Sunday, December 03, 2017

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Batman Works for the CIA

Mother recently told me about a childhood friend,
A boy I’d played Caped Crusader with
Nearly everyday after kindergarten.
I was Robin to his Batman.

At his house we wore towels for capes, and
Were actually permitted to jump from
Sofa to coffee table to chair in pursuit of
The Joker or, my favorite, the Penguin.

At mine, our capes were mimed as a
Backyard plum tree provided the obstacle
To climb, dodge, and drop from as we narrowly
Escaped injury in time for PB&Js dunked in milk.

Our mothers kept in touch through the years
As we moved about the country,
She and her husband still in that cozy northern
Ohio home a block or two from our first house.

“Apparently he works for the CIA now,” Mother said.
Since learning this news, I’ve envied him. At first for
Becoming what I’d only ever dreamed of. But as I grow older,
I am jealous he can return home to a place he knows well.

My family continued to move, finally depositing me
In a New England college town like sediment left  
Behind by an iceberg on its travels; the rest 
Eventually migrated to Southern California.

In the year before he grew ill, Dad was accompanied
Everywhere he went by a new security guard. Mother
Would complain that the guard was eating with them
Again and sleeping in their guest room again.

The guard even traveled with Dad to his new
Destination of China and places around the region.
We wondered why Mother was no longer invited
To journey with him as she had so many times while

He visited the English plants that he managed from
This side of the pond, the German manufacturers with
Which he often did business, and his Italian relatives
With whom he was pleased to finally become acquainted.

None of us knew why he was suddenly sending us selfies 
From the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, yet saying 
Little about his new Far East adventures other than they 
Were equipment-purchasing forays from retired mills.  

In an office desk drawer, which Mother thought
Was jammed as, upon his death she cleaned out
His personal effects, and which my brother
Successfully jimmied open, was a handgun.

“He was a decent shot,” said the guard who
Suddenly darkened the threshold, there
To retrieve the weapon. But we knew
Dad could not possibly have been. After all,

We’d seen him shoot his 22, balancing the butt of
The gun in his armpit as he used a hand to cover
His eye and the other to pull the trigger because
He couldn’t blink. How could he possibly sight a pistol?

Apparently he’d been trained to work around his
Odd handicap. He’d had to learn for his own
Protection. Not even an undercover CIA operative
Posing as the new head of security could protect

My father twenty-four-seven from the 
Hit that had been placed upon his head 
By a foreign government. Perhaps all his
Training had been for naught after all.

When he suddenly fell ill with stage-four 
Cancer—dying five months later—he often 
Said cryptically that it probably wasn’t 
Natural causes that got him in the end.

Dad had been spying for Congress. Foreign steel had
Flooded the marketplace, purchased illegally by unscrupulous
Businessmen who dared blame their shady dealings on legal
Loopholes that allowed them the luxury to shun domestic steel.

A contingent from a country south of north had allegedly taken a
Contract out on my father. Either they or natural causes—
Or perhaps all those chemicals he’d been exposed to over
The years—got him before he could deliver his expert testimony.

He’d spent many more than Malcolm Gladwell’s ten
Thousand hours earning his reputation for greatness
In the wire mills of the world, and could easily identify shifty
From legal, frugal from dangerous, and strong from fragile.

He also knew how to recognize working mills from
Reportedly retired ones, which may have been the
Final nail in his coffin—
Or cancerous tumor in his spine.

My father had worked undercover with the CIA
As a super-secret agent for our government,
Giving me yet another reason to admire him.
I wondered if he and my kindergarten Batman

Ever worked together, feeling a sudden pang of
Jealousy if they had. But as time continues on,
What I most envy is that my childhood friend is 
Still able to return home and visit with his father.


Thursday, November 30, 2017

Dad of Steel

This morning as I fill and flip an
omelet, spread probiotics over the
dogs' breakfasts, measure chicken for
my husband's lunch, I half watch a
public television travel show host tour
the country ruled by a government that
years ago took a hit out on my dad.

That is one place I'll never go, I think.
Until he ends with a celebration of
Buddha's birthday and a chance meeting
with the American ambassador and his
dog out for a stroll and breakfast supplied
by the myriad of street vendors.

My father's slight against that country's
leaders was recognizing a trade
imbalance; they were dumping illegal
steel into the American marketplace.
Hired by our government to spy,
trained and protected by an agent
of the CIA, my father instead
succumbed to an aggressive cancer.

Within a few months of its discovery,
he was gone. Once in conversation with
my mother he apparently hinted at the origin
of his illness--wondering if it was natural
or planted, while also recognizing it may
have simply been the multitude of chemicals
his professional life was built around.

In our current age of political madness with
a commander in chief who, during a debate
with the other party's candidate, bragged
about using illegal foreign steel to construct
some of his buildings, I now understand
how money drives maniacal power.

And I wonder if my father's death was
a convenient coincidence for the foreign
powers, or a plotted timeline that cut him
down before his scheduled expert
testimony before congress.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas without the ha$$le

For Christmas this year,
Our family has decided to
Exchange handmade gifts.

Spices neatly wrapped,
A cake freshly baked,
A poem, a picture, a whittled spoon.

It doesn't matter the form,
Only that we are together
Making memories and sharing love.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017


Soup has always
for me been a starter
to a meal,
not the meal itself.

Older now,
and a wee bit wiser,
I eat soup
as a complete meal.

This morning it is breakfast,
ham and artichoke hearts in
thinned Thanksgiving gravy,
the perfect starter to my day.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Discounting Time

Today I could unfurl my sails
and surf the net, lonely,
in and out of waves of storefronts
boasting 10 percent off this, 25 percent
off that, buy one/get one, or land a
free phone with a two-year contract.

Today only.

If only today I could open our front door
to the rush of friends and relatives who
blew in Thanksgiving afternoon; our
King Arthur table stretched to an oval
with five leaves that held all the
boisterous rollicking of the pop-up
party as we laughed over stories,
debated the politics of slavery, and
read aloud notes of gratitude penned
in green on beige paper hand cutouts.

Then only.

If stores could then only offer us 25 percent
more time together, instead of tempting us
with stuff to buy and give, that's a cyber
deal I could jump on and ride; instead of
these cyber Monday blues, today we might
again cook together, swap recipes, hike the
local trails with our canine friends, and play
the silly games we had planned to, but for
which time ran out before the night was done.

If only.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Keeping Up With

I'm not sure I can do this--
Write a novel.
And yet I know I can.

Pen to paper.
Fingers to keys.
Plod forward, trying to keep up with my characters.

Wait. What did he just say to her?
What would he say?
Who is that approaching?
And now a dog is in their lives?

The story fascinates the storyteller.
It better.
If not, it won't entertain anyone at all.

On writing a novel.
Daily meditation writing
after penning a portion
of Chapter Twelve
in my current novel,
Fermi's Redux. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Happiness Found

I pray for help detaching from my ego
Asking that I no longer have an ego;
Let go of my ego becomes my new mantra.

I say it when I wake,
     When I take my first sip of coffee,
     When I shower,
     When I brush my teeth,
     When I drive.

Let go of my ego,
     Let go of my ego,
          Let go of my ego.

It becomes a rhythmic intonation
     Keeping time with the breaks in concrete
     Along the road beneath my tires.

Let go of my ego.

And all the while I also
Pray for help with this,
     As my heart fills with love,
     My mind and body relax,
     And I discover true peace.

For happiness springs from within.

Today's meditative writing was inspired by readings from

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Dear Woman Who Handles My Billing

I am disappointed I lost my insurance appeal and that I now face having to pay out of pocket for my mammogram and accompanying tests, which I believe should have been covered. Indeed, it's what IS covered in other civilized countries where healthcare is a right and not constrained by the for-profit insurance companies.

I wish that your breast care imaging center helped its patients get better insurance coverage. How horrible that once the nightmare of a lump is detected, the patient suddenly becomes responsible for the hundreds of dollars to diagnose it, never mind the thousands to fulfill their astronomical deductible if they are unfortunate to need treatment.

At the very least I had hoped that your center, the insurer, and I could work out a split bill where the insurer would pay for the usual and customary procedures in an annual mammogram, and I would cover the costs of the extra imaging for the lump. But as you pointed out, the billing cannot be split. 

I don't understand why not. This all-or-nothing categorizing as diagnostic vs. preventative discourages women from contacting their doctors when a lump is found. I would have been better off financially keeping quiet and calling to schedule my annual mammogram. I wonder how many women weigh the risks of waiting an extra couple months for a routine mammogram that is covered at zero cost to the patient as per the ACA guidelines versus reporting finding a lump in their breast, knowing that to do so will mean they'll need to pay for the images, tests, and visit.

And how ironic that I should be researching this problem of insurance companies and breast centers across the country during October—National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Side note to those readers who are concerned:
My lump turned out to be nothing more than
a fibrous formation, which is a typical growth in my body. 
Today I logged in online and paid what I could split between two credit cards. About this time next month I will pay another $200, and so on until the entire $814.55 bill is paid. I hope this good faith effort will keep your center from turning my account over to a collection agency. 

In the meantime, I shall also contact Consumer Services at the state's Insurance Department to double check that I really have no other option in this case. 

Thank you for your time.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Oh, Health Insurance, You Skanky Muse

The outrageously high prices of health insurance and how little our insurance policy actually covers is what keeps me up nights, as you can see in this six-column chronicle I penned this morning. Once again my health insurance company has hijacked my sleep and my time that could be spent on writing my novel. This afternoon I will be working on my official consumer complaint to the state's Insurance Department.

How's your health insurance? Share your experience in my informal anonymous Health Insurance Costs Survey:

Thanks to Natalie Goldberg's six-word memoir assignment in her book The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language that inspired the shape and form of today's post.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

A brazen attempt at blazon poetry

Reading Natalie Goldberg's books serve as my daily writing prompts. A couple days ago I read about Blazon poetry in her book The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language and naturally attempted my own. Goldberg suggested penning a list, an ode to something or someone you love. It's a fun exercise no matter what you think of my own scrawling, a snippet of which I am sharing here. Give it a whirl; you may find yourself addicted to the process!

A Blazon to Summer

Days of insomnia.
Light pools an immense lake.
Morning explodes in chirps.
Days linger; a lover remaining close.
Flowers a frock.
Grass slippers.
Moss socks.
Snake play toy.
Sun bath.
Lawn mower cicadas.
Crickets evening symphony.
Herons statue heralds.
Bees gossiping neighbors.
Dogs synchronized to the sun,
We sleep no more.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Surveying the costs of health insurance

I am currently fighting three health insurers, trying to get them to cover basic healthcare costs, including what is supposed to be covered under the ACA. Am now taking it to the next level. After meeting briefly with a health insurance advocate at New Hampshire's insurance department, I am in the process of filing official complaints with the state.

Meanwhile, I'm wondering if others are drowning in health insurance and medical bills--from ridiculously high premiums to astronomical deductibles, never mind the rising costs of co-pays. Therefore, I've created a brief Health Insurance Costs Survey and hope you'll follow the link to complete it and add your voice to what I consider a national crisis.

If you're outraged or even a bit peeved, please also consider contacting your elected officials. It's time to get them listening to us and our needs, rather than to the interests of health lobbyists and rich corporate donors from the country's medical industries. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Penning the six-word memoir

This year I've plunged into a practice of daily meditative writing. Or mostly daily. I embarked on this new journey one day as I was cleaning off my bookshelves, leaving my adjunct professor years behind while welcoming my new life as a writer. And occasionally teaching artist, especially now that I've been added to the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts roster.

While weeding through my vast collection of books, setting aside those I was certain I'd no longer need, I removed Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg. Later, sitting to read Pema Chodron and take some time to reflect and meditate, I noticed a book spine with the Shambhala Publications logo. Those who already know Goldberg's work and that of Chodron will know my instant excitement. I picked up the book, opened, and began reading. In that instant an entire new world of writing and meditating possibilities opened up to me.

I am onto a second book of Goldberg's now: The True Secret of Writing: Connecting Life with Language. In it yesterday I read about the six-word memoir.
Created at
Instantly intrigued, I grabbed my notebook, made grids, and wrote several. It's a fun word play that I used again today, penning: The bite of fresh ginger tea. It may not be revolutionary, but it was what I was thinking as I brewed green tea with fresh ginger for my husband this morning. I've not been a green tea aficionado, but have recently begun to develop a taste for it, so long as there is that sharp edge of fresh ginger root to spice up a warm cup or a glass of it cold.

As you can see from my graphic, I ended up expanding on the six-word concept until I had a handful of lines that together formed a memoir. It's a slice of who I am and who I'm becoming as I grow in my daily spiritual practice. I gladly share it with you, and invite you to try the six-word art form. I also recommend you consider launching your own daily meditative writing practice.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Together You Can Accomplish All

An angelic message of loving and compassionate guidance in troubling times of overwhelming lower-vibrational energy among the country's leaders.

This morning I sat down to my daily meditative writing and decided to reach out to my angels. What follows are my thoughts and questions (indicated within << and >>) and the answers I received through my head and pen. Yes, I wrote this out longhand, as has become my custom. A return to simpler times. And a nod to Natalie Goldberg’s advice—fill an inexpensive spiral-bound notebook a month. Or at least attempt to do so.

<< Angel write? Guides? Is anyone wanting to reach out now? With advice perhaps? Guidance? Wisdom from a higher plane? Ok, I have a question: How do we help ourselves maintain a higher vibration? AND: Is keeping a higher vibration akin to being more positive in general? >>

You can feel us filling your heart right now, can’t you? We’re helping to lift you to that higher plane you seek. Yes, we’ll slow down slightly. We’re sorry you’re sluggish. And that you’ve been down and depressed—in the dumps—lately. We are here to help you. Let us. Breathe in deeply. Breathe out slowly. Just be. And this will allow us to enter in, lift you up, join you, and help you through this troubling time.

Yes, it is disturbing to us too how a few very wealthy by earth, lower-vibrational standards can control so much of your government and thereby have dominance over your lives. All your lives. We don’t just mean you and your family, whose insurance and medical bills are deeply troubling not only to you, but to us too, and to your departed family members. That this is true for countless others in your country too is deeply disturbing and troubling to us all.

—Please be sure to share this with anyone who would stop by your blog.—

Your leader is working on an ego-based lower-vibrational field, which is impeding his ability to lead. Unfortunately, most of your elected officials, and by extension their appointees, are working under this negative energy force. They are guided as so many of you suspect by greed, which of course is an ego-driven concept. They accept great sums of money from unscrupulous agencies and agents—people living their lives in fear, within the lower vibration orbit. Thereby, they are absorbing this negative energy and transferring it among each other and to not only the American people, but to the world.

Yes, we will slow down again. It is urgent you and others get this message disbursed. It is why we continually speed up.

Also, we need to say to you: Trust us. We will and we are providing the words. You are very good to settle in and allow us this venue to speak to you and to others. You wanted to insert “hopefully” there. The hope is yours. We know you to be a gifted writer. Your words will be read by more than only your mom, your family, and friends. Your friends here on this side are asking us to relay to you now that they believe in your abilities as a writer—most always have. Okay. Back to our day’s message:

We are deeply concerned by the constant attempts to push down those among you who would rise up in solidarity and ask for, nay demand, what is yours/should be yours as a birthright. Free medical care—not so much free, but provided for nationally—is paramount to a loving, caring, and compassionate society.

<< Is there no compassion? >>

There is limited compassion among your elected and appointed officials. Too many are operating out of a place of fear and mistrust. Truth is the first casualty of war and of democracy in this case, in your country. Your leaders—most of them—are lying to you all, to the American voters, to the citizens.

Black Lives Matter. This is another failure of your country’s leaders. Unfortunately, this is a deep-rooted fear that reaches back to the dark times of slavery. European societies operated for so long in a feudal state that the aristocrats too easily bought into the notion that people who looked or talked or worshipped or lived differently than themselves were to be treated with utmost fear, contempt, hatred, and greed.

It is time for those of you discontented with racial ignorance, fear, hate, and greed to first pray, meditate, and/or become quiet in whatever manner is comfortable to you and to seek to lift to the higher vibration where you will see good in all people, even those who live in the lower vibration of the ego-driven world.

Then you must march. Not just for a weekend but for as long as it takes. Shut down Washington if you have to. It’s so malfunctioning now that little change will be seen. At first. Sit in as long as it takes. Each of you take on tasks you are comfortable with. Those who can cater and cook should feed the masses. Those who can sew and knit and crochet should clothe or warm the masses. Those who can sing or chant should raise your voices. Those who can write should pen the messages everywhere you can. Those who can fund the movement should contribute to a general fund. Those who can organize should do so.

<< What should our demands be? >>

Healthcare for all. If that’s Medicare, then so be it. Stop funding the megalopoly that is the American medical industry—it is literally killing tens of thousands every year.

<< Is it? >>

You are yourself more sick lately as a result of your oppressive medical bills and your insurance companies’ (yes, plural; we know you are fighting three corporate giants presently) refusal to pay bills they are or should be required to cover. You are not alone. Countless others are becoming more ill due to the stress of trying to pay their medical bills.

It is time for the American people—all American people, regardless of race, denomination, party loyalty,  etc.—to rise up, or sit down as it were, and not move until Senator Bernie Sanders is heard and respected and permitted to work with others uncorrupted by ego, the corporate giants, and the oligarchy, in order to fashion a Medicare for all that will take effect immediately. There should be no four-year phase in. This should have been done and dusted after World War II. And again in the 1960s and early 70s. And anytime since.

Let fear be no man or woman’s friend. Or guide.

Rise together and you all will not only begin to fix the ills that plague your country, but you will also raise the vibrations of others.

Do this out of love. And a desire to seek truth. See the light in all beings and it will be accomplished together.

<< When should we get up and go home? >>

That is not an easy question to answer. We mentioned Black Lives Matter. And that is next on the agenda, alongside environmental concerns and worries, and infrastructure.

<< That seems a lot to do. >>

There is much that needs tending if your country—and the world—is to survive.

<< You speak of North Korea? >>

And of your leader. He is not well. And he operates out of fear and a great concern for his own ego at the expense—great expense!—of everyone around him, your country, and the world. He needs your prayers. There are too many who would see him fail and burn in Hell. But that is not our way. He needs to be lifted up. To be loved. And forgiven. But your country also needs him to step aside or, more likely, be escorted aside by legal action.

Unfortunately, those who come up behind him also act out of fear-based lower vibrations. They seek to stamp out all we would stand for. It is their own fear of being voted out of office should they not do as their highest donors bid. They know someone else will gladly do this bidding in their stead.

<< So we should work on campaign finance law? >>

Yes. And term limits. But it is not our intent to completely overhaul your entire government.

<< That’s all we’ve talked of today. >>

It is on your mind. It is keeping you up at night. What was your first thought this morning when you awoke for the final time?

<< I wondered if we’d entered WWIII overnight. >>

Your concern was and is shared by many. This is why your current leader needs to be escorted out of office now. His ego-based fears may drive him to a corner where his actions may bring ruin and devastation to all.

<< Is this a certainty? If he stays? >>

We cannot predict the future. We can only help those who ask for our love and support. We are now busy helping many the world over with this concern, with the worries of healthcare in your country, and with the ravages of what you call Mother Nature and of cruel regimes everywhere.

We are happy to be of service, but we cannot alone help those who operate at a lower-vibrational, ego-based fear. They need assistance, which is why we propose a nationwide sit-in. Not just your country’s capitol, but in each state’s too. And in major commerce and finance districts. At the docks and shipping lanes. At transportation hubs. Shut down the country for a day or two, a week or more, if necessary, until two things are done immediately:
     1. Medicare for all is passed as law
     2. Your current president is escorted out of office

<< These things usually take longer than a few days or a couple weeks, I think. >>

That is the old way. A stymied congress. Representatives and senators loyal to a rich few. Make them see you’re not going to take it any more. Yes, as the song says.

Stop now please. Type this up and publish it. Today please.

<< Okay. Thank you. >>

Thank you.