We’ll call it decluttering

You are done with the dolls
you announce, no more
than what I already knew.
I tried to lay my regret
on how they have been
lying lumped there
all this time, unused.
(We all deserve the joy
of use.) But now I see
that your childhood
has slipped out a side door
when we weren’t looking
or maybe got lost in the move
with that fabled one box
holding all the bits and pieces
we still can’t find


NaPoWriMo, Day 23.

Long Day

for a walk to sunburned shoulders
at every compass point
the hard straight streets
same garage-box houses, pent-up
barking dogs, daffodils
trails to ponds and rivers of shopping

this afternoon privilege, having
diverted us from our childhood
revolution to a quest for happy
shoes: I am turned around

so that sitting, quiet, in the manicured yard
I am surprised to find the sun still at my back
moon still in my eyes, a single white butterfly
flitting like a dream and wanting still
to be in your arms


Prompt for NaPoWriMo Day 16 is an “Almanac Questionnaire.”

Urban Starlight

These dusty ancestors: a matter of faith
when only the brightest still show up
to pierce the tattered clouds, the streetlight haze
tired and perfunctory compared to the blaze
of their mythical glory. They’ve been at it
eons, pulsing dreaming guiding
but now we spin these wheels to power
the night and can offer them retirement
close the book on their song
of glittering mystery


Urban (blank) prompt from Poetic Asides.

Pilgrimage 2

You plan to drop in, skim
the surface, not find yourself
caught. Cars highway-crawling
shopping centers sprawling
between open land and sky—
all as you remember. It repels
and draws, lodestone of home.
Just as the earth will have you
in the end, your birthplace tugs
you to the roots that shaped
and grew all your people, the same.
In that dark you examine your heart:
petals folded over petals, tight


Twelve hundred miles, the penance
of a confessed Grinch—
I say we will go home for Christmas
and by home I mean the place
I haven’t lived for twenty years
the family I happily abandoned
the scenes I packed up and moved
out of my heart. We will daze ourselves
driving, hug and kiss, dry-eyed
laugh a little, bring our own wine
and drink it in secret, trying
to remember how to feel. We will fall
into the old southern cadence for a time
but the glowing vision of color, carols
Momaw’s living room, gift-wrap strewn
is grayed-out, gone. I grow old
complaining of traffic and change
querulous for my own bed.


These boxes where we keep old bits of self
old cassettes in their cases, gathering dust
re-taped and hauled from house to house

The wild songs we packed down and forgot
and the instruments unplayed, unstrung
these boxes where we keep old bits of self

Corners crushed, cardboard crumbling—
but we stack and shove and shrug at the piles
re-taped and hauled from house to house

Are they dreams we can’t let go, so
pack them on ship and train and truck
these boxes where we keep old bits of self?

And if we opened them, would we know
how they rot or worm or lose all sense
re-taped and hauled from house to house?

We are not finished. Let’s make some room.
Let’s burn and scatter the ashes of youth
these boxes where we keep old bits of self
re-taped and hauled from house to house

A phrase from Quickly that caught my attention: “boxes where I keep.” 

Too Early to Tell

Time was
I put on gloss
and polish, finishing
touch—a mask
for what rattled
undone, inside.
Best face forward
(all turmoil is let be).
Who are we
to each other
beyond gloss and polish?

Today’s PAD prompt is to write a memory poem. I got distracted by the cosmetics ad (with a bright tube of lipstick) that popped up at the edge of the screen.