Breviary in Carmine

among mums

my favored garden mantis ages

from green to amber

that’s my preferred

crayola prayon:


her right wing shredded

from rough rocks,

but she knows me

reaches for me like a kitten

with little lobster claws

then recoils from her injuries.

afraid now.

i know her pain

huddled for the 200th night

i battle against my antique sewing machine

for 1000 floral print masks

my wrists and vision tunneled.

my hands match mantis religiosa

i channel Mother and her mother and hers

who made hundreds of children’s quilts at

Zion women’s group

frail fabric layers endeavoring to save one life.

as i take her place in line,

i wonder if her pain is mine

penance and prayer

penance for every cruel word i ever spoke

each unjust or undone deed I now I own?

if so, she finished decades ago while

i have thousands and thousands more to sew

before another wing crumbles

i’m willing to be wrong about laboring over masks

even as i package them in reused amazon plastics

praying the post office holds out one more day.

i can’t find what to believe in any more

but i believe in Her

whispering in her croaking voice

as she polished church pews:

Red. Yellow. Black. White.

All are Precious in His Sight.

i’m wagering on Her being right on this.

hunching when i Rise Up

from The Machine to gardens

i limp on Her same wooden, rusted hips

kneel on angry knees near senescent mantises

now crimson in an alien, smoky poison-red twilight

for EvenFall prayers:

*watch with those who wake,
or weep tonight.
give your angels Charge over those who
tend your sick ones,
rest your weary ones,
bless your dying ones,
soothe your suffering ones,
pity your afflicted ones,
shield your joyous ones,
stay with us,
to guard the innocent,
to raise the fallen,
to curb the power of the Evil One,

stay with us.

*evening book of prayers

mum in red with quilters

two of my 1000 masks




we long for the old days

you know, the ones from last week?

When positive meant optimistic

TV ads stab at our wounds.

Every pictorial, vividly ludicrous

dance troupes, live audiences, concerts in parks

kids leaping on and off school buses.

eating puffy Cheetos with our hands shoved elbow deep into bags

licking the orange fluff from our fingers.

clinging to each other while we wept in grief

hands dipped in tears gripped

we scratched our noses without guilt

washed our hands without singing

answered doorbells without thinking

opened UPS packages with abandon

longed for tropical cruises

held tight to handrails for safety

during meandering shopping trips.

the sun does not shine here despite

endless virtual, viral

yoga salutations,

For God slumbers,

Dreamless, on Ghost Nebula

just 1470 light years from earth.

Fighting mynd belonging to monkeys

I hate this has become my muse

Quiet these many years.

I pose in yoga’s Warrior II.

Aching joints roll the waterworks.

I dare not touch my face to staunch


Flowing. Settling into

all the other antiques from

The Good Old Days

the good old days

renting Dogs from Gods

Gardens are lovely in smoky fall haze

Ruby petals shrivel in winter’s sudden approach.

As darkening zinnias curl and wither

Competing with vexed wasps for last sips of nectar, 

I fill every pocket with spiky thistles 

Next spring’s love-on-a-mist, black eyed susan, amaranth.

For Ginny’s Glenwood hill and Andrea’s sunny spots

I hear in the wasp’s drone,

Fall brings farewells that we dread


“I feel guilty that my sorrow for my old terrier cuts

 as deeply as my mother’s loss,” I confess to Maven.

She absolves me:

Our dogs hold all our tears of loss and allow us to finally grieve everything.

Their dates so close together,

I slide his service collar beside her seeded sympathy card

shoulder to shoulder in the earth

Tilling with hands unpracticed in grief’s hull

I plant resilient red faces of cold loving kale.

I realize again,

We only rent from God.


I plug in my fairy lights 

So they both can see the way Home



(reposted from Oct. of 2012)

I clearly remember October of 1962.

I was 5 years old with a new green plaid dress and I was in kindergarten two blocks from my home. The world seemed full of promise as I posed with my younger sisters under the ripening apricot trees on my first day of school.

I also remember Grandma and Grandpa’s new red brick house adjacent to our white frame house. Much like my own now, it had a massive concrete basement. Not furnished but with four small windows and a walk in pantry.

Every year we canned vegetables and fruits by the ton into sealed jars. Marked by date and the proper seal noted by their creator. They were lined up in alphabetical order, holding promise for a winter’s day. From our own gardens we canned beans, corn, odd looking meats, rhubarb, sorta smashed looking peaches, and apricots. Colors of the rainbow hidden under the stairway.

I remember a year so far distant almost hour by hour. Because fifty years from these very October days in 1962 our harvest included cots, blankets, beds, pillows, clothes, and stuffed toys. Baby bassinets and food for the Little Girls.

And Dad covered the windows with tinfoil, though in his trained Navy mind, he knew that aluminum foil could not block out horror that hung across the world.

Cartoons along with the Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Hour, Lawrence Welk, too were blurred by Walter Cronkite as he tried to keep us up to date with the blockade of ships circling the southeast coast.

So very little was actually said as adults tried to hide their fears. I think that is what frightened me most.

It’s not like that sudden burst of adrenaline an adult gets when they have a chance to save their child. Like my mom did when I was 16 and I froze behind the steering wheel of the old Rambler on the Boulder Turnpike.

I felt the fear. A long drawn out, anguishing adrenaline as our families who had seen war held their breath for 13 long days.

But mostly I remember the foil on the windows, even I knew it was not enough to hold back a nuclear blast.

A “Peace with Freedom” was offered by our President.

The fall air today is crisp and the wind sharp, full of the scent of harvesting corn and sugar beets.

Gifts of peace we take for granted. Gifts of promise like those jars in the pantry that hung in the balance while we stared for 13 days and nights at foil covered windows.

Waiting for a blast of radiance that was held back by a combination of the sweat of diplomacy.
And might.

Perhaps, it is just the type of day to remember that with crisis comes unity. And we can remain united without the fear of crisis and war and politics.

Mr.Limpet meets cemetery goldfish


We stopped every day,

Yellow Dog and I,  to visit giant koi in

The cemetery waterfall

Living their stagnant lives

Circling in fetid water

Under the watchful eye of

Sugar beet smoking stacks.

Some the size of terriers

Likely 20 years old

About the same amount of time I

Have circled around those same motionless towers.

I knew each by sight. Had names for them

Smoky, Gator, Fluffy…..

I told them confidences I wouldn’t dream to tell you

Made wishes into their faltering fountain

Someone poisoned the fish today

The. sight. of. such. violence. leveled. me.

I mourned for every love I have lost

As I gaped at workmen dragging their catch

Into funereal  black trash bags.

I had to see.

Stumbling through tears

I stared at each of my former pals

I had to be sure

There was none wearing spectacles

don’t name goldfish

Goldfish were my Valentine’s day request

No roses please

They just don’t last

12 followed Lan home from Walmart

One already floating listlessly in the goldfish sachs

From the treacherous 3 block drive

(Kenneth scandalously fished them out of store tanks, no one would help them)

I proclaimed the floater, Otis.

My loud voice echoing along plastered walls

Making crowded fish in the bag flutter.


‘Do not name goldfish’

The Boys cried in unison.

There’s no future in it.

(you know goldfish only have an IQ of 3)

Wait at least until tomorrow.

I feared a massacre in their tiny glass cage.

But, still, named Floyd the Barber with a long flowing tail

And Barney the Betta.

Ernest T Bass has a fine black mohawk.

But he’s a bully.

I am considering putting him alone in a teacup

Already, they follow me as I walk around rooms

Goddess of Flakes

I click and whistle when it’s feeding time.

Their feeding  frenzy antics simultaneously

amuse and calm me.


Goldfish swim in the same water they poo in.

they die in clear, clean water

Kenneth says they have to cover foreign objects with their slime

so disaster is imminent.


tank water was so cloudy this morning

discount store filter stopped working

Otis died for reals.


Ernest ain’t looking too great

Aunt Bee has a damaged fin

Opie hides, buried in the rocks.

Still. others rush madly to greet

The Goddess of Flakes.

Do  my Tiny lives matter?



IMG_2815.JPGThe very reincarnation of our childhood dog,


Part pit bull, part beagle

She snarled at Gin and I

When we patted her in the  shelter visiting room.

Made us laugh so loud

Our laughter rang between cinder blocks

Legs-barely 3 inches long and hefty mongrel body.

But how that dog could run

Shelter workers laughing as they narrated how

Two weeks were needed to catch her by baiting her with food

Fried Chicken and fired burritos

Chips and salsa.

It stuck in her mind. Those two weeks

her hunger in life, profound.

Mexican food was her  mainstay for 15 years.

And she ours.

We went through an assortment of names

Oxford, Boxy, Rocks

Settling on Rox.

Which quickly evoked  Roxzannnnnne.

(In deference to Sting)

As she sped without regard to danger to

Yet another garbage dumpster

Or when she ate the armrests off Gin’s new green Honda

Terriers are mostly teeth and bark

Convincing in disguise as Doberman Pinschers

And as lap dogs

Often, it seems, bred for one sterling day.

(like the day two vagabonds tried to get in Ginny’s car

And met the pit bull part)

Those two were of gyspy blood

Rox preferring car over kennel

Except for an occasional flight of will.




Our dogs become our children

When our children are absent.

Our companions

Soul mates

Life savers

To our dogs, We become gods.

They ease the lonely days

Listening to our deepest fears

All the while

We know

an indelicate human versus dog year formula

They are merely rentals

Not owned.

Yet, always the optimists

We find ourselves

In animal shelter parking lots


For our hearts to heal


Ode to Roxzanne 2002-2017

1 1 1 1 1 1 1

1 degree on the frozen colo plains

2001 Pruis is skating on 1 gallon of gas

100 miles til home on Highway 1

my last $1 bill  won’t buy  coffee

Ice 1 inch thick covers everything

1% battery on cell phone

Page 1 of a Prius owner’s manual reads

100 miles to the gallon

Fuel Signal lights begin to flash


It’s all on faith in first gear.

Many are cold

but a Few are frozen



I am afraid of desolate dark woods

Where we have no words

Poets without muse.

In thistle thicket budding

From the Wild Rose that Grows in Winter.

Outside my protected plot

Thriving in expert isolationist landscapes,

Hanging from bare honeysuckle branches.

Riotous and greedy

Star-lings, grackles,  blue Js,  Mock-ing birds,

Searching for sanctuary in my treeless bloc.

Now feeding on black oil.

and sunflower seeds

I want quiet here, away from word woods,

Without the noise of thesaurus, lexicon, and glossary

I want to drink at the first font

To quench thirst from frost forming at my temples

But I am at a loss for Words


Photo credit to Brianna Sargent

{÷} = $

Sighs of our tiempo.

my sisters, Ginny and Laura,

though a continent apart

in Cabo and Veracruz

together, recline on Sol’s  heated stones

pacified by Del Mar in Mexico.

while flurries pad Rocky.

mountain valley walls with feet of snow  .

aquifers diffusing.

through obstacles/ and (barriers).

to inundate faltering seas.

in time,

erasing every palisade and rampart.

oceans sing a  global song

to every winter.


I’m yours.  $ave me.  $ave me.

save yourselves.   <                         >




Second Day Chili

Potent comfort steams off thick blue bowls of

Yesterday’s chili

Seems that which is mulled, mused

Holds  solace flavored seasoning

Like poems that sit overnight on laptops


Into profound silence of approaching chill

Edging mostly eastward

Swarms of  Canadian and Snow Geese

Gyre as one

Undoubtedly distinct voices

Now that hushed Lawn mowers and leaf blowers

Are a muted majority

Reserved for emerging spring.


Hands cupped around the blends of Second Day Chili

We eschew cable tv

We devour  nostalgia from

Name that Tune

Boggle, WordTwist, CatchPhrase

Cackling brashly over the shadows

as our old brains try to connect

Nuggets of  timeworn Golden Oldies.


But mostly it about us.

Finding ties in times of disparate reasoning

Fueled by spices

Of second Day Chili


Drury Lane

Now. We ALL know

The Muffin Man

Do we not?

Since his move to Drury Lane.

(Depends on which word one emphasizes)

Do you really know this nursery rhyme? Check here.

Reciting his song

Repeating his chant

Drowning in brownie batter

Eating his cheap breads

(that he tied to string

To draw the hungry home)

Cooked to a pastel pink

We didn’t know his st0ry

As we blindly

Recited his song

His delicacies:

Glazed Dough-Nut

Big Apple Turn Overs

Arsenic apples

Bare Claws

Lady Fingers


We trip over mortar and pestilence


death-by-muffin Death by Muffin  The Pastry Diva


I have 10 rolls of aluminum foil in my Dollar Store basket

I know it’s foolish but it is my only recourse

Worried, nearly despondent

I clean out clearance Holiday candy

Like I don’t really care about my teeth anymore.


I have trouble focusing on what is real

What is fake news and which are suppositions.

What is bluster over bravado.

What is narcissism and what is buoyancy.


I buy foil just the same

Enough to line all my windows

In the event of The Event


It’s groundless and baseless.

Foil does not protect from nuclear fallout.

I know that.

Speculative news scrolls along a dozen store tvs.

A dozen different truths.

I go back into House Wares

And clean the shelves of foil.



Adventures of Pinocchio

The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”
― J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

I am a big fan of embellishing alternate truths

Shillyshallying between exaggeration and de-emphasizing

Trivialities like measurements of my weight or hips

The amount of sleep I got last night

How much water I (actually) drink

Or maybe, wind chills in depth of midwinter.


‘Course actual widths and breadths

Can’t be changed by repetition or recitation

And I can hear my mother on the phone

Empathizing in her soft, low sweet drawl

even though she doesn’t really believe me.

Some surveys say we tell two lies every day but

This strikes me as surprisingly low.

I have the feeling that people

Were insincere about the extent of lies


Accuracy & honesty wane while i stumble closer

To the approximate vicinity of Truth

It is much preferable to lean comfortably against hyperbole.


It’s quieter now that I have squelched (the Wicked) Jiminy Cricket

And the silence

Won’t bother me til early mourn.

Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket by artist Kaws


Pinocchio and Jiminy Cricket by artist Kaws





January has a voice of its own

Like the sound of Styrofoam peanuts

Rattling along edges of  streets lately turned iceseas.icespike

Odd deep resonating crunch of below zero crusted snow under foot

Can rime be colder than freezing?

Reverberations of shotguns echoing forever

Through  leafless valleys

Does time slow in winter?

Longwinded by

Sunless days and moonless nights.


It’s harder

Harder to be heard in the growing chill

Harder to feel in cold-numbed limbs

Achy in rapidly rising and falling barometric pressures


Decades old snow boots hurt when I march

New snow boots aren’t yet broken in.

Deep scars twinge from stiff leather trusses


Decades old teeth hurt when I eat

Because I clench my anguished incisors anxiously

Now must grind my meat in the food processor


It’s nothing new

Woes  of winter

Passage of time


January has a voice of its own

Solitary gives way to solidarity

We all groan alone

ZuZu’s Petals and FailSafe


I want to believe that I’ve made a mark.

I have altered lives .

Rescued some from icy waters.

Reached out. Enriched.

and, in turn, became Richer.

(we all do?)

But  does the past look eerily similar to present?

This old smoky hick town

Has the same sad skyline of soulless eyes

As the day I arrived

I, for one, feel nearly as poor.

Somewhere there has to be a fail safe.

A switch that stops the rich and powerful from

Tippling poor and downtrodden.

Surely Something stands between us and


I want to find  ZuZu’s Petals

Tucked from an eon past

into my pocket.

I want to go on believing

Good triumphs over evil.

One word

One action



That separates  Futurevile

from past possibles.




It’s a Wonderful Life-ZuZu petals

Nailed it

I pick up nails when Yellowdog walks me.

Disregarding ice cemented by January,

Or scalding asphalt in July.

A dangerous occupation, bending to fish out a single

Rusty nail.

Dirty and foolish.

Vertigo spins  my horizon madly with simple efforts.

But I pick up nails all the same.

It’s a gift I give to you.

It’s all I have.

Seems so little to do for humankind

On a day when I feel so helpless

At a loss how to ensure the survival of kindness.

I hope.

It means each day there will be

One less…..

        Middle of nowhere

        Middle of night

        Middle of a dirt road

        Middle of a blizzard

Flat tire.

It seems so little

But it’s all I can do.


You will do it for me.


One rusted nail at a time.

Dia de Muertos mosquitoes

I slug ice water in the November heat.

Mosquitoes buzz and bite while

I scrape the last seed

From a jack o lantern

Words. I never thought I would put

in the same sentence

Pumpkin carving and skeeters.

Stale sulfur slices hot north gusts

As coal fired sugar beet mountains


Fuel trick or treaters to speed through

Candy routes. Sugar coated wrappers

On their way to landfills or open sea

Rusted leaves rattle sadly.

Ghosts Of trash bags. Past

Clinging to branches.

Withering spectral fingers reach

To the zillion plastic election signs waving

Weaving in wind. whispering to the sky

I’ll be with you soon.  soon

On the Day of the Dead

Corals cry

Ice weeps

And Oceans Die





L[ove] Simply

Check out my niece in action at home based care in Zambia through CSU

Brianna Sargent



American Ideals in Zambian Culture

I experienced some of the greatest bust moments while working on the medical project.  One of the first was in home based care when I visited an old woman in her home in Mwandi, one of the most remote neighborhoods in Livingstone.  We were told that She was blind and unable to walk so I met her inside.  (stay with one pronoun, I or we all the way through the paper) While visiting with her daughter, I saw a curtain slowly being pushed up.  My first impression was that a dog or distracted child was walking through the curtain but slowly a woman sitting cross legged appeared.  It displayed to me what a true lack of resources looks like.  Though the woman was joyful and made jokes, she was never able to leave her tiny and stifling home because she could not go…

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