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