A Light Beyond the Hedge

Poetry and Somewhat Social Commentary

In the Morning

Virginia and Grandma at the Little Beach

I am a burnt ember
in the morning -
The dreams have been 
scorched out of me. 

Startled, I awake
covered in soot,
my throat dry
from crying.

It’s finally quiet,
the movie-reel 
images have stopped–
nothing more I can do
or not do.

I lay my blackened face
against my grandmother’s
ghost and she keeps me
from drifting away.

As she always has,
as she always will.

From My Hotel Window – Boston, March 2015

Whenever I check into a hotel, the first thing I do is take a picture out of the window. Sometimes, I photograph the drab landscape of the air conditioner handlers, and sometimes it’s just a blah nothing. But… sometimes, I have an interesting view, and this is one. I used my phone and then an app called Paper Artist, which came with the phone. The poem, posted a few days ago, called Street Scene — Boston 2015, was hatched from this window. Let me know what you think!!Boston scene

Be-YOU-tiful YOU!

Virginia Wagner Galfo:

This is a beautiful, self-affirming post from a great blogger!

Originally posted on Finding Hope's Sunshine:

Be You tiful

You be the very best YOU that you can be, and wear it proudly!

You are different from every other person on this planet for a reason.

There is no one else who can be YOU, or fill your role.

So just be YOU!

You have been made with faults so that people see you, for who you really are, not who you pretend to be.

Enjoy your failures. They define you.

You have been made with shortcomings, so that you will learn to lean on one another.

Let your weaknesses create community.

You were made with pain, so that you can see the hurting in the world.

Reach out. Listen and love the people around you.

You have been made to endure hardship, for it grows compassion and understanding.

Your tears have enlarged your heart.

You have been taught, so that you may teach.

You have been given courage, to show the way.

You are not alone…

View original 52 more words

Street Scene – Boston, March 2015


Looking down 10 stories
from my hotel room
to a street canyon-ed by snow,

I watch  tiny figures
hurrying against the wind,
gripping collars, heads down. 

Only a homeless man,
a grey blanket wrapped
around him, 
moves slowly. 

I decide I need a smoke,
so I make my way down
to the street and the doorman
tells me it’s too cold to go out,
but he smiles as he says it. 

I huddle against the building
as the grey-blanked man 
approaches and  I hold out 
a cigarette – an offering.
He stops, and says, 
“I quit smoking in 1992.”

I pull a five dollar bill
out of my pocket and slip 
it into his hand–a hand
that’s brutally cold. 

We stand together and suddenly
I take one of his gloveless hands
between mine and begin warming
it up–and then the other hand. 

I ask him his name, and he replies:

Later that night
In a lovely restaurant,
as the snow fell silently,
Skirting the streetlights
in lacy gowns, 
I thought of my father, 
decades gone,
and the grey-blanked man.

My father’s name was 
Eugene, and I don’t think
he was ever warm
whatever he was missing

Stalked him and pushed him
into the ever-colder nights
with no more than a grey blanket
for his wandering soul.



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…

View original 2,304 more words

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…

View original 572 more words

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.

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