And memories rush in, I
looking out the window, they
riding their bikes
Against my loneliness and it tastes bitter
Feeling awkward in a new neighborhood

Another day and rain is pouring down
A knock on our door and I peek through the glass
Yellow rainboots
The girl is about my age looking bold
With a big smile she says hello
“I’ve seen you ride your bike”
She invites me to join her
Some other day I whisper
I don’t know how to ride

The girls come one by one
On a sunny day with a common goal
To teach me to ride
They hold the back and I pedal
They let go and I am ok
Riding feeling cool air sweep across my face

No longer them and I
We become us
They stand on the sidewalk of our alley
Cheering on
As I do now with my kid
As my parents never did



The eyes
Look through the darkened circles
In disbelief
They have seen lips silent to abuse
Trembling legs unwilling to run
Hands and fingers twisted in rage
But not fighting back
This collective we has endured
Defeated in shame but no more
The eyes refuse to remain locked up
In silence. They
Reach out and tear
The thin skin of the lids, cheeks, lips, tongue
Ripping through the flesh
Shredding to pieces
The walls that kept them captive
All these years. They flee
As two specs of light
Leaving the lifeless flesh behind

Horizontal Tornado

Horizontal Tornado

Have you seen a horizontal tornado?
I did
And it was horrific
As the white spinning mass of air
Appeared from the sky
An angry cloud
Coming down the highway we were on
Stretching from here to eternity it seemed
And I, shouting at the driver
Turn away, turn away
My voice quivering and shrill
As we watched horrified and helpless
Feeling the pull of the magnificent beast
To its center
With promise of demise


Holding on

Holding on

I hold on to you
As a baby chimpanzee holds on to its mother
Hands, feet, fingers and nails
grasping tight as life depends on it
You the conduit of pain that you are
I hold on to you
As I hold on to air, not another breath
Or the lingering scent of shit
That never quite left the carpet
Where someone deposited
A special package and I
Needed to get it replaced




Suddenly autumn
And golden leafs shiver and fall
This isn’t a breeze, air
Moves quicker than thoughts
Stirring dust, trees and the clouds
My mood wants a detour
We’ve been down this path before
And I follow only to find myself
down the same rabbit hole


He said “I’m growing up tomorrow”.
No! I said.
Later, much later please
When then? Tuesday?
I really hope not
Stay little a while longer

Yet he is growing up despite
my ambivalence and I
miss the small onesies and socks
How I long to hold him
curled up perfectly
against my chest

When he stopped nursing
Now the bottles are done too
With each changing diaper size
or when his little feet
No longer fit his shoe and
when his words grew

“Mommy I’m sorry I said a bad word”
What bad word?
I said “hate” yesterday
My heart …
The other day too
He’d been a handful at the restaurant
Messing around on empty tables
Little hands everywhere
Utensils, glasses, tossing napkins
My threats, pleads and bribes turning to dust

He tells me
“Sorry I sat on’nother table
I didn’t like the chicken”
And he was right it wasn’t good
I will miss that and the tantrums
The potty accidents too

I miss him as I hold
his three year old body
My back aching a little
But he curls up
with arms tucked between us
Just as he did as a baby. There
lies a tender carved out spot
where he rests his head
Over my shoulder
And his body to my chest

Fluttering Thoughts

Fluttering Thoughts

Running through fields
of butterflies
among tulips and lilies

With a wide net
set out to capture
a few

Oh no!
These fluttering thoughts
fly through the gaps

The net woven
Long long ago
loosened over the years

Yet there is
rhythm in these steps and
breath hums a melody



Grandfather bought an orchard
With apples and peaches
Cherries and pear trees
After retiring from the railroad

In a village not too far
A curmudgeon he was yet
he beamed with pride traveling
three hours each day on a bus

And grandmother every morning
resented him for leaving
She sat by the window in the evening
staring at the clock, next to it

the old black telephone
Turning the dial-wheel calling everyone
She pleaded with god “Bring him home”
As if he’d gone to war

Imagining accidents, or the unknown
and her being left alone
An anxious love that had endured decades
Then he’d open the door

Her facial features gave her away. Chin
trembling, eyes tearing
Lips letting out a sigh of relief yet
she held on to the grudge

With a tongue, well rehearsed she
unleashed harsh words scolding him, pleading
Cursing those who sold him the orchard. They
lived this every day

It was funny then. Now
it makes me sad as I remember
the small imperfect apples
Crunchy and sweet

Though I only took a few bites
around the blemishes discarding the rest
Grandfather ate apples and pears
flesh, seeds and core, nothing went to waste

Today I picked an apple from the tree
in the yard, bitting around the blemishes
It was sour and sweet. And I wished
they were here with me




The old Futon is gone, with it
pieces of my past
But not the memories they last

Thick and thin, fire and ice
Long sleepless nights when
My wounds, tears and sorrow
Melted onto its comforting firm surface

It held my cats, all gone but one
Twelve years, is that a life time for a futon?
So much has happened much of it
With the futon somewhere in the background

Worn through the years and yes
peed on by the cat, a sign of affection perhaps
Now the cat is gone
It’s been a month, an eternity

I mourn the cat, I do
Still hearing his meow
Seeing him curled up on the surface of a futon
That isn’t there anymore

Cloud Gazing


Cloud Gazing

The bluest sky
And clouds, luminous white
Gently disperse and gather
The mighty wind
Can’t make up its mind
And I lift my chin
To meet the bluest eyes
Unspoken words
And I feel okay
They come closer
The sky and all that it holds
Before my eyes
As if to embrace me
And hold my face
All I have to do
Is stay

December Moon (1999)

A beautiful and subtle meditation on love and longing. I hope you enjoy this elegant poem by Robert Okaji as much as I did.

O at the Edges

December Moon (1999)

If loneliness breathes,
then rain is its heart,

always falling to its lowest point
before receding. Water graces us

daily in all its forms – the slowest
drop, the line of ice on the wall,

your breath, so soft and even
in the cool night. But no one,

no thing, can fill the void of
departure. You exhale and turn

away, and the air, with its empty
arms, embraces the space

you’ve left. I feel this daily,
whenever we part. At forty-one

I’ve known you half my life
but have loved you even longer,

through the millennium’s demise
and all that preceded or follows.

The brightest moon for a century to come
is but a shadow in your light.

This first appeared on the blog in October 2015. It’s hard to believe that I wrote “December Moon” nearly eighteen years ago. Busy with books, work and life…

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For My Mother


April 17: Nocturne: Tiny Now

She is tiny now, my mother

and jokes in the morning, when

her teeth aren’t in, how she whistles

like a little bird. And i want to reach

back to the nights when

she brought the piglets in

laid them in the woodstove oven

so tiny, but she believed in them

and in that warm cradle, the spark

of life rekindled in them. How

do i cradle her? now

she is so tiny, softly

drawing nearer to

the Western Door.

This poem won’t do it.

This poem is for me

a piglet grown, with

my snout astonished

at discovery, how the power

that built a world for me still

reveals itself, blue

slight, soft, tiny.

My mother went home to God on May the 5th. I was honoured to be with her then, to recite for her the prayers she loved. One day, it will…

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Fragments refuse to
Come together and
Make something meaningful, perhaps
These broken pieces came from
Not one, but more

And so it lays
Scattered in disarray
Longing for meaning and order
In a world that dances
To different tunes

Listening to the sound of dust
As it passes
Through invisible hands
Change is inevitable
Though its direction unknown

A Bar Mitzvah

I almost said
Ah to be thirteen again!
But my thirteen was as lousy as twelve
All the rotten years that came
and those that remain

As I watched this boy
Sing and pray words unfamiliar
With such conviction and joy
I wasn’t happy, nor sad
I felt lost and inferior

Alien indeed
Not the wardrobe
nor the strange sound of words
Majesty of the temple
or the ache in my toes

I grew up in a family
Not peasants nor lords
vast in numbers indeed
A culture with songs
Costumes, written words

At five, ten, or thirteen
Did I matter? No!
A Nuisance at best
But mostly Insignificant
and I remained low

Not belonging, this else-ness
Is a slow bitter death
Drowning in my sorrows
And the unbearable shoes, I walk
Wearing a smile so forced it hurts

A boy walks out a man
Oh so proud
and I remain
bitter, yet fairly softened
As I wish him well

This wasn’t home. I am
yet to find belonging
But as people go
This was a gracious crowd
and I have hope

Cloud of Debris

I remembered the sheep shaped cloud I saw
when I was six maybe seven
That was when the war began
Walking in a roundabout with mother
We didn’t know
the sheep shape in the sky
wasn’t benign with its pinkish glow

What do they see, kids I mean
Have they vanished?
Kidnapped by force, fire and vengeance
Trapped into precocious adults
Do they cry when one dies?
Do they play beneath the bombs?
What shapes are formed in their skies
From the debris and malice of demise

They said “mother of all bombs”
Their choice of words makes me cringe
But the wound inside
Bleeds all over, it says otherwise
Of men and their wars
Crimes washed clean with
The sound of Profit
Peace and freedom delivered
In the shape of bombs


The other day when
Night was merging with day and
My eyes burned for a blink yet
Dreams where nowhere to be found
I reached for a rock

By my bed. I knew
It wasn’t there
Daylight. This illusion
There is night
The rest are stories we tell

My fingers curled around and
felt its rough edges
I aimed and threw
Piercing the damned window
And the light it let through

I punctured the dawn and it burst
with dazzle and thunder
falling lifelessly as dust
Glorious darkness. Ah!
Until another day
And another set of lies

Destiny Chance



Destiny Chance, and
Everything in between
Senselessly beautiful
This chaos

Two seeds, same in every way
One thrives, the other not
With shriveled little roots
Leaves, though green
can’t touch the sun

Nature, nurture
and the stochastics in between
Call it God, call it not
She won’t listen

As for them and us
Some diseased, others not
Yet they assign fault and
Punish. These differences
Begin as one

Behavior and appearance
are expressions, phenotypes
What lies beneath is
Mostly unknown

Epigenetics may provide the key to understand the human condition. What batter way to seek creative inspiration than the very place where nature meets nurture? That is epigenetics in a nutshell. Here is the link to a brief article with the image above. 


Let me trace your
Fear seeps through the cracks
Borders are raw
Love won’t shatter this wall
Yet slowly penetrating
through the bricks
Planting kisses and melting
the dividing line

On Mars

I suspect it will be nice
On Mars
With its waterless rivers
and treeless hills

I gather butterflies won’t
fly over roses
Birds won’t chirp

There won’t be
guns or terrorists
No cross to bear
No church for prayer

What bliss!
Wars not waged nor battles won
Dog not chasing the cat
Nor cat the dog

There won’t be
A you and I
Maybe an us, who knows?

And earth will be
but a distant memory
A blue planet rising
and falling when sun
dims behind shadows

In Search of Peace

Driving along
this hilly landscape
artfully sketched to perfection
Edges softened
Wind upon rain
Grass over rocks
Life breathing

Cows and deer peacefully
nibble on green
along the road they belong and I
look away when a corpse appears
in the rear view red
splattered over asphalt
May I have peace, not be disturbed
by this ghastly site

The radio hums in a distance
Suddenly near
another death or many
another bomb another suicide, I
shiver and reach to change the station
May I have peace, not be disturbed
by this sickening news

The road goes on
Shapes are shifting
Hills have flattened and gray appears
dirt frosted widows
no one peaks through
No laughter
Lifelessly breathing
Sirens and the sound of brakes screeching
as tired angry hands slam on horns, mine

Figures appear shaped
like someone I knew
They hurriedly shuffle along
Eyes drawn not onto each other
or mine
but to a screen, deafening silence
May they have peace
not be disturbed by these repulsive views

The road goes on and I
take another sip through a cherry colored straw
from a cup
as it keeps my drink chilled
delivering liquid sugar to my perched lips
Conditioned air is no match
for the molten rays attacking
through the glass
They burn my skin

I glance out the window onto a field
as vast as the hills I saw before
Upon them piles of lifeless trash
Once a chair or a television a computer perhaps
Bottles and cups with cherry colored straws
Tires, bags, wood and glass
shamelessly splattered
in an endless mass
I squint seeking the edge
nowhere to be found
Death thrives here
and I drive on
May I have peace, not be disturbed
by this alarming site

Pray looking down

In times of sorrow
Pray looking down to this land
pulsating with life

Connected these
Seemingly separate dots
People, animals and things

Gods do not hide
behind the clouds
Don’t look up

Bow down
and murmur, sing, or cry
Earth is listening

Baptized out of Religion

baptism_-_marcellinus_and_peterI’ve been
Baptized out of religion
Yet the wounds I sustained
Have lingered

Promise of ever afters
took seed
Learning rights and wrongs
With a mind too young to be freed

Forcefully fed or eagerly received
Does it matter?
In a nest beaks open
For food or poison

Dressed in white I
Immersed with hopes and resentments
and emerged to my surprise
Baptized out of religion

How Did We Arrive On This Vile Path

Black and Write

How did we arrive on this vile path

Where fiction and fantasy meet?

Justified in spewing their putrid rath

In droves before our feet.

They peddle not, in truth tis true

But little this seems to matter.

Sooner or later this stance they’ll rue

Once their illusions are shattered.

Never shall I understand the blind allure

Of a pompous and childish ass.

To lead the free world with temperament sure

There’s no room for any morass.

Dark are the days ahead for us, a once great and powerful nation.

For empires become superfluous, with righteous indignation.

~~ Dominic R. DiFrancesco ~~

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On the Origin of the Google Search Algorithm

I stumbled upon this powerful poem by Mike McGuire today and am compelled to share it here.

Fugitive Fragments

Al'Khwarizmi - the word algorithm2

Many were the Arab gifts to modern man
Wisdom of the shrewd Semitic scholars past;
Poets Rumi, Ibn ‘Arabi and Khayyam
Geometric art in rhythmic patterns vast.
Studies of the night sky with rare comet flights;
Arabesque anatomy and medicine;
Belly-dancing; sorbet; The Arabian Nights;
Algorithms and decimal ciphering.
Spreading all this knowledge, all this intellect
Like the wild Sirocco scatters grains of sand,
Learning filled the cracks so cultures could connect
Such were gifts of Arabs to Renaissance man.
Google’s algorithm searches everything;
If we search for peace perhaps we’ll share again.

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Pain remains

Peeled away yet
The flesh beneath
Still throbbing
Pain remains

Ripped out like weeds
It withered and died
But earth remembers
Pain remains

These scars
Hardly noticeable
Not knowing who
or why
Pain remains

Body renewed many times over
Not the same flesh
Yet fingers trace the spot
Where hurt once lived
Pain remains

The edge

What if there were no
No hope to anchor one
to soften the lows

No spring awaiting
at the edge of winter
No Sun to light
the end of night

If there wasn’t a knob
Nor a key
If there weren’t doors
to open and close

At the edge of the forest
By a lake
On a wooden bench
Shape-shifting of clouds

Hazy scenery
Muted sounds
deeply seated ache
trembling fingers

A breeze rises
From the lake
Brushing over peeks and valleys
Chiseled by passing of the years

He was old enough to know
enlightened words
In a commanding tone
Let it be known

I once knew a neurologist who struck me as wise and grand. he had dozens of kids, and his kids had dozen kids of their own. They worked together – a doctor family, living and loving life, or so it seemed.

Sure I am idealizing, paraphrasing and exaggerating my recollection of him. He did say once, when we were discussing end of life issues and incurable diseases, that simple pleasures such as sitting by a lake or in the woods and sensing the elements, sunshine, wind, sand or coolness water could be enough reason to live. Even if old and frail or terminally ill, even if he had no sight or hearing, nor the ability to walk, one could experience joy of life. I found his perspective peculiar, still do.  I’ll share (my recollection of) his words. May they speak to you. 

Thanks for reading ~ 

This Moment

The list is long and time
Runs through my fingers
No way to hold on
And so I write as
The kettle gurgles
Tea leaves swell
kissed by the boiling heat

What do I do
With this moment or the next
may they bloom
As red roses in the garden

The list is long and I
Won’t tire
Not yet
Tea calls upon me

A cup nestles
perfectly in my hands
like a newborn, a lover, a kiss
I inhale and the aroma
Subtle yet profound in its familiarity
How it tickles my memories
Grandmother’s house
Teapot over Samovar
Touch of her hands
Flavors of childhood
Scent of heaven
Feeling of love

Taste is bitter
It is sweet
As are my memories
And my past
It lingers for a while

I am here
The list is long and time
Once again flows
Down the hill
Out of reach


The path I walk upon is painted green
Wild flowers violate, gold and white
Brush against my legs
Rolling hills seem to move
and a gentle breeze
The ground kissing my feet
This step and the next
It asks nothing of me
In all my years, it has been there
Reliably, faithfully meeting each and every step
This is not a dream
Neither domestic nor foreign
Rich or poor
Black or white
Steps upon this earth
That anchors me


This is where I write about the interesting things I want to write about. Except I have nothing interesting to say. Nothing interesting happened today. Just a while back I had many original thoughts, magnificent ideas, clever words and much more. I didn’t write them down then. I wouldn’t say they are gone for good. Perhaps with some digging I can gather a few remnants here and there. I may even be able to assemble them in ways that resemble ideas, but they have lost their luminosity and vigor. They lack the urgency and the novelty that gave them birth. They have grown dim and dull.

I am stuck in the past. Not a particular past, a whole bunch of pasts, some as recent as hours ago, others from decades past. This continual browsing of the past may or may not have hindered my progress into future and my experience of now.

How do we see the world? I used to think I see the world, as it exists; that we see the world as it is. But I’ve learned otherwise. I see the world through the eyes my past, my experiences. I see it through the things that I learned along the way, through the eyes of my ancestors. I judge the world as such and assign meaning and value to its people, places and events through the unreliable lens of my memories and my past. This seems flawed, yet undeniably powerful.

Yesterday I sat by my aging electrical piano. Dust and dirt had settled upon its keys, which I attempted to wipe with the hem of my T-shirt. My fingers felt cold and stiff as I began pressing on the keys and here and there a squeak or odd sound appeared confirming there isn’t much life left in the instrument. I was annoyed by the off sounds but kept going. I play the piano by ear and from memory. I do know how to read notes but I am not efficient and relying on my memory seems to be an easier way. However, my recollection favorite tunes and melodies are much like the rest of my memories, unreliable and with gaps and missing parts. I’ve learned to fill those gaps with other tunes.

As I played, the songs of my past took on a different rhythm. I played a favorite melancholy tune in E minor then out of nowhere it changed into E major and took on a cheerful upbeat rhythm. It went on to turn into another tune, then another, without a pause or a transition. I was linking melodies from east and west, major and minor keys in a way I had never done before. It was my creation. I inserted novel ideas of my own, chords, keys and undulations. I was partially lost in the notes. It was happening without much conscious effort. I felt as much a participant as an audience. I was lost in the music. Simultaneously a stream of thoughts was running in the background. It was an experience that I felt in the moment, yet its very existence or effect on me was determined by my past.

I think we are presented with the opportunity for growth, when our past fails to fully explain things. Improvisation leads to discovery, invention and birth of new ideas.


Every day is a birthday
What are years
but the collection of days
Each breath anew
Now, this moment, this day

Counting years as we do
Anxious moments at play
14,600 days
have been counted
That much is true

Will there be more?
This breath, now
This moment, this day

Celebrating David Bowie

It happens sometimes, not often, but sometimes that I feel moved, joyous and alive in response to another human being. In that instant I am still, yet moving at immeasurable speeds toward something undefinable, an experience so vast that it defies my words and my mind. I am at awe.

It happened the very first time I listened to David Bowie’s music and saw his performance on the small screen. I don’t know what about him spoke to me, but it did and the magnificence of his music never seized to mesmerize me. It wasn’t the novelty of it that captured and held my attention.

Now he is gone, much too young if you asked me and I sit here thinking what he meant for me and how I want to honor him.

I am paraphrasing Maya Angelou that people may forget us but never forget how we made them feel. David Bowie was one such people, and despite only knowing him only through a box and occasionally a set of headphones, he has effected me more profoundly than many people I have personally known.

I begin a musical pilgrimage into the world of David Bowie. Let’s Dance, he says and I do – I am compelled to, almost involuntarily. I Get up and begin moving my arms, hands and legs. I move awkwardly at first. It’s been a while since my body performed in such ways. I let down my hair, tossing the hairclip aside. I feel free, invigorated with a sense of independent belonging to this wonderful sound. With my eyes closed, breathlessly I sing the words and take in every sip of the intoxicating joy that comes as my pulse quickens. I feel one with the beat and I am alive and graceful, suspended in a state that defies the confines of my physical body.

I celebrate him, the person he was, the music he made and the very real ways he left a positive lasting imprint onto my imagination. Thank you and rest in peace.


Words, oh words!

I can’t decide if this is a rant or a daily thought. I don’t know if I have daily thoughts any more. The tape seems stuck somewhere between original thoughts and re-runs of old ones … Nothing original, wordless, thoughtless, blank …


She’s brought back to the present. A moment of mindfulness thanks to a toy hitting her in the head!

Boy says “sorreet” for throwing toys on her head. That is a new word he learned today. He does it again. Saying “sorreet” and giggling each time – sorry without remorse, and without stopping the behavior!

Much Like mom’s cursing – she sprinkles an occasional “shit” and fuck”, rightfully followed by feelings of guilt and shame, especially when boy is around.

You see she lacks the eloquent skills and proper vocabulary to express her feelings otherwise. English is her second, neigh third language. She does admit that even in the first two languages, she lacked the desired skills to speak otherwise. Hence the shame she feels is not merely for the use of foul language, no! She is equally embarrassed for her impoverished and lazy manor of speech.


and back to the present again –

Boy says “fuck”! Another word he has learned. He has been saying it often. Boy is 2. Mom is furious (and ashamed). Mom tried to substitute another word.

“say, fun”!
“fun”! (please, please, please)
“fuck”!!!! louder this time.

Mom gives up.

Boy brings his favorite book to mom. “Baa-Be, Baa-Be” he demands eagerly.
The book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? It is a little children’s rhyming book about 9 animals and what they see in each page. Brown bear sees a red bird, red bird sees a yellow duck and so on.

Let’s try reading it like him:

“Baa Bea, Baa Bea what do?” (That is brown bear!)
“I see wed-burd”
“Wed-burd, wed-burd what do? (… the red bird)
“I see yo-yo-dot” (… the yellow duck)

So on and it goes until we reach the green frog. One may guess what happens here  – Let us listen:

“Gween fuck, gween fuck what do?”!


Mystery solved!

Burden lifted.

Mothering insecurities, gone (for now).

The Dead Things

The dead things
Dumb things
They have gathered with intention
Sand lays just so
As do rocks
Water flows
The leaves on the ground
Surely dead too
And the earth itself
With its soulless center
Pulling us into her embrace
Did I mention the Sun?
Febrile without a beat
It shines
All the dead things
This soulless bunch
Arranged just so
For us the wise
Shedding tears
As we rip it apart
All the lifeless things
Ask nothing of us
As we collectively
Lead to their demise

Shooting Star

Through the crystalline walls of my bedroom
I glance aimlessly
Night Sky is sliced open
Flash of light
There and it is gone
Hope blossoms again.

In search of the moon
I stumbled upon a shooting star
“I am here” I whisper
and I feel heard

Did I look for it to fall
Did it fall for me to look
No answers
yet I am content
I looked
I saw
I felt

Strawberry Winters

Strawberry winters
I traded snowflakes
Allure of red kisses
From strawberry winters
Now I miss the snow
Don’t you?

Extravagant life
Is full of nothings
A lavish mirage
As we rush nowhere
and I miss the snow
How about you?


Death Row

On death row
Last night of my life
Yet again
The cross-eyed victim of my crimes
Was unmoved by my plea
I waited for the lethal dose
In sheer horror
That finally woke me up
Before the end

This wasn’t the first time I dreamed about lethal injection. The first time was an end of life decision. I was waiting to be “euthanized” and I received the injection. This time, I didn’t. Both dreams felt uncomfortably real. I am still shaking …
We as people must be better than this. Better than the crimes, better than the criminals. Civility must prevail. This was a fragment of my imagination, a bizarre dream, but it is a reality for many, some of them innocent.

Beneath the Wreckage

What to do when there is nothing left?
When the all consuming sense of defeat
Penetrates through each and every thought

The neurons fire “you have lost”
Body aches, not another step
Eyes burn beneath unrelenting flood of tears
and throat bleeds and throbs
when there are no screams left

Nothing but a fist
Clasp it around a pen and let it tremble
Let it savage the paper
May it bleed
May it shred to pieces
Put the pieces together
Let it reach the pinnacle and
dim into a murmur
Let the murmur trickle down through fingers
Trembling eagerly – reluctantly
Fist embracing the pen
Ink staining the sheet
Tears soaking the paper
Let the words fall as they do

The nonsense that pairs letters, words and sounds
In such way
May have happened before
maybe not

But perhaps there is still something left
Beneath the wreckage

What fuss I make

October first it is
Feels like I have forgotten something
Something important
Yes I think it was – is
Helpless, hopeless
and I can’t remember.

Out of milk again
Untidy rooms
Piles of paper
Wash it
Fold it
Sort it
Tidy the mess

What fuss I make
Over a few unwashed bowls
When there is war, famine and disease
Flooding, drought and disaster

What fuss I make
Over these wrinkles
A few extra pounds of flesh
and my past
When my child drifts further away
into autism

And I have laundry to do
Dishes to wash
Bills to pay
Papers to sort
Hopeless, helpless
I can’t remember

Let Go

Dawn turns to dusk
Yet this day
Is not the sum of its moment
Nor this life
the sum of its days

Defying the rules
moments magnified
thoughts signified
Yet what lingers on
Is the foul one

With lasting impressions
A thousand sweet lullabies
Are forgotten
The bitter words remain
Love dissolves and hate prevails
In this confession

A thousand gentle kisses
Won’t wash away the pain
Deep through the soul
The wounds remain
Till the very end

Yet in the final act
May nothing remain
But darkness of night
And droplets of rain

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is world suicide prevention day. It isn’t a trendy cause, and not fun to talk about. Nonetheless, it very important to raise awareness about this issue as suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in the world among those 15 to 44 year of age.

Suicide is preventable. Drawing from personal experience, I don’t recall ever being suicidal but I have been depressed. Depression is the leading cause of suicide and annually 20-25% of Americans over the age of 18 suffer with depression. Over 80% of those who receive treatment for their depression are successfully treated.

I’ve seen suicide attempts. As I think about this day and try to make a small positive contribution, thoughts and images pop into my head. One image is that of a Polish nineteen year old girl in the ICU during my first days of residency. I’d like to share this with you.

I first saw her legs as I glanced through the sterile glass walls of the room. Pale porcelain white skin and long legs that just laid there limp and seemingly lifeless. Then I noticed waves of shiny light brown hair fanned over the pillow. I couldn’t see her face as it was covered with the ventilator tube, tape and straps. There was IV tubing coming out of her chest and arm. A black faced monitor had waves of red, blue, green and yellow displayed across its screen and the waves moved. There was a monotonous beeping sound – I can almost hear it now. There were two figures standing by the door. A middle aged woman with short blond hair and a man. Their eyes filled with what I assessed as concern and fear as they stared into the room. I think the intensive care doctor was talking to them. A few other facts pop into my head. She had attempted (unsuccessfully) to end her life with a lethal quantity of acetaminophen. Her liver and lungs had failed and she was clinging to her life. A bitter mixture of feelings swept over me. I read through her chart and though I can’t remember all the scary problems listed, many of them singularly could kill her. This beautiful young girl was barely tethered to her life through tubes and wires. What hit me was a contradictory image of someone so full and devoid of life at the same time.

Two years went by and I was doing rounds with the gastrointestinal team. One of the names on our list seemed familiar. I went in to see a strikingly beautiful, vibrant and friendly face who welcomed me with a warm smile. She was a liver transplant recipient who had been hospitalized for complications of antirejection medication. Her current condition had improved and she was getting ready for discharge. She seemed happy and filled with joy and optimism. She told me she was recently married to a man “who saved me” and wanted to know about pregnancy as she was eager to start a family. She also mentioned she had immigrated to America from Poland in her early teens with her mother who married an unkind and abusive man and how she had felt neglected and abused by both of them until she couldn’t take it anymore and tried to end her life. It hit me then – this was the same girl.

I don’t know what happened to her after this encounter. I knew her chances of pregnancy were slim as the drugs she was on were very dangerous and contraindicated during pregnancy and stopping them could kill her. I was again swept with a bitter mixture of feelings. What if it had been different, if she had asked for help, if someone had reached out and tried to help her in those desperate times. What if someone had known about her struggles. What if she didn’t reach for the bottle, didn’t swallow the pills, what if her liver hadn’t failed.

When it comes to mental illness and suicide, it is easy to jump to conclusions. To portray a black and white image.  I suspect some may call her a coward, or judge her mother and step father harshly. It doesn’t matter anymore. But we don’t live in a black and white world. There is a little bit of each in the other. It is important to remember that every life deserves a chance. That every feeling must be acknowledged, even negative feelings, and that feelings pass. Someone may feel so overwhelmed with negative emotions that they feel incapable of tolerating them and wanting to escape, even if this escape comes in the form of death. Their thoughts maybe so distorted and impaired in such ways that irrational impulses may appear logical. Based on my few encounters with suicide survivors, they were happy to have “failed”. Those feelings do pass and the people who suffer with such thoughts and feelings deserve our empathy and help. It is important to not marginalized and stigmatize mental disease, depression and suicide. There is help and together we can preserve life and prevent suicide. For more information visit the following sites.

Green Apple

Glancing out my widow
A green apple fell down
I didn’t think much of it
Now I wonder should I?
Did it fall for me to look
Did I look for it to fall
Uncertain as I am
I am convinced of this
The apple is no more
atop the tree
connection is severed
As for me and my past
Had I sunken my teeth
Through its ripened flesh
Perhaps then I would have been freed


I am the queen of detours
Master of distractions
My quest to be informed
Leads me nowhere
Leaves me misinformed
I gather nuisance along the way
How ironic
A mass of nothings
Bent and hunched over
Beneath its weight
I carry a world
Upon my shoulders

An empty space that holds nothing and all

I am the holder of my body
I hold my thoughts
feelings too
Cell by cell, neuron by neuron

Yet I am more
More than the words
the thoughts
the feelings

I am more than the aches and pains
the tiny wrinkles
that gather in the corners of my eyes
when I smile
I am more than this smile
these tears, words and sounds

An empty space that holds it all
and I plan to do more
so much more
with my one wild and precious life

Memories are stories we tell ourselves
I am more than my memories
More than the success and failures
than the hours, days and decades
that have passed me by

I am the sky
An empty space that holds nothings
and it holds all