Mar 16 2013

holding pattern


some weeks leave you

feeling spent,

and i am there


it’s time

to buy more flowers


Mar 15 2013

runnin’ down a dream
{scintilla day 3}


Talk about a time when you were driving
and you sang in the car, all alone.
Why do you remember this song and that stretch of road?


It was a beautiful day, the sun beat down, I had the radio on, I was drivin’

Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever is one the few albums I’ve ever purchased immediately after hearing one song on the radio. (Counting Crows August and Everything After is another,  and more recently, just last year, Sean Rowe’s Magic was added to this short list.) All of these albums quickly wove themselves into the fabric of my life, becoming part of my personal tapestry.

But back to Tom Petty… I was young when this album came out, the same age that my son is now, 27.

My little boy was three at the time, and my first marriage was struggling for its last breath.

I remember exactly where I was when I heard Running Down a Dream for the first time, just a few miles from my house on a back country road. And it WAS a beautiful day. I had all the windows rolled down, (my tiny Toyota Tercel did not have air conditioning) and I pulled the band from my ponytail to let my long hair dance. I turned the volume up loud, I put the pedal down, and for those few minutes, just as the song goes, I was flyin’.

Later that year, I packed up my tiny car with a weekend bag and all my favorite cassettes. (Yes, I said cassettes.) It was mostly Dylan and Joni Mitchell, along with Mozart’s Requiem, and of course, there was Full Moon Fever. I drove myself to the Adirondack Mountains on Friday night after work. I had no reservation for a place to stay, no idea what town I would be stopping in, and no cell phone. None of these facts phased me in the least, but that is the blessing of being 27. I had a full tank of gas and a stereo, plus chocolate.

Late that night, after what I admit was a brief period of panic in which I realized it was quite possible that I had messed up and wouldn’t be able to find a place to stay in these sparsely populated mountains during off-season, I came upon The Melody Lodge. In a town called Speculator, which, in my rush past the sign, I read as Spectacular. Perfect, right?

The Lodge was the old-fashioned kind, the rooms didn’t even have their own bathrooms, everyone had to share the one down the hall. But I was there and it was dark and it was late and I wasn’t about to try a better place. And in retrospect, it was perfect. It was cheap and it was warm and the people working there were friendly. And I had all these blank notebooks just waiting for my words. I wanted to be a poet.

The next morning I got in my car with my music and I spent the entire day driving through those mountains, all the way up to the northernmost corner and back again, all the while playing an endless rotation of my favorite songs.

I was running down my own dream in the only way I knew how.

The day after that, I drove myself back home, back to my life, the one that was broken, and back to my son, who was not. And I knew that somehow, there would always be something good waitin’ down this road, and I would always be pickin’ up whatever’s mine.

I’m still running down a dream, still workin’ on a mystery, still goin’ wherever it leads.

And I’ve come to understand that I always will be.

Because anything is possible.




this post is part of the scintilla project. see more here.

Mar 14 2013

{scintilla day 2}


What’s the biggest lie you’ve ever told?



It’s simple, really,

and it always goes like this:

I can’t.


I’ll probably tell it again

a million times,

but I’ll refuse to believe it

until the end.





this post is part of the scintilla project. see more here.

Mar 13 2013

church mouse
{scintilla day 1}


Tell a story set at your first job.


My very first job was cleaning a church. Every Saturday, my whole family (my parents and four children) would spend the morning dusting and sweeping, washing and vacuuming, emptying trash and scouring sinks.

Okay, I admit, my parents did most of the work while the four of us ran around in what can only be called the coolest playground ever. We played endless games of hide and seek, as well as seeing who could make the other one jump the highest by sneaking up behind them and yelling, “Boo!” This is where I learned to internalize my scream, never wanting to give my brother the satisfaction of hysterics.

We each had a job or two, and mine was dusting. The smell of Lemon Pledge can take me back there, to my childhood, in an instant. My mom Pledged the crap out of every piece of furniture we owned, pretty much daily, and the church got a good weekly dose as well. We had to dust all the pews. There were a lot of pews, especially if you counted the main sanctuary plus the chapel, and then there were two large, formal sitting rooms filled with big antique furniture with lots of scrolls and nooks and crannies. A duster’s dream. Or nightmare, depending on how you look at it. It just so happens that I like to dust. (And you be quiet, Mr. Mediocrity.)

There was also a grand piano in one of those rooms, with a large photo of a couple hanging in an oval frame above it. I have no idea who the people in the photo were, but I do know for a fact that their eyes would follow you wherever you went. Sometimes we made a game out of that, moving to every possible location to see if they were still staring us down (they always were), but other times, when I was alone in the room, it would really creep me out.

There were a lot of creepy places in this labyrinth of a building, lots of hidden rooms and dark corridors. The organ pipe room was the stuff of Saturday afternoon horror shows, but the creepiest place of all was The Tunnels. Down in the basement, way in the back of the boiler room, was a door that was always locked. Behind that door was a series of tunnels leading I don’t know exactly where, lined with stone slabs. It looked more like catacombs than anything, the kind of place you would expect to find old skeletons. The story went that it had been part of the Underground Railroad, and the slabs were used for sleeping and hiding out. That always shut the four of us up for a little while.

And there was the bell tower. We didn’t go up there often, though I think my dad went every Sunday morning to ring the bell. But he took us up there sometimes on Saturdays if we pestered him enough, though none of us had enough weight to actually budge the thing. That bell was heavy. Still, we had fun trying.

Later, years later, my parents finally decided to retire from the church cleaning job, and my uncle took it over. And then he hired me to work with him for four hours every Saturday, for $60 a month. You can laugh, but back then that was pretty good pay for about 16 hours of work, especially for someone who wasn’t yet 16. By the time I did turn 16, it was time to find a “real” job to pay for the gas I needed to put into my 1967 Chevy Impala, a car big enough for eight people, a car I paid $200 for.

But I still look back on those church cleaning days with fondness. When you clean a place, care for it, it becomes yours, a little. And for a while, that church was ours.

I haven’t been back there in a very long time. But that’s okay, I visit in my memory, often.

And there is a story about a mouse, but it’s a sad one.

I’ll just leave it at that.




this post is part of the scintilla project. see more here.


Mar 12 2013

standing room only

a chair to sit in filled with silence
offers more comfort
than these cacophonous sheets
rioting disorderly through dreams
promenading as puzzles
with the promise of solution

shrouds of ambivalence
with no claim to tenderness
printed in patterns
of restlessness and terror
on a background of ennui
just loud enough to hold you
with a whisper

there is grey and there is black
and ninety-seven shades
of hope in between
these bones that rattle and moan
in a plea for prone
in exchange
for dawn’s pink necklace




Linking up today with the fabulous dVerse poets for Open Link Night, join the fun!

Mar 9 2013

tiny bits of clarity


in a life

a bit fuzzy

around the edges


Mar 7 2013

50 things: movies i’ve loved

The movies in this photo are all the movies I actually own, so of course, they get top billing.

This may have been even harder than narrowing down 50 books. After the first twenty or so, I could have come up with a hundred. And I’m certain that I have left out so many, mainly independent films that I remember watching and loving, but not their name. I’ve seen all of these more than once, which, in the end, was the criteria for making the cut.

And apparently, Emma Thompson is by far my favorite actress, though if you ask me, I always say Juliette Binoche. I don’t think I have a favorite actor, really, though if I had to pick one, I would probably say Anthony Hopkins, but only in his non-violent roles.

A lot of these are movies that made me cry. Either in sadness, or in laughter, with Wit and Shadowlands earning Best Sob awards. Napolean Dynamite and A Christmas Story might be my favorite comedies.

  1. Remains of the Day
  2. Pride and Prejudice (the McFadden version)
  3. Wit
  4. Sense and Sensibility
  5. The Dead (The John Huston one, not the zombie one)
  6. Love Actually
  7. Napoleon Dynamite
  8. Shadowlands
  9. A Christmas Story (our Christmas Eve tradition)
  10. A Family Stone
  11. The Gods Must Be Crazy
  12. Amadeus
  13. Forrest Gump
  14. Chocolat
  15. Harry Potter Series
  16. Cold Mountain
  17. Cool Hand Luke
  18. Dead Poets Society
  19. Good Will Hunting
  20. E. T.
  21. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  22. The Fisher King
  23. Grizzly Adams
  24. Home for the Holidays
  25. Field of Dreams
  26. Moonstruck
  27. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
  28. Spencer’s Mountain
  29. Rain Man
  30. Clerks
  31. Schindler’s List
  32. Like Water For Chocolate
  33. The Color Purple
  34. The Usual Suspects
  35. West Side Story
  36. The Hours
  37. Jeremiah Johnson
  38. The Unbearable Lightness of Being
  39. 50 First Dates
  40. Born Free
  41. Lord of the Rings Series
  42. Night on Earth
  43. Short Cuts
  44. Sleepless in Seatttle
  45. Before Sunrise
  46. Ghostbusters
  47. Lost in Translation
  48. Juno
  49. Little Miss Sunshine
  50. Sideways

So here they are, 50 movies I’ve loved. I’d kind of like to be watching any one of them just now.

Apocalypse Now is a movie I never got over, though I can’t call it a favorite. Suspiria, which I saw when I was 15, made me afraid to look out of windows at night for years, and turned me away from horror films forever. I love Woody Allen movies, but couldn’t choose a favorite. Henry V is a movie I absolutely loved, but I’ve only seen it once.

And Back to the Future was the last one I cut, though I have seen it dozens (perhaps hundreds) of times because it was my son’s favorite movie for a few years when he was a kid. But I’ll let him put that one on his list.

So okay, now it’s your turn. Would love to see your list if you feel so inclined… come back and leave me a link to your post if you do!

Mar 5 2013



tiny signs of life
in a landscape bent on breaking


renewal growth



quietly anticipating tomorrow
without calling for a promise



Mar 2 2013




it really is better

to bend a little