Wednesday, December 10

Sorry, I'm taking a little break from Sestinas.
Please visit A Greener Biener to see what I'm working on currently.

Thursday, February 28

LIFE, reconfigured

Life. The game-board is in disarray. Future un-spooling as the past
Rapidly fades. Time to move ahead
Though my heels drag. I’m inclined to cheat, not count out spaces but jump
Around on a whim, move in and out of time
A quick flash back to newborn breath on my neck will provide
The needed fix without dwelling in the land of sleepless nights. I will move

At my own pace. I study the board; new options, and I am hesitant to move.
To launch the next phase is to leave baby-making in the past.
What next for me? My job for so long to create, nurture. My body to provide
All they need to thrive. Success! They are primed to move ahead
To casually proclaim the end of my reign. It may be time
To move on. So says the math of passing seasons that demands a forward jump.

For if we are to keep playing we must go on to the next square. Jump
From feedings and naptime schedules. On paper it makes sense to move
On. Look at the ease with which I leap into the car empty handed! In no time
At all I gather our little crew and off we go. We soar past
Parents juggling bags of diapers and bottles. We’re eons ahead
Even so, the tidy black and white of the board does not provide

The whole picture, only lopsided financials. How much it takes to provide
For them. What resources will be drained if we casually jump
Back into bed without planning ahead
And that is not our way. We plan our every move
Eyes bent on seeing the future, but the sweet scent of the past
Smells like the new skin of my babies’ necks. I want to savor that time

Before the decisive cut severs forever that link, yet in no time
It is done. He rests on the couch and I bring soup and an ice pack. Things I can provide
To help him recover quickly, but what about me? I shuffle the kids past
With a lame explanation of why they can’t jump
On Daddy. Why he must take care not to move
Off the couch. Still I struggle against moving ahead.

I am anxious about the territory that looms ahead
Shirts will be outgrown, teeth loosen and fall and announce: indeed it is time!
The children are impatient and always on the move
And so I go with them to provide
A hand to hold and kisses for inevitable bumps. It’s bittersweet: they jump
Fearlessly into each new phase while I mark the distance traveled, leaving babies in the past

Each bold move drives them ahead
I need not dwell in the past. Sweet moments pepper restless time
I need only provide a secure platform from which they can jump

Wednesday, December 19

Words of a Mother

Who would write a sestina? Who other than Mother takes pains to repeat
The same words over and over?
Now I am that mother
Dissecting with joy the fine line between thousands of yeses and nos. Determined to balance
Teaching lessons with granting wishes. All blown to hell by the infernal why why why

But at least I haven’t yet sunk to because I said so. No
I won’t cut off the crusts yes you must eat that why must I repeat
Myself? Your ears work you can hear you spend all day asking me why
Because you won’t sit down shut up listen don’t make me pull this car over
Wait, relax, close eyes breathe into the center find the inner balance
That fled for cover the day I became my mother

Did you really look? I did, I looked everywhere and cannot find it Mother
Look again don’t make me come up there don’t you dare tell me no
Sit down sit up straight will you finish your plate don’t balance
Your fork on top of your milk. Why? You ask me why I repeat
The same thing over and over and over
Again? I’ll tell you why missy. I’ll tell you why

(not because I said so, don’t say because I said so.) No (breathe deep.) Why
Don’t you wait until you have kids like yourself to mother
One day? Then you’ll understand. You will know why I cry over
Spilt milk when it’s the twelfth cup of the day. I too thought what you’re thinking: No
Way will I ever be like that. I’ll keep my cool. It won’t bother me one bit to repeat
Myself all day long. Close eyes, inhale, exhale, breathe in peace find that balance

Make the lunches, drive the carpools, fix the ponytails, (go to yoga?) balance
the checkbook. I’d fry up the bacon too, but the kids tell me that’s a bad choice. Why
Not eat healthy, mom? Let us recycle, reuse the bags that choke our planet. They repeat
The words that I have been saying. They were listening to mother
Paying attention all this time. Who knew? Fiery explosions in the face of each no
Yet something must have clicked. When this battle is over

It’s over until it rears back on us again. So in the space in between let’s head over
To the park for lunch. No you can’t wear your bathing suit will balance
With yes, we can eat dessert first will balance with no
You cannot ride your bike barefoot. And the seasons they go round and round which is why
Each day we happily do it all again. Another chance to get it right. I am their mother
Day in, day out. They get clean. They get dirty. Wash lather rinse repeat

How did I ever think the almighty No would mean that an issue was over?
Like anything of value, I must repeat it, believe it, live it. Then balance
It out by laughing until tears come. I know why I laugh and cry: I am a Mother.

Wednesday, December 12

Oh the Food

Oh marvelous, muscle-building, life-sustaining food
How lucky are we who have plenty
Or so I thought before I proved incapable of prying open stubborn mouths
Intent on refusing sustenance. They sit, arms folded head shaking against even a taste
Of whatever horror I have concocted within steaming caldrons of sauce. Flavor?
How could I? Mom if you think we’re eating this you’re crazy

Can’t I see the chicken touching the salad and peas rolling willy-nilly crazy
Across the plate? Still I persevere, preparing day upon day unacceptable, inedible food
It appears to me devoid of sauce, unfamiliar even with the disturbing idea of flavor
Though, alas (of course) I am wrong. There is flavor, it is gross, and there is plenty
Of it. So no, though I proclaim it seasoned with sugar, heated in honey, they dare not taste
A single morsel. My daughters, blessed since birth with mouths

That snap shut with enough force to sever a finger should it venture too near the mouths
I thought it my job to feed. And yes, it is likely my genes responsible for such crazy
Limitations on food. I was that kid. A bull-headed child who guarded my refined taste
Of vanilla yogurt and peanut-butter (no crusts!) against all attempt to deny me pure bland food
Though I too was surrounded by plenty
Of opportunities to eat well, I used them instead to finely tune my disdain of flavor

Ah me, the valiant Mother. I accept this challenge to prepare meals sans flavor
Just as I choose to ignore unwarranted nasty remarks emitted through the mouths
Of my babes. My sweet girls who have known nothing but a life of warmth and plenty
Do not believe their false claims at surprise upon discovering I’ve gone crazy
After opening (again!) a lunchbox descending from the afternoon bus chock full of food
That I woke early to prepare (sigh, drag flour-stained hand across brow.) A taste

Me thinks, of their own medicine would be sweet. What daughters, if I refused a taste
Of that delightful yard pie you concocted last summer? Full of the earthy flavor
Of recently bisected worms? I wouldn’t dare. For then tears would threaten to salt the food
I painstakingly placed plain upon your plates. I see your determined mouths
Even in my sleep, set in such scowls, so certain are you that I’ll try something crazy
Like slipping a shade of green into the bottom of your bowl. What’s this? You’ve had plenty

Of plain? And now the repeated exposure to good stuff in your lives o’ plenty
Is making an impact? “Mom (precocious at four) I have a taste
For sushi,” and I entertain visions of lunching with my elegant little ladies (I’m that crazy)
For who knows what mood they will bring, as unreliable as a drunken flavor
Of the week. Sweet utterances lure me to forget the horrors uttered from these same mouths
I acquiesce, order (per request) edamame and California rolls. And of course, they hate the food

I’ll surely go crazy, for millions of sandwiches may seem like plenty
To me, yet for them its simply the ideal food. It’s clearly a matter taste
And only time will flavor that which gains elusive entry into their mouths

Friday, November 30

No Office No Doughnuts

No office, no demonic plates of doughnuts that reach up
From mahogany meeting tables to force my hand and ruin my lunch
Ah, but doughnut freedom proves fleeting, for now the kitchen closet candy has found its voice
I'm at home, but weak all the same. The alto of Snickers is loud and the meek voice in my head
Croaks weakly, no, not another hunk of candy, points out the holly-jolly jiggle at my center
No co-conspirators, just me locked in a pathetic struggle over another chocolate break

No office, no half-assed shower at a downtown gym during lunch break
Frankly, not a whole lot of showering period. No one to impress, no longer coated in spit-up
Should I even bother? There’s always a chance that later on I’ll make it to the rec center
Squeeze in a quick stomp on a stairmaster to compensate for what happened again at lunch
Forced to consume peanut-butter crusts, extra chips, leftover pudding. Surely I will head
To the gym tomorrow if I don’t succeed at silencing this infernal internal voice

No office, no endless lineup of meaningless meetings everyone competing to get his voice
Heard while I calculate whether there is time enough for a quick breast pump break
To cower in a supply closet, guarding precious drops and hoping my head
Doesn’t get slammed by a spare ream of paper. Not anymore. No pressing need to button up
“Like Club Med on crack,” my husband muttered, when home for a brief lunch
He encountered this scene: shirtless babes, house a-wreck, a screaming nude (me) at its center

No office, no coworkers digging crampons into my nylons as they claw for the center
Of pinstriped attention. Nowadays the ladders aren’t figurative but plastic and my child's voice
Calls from the tippy-top, she perches, prepared to drop. On the ground I'm still unpacking lunch
While that damn alpha-mommy, lacy thong up her back strides to the top without a break
Without damage to hair or makeup or superiority complex. I watch, below, as she clamors up
to save my kid. I sit, judged, negligent, thong-free. Thong-mom shakes her disapproving head

No office, no blissful cup of quiet to transition my foggy morning head
No solitary jaunts to the bathroom. No flirting with the new guy at the copy center
No happy hours with cheap drinks and bad food and time with friends to play catch-up
No commute, no isolation within public chaos. No grimace for that guy with the loud cell voice
No cute suits, no new dresses for a presentation I won’t prepare for during a quick break
No glass of cabernet with an expense-account lunch

No office, no paycheck to validate my worth. I’m judged on the neatness of triangles at lunch
I’m crowded by small bodies snuggled in bed, not inconsiderate travelers’ elbows to my head
I receive hugs as daily reviews, especially when I wield glue lest something break
I get no sick days no vacation no validation and yet still, at the core at my very center
I am home. I have made my choice. And though some days I feel crazy and my voice
Shrieks STOP STOP STOP… don’t be fooled. I won’t negotiate. I would never give this up

So pour out milk for my coffee break, and grill up cheese for my lunch
It won’t be long before she grows up, so let me plant kisses on her sleeping head
I relish her position at the center of my world. I delight in the surprises in her voice

Wednesday, November 14

Dear Mom

It’s been a while since I’ve been such a creep, but still, Mom
I feel I must beg forgiveness: I am so sorry
It seems in fact that you weren’t so dumb after all
It may even be that it was me with the problem
And not (as it so clearly seemed) you. You, who appeared not to understand
You, (who I felt) lacked even the basics of what was required to support my smart

(Sorry) ass. The wisdom of the years demands an apology. That and a couple smart-
Mouthed daughters of my own. Somehow merely becoming their mom
Has rendered me incompetent. Stupid. I’ve been stripped of any ability to understand
Anything. Oh my daughters I am truly sorry
That you have to put up with my inanity. What a burden, this problem
For your small brave shoulders. Dare I point out all

The perks you enjoy, thanks to my meager existence? Do you have any idea at all
What it means to be warm? To be fed? To be sent to school so you can be this smart?
Lucky brats, perhaps you have too much. Do you think that may be the real problem?
I for one would not dare act this way to my own dear Mom
(Shhh, for this small white lie I am sorry
It’s for the greater good. I am trying to make a point, you understand)

Did I mention, Mom, how very badly I feel? Now that I truly understand
What I put you through. Now that I have experienced firsthand all
That eye-rolling has to offer. For these things and so much more I am sorry:
For hands on hips and eyes rolled skyward. For talking back and those smart-
Ass comments I thought so witty. On bended knee I come to you Mom
For you see, I have a little problem

At least, I hope it’s little. I wish to contain it before it explodes, becomes a PROBLEM
That I cannot deal with. See, I do not understand
What kept you from smacking those self-righteous smirks from my face. And Mom?
How did you manage to hold your tongue at my bold conceit? How did you keep it all
Together as time and again I pronounced You: Idiot, Me: Smart
I am so sorry

I know I caused you grief, and that a simple sorry
May not cut it. So I have a deal, a solution to our little problem
I think you’ll agree that it is quite smart
You wished upon me a curse, daughters just like me, and I understand
I do, but now I’m here to bargain. What if I were to take it all
Back? Present you with two lovely granddaughters? Take them, and spoil away, Mom.

For you see, they are smart and witty. What better way to say I’m sorry
To you, dear Mom-turned-Grandma. There, there’s not really a problem
At all. Just a couple of little wonders. I knew that Grandma would understand

Friday, November 2

Housework is Just No Fun

Periodically something strikes me, and as I look around the house
I am gripped, not by mood or inclination but by nasty claws: Dust
Monsters! They reach out from beneath my bed. I could swipe at them with a tissue, true
This is how I handle many a mess. It’s not as though I do not care
That the toaster crumbs are on fire and the bathroom needs
Hell, it need to be declared off limits. I don’t want to alarm you yet I must confess

That the tub has developed a delightful yellow glow around its edge. I confess
That tumbleweeds of tangled hair roam like angry cowboys around the house
Picking fights with wrinkled laundry while naked beds shiver neglected, but mama needs
A break. Fifteen minutes to plop up my feet and let my ankles carve dust
Angels into the coffee table. Don’t I sound cavalier? I haven’t a care
In the world. Come and sit with me, have a bonbon, listen. My tale is familiar and true

I opted out of office life to watch kids and write. I’m a lucky lady it’s true
The part I hadn’t considered, the piece of it that I confess
Turns my stomach as it turns my white panties pink is this: I’m really expected to care
About crap like oven cleaners and disinfecting bubbles? Lemon scented? Not my house
But I take full blame. Woe is me for I am weak against an opponent as insidious as dust
Lurking, hovering, smothering my paltry attempts for I do try. I heard that a child needs

A well-scrubbed environment. Antibacterial triumph hurrah! Or not. My hero said a child needs
Exposure to filth to build character and bulk up immunity. Ok, maybe that’s not entirely true
But (vindication!) the report did come down on the side of dust.
Oh, since you’re still here, I have another self-serving tidbit to confess:
I get anxious in that woman’s house
You know, the Stepford one with no dust and nary a book out of place? How can she care

So much? I know, she must not live life as fully as I. She must not care
About things that really matter. For surely a house needs
To be a disaster if the family is having a rollicking old time. A house
Remains a house if its sparkling clean. Isn’t it true
That only when draped in the colorful cast-offs of life does a house become a Home? Confess
It, you’ll feel better. There’s something homey and sweet about all my dust

Oh come on, don’t look so concerned my friend. I will sweep the dust
Under the table when you stop by unannounced. Who me? Care?
Oh no not at all. I’m delighted to see you. But alas let me confess
That the maid has been ill. The chef’s out of town. And the lawn sorely needs
Professional attention. You know how hard it is to get good help. Sad but true
It does take a village to render presentable this old house

What else dare I confess, with all my dirty secrets spelled out in the dust?
It’s my mess, my house, so really I don’t know why you even care
It will get done if it really needs to. Really, I swear that much is true.