25 years

My dad is buried in Ridgeland, SC,
The same place I was conceived.
It felt significant to be alive
when I turned 43.

We’ve lived more years with out him,
my sisters, brothers and me.
I got more than 19 years,
the youngers have fewer memories.

For my part, I got fishing tales,
beach days,
learning to swim frantically,
battered paperbacks from the linen closet,
pork chops from the tiny grill
he could pull his lawn chair up to.
Valentine’s cards,
a coral ring from business travels.
Rock n roll records,
’80s pop on the radio in the sedan,
nothing fancy.
My questions of politics
and philosophy answered

There are no pictures of him past his prime,
he wasn’t there for them.
I’ve missed him, but haven’t
wanted to chat more than I do today.


brought home some babies

I brought home some babies, little green ones;
biked down Fort Hamilton, chose them carefully
and lovingly packed them home. My babies
are wee ones- chartreuse, striated forest and jade,
spectacular, succulent, reaching pointy fingers
to the sky and already showing tiny teeth.
They don’t poop or cry, but that’s okay.
Our hopes are high, in the sunny window sill
they’ll grow and make themselves at home.

morning tea

8 a.m. the burner ignites under the tea kettle.  I locate

the white tea cup for the day, then shuffle through boxes

of teas, as I consider my liver, my energy level, toxins

or mineral stores.  I ask my belly what feels right.

Tulsi, turmeric, dandelion root, nettle leaf?

In winter, it’s spices, warmth and comfort.  Summer,

hibiscus, rose and honey.  Sometimes, I need

licorice, chamomile, lavender, gentle.

Regardless the type, 8 a.m. the burner ignites under

the tea kettle.


an orphan’s grief, obsidian
the force of will, obsidian
the seed of my heart, obsidian
cool and sharp, obsidian
bitter still, obsidian
the child’s thief, obsidian

(obsidian, from You Bring out the Mexican In Me by Sandra Cisneros)

Returning to Florida

Now I know
the reason why
I came to stay
in this place.
One easy look
at the open sky,
so clean and blue,
such perfect space;
With colors and shapes
that calm my mind
and allay
my restless heart.
I don’t know how
for all this time
we have so long
been apart.

-EJP, 2000

The Artist’s burden

The sour acid of nerves hovers at the back of my tongue,
it rises with the deep nagging, the tiny alarm bells
that well up, ringing louder and louder until that cerebral
aspect chimes and I remember-
I taste the proof of my fear, feel the dark pit
of my stomach turn and quiver. But fear is only the crest of the wave,
the full churning body is power and the soul’s love.
The artist’s burden comes into full view, again-
I must create!



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