’t explain to him that as I was driving around between the trees my face had contacted a gigantic spider web. And then another one. I could suddenly see yet a third, occupied by an enormous spider! Down here they call them banana spiders. They have yellow striped legs and get as big as tarantulas. Anyway, I hadn’t really been paying attention to my driving since encountering the first web, but rather flailing my arms around trying to remove web residue and possible spiders from my person. When I saw the giant spider directly in my path I jerked the wheel to the side and dived off in the opposite direction. For some reason the kill switch under the seat of the mower didn’t engage when I abandoned it, so while I was running from the woods into the house ripping off my shirt and screaming, windmilling my arms the entire way, it merrily drove it’s self into a tree. I could hear it out there running as I showered. (no spiders were found on my actual person) I decided it would run out of gas soon. It took nearly 45 minutes.
 It isn’t the first time that spiders have caused me trouble. Once I opened the dryer to put some clothes in and came face to face with a gigantic black-and-hairy creature the size of a beefsteak tomato! I flung the clothes all over the kitchen, (that’s where my washer is, it’s an old house) screamed (I think I believe that the sonic vibrations cause the spiders to run away) and slammed the door to the dryer. I didn’t want the damn thing to get out. It had probably climbed in through the dryer vent. Maybe it would go back the same way. Unfortunately while I was simultaneously flinging laundry and slamming dryer doors I was also running away as fast as my legs would carry me. Apparently a person’s brain cannot manage quite that much activity at once. I fell, crashing into the kitchen chairs and knocking over the table. All the commotion attracted the attention of my youngest son who still lived at home at the time. He dealt with the spider and righted the furniture while I gathered the scattered laundry. At the end he fixed me with a solemn stare and said, “I don’t think this is how a grown up is supposed to act.”
 The policeman I met in Winnfield LA would probably agree with him. I met him one morning while driving to work. My commute to work is quite long (125 miles or there abouts) but I only drive it once in a weeks’ time. On this particular day I passed a crew cutting brush on the side of the road. As I passed them I thought I saw a large spider fly in my window. I convinced myself that the sighting was a hallucination, induced by my phobic tendencies. After all, spiders don’t fly! And that slight crawling sensation on the side of my head? More hallucination, I was sure. About twenty miles down the road I felt something crawling on the back of my calf (it was past Valentine’s Day, I was wearing shorts). I began swerving severely as I slapped at whatever it was. Looking down I saw a massive spider coming over the edge of the seat at me. I careened into the nearest parking lot and leapt from the car. After a few seconds of doing my windmilling, screaming version of the spider dance, I began trying to figure out what I was going to do about getting myself back into the car and on to work. The spider, showing great foresight, had vanished for the moment, but I was not fooled. I spied a backscratcher between the car’s seats (as to just WHY it was there, well that’s a story for another day). I began gingerly poking about with my new weapon, prepared to break and run should the need arise. About that time my hair touched the back of my arm and I had another outburst of slapping and windmilling. Then I saw the cop, standing behind me. “May I ask what you’re doing?” he asked, mildly. I suddenly realized that I had pulled up in the parking lot of the sheriff’s office and this poor man had been sent out here to deal with what I’m sure appeared to be a crazy crack-headed woman. I started to explain about the spider. It didn’t make me sound a lot saner. He listened to my story and got that same silly, lip twitching look that I’ve learned to recognize. In that same calm, mild voice he said, “Can I borrow your stick?”, reaching out and removing the back scratcher from my hand. Good move, I thought, disarm the nut-job. Moving slowly and carefully so’s not to alarm me, I reckon, he drew on his gloves and felt around under the seat of my car. He poked some of the detritus in the floor boards with the back scratcher. “It seems to have gone away ma’am,” he informed me. Feeling a bit silly I got back in the car and drove to a nearby Dollar Store where I purchased enough ‘spider spray’ to fumigate a small city.
 The cop recognizes my car and has waved at me a couple of times as I drive thru Winnfield. I keep a can of spider spay in the car. In case of emergency.The dryer has a new screen on it’s vent. The lawn mower had a bent blade, easily fixed and I have adopted a new system of driving it with one hand and waving a large rake before me with the other. It’s not doing much for my reputation as a reasonably sane individual, but I think that’s kinda shot anyway. Hopefully it will be a long time before I am forced to again do “The Spider Dance”.

Are You Scared?

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