Once more into the abyss of the time beyond.

Since Sarai died, a little over a year ago, I’ve been working on this website, hardly constantly, but here we are. She left behind a lot of poems, many, perhaps most, not seen by anyone but herself until I started going through her hard drive. She didn’t publish much, perhaps not having a temperament for self-promotion, though she self-published a number of chapbooks in limited quantities, folding and stapling by hand. Most of these chapbooks are on this site already, including one, Autumn Comes (PDF), that just went up this week.

As for the rest, all the unpublished poems, I’ve been worrying how to handle them. At first I was going through them, posting a few on the blog portion of this website. A friend, a former professor friend to both of us, suggested I should collect the best into a book, some sort of curatorial process towards an Opus Posthumous. The problem with that is that though I know these poems are not all of equal quality or interest–they couldn’t be–I find for the most part I fail at viewing them critically. So in lieu of editing and arranging my current plan is to post almost everything in the Chronology section I’ve added to this site. Getting that done will take a while; afterwards perhaps I, or someone, can think about something else.

I wish I could say I’m doing this for her, a nice thought, as though she could care now: as I’ve said before, my main reason for doing this is so that I have her poems available to me wherever I am, and secondarily so that someone else might appreciate them as well.


Address me I said,
feeling unseen
by my male peers,
and he kissed me
on the cheek.
Quick. Right now.
I’m desperate,
I said.
And he kissed me
on the cheek.


Keyboard (Sarai’s 9/11 poem)

A keyboard,
a Raggedy Ann doll,
a clock.
Two days I watched,
the first without interruption
except for what
biology required.
The second cleaning
house with the t.v.
the only thing I
could concentrate
Sick from watching,
my head swelling
from images,
firefighter #9468,
few people telling
the real truth,
of body parts
or if they did,
edited for our delicate
The doctor who siad
what you see on t.v.
is nothing to what
the devastation
The man who saw
thirty to forty people
Two days I watched
bootleg footage
of freelancers who went
where they weren’t
supposed to go.
Long, slow close-ups –
all I could make out
a keyboard,
a Raggedy Ann,
a clock.



There is no point
in going to the doctor
with trifles,
the stress will do
more damage
than any cure
might do good.
If I collapse
on the floor
with a heart
give me an aspirin
and take me
to the hospital.
If I break a leg
I’ll probably
have to go.
If all my hair
falls out
take me to
the doctor.
If there is one
hair left,
until it drops.



Biting cold,
rain close by.
People imagine
this doesn’t happen
in California.
The result of successful advertising.
The same ads that always
scared me,
beaches littered
with bare flesh.
I could not fathom
being in such a crowd.
It has kept me away
from rock concerts
and New York City,
especially Times Square
at New Year’s.
And European travel
that necessitates
tour buses.
I have an aversion to groups,
always say I am not
a pack animal.
I like room
to move around
Need air
and space
and quiet
to know what
I am thinking,
the right
to sit down
and stare
without intervention.



It has to do with the basket,
the kind the lady of the manor
in the Scottish Highlands
carries to her garden
to pick herbs.
Low and flat.
Different from the one
I try to make do with,
the wide stereotypical
basket ladies use to pick
flowers in magazines or films.
I go out with mine,
hoping for a purity of moment
which eludes me
the quality which has no name,
with which we build our lives.
Woven into hand made things,
smoothed in the hand thrown bowl.
It comes from the hands,
it’s how we give back to ourselves.


white iris

The white iris blooms
against the white fence,
wasted, as I am
today. Unsettled by
the unexpected chill
in the air.
Cocooned in the sticky
silence that comes with
being a ghost
in your own life.



Cold this morning
heater on,
porch light still at 8:18 a.m.
being careless with energy.
I slept late, compensating
for wake-ups,
and your snoring
which I tried to cuddle out
of you, pressing close to
your warm back.
Letting my own spot turn
I’ve done that a lot lately.
Too much of that in my life.
Neglecting my own patch
because someone else
is injured or traveling
or sad, or just plain bad.
Weeds grown up.
Muscles flaccid from lack of
dreams forgotten on scraps of paper.
My desk a foreign territory
I once traveled.



Bring me a different history,
a past that doesn’t continue
to rot today, a bad apple
at the bottom of the bowl.
A mother who smiled when
I was born, and daily thereafter.
A father who could praise
as well as criticize.
Friends who didn’t lie or betray,
or throw me over for someone else
like last year’s doll.
Boyfriends who didn’t use and abuse.
Husbands who weren’t indifferent,
children who knew I too was born.



All that spring I waited
for mail,
riding the city bus for hours
each way to class, then work
and home again to the dreary
apartment where I lived then.
I waited for mail from
out of town friends and
men who didn’t know I was
I waited for mail from another
town or state that said
there might yet be another
chance to live the life
I had intended.

Wild mustard bloomed
in every empty lot across town,
a gift of the rains that flooded
the streets the month before.
I wore a mustard-colored skirt
and sandals that wrapped around
my ankles in my usual custom
of overly wearing the thing
that seems right for the time.

I listened to Blood on the Tracks
and tried to write failed lyrics,
rolling pennies to send applications
for schools that wouldn’t accept me,
a complete waste of time,
but I didn’t know that then.
That’s the problem with all our
solicitations we send out in the
mail, the futility is only apparent
in retrospect.

I waited for a new beginning
and longing to root
without realizing that I already was.

All that spring I waited for mail
walking across town to the p.o. box
all I had then of my own.
that I was.
Remembering /thinking of Faulkner’s
last walk in April, a woman much
younger than himself the last foolish
thing he longed to fling himself at
but she wouldn’t have him. All that spring I waited for mail
that never came.