A Very Mary Variation 

A Golden Shovel poem using a line from Mary Oliver’s “The World I Live In” – “only if there are angels in your head will you ever possibly see one”


only one child matters 

if death is imminent and

there is no other voice allowed? 

are you honoring her others? 

angels appear as demons and vice-versa

in the surreal fog of illness, and

your chosen one is no angel whose

head is not thinking with heart, who

will not allow a taste of sugar or drugged slumber;

you perpetuate her suffering – have you 

ever stopped and considered that quite 

possibly her hell is not about your getting to 

see fleeting glimpses of her former self from a cage of 


one cancerous regret can later overtake 

10/4 – Over and Out


A Very Mary Variation
A Golden Shovel poem and a right angle poem written with a prayer on every next numbered word of each line, using a line from “When Death Comes” by Mary Oliver: “I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world,” after many prayers. 10/4, over and out. 
10/4 – Over and Out 

don’t pray for death, but I
want for the life here 
to have a merciful hand easing her suffering to the
end without the crying. Lord, take her home –
up to Heaven when nightfall comes-
simply wrap her in your embrace for the journey,
having the promised place you’ve prepared for my mother-in-law a room
visited often by those there now who were Heaven-bound from
this sick world and already know Heaven’s joys. My mother-in-law did your work in this 
world and is your good and faithful servant. Call her today, Lord, I pray. Amen.

Final Hours


A Very Mary Variation

A Golden Shovel poem taken from a line of “Flare” – 

“the voice of the child crying out of the mouth of the grown woman is a misery and a disappointment” where each word in this line starts a new line in an expanded poem inspired by this original line

Final Hours of a Family

The one who would silence the 

voice of all others in the care decisions 

of a loved one is 

the very reason her own 

child resents his mother for the endless 

crying she allows his grandmother and seeks his way 

out from under her overbearing control 

of his life and new marriage as 

the end of an era draws near, the 

mouth of a grandmother now mute

of a grandfather now muted 

the family once held strong now shattered by a 

grown spoiled child who is anything but the 

woman her mother would be proud of 

is anything but a family leader seeking unity – is 

a destroyer-  a wrecking ball who allows her mother’s misery day after day after day 

and refuses comfort measures for 

a loving mother who always comforted her;  what a disappointment and a shameful ironic twist of an ending

A World Gone Wrong

 A Very Mary Variation 

A Golden Shovel poem taken from a line of “At the River Clarion” by Mary Oliver – I pray for the desperate world. 

A World Gone Wrong

I tremble at the revelations unfolding,

pray for a nation in turmoil- 

for a world in peril as 

the nations, their races, their churches, their own families – 

desperate for healing, suffer on in a 

world gone wrong



A Very Mary Oliver Variation

Golden Shovel poem taken from a line of  “To Begin With, The Sweet Grass” –  You have a life- just imagine that!


you need a smile to

have a chance to make

a new friend, to enjoy

life and all its joys- 

just sharing that sparkle of acceptance:

imagine the possibilities 

that can bloom! 



A Very Mary Oliver Variation

A Golden Shovel poem from “This Morning” line: their eyes haven’t yet opened, they know nothing about the sky that’s waiting

their hatred festers

eyes squinting at all who 

haven’t silver spoons

yet picked cotton, paved roads

opened new realms for all-

they believe they are supreme who

know it all yet 

nothing of the sacrifice, nothing

about the blood, sweat, tears, nothing about

the faces not in their own mirrors

sky gazing faces overlooking their own wake of destruction:

that’s the toxic mindset

waiting to poison future generations

Her Death


A Mary Oliver Fibonacci Sequence Poem taken from borrowed lines 

Her Death 



to ask

when death comes

the prayers that are made

the way plovers cry goodbye

fortify me, take away my hunger for answers

Borrowed lines taken from these poems, in order:

“The Egret”

“The Egret”

“Snow Geese”

“When Death Comes”


“We Should Be Well Prepared”



 A Very Mary Oliver Variation – a Golden Shovel poem formed from a vertically written line of first words in “Some Herons” – the poet’s eyes flared just as a poet’s eyes are said to do when the poet is awakened from the forest of meditation


the treasures of a 

poet’s world are journals and pens and 

eyes that see the world differently –

flared ideas that ignite the soul 

just as a fire in winter blazes – 

as words are cast freely across the open page 

a burning idea born of a 

poet’s feverish script from 

eyes that have seen what no one else has seen and 

are painting the pictures of memory 

said to be the one hope 

to change the world – to 

do exactly what disciples and prophets and diviners do 

when three-dimensional truths appear vividly in 

the ordinary creases of life and the 

poet takes notice – 

is suddenly gifted with a magical eye of revelation 

awakened to the past, the present, the future 

from an unknowing trance 

the way the 

forest must feel when it recognizes the intricate beauty

of one single leaf in its quiet 


Hoarding: A Mental Illness

The New Yorker December 15, 2014 “Let It Go”

are we becoming a nation of hoarders whose houses reek with a stench of old, rotting stuff?

Joan Acocella’s mother’s hoarding habits are symptomatic of dementia 

for example, storing dishes in cabinets in other rooms because kitchen cabinets are used for other stuff 

before her death, she favored disposable food containers over the food in them – for storing small stuff 

when children clean stuff out, parents feel grief and anger and eagerness to fill the newly vacated space with new stuff

but children clean stuff so no one can come in and ask that their parents be moved to a nursing home – a strong possibility for their own health and safety

2013 – American Psychiatric Association declared storage habits a diagnostic feature of a mental illness  called HD – hoarding disorder 

HD is “a persistent difficulty in discarding possessions regardless of their actual value to the point where the person’s accumulated things congest living areas and impede their intended use” 

commonly hoarded stuff includes books and magazines, and hoarders tend to be energetic collectors of “valuable stuff”

who refuse to let go of stuff  they have and exemplify Freud’s anal character 

hoarding stuff presents a major threat to public health 

1993 – Frost and Graves wrote an article entitled “Behavior Research and Therapy” and in 2010 Frost and Steketee Hattie wrote “Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things” 

Sandra Felton founded Messies Anonymous patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous as a therapy for eliminating clutter –

which she says is “if not an actual sin, a failure of self understanding” 

repulsive cases of real-life people Homer and Langley Collyer  and Big Edie and Little Edie Beale of Bouvier fame  

led to TV shows such as “Hoarders” which ran six seasons on A&E in 2013 and “Hoarding: Buried Alive” on TLC in 2010 

I imagine these shows were like those horrendous zit-popping videos – so gross one can’t help being sucked in to the madness and be driven to clean candle-burning minimalism 



Bonefish Birthday

Beautiful Ansley Claire 

third of my octane trio 


27 on 9/24/2020

in Macon, Georgia

to celebrate 

at Bonefish Grill

a server brings 

free bang bang shrimp 

and later

cabernet wine 

imperial cod

salad with citrus vinaigrette 

whipped potatoes steamed asparagus 

and creme brûlée for her (Mimi’s favorite) 

Papa calls as food is served 

brother and sister have texted and 

her dad has called

a big pink bag 

with tissue paper 

and a pink ribbon 

holds a

Vera Bradley travel bag Green Willow 

Silky Legs

shaving soap  and 

spending cash in a card 

but all the best is being together 

chatting of life and plans and dreams 

of a Colorado wedding 

and kittens 

and walls we live in 

Happy Birthday, 

           Ansley Claire!