The Music of Silence


The Ethiopian government bombed a kindergarten in Mekelle, the capitol of Tigray, August 26, 2022.









Is there ever silence in war

How do you find silence

With bombs falling from the sky

There is no silence in gunfire

No silence as tanks and artillery

Rumble through the streets

How could there be

In chaos only noise exists


How can children grow

With no silent midnights to sleep in

Who thinks about children

When planning a war

Who remembers what it feels like to be a child


Oh     if I could

I would buy my own country

Gather the children

Like a bouquet of flowers

And give them the music of silence

For there is silence in birdsong

There is silence when wind blows

And the leaves on trees dance

There is silence as a brook

Meanders down a mountain

Over rocks

There is silence in their own


I would say to the children


Listen to the universe

Listen to it silently move through

The hours of a day

Through the sweet silence of the night

And take this silence

Put it into yourselves

And there you will live

In Peace

-Winter 2000
*repost from Thunder from the Mountains

Cricket Music


Note from the poet:

This poem was written in honor of my beloved husband, Stephen, on his 87th birthday. Stephen knows how much I love hearing the crickets, and so calls me to an open window to hear what I call Cricket Music, as the sky darkens and night is falling.



And the sound of its

Beautiful rhythm

Repeats     repeats     repeats

The same sound

I heard when I was a child

At Grandmother’s

Rented summer house

In a suburb of


We called The Country

The same song

Same rhythm

Repeating     repeating     repeating

The mysteries of mysterious


Melting into the rhythm

And the voices I heard


As one voice

I hear now

Singing one certain


Over and over and over



Come to this open


My dear man calls to


It is the time between

Day and Night

When the sky loses


Out the open window

I hear them

His gift for me

The beautiful rhythm

Of their song

Repeating     repeating


-August 6, 2022

What Did You Say?








What did you say?

I cannot hear you


Turn the volume up

On the TV

Cannot hear what anyone is saying


Never mind commercials


It is called

Sudden Hearing Loss

Suddenly my left ear

Was like


Far off sounds

Filtered through

Crazy     weird


But the hearing


Did not lie


There was     indeed

Sudden Hearing Loss

In my left ear


Well     okay

Things could be a lot

Worse    a lot


photo credit

What is Wrong with You





Tigray     of Northern Ethiopia
Ukraine     borders Russia

They have become the background of
My hours
That seep into my
Hover over my

What is wrong with
Abiy Ahmed
Vladimir Putin

I have deposited you
On the scrolls of
That haunt memories

Millennium to millennium

Your bombs   your tanks
Your soldiers
Willing to follow your
To destroy     Life
As every woman  man

And child
Once Lived it

What is wrong
With you
What cancer
Devours the essence of your

-April 18, 2022









Grandmother is old, she is frail

I am one-hundred years

She says, though only ninety-seven

Her fingers trace patterns on the lap robe

And she watches as they move

To the right, to the left

I am nervous, she says

I am nervous

Then her hands lie open

On her thighs

Palms touching the blue wool

She lifts them up, then down

Slowly, again and again

I sit in a chair

Close to the one that enfolds her

Cover her hands with mind

And feel the flutter of her nerves

Like a thousand butterflies

That struggle for release

From their cocoons










*Written 1982, from 2001’s Poet’s are the bravest.

With Nana










In a memory of childhood

She leans over my bed

She lifts the blanket cover

And puts her hand between the sheets


Flutters her fingers in the darkness

Where I sleep at the bottom


It is Wednesday

The nurse has half-day out

Nana comes to wake me from

My nap

Pulls up the window shades

Sees the place near my pillow

Where I tear the wallpaper

Off the wall

Says nothing


The peacocks

At the Lincoln Park Zoo


I cover my ears with my hands

To muffle the noise

She takes peanuts from a paper bag

Holds one in her fingers

Between the iron bars

And waits

The ducks come to snap the peanut

From her fingers

Like the cook jabs potatoes

With a fork for baking


She says I may have a peanut

To feed the ducks

Holds the paper bag open for me

But I am afraid to put my fingers through

The iron rails of the fence

She laughs


Don’t be a goosie

They won’t bite


It is Wednesday afternoon

At the Lincoln Park Zoo

She wears a woolen suit

And ruffled blouse

Her gray hair under a feathered hat

I remember the feel of her cotton glove

In my hand

And the sound of her shoes

On the pavement










*Written 1982, from 2001’s Poet’s are the bravest.

A Paris Play








I’m going to tell you the story

Of my coming home to Paris

Where I’ve never been before

In this life


This I remember

It begins with rain

We dance with it over Le Pont Saint-Michel

Gray clouds hide me from Le Louvre


The truth is certain places nudge my soul

I grab at them too lightly to hold on

This one slides down my gullet before I can hold it back

I feel the passion of recognition explode


Dina is with me in this play

She leads me down an alley in the Latin Quarter

We are on the left bank of the fourteenth century

A white dog scratches at the door

Of our hotel


On the way, I gather faces from the lights of shops

From chairs in cafés, from flower stalls

Arranged on lips of narrow streets

I gather voices, the sound of words, language

Feet on cobblestones, the late afternoon air

On my cheeks

Pull them into my mind as fishermen

Haul nets full of fish onto sand


It is the first hour I am here

A man runs to a gendarme on the corner

Waves his arms, points his finger

Disappears with the gendarme down our alley

We are on the left bank in the fourteenth century

A white dog is scratching at the door

Of our hotel


Daughter, let the bathwater run

She is not a child to be bathed by her mother

Her childhood recedes again

She is a woman like myself

It is she who has brought me to this city


A blue slate roof lies across from our beds

Stone walls below it so close

We could brush them with a long handled broom

We are taking off our clothes

The bathwater runs

It is time to draw the blue flowered curtains

I go to the window and look down


Center stage directly below

An archway leads into the old apartment house

Under the glue slate roof across from our beds

The gendarme is there

Then four, ten, twelve gendarmes

Dark uniforms, box caps, visors hiding eyes

They talk in twos

Split, regroup, talk in threes

Gallop, canter, ride on bicycles

Into our alley, up to the archway

Twenty, thirty, forty gendarmes


Now comes their leader

He wears a black suit

Orders gendarmes through the archway

Orders them around on the street

Orders a passage cleared

An ambulance creeps into the alley

Comes to a stop

A stretcher rolls through the archway

I am stuck to the window

A magnet against a brass pot

Can’t move

Dina’s bathwater laps around her body

I hear it behind me

A man in a loose, white jacket

Parks his bicycle behind the ambulance

Walks slowly through the arch

I slam the blue flowered curtains shut

She is too young to witness this death


On my knees under the window dipping into my suitcase

It is my turn for a bath

She runs the water for me. It rushes

Into the tub. I won’t look at the ground

I promise myself I won’t look

We talk about summer in Aix-en-Provence

The lake at Annecy, spring wine

But it is too late for me, I can’t help myself

I look out again, I look down

I look right into this face Jesus Christ God Almighty

I look at him


He is the color of dust

He is wrapped in orange plastic

He wears a red stripe under his chin

He is put into the ambulance

He is taken away

He is very young and my love for him

Finds its place in my soul

Dina comes out of the bathroom

Hot water is ready for me

In our hotel room

Life goes on


Awake in the middle of the night

Empty streets, quiet after a storm

This is Paris, entangled in my guts

Beloved as a child at my breast

Music that weeps deep inside of me

Touches my heart, lightly, lightly

This is the story of coming home

To a place I’ve never been before

Dina is with me

Once again

*Written 1986, from Poets are the bravest, 2001
Photos of our favorite Paris Hotel: Hotel du vieux Paris









Jenny’s pot

Needs a rescue

From the high shelf

On the turquoise bookcase

That hangs over my desk

In the bedroom with the melon painted wall

Of our Santa Fe house


A gentle lady from Acoma

Made this pot

Larger than her other pots

But as pots go

Not very big

Jenny called me Darling

And every August

Would sit with her pots

On a side street off the plaza

Being judged not good enough

For a booth inside the boundary line

Of Indian Market

Maybe she didn’t care

Her smallest pots sat cradled

In the pockets of an egg carton

Selling for two or three dollars

A pot

I loved Jenny

And would buy her tiny pots

To give friends

At home in California

But then she’d choose

An ornament shaped like an owl

Or a plaque with birds on it

And with both hands

Place it into mind

And say

This one’s for you     Darling

Take it

And the price would be the same

As all the little pots

Put together

I’d just bought


One early morning at Indian Market

As the sun climbed over the Sangres

And turned on daylight in the Plaza

Someone came to tell me

Jenny died

Gone in winter from a cancer

That gave her pain

I cried for Jenny

In front of the booths

Facing the Palace of the Governors

Cried in the middle of a crowd of people

Who had never heard her name

Who may have wondered

Over their seven a.m. cup of coffee

“What’s eating her”

Afterwards at home near the beach

I went around collecting Jenny’s pots

From my friends

Gathered them like the last roses

In October

Explained my need

And gave them someone else’s little pots

In exchange

No one seemed to mind

Jenny’s pots live a quiet life

In California

On the middle shelf

Of an old pine corner cabinet

Nine-hundred miles

From the origin of their clay


Now in Santa Fe

Near the top of the bookcase

Jenny’s gift to me

Sits high above my reach

Almost forgotten     unseen

I need to rescue it

Lift it down from there

Bring Jenny back

Into my awareness

Think of her everyday

And if I am grown

From that time

What was beautiful

In Jenny

May become beautiful in me

*Written 1987, from Poets are the bravest, 2001

Love Letter







Michael     where are you

They found your car

On the edge of a cliff

Above the ocean

Near Daly City

And your brown leather wallet

On the front seat

But no one found you


I think of you often

Even after seven years

You’re legally dead now

You know


Once years ago

When we were kids

The sole of your right moccasin

Came loose and flip-flapped

All the way down Michigan Avenue

And the rest of us thought it was funny

To step on it if we could

You in your holey jeans

And plaid wool shirt

And then long after that time

You owned a three-story house in San Francisco

That I cleaned for you when we’d visit

Because you gave up your bed

So Steve and I could sleep together

And I’d hear the foghorn

Blowing from the bay

All night long



I had a dream about you

Soon after you disappeared

You were young again

You wore a powder blue jacket

With gray flannel pants

Clothes you’d never wear

When you were alive

But I saw your beautiful eyes

And you smiled at me

With nothing to hide

As you sat on the stump of a redwood tree

In the middle of Muir Woods

And there were people around you

I didn’t recognize

When I woke up

I was missing you

But understood this was a dream

That connected our two worlds

And you came to tell me

You are alive and well

In yours

*Written 1980, from Poets are the bravest, 2001

Winter and Spring 2003







Editor’s note: In March 2003, U.S. forces invaded Iraq vowing to destroy Iraqi weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and end the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein.


My dear

What challenging times these are

Daunting     devastating     incredible

But believable times

We are living in

Has it always been so

Have there always been men

(Notice     I do not include women)

Men who keep threatening

Someone somewhere with something

Men who live inside their heads

Ride their egos to the brink

And isn’t it the rest of us

Who over and over again

Try to pull them back

Perhaps the reason we are here

Do you agree

What a journey it is     my dear

As I follow you through the years

As you light the way

You do light the way     you know

On this upward climb

Like a spiral     a migration circle

Around and around

Higher and higher

And yes     these are challenging times

Yes     it has always been so

How would we learn

How would we grow

How could we become

Who we’ve become

Without them

This is truth     absolute truth

Don’t you agree     my dear

*From Thunder from the Mountains, 2007
Photo credit: