You Are Always Awake Even If You Don’t Know It

jessica's son

A brilliant great-nephew’s recent homework: “You are always awake even if you don’t know it. I felt a lot in 60 seconds. I felt tingling like nerves bumping me. I saw stars. Light was still in, which caused shapes. My stomach tightened, because the diaphram moved down. I also felt my blood rushing.”

What I Find in 90% of Men’s Dating Website Profiles

“I like to cuddle.”
“I like snuggling.”
“I like all music except rap.”

Turns out snuggling and cuddling are code words for horny. But they don’t even know they’re telling the truth by using “cuddle” or “snuggle.”

The rap reference I don’t understand, really, it’s just seems plain old stupid. Can’t they find something more interesting to say? And why do so many of them say this? Really, I am clueless on this one.

And then there are the guys who put up photos of themselves holding a dead fish. And they are usually the same guys who put up photos of themselves on their motorcycle.

This might need to become condensed into an illustration.

Just sayin’ … Kinda sick of the whole thing

My Take On Christmas, 2012

As many of you know, I recently became a grandma…

In my 58 years, I’ve been Presbyterian, Unitarian, Methodist, Reconstructionist Judaism, Reform Judaism. And here’s what I’m thinking tonight, Christmas Eve:


This grandma LOVES it that Christmas reminds us to cherish an infant…

Happy sigh…

a letter to her dog, from sherry o

dear calgirl (aka “the zone”),

as i told you earlier, i am sorry. i am still sorry. i didn’t mean to throw your toy tire on the roof. as much as it pains you to sit all day–on guard–two stories beneath the roofed-tire,it pains me even more to shop all over this christmas town only to discover there is not another tire like the one stuck on my roof. i know you won’t accept an imitation, but please (i am begging you) don’t ask me to get out the two-story extension ladder.

still sorry,


photo and story by sherry o’keefe

Learning Tom Dooley on Guitar

(G chord) Hang down your head Tom Dooley. Hang down your head and (wait, wait for it, get the D chord ready, and…yes!) cry. Hang down your head Tom Dooley.  Poor boy he’s bound to (Okay, think fast, get that G chord in place and…yes!) die.


The 6th grade me. Tom Dooley was my first song. And, hey, remember those chairs!

The 6th grade Me. Tom Dooley was my first song. It was a classical guitar. And, hey, remember those chairs?

Last Night

Hay flies out
from the truck before her,
bats hurrying a cave.
She swigs Debris of Twister,
turns mistakes
and crashes
into tall red pines.
Dry dandelions
breaking loose.
Paper wings
with winter green
needles flap an origami
peace crane
swift away
on her last exhale.

– poem by mary macgowan

– photo by lori, hippie peace freaks fb page

A Proper Cup of Tea

Sad Heart, a good dog.

“We could learn to stop when the sun goes down and when the sun comes up. We could learn to listen to the wind; we could learn to notice that it’s raining or snowing or hailing or calm. We could reconnect with the weather that is ourselves, and we could realize that it’s sad. The sadder it is, and the vaster it is, the more our heart opens. We can stop thinking that good practice is when it’s smooth and calm, and bad practice is when it’s rough and dark. If we can hold it all in our hearts, then we can make a proper cup of tea.”
(Wisdom of No Escape) – Pema Chodron

Lost Keys and Angels

A woman told me this today: “I left my keys on a shelf in a big department store. I was in a panic and worrying about what to do. I looked up and down every aisle. Suddenly this woman appears out of nowhere, hands me my keys and says ‘You need to have more faith,’ and then she disappears.”

She told her story very sweetly, but I wonder if she missed a magic moment. Maybe we used to pay more attention to things like this – small miracles or angels or visions who give us important messages.

Things like this used to change lives.

Imagine the angels and miracles and visions, frustrated, scrambling around, trying to get our attention, trying to reach us while we hurry past. They say, Stop, look, I can show you the way.

Pulling Up Mint

The mint has to go. It’s appeared in poems and songs. . .but now it has become an invasive species. As Rob and I dug and pulled these stubborn far-reaching plants with their spindly strong vine-root systems, I said my good-byes and thank-you’s. But I want my sandy beach back. Something about mint and sand and water; a perfect storm of sorts.  Still, we enjoyed the physical labor and the rewards of a job well done.  So much better than a gym.  Working hard at a job that needs doing.

Speaking of storms, how are all of you who live in Hurricane Sandy’s path doing?

Regarding bad days…

Recently I had a God experience. My God moment, which would be impossible to describe, was powerful and uplifting.

After, I was exhausted.

I found several examples from the bible (don’t even know if I should capitalize “bible,” that’s how non-religious I am) of people who were exhausted after God experiences. So…..sometimes I have a bad day and I’m exhausted and feel like I’ve been wrestling an alligator naked. And I’m wondering if that kind of day is actually God rattling my cage to get me to notice?

Is having a “bad day” really a “hard God work day?”

My hand is hesitating over the “publish” button. God’s name tends to make people go nuts about religions and belief systems and wars. To me, God is simply an infusion that is always there (inside all of us) if we take the time to notice.

Guess I’ll go ahead and publish. I can always delete it later.

Oh, and I think that God moments get blurry afterwards, like an Impressionist painting; I doubt anyone can paint a clear picture of it, or describe it with words.

And I wasn’t drinking or anything like that.

What She Thought vs. What Was vs. What Will Be

from a friend…

Boyfriend Whore

She thought she was a Serial Monogamist
and that as a middle-aged woman
she was dating wisely.

Turns out she’s been a Boyfriend Whore.
She doesn’t know if her children call her Boyfriend Whore,
but she has learned that many young people do
regarding their dating mothers.  She is
Amused – and
Boyfriend Whore Embarrassed.
It is true.
So far she has been a Boyfriend Whore.
She hopes if she says Boyfriend Whore
often enough
she’ll get used to it.

Invisible Fences

Bailey’s invisible fence ran along quite close to the cement steps pictured here. She used to veer off to the left of the steps to avoid getting “buzzed.” When the railing got installed we moved her invisible fence line way over to the right to give her more room – but at first she didn’t believe. We had to coax her and sweet talk her over and over, up and down the steps until finally she was a “convert.”  Still, it took guts for her to believe.

The invisible parts of our lives; believing in them, or not.  Trust. Fear. Taking those first steps. Avoiding pain. Pain that seems to come from nowhere – an “invisible” fence!  How very much this mirrors our emotional experiences of our lives. And yet, still, every day, Life asks us to keep walking up and down steps.  To believe we won’t be hurt.

Lurching About

Yesterday I lurched about, creatively.  My “creativity slave driver” buzzed around me all day…

First thing in the morning, went next door to my dear friend’s house to have tea, both of us still in jammies. It was delightful!  Creativity slave driver: Tsk tsk you didn’t write in your journal.

Went home to clean the house just a bit.  Creativity slave driver: Hurry! You need to start typing up those poems!

Made soap.  This has been an ongoing project. It turns out that to make soap you have to melt soap! This made me laugh!   In my case the creative part is this: I had muddled mint (with a mortar and pestle) from my property and slow-cooked it in oil to create a kind of “essence of mint.”  So I yesterday I put it all together and made mint soap.  I’m making the soap to give as gifts at Christmas/Hanukah. Creativity slave driver: You are spending too much energy and time doing a tame task, not creative enough!

One of my dear daughters called. She was baby sitting a 4-year-old.  She had been telling this young girl about her mom (me!) who used to sing and perform children’s music.  She asked me to sing to the 4-year-old!  I loved it!  Creativity slave driver: Go back to children’s music! You could make a lot of money! You are so good at it!

Saw a client. I’m an art therapist and I see a few clients each week.  “Creativity slave driver” was okay with that, no scolding.  I like being thoroughly present during sessions; being as attentive as I can be.

A hurried dinner and then I went to my jazz vocal ensemble rehearsal.  Creativity slave driver: You should sing just jazz! Practice jazz theory more! Put together an act and perform, become a jazz singer! 

Visited a wonderful friend after rehearsal. We talked about how we lurch about creatively! He has the same “Do this! Do that!” voice in his head!

Went back next door in my jammies for a late night cup of tea. Delightful! Creativity slave driver: You promised to start typing up those poems. Are you going to start tonight?

Got home a little before midnight. Got an email with a song attached that I might like to sing.  It’s a great song about  Spider Lake and Traverse City!  It got me happily excited, and then my creativity slave driver:  Do it! Put your local songs together, package them up and sell them next summer! You could make a fortune selling songs about Traverse City to Traverse City vacationers!

Got ready for bed, etc.  That dang creativity slave driver was still trying to get me to type out at least one poem!

I over ruled.


A thought about . . . my day yesterday

Yesterday I played guitar and sang songs with young children celebrating Sukkot, a jewish holiday. Then I had amazing french toast made by a wonderful friend. We had ice cream for lunch. Napped. Had dinner with neighbors who are cherished friends. Watched a movie that was beautiful to view, with a mysterious and unsatisfying ending (Meer’s Cut Off).

For most of my fairly long life, I would’ve felt irritated with myself about that day. Didn’t get any creative work done. Didn’t try to “make it” as a songwriter, as a poet, as an artist… Believe it; I can be Extreme in that way.

As a friend recently put it, yesterday I was a “human being” not a “human doing.” And it was a wonderful day!

A day’s small activities, though each one may seem insignificant, can add up to a really great day. Just sayin’

The Best Most Wonderful Story Ever!

How to make a personal book for your much-loved newborn granddaughter…THIS POST WAS JUST TOO LONG, SO I DITCHED A LOT OF THE PHOTOS…

Items to gather or buy:

A board book to completely cover each page and make it your own
Strong-quality wrapping paper in decorative colors and designs that match your passion for the subject of your book
several greetings cards to cut up into decorative pieces
personal photos printed out on plain paper (glues better than photo paper)
a simple story line, told like a fairy tale

Tips: Allow yourself to be messy, let each page be slightly flawed, just have fun and be filled with love!


Include several pages of photos of loved ones…..and then on the back, paste on a “made by…”

And, this is very important: Don’t be afraid to make a mess…

The End!

Passion, p.10

This is a continuing series from my new workbook . . . If you contact me, I will send you a pdf file of the whole thingajig!  As an Art Therapist, I see so many clients searching for meaning in their lives.  My hope is that this workbook will help others in that search.


From TUT’s daily emails:
If you knew of a spectacular mountain that was very, very tall, yet climbable. And if it was well established that from its peak, you could literally see all the love that bathes the world, dance with the angels, and party with the gods. Would you curse or celebrate each step you took as you ascended it?


Mary, life is that mountain and each day a step.

Perspectives change everything,
The Universe

[I don’t always read my TUT emails any more – but this one is a fresh drink of nice cold mountain water!]

Everyday We Forget That We Are Still Afraid

Thing is, the victims of 9/11 didn’t “give” anything. The people in those airplanes? The people in the towers? Their lives were stolen, taken, abducted, ruined. Do I want to remember? I can’t NOT remember. The memory is seared into my brain. 

We watched the smoke for days from our little town in nearby NJ. I waited while loved ones walked home from Manhattan. Madison NJ mourned the loss of 7 citizens. That first week, one child hung around our house, tired of gathered relatives awaiting news about his father who was one of the 7. One of those days, I asked him if there was anything I could get for him. He asked for a glass of water.

Please, no statues. We remember in our hearts. It was a terrible terrifying time. The crashing of the towers, the Pentagon, tore open our American soul. The fear on those airplanes, fear we can only imagine, poured into that hole. We forget almost every day that we are still mending, still afraid.

I Was Once the Boy’s Bunny

Hello. I used to lie down with my boy. We’d sleep. And he carried me around with him. We’d do stuff together. Climb up and down the stairs. Eat ice cream. Now my boy’s mother has me and keeps me because I was once the boy’s bunny.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Chair, Window

Porch scene found in Long Valley, NJ. Entire house beautiful in its decay. I imagine fleeing a house like this, leaving a favorite chair sitting on the porch, and I see confusion and hurrying, maybe a fire, the law, a murder, a birth.

Regarding the My Year of Mindfulness theme.
I’m in transition about how I’m thinking it through. In a way, mindfulness is what my blog has always been about, you know? And yet a few weeks ago I set about consciously being mindful and practicing mindfulness. Well, regardless of what this blog has always (or has not always) been about, I began to feel preachy in my MYOMs, so I’m going to stop labeling which posts are all about MYOM and which are not. It is all the same.  Seeking harmony.

– photo by mary macgowan

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

MYOM #9: Kisses

This cartoon was posted many months ago, but I’m reblogging it because it fits
in well with My Year of Mindfulness.

Bailey licking humans’ faces (or any body part) is a subject frequently discussed earnestly.
Most human dislike it. Bailey has learned the term “NO LICK!” which she hears often.
I’d estimate that she successfully restrains from licking about 75% of the time.
No, make that 50% of the time. Maybe even less. Some say a dog’s desire to lick
stems from the behavior within a dog pack. The submissive dogs supposedly
lick the ears of the alpha.

For me to be fully in the moment with Bailey, I occasionally let her lick my
face as long and as thoroughly as she chooses. It makes her happy.
Which makes me happy. But now I’m discussing my cartoon which really says it all.

– cartoon illustration by mary macgowan

MYOM #8: Gold Cracks

My Year of Mindfulness #8

This cracked bowl still knows how to be a bowl. It can’t be anything else. Look how beautiful it is. I’d like to hold it in my lap every day; I’d like to feel its heft and listen to its story. We could be mindful of each other, my bowl and me. We could sit together and just be there, in the shade of a cherry tree, bowl and woman. I’d like that.

MYOM #7: Blue Heron Dock Standing

My Year of Mindfulness #7

Today this blue heron was me. Quirky poses and full of herself and firmly positioned on the end of my dock like me and my tea most mornings. Is it okay that I’m full of myself too?  I am, I confess. Full! of! Myself!

Tonight I stood in her place. It was late, after midnight. The moon was full of itself, so bright it was almost annoying to this woman who had walked out to stand on her peaceful dock.  As I stood there, adjusting to the streetlight moon, I wondered what it’s like to be a blue heron on the end of my dock.  I can never really know.  

I wish I had such awesome funky wings.  Thank you Blue Heron for this wondrous pose!  I suspect she’s welcoming in breezes, sunshine and, well, whatever slips in unawares. Love, maybe. Love, I hope.  

Year of Mindfulness #6: Rock Writing








Rock writing discovered on Old Mission Lighthouse Point.

When I first saw these names and signs (there were dozens of them), I couldn’t discern what some of them were. Most of them looked like hieroglyphics or some ancient language. It wasn’t until I looked through my camera lens that I could recognize most of the words and names. Through the camera lens I also discovered that I’d been looking at some of the words upside down.  At first I felt confused and foolish.  Then I was captivated by the effect of the camera.  And then I started thinking. . .

How we long to be seen. How we yearn for permanence and recognition.
I felt this.
I am here today at this place.

And sometimes with only a subtle shift in point of view – like me looking through my camera’s lens – we can then see what’s really there.

Each day now I take time to see if I can see.  

Year of Mindfulness #4: While Taking Self Portraits for Match


– Unedited photo by mary macgowan, who loves it when a mistake makes magic

Mistakes. Being alive is a messy business. Oh heavens, all day long – plans go awry, change, switch. How to be okay with that?

This photo, where the sun entered the camera lens in an unexpected way, shows me how wonderful mistakes can be. Look at the clarity of good dog Bailey – so beautiful. And Bailey seems to be saying to me: Stop looking at Match! I love you! Me! Here I am! And she is right. Everything I need is here.  

Bailey is right near me all day and sometimes I scarcely stop to notice her. So, yes, I can appreciate a “mistake” that shows me what is true.  I can be such an idiot.

More Overheard Dialogue

counterman talking to customer: oh sure i know walter! we go way back. he’s my cousin!
customer: no way! he’s my best friend!
counterman: (pause)…(typing sounds)….uh . . . he died, didn’t he?

– overheard by redmittengirl . . . You MUST visit her blog it is EXCELLENT:

Year of Mindfulness #3: Blueberries and Mint

(It’s a 23 second song)

Blueberries and mint
Blueberries and mint
Mint and blueberries
Blueberries and mint

This is it, folks. Blueberries. Mint. They’re growing on my beach. I could fight against them, pull them out and clear them away. Or I can celebrate their solid being-ness.

I wrote this song to remind myself to keep to the basics. No sense in trying to be something I’m not. All I can do is be me. Blueberries can only be blueberries. Mint can only be mint. You can only be you. I can only be me. So natural it almost seems silly to write it out! But we humans are pretty good at NOT being ourselves.  Or is it only me?

– song and photo by mary macgowan
– blueberries and mint from mary’s property

The Overheard Dialogue Project

Woman: She knows 10 ways to make potatoes.
Man: She is so Indiana!

— Daniel Proudfoot

Readers are invited to submit Overheard Dialogue. There is only one rule: Your submission must be something you overheard someone saying, for real, no fiction. Here are some more:

A young man walking past me on a college campus. This is what I heard as he passed:
. . . She was from, like, the time of Christ . . .

— Mary MacGowan

Two women talking in the women’s locker room at the gym.
One says: Rick and I are going to have bacon on Sunday.

— Mary MacGowan

Two women sitting at sushi bar at King of the Roll in Portland, ME.
Woman1: Was she always a lesbian or is it a back and forth thing?
Woman2: It’s back and forth. Sort of an Anne Heche thing.

— Mary Colangelo

I’m leaving the grocery store at the same moment two men are walking into the store. One is reading aloud from a list, and says:
. . . Diet Coke, condoms . . .

— Mary MacGowan

Okay, two rules.
The 2nd is that it has to be interesting in some way.  
And I am the judge of that.
Submit to this plucky umbrella blog as a comment.
I look forward to hearing from you!

(In)Constant Ocean

Really, this is a good song, have a listen…

(In)Constant Ocean

The constellations fade and sigh
the trucks roll long and gray
like noisy children playing hide and seek
they pass, retreat,
pass, retreat…
one more time, those trucks fall behind

So many times I’ve gone this road
Orion swings now to the west
but we’re all mixed up
Are we there? Almost.
I lay down my head on a pile of old coats
and pretend I’m asleep in the old rowboat.

Stillness before all motion
in my midnight deep (in)constant ocean.

And sisters sang the old fight song
A while back there had some rain
With mom and dad
in the front I had
this funny feeling that I’d never left home
and I sat down later and wrote down this poem.

Stillness before all motion
in my midnight deep (in)constant ocean.

Hello Plucky Umbrella

Hello Plucky Umbrella Blog, I’ve missed you.  I’ve been busy doing other things lately.  I’m sorry.  I’ll be back soon.  To amuse you while I’m gone, here is a clown guy my daughter Rachel made in art class many, many years ago.  Clown guy hangs on my living room wall and sees all.

The hole in his head. Well. What can I say except that I love him even more because of it?  Rachel’s art teacher insisted upon the hole. The hole was meant for hanging, and his pants were meant for holding keys. Then I went and framed him.  Ruined the whole concept.  [Couldn’t help myself.  He’s too sweet to hang there all by himself, unprotected.]  [See framed fellow below.]

Bye for now Plucky Umbrella. I won’t be gone much longer.
Love, Mary

Year of Mindfulness Day #1: The Sweet Release of Giving In

This day begins

My Year of Mindfulness…

Fought the lake weeds for the past 5 years…

…until I realized, heck, let the dang things grow.

Give in!

Maybe I’ll end up with water lilies, like my neighbor:

and Monet will come for tea.

If not, at least the battle is over.

It began with lakeweeds. I’d been engaged in battle with them for the past 5 years, since I’d moved to this sparkling lake haven. Pulled the weeds by hand, used a lakeweed “mower,” used a lakeweed cutter, poured chemicals into the water to kill them. This is the day when I sat on my dock in the morning, as usual, when it came to me. I could simply accept them. I could even welcome them. And thus began my year of mindfulness. My year of accepting what-is. My year of seeing what-is. My year of being okay with the changeable always-growing creature that I am. The glory of my me-ness.

Cry For You House

Cry For You is one of my songs…Click on Play – above

She sighs.This might be the saddest
house in the world.

He sees her: a cloudy wind drifter on high.
He says, I don’t know how you got to such a leave-you place.
She leans back on the bed. Saddest song, too.

yes, beauty in the decay
yes, photo and song and poem by mary macgowan

Michigan’s Back Alleys

This scarcely feels fair, she says, so easy to find the loved
the abandoned, the swingsets, the trash cans.
It’s fair, he answers, everyone’s back yard.

They drive back and forth
behind all the bright front porches.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– photo & poem by mary macgowan

The Best “Good Dog Bailey” Story Ever

Here is Good Dog Bailey, and below is First Island…

Bailey and I often swim out to First Island. It’s pretty far, right?
So yesterday we swam out there and after a few minutes I couldn’t find Bailey
but I figured she was playing with some dogs who were also visiting the island
and I was chatting with some folks who were there.

When it was time to swim back home, I couldn’t find Bailey girl. I called and called her.

How amazing is this dog?!

She missed me, so she apparently swam back home to find me…….then when she heard me calling her, she swam back to First Island to find me…….then she swam back home with me.

The kisses she gave me!

Such a good dog! Love that girl!
(Lots of exclamation marks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) (See “Miserly With Exclamation Marks” post for explanation!)

Morning Glory

Oh go ahead, click on “play,” you know you want to . . . and it’s worth it just to hear the legendary Jerry Friedman play his heartbreakingly beautiful lead guitar. This might have been his last studio gig. His playing made me cry . . .

Yes, this is me, and one of the songs, Morning Glory, from my CD, Morning Glory.
Not to brag, but I love this song, I just do.

Squeaks When Disturbed

The Walnut Sphinx Moth On Very Old Wall  sizes this moth by portraying it as a large orange square placed on the same page as a quarter (25 cents). The orange square would, by my guesstimate, hold a couple dollars’ worth. Ross says it was about 4 inches wide not including the wingspan. He thought at first that it was a bat. Ross also says that the moth is not on a wall but a windowsill.

A quirk of the Walnut Sphinx Moth caterpillar: It may make “squeaking” sounds when disturbed.

This moth is very much alive; the wall (or windowsill or whatever it is) is surely wasting away which qualifies it for The Beauty in the Decay Series, attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things; how nature will have its way. The captivating presence of the process.

– beautiful photo by Cathy Sevensma

The Boat Was In An Old, Old Room

“Someone should fix this up,” she said.
They walked through poison ivy (maybe) and tall grasses to see up close.
“Look in this window,” he said.
She looked. There was a boat.

The boat was in an old, old room.

The old, old room was in a house.

“If this were France, there’d be people living in it,” she said.
“Yeah, all peeling paint and that French elegance thing.”

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– poem and photos by mary macgowan

Broken House

Broken House

She considers quilting.
Ripped cloth  / / /

zippers exposed, a blank     /   /   blanket
one slice of  /  /  /  orange
in a  /  /  /  / mold.
/ Almost wrong.

It must have something  /  /  /  song.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

28 Sew-On Snap Fasteners

28 Sew-on Snap Fasteners

Assorted Sizes
For bulky fabrics
For medium fabrics
For light fabrics
Made in England

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

found poem, photograph by mary macgowan

We Don’t Have Enough Pleasant Hours Clubs


Grandma attended a one-room school house. They sat on benches. No slouching allowed. She didn’t mind when we gently teased her: Grandma! Slouch for us! She couldn’t do it. She’d slump a wee slump, then she’d giggle.  When I was 5, she wore an angel costume for Halloween.  She floated out the door on her way to Pleasant Hours Club, wings unfurled.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– photo and memoir by mary macgowan

Or Willewingulagulin

from Spaceship Under the Apple Tree, by Louis Slobodkin, as remembered by a 10 year old girl

Or Willewingulagulin

Marty arrived, a tiny Martian
senior scientist in tight uniform,
orange willewingulagulin
and a tiny black typewriter.

Eddie befriended Marty
and was allowed to see
Zurianomatichrome (green).
Marty slept hanging upside down,
his shadow right side up.

Skip pages, adventures,
Grandma’s cookies;
proceed to Marty and Eddie
hurrying to the spaceship,
red footprints running behind them.

At the door, Marty confessed,
frowning: I’m only a junior scientist.
I’ve failed my Earth mission.

But Eddie gave Marty
his brown Boy Scout manual.
Marty emanated dashes
indicating pleasure &
success after all.

Next day, gray twigs and leaves
lay randomly scattered
in a circle of watercolor hues
where the spaceship had been
by the old apple tree

and this is my poem to you,
illustration of trees and branches
falling in my yard, a chainsaw
revving and resting, revving
and resting, which is as much
about orange, green or love
as it is about trees or art

or hovering spaceships
or two men who thank me
for writing about them,
boy or martian, which has
as much logic as you or me
or you and me together
which is to say it makes
perfect sense in a
willewingulagulin kind of way.

– poem by mary macgowan

Awesome Blog Content. Thank you Philippa from !

as per requirement:

Always loved getting mail
Blueberries grow on my hill
Can’t catch balls, baseballs, beach balls, any of ’em
Darned a sock once
Eats every couple of hours
Fish, I like to fish, don’t much like to eat fish
Hapless at times
Kicks water at fish
Loves Love
Mint grows on my beach
Never mind
Over the hill
Plays and prays
Q-tips, love ’em, love a dry ear
Sidestroke, my favorite way to swim
Travel – don’t much like to travel unless it’s to see friends
Up late at night
Ventures out to the dock after midnight
Wishes lots of wishes
Young, my maiden name

When I figure out how to link to other blogs, I will spread nominations with great good will.

What Was the Plan?


What was the plan? she asks. The dream?

You’re sad, he says.

I just wish they could see
how beautiful it looks, now, from afar.
Years, decades, from across the field.

– photo and poem by mary macgowan

Friends, I changed my blog address:, but I think you can still get here the usual way:  Still.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Mama Bird


A bird house used to be here.
According to this mama, it still is.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– photo posted by a friend on FB, not sure who’s the photographer. If it is you, please let me know. And thanks.

Or…(regarding Runaway Truck Ramps)

Call the Department of Transportation

Cancel Mary’s appointment.
Her heart needs to runaway more
and more.
No ramp, please.

So much to love.
The petite pine cone that came inside with a beach towel.
Hafiz and Rumi, who are Joy Clowns.

When her water bottle catches a bit of wind
just for a moment
and says hooooooooooooo.

That she has a cellar door
to slide down.
She hasn’t yet, but with no runaway heart ramp
there’s still a chance.

Runaway Truck Ramp

Call the Department of Transportation.

Tell them Mary’s heart is a runaway. That she
needs one in her own
back yard. Or her kitchen.

The trouble she gets in
rolling down hills with the gear shift
broken. (In her medicine cabinet?)
(Her bed?) Perhaps an operation is required,

implant a mini ramp in her rib cage
to stop that foolish thing
from falling all over the place.

– photo and poem by mary macgowan

Ridiculous, the Charioteer

Ridiculous, the Charioteer.
She can’t see the man, his chariot.
Hercules looks more Crooked-Deer-Jumping than Hero.

Great Bear and Little Bear? Dippers, easy.
Some study the stars
as if they have meaning,

as if they matter. Terrifying word,
Joy. A still
and silent rock.

She dives into dark water
the bright soles of her feet
last to go.

– poem and photograph by mary macgowan

By An Open Window

#35 or so

Flower me in stories, count me in sheep
I sleep curled up in a morning glory.
Warm french bread, sleepyhead,
jellied and buttered by an open window.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

poem and photo by mary macgowan

Night Flowers

A Land With No S

Some people write in complete planets.
Characters. S-free.
If she lived there
would she still lisp?

S is a whisper sliced open
insistent from the throat.

Tongue, teeth, lips:
all untouched,
an empty river rushing.

Teachers give it
for Satisfactory.

As if
it doesn’t break our hearts
every time we say S
and know it can’t be.

Tongue. Teeth. Lips.
All untouched,
empty rivers rushing.

More Disappearing Stairs

She sighed, This whole stair thing . . .
I know, he said.
Eaten up, she said. Look at them. Vanishing.
It’s beautiful, one of them said or maybe both.

So beautiful it hurts.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Disappearing Stairs

Beautiful Decay #33

She said, It scares me, these stairs fading, being eaten by the world.
He said, Yes.
I don’t think I can write about it, she said.
You don’t have to, he answered.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Still Life in an Open Field

Beauty in the Decay Series #32

Still Life

Movies on our broken television
with closed captioning
stuck “on.”
Later, when it got fixed,
how I missed

sounds of birds flapping
gurgling water
heels tapping on a hard wood floor

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

The Bravery Test

More drownings. . .

The Bravery Test

Having just died — car crash —
I climbed, dead, back into bed.
Tried not to jiggle the mattress
but you woke up and asked
Are you okay? which made me cry.

Down I went, drowned this time.
It wasn’t so bad.
Here’s what I heard
as I sunk to the bottom:
You now that artist guy on TV?
Says the Bravery Test
is when you add a central object
to a painting when it’s almost done.
Like a sailboat on a perfectly
nice lake.

Plane crash, beheaded.
You said, Oh, you’ve lost your
You leaned over

and carried my head to a pillow
and rocked it with a lullaby
while waiting for the rest of me.
When I was stitched back together
you wrapped me in your mainsail
and kissed me goodnight.

Hard work, staying dead.

– poem and collage by mary macgowan

Not Waving But Drowning

Tonight we helped search for a man on the dark night lake yelling Help! Help! He went on and on yelling Help! It was scary. It was 1 a.m.  Some of us rowed toward his voice while others waited for the police to arrive. Turned out to be a guy in a canoe who had tipped over.  He was rescued by someone else, we couldn’t tell who it was so dark, and we went back to bed.  

Everyone deserves to be rescued.

Stevie Smith, we need Steve Smith for her wondrous poem about not-waving-but-drowning…

Not Waving but Drowning

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning:
I was much further out than you thought
And not waving but drowning.

Poor chap, he always loved larking
And now he’s dead
It must have been too cold for him his heart gave way,
They said.

Oh, no no no, it was too cold always
(Still the dead one lay moaning)
I was much too far out all my life
And not waving but drowning.

Stevie Smith

A Path Makes Sense to its Maker

On the lake this morning with good dog Bailey.

We saw a yellow butterfly, a turtle, a muskrat, dozens of fish large and small, and a frog (or maybe it was a toad).

a turtle poem. . .

Bubbles on the water’s surface
follow a path that makes sense
to their maker.
At the end, a turtle’s head
appears out of early lake water,
trees bent and reflected around it.

Two days ago a dozen or more
turtle tails & fat feet tracked in the sand;
clumsy mounds. We chose two
to protect. Eggs, we hope.

The turtle’s head disappears –
a magician’s trick –
the bubbles slowly go back
to their own kind:
the clear air that belongs
only to new mornings.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

Robin’s Egg Blue

Found under the bird’s nest shown here June 6th (and below):

Is there any blue as tender as a real robin’s egg blue?

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– photos by cathy sevensma


Ode to the Picnic Table

by Craig Dotti

Lumber and lacquer 
Nails and elbow grease
Blood from the splinters 
Before you were stripped down
From the wood 
Of the forest behind our home

Standing sturdy and steadfast,
On the patio 
I laid 
Brick by brick
Gate keeper of the orchard that grows, 
Thick in the summer  
And curls up barren,

In the cold months
As if sitting on its mahogany shoulders there are
Mountains to the North West that seem
To smile with their peaks, 
And valleys against the blue satin 
Sheet of a sky

You who bare witness to my body and the bodies of
Countless others 
Those that would just simply use you and fewer,
That would become your very grain
You are watching our conversations, 
Through knots for eyes 
Through bird-burrowed holes, 
Hearing us,
As we break bread as brothers
Wood through the trees
Flesh from bone
Feast to famine 
You are,

Beautiful and complete
As the steak,
Cooked rare 
A glass of summer port–wine: 

The color of the red russet potato,
And the earth-soiled hands that dug them up

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

photo by mary macgowan


For Every Bird a Nest – Dickinson

For every bird a nest
Wherefore in timid quest
Some little Wren goes seeking round

Wherefore when boughs are free
Households in every tree
Pilgrim be found?

Perhaps a home too high
Ah Aristocracy!
The little Wren desires

Perhaps of twig so fine
Of twine e’en superfine,
Her pride aspires

The Lark is not ashamed
To build upon the ground
Her modest house

Yet who of all the throng
Dancing around the sun
Does so rejoice?

poem by emily dickinson; photo by cathy sevensma

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.


Beauty in the Decay Series #23

Grinkor took you away last night/you, a prehistoric bird
made of sharp angles and a long pointy beak/you said
no matter how many days you spent there/the date
of your return would always be today/but it was always
tomorrow when I would hide from you, squeezing behind
radiators sometimes even trees/I had something I
needed desperately to protect/so I pressed up against
walls, birds pushing on all sides and that’s how I
came to fly/I had to use my mind, though, to remain aloft
/like you taught me/I said they converted you/but you
wouldn’t come home/I tried to tell my father/but he thought
I was the crazy one/another planet? ha-ha, he’s left you for good,
sweetie/then you found me, so happy you hugged me/
accidentally/stabbed me with your long beak/you panicked,
scratched my legs with your claws/Come home, I cried/I’ll be
dead before you come back/all I had left were wings/
I whirled to the sky/you ran in circles like a chicken/you
were neatly shaving your head and beard/and that’s when
I didn’t know you any more/still, this time I stopped halfway,
my heart beating faster than my thoughts/I sang an aria
somewhere between god and grinkor/and it broke my wings
baby it broke my heart.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan, poem published in 1979 in some tiny literary journal; I never got a copy of it and I now forget its name. Sad. It was my first published poem.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

This Is My Letter To The World

Beauty in the Decay Series #18

poem by Emily Dickinson

This is my letter to the world,
That never wrote to me —
The simple news that Nature told,
With tender majesty.
Her message is committed
To hands I cannot see;
For love of her, sweet countrymen,
Judge tenderly of me!

photo by mary macgowan

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

The Ravage of the European Starlings

Beauty in the Decay Series #17

She said, But this has nothing to do with the photo.
He said, I know.
She said, But I like it here anyway.
He said, I know.

The Ravage of the European Starlings

They imitate songbird calls
to sneak into their nests
and ruin their eggs, maybe
eat them for all we know.
Feeders and suet ruined.
All the nice birds, gone.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

I Can Get Lost

Thanks to Fork In My Eye’s blog photo, Beauty in the Decay Series #16

I can get lost
in the heart of an artichoke.
Avocados slip into my mouth.
And brussel sprouts –
o! sauteed until almost black
its sweetness fills my room.

Photo courtesy of Tori Gallagher. You must visit Tori’s wonderful blog: It’s not only a cool blog, but what a cool name! Fork In My Eye!

poem by mary macgowan, first line donated by Jody Kirby-Rinnyk.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

Guest House

Thanks to AppropriatelyFrayed’s blog photo, Beauty in the Decay Series #15:

Visit Brenda at — Brenda shares my pleasure found in old structures falling apart!

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whomever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

– tender photo by Brenda Silberman

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

White Tee

Beauty in the Decay Series #15

This is an old dock in an area where the lake has dried up. Photo taken from my rowboat in shallow water . . .

White Tee

Today’s wind rushes
at my white tee
and cut-offs
on the clothesline.
A wild mare
comes alive inside them.
They billow
around her lean muscles
as she rears up,
trying to escape.

The Beauty in the Decay Series
is attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

photo and poem by mary macgowan. the poem was published in a previous version in Assisi, 2011.

She Was Out, Rowing


Boat rowers
must sit wrong.
They glance backwards
to see what’s arriving
but most of the time
they look straight ahead
after it all grows smaller.

Attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan. an earlier version of the poem was published in Review Americana 2011.

A Broom With Her Wayward Dustpan

Beauty in the Decay Series #11

A broom with her wayward dustpan,
a phone with his seldom pen.
The brushing of love
into untamed curls.

Attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things;
how nature will have its way.
The captivating presence of the process.

– poem and photo by mary macgowan

My Ophthalmologist’s Ear

Because it’s not about toasters:

My Ophthalmologist’s Ear


Not the sticking-out type, nice
and relaxed, close to his head
limply hanging there
you know: clitoral
labial, vulvar.
His brown hair
scruffs the tip of each one
a downy freckled bunny.
Look straight ahead,
he says, then glides
his rolling     chair
side    to      side.
Ear.       Ear.       Ear.       Ear.

– photo by mary macgowan.  a previous version of this poem, by mary macgowan, published in The South Carolina Review, Vol 34, #1, Fall 2001


Beauty in the Decay Series #7

My first and only Barbie. She’s about 50 years old.
This decay – her baldness – I find it difficult to see as beautiful.
Her bald head is so vulnerable and tender, but I feel
embarrassed for her.  
I used to make Barbie and Ken kiss, and then I’d leave them, entwined and passionate, under blankets.
They come in boxes now. Twisty ties keep them in place.

A poem that starts with Barbie and ends with dead pigeons in marigolds….


Barbie tied up in her box,
twisty-ties choking
her wrists, ankles, neck.
A window for watching.
The brain-damaged girl
drew Barbie’s face,
the steady scratch-scratch
of her #2 pencil.

That was when a boy
came to my office each week
to scream Fuck Shit Bitch
as he punched Playdoh.

A healer told me
to be a tree.
Send my tap root
down to the core
of the earth. It zoomed
ferociously, grotesquely huge
from between my legs
forging a trajectory down
there where there is no end.
But now my tap root

is a drag.
While walking in a garden
it crushes cockle shell rows.
It bursts through car floors
to destroy highways, bridges.
Disasters trail behind me.
I grow weary of all the required
repairs, facts that need fixing.

Back then we lived across
from a pigeon shoot.
The injured ones
would flutter over and roost
clumsy in our eaves.
Mornings we’d find them
still warm, lying in a pool
of marigolds.

Attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things; how nature will have its way.

– photos and poem by mary macgowan

Listening To A Meditation Talk While In The Bathtub

Beauty in the Decay Series #6

rinsing my hair
i dunk underwater;
water fills my ears
just as the speaker says
“And buddha said…”
i might hit rewind
to hear what i missed
but i like the holes in the philosophy

Attentive to the intersection of nature with human-built things; how nature will have its way.

– photo by mary macgowan

Water’s Obligation

A waterfall only has a name
while it falls,
A river only has a name
while it runs.
We flee, drop, lose things – so flawed.
But rain rinses our hair
with its passing name, its fresh.
Feel a river glisten your curls
with rippling rivulets.
Water’s unwavering obligation
to gravity,
it finds the lowest place
and goes there always.
Feel yourself flee, freefall;
believe you will be caught.
Strong arms to hold you
safe at wishing well’s end.

Devils Elbow: Map & Aerial View

Were the mapmakers drunk & laughing as they named it?
Lots of us live in it & don’t know it.
“Devil’s Elbow? Never heard of it!”

I live approx. here-ish. We have tall red pines
growing under the devil’s arm. Do they tickle?
Not even a sign on the road. No P.O.
No stores. On a map it’s a town. Elbow.

Is it just a deviled egg made sweet with mayonnaise?
The yolk and the white? We compost the shell,
burial, rebirth, Love?

Mr. Elbow Macaroni, I laugh at you
if you try to enter this house.
Pooh on you, silly fellow!
Only angels allowed!

According to Mapquest, they make no guarantee
of the accuracy of the content, road conditions
or route usability. We assume all risk of use.
Get the FREE MapQuest Toolbar. GO.

The Buried Seeds

All the buried seeds
crack open in the dark
the instant they surrender
to a process they can’t see.

This innate surrender
allows everything edible
and fragrant
to break ground
into a life of light
that we call Spring.

As a seed buried in the earth cannot imagine itself as an orchid or hyacinth,

neither can a heart packed with hurt imagine itself loved or at peace.

The courage of the seed is that once cracking, it cracks all the way.
– Mark Nepo

disaster and bars

disaster bars 2
(must click twice to hear song)

(and my apologies – first post the song attachment didn’t work)

water drips down on graffiti walls
brick and mortar and painted plaster
and walking overhead on your bridge of stars
you hear voices drunk on disaster//on disaster and bars

sizzling in the river // you hear the moon whisper
and still up there on your bridge of stars
voices laugh and drink faster // you hear disaster and bars
you make a bed with your Goodwill coats -so what? who cares?
nobody takin your biography notes

sure, there’s someone out there
and maybe you could ask her, you could ask her
but all those people up there on your bridge of stars
walking home plastered//all you hear is disaster and bars

up there on your bridge of stars
under your sizzling moon
your time will come soon
under your own bridge of stars
it’s all disaster and bars
all disaster and bars

Oil painting and song by Mary MacGowan

Metta Sutta (middle section of)

Wishing: In gladness and in safety,
May all beings be at ease.
Whatever living beings there may be;
Whether they are weak or strong, omitting none,
The great or the mighty, medium, short or small,
The seen and the unseen,
Those living near and far away,
Those born and to-be-born —
May all beings be at ease.

Oil painting by Mary MacGowan

Hieroglyphic Ice Melts

First, the ice melts like farm communities

seen from an airplane window.
Is this what it’s like to be in love?

Then come ice hieroglyphics
written by lake life waiting below.

Is this what it’s like to be happy?

Ancient language experts
will be called in to interpret.
I want to understand.
The ice cracks and moans.

Photography and poem by Mary MacGowan

First Corny Tangerine Sunbeams

For You, Honey

The others in this house
sleep while the night
is erased. Give a name
to everything, even
this moment.
For what I hold in my hand
call it Coffee & Solemn.

My World’s Best Mom mug
warms my 5 a.m. face.
A dreamcatcher’s
wrapped in black and white yarn,
lopsided clay candlesticks and a bottle
of streaked sand art.
For families
sleeping everywhere
call this an A+ Diorama.

Parents lift washed-thin blankets
allowing warm baby skin
to feel a new day’s air.
For their lustful cries
eager to be born again
each morning, for the slight
imprint of size
their bodies leave behind
on smooth sheets
christen it Cry & Caress.

I wrap it around me
this last covered
moment of the skies.
My afghan hides me as I lean back
sleepyhead. For all the sizes
we’ve tried on, washed
bleached tumbled dried
for all clothing fallen gracefully
to the floor, call this fabric
Cotton & Wool.

Such willing surrender
of what covers us.
For the shorn of sheep falling
bare skin baptized into dry air
for our own sloughing off
of dead cells, a multitude
of microscopic stars
trailing behind us as we move
through space, reveal it
as Ashes and Dust.

Here now – the sun
tenderly lifts the quilt
which crazies our dreams.
The dark pulls away
like angel wings. So there it goes
wish it, name this dark thought
then stretch and wiggle your toes
and say hello (go ahead!) (hi!)
to the first corny
tangerine sunbeams.

Oil painting/tissue paper assemblage  and poem by Mary MacGowan, an earlier version published in Licking River Review, Vol.30, 1998-99

More clear blue skies


Last night I posted my song “Clear Blue Sky.”  At the time, I didn’t connect it to the day I had just spent with Bob.  An unseasonably light-filled and warm day, we walked bare foot on the sandy beach. Bob picked mint leaves for me and crumpled them slightly – held them out for me to smell.  So tender and minty fresh.  We drank Chardonnay.  We kissed.  And laughed.  A lot.

We acted out the whole song, except for the rain falling from a clear blue sky. [That part happened once when I was alone. It rained for a couple of minutes from what was apparently a perfectly blue sky.]  

Bob and I also watched 5 deer run across the ice-covered lake, past the island, hurrying toward the far shore. And 2 ice fisherman who weren’t afraid, as we were, of falling through the ice.  

We watched the sun sink low like blueberry plants with red leaves.

Clear Blue Sky was fiction.  Bob and I made it true.

I’m holding onto this one.  Tomorrow: a painting of the wintergreen mint.

Once I saw a flock of ducks sitting in a large field in V formation. Not eating, not quacking.  Resting.  Resting.  Sometimes we all need to rest in a field, doing nothing.  [No sleeping in blueberries though!]

Clear Blue Sky

☝PLEASE PRESS PLAY☝ (you can adjust volume, too)

Gave myself a birthday gift: Now I can put my songs up on Plucky Umbrella… ♥




Clear Blue  Sky

Barefoot we break off leaves of mint
soft and sweet they smell like heaven scent
and when we kiss and sigh
it’s love falling from a clear blue sky

Oh we laugh, and sip our Chardonnay
the sun so bright it’s hard to say
just why a rain dropped by
and fell down from a clear blue sky.

And here’s to you, my true (blue) eyed love
and here’s to mystery from up above
and here’s to the fall
that started it all

They say it happens but it’s rare
a cloud so small it’s barely there
and then with a gentle sigh
there’s love falling from a clear blue sky.
– Mary MacGowan


The following poem was written in response to Mary Oliver’s poems in which she so often depicts herself falling asleep in wild grasses or under feathered trees – lovely images such as those.  At some point in time I was quite aggravated at all of her sleeping in the wild flowers! Can anybody really do that? Does it make them a better person than one who cannot?

I’ve slept in hammocks,

in beach chairs,

on towels on sandy beaches,

but I have never slept among blueberries.

Wild leaves and fruits scare me,

don’t laugh, it’s their way.

They’ll make us a soft bed, or not,

they’ll feed us, or not,

they’ll scratch us, or make a bridge

for bugs to crawl upon our arms.

Imagine such indifference during

ground-level messy grassy sleep!

Please let’s stay in our pillow-topped bed.

What was I thinking, sleeping

in my car at rest stops?

Mary’s Rule #2

Rule #2: Whenever possible, take a bath instead of a shower.  

You can gather your clothes and calendar and cell phone while the water is running.   You get to sit down, and how great is that?   You can have fun posing in amusing ways to rinse body parts.  

(Mary’s Rule #1 was already posted: Listen to the end of the song.)

Listen to the End of the Song

Listen To the End of the Song


When you’re driving 

your dusty Jeep 

invite music in 

and in.

Listen and love 

as you go on your way

and when you get there

(to the place where you’re going)

if a song is still playing

put your car in Park.


It’s a love song 

written just for you.

Can you hear it?

Listen and you’ll know.

Follow these instructions

and even your Jeep will be happier,

in need of less repairs.



I always hated King of the Hill –

always felt tense in my gut when King,

sad when not,

and ostracized if I didn’t want to play.

That pattern has followed me through life.

But now, as a tired adult,

when I feel alone and powerless

atop whatever hill I’ve managed to climb,

I secretly long for anyone to join me.

Now, I’m ready to believe there’s more power



– Mark Nepo, Book of Awakening

Please climb on up the hill to join Bailey and me. We can all be Kings and Queens of the Hill together. Okay? Don’t worry. We’ll all fit, we’ll make it work.

Invite A Bird To Sit Upon Your Forehead

A bird

with no name

picks at my face.

No sense wishing it away,

this bird likes


I’ve other friends,

flowers too –

ladies, babies –

and armfuls of sweet color!


My pecker and I

(not the penis pecker)

have agreed

life is

honeysuckled blossoms

no matter what sits on your face

or what face you sit upon.


(Just for now, go

elsewhere, sexy thoughts!)

We are all one countenance

and the sooner we believe

the sooner we love.


(Not that


isn’t important) (it is)

(but just for a moment

invite a bird

to sit upon your forehead)

(first despair)



Collage on Monopoly playing card



Day or night, rain or shine,

it stands

ready to help you –

in the everyday affairs of life

as well as

in emergencies.

This swift,

willing worker

will run your errands,

guard your home,

save countless steps

and valuable time

and keep you in touch

with relatives and friends.

In office

and in home,

these oft-repeated words

reveal its value –

“I don’t


where I’d be


the telephone.”

– (found poem) Nat’l Geographic, 1954

Collage on Monopoly playing cards