Throwback Thursday: Crabapples

This one also was featured in 13Chairs‘ first issue.  Check out their spring issue free and see this poem and more.


You resisted Eve’s temptation

for far too long, passing

by the crabapple tree each day

with the stroller filled with the overtired,

but never passed out, fussy toddler.


The fruit hangs low,

red with a bit of yellow,

that by the day is eclipsed

by the growing red.


Each day you long for a bite

Because you think

it will remind you of Sky Queen,

the blue bike with the cloud seat

and the white straw basket

with three plastic daisies

of pink, blue and purple.
In the Midwest of your memory,

the crabapple tree reclines like a “y”

in your babysitter’s backyard.

In the summer, you rode

Sky Queen through the grass and crushed apples,

making your own sour applesauce on the ground.


For hours you gazed at the “y” and

from its branches, took the green apples and

threw them at the neighbor’s kid.

From its leaves, you sought shelter

from the July heat before you took bites

from the dirty apples

until your babysitter’s old finger shook

and sentenced you inside.


In Alaska, as the clouds spill low around the mountains,

the September morning frosts over the tree,

yet the fruit still stands,

inviting you to take it in like an old friend

who shows up at your doorstep unexpected.

So, you invite it in without looking,

and just as the child once did,

your now mature hands reach

over the stranger’s fence to pluck the reddest fruit.


Taking a bite, you are looking at the “y” again

and Sky Queen is your ride,

but now the fruit is bitter,

not tart like you once remembered.

You hear the buzzing

and see the yellow jackets

as they sting your feet

and suddenly, you notice the present world,

and you toss the bitter apple into the street drain,

and bid the uninvited guest to go away.



Throwback Thursday: A Fireweed Dies

This poem was published in 13Chairs first issue.  Check out this poem and more at 13chairs.  Free eBook issue.


The Fireweed Dies

a slow death in the dwindling Alaskan sun

surrounded by its closest family of weeds.

As the daylight shortens

and the August rain comes

the fireweed, once admired for its magenta beauty,

its petals that set the roadside aglow,

fades, growing white with age.


Its fragile cotton  sways in the wind

until the rains come and its days are labored

as life draws to a close.

In its last breath, the final puff leaves its lips

and takes flight with a gust of wind,

before falling to the earth and decay,

leaving its skeletal stalks to survive

the fall solstice only to be buried in the winter snow.

Throwback Thursday: The Fragments You Carry

This poem was published in 13chairs’ first issue. Enjoy!


The Fragments You Carry

One box always carried

is a cardboard Ziploc container.

It could be the quart size,

the gallon size,

or even the sandwich size.

The contents,

the plastic sealable bags,

are not the important things.


With each military ordered move—

seven in fifteen years between

five states and one foreign country—

it is among the last boxes

removed from the house or apartment

that was your base,

where you celebrated Christmas,

away from your family,

for two or three years.


The bags are mostly gone.

They were used to secure the toiletries,

the mint toothpaste,

the lavender scented deodorant,

the red and green toothbrushes,

and the overpriced pumpkin spice body lotion

you wouldn’t dare throw away,

even if it is only one-third full,


in the suitcase that sits by itself

by the door with the cleaning supplies and oils

the movers would not take,

the glass cleaner you used yesterday,

the full bottle of rubbing alcohol,

and the half used olive oil

you will need to discard

in the overfilled trash can at the curb,

after you close the door one final time.


The cardboard box remains to pick up

the rest of your things:

the permanent markers,

the bottle of Tylenol,

the loose change,

the card from a friend wishing you a safe journey,

the receipt from your favorite pho restaurant

and the cheap vodka you had last night.


The final physical fragments of your former home

that will be emptied and thrown away

first at your next destination.



Throwback Thursday: Earthquake Shakes

This one was published by Three Line Poetry in February.  Short and sweet, each line is less than 40 characters.  Enjoy.  It is about my first earthquake in Alaska.


earthquake shake book shelves
café patrons lock eyes
a brief sip paused

Throwback Thursday: The Reflex

This poem was published by Eskimo Pie in February.  Yes, a Duran Duran reference!

The Reflex


The lead guitarist’s butterfly collar

framed the half opened polyester shirt

exposing the sable chest hair that

matched his fuzzy head.

Shiny silver dress slit high

up the lead singer’s

thigh as she begins

her scorching rendition

of Gloria Gaynor.


I will survive

Oh, as long as I know …


It reminds of my mother’s obsession with


All oldies – all of the time


Songs that tormented my youth

with a quick rotation of the radio dial.


Love, love me do…


The lyrics of one Beatles song or another—

nothing but a good oldie would do for my mother.


As I sat watching the misfit 70’s band

leave the stage at the dive bar of my college existence

where I often drank after creative writing workshops—

sometimes more than others, sometimes harder than others—

the thoughts of the funky polyester pants dissipate

and memories of my mother’s radio fade

giving way to another time when I was young,

and Duran Duran’s “The Reflex”

made everything seem so much easier.

(Explicit)Throwback Thursday: The Drop Off

Explicit post: Warning! Possible trigger.

This poem was published by Eskimo Pie in February.  Check out the poem and Eskimo Pie too!


The Drop Off

Maidenhood aside,

your sex trapped me.

My fresh curls could not

compete with you aged mounds

of flesh I did not desire.


The fruity bubble gum should

have told me all:

the sickly melon perfumed

my car, ate at my stomach,

eroding my alliance,

down to a sugary decay of

falsehood and cunning.


Thinking nothing of sticky fly traps,

I shared my soda and

youthful dimples.


Instead of cookies, you offered love

and, of course, your sex

as the sugar started to saturate,

entrapping me.


The friend you left behind —

not the one that offered you a ride,

the one you had in me–

dashed off her fears and turned the key.


Sweetly, I spurned your desires,

but with all the sugar everything

turned sour.


I dropped off your unfulfilled

desires at your doorstop.

You will come to me again,

but I will not be there.


I’ve thrown away all of my candy.


Throwback Thursday: Crossed Eyes

This one is a very old poem, probably written in 1998, that was published in February’s Eskimo Pie.  Now, if that is not a real Throwback Thursday, I don’t know what is, lol.  “Crossed Eyes” for your Throwback Thursday enjoyment!

Crossed Eyes

A glossy photograph with eyes

scraped clean with black ballpoint.

Anger and pressure,

strokes of lines—

straight and circular—

penetrate white paper,

bringing it to the fore,

dehumanizing its former owner of its





over the smiling figure pictured next to it,


Throwback Thursday: Joanna’s Child

This poem was published in Cirque‘s Winter 2015 issue.  It was written around 2001.  It remained dormant until 2015, when I decided to revise it and submit it for publication.  Despite some revision, little changed from old version to the final published version.

A side note: if you have never read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, do yourself a favor and check out this coming-of-age classic!


Joanna’s Child


But what makes you get a baby often

                        starts with a kiss…Remember Joanna.

                                                –Betty Smith, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn


At 14, I learned that I was Joanna’s baby.

The realization was somewhere

between sixth grade,

maxi pads

and sex education.


I was different—

not in the typical angst way,

for I stayed out of trouble,

in a small town

where no one divorced,

where everyone went to your church,

or some church,

where everyone wanted to know you,

or at least, your business—

I was an unwedded birth when good

girls did not keep their babies.


I’m your mother and father,

my mother would say,

and I believed her.

I told everyone I had no father,


until I became older and realized

the “oh” would be followed

by the awkward nod,

a shuffle of feet,

or rattle of ice in a drinking cup,

when I told them

my parents had not married,

nor had I had any contact

with him.


Eventually I caught on;

it was a signal—

we could no longer be friends.


Later, in my college years

the questions would be more demanding:

Do you know who he is?

Wouldn’t you like to know?

Aren’t you curious?

I would lie and say no.


Like all of the stones that were hurled at Joanna,

I knew my mother had her scars.


She would remind me often that

she was a good mother

(and to the best of her ability she was),

It was her attempt to negate those who thought otherwise

because she chose to break the rules.


So, what “lessons” did Joanna share

with her child?

I don’t fully know her pain

(or his name),

aside from the assurances of her mothering,

the glares and the asides.

She never shared her wounds,

and the wounds from the rocks that hit me

never healed either.



Throwback Thursday: The Important Things

This nonfiction piece was published by Alaska Women Speak in its Winter 2015 issue.  The theme was “talking over coffee (or tea).”  This my first creative nonfiction piece to be published.  Enjoy!

The Important Things

It’s been that kind of a day and now, at home, you are faced with a household tragedy: the tea supply has run dry. Not that fancy, loose tea that sits atop of the cupboard by the stove: the rooibos, the jasmine, the gunpowder green. The kind that requires the French press, a teaspoon to measure, four cups of water, and four minutes to brew. No, you are out of the ordinary Red Rose Tea, the one that comes in the bulk 100-count boxes. The ones that are not individually wrapped for freshness. Those are the ones you lack and need.

You leave your husband and the overtired one-year-old who refused to nap today to make the important journey. You travel to the only grocery store in your small town that has this tea. Forget about the decaffeinated version, you want the real thing, and buy two boxes. When you return home, his raised eyebrows, sigh and silent house tell you that he’s succeed in his mission and the child is asleep. You produce the tea, proving you were successful in yours, too.

The evening proceeds like many others do. You select the preferred cups: his, is the plain, white ceramic; yours, the clear glass Starbucks one. You are not fancy. This does not require much decorum. Just two cups of water, a microwave, and two minutes.

After a moment of silence, you turn on the TV. Forget about the Syrian refugee crisis and the falling Dow Jones, you discuss the important things of life over Futurama: like Katey Sagal’s career after Married…with Children ended and how much adults like Disney cartoons, too.

Your tea is the liquor that calms the nerves and re-energizes your soul. The last sip, overly sweet and growing cold after fifteen minutes, gives you the final jolt you need to pack the diaper bag, make the turkey sandwich lunch and check your calendar one more time, before winding down to a short sleep before the day begins again.


Throwback Thursday: High Tea and Fancy Things

This poem was published in Alaska Women Speak’s 2015 Winter Issue.  Written especially for their “talking over coffee or tea” issue, this one is “High Tea and Fancy Things.”


High Tea and Fancy Things

You choose Assam for your mother,

because you think it best resembles her tastes:

simple but brisk, a taste familiar

but bolder than her usual Lipton.

For yourself, you choose the Chinese Green Flowering Jasmine

because its fancy green leaves and rosy petals,

hand-sewn to resemble a closed flower that

open when steeped in hot water,

makes you feel sophisticated,

well-traveled and grown up in her presence.


She looks around in the unfamiliar Alaskan tea shop,

many miles from her small, Midwestern hometown,

its fine china teapots with matching blue and white willow

pattern tea cups and silver demitasse spoons.

You both act normal despite the delicate

three-tiered glass tower of French treats and food:

the tomato bisque, petit fours, and purple macaroons.


When her hand reaches for the scone.

she contemplates the small, silver knife,

the one with the curved handle

for spreading the clotted cream,

when the knife drops to the table,

a soft landing on the cloth napkin.

She looks to you and shrugs her shoulders,

grabbing the scone, dipping it into the clotted cream bowl.


Some things are just too fancy, she says.

And, some things need not be, you reply.

You both laugh as you shared in a moment

much prepared for, but made simple as can be.