In search of story


May 10.23: Coping, but barely

The sweet little girls were left briefly in my care. The baby would have none of it: she wanted her own mom and I wouldn’t do. Enter the entertainment committee, aka my sons. Suddenly both baby and her older sister (obscured by a flailing arm here) were enthralled.

The son on the left is the son who is visiting me this week. I inflict this all on you, dear reader, by way of saying that he is the reason I am not much blogging at the moment. I’m just trying to keep up.



May 2.23: Coping, but barely

“At the end of the day”

you hear people say;

it’s kind of a trend

to invoke the day’s end.

Clichés are so born,

and now I am torn:

how else can I write

of incoming night?

The end of the day

is about shadow play,

puffs pink and white

in slanted late light,

their tippy-toe stretch

to yawn and to catch

that pearly soft ray

at the end of the day.


April 2.23: Coping, but barely


The poet trudges,

burdened, bent,

back and forth,


With words that are useless,

that have only weight,

he paces a sameness

in blindered grim gait.

Metaphors, similes,

a crisp interjection,

mere clamorous tonnage,

trash and abjection.

The longer he carries

that lexicon load

the more likely he is

to slowly implode.

The vulture, despair,

the scavenging bird,

starts to descend,

but then comes the word!

The exact, the precise,

in meaning and sound,

arises from somewhere

in mind’s underground!

The foot-weary poet

with jubilant pen

turns face to the wind

to do it again.


And so do we begin National Poetry Month, dear reader, my annual head-scratching of what makes a poem or a poet.

I do not believe that rhyme makes a poem. I try to work in rhyme for two reasons: 1) it narrows my choice of words, a good discipline for a yackety daughter of Eire, and 2) it gives me the giggles, a good tonic.

But poetry does not depend on rhyme; it depends on something else. I can’t define it.

As happens so often, Bill, our intrepid photographer, has captured an image with wonderful layers of meaning. Thanks again, Bill!



January 15.23: Coping, but barely

Writer’s Lament


I look out the window,

searching the sky,

one vast lumpy cloud

like a wakeful bed

where sleep has been sought,

demons of night manacled,


in tangles of blankets.

Just so the sky

in its tumbled, restless look.

No words there.

I search the ground,

cold sticky mud,

chevroned in black stems

cracking in a wind that crawls

on its belly through dead herbs,

pulling useless things.

No words there.

In drawers full of some-days

which become nevers,

no words.

In closets,

epaulets of dust

on heedless hollow shoulders,

I fumble in every pocket,

surprised by gloves

limp and soft, snuggled

like sleeping kittens.

But no words.

In sepulchral boxes

crowded with the mute past,

pages and faces that crumble,

where Then is more alive than Now,

longings, wonderings,

but not one word.

Others wander in this word desert

but it’s a lonesome place.



And so, dear reader, have I tried to grapple with yet another writer’s slump. I figured since I can’t find words to write about anything else, I might as well write about the slump.




January 8.23: Coping, but barely

When I write the first word of something, I have an idea what the last word will be. What a laugh. Writing has its own idea of where it’s going, and it’s rarely where I thought I was steering it.

Ten years ago, when I was 70, I promised myself I would do two things: learn how to bake biscotti, and start a blog. My writing mate Tamara graciously set up the blog for me, and I began, tentatively, intending to write mostly about caregiving, and hoping to learn how to tell a story. In August of 2015 Tamara prodded me to try photos as prompts. I was hooked.

So, as with all my writing, I did not go where I thought I would.

I’ve always been Oddment(s), but the themes have morphed from “Connections” to “Disconnections” to “Coping” to “Coping, but barely,” all reflective of my life and the life around me.

But the subtitled quest remained: In search of story. I can make biscotti, but I still can’t tell a story.

So I ask myself, “What at 80?”



December 31.22: Coping, but barely

The table is set,

pristine and inviting,

the menu unknown

as of this writing.

I wish you, dear reader,

a stew of your choice:

a toothsome concoction

for palate and voice,

words for your writing,

health for your soul,

a generous helping

of vision and goal.

May loved ones and muses

fill all the seats,

your fingers and spirit

be ever sticky from sweets.



Thanks yet again to photographer S.W. Berg,

and kudos to The Baker’s Wife Bistro,

Hampton, VA, for the ambience.

I wish you a good year next, dear reader, with my thanks for your presence here, and I dig down to the very last remnants of depleted optimism to express some small hope for peace in our future. I do find our little corners of blogdom are places for peace. Plus a few laughs. Some nostalgia. A touch of snark. Communal sighs. The occasional coffee-spit on the keyboard. Thus is peace had, and I’m most grateful for it. Thank you for helping me bungle through 2022!




December 8.22: Coping, but barely

It has been said —

and I think that it’s true —

for a writer to finish

it always takes two:

the writer declares

“I call it a day,”

but then someone else

must yank her away.

DONE is a word

that’s hard to pronounce

when you invest in your work

to the last little ounce.

So DONE is a laurel

that others bestow,

to help the imaginer

pack up and go

to the next inner road,

or mountain, or sea,

that summons our spirits

by endless decree.

Whether mural or poem,

ballad or quilt,

“done” can be said

without quitter’s guilt.


A writer can spend an idiotic amount of time on one sentence, one phrase, one word. That living, breathing language remains stubbornly imperfect. We don’t want to be quitters in our own eyes, so we keep at it. There’s always something that could be better.

I suspect that can be true for all creative endeavor. The artist, whether writer, muralist, quilter, musician, woodworker, can have a problem saying “it’s done.” But Dathan has said just that, and here, above and below, is the finished mural.

More thanks to photographer and reporter S.W. Berg.


August 29.22: Coping, but barely

A holiday,

a break well earned,

routine and calendar

happily spurned.

All well and good,

but it’s bad news

when the vacationer is

my mercurial muse.

And so I’m stuck

with blank white screen

until she returns

from where she’s been.

OK, so you have to kind of bend the rhyme there at the end. I’m desperate.

She’s gone again! Those of you who know me know my problems with my willful muse. Sometimes she just takes off. But she taunts me with beginnings. I have begun to write several posts over the last ten days or so, and the quality they all have in common is dreadfulness.


August 11.22: Coping, but barely

Wrath. It is said to be sinful. I think not. There are times when extreme anger is a virtue. OK, so I’m not a moral theologian.

The problem with anger is how it fevers and boils under a tight lid, that lid that bounces and clatters as it tries to hold in the steam pushing up and, inexorably, out. Eventually there is a lava that oozes over, a thick anger, blackened and petrified wherever it congeals. Or the vapor writhes away, leaving only the distilled curls of rage.

Gardeners are lucky. They can scroll the news, public or personal, and immediately grab weapons of grass destruction. Stabbing, wrenching, yanking, soul-satisfying wrath. Crabgrass is therapy. With roots that clutch the deepest core of the earth and blades that hack their way through other life, it bares its coarse green teeth, snarling, daring the gardener to fight to the death.

As a normal thing, I am a proud, peaceful wimp; however, I espouse white-knuckled violence when it comes to crabgrass, and I enthusiastically endorse wrathful gardening.


Practicing prose poetry. And apparently alliteration. (Do any of you find yourselves writing/talking/muttering to yourselves in alliterative words? It’s scary.)