All grown up…

christmas scrabbles bokeh photography

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on

These days I buy gift cards

And tuck them into little tin boxes

Or little gift bags that hang on the tree


I used to shop and shop

For toys and books and clothes

And wrap them with paper and bows


The tension and excitement

Was felt throughout the house

As decorations crept into every space


Christmas music was sung

Almost before the turkey was done

And the first snow was a celebration


Now I watch the snowflakes fall

And hope they make it home

After all the eggnog and apple pie.


Then I tuck myself in bed

Next to Santa’s warm bulk

And listen to the silence of the house.

jee 12.2018

“Just take a couple of Tylenol”

sorry, i can’t go today, i have a migraine

“Just take a couple of Tylenol,  you’ll be fine in a bit.”

no, not a headache, a migraine, tylenol won’t help with this

“Why do you always have to cancel out of our plans because of a headache? We’ve been planning on going to this since last month and now you have a headache. Just take something for it and let’s get going.”

no, I don’t have anything i can take for this, nothing helps it, i have to go lay down in a dark room and stay still and quiet for the rest of the day, sorry

“You’re always sorry, but that doesn’t help. Now I’ll have to see if I can find someone else to go with me or I’ll have to go by myself. Thanks! Well, you have a grand old time with your headache, you and your dark room!”

yes, it’s a lot of fun lying here in my dark room with my head pounding away like a balloon that’s too big to fit inside trying to get out, and my stomach trying to come back up my throat, and chills that are so cold that even the heat of this summer day can’t reach me and my bones ache

i lay as still as i can so that the dizziness doesn’t take over and make my whole world spin until all i can see is gray

i try to drift into sleep and hope that the doorbell doesn’t ring or my phone doesn’t buzz or i don’t get any texts, it would be painful to hear the sound and too much effort to answer the call of the outside world, my world has shrunk to just me and my pain under the cocoon i have created with the duvet, my cat curled at my side adding her heat to my tiny space and keeping the frost away

i have found a status quo that seems almost bearable as long as no one disturbs it, fragile as a snowflake before sunrise on a windowpane, where the slightest change will tip the scales of my equilibrium

jee 9.2018



Habits, Hobbies, and Heirlooms

Spring is here.

We all start thinking about getting back to our pastimes.

Some think about turning over their gardens,

putting in plants, and watching them grow.

Others get out the tent and gear.

They check maps for new places to explore.

Some make sure the power is turned on at the cabin or cottage,

so as soon as it warms enough the family can get away.

Still, others make the call to schedule the water for the pool

and to make sure the swimsuits still fit.

While I check the list of photo requests

and make sure I have directions to each cemetery on my list.

Check to make sure I have as much information on dates of death

and other family members noted on my list.

Spring is here.

And you’ll find me lurking around the oldest sections

of the local graveyards with my camera.

Taking pictures of crumbling stones and searching out family plots

so someone far away can add to their family story.

To search out the next branch on the family tree

or just to add to the pictures of heirlooms in the old album.


Cat’s Eyes

Early this morning they were just open a little bit

and looked quite orange to me.

When breakfast was being discussed,

they were wide open and bright copper.

Just now, she jumped at me from behind the couch

and they were very yellow with black slits.

And as she settles down in the sun for a nap,

one blink shows very green eyes.



63 minutes and counting.

I try not to look again.

I try not to think about the time.

I try to make my body relax,

Instead, it tenses from head to toe.


I feel the cat uncurl and stretch,

The unique stretch that all cats do,

One Halloween stretch, then around in a circle

And back down in the same place.

How is it that she can sleep again

While I lay here counting the minutes?


How many more minutes have passed since last I looked?

Do I dare look? 10, 20, 30?

I need to relax and shut off my mind

Instead,. my head keeps working

I’m writing poetry without paper

Instead of writing dreams in my sleep.


I have to shut it off, but it doesn’t work that way

When it needs to shut down,

It goes into overdrive.

I’m too tired to stay awake,

But can’t seem to slumber.

Another 15 minutes pass?


I know I can’t stay awake all night reading

Or writing

So why can’t I slip into somnambulance?

That’s just a fancy word for sleep

Just a way to distract me from still being awake,

To keep me from screaming

Into my shrinking skull-

The one with the burning eyes-

Yeah, the one that’s too tired to still be sitting here awake-

The one that wants sleep more than anything.


The cat slumbers

The husband slumbers

The neighborhood slumbers

So why am I still looking at the minutes ticking over?

How do I take out the batteries and shut it down?

Where is the off button?

jee 4.2018

Root and Branch

cropped birth certificate

My eyes burn and the clock ticks,

and still, I cannot find the right little baby named, Harriet.

I don’t even know if I have the right mother,

and still, I search for this elusive little girl with one or two “t”s.

And I already have five James,

who could be her father, her brother, or her son.

And when once I have narrowed it down

to the proper Harriet,

the one with the proper number of children,

with just the proper names,

I will work on another branch.

Or is it a root? Heavens, I sound like a gardener!

Next, I’ll be pruning, watering, and fertilizing things.

Watching to see things grow.

Digging up things that have died.

No, no time for that.

I’m off to rescue fair Joanna,

a Coffin born, yet buried a Knight.

Not for lack of trying mind, I was bound and determined

she would be a Lunt,

but no, not our fair Joanna.

And did it in style with eleven children,

almost all of them boys to go into the Navy.

So, what next? Walk through another cemetery?

Check on that date of death?

Or should I switch to something really challenging,

and go looking for lost Uncle Harry

in Florida? Texas? ??

no pain..

I woke and paused to send a thread of thought out.

No pressure.  No squeezing.  No stabbing or throbbing.

No pain..   I hesitated to move for fear it would sneak up on me

as it had been doing for the past eight days.

Finding me in my weakest moments.

Just when I thought I might be free.

This time it seemed to be gone,

really gone.

Not just waiting for me to make the wrong move and set off

more pain..

that would send me back under the covers,

into the dark and quiet womb of my bedcovers.

Back to search for numbing blackness

with just the top of my head sticking out of the pile

to keep my head cool

to keep my head from overheating and exploding again.

Perhaps I could attempt to sit up – to see

if today I might be free from its grip.

I gently pushed back the covers and pushed myself up.

Tentatively taking in a breath of air, testing my limits.

A small stretch.

And then a bigger one to get out the kinks in my shoulders

from hunching under covers for so long.

Just to sit and blink at the morning light,

and listen to the morning birdsong

with no flinching or cringing. No pain..