My Favorite Place – My Living Room
Meditation on a Shell
My little shell so gray and plain
You sit there immobile and flat
But if you should get drowned by rain
You won’t be bothered by that.
You’re like my family, I think
We may not look like much
But even if to the depths we sink
Each others’ lives we touch.
My little shell, you are a Sanddollar
And I smile at your name
I think of two red, one white, and one black collar For my doggies’ breed name is the same.
Underneath, in your middle
You have an orange glow
Although at first you can’t see it, like a riddle It’s still there, I know.
You have five points, my Sanddollar shell Like a cartoon star You’re as much as we make you, so I’ll make you well So you will go far.
You’re so round and small
You fit in the palm of my hand
Like the world, you will fall
If those who control reduce you to sand.
Your slits which I can see through
Are like five teensy windows
I see a little of what’s inside, it’s true But the majority- nobody knows.
My little shell, so gray and plain
The rest might leave you lying
Although amongst the shells, you might be the bane I’m proud to call you mine.
Writing on a Theme
I don’t draw for others, at heart. I like to have a purpose, and so I set my mind on my family and I set my pen on my paper. But in the end if I weren’t inclined to drag that pen over that paper everyday there would be no drag. In the end it is not the fact that there is a paper at my desk, and I am at my desk, and that I happen to have a pen in my hand that drives me to draw. It is that when the lines come together, and I look at the product, and I see the picture, and I see what I have done by my own hand and my own time I have no greater urge than to continue on.
And so, by my efforts my drawing will not be lonely. It will have brothers and sisters and cousins and aunts and when the next day comes I’ll not stop for no one. I’ll put that pen in my hand once again.
Some people pretend because they don’t like what’s real, like pouring bubble bath soap over a grimy body and thinking when you get out of the tub you’ll actually be clean. But my pretending wasn’t like that. Mine was because what’s real already was clean so when I opened the soap bottle, it was just to enhance the aroma and not to mask the stench. My bubbles were those children blew out through straws, not those that were resting there, waiting to be burst. I wasn’t like Jean Arthur, movie star of the 1930s, who said “I guess I wanted to be an actress because I didn’t want to be myself.” I didn’t want to run from myself, I wanted to add to it. I was born a simple bowl you would craft out of clay, and as I grew, my parents slipped and scored a handle and a lid and a spout to me so I was more elaborate than a bowl, I was a teapot. But then I added two little circles on either side of the spout for eyes and two flaps behind those for ears, and four stumps underneath myself so before you know it, I was an elephant. And my parents fired me to harden my surface, so should I get chipped out there in the big bad world, I could come home and put on some glaze and not just sit pretty up on some high shelf, but dance along the spinning potter’s wheel, and frolic under the waterfall sinks and squish upon the sponges. All it would take is a little imagination. A little play-acting and pretending with our parents and our toys, running from the playroom to the platform in the stairs, to the “back 40.”
I was six years old when we moved into our house. The big room downstairs was designated to be Daddy’s office, and we were supposed to get a corner of it for our toys and playing. But as far back as I can remember we’ve always called that room the playroom, because before you know it, we had the room and Daddy had the corner. The far corner- as far away from the door as possible, so that to get a lick of work done at all he’d have to wade through Barbies and marbles and plastic foods and blocks and lots and lots of dress-up. For that playroom housed lots of play. We would run circles round that room, tearing everything off the shelves, and place them in piles on the floor. We’d shred paper into squares and scrawl prices and products on these scraps, and then place the scraps atop the piles. And there we’d have our store. We had little plastic baskets and one we would force in Mama’s hand, and the other into Daddy’s, and they would be our customers, along with the stuffed toys, of course. And then over near the window, coming off from the short table, we’d construct our impressive scene. We’d sit on the floor and balance our blocks into a rickety bridge coming off from the table and a foot off the floor. The floor would be lava or water, burbling or rushing dangerously below, and our plastic farm animals- the pig family, the goat mother and her kids, and the horses and cows and maybe a chicken here or there would all be running from some threat on the “land,” forced out onto the bridge- but little did they know that we would soon remove a block here, or a ramp there, and cause a terribly exciting passage to occur. I don’t think they ever got to the other side. We could play this from one meal to the next, and after have that we’d have to clean up the mess. You see, our bridge made an effective blockade across the small space Daddy had to enter and exit his office area. It was like a puppy stretched in the doorway, asking for even more attention than it had already begot.
Then there were times when we wouldn’t be ourselves and the stairs would serve as a spy mission base or a classroom or a hill. When our parents were choosing a house we told them we wanted stairs with a platform in the middle of it, and we used that platform. We would pull all our dolls and all our stuffed bears and dogs and cats off of our shelves, and seat them on the stairs going up, like bleachers. We would be the teachers, and we would reenact what had happened that day- it usually involved quite a lot of yelling. Our second grade teacher had no sense of humor. Our stuffed toys would respond to our lecturing and try to focus on learning whatever garbage we were throwing at them. We got little Top Secret Adventures packages from Spider magazine, with cards of suspects and maps of the world and booklets and passports of different countries. We would bring our dog, Winnie, and our red baseball caps, and Ziploc bags with “evidence” in them, and set off trying to discover who the criminal was. And then the stairs would be that hill between the little house and the fields of the prairie, for we would be the Ingalls family living in the “Little House in the Prairie.” Lacey would be Laura, and I would be Mary, and one of our dolls would be Carrie. We would braid our hair and put on our pioneer petticoats and bonnets that our Mama sewed for us. Mama was usually cooking at the time, whether before lunch or dinner, and so she would be in the kitchen upstairs. Daddy was usually working in his office downstairs, and so we’d shove a wooden tool in his hand and a fedora hat on his head and he would be Pa, working with his sickle in the fields. Then we’d run upstairs to go see Ma in the kitchen, cooking dinner, with “Carrie” propped up on a chair. We would smell the tomato-y spaghetti sauce of freshly cooked meat, and we’d pick up the doll and feel our soft, cotton baby clothes on her hard plastic body. “Laura and Mary” play did not necessarily go away when a meal came. More than one time Mama had to tell us, “You need to be Emily and Lacey now,” before we could taste the hot and delicious food. We were like chameleons who had become too accustomed to our camouflage colors. This play also extended to the “back 40.”
The “back 40” is what we call the yard to the left of my house, looking down the mountain. The “point” is the right side, and the macadamia trees with nuts and rats and chickens underneath its leaves stretches between the two sides. Now the “back 40” is a clear area, laboriously cleared off all its clutter of wattle and cactus and all sorts of mostly unwanted plants. This is thanks to my Daddy, since hopefully my sister and I will be able to build our houses there some day. But back when I was little it was a woods. There is “the cabin” at the bottom of the incline, which was built to be a garage, but we use as a storage room for yard tools, old toys, and too-large unusable items. The neighbor’s yard borders the “back 40” and they used to have horses (now they have goats.) The clomps of the horse hooves sent us running to grab raw carrots from our refrigerator. What with the “woods” and the cabin and the horses we were all set to play pioneer girls. Or we could play Star Trek and run around our “foreign planet” and tell Scotty to beam us up if we found no intelligent life (the U.S.S Enterprise was a tree on the other side of the house) or we could play we were The Lord of the Rings rangers or elves, or we played spies or criminals casing the joint. We had a suitable-for-every-pretend-environment yard.
If I think back to all the different rooms of my house and parts of my yard and my driveway and even places that aren’t anywhere near my home, I can think of all the different games I played with my sister and sometimes my parents, and sometimes even my pets. Our cat, Tigger, might be baby Heidi in the Swiss mountains, or our dog, Winnie, might be the robber who stole the jewels. We made cardboard clubhouses, and set up elaborate towns or Disneyland on our road map carpet, and played Harry Potter wizards – Swish! Flick!– and made battles between our two Playmobil pirate ships, which sometimes encountered our electric train. I could have talked about playing The Lion King or Star Wars with our cousin, or playing “The Food Game”- an occupying oustanding outside chase game that Lacey and I created- with our twin friends from Holland. But I chose the playroom and stairs and “back 40” because I remember the largest variety of games in those areas- the largest variation in where our imaginations took us. We were inventors of games and actors of our own interpretations of stories. I feel that my childhood was filled activity because my parents taught me from a very young age not to rely on being entertained, but how to entertain myself. And I have, just by being imaginative. When I blow bubbles out of a straw I am blowing out ideas and who knows how they will take form- as an elephant constructed out of clay, as a character from a tale, or as anything you- that is, I- can imagine.
How to Be a Conservative on Maui
Pull up a chair and open your window. You will notice it’s very dark.
Listen to what the people to your left are saying.
Close your window.
Look to your right and find a rainbow.
Go to the end of the rainbow and find your values. Note: It is hard work to find the end of a rainbow, but there is a pot fo gold at the end of it. Your pot of gold will smile at you. Smile back.
Analyze your values. They will be founded on the idea of equal opportunity, since everyone had an equal shot at the rainbow, but not equal outcomes since it was your hard work that got you the gold.
Bring your gold back to your wall and sit in your chair, facing to right.
Listen to what the people to your right are saying.
Become confused. You can’t hear anything. Look and see that everyone around is on the left side of the wall.
Go back to your rainbow, but do not stop. Continue on till you reach the sun. You will see there are people there. Listen to what they say. Become enlightened.
Begin the long trek back to your wall. You live very far from the dispelling-darkness-and-rain sun.
Compare what you have heard.
Use your newfound values to understand why the right is right.
Hang an American flag, a gun, and a bible, in most cases, on your wall.
Open your door and invite the left in. Tell them where the rainbow is, but do not allow them to take your pot of gold. Instruct them so that they can obtain not only one pot, but multiple pots if they are willing to work for them.
Do not close the door on the left. Now they can hear the other side too.
Success, love, happiness, or maybe even more
I’d reach for the sun, and my fingers would close
And would it fit in my palm, do you suppose?
I’ll tell you the moon’s as big as your thumbnail
So the sun’s not much bigger, and that’s no tall tale
And my grasp would be strong as I squeezed the sun
I would not stop till it went dark and was done
Little streams of light would pour between my fingers
Not even a drop, upon my flesh, lingers
I’d collect it all in a lemonade jug
And onto my driveway a table I”d lug
I’d put up a sign saying “Sunlight for Sale”
But it wouldn’t be a gyp and I wouldn’t go to jail
Because my proposition is fair, you see
A glass of sunlight for a shred of decency.
There once was a place called Tenalp
Found ‘kneath my skull and my scalp
I made it with sis
But I’ll tell you this
To get there you would need help.
There once was a duck in Seattle
And with it I did do battle
I brought it some bread
“I’m not hungry,” It said
But I won’t listen to prattle.
The Words Have Always Been in Me
The words have always been in me
But they just aren’t where others can see And although I tried to make it so I’ve decided perhaps that’s not the way to go.
I wrote with my sister with a drive
For publication we did strive
And although this career I still aspire to My immediate goal is something new.
It takes only so many rejections before
You stop thinking you work for more
And so I look inside and see our book
As our baby, at which only we can look.
At Story’s End
Your brother’s dead.
Honey and Bread
It’s only just
Your brother’s dead
And turned to dust.
It’s only just-
He killed the Reds
And turned to dust
It’s on your heads.
He killed the Reds
Poisoned us all
It’s on your heads
Thanks for his fall.
Poisoned us all
Evil was bred
Thanks for his fall
“Destroy,” you said.
Evil was bred
An ear do lend-
“Destroy,” you said
At story’s end.