Tuesday, May 28, 2013


There are many people I wish had not died. The shock of William Stafford no longer writing still reverberates my nerve endings. I just recently discovered Richard Hugo, and he’s gone.

In his book of essays on poetry and writing, “The Triggering Town” Hugo suggests writers avoid form and rhyme unless they are dry and need the structure to re-juice themselves. I think I disagree but maybe not. Writing from the limitations of a form, albeit ABBA, sonnet or sestina, forces me to enlarge my vocabulary and visual associations. Internal rhymes, slant or straight up and down can make a poem sing, especially when the  rhyme is not an endstop.

Some things to think about when deliberately beginning to write a poem. Or when you are reading a poem.

Richard Wilbur is still alive and writing as far as I know. What caught my attention was his self-imposed form in the poem, “Flying.”  My sister recently reminded me of a tree we used to climb. Sitting high in the branches came close to flying. Wish I had such a tree today.


Treetops are not so high
Nor I so low
That I don't instinctively know
How it would be to fly

Through gaps that the wind makes, when
The leaves arouse
And there is a lifting of boughs
That settle and lift again.

Whatever my kind may be,
It is not absurd
To confuse myself with a bird
For the space of a reverie:

My species never flew,
But I somehow know
It is something that long ago
I almost adapted to.

"Flying" by Richard Wilbur, from Anterooms. © Houghton Mifflin, 2010. Reprinted with permission.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Family caregivers need respite or their physical and emotional health will be adversely affected. Asking for help is a first step. Naps, even short ones, rejuvenate the caregiver. Now if we could only get everyone who thinks they need to talk with us to cooperate during these brief rests, full benefit would be received.

Rest Disrupted
I rest with head and feet raised on two pillows each,
My ping pong mind dribbling slower
And slower among my duties past and future

When the phone rings, once. Annoyed awake I focus
On possible callers: A ring once and hang up. Perhaps
They’ll try again. Or someone in the house answered

And heard important information. More likely
They were offered a billing service if our company
Accepts credit card payments. Or a sales
Rep in North Carolina sees we should be needing
Disinfectant. Which makes me wonder
From my bed if we have used up the six gallons

We bought last year to receive free shipping.
Not likely. Or the recorded voice was NOT concerned
About our credit card but we should know--at

Which point I would press “1”  to remove our name
From their list, an action that hasn’t worked
In six years. No footfalls in the hall mean no one

Is coming to get me. But the damage is done;
Curiosity rattles rest from my mind and
The fall out shoves me from the bed. Finis.

Saturday, May 11, 2013



Unless you killed in an accident or become sick and die, you will continue living. For a while.

You would not believe how many people avoid this reality. They may be reminded when they receive a funny greeting card on a birthday or anniversary, but otherwise they choose denial and cling to evasion with admirable tenacity. But there is a cost to living day after wonderful day.

Many are flummoxed when they do not continue in the same health and condition as they enjoyed ten years previous. Personally, I don’t like the decline however subtle, but there doesn’t appear to be much I can do about it, Dr. Oz and the latest health juju not withstanding.

We buy life insurance, car insurance, stumble around to find understandable health insurance. What we cannot purchase at any price is a guarantee that health and energy will continue unabated forever and ever. In fact the opposite is a surety. Following a stint with Weight Watchers, I can barely tolerate the maxim, Failure to Plan is a Plan to Fail. Unfortunately FPPF is truest with our health and preparations for eventual sickness.

There is a price to be paid for living. (Older people tend to repeat themselves.)

So here is reality. As we age we require more medications that require more money from the insurance plus our co-pay. Once we start down this slippery slope there is no loose gravel to dig in, gain traction and climb back up.

You can claim otherwise but the statistics are not in your favor. And reality shadows the sun in many unpleasant directions.

If you are younger than 40, the above sad tale may be describing your parents rather than yourself, for now. We have been fortunate to have my 98-year old mother blaze a path through mortality and we commend her for aging gracefully. Especially since tomorrow is Mother's Day. But we witness many families where FPPF is the modus operandi. When one parent or both become ill, the children react as if the decline must be temporary and soon Dad or Mom will bounce back to the vibrant person they have always been.

These families suffer from “Neophobia” and are crippled by FPPF.