Hey what a crab, ho what a crab

Crab lines bobbing on the sea
The girls want to pull ours up already so we do
Unsurprisingly empty, our net, except for the rocks we used to sink it
And the hopeful strips of now-wet bacon tied to the side
The crabs seem uninterested in our soggy offering
No matter how many times we dip and raise, still nothing
We’ve been gifted a crab by a luckier fisher
This one missing a leg and camera shy
It scuttles away in endless circles, seeking escape as we peer into the bucket
It snaps; the girls name him Skittles.
Eventually we’ve all had enough of trying to catch crustaceans
We carry our captive to where waves crash on the rocky shore and pour
Out Skittles and saltwater
Looking closer at the rocks, it’s not just rocks
Seagulls are feasting on
Crabs, so many, sidestepping over the stones, wandering in with the tide
No wonder they rejected our bacon–here where land meets sea
The crabs are taking their chances with the gulls
And you can only save so many, throwing crab after crab back into the surf
Before the waves rise up and roar forward
Curtain call, end of scene
Let nature take its course

I tried one later in a sandwich: the gulls had the right idea.

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Night Eyes

in the lilac-scented twilight
on the edge of dusk, street lights wink on
one by one, waking when the sun slips low,
single yellow eyes
watching trails of finger painted pink and red
fade in the sky
until all is dark-and-stars above
spotlight circles shining on an empty sidewalk stage below

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Once Upon a Roly Poly

photo(3)We walked out of playgroup and Juliet fell behind.

“Come on,” I called to her. “Hurry up, it looks like it’s going to rain.”

Juliet ignored me, focused intently on the sidewalk. She’s three and often finds treasure on the ground: discarded rubber bands, smushed flower petals, small rocks, snails. This time it was a pill bug or roly poly. One minute it was scuttling along, going about its pill bug business, and the next it was flying through the air, tightly clasped between pudgy fingers. She dropped it, twice, and it tucked and rolled, a tiny brown marble skittering toward freedom, but each time J was too quick for it. That pill bug never stood a chance.

Juliet adores insects. She’s never met a spider she doesn’t like. For her next birthday (which is ages away, but the girls are always planning imaginary parties) she likes to say that she’ll have a Bee Party.

She has it all mapped out: Cake, of course, and party bags. And, most importantly, games. A Bee Party, according to Juliet, would involve guests wearing Bee Costumes complete with stingers so they could all poke each other in what to me sounds like a preschool version of Lord of the Flies meets King of the Castle, but in her mind sounds like super-amazing-fun.

After the Stinging there’d be Pass the Parcel, which is a game where you pass a present around a circle and each person gets to unwrap a layer of paper when the music stops. Except instead of candy inside the layers or a present inside the parcel there would be… BEES!

And then a pinata! But inside the pinata would be… BEES! Juliet gets fiercely excited when she’s describing her Bee Party; her whole face lights up at the thought of insects streaming from the stomach of a wounded cardboard donkey. She may not have many friends left afterward…

She proudly showed me her newest find. “Look! A doodle bug! I love him! I’m going to take him home!” I tried, halfheartedly to get her to put the bug back where she found it, but have you met three year olds before? Some battles are really not worth the fight.

We got home and Juliet brought the insect into the house.

“Bugs stay outside,” I said. “Take it back outdoors.” She was willing, but only if I opened the back door and only if I helped her find a container for her new friend so she could give it leaves and make a home for it and love it and… she chattered on and on, bouncing excitedly next to me in the kitchen while I hunted for the key. I found it and unlocked the door. The door sticks, so I gave it a good sharp tug, stepping backward and telling Juliet to look outside for her bug’s new home because I know we have loads of boxes out there already when… crunch.

The timing was unfortunate. Juliet had dropped her precious doodle bug at the exact moment when I stepped backward without looking.

There it lay, a dark smear on the red tiles.

Juliet looked up at me, her face aghast. Her mouth opened wide in a deep howl of anguish and tears flowed. “Nooooooooooooooooo!” I tried to comfort her. I hugged her. I said I was sorry. I said I was sorry again. I reminded her it was an accident. I gave her another hug. She calmed down a bit, but the sight of the dead bug set her off again.

The only thing that stopped the tears was the suggestion of a bug funeral, probably because burying involves digging and digging is another one of her favourite things.

I wrapped the poor corpse in a paper towel, but that wasn’t good enough. J wanted a box. And she wanted a “deep deep deep hole” because she worried that a seagull would “swoop down and snaffle him up from the ground.” We compromised on a container that used to hold toothpicks.

Outside, armed with a garden trowel, Juliet began to dig. After a couple shovelfuls she gave up and turned the trowel over to me, choosing to take on a supervisory role instead.

When the hole was deep enough (in my opinion. I think in Juliet’s opinion it was nowhere near) we laid the remains of the doodle bug inside. I patted the container to make sure it was as far down as it could go… and it cracked under my touch. Juliet’s eyes welled up with tears again, so I started shoveling dirt back on top as quickly as I could. “Okay, so, now do you want to say a few words?” I asked. Distract, distract. She looked forlornly down into the hole. “Good bye,” she whispered. “I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry, too,” I added, along with the last scoop of soil.

RIP Roly Poly. We didn’t know you long or well, but Juliet loved you nonetheless.

Image Copyright © 2000-2015 Dreamstime stock images. Not the actual bug in question. Maybe one of its cousins.

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Stream of Consciousness

sinking ships with sails and the devil for a crew
we’ll float along in memories and places we once knew
deep inside a dreamscape, listen to the fishes sing
we’re flailing in the sea foam, wanting impossible things
counting pennies in the piggies’ trough, looking for the sky
we’ll keep on going as we’re going until in the end we die.

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faces turned upward waiting for darkness&darkness but instead it’s clouds&clouds our not-so-uncommon overcast sunshade hiding the hotly anticipated sunbehindmoon.
last time i was smaller and the sky was blue we made pinholes in paper and watched the sun slide
someday they’ll tell their children “i was there for the eclipse in 2015” it did get darker, colder, quieter. A bit, anyway. And afterward, when the sun broke through the cloudcover fashionably late, it was springsplendid. At least there was that; that was something.

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School Run Symphony

The day opens with drum beats, pitter pat of little feet and the elephantine thud thud thud of even littler ones, staccato notes pounding the hallway, voices rising in crescendo.

Next usher in the pipes, high notes desperate to be heard, vying for the lead, a litany of food sungsung till sated

Deep notes of coffee, a dark, brassy parental kick start. Lungo. Adagio. Arpeggio. Dull roar of the maker-machine a tuba’s blast, a trombone’s wail.

Out the door after an interlude of shower’s steady metronome, repeated refrain of “Get dressed Get dressed” blurring into white noise in the background and now we’re really moving, baby, shrill insistent trumpeting “Go go go go go out out out we’re going to be late!” Picking up speed, toes tapping.

Through the gates successfully, sliding into the classroom chaos and slowing down again, a pace less frenetic, a distant bell signaling once more we’ve made it.

But here we say good-bye, my dear, mournful cello playing. No tears but a hug and just one more and just one more and aha, a new conductor takes the stand with the clap clap clap of carpet time. Follow your friends as the Pied Piper rhythm of routine siren-sings you to your seat.

Catch you for the encore after school.

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If you’ve got the feeling, jump across the ceiling

Jump around

Up and down up up and down
My feet will never touch the ground
I’m staying up, not coming down
Up and up again!
Higher higher touch the sky
A little further and I’ll fly
I’ll keep on bouncing til I die
Up and up again!
Look at me, I’m flying free!
There’s no such thing as gravity
And nothing’s ever stopping me
Up and up again!
When the day fades into night
I’ll jump by star or candle light
And carpe everything in sight
Up up again
and up.

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Three Scenes Depicting Breakfast

I. Eggs, hard boiled
when you ask them “Do you want a boiled egg?”
and they say, “no” ignore that
because the answer is always yes
(why did you even bother to ask?)
the inside of the egg, however, is never desirable
round ball of golden yolk
sunshine yellow
lies rejected yet again on the side of both plates,
smooth white long since greedily devoured

II. Regarding toast
first, post into the toaster a slice of bread
and make it hot
but not
then spread
on top
(and to the edges)
(always to the edges)
(how could you forget to spread the bread to the very edge)
preferably something sweet
then eat.

Alternatively agree to bread that’s toasted then
when it comes out of the machine all hot and crisp
and deny that you even wanted toast in the first place

III. On the subject of cereal
Flakes in a bowl and
Milk in a bowl and
Spoon in a bowl and EAT!
Then flakes in your tum
And milk in your tum
And back to the kitchen to REPEAT!

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Unless you have MacGyver’s skills. Then you’re golden.

In the event of an emergency
You may break the glass but first
Make sure it’s an actual emergency because
Once broken, superglue and duct-tape and kings’ horses and men
Will be completely useless afterward

In the event of an emergency
Head to the exit
Provided you’ve already noted where the exit lies
Take care that you’re actually exiting and not
Heading deeper into the labyrinth
Take along a ball of string, just in case.

In the event of an emergency
Be sure to use your parachute
Be sure you HAVE a parachute
Be sure if you have a parachute it’s actually a parachute
And not a stained sheet or makeshift superhero cape
However, if the superhero cape actually works, maybe consider
Rescuing the rest of us, too

In the event of an emergency
Dial 999, or 911 or some combination thereof
Be ready to talk when someone answers
Heavy breathing down the line won’t fix your problem
Call me instead if you just want someone to be there
We can listen to each other breathe; I can’t read your mind.

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