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Forest Path


First published by Crosswinds Poetry Journal


The old woman smiles

with a mouth full of filled teeth 

and thoughts of a dusty will

while she chatters about people forgotten

and tire swings-- She is the oak tree

that stands between the edge 

of a conservation zone and electric wires, 

a stubborn woman with a cantankerous tongue 

and accusatory glare. Her skeleton aches 

as she stretches over wires and a gale blows, 

arguing in coarse gray and green.

She is weak and strong from age 

but inflexible, arthritic, 

making her scream at the wind

as it rends leaves from her limbs.

Her trunk is bent, but it defies gravity,

forcing a permanent view of the ground, 

forcing her to follow people 

from the top of her eyes. 

The tree’s burlwood remains out of reach,

protected by her crusty bark

and from those who want 

to throw a rope over, and hold it 

while they rev their saw. 




An Anthology of poetry, prose and pictures published through the
Sandwich Arts Alliance



First Published in DASH Literary Journal

He starts low,

a barely audible baritone

tuned to the beat of the train.

His words blend with the alcohol in his blood,

creating octaves of suspense as the volume of his aria increases,

enticing passengers to look up from their phones.


His inebriation level rises

and falls with his scales

as he drinks from the heart of the score.

Then the passenger launches into a full arioso.

His voice fills the car, building its crescendo,

reverberating off faces perplexed by the contradictions

of power and tattered threads, of quality and poverty.

Italian echoes between walls of doubt,

and cascades off the steel sides.

He holds his note-- strong-- insistent-- a perfect D sharp.


I nudge my friend.

“I know this voice. Charles sang opera as he cleaned

my parent’s house.”

Odd. Why is he in this city?

I sigh.

I never asked him what he sang-- or where he learned it.

His voice was deep but hesitant.

The glory of opera was concealed

within his cheese sandwiches.


Charles’ song subsides into a whisper as we near a stop.

He accepts the inevitable diminuendo.

Humming his eulogy, he rises and trudges down the aisle,

the gait of a man disappointed,

mourning the inadequacy of his life.

There is no applause.


First Published in Literary Hatchet

Once upon a time may be an apt beginning—

for non-believers.

Maybe I could say it was a dark and stormy night—

but it was not stormy.


The night was clear, a new moon night.

Darkness held our hands.  

We were hunting for a campground—

after 9:00pm.

Instead of toasting marshmallows,

or reading the best book ever,

or sleeping,

we were still in the car.

Sleeping would have been preferable to

Not Knowing.


A night search teases campers

with yawns, with grumbling stomachs,

with signs of campgrounds thirty miles back.

Oh yes, we saw that sign.

The billboard stood out when our headlights illuminated it,

and it was not a cheap, home-made sign with missedpellings.

The real sign told us of a campground up ahead,

and we heard that announcement because this was

a silent car full of family.


The Cascades loom over their prey,

waiting to pounce,

hungry for Lost Travelers.

People get lost, disappear, die on dark nights of cascades.

Call me Miss Melodrama. I know what I saw.


My brother no longer tells people about him:

his dark hair and slim physique, his height—the size of him!

People look skeptical when they hear the story.

But this is not a story. No. This is an accurate account.

An account not to be investigated, hunted down, or turned into a mystery on a chic channel.

Besides, this happened fifty years ago.

An anniversary. A milestone.


When lost in the Cascades on a new moon night,

drive slowly.

Keep your eyes open.

Don’t be afraid unless you stop but that won’t matter

because you won’t be able to see him if you turn back

it won’t do any good to chorally whisper

“What was that?”

It won’t help to turn around in a group double-take

he will be gone—

        swallowed by Dark’s instincts.


Remember that holding your breath is not going to remove the memory of

that new moon night

the dark

the woods ready to grab you

the presence of Sasquatch.


First Published in The Raven's Perch

Our ride takes us by her white clapboards and blue shutters.

Red oaks and yellow maples frame the property.  

A swing set sits in the side yard.

It was the fun house to visit,

but now it is encircled by a withering garden.


On our return, I see her peek out the window.

Her scarf, speckled with reds and purples,

is camouflaged by a kaleidoscope of fall leaves.

While he continues his tour in the Middle East,

their four girls play in the yard,

and a For Sale sign beckons.


First Published in The Raven's Perch

The electricity went out—

winter dusk sat in line,

but I still lit a candle for effect.

The dog and I settled on the sofa to wait.

I heard a large truck drive by, but

we had nested on our cozy couch.

We didn’t look out the window.


I turned a page in my book.

People were talking loudly on my country road,

but I ignored them.

Odd that anyone would be strolling by

with dark encroaching on their path.

The dog’s warm body, curled up beside me,

prevented me from rising. He didn’t bark.

I heard loud noises.

Perhaps a tree went down in the storm.

I started a new chapter in the book,

engrossed in another Hieronymus puzzle, filling my mind

with a satisfying appetizer to a black-out meal of pb&j.

My mind drifted to the noise outside,

but the dog turned over, exposing his plump belly.

I gently rubbed his fur and took a sip of tea.

I heard more trucks outside, then the lights turned back on,

and I knew my sojourn into another drama was over.

Turning around, I looked out the window

and watched the parade slowly exit—

an ambulance, a police car, a utility truck.


First Published in Literary Hatchet

Sea salt lingers on her lips as she strolls up the beach.

She picks her way through the path mined

with sharp spikes of seagrass.

Balancing her towel and book and drink,

she hops along hot stones placed as a walkway,

mentally playing hopscotch

to mask the pain on her feet.

She notices a stranger’s car in the driveway.

She frowns as she opens the cellar door

with its 10 x 10” window coated in residue

from last week’s storm.


Her nose wrinkles at the dank darkness,

musty with the salt air of its

forbidden underbelly—

the cellar is a living organism,

hiding rusty nails that grasp at feet,

and storm-battered boards

that whisper their stories of sordid abandonment.


A mouse

scurries between cracks in the cinder blocks.

The ocean breeze answers with a sigh.

The shower room next to the door

beckons with painted block walls

of purple blowfish, orange sharks and yellow jellyfish

with their goggle-enlarged eyes

that stare at all who enter.

Though she helped her father

give the creatures life through art,

they still mock her, laugh at her, stare at her.

She surveys the cinder block room for unwanted creatures,

then hangs her towel by the door.


The shower’s stream gently washes sticky sand

off her arms and legs.

She squeezes out of her pink bikini,

baring her childhood youthfulness,

rolling the suit down her legs,

rinsing sand from its folds.


She hums a Disney tune

while she builds the soap’s lather,

gaily gliding up to the high notes,

bellowing the chorus,

stumbling over unlearned passages,

oblivious of her visitor.


The spider weaves its way out of a corner.

He breathes in the moisture,

hungry for some of her exuberance,

hungry for an early supper,

then skitters silently into the darkness of the cellar

and waits.

Delayed Duty


          First Published by Literary Hatchet

He was smirking, head erect

when he stepped onto the familiar route.

The blades sounded like a knife

on a honing tool – metal on metal, 

a sharp swish swish swish in the cold air. 

No engine broke the spell 

as he clutched the wooden handle.


Perhaps he wished he was Braveheart

who attacked the foe, slashing invaders in two– 

or Attila the Hun who raised the sword of Ares, 

(even if it wasn’t) or Crazy Horse 

who charged on his steed, 

counting coup to the future.


No. The young man did not attack nor charge, 

did not shout a rally cry,

yet he strutted across the grounds,

defining a world under his control,

when he was ready not before.


Fulfilling an order given months previously, 

this teen was alone in his self-appointed task

as he marched in boots anticipating ice, 

attacking an enemy that melted at his touch,

for it was February 

and this boy decided to mow snow.

Thoughts from behind the window


          First Published by Literary Hatchet

I sit at my desk and gaze out the window 

while glass defines who I am. 

I see branches move in the wind, 

watch rabbits feed on clover 

and watch Brandon Leake* perform. 

We both write poetry 

and strive for excellence 

and maybe we both harbor self-doubt.


I want to speak up, to shout with a voice 

that thunders, shakes, creates an earthquake, 

a speaker with a cause. I want my words 

to make others cry, my actions 

to proceed thunderous applause, 

my poetry to inspire and enlighten.

My heart beats, beats, beats a drum, 

but makes no sound as I hide from battle. 


Then a hawk coasts over my yard, 

lands on a wide branch. 

Two songbirds chirp warnings, 

but a third lands late, a mistake. 

Am I the third bird, ignorant-- late? 

Then off he flies, the hawk in his wake and both 

disappear behind a pine 

while I contemplate survival.


I am inspired by a black poet 

who perches on his own limb and sings words

I hear but cannot wear. I cannot be him, 

cannot know how it feels to wear his skin, 

to leave his home each day and wonder 

if white will shake his hand and call him brother 

or if white will silence him, 

so I sit at my desk and remain mute.


*Brandon Leake was a spoken word poet on America‘s Got Talent.

Slug Rave


          First published by The Raven's Perch

A simple invertebrate is he

who on his woodland branch he parks

no hands to hold a cup of tea

no arms to raise, no humor sparks


No wings have you that lift and glide 

no mane, no cloven feet, no snout

yet linked to Arion, your pride,

a foil for your meager route


Unlike the snail who hefts his home

unlike an ant who hauls much freight

your burden light you rarely roam

remaining where your meal awaits 


Perhaps you know the age of trees

or how you found your rotting stick

your silence mocks the windblown leaves 

whose vibrant voice commands and whips


You’ve donned your subtle pinstripe coat

the tux above, white shirt for feet

but there’s no fans to hear you quote

your metered dithyrambic beat


So raise your mug to those who wait 

to toast a creature’s simple tale 

this Arion Hortensis lives his fate

a slug on nature’s humblest scale.


          First published by The Raven's Perch

A knife cuts into the apple, invades 

the core and releases seeds, littering 

the counter as they break from their shells. 

The meat is white, but a large bruise taints 

perfection. The rejected apple remains 

on the counter, where time will do more damage,

like the bad apple who stared out the window,

drawing on the desk. Sweet sixteen 

looked at me, eyed me up and down. 

Your dress is ugly. She smirked and glared 

while thank you sunk in, but sarcasm failed 

to erase the doodle. The girl turned  

toward her classmates, then added a footnote-- 

Why did you buy that sack? She exited 

to the office, one seed in the wind. 

I smoothed my dress and turned to the others, 

but they were distracted, a couple hunched 

over phones. The rest of the peck was turning.

Pecking Order


          First Published in The Raven’s Perch


Plump black birds land on wires overhead 

the pecking order established

and line up with military precision 

eight inches apart. Facing east 

they keep feathers groomed, 

ready for long distance flight. 


One bird pretends to belong. 

Her neighbor leans in, Beat it. 

The small bird remains rigid 

mimicking those above and down the line. 

The boss shifts toward her, 

leans in again. Hey. I said beat it. 

She shifts an inch away from him, 

brave to ignore pressure 

to stand her ground despite long odds. 


I think of my daughter. 

When a hatchling just out of college, 

she landed on a plush wire 

and watched the birds peck and perform.

Peers expected her to measure up  

but had no patience to teach skills

as they solidified their flight 

up the ladder.


The battle for position continues on the wire.

The bully persists. He creeps closer, 

a body width between them now, 

and he touches her, a Weinstein moment.

She shivers, shrinking with disgust and anger.

Then she flits up, floats down, 

lands on a lower wire with less sun 

and obstructed views 

but safe from harassment.


The tormentor spreads his wings, a boast,

still aware of the lesser bird’s presence.

He sets himself back in formation

and waits for departure time. 

The smaller bird considers her options.

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