In a room lit by stars, your arms, gentle, insistent, draw me in to nestle against you.
The moon arches its back and the midnight sky
Curls around it to enfold it, pulling it close and holding it there.
A night breeze ruffles and lifts my hair;
Your soft sleeping breath against my shoulder stirs my heart.


The Web

She knew, on a conscious level, that it wouldn’t be fair to blame the spider for her nightmares as they had begun several weeks before its appearance on the outside wall near the kitchen door. And no modern, reasonable person would link the spider with that morning’s accident in which the handle of the pitcher broke and two quarts of fresh orange juice cascaded onto the floor she had mopped only an hour before. But latest is not always best, as they say, and sometimes the primitive path marked by omens and signs is the truest one to follow.

She knew about chemtrails, Iran-Contra, WTC 7, and the Big Short. She was acquainted with scientific principles and the basic tenets of varied religions from Santeria to Catholicism. She was not, in other words, easily taken in. She believed in Karma and earthly retribution. She maintained that the greatest pain one caused should that felt by those one left behind when passing to whatever lay beyond. She was, overall, at peace with herself and the world around her.

Then the dreams came. Sometimes there were scientists. Sometimes they were masked men from a Lone Ranger fantasy gone dreadfully wrong. Always it was her hands they were after. Each night presented a different method of torture. Picking the flesh from her hands with used staples which had been partially unbent or chopping her hands off incrementally using a purpose built guillotine.

She never woke up screaming, even in the dreams she was calm though terrified, but they began to weigh on her and she began to wonder. Were the dreams trying to tell her something? Should she have touched herself less? Was she called to be a massage therapist and this was her punishment for rejecting the Call? She remembered the legends about Eric Clapton and how Bonnie Bramlette had told him he would lose his voice if he didn’t use it for God.

The dream about kissing Jewel was disturbing for other reasons, but she nearly wept in relief at the change. She was surprised, because she did not like Jewel’s music and had not suspected she found Jewel attractive, and she imagined the singer would be surprised also unless she had previously pictured her lower lip pierced by a small gold ring. Their passion had not gone beyond heated necking and her hands, and Jewel’s, had been mercifully out of sight.

She sat in one corner of the sofa, as the night drew on, considering the hours of darkness before her. She wanted to lay out the runes but, for once, she was afraid. Afraid to see what they might say and afraid to see what she might stir up.

The old man across the way had noticed the spider that afternoon. He knocked it off the side of the house into his hand and it crawled up his sleeve.

“It’s a Camel spider,” he said. He shook it onto the ground, where the little brown dog sniffed at it, then he tried to replace it on the wall. The eight tiny legs struggled to find sufficient purchase to support the large yellow and black body.

She watched it scrabbling; half hoping it would plummet to the gravel below and half afraid that it might.

“It’s beautiful,” she said. The old man laughed and nudged the spider up the wall with his dirt-stained fingers.

“I don’t know about that,” he said. “But they’re harmless. One of these things would never hurt anybody.”

And she believed him, didn’t she?

(Found this on an old blog in an entry dated October 1, 2001. Was I wrong to bring it back from obscurity?)


Admission Essay

This is a tough one and will make or break you. You must do this work with love or you fail. – John Muir, “How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive”

My grandpa sang while he washed the dishes – Rock of Ages, Tiny Bubbles, School Days- and if you were in the kitchen he’d hand you a dishtowel and invite you to join in. And then one day the singing stopped. It wasn’t because Grandpa died; it was because my folks bought Grandma and Grandpa a dishwashing machine and had it installed.

My family meant well. Of course they did. Most people don’t spend several hundred dollars with the intention of making a beloved elderly relative less happy. But that’s what happened. And they weren’t the only ones to make the mistake of believing that mechanization equalled more happiness. A friend’s nana received a food processor one Christmas so she’d have an easier time making her famous cinnamon rolls and the plan might have worked if she’d ever been able to fully comprehend the instruction manual and to conquer her fear of the blades in the machine.

This problem has only increased with my generation AKA the Baby Boomers. We’re the ones who dreamed of and worked toward automating everything- a house that regulates its own temperature and vacuums itself, cars that drive and park themselves, weapons that will aim, recalculate, arm, and fire themselves. The goal of socks knitted by machine and pre-packaged food was to free up more time so we could pursue leisure activities and learning. What my generation has actually accomplished is distancing themselves from the people involved in and the pleasureable kinesthetic experiences derived from the creation of these products.

I’ve spent the last few years *reintroducing*(?) myself and especially the younger people around me to the joys of repersonalization and unautomation. Run your fingers through some yarn then wind it around them to see how the colors work together. Cast on for the top of the leg and follow a path blazed by millions of knitters over the years who created socks for their families that kept them warm with wool and love. Dig a hole in the ground and poke some seeds into it. Water them and watch and wait until the vines are tall enough and the fruit is red enough that you can pull off and eat… a tomato; something that tastes of dirt and sunshine instead of shrink-wrap and cardboard.

Returning to my grandpa, of course he sang while he washed the dishes. He was surrounded by people he loved who loved him back, warm soapy water feels good on your skin, and he was using his hands to do a good and useful and- yes- loving thing to make his home and I would say by extension the world a better place.



They’ll never spawn; these fish,
Drained of their life’s purpose,
Fill a stream with leaping rainbows.


Like a dog-eared page corner

The cat’s upward-thrust leg marks the spot
she was washing
Before headlights on the wall
Drew her eye
Dazzling her
Making her lose- for just an instant- her place in the bath.