In the writing room right now ...

In the writing room right now ... I am working on book #3 in the Winds of Freedom series, a teen adventure series set in the 1850s in North Danville, Vermont. My 1852 Vermont adventure THIS ARDENT FLAME is scheduled for June 2021 publication with Five Star/Cengage -- I will give you updates and early order information as soon as I know! I'm also writing a memoir; revising a mystery; in the midst of a novel about a grandmother and her granddaughter; and always writing poems. Yes, I guess I do like multi-tasking! How about you?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Welcome to April: National Poetry Month

Strawberry plants are waking up!
After the April Fooling of the morning is done, it's a great day to sign up for receiving a strong poem in the e-mail mailbox each day this week, thanks to the Knopf publishing group, which is featuring work by Jack Gilbert today (perhaps all month?). Click here and enjoy!

Here's one of mine, a "sequence" made from poems that I wrote to place on plants I contributed for a local fund-raising plant sale. See if you can figure out what the plants were ...


My mother gave me one of these:
“for your first apartment,” she said
(graciously forgetting the student one)
and tagging the plant with both
my name and his: “For the Two of You.”
Its green stems cascaded from her old
blue teapot, chipped at the spout.
In a corner of the bare kitchen
it pretended that I could keep house.
No harder to pretend the realms of “wife”
than to forget the quarrels overheard,
all those years in my mother’s home:
time, like the green cuttings,
transferred to the next generation.


This one will grow: In spite of neglect,
and all the better if you forget it sometimes,
it will multiply in stems and leaves and strands
assuring you that all your mistakes
are forgivable by someone, somewhere.
You can even share it – take cuttings,
set them jauntily in a jar of water,
see them sprout roots. Your best friend
will always remember: This is the one
you gave to her, saying, “Now we are
sisters, now we are twins. Love always.”


These happy faces, purple and gold, will spread
without attention – you only need to set them gently
into a bed that’s not too crowded, read to them
a short and kind story, give some water
(not too much). Then walk away, read a book,
have a summer life – by the last page,
they will have seeded themselves
into another season. Rejoice! Unlike children,
they ask little, need nothing, except
your permission.


This plant needs a strong vertical space
and a little support: It can’t be trimmed
because its life depends on standing tall.
Years ago, my girlfriend gave it to me,
warning me: “The nickname is …
mother-in-law’s tongue!” Sharp, deliberate,
as if a spouse’s mother always came
with resentments. I was lucky: Mine were
happy to see me take over, giving me
favorite recipes, old photos, ways to love
their boys. But now, I confess, I’ve had
my share, and this tall plant (which loves
a dim corner) needs a new home. Is there
room for her in your collection? She promises
never to speak too loudly, and always
to thank you, for taking her in.


If you have a very wet spot in the yard
here is your candidate to correct the situation:
a willow, not the weeping sort, but
quick-growing, happily rooting in puddles,
soaking up the overflow and holding even a slope
in place. Expect spring “pussy-toes” at the tips
of the growing twigs. Believe it or not,
five years from now this tree will stand
six feet tall or more, bushy, green, glorious,
a summer adornment. Aren’t you lucky?
Only G-d could have an idea this good.


Summer! Bare skin, sweat, sun on your shoulder:
that’s why this ardent cluster of mint
is meant for the June garden, sprouting
into the hot afternoons ahead. Make iced tea,
squeeze lemons, stir up iced pitchers of
relief – and set a sprig of mint in every glass.
How to plant it? Choose a cool, shady place
where there’s room to spread, and let it grow.
Like the morning after a headache,
it feels so good. It smells so good. It grows,
like a weed, exuberant and hardy. Life is hard.
But mint is easy. Thank goodness,
something finally rewards us just for


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