You were wearing this hat that made you look like a kid.

Your car keys hung round your neck on a child’s lanyard.

It was dark and you stood with one black boot

pointed at the door, telling me that you were going and

don’t worry and you’d be back, later.

It’s raining I said.

No you told me.

It’s only wet.

Please I said.

What you asked.

Drive slow I answered.

Willing myself not to make a big deal

because we had been getting along so well.

You laughed and rolled your brown eyes.

The door slammed and I never got to say,

“I love you,” and the whole night,

I knew it would never be the same again.

Vanilla Ice Cream

Yesterday it occurred to me that if we don’t want our kids to do a certain thing then maybe we just shouldn’t do it. Like for example, if I don’t’ want my kid to eat vanilla ice cream then I just won’t eat the flipping vanila ice cream. I won’t sneak around eating it or go out to lunch with my friends and eat it or stay up late and call my dealer to get some and go out in the backyard and eat it. I just won’t eat the damn stuff. Why? Because vanilla ice cream is not as important to me as my kid. If I’m really honest with myself, if I really look down deep in the part of myself where the truth lies, the place where I keep stuff like my real weight, not the one I put on my driver’s license, then I have to admit that if I only eat vanilla ice cream when “my kid isn’t around” she is going to know anyway. And then she is going to think its ok and she is going to go ahead and do it too. And then when she eats so much  she  gets sick on it and crashes her because she can’t see straight from the sugar high, it will really be partly my responsibility for not stepping up and doing what I could. 

The Poetry of Harriet the Spy

I write often about grief and loss but today looking through quotes from one of my favorite books, Louise Fitzhugh’s 1964 classic, Harriet the Spy, I noticed some of the most beautiful poetry throughout. Here is something I wanted to share:

— Louise Fitzhugh (Harriet the Spy (Harriet the Spy #1)

I think maybe every writer should ready Harriet the Spy at least once, or maybe ten or a hundred times. 





Between the broccoli and the curry

comes the flash and disappearance.

Then the wondering, what’s next?

The screams, like a tsunami’s wail just out of sight.

The pain, better, when it comes,  has bright hard dimensions

like a gutted swimming pool.

All I have to do is climb  this side to that.

It’s not like the waiting, which is forever.


There are stains on the carpet and I can’t remember why.

It’s bothering me now and I don’t know about that either.

The stains are black but less black than other

things. Maybe that’s it.


You say he packed his suitcase and he won’t be back. 

My brother and I  huddle at the table and cry. Not because

he’ll stay away. He won’t.

Because we are supposed to do something but

we don’t know what.


Later I will try to write a poem. Many times and

I won’t because I love you.

But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

Fried Eggs

She had this operation but
they never told me what she’d
look like after. So I tried not to look but
I think she knew. Later when I saw
her I had to pretend. I had to sort out where to
lay my eyes when she was in the
room, but hers were flat on me
like fried eggs. It got so
I just stayed away.


green glasses on a tuesday

your vinyl skin
your plastic eyes
you doll you
the pads of my fingers
fold softly
beneath the puff
of your high quality
vinyl cheek
my beer soaked
rough lined
lips fold around
the curve of your
bow mouth
and your forgiveness
keeps me while
your Barbie love
surrounds me and

Coming of Age in the City of Angels

Once I cried
but now I don’t.
Once I hurt
But now I won’t.

Time I gave
But now I take.
Once I loved
but now I hate.

I told them no
They call me bad.
I told them yes
They call me mad.

Built a wall of stars
So full of shame
To keep me out
Cause I’m to blame.

But I’m coming back
They don’t know when
Three to five I’m
out the penn

I never played
and now I will.

I never lived
and now I kill.


Adrian McKinty’s THE SUN IS GOD

Adrian McKinty’s THE SUN IS GOD

I am a tremendous fan of Irish literature. To be fair, I am probably unusually obsessed with Irish murder mysteries. But I have to insist that it is not the Irishness of the stories as much as it is the quality of the writing. I have found a number of authors who seem to have grasped the concept that a story can be both great fun and great art at the same time. Here is a brief discussion of another one of my favorites among this set. Adrian McKinty has written a number of books, tragic, beautiful, humorous as well as mysterious and complex. He’s terrific and i can’t wait to read the next one. Click on the title above and take a look at what Declan Burke has to say about the soon to be released The Sun is God.

Secrets and Lies

Secrets and Lies

The Secret Place: A New Novel by Tana French- Discussion by Declan Burke

Tana French is one of my favorite authors. Her stories are delicious and poetic and I’ve been looking forward to the next book for quite a while. For anyone who is interested in the genre and has not read her earlier work, I highly recommend all of it. This brief review is certainly encouraging as well.


A laugh with the boys
Ribs getting a poke
A run round the place
She can’t take a joke

He always said
He don’t like short hair
Why the hell would she cut it
She’s puttin on airs

His words she keep saying
do nothin’ but cut
like a serrated scissors
just tear up her gut

A night on the town
A punch in the eye
A belly full of rum
ten or twelve lies

He touches her hand
She pulls it back through
The filthy brown glass
of the Ford ’92

His words she keep saying
do nothin’ but cut
like a serrated scissors
just tear up her gut

“You aint leaving” he screams
through the passenger side
and he pounds on the hood
Till there’s blood on the drive

“I aint scared” she screams back
looking up at the sky
Prays theres a God
to cover her lie.

His words she keep saying
do nothin’ but cut
like a serrated scissors
just tear up her gut

“Please” he is begging
in a quieter tone
“I can’t do it myself
I can’t do it alone.”

Now she is tired
No words left to say,
Sadly she smiles
and just drives away.

And all that he said
did nothing but cut
like a serrated scissors
aimed straight at his gut.

Blood from old wounds
stains Valentine red.
With her hand on his heart
He’ll soon lay down dead.

Reaching for L

You are talking about science class and                                                                   

I am watching the way your hair curves 

past your chin without touching it.  

You are talking about prom dresses and  

I see the way your upper lip curls  

seashell like over your teeth as you speak. 

You are talking about boys, one boy,  and  

I am watching the way your feet dance 

inside those boots you always wear.  

You are sitting  across our table and 

The kitchen is hot like it always is in June 

You are talking about college and  

I am touching the available skin 

 On your arm where your T-shirt stops.  

I am hoping you won’t notice the chill. 

I am trying not to hold on 

Too tight. 



The Curse of Helena

When moonless night the wind does blow 

And curls your fist into  its bow.

When arrow sharp my name appears

To  slice through flesh of both your ears.

When Fire’s warmth  on bended knee 

Begs couple your heart’s savage freeze,

And you deny, but shed a tear

In memory of lost love so dear.

When darkness seizes  day for night

Your eyes gouged out to stop the  sight.

When God you beg release this ache

Lays down your body desecrate,

The tomb be not your home for long

Love’s final poison in sweetest song.

You’ll breathe once more at midnight  past 

Wake in horror you know twill last…

With wolfhound wails in years that lie

Forever nightly, love,  hear me die.

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