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


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 […]