Sunday, November 22, 2015


I was eight when we moved to Georgia. To better assimilate, I quickly picked up the local accent, including the pronunciation of "pee-can." Mother, born and raised in Virginia, tolerated my "you reckon" and "bray-yud", but on this she drew a firm line in the Georgia red clay. "No ma'am," she said, "it's puh-kahn. A pee-can is something folks without indoor plumbing keep under their beds on cold winter nights."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


Is it holy? Or -
     Is it unholy? Not sure.
          Powerful voltage.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

wacky writing prompt scavenger hunt from the write practice

"Will you read the letter?' cried Harriet.

I looked up from my corned beef hash. Before she interrupted me, I contemplated the potential highs and lows of the trip ahead. Our suitcases were laid out on the hotel bed. One was mine. One was Harriet's. But Joanne had brought three big bags. Harriet looked disgusted.

My hand clutched at my cheap, aqua housecoat, covered with once cheerful but now faded watermelon slices. She placed the letter in front of me. My silver and black hair, overdue for a cut, fell across my face as I bent to read. I reached up and tucked it behind my ears, already engrossed.

The letter was from Joanne. The urgency of the situation was immediately apparent. "Please come bail me out. I tried to call, but these stupid phones don't work." She was right. I had tried to make calls several times. Between the time change and the spotty service here in Papeete, it was a wonder anyone got through to anyone.

"What's she in jail for?" I asked Harriet.

She rolled her eyes. "Keep reading."

"I have until midday Tuesday," the note went on, "at which point they'll deport me and I'll miss the cruise entirely. I didn't even realize I was holding those black pearl earrings when I walked out of that shop!" Today was Tuesday. I checked my watch. We probably had less than an hour.

I thought about the ten day cruise through French Polynesia. Joanne and I were scheduled to share a mini-suite. We had a ritual to make being together easier on these vacations. A night owl, Joanne used a book light to read late into the night. An early bird, I woke at dawn and read up on deck for several hours, returning mid-morning with a cup of coffee and a big platter of bacon.  It worked, but I never got enough sleep.

Harriet, who could afford a private cabin and didn't much care for Joanne, remarked, "It would be a shame if she missed the cruise." She retrieved a pack of cigarettes from the paper bag, opened them and extracted a cigarette. "Do you have a light?"

I reached in the pocket of my housecoat and brought out the plastic lighter. I looked at it a minute, then flicked the fire into life. I slowly moved the letter from Joanne over to the flame, watching as the corner smoked, then burst into a satisfying fire. I looked at Harriet over the burning paper. She grinned.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


Look in my underwear drawer.
It isn't neat.
Lace thongs tangle with cotton grannies.
Body by Victoria bras range from shiny new
    to almost Goodwill.
There's the green crotch-less bikinis he bought
     as a present to himself
     on my birthday, of course.
Underneath a Spanx, you'll find some stockings
     that used to go with that bustier
     until I lost the detachable clips,
     one by one, in various places,
     he and I under the influence
     of varying degrees of passion.
He's everywhere in this drawer! I didn't
     notice that until now.
It's just as well. I like having him there.
Ohhh! The black slip Grandmother gave me!
It belonged to her, but she had so many
     because my aunt kept sending them.
     "Don't tell Aunt ****," she whispered,
     as if she might be listening from the next room.
Oh, he's back! In a full length nightgown,
     in a grayish blue satin. Well, that
     sounded weird, like he was the one
     wearing it. No, he bought it for me.
     Really for me this time.
Haha, lacy black garter pantyhose.
Hello, built in buzzer.
Half of this stuff really has to go.
Or maybe we'll just give each one another go.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

the truth

Tell the truth.

I don't want to tell the truth.

Tell the truth.

I'm afraid of the truth.

Do it.

People read too much into truth. They reinterpret it according to their own view of the world. Their view of you.


I was born under muddy water. I didn't know right from wrong, no.

Cut it out.

By the time I was born, there were four other siblings.

I know that one too. Get to your story.

That actually IS my story.

You know what I mean.

I am the daughter of poor circumstances. I bargained with the future and I took my chances.

You're impossible.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

My dog is an escape artist. After living in an apartment for several years, we've moved into a house with a gorgeous back yard. But apparently it's not enough for this former stray who once led a pack through the streets and desert. Nooooo ...

She tunneled under the fence. I was inside the house and recognized her barking coming from the FRONT of the house! I opened the front door and let her in. She looked so pleased with herself, the little tickturd.

I must admit that I have a little escape artist tendency too. It's harder for me to figure out where to start digging, though.

Monday, May 18, 2015

red sting

Aged hands with porcelain skin,
(because ladies stayed out of the sun),
hold fast the Mecuricome bottle.

Onto my skinned knee, the red sting.
"Blow!", instructs Grandmother to my cousins.
Nine mouths blow germs at my torn skin,
their breaths sounding like a steam engine,
punctuated by giggles and shoves.

Then back to playing on the hillside,
aunts and uncles watching,
ice cream churning,
laughter and story-telling as background music
to a Southern childhood.

I survive - joyously!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Tiny, whirring wings,
     Sweet, iridescent beauty,
          Power in motion.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

cars and ice cream sandwiches

A car is such a luxury. This is never more apparent than when you're sitting on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Or sitting at home hoping the mechanic calls to report that this will NOT be such an expensive repair after all. On the flip side, this leaves plenty of time for self-flagellation in regards to one's failure to maintain one's car as one obviously should have. Then this leads to an intellectual exercise in examining the role of fear and guilt in one's life, which obviously calls for an ice cream sandwich.

But, unfortunately, without a car, one cannot go to the store to buy ice cream sandwiches. This leads to a phone call to the sometime boyfriend to ask him to bring ice cream sandwiches and while he's at it, he might as well bring lunch too. This, as usual, triggers the "what are you wearing" question, a clear sign that the cost of lunch and ice cream sandwiches may be higher than originally anticipated, but not necessarily too high for one's budget. In fact, if I could pay for the car repair that way ...

Friday, April 24, 2015


Long before I moved to Phoenix, I knew something of the desert because I had seen Hollywood representations of the desert - usually a lone cowboy lurching across a dry expanse after his horse has died - the sun searing overhead. And I had seen Hollywood "Indians" doing rain dances. I knew that rain in the desert was a precious commodity. But "desert" to me meant an endless landscape of scrub brush and cactus.

On that first day that it rained after my move to Phoenix, I came out of my office and noticed three women standing at the huge window looking out over our parking lot. They were standing and staring out. I was curious. Had there been an accident? What was going on? I looked around the huge room of cubicles and saw other employees going about their business. I walked over to the women at the window and asked, "What's going on?" One of them turned to me with dreamy looking eyes and responded, "It's raining!" An Easterner used to rain, I nodded and walked away, wondering how these crazy people came to be employed.

I later learned that those three women were Phoenix natives. To them, rain still had magic. The rest of us took rain for granted.

Alexander McCall Smith writes a mystery series set in Botswana, a landlocked country in Southern Africa. His hero, Precious Ramotswe describes rain in the desert: "First there was that smell, that smell of rain, so unlike anything else, but immediately recognizable and enough to make the heart of a dry person soar; for that, thought Mma Ramotswe, is what we Batswana are: dry people, people who can live with dust and dryness but whose hearts dream of rain and water."

There is dust aplenty here in Phoenix. It creeps in through the smallest of openings. It gets in machinery. It settles on everything. It is different from normal household dust, which is mainly made up of dead skin cells. No, this dust is outdoor dust, which hangs in the air and invades, an imperceptible army until it accumulates. So when the rain comes, it cleans the air in a way that is hard to describe.

Today, when it began to rain, I stood at the window and stared out at it. I've been in Phoenix for about 12 years now and I'm just beginning to understand the magic of rain and water. My heart is soaring a little as I listen to that gorgeous rain. How could I have been so blind?