The Choice

The best of dancers ruined by a host

of other loves that to the heart may call.

Some choices must be made or not at all.

The dance too brief ; the song may end for most

and fly away from splendor of romance.

Crescendo reached and still the dance she owns.

Life is too short to settle, oh, for less.

Eshoo the heart; don’t make the dreadful choice!

Her soul now hovers.  Grief is like a plow

that pushes every goal to here and now.


(Was watching the Movie, “The Red Shoes” when I wrote this.  The agony of being forced to make a choice between two over-whelming loves can drive one mad.)

Settled in Alabama

 Halloween 1942-1(the author, Jackie, far right, at age depicted in poem)

Settled in Alabama

We plant ourselves in hard, red clay out back.
A dusty game of Jacks we champion
but near mid-morning, turn, as hungry birds
and stand outside our granny’s country store.
We shuffle dirty, bare feet; outstretched hands:
Six howling worshipers at open door
and hanker for an Orange Crush, Moon Pie.

Her checkered oil cloth table later swells:
the smell of steaming, hand-tilled butter-beans.
Her cornfield grows up to the railroad track.
Fried chicken was a staple from her hens
who cluck and peck, roam ’bout without a pen.

I marvel how they simply fed us all.
So many children, grand, with gaping mouth.
No Social nor Security is known;
your option is to work or else you starve.

Late afternoon, we run the mile of road
to meet the city bus brings Granddad home.
And we, his soldiers marching happily
we settle in behind him, spirit free.


“My Quicksilver Life”

The cue ball’s measured tap now makes its move.
Yet man predicts but seconds in its fate.
Like life, quicksilver hearts are not defined.
Tomorrow’s rain, a non-conclusive clime.
If Chaos rules our days , accept his ways
as juggled plates, airborne with jostling hands.
Accepting Now is where we are sublime.

If Science can predict but seconds, four,
then why should we pretend to conquer more?

(Prompt: use ‘Quicksilver’ in exactly 66 word piece.)

 woman puppet  th

“The Gladiator”


Epitome of male stupidity

when warriors wage they have control as thus:

He stands, alone,  amidst bloodthirsty Roman crowd.

Our hero waits to see what will emerge.

His metal mail, his honed and sharpened sword

no defense for his host behind the door.

A buzzing crowd of bees he best explore

than meet this group of ladies he’ll implore;

his harried HAREM full of female views.

“The Hoarders”


We’re tripping at the thrift store before lunch.

Compulsion is a noisy swarm of geese.

We wear the surgeon’s mask to stop the dust.

We’re rescue angels wearing pale, pink gloves.

A Louis Vuitton leather purse; a gown

for fifty cents.  An old Mark Twain is found.

A ghostly pall hangs over all debris;

their carted carcass soon to burning hell.

We’re mourning hoarders called to love again.IMG_000344_edited-2photo:Michael Bartlett

“What is the Time, Please?”


“What Is the Time, Please?”

We’re here so our time is Now.

Our dreams,  fleet-footed as the stars,

race across the universal swirl

and form a figure-eight,  return to open space

where there’s no future nor a past.

We’re left in sacred pause

to whirling, endless


Where Have All the Flowers Gone? (42 word poem)

Rose photo by Michael Bartlett.(photo by Michael Bartlett)

“Where Have all the Flowers Gone?”

Eighty blossoms
crushed in a Ukraine field.
Early budding heads now
suckle in a sea of mud.
Eighty children, burnished, bled
in a meadow. Their little leaves now shed
burnt away by the madness
of man and war…gone…
all gone away.

(of the 298 aboard Malaysia Airlines, 80 were children)

“Back Seat Baby”

“Back Seat Baby”

It was the perfect day; sun-shiny bright.
My baby in his car seat takes a nap.
Our day is glowing; not a cloud in sight.
The traffic on the interstate, a snap.

I park and in the elevator dream
of visions: his first birthday party planned.
My morning rushes short or so it seems.
Lunch quickly comes and then a meeting manned.

The day sped on in one quick noisy leap.
The elevator’s homeward clunk the same.
My car key slides to chambers it will keep
as I behold the sight,  tears blind my shame.

A terror like ten thousand dying hearts
and not a sound did Jimmy make to part.

(This poem prompted by a news story.  So many forgotten babies found dead in the backseat of a hot car!  Tip:  put your cell phone in the back seat with the baby as you go to work.)

“The Goodbye Clown”

MVC-005SPhoto by Jacqueline Casey

“The Goodbye Clown”

It tolls; the old town clock is winding down.
It’s time to leave the party; say goodbye.
He’s played the fool and knows he’s but a clown
but fantasies go deep and so he sighs:

“Time’s granted me another twenty-four,”
to ghost who sits in silence at the bar.
“I’m granted power for a world in need.
So, what do you think people ache most for?”

“There’s power in some money, that’s for sure,”
(the barkeep gently nods at old tip jar).

“But dollar’s hapless in so short a space.
I’d rather give a power frees all doubt:
man shown the mystery of Universe
so, for a time, a God we humans be.”

“That’s well and good if there’s no memory,”
says barkeep, shining up another glass.

The old man stumbles; he prepares to go.
He thinks he’s Bogie, playing roles in life.
He’s lonely; haunts the bars for his Bacall.
She’s blonde and does not look like his ex-wife.

“Hey, better that you go before you fall!”

Our barkeep opens creaking door to vent

the scent of smoke and conversation stale.
A pale and misty rain the morning’s sent.
His client nods; a cabby’s promptly hailed.

In blazing light, he mumbles out the door.

He knows the party’s over half past four.