Emerald Ring

She must have been a flapper,

the woman who first owned

my emerald ring.

Swing, sing, sling.

I’ll bet she did all these kinds

of things.

The roaring 20’s, the age of jazz.

For the first time in history, women were what they wore

rather than the children they bore.

I wish I’d known her, my parallel friend.

Sipping champagne cocktails, together

we’d have spread our wings.

Wallpapering with my Father

Wallpapering with my Father



Coming through Ellis Island with all the rest

you made good across the sea, to the New

World of promise; you, the lanky, blue-eyed

immigrant from Nord Holland with the shock


of Viking hair – my father’s father, like him

a man of few words, there to become part

of the American Dream that was within reach

because of your saleable skills.


That Sunday was quiet with the

heavy, high-pitched whir of locusts

heralding summer in upstate New York – long,

languorous days wasting teenager time


under the apple trees. At first I was sulky

when I showed up for the job. My father

had dressed for the occasion in spotless white

as if he were about to go sailing on his yacht.


Separating us, seven roles of silkscreened ladies

waving Oriental fans. Our tools, your tools, carefully assembled;

a greying stepladder, the razor-sharp knife, a boar-bristled brush.

Solid like the homeland, built to last like your impossible dream.


Unusually impatient, my father barked orders that I

couldn’t fulfil: run, fetch, hold the paper straight.

Could your secrets not be passed on?

My tears spattered in the chlorinated pool.


Years later, when you’d already passed on,

I put myself to the test; a tiny kitchen wall

and a complicated, half-drop vertical match.

I preened long-distance. Dad, dreams come true.

Red Dress



The color of the dress was Fire Engine Red,

the color associated with Valentine’s Day cards,

lacy white hearts pierced by Cupid’s arrows.


Giraffes pranced round the hem;

with nothing better to do

than my grandmother’s bidding: dancing in circles


like painted horses on a merry-go-round, the sort

you can just get on and ride forever – over the river

and through the woods to grandmother’s house


through the autumn leaves

piled high into racetracks in the backyard.

Who can run fastest, jump highest, come first?


The color of the dress was Devil’s Red,

the color associated with Satan,

fallen angel with a pitchfork for a tail.


Neither Satan nor Cupid practiced their piano,

but I did. Each morning mechanical fingers

gave voice to another prideful, grand-matriarchal gift.


The dress and the piano, how did I miss the clues?

Even Red Riding Hood knew wolves

wore her grandmother’s shoes.


What child is this, who fails to adore

the gold, frankincense, and myrrh laid at her feet?

Come on, kid, we all know this ain’t no one way street.


The giraffes had two rivals: prettier,

more lively, less sweet.  But at Sibley’s Department store

on that sweaty summer’s day, granny would have her way.


The color of the dress was Blood Red

the color associated with needles, transfusions,

debilitating intestinal bleeds.


Dancing in circles, those giraffes could never win

and neither could I, from that first day at school, a giraffe

appliquéd where my heart should have been.

The Star Spangled Spanner

The Star Spangled Spanner

O!  say can you see, by the dawn’s early light… Bored, the crowd roared for they’d been taught to believe that songs never die.  But they were wrong, at least about that, for halfway through the refrain the fat lady choked and after the pause that became a national cause,  their song started to go all wrong.  Surely my retch would fetch common sense in the hearts of my fellow men.  But that was naive and it didn’t take long before that Star-Spangled Banner no longer waived o’er the Land of the free, and home of the brave. The other day, I called my mother and asked her if she wanted to go shopping at the mall. “No thanks,” she said. “I’ve had enough.”





They gush and drool

like perfect fools

picking the bones of my poetry dry.


Inciteful precision gets

their goat.  Instead, they want to

emote over bronzed crocodile tears.


Think out-of-the-box?

What a wicked little fox to

commit such a heinous crime.


Stick to the form and shovel

that norm. We should all

know by now, that

to suck is to succeed.

what’s wrong with my poetry

What’s wrong with my poetry?

I ask, again, after class.

While others conjure theatrical  images,

All I do is to sound crass.

I realise I avoid emotions,

View life through squeaky clean glass.

But they wallow in manufactured melancholy

and blow it out their ass.

So, what does it take to get the gold star?

The coveted pat on the head?

I suppose I ought not to give a shit.

But, still,  I wonder a bit.

Cats of Many Colours


Marmalade kitten

pie in my sky,

you’re the apple of this little girl’s eye.

Marmalade kitten

I’ll hold you tight.  Come on

let’s go home, right?


Tommy Oyster

my middle man

I couldn’t be a bigger fan.

Tommy Oyster

softest grey and white

Formal dress?  Let’s make it a night.


Dead cat

the colour of ebony

Why won’t my feelings flow?

Dead cat

Is it a felony?

At my age, I can’t let you go

Wicked Witch of A’dam – Astro Poetry

Wicked Witch of Amsterdam

7 May 1944

Persevering, dependable, relaxed, and calm;

Patient and steady,

Stuck in a rut.


Prizes wit and cunning and trickery;

Clever with finances.

Adores reading.


Silver-tongued scattered thoughts

The mind of a thief.

Knows everyone, gets around.


There’s no place like home.

Nostalgic and sentimental,

Overly protective parent.


Flirtatious; hopeless romantic.

A true performer,

Drama for drama’s sake.


Warm and generous with employees,

Shines through daily work.

Adores rich food, has back problems.


Equal relationships,

Requires tactful, diplomatic partner.

Avoids divorce at all costs.


Tempts fate; deep interactions.

Sex is transformational,

Intense passion, transgender.


Known as frank, outspoken, as well as blunt.

Adventurous; ambitious.

Vocal on career issues.


Projects authority, grooms professional image.

Craves achievement,

Reputation is paramount.


Ambitious networking,

Weird, intellectual friends.

Supports causes and ideas, won’t follow through.


Dreams of being a poet or musician,

Imaginative inner life.

Dwells on past sorrows.