Throwback Thursday: If I May Speak

This poem was also published in Alaska Women Speak’s winter issue 2015.  Enjoy!

If I May Speak

over my mother’s teaspoon as
it scrapes the teacup like a child
who discovers an annoying sound
it finds joyful only to do it again and again.
The words that spill over her tea,
the steam that comes off the cup,
have little meaning.
They are the same things we have talked about
each time we have tea:
the weather,
the people who have died
and the people who have not.
Each time we speak
we pretend that there is nothing
else to discuss or confess.

If I may speak,
if I could say what I wanted to say,
ask for the secrets she hides,
tell her the feelings I have inside,
would she hear me?
Would she listen?
Or would it all drown
in the liquid in her cup,
in a whirlpool of sugar
that distorts all voices,
including mine?

Throwback Thursday: Alaska Women Speak

This poem was published in Alaska Women Speak‘s winter issue 2015.  The theme was “talking over coffee or tea.”

Babushka’s Samovar

The samovar placed on the kitchen table
is a poor replica of babushka’s samovar,
the silver one with the tiny teapot at the top
that held the strongest tea,
the tea she cautioned your tiny hand
not to touch,
not to hold.
Just watch, my devochka,
she would say,
as she poured the concentrated tea
into tiny china cups:
for you a little; for her a lot.

She would exhale the steam off her cup
like she was blowing off a potion,
like a spell casting you both back
to the old country,
the Good Russia of the tsars,
not the bad Russia where Lenin lived,
in the stories she would tell.

She takes you to the Samara of her youth,
when the tsar still lived
and the grand duchesses were the most
beautiful girls in the world,
as her tea cakes disappear
and your tea runs cold.

Today, your middle-aged hands fill
the teapot of your own samovar, far
less beautiful than babushka’s and made
of brass from new Russia.
You hope she doesn’t mind the cheap
imposter as you set two ceramic cups out,
and babushka’s spirit takes you to the
banks of the Volga just one more time.

Throwback Thursday: Da! – Peeking Cat Poetry

OK, so this is late.  It is barely Thursday Alaska time, but hey, it is still Thursday!

This one was published in Peeking Cat Poetry in October 2015 (8th issue).  Yes, it is about my little girl.  No, really I am not turning her into a Russophile, but really, would it be a bad thing if I did? Ha ha.  Just like mama! 🙂


My ten month baby girl says “da”
like a good Russian comrade.
Her hands flap in the air, beat her chest
with the conviction of Lenin presenting
his April Theses in Petrograd in 1917.

I tell my husband “da” counts as a word,
as it means “yes” in Russian.
He shakes his head: in English
it is short for “dada” or “daddy.”
Yet, he knows his Russophile wife better:
You’ve been speaking Russian to her, he insists.
I’ve been too tired to speak to her in anything
other than English, I tell him.

But that is not true:
ne pravda.
I have read her tales of babushki and koshki—
Grandmothers and cats—
because it interests me.
Makes reading to a seemingly disinterested
audience easier, more productive.

Yet, I wonder, as she sits in my lap,
her corn silk hair thick like mine,
her lips open wide,
her hands clap patty-cake,
as I reach for the bottle.
Bringing it closer to her,
I pause before I can say khochesh and
use English instead:
want your bottle?
She smiles with her two front teeth,

Throwback Thursday: How to Eat a Bagel

Last post of the day, seriously.  When do I make all of these posts, lol.

This one was published by 50-Word Stories back in September.  Enjoy!

And, Happy Holidays, everyone!

How to Eat a Bagel

Eat like this, mama demands, nibbling the bagel like a caged gerbil with a toilet paper roll.

The boy giggles, taking his like a harmonica, raises it like a singer reaches for that final high note. Cream cheese squirts out for the audience’s enjoyment.

She rubs her expectant belly. “Kids.”

Throwback Thursday – Alaska Women Speak

This one was published in Alaska Women Speak‘s 2015 Fall Issue:  Fireweed theme.

Fire Angels

Girl with corn silk curls twirls

in the meringue sundress into

a field of fireweed.

Her hands slap the magenta petals

like a propeller, spinning the fluffy

cotton until she collapses,

but does not stop,

making fire angels in the weeds.


Throwback Thursday – Alaska Women Speak

This one was published in Alaska Women Speak‘s 2015 Fall Issue:  Fireweed theme.


The cracked windshield, blotted with rain,

streaked with each wiper blade pass, as

we wasted time with a drive past the Chugach

Mountains, thick with gray cloud afros,

adorning each peak.


Miles of guard rail sheltered

our route from the swollen Eagle River just feet away

until the gray broke for a brief patch of fireweed

and a moose cow and calf,

their red-brown fur

nestled against the magenta petals

as they waited along the roadside:

spectators to our rainy day parade.

Throwback Thursday – Alaska Women Speak

“Willow Rebuilds” was published in Alaska Women Speak‘s Fall Issue 2015.  This poem was written about the aftermath of the Sockeye Fire in Willow, Alaska.

Willow Rebuilds

from the shards of glass, the piles of wood ash,

the remains of once soggy work shirts and jeans, and

a burned out jeep.

Beyond the twisted metal of a former guard rail and

the cardboard signs thanking the Alaska Sockeye firefighters,

the birch and spruce warriors still stand.

Some trunks burn black while others burn auburn,

like a passion that refuses to die or rest defeated.


Yet, off in the distance, where the ash grass turns

a brittle yellow then a tall green,

the fireweed rises,

its magenta petals ignite the landscape with life,

encircling the new plywood,

and the owner’s grinding saw,

as the cabin rises again.

#willowalaska #sockeyefire #poetry #alaskawomenspeak #throwbackthursday


Throwback Thusday/Happy Thanksgiving!

This one was published back in August by the Eunoia Review.  Ah, the old creative writing work shop days. 

A happy poem

about desertion
and hypocrisy, it was.
Finally, a happy poem, she says,
her eyes crinkled in a smile.

My workshop mates groaned,
although a few of them had
remarked more or less the same.

I had been a poet for less than nine months,
and I had yet to workshop a sentimental piece
about some lost love,
some childhood play place or
some lost pet or friend.
No, I chose to pull them into
my bottomless cauldron of
sales clerks prostituting for commissions,
pretentious people airing their tortured souls
for art, among other things,
but nothing pretty or happy
until now,
at least not as biting as the others she had seen.

When the groaners ask what is so
happy about an affluent man who
after criticizing the local crowd, finds
himself stuck in a dirty
cafe after dark in an unknown town,
she stays by her word,
asks me for a copy to keep,
before folding it into a square
she can keep in her pocket.

First Poem Published

My first publication.

This is the one that started it all.  Although I’ve always considered myself a fiction writer, I’ve published mostly poetry.   Of course, I have just returned to writing and publishing after a 10 year sabbatical of sorts, so we will see if I can get some fiction published.

In the meantime, this is the first poem I published.  The funny thing is, I never intended to write poetry; poetry found me.  This is the second poem I had ever written.  It was for Jon Tribble’s beginning poetry class at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.  I struggled every week for something to turn in, while it seemed, everyone else had a workbook of material to pull from each week. After that class ended, I took a gamble and sent this poem in with two others to Grassroots for its Fall 1999 issue (yes, that long ago!).  This one was accepted.  Enjoy!


Cool September breeze ruffles

the cheap, tattered peach color hair tie.

Lovely off-white recital gown

laced with light pink ribbon lays loosely on your skin.

A dull plastic pearl necklace—

perfect for the performance.

Luscious cantaloupe colored gloss,

fuchsia nails as possible finishing accessories

The stage cages you with its cheap metal.

There is no release.

Death is the only null in your contact.

But, even death would never redeem

your torture whether it be in heaven or hell.

That never mattered—

they still wanted more.

They went ahead.

Poked your side.

Yanked your tail.

Batted your head.

You are not human.

You just wear the dress

your owner gave you.

Feelings are not yours to feel.

You are incapable of it.

They said so.

What happens when you are the monkey in the cage?