Though born and raised in Berkeley, she’s too much
for Westerners to tolerate with ease.
She fills a room and ambles fast. She’s such
a driven worker, friends and enemies
retreat from competition. Expertise
is what she likes, employing pull and torque
she had from birth and at her mother’s knees.
That’s why she felt so natural in New York.


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Roadside Rhododendra

Asleep all Winter,
they Spring to beauty, and bees
brew toxic honey.

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March Death and May News

My high school friend has lost her mate, I hear,
two months ago. Her email yesterday
announced his death. Residing nowhere near
we lived when young, exchanging words the way
we do now (twice a year some birthday news),
and knowing he was over 99,
I don’t leap to condolence she can’t use.
She loved him long and well and will be fine.

They’d months to ready for his graceful death.
She’s now had weeks adjusting to the space
he occupied before his final breath,
surrounding now no body she’ll embrace.
I know her nature, understand her soul.
My friend will transit through this passage whole.

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Less Parent Stress

I disagree but dare not disapprove.
There may not be a wrong-and-right to it.
The better part of wisdom could behoove
a parent to adjust to time. What fit
my ancestors was inappropriate
for me when I was struggling with mine.
I witness now a difference, and admit
their happiness. They’re odd but may be fine.


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Learning to Live with Leisure

I lately have a lot of leisure time.
Retirement first freed a chunk for me
to travel, read, solve puzzles, work on rhyme,
and sample ways to slow declivity.
Pandemic damped down my society,
and grandkids aged to need me less at play.
Hiatus at my erstwhile company
each week of late presents another day.


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Mother to Son

She asked my comment – should she intervene?
Sit down and look sincerely in his eyes,
and tell him to escape the liquored scene
he lives with? To abandon compromise
and leave the lady love he doesn’t love?
Her son has always acted like he heeds
advice from her. Should she say better shove
off now, and move to satisfy your needs?

Oh dear, I said. Your boy is 56.
He hasn’t asked your counsel. It’s worth less
than nothing, unsolicited. The fix
could be in psychotherapy, I guess.
If you can steer him down that avenue,
that may be all your mother love can do.

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More Good Than Gold

Though silence may be golden, that depends
on what inspires it. When it proceeds
from earnest ignorance, it none offends,
but is that gold? Or simply lack of noise?
The platinum of silence comprehends
how biding and awaiting leads to good.
To dwell unsure and pause complaining tends
to incubate a silent growth that breeds
a valuable result, with dividends.

(Magic 9)

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I longed for independence as a kid.
I wanted power, to be in control
of self of course, and boundaries I’d rid
or cherish. I took on an adult role.
I wasn’t scared of bills, and though I loved
my family, I pushed their care away.
I sometimes yelled or threw a fit or shoved –
I tried to modulate most every day.

When parents cut me off, financially,
I didn’t hate them but I wouldn’t bow.
I never took a dime from them again.
To owe them would have cost too much to me.
It’s strikes me, for I am the parent now,
my kids don’t share the feelings I had then.

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The Deciding Symptom

“Reactive airway” were the words I heard.
“Disorder” (or “disease”) succeeded those.
That’s how he named the wheezing that occurred
when I sustained a cold. Such breathing woes,
a temporary asthma, virus-spurred,
a side-effect from all the smoke I chose,
and kept inhaling till I got too old,
determined recent symptoms were a cold.

(Ottava Rima)

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Gaslighting me, this Spring the trellis hosts
wisteria of white, where purple bloomed
three years ago. They dangle like the ghosts
of plants I bought from experts who assumed
the petals would be lilac on my posts
and lattices. But this is white-costumed.
Although the blossoms cause me no anxiety,
I’m sure I didn’t buy the white variety.

(Ottava Rima)

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