Thank you...

. . . for either joining me at my fourth annual poetry reading and art show or visiting me here on the page for the event.

My biggest inspiration for poetry, prose and artwork is the world right around me, and I enjoy the opportunity to share it from the perspective of one who walks and hikes and bikes and carries a camera, art materials and journal everywhere—even around the house—so the inspirations are fresh.

Many thanks to Maggie Forbes, executive director of Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, who invites me each year to read my poetry and show my artwork. I love that building, every inch of it, and the opportunity to bring people in to visit is an honor. What a pleasure, every year, to be able to share the collected thoughts, inspirations and images of my past year.

Featured Painting: Spring Morning at a Bend in the Creek

Spring Comes to a Bend in the Creek

Spring Morning at a Bend in the Creek: Pastel, 26" x 22"; 2010

The Final Installment to "Art of the Watershed"

I didn't paint my inspirations of the seasons in any particular order, simply in the order they came to me, though I painted the sketch for this painting, "Spring Thaw", long before the idea of painting images of my local watershed ever occured to me.

So here is spring as the snowmelt rushes over rocks and gravel and around the bend right here in Carnegie, the sycamores reflecting white in the stark early morning sunlight, a little bit of mist wafting among the trees.

Read the background of Art of the Watershed and look at the other paintings in the series.

Other Artwork

See the sidebar for thumbnails of other artwork featured.

Poems in Order of Reading

My Garden Waits Under a Blanket of Spring

My garden waits under a blanket of spring
gently rippled snow comforting the earth
drowsing buds protected undercover
will burst and pour forth
hot, humid mornings, big yellow spiders, baskets of green beans
this heavy cover now protects, will melt and nourish.

Click here to see the photo entry in my daily photo blog "Today".

Pawprints and Raindrops

I am not awake but aware
of the sound of raindrops
whispering in the leaves and tapping on the roof
in the early morning, still dark
and little Kelly, sensing my awareness
hurries over and steps on my back;
I feel her tiny cold paws dimpling the surface of my skin
as I drift off in the murmur of her purr and the rain
I think of raindrops on water
I am the water, my skin the surface
and I can look up and in the increasing daylight
see the circular ripples of contentment
mingling on my own surface.

This poem was published in two different pet-oriented online sites, The Daily Tail and Catnip Chronicles and won a Certificate of Excellence and a Muse Medallion for Best Poem in the Cat Writer's Association Annual Communications Award.

Taking My Shift

I remember walking in in my polyester uniform
seeing the place was a zoo
meeting the eyes of the other waitresses
as we were called then
the one older career waitress
the rest of us teenagers,
remembering that wordless camaraderie
as I put my card in the time clock
put on my apron and grabbed a receipt book and pen
and headed for the floor
smells of coffee and hamburgers
and the press of conversation filled the room.
I couldn’t wait until the day I never had to waitress again,
though my waiting career would continue for several more years,
and I look to see that not much has changed from those days.

Sometimes I'm nostalgic for the familiarity of waiting tables. Sometimes.

Inventing the Wheel

He tried to re-create the sun
in all its round perfection,
a flat perfect disc,
in stone.

He set his creation on its edge
to work the surface smooth
and the edge clean
like the orb he worshipped,
but it began to move on its own
smoothly along its own track.
He followed.

It was magic.

The sun moved through the sky
by means no mortal could see.
Now this hand-made sun moved along the earth
by similar means
but he knew, somehow, the portent of this moment
as he followed his stone disc
as it rolled slowly down the path
as if it was patiently showing him
the way.

My garden waits under a blanket of spring
gently rippled snow comforting the earth
drowsing buds protected undercover
will burst and pour forth
hot, humid mornings, big yellow spiders, baskets of green beans
this heavy cover now protects, will melt and nourish.

Just spent some time wondering how the leap was made from rock to roll.

The Bean-Picking Lesson

I learned my lesson from picking beans,
to just gently pull every bean I saw when I saw it
no matter where it was
and not to wait until I had moved down the row
or around to the other side
because the bean might be hidden when I got there.

How many times have you seen opportunities and decided you'd wait until you had time, only to go back and find the bean was all overgrown and inedible?

The Last Red Berries

What gentle lesson I learn from this nightshade,
unwanted in its habitat, its toxins legendary,
growing as it is from a crack in the pavement
no other greenery but itself for comfort,
facing unprotected the wind and cold and precipitation,
yet gracefully spreading tangled limbs against the snow and
offering its berries to birds
who tolerate its poison and disperse its seeds,
and patiently waiting for spring.

Surely in all this, we can find a friend, if we can be a friend.

Click here for the photo entry in my "Today" photo blog.

The Part of Her

Even if you didn’t get along with your mother,
still, when you sold her house,
you dug up the plants from her garden you wanted to keep
brought them home and
carefully placed them in your own garden.

You may have said this was just because
you wanted them,
and the new owners would have only
dug them up
and thrown them away,
planting grass over the
dense colorful circular gardens
your mother had planted
before you were born
and that is largely true,
but you know it was also because
you wanted to preserve
that one part of her
that was creative,
kind and generous,
the part of her you liked
despite your efforts not to,
the part of her you got
and don’t want to admit
you share with her,
the part of her that
told you she wasn’t the woman who raised you.

Every year when that yellow daylily
pushes up through the tender spring soil
the yellow banana buds you remember pointing out to her
on a summer morning,
and the brilliant yellow flowers bloom and bloom and trumpet their joy
you remember her,
pull the other plants away to give it room,
and know that, if the spring comes that this plant does not return,
then you will grieve your loss.

This is a true life experience.

Flocks of Children

Swirling, swooping clouds of starlings
fill the air
noisy, babbling conversation
flying about the neighborhood
flocks of children
run in circles, laughing
up and down the streets.

I think the poem says enough.

The Clock in the Bathroom

The clock on my bathroom windowsill
tells whatever time it pleases.
A small, cheap battery-operated alarm clock,
the works inside have begun to let go
and the hands move independently of each other and of time,
skimming around the dial like birds circling in the sky,
flying first in opposite directions
then together.
I keep it because it’s mint green
and matches the new color scheme.

I am often late for things
and admit that most of my life
I have not taken time seriously
much to the consternation of those who wait for me.
Some say it’s the artist’s temperament
that I’m “out of touch with reality,”
that I’m “in my own world,”
but the truth is that there is always another creative idea
begging for attention,
and I have to give it its time
because that’s how creativity works.
That idea is not always a new painting
or a lyrical poem,
sometimes it’s the design for a customer’s logo,
or the perfect brochure copy for another’s promotion,
or the solution to why the website won’t work the way I think it should.

Sometimes I need to just be still and let thoughts happen
and leave time behind because the solution to the problem
is more important than the time it takes,
and the bright new bathroom, clean and open,
the window framing treetops and sky
just right for dreaming,
and the mint green clock on the windowsill
that tells whatever time it pleases
suits me just fine.

And while I am often late,
there are also days when I walk into the dark of this bathroom
and look at the deep void of night outside the window,
but the first questioning tweet of a robin rehearsing for the dawn chorus
warms the darkness,
and the light changes to reveal the silhouettes of the trees against the sky, black on black.
I have pursued the latest idea to the ends of my universe without question for the hour,
I contentedly watch the sky change from black to blue,
the birds now singing in earnest,
a gift to my exhausted creative mind, cramped hands and tired eyes.
Younger, I might have watched the entire show,
showered and gone on with my day, but not now.
I’ll nap, wake up later than I should,
and probably be late all day,
but I found the pot of gold at the end of the creative rainbow
and the clock says it’s only 12:37.

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