James Dean’s Mother

James Dean’s Mother

I found a bio of James Dean at a garage sale for a quarter. When I travel I like to take incidental-looking little paperbacks, old or thin or otherwise disposable-looking; then I can discard them when I’m done, or, if they turn out to be good, give them away to friends I’m […]

A Summer Day in Northern California, 1919

A Summer Day in Northern California, 1919

Two-year-old Virginia is missing

Her parents look throughout the tidy

Wooden house

Where yellow curtains glow

They go outside and peer

In the shady woods

Where a brook chuckles a sudden secret

And small shy forest mammals

Are gone to earth

Among the violets like watching […]

Exploding Toilet

My father loved fireworks. My brothers tell me that before I came along, he would, each Fourth of July, take a babies’ bathtub out on the crabgrassy front lawn and fill it with water from the hose. Then he’d put into it a thing from his lab: sodium metal, a highly toxic, explosive-in-water substance. The […]

Ferry to Vancouver Island

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Mom and Brother Write Poems, Too!

Mom (age 91) recited this while we sat in the HomeTown Buffet in Eugene, Oregon with our piled plates in front of us: Little Miss Muffet Went to HomeTown Buffet And was eating her dinner one day Along came a spider And sat down beside her But Miss Muffet’s size And her piggy little eyes […]

A Present for My Mother

I was on Ko-Pi-Pi, an island off the southern tip of Thailand, to rest after a gruelling work trip to Japan. I was with a boyfriend, a not very nice one (insecurity made him arrogant; weariness me intolerant) but in that place we did not squabble – the heat and damp were enervating, my exhaustion […]