The Eclipse

The eclipse stunned us. The sun turning black like it did on the day Christ died. You wonder what you would have made of the sun being swallowed by darkness before science. You wonder at what you would have made of your country swallowed by madness before this year. You would have said it wasn’t possible as the sun disappeared. You would have said America is better than this, and then here we are.  Nazis walk our streets and the combed over one applauds them. The sun emerges again, but who will we be after all? As Americans, we feel shame. We feel the darkness everywhere.  The narrative of this country is teetering on the edge of madness. There was a moment when it seemed the sun was lost, if you lived in the Midwest.  America is not lost, but the Obama years seem now like a distant memory.

Published in: on August 22, 2017 at 3:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Blue drinks

The first time I bought a drink I wasn’t old enough, and I was alone.  I just walked into a bar and ordered something blue.  The drink came, a Rum Blue Island Splash in a tall glass, and I ate some of it with a spoon and drank the rest.  I had some French fries.  I was in Richmond working as a babysitter.  Everyone I knew was fancier than I was.  I lived in a small room which I had rented, and I spent five dollars decorating.  There was a Japanese scroll on the wall and a piece of fake gold fur on my bed.  I remember the Rum Blue Island Splash and the fries.  But mostly I remember transgressing in public.  No one stopped me as I drank my blue drink.

Published in: on August 21, 2017 at 7:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

To the Greek

It’s always been the family tradition to go to the Greek restaurant at the Ventura Harbor in the summer and tonight’s the night.  The kids used to love the dancers. I love the boats in the Harbor, I love the reminder of Greece which reminds me of breathing and swimming although we’ve watched Greece collapse over the years yet still retain all that beauty and magic. Rituals sustain us.


Like the dog following me around the house from room to room as I shut out the lights. She loves being in a house of writers and publishers. Our absences from the present world delight her. She seizes those moments to raid the trash can, steal the cat food.


Paying attention isn’t good for everyone.  Ask any kid who is reading comic books when they should be doing homework. “The worst kind of parent,” my son once told me “is the unemployed parent who has nothing to do but be vigilant.  Vigilance is a terrible quality in a parent.”

Published in: on August 11, 2017 at 9:27 am  Leave a Comment  

And yet, after all this time,

you can’t let go?


Set it down.

Set down the basket.


Leave the basket on the shore.

Go for a swim.


You do not want to be the girl

in the little red coat


Always carrying the basket.

Always in danger of being eaten.

Published in: on August 9, 2017 at 12:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

Learning to swim or fly

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Could not put Humpty Dumpty back together again.


Maybe things fall apart.  Relationships. Stories.

Narratives. Secrets. Maybe if the chain is broken

there was never a chain in the first place

just one you imagined.


The two of you sat on a wall.

One of you imagined a thread between you.

One of you was pushed off the wall into the water.

And learned to swim. The other never noticed.

Published in: on August 7, 2017 at 9:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Does working hard pay off? Not so much.

Of course, it depends what kind of payoff you were hoping for. If you thought that hard work would mean “people” would admire you, probably not. If you run into trouble, will the people you have been working hard for run to protect you? Not so much.


Why then do some of choose to work hard day after day? It isn’t the money. It isn’t the recognition. It isn’t the respect.  It isn’t the possibility of better work in the future with higher pay because honestly, if you’re a woman, none of that is going to happen.


I don’t know the answer.  Maybe we work because it’s our nature to work. If that’s the case, I want to make sure I’m enjoying this hard work because the journey is all there is.

Published in: on August 6, 2017 at 2:29 pm  Leave a Comment  

Sunlight and flowers

Everywhere you go in Hawaii, there are chickens.  Roosters crowing, hens with baby chicks.  I saw one this morning with eleven babies following her through the trees.  There are avocado trees, mango trees and papayas. It seems like you could live in a house in the woods and fish and eat fruit. The light pours down through the trees onto the pigs who roam through the brush.  Behind the house, there’s a young pig who seems to be all alone, rooting about. Sunshine, fruit, flowers, fish, pigs, water. What’s not to love?

Published in: on August 5, 2017 at 12:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Headed for the stars

The ocean is warm here. We’re going swimming again today. Last night we saw Saturn through one of the telescopes of the Mauna Kea Observatory.  We could see its rings glowing in the night sky.  We saw the moon too, its craters that shine back so much poetry to earth, so many love songs, la luna of our dreams, there it was up close in the eyepiece of the telescope. The volcano was boiling.  As the sun set , the pink appeared in its cauldron center and as it grew darker, you could see the red furnace of it, the lava down  in the pit seething and letting off an eerie red against the sky, it looked like hell in all my dreams. But it wasn’t hell. We were standing on the edge of the caldera. The sky was growing blacker by the minute.  We still had the long drive to the Observatory. We were headed for the stars.

Published in: on August 3, 2017 at 9:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Write into the swim of lonely

Loneliness is the gateway to new thinking.  Rethinking one’s life is a good thing, but it’s hard to do if you are in the middle of it all the time. Unless you have time to clear your head, it’s hard to think big thoughts.

My friend Percival Everett  can write in spite of everything. Kids home from school? He writes. On the road? He writes. Fishing trip? He writes.  I write and think best when I don’t have distractions.

When I teach in Nebraska, I always tell myself that I’ll sneak in a little writing. I don’t. When I’m in New York, I promise myself to finish the next chapter. I work and drink lattes.

The best times are the lonely times.  That’s why I like to wake before everyone, I hear my brain doing cartwheels, it’s so exciting to be moving and flying.

Published in: on July 30, 2017 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  

Celebrating our anniversary

The light in Hawaii glows blue and green. Mark and I got married seventeen years ago. All four of our children were in the small wedding party. Our wedding color was purple. We danced to Beauty and the Beast and Billy Idol. We gave away Neruda poems and ate Mexican food. We stayed the night in the Westin Bonaventure and in my wedding dress I went up in the glass elevator to the top with Mark in his tux, and then we went to Spain and celebrated love and life.  When we got lost along the way, we found each other’s hands and found our way forward in the dark. But today, light pours over the island and we will celebrate.

Published in: on July 29, 2017 at 10:59 am  Leave a Comment