Mother never drank
or smoked cigarettes
wore flowered print dresses
her slip often showed.
Stepping from choir loft to pulpit
she joined Daddy in duets
and with a voice as jagged as Kitty Wells’
sang of green pastures
lions lying down
with lambs—fought off
the honky-tonk angels
and cheating hearts hiding
in her low tones, kept sin
and pride at bay—but not her desire.
Sheepishly, eyes askance
she slipped a hand in her bodice
tugged her bra strap into place.
Ghost Riders in the Sky
Words opened our Chevy, pierced
with possibilities. Daddy sang along
with the Sons of the Pioneers
as we crossed the Black Warrior bridge.
I saw those tortured beasts
red-eyed cows in the devil’s herd
that roamed Indian mesas and died
doomed to forever roll the heavens
cattle possessed by spirits of cowboys
punished for unrepentance, banished
to stampeding herds. Daddy and I
didn’t talk much, but music bound us—
He shall feed His flock and plain hymns
such as We’re marching to Zion.
Did Daddy see what I saw?
Did he repent? Mourn?
At our usual diner the tinny jukebox
played Buddy Holly’s Come along
and be my party doll. I dropped in a quarter
to hear it six more times
singing along all by myself.
I was in private practice as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist for many years—first in Manhattan, and then suburban New Jersey and Chatham, New York. I have participated in workshops at the New York State Writers Institute and the Millay Society. My poems have appeared in such journals as Naugatuck River Review, Windfall, Chronogram, The Literary Gazette, Backstreet, Zephyrs, and Java Wednesdays (anthology chapbook of my Albany poetry group). I self-published Dreaming Barranquilla (Troy Book Makers) in 2009. My chapbook, Tuscaloosa Bypass, was published by Finishing Line Press in April, 2012. I have served as literature chair at the Roe Jan Community Library for the past 2 ½ years. It has been a great pleasure to establish a vibrant poetry program for National Poetry Month in my community.