Imperfect Words (a poem)







If I ever lose you,
words will rush to comfort,
but no one—
will know—
what to say.

Even I.

my usual source—
of relief—
will rush forward—
stop at the gate—
I stood—

with you.

Better to write the sad words now,
while we can read them—

You think it’s crazy?

how we’ve shared

Could it be otherwise?

And think—
if I go first.

Find your silence
standing with mine.
Hold it—
let it hold you.

find these words

read them,
correct them,
enjoy them,
as you always have,
while you sip
our favorite tea.

Take them with you,
see them, hold them,
on a printed page—

hold it, fold it,
over and over

and see,
whenever you open it,
the words—our words—
still there.

You may write onto the margins,
write onto the back,
then wish you hadn’t changed a thing—
wasn’t that our life?

Whatever lines
we write,
you know,
can’t make us ready
for what comes

In Case of Earthquake,
How to Prepare—

No guide is ever enough—

for quake—
or especially—

gentle falling—

of sprinkled

From the poetry collection “Memory, Knowing, Belonging”.

Note for a Student

I wrote this for a college student who was about to leave for medical school.  When she told me how she shares it with other students, I decided to share it here.

As you continue on your road of accomplishments, remember that the ones who love and appreciate you are not cheering for where you are on the road, but for you. You.

When things get hard, please don’t add heartache to it by thinking or feeling that you must never be tired or weary. You are allowed to pause to catch your breath. May there always be a fresh breeze for you when you need it.

May you always take care of your essential self—the one that knows you for who you are and have always been.

Take care not only of your challenges, but of your self who depends on you to take care.

We celebrate your enthusiasm and zest for life.

We look forward!

With affection.


Blue (haiku)


Blue dragonfly—where?

I only saw its shadow.

How did I see blue?



Explanation in 5-7-5:

Our minds fill the blanks—

what we think we really know,

saw and heard and felt.





Strike a chord . . . 

or pluck a line of strings . . .

you’ll find you’re touching more than chords—
an accord within that sings.



Piano was my first instrument—the one I wanted to play, perhaps with a hope that I would somehow gain rank with my older sisters who were seven and eight years ahead of me.  There seemed to be no physical way to close that gap unless, perhaps, I learned this instrument and its “Rosetta Stone” notation.

Fortunately, I had another motivation. My mother introduced me to that artful pleasure of  “playing by ear” before I could read musical notes. She also had a collection of LPs (long-playing record albums) that included classical piano by Rachmaninoff, original Broadway cast recordings, and jazz vocalists such as Frank Sinatra.

I now appreciate with near awe how she turned our “little house on the prairie” into a cultural oasis that included reading, calligraphy, pen and ink art, and painting.

When it comes to music, I  think the most important instrument she introduced me to was my ear.  Throughout my education it was said I had a “good ear”, but thanks to my mother, I also learned  an attitude of approaching efforts with love, not reproaching efforts with judgment of perfection. 

It made learning new instruments (and by extension, life) a happier pursuit, undaunted by fear of falling short. Though I spent years in disciplined practice of piano, flute and bassoon which included playing before judges, my inner judge, like my kind mother, never wavered in compassion.

Like a school mate that one may lose track of when life moves on,  I lost track of an instrument that I’d worked hard to master—the bassoon.  I had only had access to one while playing in band and orchestra, a period that ended after college. I wonder if I could play it still. I wonder if, like a foreign language, I’d pick it up again if I tried.

Other things changed with time. The keyboard I now play is not the acoustic piano, but a digital instrument. I am now rusty at writing  musical notation which used to come almost as easy as writing thank you notes.  Software built into keyboard RAM, can now, to great extent, do that musical transcription.

Guitar used to go everywhere with me—even on airplanes. It was my instrument of choice when I set off for college, leaving the piano behind in my parents house. My flute came along too, but I then realized I needed more than a melodic instrument.

I used to tune my guitar in unique ways to prompt me into finding unusual chords. Just listening to the chords gave me a physical and psychological boost. I could almost feel—and still do—something happening in my brain when I explore chords. I can well understand how music was employed in hospitals of Andalusia to help with both physical and mental healing.

Aside from the healing aspects of listening, it seems that holding an instrument has added benefit.  As I hold either my guitar or Celtic harp, the sound waves find their way through the wood and into my own emotional grain. I learned this a few years ago when I was tuning my harp. I found that even in the tuning itself, I found tremendous relief (is that the word?).   It was as if I was tuning my own resonance—to something beyond music.






Power of suggestion


Look at an image by itself*,  then hear or read a word.  Does it change how you see, think of or feel the picture? How you think of or feel the word? 

Read a word by itself, then attach an image.  Does it change anything?


When a weekly photo challenge suggests a prompting word or concept, I notice how it alters the way I see my surroundings during that week.  The way I composed this shot, for example, was likely influenced by the prompt word contrasts.  If the word had been something else, would I have photographed this scene? Would I have even noticed it?


When you look at this picture, what examples of contrast  come to mind? **




Considering the power of suggestion, I can only hope that you surround yourself, as often as possible, with the kind of words and images that  brighten and enrich your day.      



*Do we ever really see an image  “by itself”?
What happens  in the mind when a word and image contrast?

**Here are a few contrasts I was able to name:  immovable, flexible . . . man made, nature made . . . fixed, growing.




“Happy” to play along

“Happy”, a 2013 song was an international event where participants from 143 countries uploaded more than 1,600 homemade videos of  people playfully miming along.  See the interactive map!  There’s also a 24-video of people in LA moving to its melody hour-by-hour around the clock.

Last week’s writing challenge invited us to rewrite lyrics to the tune of any known song. While Happy, the original, is already as playful as can be, it (and those who submitted their lighthearted videos) inspired me to play around with its lyrics.  

If you know the basic melody, I recommend playing the instrumental only to accompany as you read or sing along.

      [Verse 1:]
It may seem odd what I’m ‘bout to say . . .
I’m inviting you to get away . . .
Don’t need a ticket to an aeroplane . . .
‘Cuz you got your heart, your brain, and anyway . . .

You got it!

Come along if you feel you can reach up to the skies
see, you got it!
Come along if you feel you can see with your heart and eyes
see, you got it!
Come along if you feel there’s more to realize
see, you got it!
Come along if you feel that you are bound to rise!

[Verse 2:]
You’ll find out soon—no need to travel far . . .
Feel it all around, right where you are . . .
You will probably see it like the first time . . .
Like a travelin’ soul with a new rhyme . . .

Take a look and—


Take a look—in front of you
Take a look—and see it too
Take a look—another point of view
Take a look—what’s up to you
Take a look—and follow though
Take a look—what you say and do
Take a look—what you thought you knew
Take a look—and you can see it!

[Chorus 2X]

Take a look—in front of you
Take a look—and see it too
Take a look—another point of view
Take a look—it’s up to you!

[Chorus 2X]


. . .

[Alternate verse:]
There’s more to you than you think you are . . .
Show a little love and you’ll see you are . . .
Look again, see a lot—right where you are.

See, ya got it!

. . .

A happiness-related link

Note: parody is protected by fair use law—one can change the lyric to any song in the world. As a songwriter myself, I wonder how it would feel to hear a song “re-imagined”.  I guess it would depend!  All that aside, if any artist requests that I remove a parody I’ve posted on this blog, I will do so.

Contrast and commonality

Variations on noticing and naming the between


Delicate wears lace of pollen-speckled petals.
It speaks with a voice that also listens.
It hears the pauses that address the heart and the rain yet to come,
the sun-seeking cloud and the cloud-seeking sun.
It offers relieving shade and dappled sunlight,
and knows which season is right for the moment.
It finds comfort in like company,
yet grows in any weather and endures the wind.
It barely notes its fallen petals, but sees its store of life to come—
pollen, seed, and roots holding strong.



Inspired by an image of fallen rose petals  posted in response to “Delicate“. . . and by  a telephone call with a longtime friend, Michele.


In the flow . . .

Between seeing and knowing

An illusory walkway  between.

A partial view, cropped by the photographer, can evoke an altered response,
an illusory sense,
a walk between two structures: seeing and knowing,

a sense of truth, forgetting what’s outside the margins,
a sense of  “I saw, therefore it is  (as I saw)”
a sense there’s no need to look again
or think.



Note: also posted at “See Diving”

Pedestrian Turn Signal?

Spare Tires

An “I Feel Pretty” Twist

This week’s writing challenge  suggests rewriting lyrics to the tune of a known song.

Do you know the song I Feel Pretty ?*  Try this variation (with a twist ending):


I feel grumpy, oh so grumpy,
I feel grumpy and frumpy and frayed,
Humpty Dumpty would not dare
to sit with me today!

I feel tired, oh so tired,
uninspired, how tired I feel!
And so grumpy
that I hardly can believe I’m real.

See that funny face in the mirror there.
Who can that unhappy one be?
Such a sullen face,
such a grumpy face
such a tired face,
such a tired me!

It’s amazing, just amazing
how I manage to manage at all!
While so grumpy, it’s no wonder
that I’m tired now!

It’s amazing, how I do it,
I must credit myself with a smile!
And reward me with a nap I haven’t had for awhile.

See that gentle face in the mirror there.
Take another look and be kind.
Kinder with the eyes,
kinder with the heart
kinder with the mind
kinder with the life!

I feel better,
oh so better,
it’s impressive how rested I feel!
I must say, it’s a pretty wonderful day!


* lyrics written to the melody “I Feel Pretty” (YouTube link posted above). Note:  like The Sound of Music‘s  “My Favorite Things” this song was sung by Julie Andrews.


A commuter’s lyric of favorite things

This week’s writing challenge  suggests rewriting lyrics to the tune of a known song.

Lyrics?  That happens to be one of my favorite things!*

Will anyone find  their inner hum (and smile) as they read  this?


Roads with no traffic jam,
green lights all waiting,
five minutes early,
no bad news or rating,

cool bottled water
from high mountain spring,
good to remember a favorite thing!

People who greet me
without any reason,
flowers that pop up
before they’re in season,

warm soapy showers
that get me to sing,
good to remember a favorite thing!

Driving back home with
the sun on my shoulder,
tired from work, but
not feeling much older,

car lights a-sparkling
like jewels on a string,
good to remember a favorite thing!

When the cars honk—
when the plan fails—
when I’m falling behind—
I simply remember a favorite thing
and then I can rest my mind!

* lyrics written to the melody “My Favorite Things” (YouTube link posted above)


Adjoining rooms

Not the whole story

While this photo may tell a story, it seems to also ask “What led up to this?”  or “What happened next?” I will never know the whole story of this man I spotted at the end of a trail leading to a Pacific Ocean outlook.

Though a picture may tell a story (of a thousand words) . . . we only know part of it.


“Who knows? We shall see” is a phrase repeated in an old story (told countless ways) to illustrate how every event is part of a larger whole.  


Tribute to Maya Angelou (a poem)

A rose by any other alphabet . . .

would smell as sweet.



A rose by any other name would smell as sweet” from William Shakespeare‘s play Romeo and Juliet,
where Juliet argues that the names of things do not matter, only what things “are”.    

“rose” pronounced “wardah” in Arabic
hint: read right to left 



response to “letters


The letters of music’s alphabet . . .

from “C” to shining “C”


Before I learned my ABC’s I learned this “alphabet” on my piano.
Music is a language that with only a few letters has told countless stories.


response to “letters

Free printable piano diagram for students and teachers: here.








From cloud cover of memory they fly—
wings, formations, direction—
how complete the moment feels!
Oh, to express it clearly—words spoken sharply
like the flap of wings!

For a moment they seem held aloft as if pausing,
yet in motion, like breath—

photographed in December 2013. Bay Area, CA.



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