A Light Beyond the Hedge

Poetry and Somewhat Social Commentary

What have the Africans done for Sicily?

Virginia Wagner Galfo:

This is a fascinating discourse on the African influence still evident in Sicily today!

Originally posted on The Dangerously Truthful Diary of a Sicilian Housewife:

Africans are so often portrayed as the underdogs, nowadays, that we sometimes forget they conquered southern Europe twice and ruled it for centuries.

The Sicilians don’t forget, though, for the Africans invented pasta as we know it, shaped their language and gave them the word Mafia, and brought them their citrus fruit trees, taught them to make dazzling coloured ceramics and founded street markets that still flourish like chaotic souks in central Palermo today.

The Capo market in Palermo, founded by Africans over 1,100 years ago. The Capo market in Palermo, founded by Africans over 1,100 years ago.

The first wave of Africans were the Carthaginians. Carthage is now Tunis, in Tunisia. They spoke Phoenician, a Semitic language related to Hebrew, and were a cultural and ethnic mix of colonists from Lebanon and indigenous African Berbers. They never ruled Sicily without a fight, but first started founding cities here in the 8th century B.C. and always had a foothold on the island…

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Dallas – Late Afternoon in December


Afternoon light

bounces from  

the pictures you

nailed to the walls

that kept us out.  

Soft power blue

and damask silk

still speak of 

unmet promises,


the late afternoon

light is begging me

to forgive you. 

Instead, I furtively

polish glass with the 

hem of my blouse

and ignore the empty

footsteps that follow

me into the night.


I’ll Ride With You

Originally posted on Finding My Sunshine:

You know, every time I hear that some idiot has gotten hold of a gun and committed unspeakable crimes I brace myself for the almost inevitable revelation that he or she was “mentally ill.”

Then, in that moment, in addition to the horror of violence, the destruction of lives, and the grieving of loved ones and communities, stigma is resurrected. All the work we all do to reduce stigma, to educate others, to prove to society that the mentally ill are not dangerous and should not be feared or discriminated against becomes moot. These unspeakable acts offer proof to society that the mentally ill ARE dangerous. That we should be feared. And we, as advocates of mental health, need to work that little bit harder once more.

The same can be said for Muslim communities. Except, unlike mental illness which is largely invisible, Muslim individuals cannot hide their faith. And, quite…

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For Harris John, Five Months Old Tomorrow – 12/13/14

Hubble Images a Swarm of Ancient Stars


You don’t know


How much I love you.

          I will probably be

         Some distant figure

         You barely remember,

And I’m sorry for that –

I did the best I could.

Just know this:

I held you one night,

         As the stars let through

         A glimpse of heaven

         Above the house

         In Williamsburg.

   Your soft breath

   Warmed my face

   As the world slept,

And in that moment

       I knew perfect and

       Everlasting love.


(photo courtesy of Nasa.gov)

The Scattering




Scattering the ashes didn’t go as well as planned.

First, there were six of us,

and we’d agreed to agree on where

the scattering would take place,

finally settling on Lucy’s garden,

with its spectacular view of Mount Washington;

and second, we had to select a date

that would work six times over.

On the chosen day,

as we carried our Zip-lock bags

through the kitchen to the back door,

I saw leaves, suddenly picked up by the wind

swirling into a gold and red vortex,

spinning merrily towards the garden.

Gyp, Lucy’s dog, lifted his nose and snorted

as if he’d been sprinkled with pepper,

and then went back to sleep,

leaving me to choke on

a laughing jag that came out of nowhere,

and barely stayed down.

After five somber eulogies,

and one abstention,

we tilted our bags,

knowing the autumn wind

and the coming winter would

take care of the rest.

We returned to the house

where the smell of cinnamon

stung our senses

with the same sharpness

as fermenting apple cider.

In the spring, Lucy called,

wanting to reminisce about the day.

Unable to continue ignoring my obvious

lack of interest, she finally said,

“I found a small bone in the garden, today.

I believe it belongs to you.”

Looking in the Mirror



It’s hard to look at myself in the mirror. I’m not 20, or 30… 40 is a distant memory and now I’m in my 50s. I don’t mind the passing of the years: I’ve worked hard, lived an honorable life, and have nothing to fear in the Great Beyond. So, I’m good.

Ok, then why is it hard to look in the mirror? Now I know what my grandmother was talking about when she said, “Who is that person looking at me from the mirror? I’m still 16.”

Lately, I find strange scars showing up. The chicken pox hoopla over my left eyebrow that my mother freaked out over—you will be scarred for life, Virginia—now shows up in the odd late afternoon light when I’m in a certain bathroom in the house, and I rub my finger over it and think, “Hey, that’s not so bad…”  There is another scar on my left hand that has recently come to light that I have no recollection of acquiring. Not too bad, just slightly visible, but I can’t for the life of me remember how it happened. The jagged scar on my left middle finger came from pulling a branch out of a gutter, and the one inch scar on my right forearm is from reaching into a hydrangea bush on my grandfather’s property to pull out dead leaves. In other words, I know where most of my NJ tribal markings come from. But not all of them.

My face is no different, although, scars fortunately are not part of the narrative. Now, my face is showing the lines of sorrow, laughter, and lack of using the products so readily available to stave off the very marks that are more and more apparent. Does this make me sad? No. I’ve earned every line, every chicken pox mark, every expression of joy and sorrow. Would I change anything? Hell yes. I could have done with a little more happiness and a little less on the chicken pox side of the world.

Colonial Williamsburg–Interpreter


Colonial Guy 2


Colonial Williamsburg, located in Williamsburg, Virginia, is a fascinating place. Living so close by, my husband and I are frequent visitors.

Today, in the Charlton Coffee House, I snapped this photo of a young interpreter. He was very informative, and played his role well. And then, I manipulated the photo with the app, Paper Artist, on my Android phone…

Most of CW was funded by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., but the Charlton Coffee House was funded by the Mars family (yes, of candy fame). It’s a wonderful reproduction of the original coffee house that stood on the exact spot in 1766 near the Governor’s Palace and I’m grateful for the Mars’ generosity.

At the end of the presentation, guests have coffee, tea, or the colonial version of hot chocolate in the dining room, served in china cups with little teaspoons, cream and sugar. It really is sweet.

The Blue Bud Vase

The Blue Bud Vase

I was working last night and all of a sudden I looked up from my writing and there was a pink carnation in a blue bud vase sitting there, waiting for me to notice. I’d like to say it was the work of fairies, or an event worthy of time warp proportions, but I know it was my husband who quietly added this bit of serenity to the night. Thanks, Greg!

The Library

The Library

As a teenager, I loved wandering through the booksellers in NYC, and through one shop in particular, called Dauber and Pine on 5th Avenue. I loved the sometimes choking smell of the books and the explosive sneezes from nearly every patron, including myself, ignited by the dust that was everywhere. Please cover your nose when you view my photo/illustration.

The Kitchen Chair

The Kitchen Chair

I took this photo with my Samsung Galaxy 3 and applied an photo app to it to make it into a painting. I think I might have this photo printed on canvas and then paint over it with acrylics.

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