the education of the heart


  1. Half a life-time ago, in the hubris of her youth,

she assumed, when she said yes to that zygote

burrowing its way into her womb

that she would be the sun. He, the flower


but now, an old woman,

she sees how it is

the child comes to stir dormant seeds

his burrowing persuading her roots

his development encouraging her growth,

his brokenness breaking her

tightly held buds

season by season, teaching her heart

to unfold.


  1. Lately, she has noticed the difference

when her heart breaks,

no longer that shattering fear

of smithereens impossible to piece

she knows now that each tragic fracture

reveals a new facet of that


exquisite crystal


why, just yesterday she saw

in that pristine plane

the subtle contrast in the light between

confidence and shame

devotion and betrayal


Once she was transparent,

surface smooth and one-

dimensional. Now her heart

is more complex than that,

growing daily like a crystal in a jar

Color bursting from the prism

of her breaking open










fly away home

                My six year old granddaughter whispers

to the bird outside her window

that she’s leaving. Her tender-hearted goodbyes

flutter in her tiny breast, uncertain

if the bird might just be lost

without her             


           And I recall the day that I walked in on her

eyes scrunched tight and straining, 

like a woman giving birth,

her sideways whisper, ‘Is it woiking?!’

‘Is what working?’ my furtive breath replied.

‘My wings! — Are they growing?’

‘Oh yes, oh yes, I think I see the buds!”


          Today, she flew

with her family, across town

though to her perhaps it seemed like

the migration of those monarchs, which she’d shown me

in her library book that morning,

so amazed at those fragile wings

that carried them the whole way!

from Canada to Mexico

(the black ones were dying, she’d said,

but their children would survive)


          Landing in her new home,

we patter side by side

on the windy path to her new school.

Her heart takes in the sidewalk chalk

and dandelion puffs to dare her dreams,

and then, around the bend,

we spot the birds

fluttering in those budding trees, and her heart

leaps because they found their way to her.


          And she didn’t even have to speak

bird talk at all!  She’d just had to use

her own girl voice.






a thing of beauty is a joy for ever?


prompt # 13 , John Keats wrote “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” Write a poem in which you agree or disagree. 



the pond teemed

so ecstatically that even ancient snappers reveled,

their awkward armor softened

in their playful mating dance.

The throng of painted turtles peeked

sheepishly at the display, as the frogs were jumping

one another,

their trilling thrill transmitting

concentric circles of ooo-la-la

across the water, and up the asphalt lane

reaching even me in my brick house.

Tripping like a child I flew, to bask

in the riot of life. It quickened

in my womb, and I thought I was Sophia

in the garden, savoring that delight.



heavy machinery marched

with their mechanical probosces

to slurp up every drop

and scrape that stagnancy sterile

dredging what they claimed to be the dregs

that were choking access to their pipes

A necessary sacrifice, they said.


I guess that they forgot to tell the frogs.




suddenly a rooster


suddenly, a rooster here

in this woodland village

they say somebody dropped him

to make up for the grief of last year’s loss

like puppies after miscarriages


he was hanging by the post office

yesterday afternoon

strutting in his finery as if he belonged,

which of course he does in this array

of misfits


but now it’s 5;45 am

I know because the rooster told me

when he was practicing to be a songbird

imagining his crows belonged

with the peter-peter-trills-and-cheeps

of warblers, thrush and tits


and for some reason

as my foggy eyes embrace

these darkened silhouettes against that salmon colored sky

he convinces me to rise

pick up the pen


that blue-dress dream

flows across the page, me vibrant

and assured, singing as is he

imagining myself one

of the family


here in this room

with its window to the trees

bathed in this blue-green glow

of water and of sky, I dream

though I’m awake


until the choir subsides.


today’ prompt #15. Animal populations appearing or disappearing have often been seen as a sign. Write a poem in which an animal population appears or disappears.

For the full list of april poetry month prompts, check out Kristin’s Berkey-Abbott’s blog  @

drawing down

 the invitation today- to write a poem about an emotional state without mentioning that emotional state or feelings at all

 Drawing down


the water is suddenly gone

where there were wood ducks and mallards

yesterday, reflections of spring on the glass,

now this stark cavity of  mud


Searching the breach, he staggers

helpless to staunch the flow, his gallons

pour into those lowlands, and into that scandalized

vortex, I’m drawn


 where yesterday he was rowing his boat

suddenly he’s scraping bottom

that swift current carving its way,

through those layers of silt laden years,

the contours of bottom, revealed


Gingerly, I walk next to him,

as his boots get sucked into muck, til

upon our bellies we lie, pulling his feet

free, though surprising, his strength exceeds mine

(Is this what they mean by bootstraps?)


On a day when summer first hinted, he

made his way up

toward the mouth

where the water lay stagnant and laden

stranded so long from its source


and there, poking their tentative dark heads,

shy, but protected, they came, dragging

new, hardened shells in the balance.


It was then that my gaze was lifted,

and i noticed

 the water was rising again.









How is it exactly that ancestry and nesting go hand in hand

In the rushing toward the deep of something thawing

Comes this breaking, which is vital to becoming green

Eventually must come this ripening


Last night, I played in the meadow, got muddy and covered in seeds

But when I awakened this morning, the window was shut tight

So many blossoms, and I’d been allotted a glimpse of just one


Grey hillsides blanketed and kissed

Like the whisper hidden in the poet’s verse

There is the sense of being untouchable here


Exercise #21 Go to your pile of poems that you’re just not sure what to do with. Choose one poem from each year of the last five or ten years (haven’t been writing or saving drafts that long? use your own time frame). Choose a line from each. See what happens.

I elected to open old documents from each year and to choose a line that drew me, seeking to let my heart, not my head, do the choosing. One line I couldn’t fit into the poem, so I gave it to the title.


Voice lessons

Today’s assignment is to write a series of connected Haiku. I couldn’t find the suggested model poem, Nancy Pagh’s “Fat Girl Haiku” in No Sweeter Fat.  I suspect each individual Haiku within the longer series was also to be able to stand alone, but I chose to simply let the meter 5/7/5 guide me.

I tried my hand twice.

Voice lessons 

1.       She smells the fragrance

That so many walk right past

And yearns to sing it


Her voice unmeasured

Seeks an instrument to play

This magnum opus


Her timid descant

Stricken silent for too long

Supposes absence


What made her conceive

She could learn those scales and chords

At such a late hour


Lovemaking of course

Bringing that moan of delight

Quite unexpected


Almost demanding

To be sung with a passion

Unfettered by form


 What made her believe

She could so tame or contain

Or package that gift?


Perhaps there’s no way

To share such intimations

As subtle as scent


Though her body screams

It cannot find words nor song

For such ecstasy




2. There is a sweet song

That yearns to be sung through her

She hears it out there


Her body receives

With delight the lush beauty

Oft hidden from view


She longs to bear it

To unearth that rich treasure

Though it eludes her


Perhaps a woman’s

Incompetent to bring forth

From this vessel, clay


So shattered like this

Great boulder split as if dropped

From some lofty height


Though she understands

Seasons of rain and of cold

Eroded her poise


Can those stones cry out

Though voiceless they seem to be

Stuck overlooking


Musical vistas

With her still, bearing witness

is but a small gift


She hopes it’s enough

Though she yearns to make some noise

Her voice remains mute























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