Thursday, July 3, 2008

love to mom

her broom
swept the kitchen floor
so often
did not know
where to hide

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


red cardinal sings
to dragonfly visiting
feeder as dusk wanes


Houdini the rat
cancerous tumor bulging
eats a lace curtain


fat cat reclines in
square box resting in summer
afternoon sun rays

Monday, June 30, 2008

in my head

lick my fingers
popcorn and
bullets break
where smells of
in toilet
of cheerios
with bananas
by monkey
around missiles
with germs
by children
dull eyes, twisted mouths
misshapen arms and legs
to table
covered in
carrying sticks,
body bones
lips smack

Saturday, June 28, 2008

fond memories

red stained fingers
eating raspberries
8 cents a carton
cold raspberry lemonade
Celie, Pauline, Sophie
in the heat of the day
open blouses
Rome smiles
cool breeze on lake
stringers of fish
umm - crispy fish tails
baskets of fresh vegetables
Sophie, Susie, Pauline
at picnic table
tearing rags
making rugs
german words
huge elm tree
days of reading
fond memories

Thursday, June 26, 2008


made the best cream peas on toast
fried corn meal mush with fresh maple syrup
tapped from ancient maple trees in yard
where brothers and sisters slept out drunken stupors
at yearly summer gathering of relatives


sewed a purple coverlet and bed ruffle
for my bedroom with white wallpaper
decorated with lavender
lilacs pungent aroma seeped through a window
while I rested and waited for shooting stars


told junior high school principal
that her daughter took a bath at home
did not need a shower at school
where students
stole her clothes and hid them


reported Judo instructor
who spent a great deal of time
on top of
during evening lessons


did cart wheels in the grass
stood on her head against our house
played baseball at family gatherings
told the best "dirty" jokes
heard at community senior center


is missed

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

earth child

he lives in dark
dank earth
under a lake

he listens
to cries
shrill in the

he watches
jubilant children
jump and romp
in cool lake

he remembers
the woman
who gave
him a home

she's dead
and buried

~first appeared in Mystery Island Publications

Saturday, June 21, 2008

In Honor of Dick

red shoes
tapping their way
to conception
a postal carrier
plants kisses on cheeks
purple carnations
between sweet moist lips

those ruby red shoes
dance your way
into mists of
90's Queens
sequined breasts
glittered crotches

I love your red shoes

Friday, June 20, 2008

Grandma Sophie

fried sunfish
and crappies
in smokehouse
on cast iron
wood stove

(jaws of stove spewing red,
skin prickly fire)

pale pink apron
soft breasts under
gingham checked
house dress

(her softness cradled my head while lullabies sung
held destined dreams)

she produced
overflowing platters
of fish with
fresh baked

(warm yeasty aroma of bread from oven, dripped butter,
pushed fish bones down throats)

grandpa rome
sons, grandsons
daughters, granddaughters
waited in

(crisp skinned fried fish, potato chip crunchy fish tails,
mouth watering tender meat)

picnic table
under mammoth
elm tree
we ate

(effervescent lightening bugs illuminate our feast
on sultry summer evening)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Drawing By Willow E. Morse
June 2008

here he comes, yesterday (a tribute to j.rees)

here he comes
man with neon shoes
embroidered letters
on his jacket

here he comes
energetic thought-provoking man
fingered volt
to his brain

sensibilities into
glass tubes
shot with argon and mercury

here he comes
with yesterday in his pocket

here he comes
philosophizing of ME
written on
brick walls

here he comes
making films
of canned coffee
and yesterday

here he comes
perpetuating now
tomorrow genuflecting to dope man
burning incense before rock-out star

here he comes
pinching gentle ladies rumps
ripping open
his silk shirt

exposing gorgeous chest
to drool over
still in his pocket

here he comes, yesterday

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

granddaughter sits on stool
watches hole
cut in ice
of frozen lake
nose is red
mittens caked
with ice and snow

grandpa rome sits on stool
watches hole
cut in ice
of frozen lake
tells his granddaughter
"Don't talk - it will scare the fish."
he chuckles
tells granddaughter stories

granddaughter stands up
bladed shoes
buckle against ankles
gingerly she takes steps
away from hole in ice
falls forward
on frozen knees

grandpa rome drops
dangling fish pole
stands up
hurries to granddaughter
helps her stand
returns to stool

granddaughter glides
around hole
in ice
crouches down
looks for fish
grandpa rome tells her
"Don't pee in the hole - it will scare away the fish."
both sit on stools
and chuckle

Monday, June 16, 2008

Drawing by Willow E. Morse
May 2008

beat me
with butterfly wings
i taste the pollen
under a hot sun

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Red Convertible
Drawing by Willow E. Morse
June 2008


what would you do if
given a RED 12 cylinder JAG
to drive from Atlanta to LA
where you have to give it up
even though it's not yours

you really don't want it
but push a button
doors lock
windows go up

all programmed previously
as you drive through Alabama
Louisiana, Texas
houses scattered
along roadside

deteriorating shacks
people live within
you drive on and on
higher and lower

pushing RED JAG
to speeds amused
stopping to take pictures
beside the road

cotton pickers
in sweat soaked shirts
from sun percolating
on hot dusty fields
you feel so bad

but continue to
Texas where you
join a party with
red-neck long hairs
who bogart two joints

throughout night
booze trickles
down your forehead
dropping on nose
of beautiful girl who kisses you

she climbs with you
into RED JAG
tearing out into darkness
on dirt roads
making doughnuts

back and forth
laughing as windows
go up and down
early sun glows
RED JAG stops

doggone y'all
thing done died
it's under warranty

it's grand
it's a 12 cylinder RED JAG
that can no longer
pass through homeless people
drunken indians

just as you learned
the programmed
window pattern


In Honor of Jill and Joe
Oakland, CA (1975)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Moon, Stars, and Big Dipper
Drawing by Willow E. Morse
May 2008

shooting stars
are magical

a glaring streak
across damp night darkness

lying on my back
in wet summer grass

after a rain shower
as a child I watched and watched

for shooting stars
I pressed anxious eyelids

so tightly I saw
their streaks

in my mind
my eyes closed

I made tails and balls of fire
more intense

it has been a long, long time
since I have seen a shooting star

but the magic
returned not long ago

driving back on a cold
glistening freeway

a long bright flash was seen
in suddenly cleared skies ahead of me

excitement swelled in my throat
as I shouted "a shooting star"

my son in the back
seat asked, "What's that, Mom?"

I explained the magical feeling
of nights in years past

"Like when you hold your eyes
tight, Mom, is that a shooting star?"


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

i cut fresh yellow lemons
with a dull serrated knife
pick out the slimy slippery seeds
and squeeze the tart juice

it gets into tiny cuts on my
hands and burns, burns
the sadness from my mind
that is a revolving door

of thoughts on chemo, him,
paperwork, damaged nerve
endings but not of life
adding red, ripe raspberries

make lemonade sweet
make love under fragrant
sheets free from toxins
his hands as soft as cotton

i dream while drinking raspberry lemonade

~first appeared in Outsider Writers (Summer 2007)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

California 1955

grandma fyrne stands in her pale blue flowered
cotton dress over soft saggy breasts
gray brown hair crimped around
her tender face of wrinkled waves

next to her is grandpa ole
he is thin, erect, mouth puckered
eyes brown and penetrating
glasses cover the intense gaze

reaching for the bottom grated step of the train
dust swirls over the tracks
obstructs my nose and becomes
a swarm of gnats in my eyes

i trip and fall to sharp gravel
it digs into my naked knees
my brown cardboard suitcase opens
the violet velveteen dress curtsies before me

welcome to sacramento
dirty, dusty, and ugly to my vision
grandma and grandpa amble to
our family now standing on the faded wood platform

no hugs, no kisses, a smile from grandma
grandpa takes dad aside and speaks
out of reach of our ears
mom frozen as hard as rock

grandpa ole and dad walk around the clapboard station
mom and grandma talk about pressure cookers
canning tomatoes, visiting aunt helen,
and uncle guy at the turkey farm

i am sweating in my yellow
sleeveless cotton shirt
the drips rolling down my back
into orange plaid seersucker shorts

blood and dirt clog the cuts on my knees
black flies buzz around like they are pieces of meat
my mouth is dry as rough towels
that have waved from a worn rope clothesline

my three sisters begin to chase each other
around the wrought iron bench
no mind to the couple holding hands
as though handcuffed to each other

a pale green plymouth rounds the corner of train station
through the windshield under the visor i see
dad with his right hand on the steering wheel
his left hand out the window dangling a cigarette

a black chrysler turns the corner next
grandpa ole drives to the platform
his body erect and mouth pursed
ready to pick up grandma fryne

my sisters and i climb into the back seat
of the green box-like car
mom sits silent in the front seat
ready to find a small pink house with peeling paint

we drive down dust blown streets with
kids playing in their yards under orange trees
dogs bark at the striped chippies
the scent of roses everywhere

~first appeared in Wilderness House Literary Review (Fall 2007)

Monday, January 21, 2008


next to the
carrot tops
in the garden
small footprints
maybe a
raccoon visited


orange moon
creeps over mountains
the autumn night
is quiet
children sleep

Sunday, January 20, 2008

ice cream

ice cream
run down
my finger
the black cat


the child rolls
through tall grasses
as it tickles
and grabs

Saturday, January 19, 2008


hop - jump - hop
frog lands on
lily pad


one flower glistens
after evening shower
of rain
a bee drinks

Friday, January 18, 2008


waves crash
on the beach
my feet
and leaving
a fish


cracks of thunder
the dog howls
jumping up
his ears

Thursday, January 17, 2008


sun shines
black clouds
wet leaves
of magnolia tree
blow in
west wind


quack, quack
says Raymond in
the backyard pool
cluck, cluck
say the chickens
shuffling through
wet grasses
a-h-h summer

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

cat eyes

cat screams
in darkness
its bright yellow
for a home

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

baby naps

clock ticks
baby naps
black cat sleeps
spring morning

Monday, January 14, 2008

a-h-h summer

As a senior at Mills College (Early Childhood Education/Art) in Oakland, California, a project was required for a children's literature class. I challenged myself by writing and illustrating a children's book of poems. A four year old son kept life relaxing, rewarding, and greatly treasured. I experienced the world through the eyes of a child - one of my favorite experiences still, but now with my four your old granddaughter, Willow. Another book could be ready for creation. Willow has written poetry since she was three years old and created wonderful art since she could hold a crayon, paint brush, chalk, and pencil.

Over the next few days I will post pages of "a-h-h summer" and savor the memories of each one . Enjoy.

Stephen explains the concept below on how the book evolved with his definition of haiga.

"These poems were originally hand written by Judy directly on to the illustrations as seen in the graphics. They were and are part of a book intended for children. These have been selected as a set by me (Stephen Morse) for this 2005 edition Juice online. They have never been published for a wider audience.

I was reading about haiga, which is apparently a japanese version of this idea of mixing calligraphy and image, specifically for the haiku form. Judy's pieces were created in the late 70's, not as some variation on a form or format, but as a project that tied together a couple of Judy's talents. The originals are watercolors and ink. As those familiar with Judy's work know, she works with spare images that she sometimes call "glimpses". Sometimes they resemble haiku, sometimes, senryu, and other japanese forms that appear to be fashionable at the time, but they are not meant to be any specific "form."

Judy simply (or perhaps not so simply) writes what she observes and does so as cleanly as possible with a minimum of words. I suspect that is the heart of the "whatchamaku's" (whatchamaku is a word Judy coined to satisfy the need that some people have for a label that seems to be chained to short imagist poems)popularity, but "glimpses" seems to be a more accurate description."

happy birthday

his scratchy
scruffy chin
prickles when
he kisses

he rests in a
hospital bed
belly incision taped
blue and purple framed

i watch male nurse
plunge needle
beside belly button
med keeps blood thin

i hold my breath
tears blind my eyes
days of heated anger
love denied

it is a week later
his day of birth
oakland naval hospital
january 14, 1945

he was an unsuspecting
gift then
his life with me
a treasured gift now

happy birthday

Sunday, January 13, 2008

water drips

soft snores
long dark eyelashes
cover sparkling blue eyes
pink princess quilt covers

sleeping child
surrounded by wolfie,
butterscotch kitty,
photo of grandma judy

choir of water drips
furnace hums
parakeets peck
clock ticks

i go back to sleep


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thanks to d. & Misti

i am here
d. inspires
misti provokes

a place
of peace

art, music
poetry, theatre
menu of life