Thursday, October 31, 2019

Here's What Writers Don't Tell You

Writers will tell you that
Writing is hard.
Because it is.
E. B. White said his wife,
Katharine, used to commit
A line to paper,
Then take out a gun
And shoot it dead.
That sounds about right.

What writers forget to mention
Is that we're crows at heart,
Scrabbling for the right word
Through your Grandmother's
Costume jewelry word box,
And when (finally) we find it--
Ooooo! Shiny!--

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

To the Cat Who Followed Us Home This Morning

Maybe you slipped out unnoticed
When your teenage boy
Slipped out unnoticed, too.
Is it possible that, like him,
You wanted a taste of living beyond
Call of Duty and the living room couch?

Or maybe you had a human family
That moved and couldn't take you with
Them to that new unfriendly apartment
Where pets aren't allowed.

Or maybe that human family was the kind
Of family that would drive you
Someplace else and turn you
Loose with the promise that someone nice
Would find you and give you a good home
With a warm blanket and a bowl of cream.

Or maybe your owner was an elderly woman,
Fond of cats, but too ill to care for herself,
Let alone you, although, it must be said,
That cats are good at taking care of themselves.

Or maybe you have always
Lived on streets your entire life,
First taken care of by a ferrel mother
Who fed and groomed you to the best of
Her ability until she said, Enough.
Take care of you now--
I have myself to worry about.

Or maybe there's a little girl somewhere
With gold and purple glitter pens,
Making posters and offering a reward
For your safe return while her mother,
Biting her lip, knows full well
that this little girl may never see you again.

Yes. It's quite clear to me now.
A cat didn't follow me home.
But stories did.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

What is Revealed by the Light in October

I drive through the Provo neighborhood
And down the street where I grew up,
The familiar foothills presiding still and still.
There's our house, small and L-shaped,
An American Dream built out of brick.
And there's my father in his Sunday suit,
Tossing a ball to my brothers.
And there's my mother in her pencil skirt,
Her burnished hair piled on her head like a crown,
Cradling a white poodle in her arms.
And there are my brothers, scrabbling
After the ball like puppies on a beach.
And there's me, sitting on my Thinking Rock,
A granite boulder in front of our house,
Spinning stories out of everything I see.
And there's the light of October,
Gold and gleaming, rolling down the hillside,
Reminding me of who we used to be.

Friday, October 25, 2019

I Love Me Some TRQ

It’s not that I don’t admire and respect visual artists.
Sometimes I do nothing but sit out on my front porch and admire and respect visual artists all day long.
But yeah. I guess I mostly think that if you’ve got a story to tell, words are a better medium--says the person who doesn’t draw or paint.
Still. I wish I could take up a box of colored pencils (the really expensive kind that real artists use) and create a portrait of TRQ as she appeared to me on a recent trip to San Francisco.
She was lying on the bed in the hotel she’d accidentally booked for us instead of the more upscale hotel where she usually likes to stay. She looked all languid, sprawled as she was with an excess of pillows, reading her Book of Mormon which she has read without fail every night of her life ever since she decided to get serious about the Gospel. Outside, a noisy recycling truck rattled down the street.
“Honey,” said my mother, exhibiting absolutely no inclination to move, let alone run for cover, “I think those are gunshots outside. Wanna take a look for me?”
When I was a kid I was always annoyed by TRQ's penchant for the dramatic. She could (and still can!) see disaster looming around every corner.  Now, it amuses me—especially because of how calm she stays in the face of the crises she invents. Seriously, DO NOT expect her to get the hell out of the way of gunfights on the streets of San Francisco once she’s all comfy, reading her scriptures and thinking about breaking open that box of Sees candy by her bedside.
Are you getting the picture here?  A real picture could capture all of this way better than mere words.
By the way, I texted my brother with this information, who immediately shot (ha!) back, “Since when did SF start arming it’s recycling trucks?”

Monday, October 21, 2019


Everything made me weepy today.
The gold October light
Spreading through the air,
Saturating leaves and grasses--
The news from Syria of children
With flesh on fire--
The sight of my friend over breakfast,
Her smart suit the color of butter--
The photo of my newest grandchild,
A boy named Raven smiling
Side-eyed at his father--
The memory of my own father's
Rough and lovely sandpaper laugh--
The view of that river twisting
Down City Creek Canyon like
A gleaming gray otter.

Some people think depression is sadness.
It's not.
Depression is a dark endless walk
Down a dark endless hall
Too narrow for tears.
Tears come only when there is a
Glimmer--no matter how faint--of
Light beneath a hallway door.
Tears are a gift.
Taste your tears and rejoice.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Cat by Day, Cat by Night

This is how my cat is
When the sun comes shining down:
Excuse me. Do I know you?
Then, without waiting for an answer,
He flicks his tail and
Saunters away without
Glancing over his sleek cat shoulder.

This is how my cat is
When the moon comes shining down:
Excuse me. I DO know you.
Then, without waiting for an invitation,
He leaps onto my bed and
Purrs the story of his life
Into my forgiving, welcoming ear.

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Mac Christensen

Last night I dreamed I went to a men's clothing store and asked the gentleman working there if he would help me find a shirt and pair of slacks for my father.

"Really nice ones," I told him.

I know why I dreamed this, of course. Right before going to bed last night, I read that Mr. Mac had died.

The Coach and Mac enjoyed a long, long friendship. I cannot even begin to tell you how many suits the men in my life had because of Mac. And watching him and my father have at it in Mac's store--freewheeling all the way--was a joy to watch. Originally from San Pete county, Mac once told the Coach the place he felt most at home was in New York City's garment district.

I'd known that Mac was ill and I felt prompted more than once to write him a letter, expressing the affection our family felt for him. After all, he loaned me and Ken Cannon the use of his St. George condo for our honeymoon all those years ago.

But I never did write him.

I told Ken Cannon this morning how much I regret not acting on my impulse to reach out.

"He knew how you felt," Ken Cannon said.

And yes. I think he did.

RIP, Mac. Say hey to my father and give him a bad time, okay?

Saturday, October 12, 2019


Here's the thing:
Sometimes Ordinary
Can turn itself
Inside out and
Into a surprise.
Take those crickets,
For example,
Making noise at night
Beneath that open
Window of yours.
It's comforting noise.
But still.
Then there's that moment
You step out at noon
When the sun is high
To get your mail and
You hear . . . crickets?
Yes. Beneath the coral
Roses you planted when
Your boys were young.
Moon music!
In the heat
Of a day.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Why I Write Almost-Poems

It's been such a pleasure to write little poems here, although maybe they're not really poems. Poems should probably mean something, whereas I think mine are modest celebrations of the natural world. Also, I just like the sound of words.

I wrote this on recent trip to St. George.

Somewhere South on I-15

The slipping sun slants across
The long autumn grasses,
Spinning them into 
Threads of gold,
Hemming the highway
As we drive toward dusk.