Sunday, April 30, 2023

If I Had My Life to Live Over by Nadine Stair


If I had my life to live over again,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax. I’d limber up.
I’d be sillier than I’ve been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances,
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would, perhaps, have more actual troubles but fewer imaginary ones.
you see, I’m one of those people who was sensible and sane,
hour after hour,
day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments.
If I had to do it over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else- just moments,
one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.
If I could do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had to live my life over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances,
I would ride more merry-go-rounds,
I would pick more daisies.

Friday, April 28, 2023


 Paris is the swirling madness surrounding the calm of the Seine; it’s the je ne sais quoi that runs through city veins.

Paris is red lipstick with a spritz of French parfum; its a seductive ooh-la-la whose whisper echoes through a room.

Paris is arches and bridges and cobble-stoned streets; it’s Romanesque architecture boasting ornate feats.

Paris is the Notre-Dame, but it’s also don’t give a damn – unless you speak en Français; it’s a reserved politeness delivered in a distinctly Parisian way.

Paris is the Eiffel Tower, but it’s also ‘I fell for you‘; it’s whimsically romantic but it’s cliché, too.

Paris is the Arc de Triomphe, but it’s also triumphantly ironic; it pays tribute to the dead, yet Champs-Élysée‘s more iconic.

Paris is croissants, baguettes and boulangeries; it’s Croque Monsieur but also Crème Brülée.

Paris is bicycles, scooters and European trains; it’s an overcrowded subway, but no-one complains.

Paris is museums and galleries and fashionable boutiques; it’s aspiring artists, models and haute social cliques.

Paris is a city sealed with a passionate French kiss; it’s rose-tinted reminiscence and a dreamer’s ‘What if…?’

This is Paris – Paris to me.

         by SIOBHÁIN SPEAR 

Thursday, April 27, 2023

It must've been one hell of a party by Thomas Burson


It must've been one hell of a party

The napkin with the mango lipstick kiss
lay naked with promises on the hall floor.

The pearl earrings on the window sill
iridescent with the blush of morning sun. Blue
socks peek at me over the bookends.
Upheaval and uproar still leak into my
consciousness, I seek out the coffee pot,
empty another glass, try to make room
reclaim the kitchen. All the toothpaste and mouth
wash won't make my taste buds right.
Beer cans flattened, Johnny  Walker
dead on the door step. Every ashtray amid
hazardous waste spills. Oh, look at this, Jockey
shorts tossed over the blender in the corner
along with traces of stale chocolate cake.

As the last gurgles of water tumble through,
I hear a voice moan, “Can I have some too.”

I look at the living room. As the light stumbles
through the blinds, she looks back at me
smiles, a promise she is going to survive.
The AM/FM radio alarm picks this time to chime.
“God, what a sick joke,” she screams.
Slams down her fist makes sure it dies.

Sips coffee at the table, trash pushed aside.
Pats my hand tells me I must be "The Man,"
coffee first thing in the morning and I hadn’t
even tried to get her into bed. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

An Ubi Sunt for Certain Aunts by Jennifer Horne


An Ubi Sunt for Certain Aunts
by Jennifer Horne

Those enervated, hypothyroidal, smoking southern ladies
clad in crisply ironed men’s shirts, slacks, canvas shoes,
never without a certain amount of frustration, life being
never as beautiful or perfect as they had been led to expect—
their wry humor, dry laugh, yet nothing but praise and charm
for the children: “Oh honey, oh sweetness, oh darlin’,”
as though we were the loveliest confections, too pretty to eat—
saved for themselves the scathing insults:
“Stupid, stupid, stupid,” at little mistakes—spilled sugar,
a bad marriage, teaching us young to be infinitely generous
with others. I decided to retrieve their softly dropped r’s:
dinner party, otherwise, suppertime, motherhood,
their language the patois of defeat, a desuetude I rejected.
They mostly died before seventy, their permanent disappointments
turned inward, though nothing as showy as cancer, heart attack,
stroke. Just a gradual shrinkage, the slow flaking of paint
on an old house, its imperceptibly liquid panes.
Oh ladies, I would like to clasp you to my grown-up bosom
(a word you used freely, it used to embarrass me no end),
smooth the puzzlement from the cracked glaze of your faces,
and soothe, “Not stupid. Honey. Sweetness. Beautiful aunts,
aunts of my youth.” I see you, in mind’s eye, sighing back at me,
a chorus wreathed in smoke, languid movements of the wrist:
“Oh darlin’,” you begin, “Let me tell you about the time . . . ”
Lost. Unsalvageable. Lovely.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

French Chocolates by Ellen Bass


If you have your health, you have everything

is something that's said to cheer you up

when you come home early and find your lover

arched over a stranger in a scarlet thong.

Or it could be you lose your job at Happy Nails

because you can't stop smudging the stars

on those ten teeny American flags.

I don't begrudge you your extravagant vitality.

May it blossom like a cherry tree. May the petals

of your cardiovascular excellence

and the accordion polka of your lungs

sweeten the mornings of your loneliness.

But for the ill, for you with nerves that fire

like a rusted-out burner on an old barbecue,

with bones brittle as spun sugar,

with a migraine hammering like a blacksmith

in the flaming forge of your skull,

may you be spared from friends who say,

God doesn't give you more than you can handle

and ask what gifts being sick has brought you.

May they just keep their mouths shut

and give you French chocolates and daffodils

and maybe a small, original Matisse,

say, Open Window, Collioure, so you can look out

at the boats floating on the dappled pink water.

Monday, April 24, 2023

Frame by Ann Medlock



  • “Gentlemen, set your frames.
  • This here dance starts simple
  • and gets tricky real fast.
  • Your lady cannot do
  • the necessary turns and
  • flourishes if you do not
  • give her frame.
  • But if you got
  • steady shoulders,
  • rock-strong arms,
  • sure footing,
  • then there she goes,
  • twirling, double-timing,
  • knowing she can count on you
  • for balance. Give way
  • when she swings out,
  • when she’s off balance—
  • her spin will take her down.
  • Then you got one bruised and
  • limping little lady, don’t you know?”
  • You ask what I need from you
  • as I rescript my life, ending what
  • I thought it was and spinning into
  • what it may really be. No actions,
  • no words are needed, only frame,
  • only the pinpoint touch of your
  • solid presence, only the still point
  • without which there is no dance,
  • and we know there is only the dance.
     - - - Ann Medlock

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Favorite Book of the Year, so far


I read a lot of books. (You know that, right?😊 )

This year, so far, I have read a little more than 60 books.

Silence of the Seamaid by Ann Medlock is, so far, my favorite.

This excerpt from Elana Sztokman’s review sums it up perfectly - "Silence of the Seamaid is an engaging, enraging, and inspiring story about women and the will that it sometimes takes for them to simply live."

The entire review can be read here -

More here -

This book touched me, resonated loudly, and satisfied me on multiple levels.

I cheered for Lee, even when I sometimes wanted to shake her.

I laughed with her, and cried with her. And I got angry as hell.

I admired her strengths and talents, enjoyed her curiosity, her eye for beauty, and her need for more.

Ms. Medlock's writing has us experiencing this elegantly written story with all our senses.

This is one of those books you'll hear me talking about, urging you to read, and placing in your hands if you don't do it quickly enough.

It is, most especially, I think, a book that will speak to women who remember the not so distant past when women were supposed to get married. That's it. Get married. Take care of the husband and the obligatory children. And not expect anything more out of life.

Silence of the Seamaid was published last year and is available at your favorite bookstore.  It is also right now available through

I'll be interested in hearing what you think.

Happy reading!

Hymn by Sherman Alexi


Why do we measure people's capacity
To love by how well they love their progeny?
That kind of love is easy. Encoded.
Any lion can be devoted
To its cubs. Any insect, be it prey
Or predator, worships its own DNA.
Like the wolf, elephant, bear, and bees,
We humans are programmed to love what we conceive.
That's why it's so shocking when a neighbor
Drives his car into a pond and slaughter–
Drowns his children. And that's why we curse
The mother who leaves her kids—her hearth—
And never returns. That kind of betrayal
Rattles our souls. That shit is biblical.
So, yes, we should grieve an ocean
When we encounter a caretaker so broken.
But I'm not going to send you a card
For being a decent parent. It ain't that hard
To love somebody who resembles you.
If you want an ode then join the endless queue
Of people who are good to their next of kin—
Who somehow love people with the same chin
And skin and religion and accent and eyes.
So you love your sibling? Big fucking surprise.
But how much do you love the strange and stranger?
Hey, Caveman, do you see only danger
When you peer into the night? Are you afraid
Of the country that exists outside of your cave?
Hey, Caveman, when are you going to evolve?
Are you still baffled by the way the earth revolves
Around the sun and not the other way around?
Are you terrified by the ever-shifting ground?
Hey, Trump, I know you weren't loved enough
By your sandpaper father, who roughed and roughed
And roughed the world. I have some empathy
For the boy you were. But, damn, your incivility,
Your volcanic hostility, your lists
Of enemies, your moral apocalypse—
All of it makes you dumb and dangerous.
You are the Antichrist we need to antitrust.
Or maybe you're only a minor league
Dictator—temporary, small, and weak.
You've wounded our country. It might heal.
And yet, I think of what you've revealed
About the millions and millions of people
Who worship beneath your tarnished steeple.
Those folks admire your lack of compassion.
They think it's honest and wonderfully old-fashioned.
They call you traditional and Christian.
LOL! You've given them permission
To be callous. They have been rewarded
For being heavily armed and heavily guarded.
You've convinced them that their deadly sins
(Envy, wrath, greed) have transformed into wins.
Of course, I'm also fragile and finite and flawed.
I have yet to fully atone for the pain I've caused.
I'm an atheist who believes in grace if not in God.
I'm a humanist who thinks that we’re all not
Humane enough. I think of someone who loves me—
A friend I love back—and how he didn't believe
How much I grieved the death of Prince and his paisley.
My friend doubted that anyone could grieve so deeply
The death of any stranger, especially a star.
"It doesn't feel real," he said. If I could play guitar
And sing, I would have turned purple and roared
One hundred Prince songs—every lick and chord—
But I think my friend would have still doubted me.
And now, in the context of this poem, I can see
That my friend’s love was the kind that only burns
In expectation of a fire in return.
He’s no longer my friend. I mourn that loss.
But, in the Trump aftermath, I've measured the costs
And benefits of loving those who don't love
Strangers. After all, I'm often the odd one—
The strangest stranger—in any field or room.
"He was weird" will be carved into my tomb.
But it’s wrong to measure my family and friends
By where their love for me begins or ends.
It’s too easy to keep a domestic score.
This world demands more love than that. More.
So let me ask demanding questions: Will you be
Eyes for the blind? Will you become the feet
For the wounded? Will you protect the poor?
Will you welcome the lost to your shore?
Will you battle the blood-thieves
And rescue the powerless from their teeth?
Who will you be? Who will I become
As we gather in this terrible kingdom?
My friends, I'm not quite sure what I should do.
I'm as angry and afraid and disillusioned as you.
But I do know this: I will resist hate. I will resist.
I will stand and sing my love. I will use my fist
To drum and drum my love. I will write and read poems
That offer the warmth and shelter of any good home.
I will sing for people who might not sing for me.
I will sing for people who are not my family.
I will sing honor songs for the unfamilar and new.
I will visit a different church and pray in a different pew.
I will silently sit and carefully listen to new stories
About other people’s tragedies and glories.
I will not assume my pain and joy are better.
I will not claim my people invented gravity or weather.
And, oh, I know I will still feel my rage and rage and rage
But I won’t act like I’m the only person onstage.
I am one more citizen marching against hatred.
Alone, we are defenseless. Collected, we are sacred.
We will march by the millions. We will tremble and grieve.
We will praise and weep and laugh. We will believe.
We will be courageous with our love. We will risk danger
As we sing and sing and sing to welcome strangers.
©2017, Sherman Alexi

Saturday, April 22, 2023

The Love Song of Brian H. Bilston


La belle Una Stubbio, flicki-kicki subbuteo,

Lei è well beautio, charade di muteo.

Let us go then, you and I,
When I have finished this quorn and mushroom pie,
And cleared away the table;
Let us go, through sterile shopping malls,
Consumer cathedrals
Of bargain baskets in poundshop aisles
And cut-price calendars of Harry Styles:
To lead you to an underwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What are you on about?”
Let us go and work it out.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Barry Manilow.

And indeed there will be time
For selfies in fastfood restaurant toilets,
Or dirtied department store changing rooms;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare your face for Instagram;
There will be time for Facebook and for Twitter,
And time for all your life’s minutae
To be spread like butter across the sky;
Time for blackjack in the new casino,
Before the taking of a frappuccino.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Paolo di Canio.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I care?” and, “Do I care?”
Time to turn back and listen to Cher,
With my newly grown facial hair —
(They will say: “Throw his pipe into a bin!”)
My frayed tank top, wearing thin,
The quadrupling of my double chin —
(They will see the fade of tattoos upon my skin).

I should have been a piece of unsuspected lego
Embedding myself into the soles of yellowed feet.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall subscribe to UK Comedy Gold.
Shall I become thin and frail? Do I dare to eat some kale?
Regardless, I will always hate the Daily Mail.
I have heard the boy bands singing on the radio.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
I have seen them dancing on Saturday night talent shows
Prowling the stage with their hair blown back
When the wind machine whirls and their jaws go slack.
We have suffered the agony of the buffering page,
Lapsed into a sleeping silence, the uncomprehending frown,
Till Katie Hopkins wakes us, and we drown

Friday, April 21, 2023

Make use of the things around you by Raymond Carver


Make use of the things around you.

This light rain

Outside the window, for one.

This cigarette between my fingers,

These feet on the couch.

The faint sound of rock-and-roll,

The red Ferrari in my head.

The woman bumping

Drunkenly around in the kitchen …

Put it all in,

Make use.”

—Raymond Carver, from “Sunday Night,” in All of Us: The Collected Poems

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Fictional Characters


Do they ever want to escape?
Climb out of the white pages
and enter our world?

Holden Caulfield slipping in the movie theater
to catch the two o'clock
Anna Karenina sitting in a diner,
reading the paper as the waitress
serves up a cheeseburger.

Even Hector, on break from the Iliad,
takes a stroll through the park,
admires the tulips.
Maybe they grew tired
of the author's mind,
all its twists and turns.
Or were finally weary
of stumbling around Pamplona,
a bottle in each fist,
eating lotuses on the banks of the Nile.
For others, it was just too hot
in the small California town
where they'd been written into
a lifetime of plowing fields.
Whatever the reason,
here they are, roaming the city streets
rain falling on their phantasmal shoulders.
Wouldn't you, if you could?
Step out of your own story,
to lean against a doorway
of the Five & Dime, sipping your coffee,
your life, somewhere far behind you,
all its heat and toil nothing but a tale
resting in the hands of a stranger,
the sidewalk ahead wet and glistening.

by Danusha Laméris

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

The Country


I wondered about you
when you told me never to leave
a box of wooden, strike-anywhere matches
lying around the house because the mice

might get into them and start a fire.
But your face was absolutely straight
when you twisted the lid down on the round tin
where the matches, you said, are always stowed.

Who could sleep that night?
Who could whisk away the thought
of the one unlikely mouse
padding along a cold water pipe

behind the floral wallpaper
gripping a single wooden match
between the needles of his teeth?
Who could not see him rounding a corner,

the blue tip scratching against a rough-hewn beam,
the sudden flare, and the creature
for one bright, shining moment
suddenly thrust ahead of his time—

now a fire-starter, now a torchbearer
in a forgotten ritual, little brown druid
illuminating some ancient night.
Who could fail to notice,

lit up in the blazing insulation,
the tiny looks of wonderment on the faces
of his fellow mice, onetime inhabitants
of what once was your house in the country?

- - Billy Collins

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

For My Grandmother’s Perfume, Norell


Because your generation didn’t wear perfume
           but chose a scent—a signature—every day
                      you spritzed a powerhouse floral with top
                                 notes of lavender and mandarin, a loud
smell one part Doris Day, that girl-next-door
           who used Technicolor to find a way to laugh about
                      husbands screwing their secretaries over lunch,
                                 the rest all Faye Dunaway, all high drama
extensions of nails and lashes, your hair a
           a breezy fall of bangs, a stiletto entrance
                      that knew to walk sideways, hip first:
                                 now watch a real lady descend the stairs.

Launched in 1968, Norell
           was the 1950s tingling with the beginning
                      of Disco; Norell was a housewife tired of gospel,
                                 mopping her house to Stevie Wonder instead.

You wore so much of it, tiny pockets
           of your ghost lingered hours after you
                      were gone, and last month, I stalked
                                 a woman wearing your scent through
the grocery so long I abandoned
           my cart and went home. Fanny, tell me:
                      How can manufactured particles carry you
                                 through the air? I always express what I see,
but it was no photo that
           stopped and queased me to my knees.

After all these years, you were an invisible
           trace, and in front of a tower of soup cans
                      I was a simple animal craving the deep memory
                                 worn by a stranger oblivious of me. If I had courage,
the kind of fool I’d like to be,
           I would have pressed my face to her small
                      shoulder, and with the sheer work of
                                 two pink lungs, I would have breathed
enough to
                      you back
                                 to me.

-- Nickole Brown

Monday, April 17, 2023

Sick and Tired

 I am sick and oh so tired of this country's lack of sensible gun laws.  Beyond stupid excuses and progressively stupid, evil, greedy people being voted into power is all we got.  And I don't see it changing.

Parlor by Rita Dove


We passed through
on the way to anywhere else.
No one lived there
but silence, a pale china gleam,
and the tired eyes of saints
aglow on velvet.
Mom says things are made
to be used. But Grandma insisted
peace was in what wasn't there,
strength in what was unsaid.
It would be nice to have a room
you couldn't enter, except in your mind.
I like to sit on my bed
plugged into my transistor radio,
"Moon River" pouring through my head.
How do you use life?
How do you feel it? Mom says
things harden with age; she says
Grandma is happier now. After the funeral,
I slipped off while they stood around
remembering-away from all
the talking and eating and weeping
to sneak a peek. She wasn't there.
Then I understood why
she had kept them just so:
so quiet and distant,
the things that she loved.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Banality by Gregory Djanikian


There's something to be said for banality,
the way it keeps everything on a level plane,
one cliché blithely following another
like cows heading toward the pasture.
How lovely sometimes not to think
about Russian Futurism, or the second law
of thermodynamics, or how thinking itself
requires some thoughtfulness.
I'd like to ask if Machiavelli
ever owned a dog named "Prince."
I'd like to imagine Rosalind Franklin
lounging pleasantly by a wood stove.
Let the mind take a holiday,
the body put its slippers on.
It's a beautiful day, says the banal,
and today, I'm happy to agree
with its genial locutions.
Woof, woof, goes the neighbor's dog.
The sun is pouring in through the window,
heating up the parlor, the blue sky is so blue,
and the cumulous clouds are looking very cumulous.
I'm all for reading a murder mystery,
something with flair but forgettable.
Or some novelette whose hero's name
is Hawk or Kestrel, a raptor bird
soaring above his ravished love.
I'm lying on the couch with easy puzzles.
I'm playing a song that has no accidentals.
Life's but a dream, comme ci, comme ça.
No doubt, tomorrow I'll be famished
for what's occult and perilous,
all those knots in the brain,
all the words that are hard to crack.
Today, I'm floating like a feather,
call me Falcon, look me up
in the field guide under Blissful,
Empty-headed, under everything
that loves what it does today,
and requires no explanation.