Monday, December 19, 2011


Photo by Lee Friedlander,
posted by Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tale # 96

I can’t tell you here about the pigeons
on the Odd Fellows Hall* the other day..
They made me think of fancy crests
on lovely English glass houses,
lined up on the ridge as they were,
watching the bay for something.
The old hall is closed now.

They have no bearing on the Mona Lisa
in a trench coat and head scarf,
framed by the dead-bolted door.
She clearly knows the high shadow
approaching; her eyes anticipate
white doves and olive branches -
benevolence and joy.

*Independent Order of Odd Fellows hall, 1889,
designed by Providence architects Gould and Angell.

Eustache Le Sueur, 1650:
The Annunciation, Gabriel the Archangel

Posted for

Monday, December 12, 2011


Photo by Mostafa Habibi for Tess Kincaid's
Magpie Tales #95

Buried in memories;
suffocating in the sands of past and present -
trapped. Mired in the sucking undertow
of question and answer,
swirling in a paralyzing rhythm of black tides
that choke me with my own silence.

I see the lifeboat of family, friends, others,
but I cannot call out.
I know no way to reach them;
anchored to their shores,
afloat on the edge;
buried in the future.

Posted for
Open Link Night

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pretty Glass Jars and Black Delights

Lunch, George Tooker, 1964 (Tess Kincaid)

They are doing what they must do
to keep themselves alive.
I entice them to this place -
buy their loyalty
with tubes of flower seeds;
watch life through my window,
drink in their energy of purpose,
intensity in pursuit of a mission.

The scene never varies:
chickadees and titmice in uniform,
nuthatches approaching upside down,
best equipped to spear the black delights
in the narrow glass cylinders.
I wait for the flash of fire to appear –
the different one who will claim the top
of the shepherd’s crook hanger,
master of all he sees; first at dawn, last at dusk.

I have armed myself
against greedy squirrels,
who, in their bushy beauty,
have become rodents in burgeoning numbers.
I cast pebbles, collected in a pretty glass jar;
kept on the windowsill as weapons, to terrorize
these intruders doing what they must do
to keep themselves alive.

Posted for
Magpie Tales #94
D'verse Poets
Open Link Night 21

Monday, November 14, 2011

Musical Chairs

Photo offered by Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tale # 91

Standing still;
always poised to move,
never choose
Looking back into the past -
purple dawn ahead.

Look out there.
Dance among the chairs
‘til daylight,
sitting down
whenever the music stops
as chairs disappear.

Posted for

Monday, October 31, 2011

Always Halloween

Posted by Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tales #89

The call was for me.
I heard her little voice
from across the room…
My “Hi Honey”, was met
with: “I need my Holly Hobby
socks, and my bat hat.”
I heard whispers in the background,
then: “Hi Grandma”. I laughed.
“I forgot my Holly Hobby socks - ‘member -
the ones with the red and white stripes,
(As if I could forget the Raggedy Ann socks)
and my bat hat.” (The black paper hat
she made at pre-school the other day.)

Her most oft-repeated pronouncement
these days is: “I’m not going to grow up.”
Who knows what she is thinking;
but it has taken me decades to learn
that, as much as I’d like to –
I can’t strip off the red and white
Raggedy Ann socks and the bat hat
I should only be allowed to wear on Halloween.
I try every day to coordinate the ensemble
on a keyboard – hide the truth with accessories.
Maybe Emily will grow up to be a writer …

Posted for
Tess Kincaid's

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Writing Game

Once again I was asked to submit a poem* to be read on "The Writing Game", a community radio program on Bishop FM in Bishop Auckland, County Durham, UK, on November 6, 2011. The following is an excerpt from the radio blog page introducing the upcoming program. A podcast of the program will be available shortly after the airing.

The November Writing Game will visit Escomb Church in the company of Writing Game regular, historian Glynn Wales. We invited Wear Valley Writer Alison Carr, Writing Gamer Avril  Joy, and one of our American listeners, Ann Grenier to write poems about this wonderful and inspiring place. Some of the poems which you see here below will be read on the November programme. Writing Games Gillian Wales and Avril Joy helped to edit and produce this programme.

12:00 Noon
Sunday 6th November

I send heartfelt thanks to Wendy Robertson and Avril Joy for the opportunity to submit my poems to "The Writing Game". It is a wonderful program, beautifully produced, imaginative, inspiring and a delightful listening experience.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Glass Boxes and Dovetails

Lee Friedlander, from America by Car
posted by Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tales

It was a Fine Furnishings show;
I don’t recall any glass.
What I remember is the parking garage,
the sprawling cement labyrinth,
floor and ceiling ahead, compressing,
sucking breath away -
and the passionate young man
seeking life in exquisite dovetails
tamed with sweat and tears of joy.

The joinery of past and future
on display in mirrored boxes
of jewels and shells,
of hindsight and foresight;
cement and satin – locked       
with reflections of latches,
lost passages, hatches
we might have missed along the way –
impossible connections.

Posted for
Magpie Tales #88
D'verse Poets
on Valentine's Day

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Grace Notes: A Hellish Day

Image posted by Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tales #87

If as Sartre said, “L’enfer, c'est les autres”*
why don’t we beat them up
instead of ourselves?

It was a hellish day -
life in metaphor;
make the bed, do dishes,
murmur a few prayers.
Drive her to the lab.
Wrestle her walker up the long ramp,
turn left near the top
for the steeper incline to the door,
guide her through the dark twisting hall.
Left, right, right, left
to the dawn of the lab door,
flood of light inside.

But all was for naught;
she’d forgotten the lab order.
Blood could not be drawn
without the paper work.
Retreat through the back allies
of the doctor’s office to the off ramp;
curses murmured in smoldering silence.
Return home to retrieve the lab order.
Drive to the Lifespan Lab closer to home;
a few short steps and in,
a lovely place, lovely lady.
Can’t find her medical card – no problem,
“Call me with the number.”

No phone number listed for the new lab,
call the headquarters, hear a fax tone,
more silent fuming.
Call the doctor next door to the lab,
get the number, mission complete.
Settle her in, return home
to bake the birthday pie I promised
instead of a cake – the phone rang:
lab has no computer record for her,
will I please bring her medical card,
yes, tomorrow will be fine.

Bake the pie, put the chicken in,
peel potatoes, set the table.
The door opens, he’s home.
All I saw was the bandage
on his hand when he came in,
carrying bread and milk and mail.
He hit it with the claw of his hammer;
eight stitches – on his birthday!
Three hours in the emergency room,
I didn’t know a thing, he didn’t call,
didn’t want to worry me: “It’s nothing”.

It’s not about hellish days,
not about others;
she’s ninety, she forgets –
and I live in the clouds.
It’s about beating myself up
for the short-cut prayers in the morning,
the smoldering impatience, building to anger,
the helplessness, the guilt of inattention.
It’s about gladly slipping my own neck
into the iron noose I choose to stew in,
chewing on others, gnashing my teeth,
watching for an exit - waiting for grace.

*From the play, “No Exit”, by John Paul Sartre, 1944.

Posted for

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Octopus on Wall Street

Original graphic by Jinksy for In Tandem #14
crawls up to Wall Street
squirting black ink on faces
of bosses in banks.

Secure tanks
will not hold them back,
they’re mobile,
with problem-solving skills - plus
no rigid structure.

Speeding up -
army of mollusks
on the march;
keep the watch,
capitalists on trial -
October 15th.

* Octopus description and qualities taken from Wikipedia.

Posted for

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Breaking Through

Escomb Saxon Church, built 670 AD, Co Durham, UK

I saw the mop of red hair first,
then the fierce look on his face,
like some angry Scot’s warrior
striding up to Hadrian’s Wall
with a heavy pack on his back,
determined to break through.
A slim pale blond teetered
a hundred yards behind him
lighting a cigarette –
jeans, t-shirt, no purse,
barely able to carry herself.

I wanted to pull over,
but the traffic pushed me along -
and my fear of the unknown;
dark imaginings, cowardly prudence.
I looked for them on my way home
and for places they might be;
a lance of memory piercing my heart,
visions of parking lots behind strip malls,
seedy motels near liquor stores -
old hunting grounds.

I saw them again the next week;
imagined more hidden shelters –
wanted to follow them, call someone,
get help, all the old impossible things.
At home after dinner, sitting at my desk,
waiting for a satellite image to focus,
I noticed the cloth doll with the missing leg
lying near the lamp, looking up at me,
mimicking Emily’s* question:
Aren’t you going to fix her leg?
I hadn’t noticed her Raggedy Ann redhead.

And there he was – on the screen –
the red haired warrior,
circling Saxon Green*, round and round,
searching for a gate through the wall
guarding the fortress of faith,
refuge from the fiery heap*, cool sanctuary.
He kept passing the gate and sign,
missing the number of the cottage
in the close where the key is kept
for visitors to the jewel box -
and then - I lost sight of him.

© Ann Grenier

* Saxon Green: Escomb Saxon Church is enclosed in this walled village green, Co Durham, UK.
* Emily: my granddaughter, age 4, my little muse.
* “fiery heap”: from a poem by John William Pattison, born in Escomb on 26th April 1870, worked   at the George Pit (colliery) and lost a leg as a result of an accident at work. He wrote a poem, circa 1903, a loving description of Escomb as it was at the turn of the 19th Century, with the following exception:
              What spoils this village, I am sorry to say,
                   Is that fiery heap, smoking and burning away.

Posted for

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Beautiful Mind: Ignore the Little King Standing on Your Newspaper.

Michael Sowa's illustration for Little King December
offered by Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tales
prose and rustling crows,
private worlds
of the mind,
imaginings unbridled -
subconscious theories.

Dream studies
free associate
no reason/
no society limits
surprise imagery.

erotic objects
whimsically disregard

Long shadows
mysterious light,
in deep space
recall ominous settings
of media kings.

Inspired by James Voorhies essay on Surrealism: Department of European Paintings, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Posted for

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Silver Spoon

Photo from Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tale #85

Don’t ask why
the elephants fly,
shorebirds die,
children cry
to see such blood on the moon
melt the silver spoon.

Merry more
in the eagle wars,
open sores,
closing doors;
Old King Cole searching his souls,
fiddles with the polls.

Ding, dong, bell
oil is in the well
more to sell,
men to fell,
and they all go marching down -
to the ground boom … boom

Posted for

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

To Be or Not

Graphic design by Jinksy for In Tandem #12

An outline

sketch behind a blind.

Nude study.


tracing light along her form,

asking a question.

Posted for

Blue Hill

Graphic design by Jinksy for In Tandem #12

One of those places

that lives in your mind

all year long,

Brigadoon or blue moon.

Door with the neon sign,


in case the theater burns

and you must turn

and run away

to another play,

a new island

in the sun - in the sea,

you and me,

to Blue Hill.

Posted for
In Tandem #12

Monday, September 26, 2011

Goodnight Irene

I am writing by the flame of an oil lamp,
plodding along with an LED* flashlight -
word by word - six days after the storm.

It is two a.m. and I can’t sleep
in the absolute blackness of a night
without power. There is no moon.

Old thoughts and new mingle
in nightmare confusion -
in this stifling atmosphere

of desperate dark.
Dreams of years ago - so real;
I feel even now the grip

of a cat’s teeth in my left hand-
hanging over the edge of the bed-
my scream of fear

when I first began the novel.
No words of any use come now
to propel the story along.

I can’t make connections;
all that comes to mind is forced;
I waste the paper I write on.

I am reduced to a yellow flame
and a tiny blue-white spotlight –
crying to my ghosts to return.

  Hurricane Irene: 8/28/2011
*Light Emitting Diode: A semiconductor device with two terminals,
  allowing the flow of current in one direction only.

Original Library of Congress recording of Goodnight Irene
 by Lead Belly in the Louisianna State Penitentiary. 

Posted for

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Crash Landing

Digital graphic by Penny Jinks

It was supposed to be about pink castles

in the clouds

with turrets and terraces,

tassles and tinsel;

but then she fell-


the real world crashed into the make-believe

like the space junk *

about to reenter the atmosphere,

shaking apart

before the crash landing,


the drug runners

caught in the dark channel

under a purple night sky

with a cargo of opiates

for the junkies.

* space junk

Posted for

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Interlude in the Lemon Tree House

The Snake Charmer, Henri Rousseau, 1907
for Tess Kincaid's Magpie Tales

The wall came down precisely:
exterior shingles – to be saved, plaster cut
with a tiny hand saw inside a plastic tent,
to stop the flow of dust all over the house.

The wishful view of the Volunteer vs Thistle,
framed in gold on a turquoise sea,
gave way to a triple window – a woodland view –
and seventy two panes of glass to paint.

Let there be light – and an interlude:

The Lemon Tree grew in the oldest greenhouse,
planted in 1900. I didn’t dare ask if the snake
still lived in this tropical jungle of exotica;

I knew I’d watch for it – I was here on a mission –
looking for Eden ten miles from home
at Logee’s* on North Street;

I’ve had the gift card, tucked away for someday,
for seven years; for this day, when I craved a tour
of a tropical jungle in a century old glass house

to see The Lemon Tree – and the guava fruit,
the pink trumpets of the Angels Blushing Beauty**,
to inhale the hypnotic scent of the gardenia,

touch the twisting trunks and run my fingers
through the twining vines to meet Rousseau’s muse
in a tropical jungle – where The Snake Charmer lives.

A black Eve I had not hoped for, nor had she appeared
in the glass house; but there she was outside,
strolling up the road in stretch denim jeans,

shoulder bag swaying, blond streaked pony-tail,
like the Citrus medica ‘Buddha’s Hand’** in the hot house,
cell phone to her ear, surely charming a “Betes Sauvage”***from her personal Eden.

I stroked the soft, velvety leaves of my purchase,
two scented geraniums for the new windows,
reserving nineteen dollars and fifty six cents
for my next excursion to Logee’s Eden.

Buddha's Hand
* Logee's Tropical Plants, Danielson, CT
** Citrus medica ‘Buddha’s Hand’
*** Betes Sauvages, album of wild beasts, Paris Museum of Natural History.

Posted for


Monday, September 12, 2011

The Revenant

The Revanant (1949): a self-portrait
 by Andrew Wyeth: offered by Tess Kincaid
 for Magpie Tale 82

How many lifetimes did it take
to make that tattered shade,

      darkened by the soot of soiled hands,
            torn to beckon light into the room,
                   clawed to shreds in trying to escape?

To shape the edge into the blackened fingers
      hanging in the window, burnt by sun;

a shroud to shield the soot that settles
      in the cells of all the voices filled with light –
                  clings to paper walls of faded roses;
                       petals peeling off the plaster cracks.

Tear off the shroud and throw open the window!
Call spirits from the mirrors – and away.

Posted for

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Try to Remember

An excerpt from a collection of poems:
The introduction below is a record of my experience on the day the Twin Towers were hit. I include the poem from which the title of the collection is taken.


We built a new house in the year 2000, a reproduction of a center chimney Cape Cod style – a snug solid box in the middle of forty acres of woods, crossed and crossed again by old stone walls. We blasted ledge for the foundation and hydro-fractured the well to open fissures in the bedrock for water to flow.

A few months after moving in, lightning struck a pine tree on the hill surrounding us, and followed the water flowing through the ledge to the house, melting the emergency switch on our furnace, creating clouds of smoke and fear. We had lightning rods installed on September 11, 2001. The two young men who did the work stood with us, frozen in place, watching live coverage of the airplanes that slammed into the Twin Towers.

The title I chose for this collection of poems is a line from the poem Escape in section one, entitled “Try to Remember”. The words “flowing in old stone” seem to be contradictory, meaningless – suitable only as metaphor – much like the truth of our lives.


High window,
shadow in the glass,
branch of thorns
scratching a code of escape -
an old temptation.

A cart path
winding in lilacs,
open gate
oven bird haunting at dusk,
sunset glow on grass.

flowing in old stone,
shy dark ferns,
brushing at a window pane
whispering to me.

I pray that America will remain safe tomorrow.

Read more memories at
Thank you to Mark Kerstetter

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Blue Day

Digital graphic by Alias Jinksy
at In Tandem

A blue day -
rain falls in torrents.
Tear stained leaves
dance a waltz
to the edge of the Danube,
slip into the blue.

posted for

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Litany of Abandon

Abandoned Farm, Dublin , Ohio
posted by Tess kincaid for Magpie Tales #81

Old New England orchards, we deserted thee
for rush of golden nuggets far away.
Textile mills of America we abandoned thee
for tight embrace of cheaper Chinese robes.
Leather shoes of Maine, we have forsaken thee
for China boot that keeps us right in step.
Electric Narragansett, we subsumed thee
in National Grid of Great Britain to enlighten us.

Oil of Middle East, transport us, we pray thee,
to bigger boxes just around the corner
from shuttered malls of commerce, now for sale.
Churches of our youth, we surrendered thee,
to temples made for homage paid to art.
Mansions that we built in this past decade
cry tears from blackened windows in the night,
awaiting auctioneers and foreign buyers.

Posted for

Thursday, August 25, 2011

In Quiet Coves

Digital graphic by Jinksy for In Tandem #7

My eyes were on my book, but I looked up
often for the streak of red - shining flash
of silver oars paddling around the pond.
The kayak maneuvered past the long wharf
where the fisherman waited silently.

I sat at the shore beside the boat ramp;
thought I was alone until I saw him
standing so still among the lily pads,
watching me, suspicious, prepared for flight.
I went back to my book - he kept fishing.

Reminders of the other world dissolved
in ripples of the water at my feet,
as floating yellow leaves dipped down beneath
the surface of the pond, with Orpheus.
A golden eye still watched, and silver flashed.

A soft drone overhead made me look up,
to watch the circle flight of a small plane
around the pond, to come into a path
for landing on a greenway - old rail bed.
A red plane with silver trim - yellow lights.

Did they matter – the colors – to the scene?
If the leaves were red and the pond was gold –
if he paddled a bright yellow kayak
through blue water lilies in quiet coves,
past a great pink heron with golden eye?

Posted for
In Tandem #7
 a prompt for writers
by Alias Jinksy

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Cruising the Decades

Photo provided by Tess Kincaid
for Magpie Tales #79

Why did we need a rumble seat, anyway?
It was a 1937 Ford Coupe, I think -
but there’s no one left alive to ask today.

It was already older than me when I was eight;
The year that I was born was a missing link.
Why did we need a rumble seat, anyway?

No cars were built in 1944 - a year’s delay
before the World War ended - on the brink -
but there’s no one left alive to ask today.

I was an only child, by the way,
afraid and shy with heart so quick to sink -
Why did we need a rumble seat, anyway?

Under the staircase where I’d hide or play,
I wondered why the thunder made me shrink -
but there’s no one left alive to ask today.

Yet life’s a tumbling box on every day
wearing down and polishing my chinks.
Why do we need this rumble seat, anyway -
but there’s no one left alive who’ll ever say.

Posted for
Open Mike Night

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Catching Feathers

Graphic design by Jinksy for Tandem #6
and from Margaret Bednar

The light of a linen white sun is dim
on the monochrome blue-gray sky and sea.
A pale gull dives, swoops and cries, soaring free,
as a feather drifts down – soft as a hymn.
Tides lick the sand-castle cones on the rim
of a shore where two little girls foresee
a princess world view with a guarantee -
diamonds and pearls evermore with a prince.

A sand crystal necklace swirls in their pail,
whirls in salt water, where old women see
dark tails of whales and dinosaur scales,
rocking and swaying in a sea of green tea.
Children reach up to catch feathers and smile,
as we hum a tune from a childhood dream.

Posted for

by Alias Jinksy
with Margaret Bednar this week.

Please click on the link above for In Tandem for inspiration from original graphic designs that free your imagination with a myriad of possible interpretations and ideas.
I am really enjoying these challenges!  

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

What She Used to Be

Photo by Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tale #78

I suppose we’re too old to start over;
all that ripping and tearing - repairing -
jacking up walls to replace rotting sills,
painting and papering, staining old boards.
But I see her there still, just as she was
in the fall, before the widower died.

Simple white cape in a swathe of green fields,
stunning surround of flaming swamp maples.
Old fashioned garage for a new Model T;
red paint with white trim – a bit out of place.
I thought if I ever did own the house,
I’d move that garage, or I’d tear it down.

When the widower died, more changes came.
The house grew appendages all around
and tall solar panels up on the roof.
A porch on stilt legs leaned over one side,
hiding the old walk-out cellar stone wall.
A large plate glass window stares at the road.

The owner retired and moved away;
now the house is for sale - calling to me.
She knows that I live here, just down the road
and remembers we once lived side by side-
that the river flowed past me, on to her.
She knows that I love what she used to be.

It wouldn’t make sense to buy the house now;
to take down additions that spoiled her looks,
pay to remove them - start over again.
He says it would kill us, but I still dream…
I see her there waiting, just as she was,
in the fall, before the widower died.

Posted for
Tess Kincaid's

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Maine Earthquake: July 7, 2011

Digital graphic by Jinksy at 
In Tandem #5

Maine Earthquake
July 7, 2011*

Looking over the edge,
I saw the whale breach
out of the depths,
fly across the face
of a glowing sun rise;
resurrect over dark hills-
a premonition, a dream.

An explosion somewhere!
I half rose to check the time,
see the sun, test my sanity.
Are they blasting rock
at this hour – that barge of stone
in tow did pass the other day…
Thunder - but the sun is up.

Calmly, a voice reported:
“Earthquake in Maine”.
Haunting echo of words
spoken in another year:
He’s gone - of lives shaken,
and sun darkened on this date
in an earthquake at home.

Did faults of spreading plates,
out on the far away edges,
force open the stone heart
of the earth in Maine -
to let whales fly to the sun,
weld a new link in the eternal
quivering chain that sustains life?

* On July 7, 2011, there was an earthquake in Brooksville, ME at 5:23 a.m. It registered 2.3 on the Richter scale. We were on vacation in an adjoining town. 

Posted for

 Alias Jinksy

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Driving Home

cropped digital graphic - original by Jinksy
for In Tandem
Driving home in rain
words stepped out,
stood there in the road
confronting me.

You can’t talk to people -
only about the weather.

I pulled over.

Parked at the bridge
over the reservoir
where the long lane leads away,

I wrote.

Walker’s cemetery
on Central Pike,
raining lightly,

Alone on the road.

On the verge of lush green woods,
blinkers flashing ,
poison ivy climbing
trees near the gate
to the long grass-covered lane.
Yellow and black lines
snaking on the road
in the rear view mirror.
waiting for a car to pass.

A bird laughing,
Who are you?
What are you doing here?
What do you want?

I pulled away.

Heading home again,
Who made you?
Why did God make you?

I passed the cemetery.

I remember climbing the steps
that day,
finding the grave;
I copied the words on the stone,
kept them so long
in a drawer:
Sarah Walker
Age 21

I wonder

If she saw me back then,
if she sees me now -
if she’d like to talk.

Posted for


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Driving Home

Google Images -

Driving home in rain
words stepped out,
stood there in the road
confronting me.

You can’t talk to people -
only about the weather.

I pulled over.

Parked at the bridge
over the reservoir
where the long lane leads away,

I wrote.

Walker’s cemetery
on Central Pike,
raining lightly,

Alone on the road.

On the verge of lush green woods,
blinkers flashing ,
poison ivy climbing
trees near the gate
to the long grass-covered lane.

Yellow and black lines
snaking on the road
in the rear view mirror.
waiting for a car to pass.

A bird laughing,
Who are you?
What are you doing here?
What do you want?

I pulled away.

Heading home again,
Who made you?
Why did God make you?

I passed the cemetery.

I remember climbing the steps
that day,
finding the grave;
I copied the words on the stone,
kept them so long
in a drawer:
Sarah Walker
Age 21

I wonder

If she saw me back then,
if she sees me now -
if she’d like to talk.

Posted for
d'verse poets

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tilting at Windmills

Photographer: Skip Hunt
Tess Kincaid's Magpie Tales

The wheel is still, the vanes silent
in tracks where the wind blows dust,
where rust corrodes the axle.
Steam of the spiraling planet
furrows my brow, corrugates creases,
oxidizing the old iron clad
wisdom of youth - refrain of nun
and monk in scapular and hood.

A sword spins, the blades spiral
in whorls of revolt, circle the globe
in a dance of the whirling dervish.
Blood of the slain runs in rivers,
flooding the red-stained earth,
cleaving a red sea, seeking a route
to salvation. Sound of bellows, quakes -
blades of grass growing through rubble.

Posted for

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Written in Stone: A Novel Excerpt

digital sketch by Jinksy

Incredibly, some living family members deny his existence because no one ever told them the story. Nevertheless, the records are there and speak for themselves. Two years of looking for him in England, in the mines of Wales and the mills of Providence, in the draft registers and the lighthouses has awakened him. His name has been called by the ghosts of legions marching the moonlit Roman Road of antiquity through Arthur’s Kingdom of Wessex. It has echoed across the Atlantic from the hollow quarries of Wiltshire County to the dangerous shoals of Lake Champlain, and he has come. He has come to watch me, not to tell the truth or to justify, but to watch with that distant and amused hint of a smile that so intrigued and haunted others back then. Perhaps he mocks me---I don't know yet. Why come at all though unless he still harbors a spark of hope for an illusive forgiveness from the family.*

© Ann Grenier

*An excerpt from chapter two of
Written in Stone
a novel in progress.

posted for
In Tandem

Old Gardens

Flicker Photos: Creators Dream

I thought the work was going pretty well.
Roses were in, I was planting lilies –
those yellow hybrids that bloom all season,
you’d never know they live for just one day.

It’s the old herb garden we built back then,
to retain the slope. Weather-gray wall stones
have grown a green coat of lichen and moss,
since we moved away and have now returned.

It was that unmistakable slither,
the slippery slide – the flickering tongue.
Instinctively, I froze as our eyes met.
He’s been here all along – the garden’s his…

No! Mine! Even that wall you hide behind;
those chives I planted forty years ago,
the tansy, bee balm, pink oregano –
the tough survivors that have laughed at you.

I felt we’d made a pact, created truce,
believing I could conquer an old fear.
The garden needed tending, and I knew
that I would never raise a hand to him.

Next morning, when the sun had risen high,
I leaned across the gate-leg table top,
where blinding light sparked off the pewter cups,
and looked into the garden down below.

I wasn’t sure at first just what I saw -
but sickened as the vision cleared for me;
two snakes in battle for a helpless toad
with fangs sunk deep and writhing round the rose.

When horror of it faded from my mind,
I pondered retribution for that death:
cruel execution – or communion,
in consumption of another creature …

So many thoughts and questions with no end –
wind on like long black roads with yellow lines;
circles twining back to the beginning,
when all the digging seemed to go so well.

Go to
to read many more poems.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Feeding the Machine

Photo posted by Brian Miller at
D'verse Poets

They looked like a mother and son,
waiting in line to feed the machine,
recycling old bottles and cans.

The line was long - black bags bulging
over the sides of shopping carts.
The automatic door whooshed open

as people approached or passed,
cheerfully accommodating - slick
and smiling like a used car salesman.

Red, white and blue plastic flags
waved every time the doors exhaled,
shutting someone out.

I walked by them, on into the market,
smiling at the woman as I passed.
She gave a polite, automatic nod.

An echo of my mother’s voice said:
“Down in the mouth”, her old saying
about people in the 1930’s.

The son too, wore his mother’s depression
on his face, along with his embarrassment,
bitter gall lying just behind his lips,

waiting to spew the wrath of his soul
at the first hint of provocation. The doors
whooshed again - swallowed them both.

Read more poems prompted by the photo at

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Once Upon a Time

Graphic by  Alias Jinksy
for her writing prompt "In Tandem"
Once upon a time,
I was a princess
in a royal tower,
in a room with a view
of Kensington Palace
in London’s Hyde Park.

My window looked down
into gardens - and guns
of the soldiers guarding
the Embassy of Israel,
steps away – an omen,
but a shadow ignored.

We delighted in antics
of magpies at breakfast,
strolled through the park
and the Tower of London,
rode red double-deckers
until news came from home.

A death in the family -
a terrible tragedy -
we got off the bus, cried long
on the sidewalk, not knowing
where we were, it didn’t matter;
we’d been hurled off the earth.

Time has passed,
sadness has softened -
brought hope of return -
to the west country,
to search for roots
from rooms over a quarry.

Posted for writing prompt
In Tandem

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Boat House

Boat House, Maine

The boat house is simple in the extreme,
empty now, except for a few beach chairs.
Facing east at the edge of the Reach,
it’s alone at the shore, far from the house.

Just a shed, a child’s drawing, an outline,
stark, stoic – a silent sentry – waiting.
It’s hard to say why it speaks to the guests;
perhaps because it stands there faithfully,

calling us down the hill to her cool shade,
to the distant drone of lobster boats,
hypnotic glide of sails through channel guides,
seagull cries, lapping tides and chanting bell.

Someone has made new doors for her this year
to guard the rusted treasures stored inside.
Old bolts and hinges washed up on the rocks
are lined up on the window sill in line,

leading guests to wonder, yet continue
saving bits within this sanctuary.
Perhaps we’ll bring a little boat next year -
to row - then to tuck safely in at night.

More poems can be read at

Monday, July 18, 2011

Face Value

Photo posted by Tess Kincaid
for Magpie Tale #74

Perhaps if we’d known then about the masks,
it wouldn’t be so hard to accept now;
but the dressing rooms were hidden from us,
locked behind the clothes racks in the closets.

I believed in the value of faces:
the good and bad, true and false, black and white;
the land of the free and the golden rule.
Masks were for Mardi gras, minstrels and plays.

But one day I found a skeleton key
that opened the door to the hidden room.
An old sign said: All masks are free. Take one.
Write your name in the book on the table.

And there they were – volume after volume,
Names, dates, masks they’d chosen and worn.
I smiled, and wiped a tear as I wrote:
Howdy Doody mask: “Hey Kids, what time is it?”

I didn’t bother to lock the door …

Poem posted for

Friday, July 15, 2011

No Escape

photo by Ann Grenier

What was he doing there, in paradise;
intruder in black glasses, a black dog,
a walking stick – appearing out of fog
on the velvet path where the lupines rise;
where the old camp rots - where the seagull cries.
He never spoke a word, nor gave a nod,
just stepped off the path and across the yard
past the rhubarb - never lifted his eyes.

We cannot say why we did not approach-
just watched from the cottage up on the hill -
the shadow float past the skeleton tree,
whose dead arms seemed vaguely to send reproach -
to beckon this specter, traveler so still,
back to his resting place, back to the sea.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Photo prompt created by Alias Jinksy

Golden field,

frill of pale green woods,

silver sky.

A painting:

parable or fairytale

to ease our cravings.

Poetry prompt from

Monday, July 11, 2011

Mystery Tour

"People of Chilmark", Thomas Hart Benton, 1920
prompt from Tess Kincaid for Magpie Tale #73


worlds apart,

all silent


They cannot see each other,

don’t know where they go.

I know him –

the god in their midst;

no helmet,

and no wings;

a staff with twining serpents

at his feet instead.

A journey

to the afterlife -



tour from heartless realm - where we

never can forget.

Posted for