A nick in the sky

In the old days, the darkroom days,
We had to be so careful
Not to crimp the film.
It left a nick, a little sliver of moon,
A fingernail clipping of white,
After everything was dry.

In my student days, long hours in the dark
Rewarded me with cherished tones of gray.
I cried when those nicks appeared;
Damaging my hoped for, dreamed of,
Picture of perfection.

Tonight I walked out of the library
Into a world of pastel beauty.
A sunset of feathers and wisps.
But there -- there, just to the right
Of that stand of trees -- see.
A crimp, a fingernail, a faint white sliver
Nicks my perfect sky.

Tooth Fairy

The tooth fairy never came when I was young.
I didn't even miss her.
Didn't find dimes in place of fresh-lost teeth.
Instead, I got colorful badges that said
"You've done your part to keep America secure,"
pushed under my pillow by my uncle,
the one with the red-striped pants.
I suppose my adult teeth still have rings
deep inside, of uranium
from the mines and mills upstream.
Now we have names for the mess they made --
toxic waste and Superfund.
When I was young, they called it progress.

These days we have new fears that haunt us.
The PTA moms and school nurses send warnings home
not to traumatize our kids with fables.
So we never tell them the wonder of getting quarters
Where once rested baby teeth.
We're also warned not to mention jihad.
Or homework. Or lima beans. Or heaven forbid,
The most dreaded monster in the closet:
The word "no."

The tooth fairy never comes for my children.
They don't even miss her.

Lost my wallet

Lost my wallet. Look around.
On the sidewalk, on the ground.
In the pockets of my coats.
In the toilet. Hope it floats.
In the bedroom 'neath the bed.
In the closet. Seeing red.
In the drawer, slammed my thumb
How could I ever be this dumb?
Wrack my brain, thinking fast.
Where do I know I had it last?
Check the car. Where are my keys?
Don't be with my wallet. Please.

Writer's Block II

I don't worry anymore
About writing, with pencil or pen,
Words onto blank pages.

Oh no. I don't fear pencils,
Nor pens, nor paper.
I'm free of all that.

Now my anxiety comes
From putting pixels
On blank white screens.


Five years I watched each Saturday
Slip behind the dying sun.
Leaving all my work undone.

Five years I begged, "I want my life back."
Knowing that if I didn't answer
On the second ring,
She'd bite my head and spit me out.

Five years comparing avocados,
Arguing over the dime she never dropped.
Wishing her tormented mind
Was not entrusted to me.
I spoke the truth --
"I want my life back."

Five years I put my life on hold,
Sandwiched between her fading memories
And my children
Whom she no longer knew.

Five years crying on the shoulders
Of my family, shirking their needs.
Screaming "I want my life back."

Five years I watched her fade.
One day at a time,
Not as a curtain closed the play's last act,
A velvet sweep through her busy life,
But sadly ... fade ... to ... black.

Five years since her casket closed.
Five years. 
Now I plead, "I want my mother back."

Writer's block I

Stinkbug on my keyboard;
At least it's not a spider.