A Light Beyond the Hedge

Poetry and Somewhat Social Commentary

Life in Ordinary Time


life in ordinary time

My days are ordinary now,
but they weren’t anything close
to that ideal at the time you
extended your hand.

We laughed at family
gatherings, just you and I–
knowing we were being bad,
which made it even funnier,
you being holy and all,
and me, a lowly sinner.

But you never saw me that way.
You were more Glastonbury
than Dublin,
More Yeats than Pope.

There are many aspects of life
that are still ordinary –

The sparrow’s call in
spring time,
the ball of fire
we call the sun
almost bouncing.

The days come and go–
Just like that.
I’m used to that idea.

It’s just you,
being gone
that will never feel ordinary.


Note: My friend, Father Patrick Rice earned his doctoral  degrees in theology and poetry from Fordham University in New York City. He was a priest at St. Thomas Moore in Convent Station, NJ, from 1974-1979; Holy Spirit Church from 1979-1994; St. Francis de Sales Church in Vernon, NJ, from 1994-1997; St. Catherine of Siena, Mountain Lakes,  NJ, from 1997-2009 and St. Kateri Tekakwitha in Sparta, NJ,  from 2009 until his death. He was buried in Ireland. His spirit, however, remains alive and above ground in the hearts of all who knew and loved him.



For Emily, Wherever I May Find Her With Mrs. Robinson

paul and emily

I’ve borrowed my post title from the beautiful song by Paul Simon For Emily Wherever I May Find Her. He was and is a tremendous influence on me as a songwriter, and I have always considered his songwriting to be more classical poetry than lyrical composition. Do I bow to him? Hell, yes. His songs took me through an extremely lonely childhood and into a spot-on guitar player and songwriter.

I was a kid when the song Mrs. Robinson . came out, maybe 10, and I remember our parish priest objecting to the song being played in church. He said, “Just because the song says, ‘Jesus loves you more than you can know…” doesn’t make it a song we can sing in church…” I was still wearing a plaid jumper in school in those days, but playing my guitar at home. And I played Mrs. Robinson, not having seen the movie or knowing what the song was about, but digging the vibe.

But Emily… Who was his Emily? Mine is Emily Dickinson, and the hard copy that shaped me was this verse:

“If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain.
If I can stop one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.”

I think those lines will leave all Emilies… wherever we may find them in fine shape.

Thanks Paul. You made a big difference in my development as a writer and I am indebted to you.

City Beat

In the South Bronx August 2015

I love the city
The snap and sparkle
The flash and go

Heaven is summer
The music pulses
From passing cars

The smell of tamales
The screeches of kids
At the open hydrant

Oh, God,
I love this city.

The Awakening

Suddenly you awake, and
the three year old who wondered
what it would be like to wake up old
has been answered.
Your first love no longer holds a place
in the heart you swore would never heal
from the breaking,
and the monsters in the closet,
the alligators under the bed,
have revealed themselves,
and have been shamed into hiding
under some other anxious child’s bed,
although you didn’t mean to send them.

Those who would disappoint you,
have done so,
the husbands and mothers
who would drive you to suicide
are dead, or are at last dead to you.

It’s funny.
The day you feared the most,
the day you realized you were not
going to climb Mount Everest
has come and gone,
and you did not collapse
in a small plume of smoke
of the nothingness
you perceived your life to be,
but rather you got up,
went to work,
came home,
played with your dog,
and made supper.

you seek the cloak of sleep –
your dreams are movies
of people you knew
but did not know, and
houses where you lived and
left roll by in slow motion,
the unfamiliar curtains billowing
in the still wind, and you see
but just for a moment,
a small face in the window
lit with the pale yellow
of  late afternoon sun.

Dreams Complex and Confusing

014Have you ever woken up, the dream still clinging to you as the alarm insists upon its way? I’ve had a bunch of those dreams lately, and I can’t tell if it’s because I’ve been extraordinarily tired as of late, or if the Universe is playing Blackjack with me. I keep morphing people I knew with people I now see regularly — but the hybrid has the personality of neither person.

Today, I live in a house that hosts the drama of the sun every day. The back of the house is dead east, and the sun comes from above a crest of a hill. The light filters through the trees and hits the art room first, then peeks into the laundry room, and if the blinds are open, blinds me in my bed. Downstairs, on the east side, the library is filled with light and the sun room is next, and then the kitchen. In the afternoon, the room-by-room burst of sunlight is no less joyful. I love looking out of every window in this house–and having moved a piano through eight moves in 16 years, I’m so happy to finally have a home.

Which brings me back to the dream. I had a dream figure, someone I have never seen in waking life, walking through the rooms of the condo I lived in with my first husband–and I was trying to explain how beautiful the view was out of each window. Only that home didn’t have the nature vision I now enjoy. With the exception of the Hackensack River, and the Empire State Building which was perfectly framed through the dining room window, the other windows looked directly into my neighbor’s kitchen windows, and the other kitchen windows had a perfect view of the dumpster and the other condos around the circle drive.  In the dream it was so frustrating because I was trying to relate my view from now into what I saw then, to a person I didn’t know. 

I’m never sorry to wake up from a dream like that, and to be glad it was just a dream. 

Have you, dear reader, had dreams that have driven you crazy? Please share your experience in the comments. 

A Sign

2015-07-20 12.09.32

This greeted me as I arrived for work this morning, and being an extremely literal thinker, it made me laugh.  My Uncle Frank, who was a sign painter, and worked as an artist for the Workers Project Administration (WPA) during the not-so Great Depression, would have loved this, too. Some of the murals he painted during the Depression are still on display in the hidden board rooms of NYC. He worked from the late 1930s through the 1960s, and because he was crippled by depression and anxiety, he settled on being a sign painter–and he was a good one.

One of my earliest memories was sitting on his lap in his studio with a paintbrush, his hand wrapped completely around mind, guiding the brush and the paint on the paper as letters magically appeared. It was thrilling, and I so loved Uncle Frank. I guess he sensed we shared the brain-wiring that carries depression and anxiety from one generation to the next, and he probably felt I would grow up to share his journey as an artist (in my case music and poetry) with the same issues. He was so kind to me. I wish the medications we have today, the ones that let me lead a “normal” life, were available to him. I know that his life would have been very different–and perhaps more joyful.

Depression is a sometimes fatal disease that no one seems to want to talk about. If you, or someone you love, has depression and/or anxiety, please reach out to the healthcare community. It’s not an easy road to feel better, and sometimes there is a lot of try and try again–but treatment today is an option that my Uncle Frank didn’t have, but luckily, you and I do.

Take this post as a sign.

Around the Block

2015-06-19 19.31.20Sometimes, You Can Go Home Again

I recently had a business trip that landed me at my sister’s door. This is not an unfamiliar door considering she and her husband live, and raised their family, in the house in which we grew up. I’ve been in and out of the door since the age of seven. Time and tides took me away and the moss grew on the north side of the trees, the small-ish houses were turned into big-ish houses and the lake community grew.

I went down to the lake, and took a few pictures, and one was really funny. I inadvertently took a photo of a group of people, while trying to take a picture of something else, and when I widened the photo on my phone, one man was pointing his finger and looking straight at me. Sorry buddy. You weren’t in my big picture. Just a victim of a beautiful sunlit afternoon on my childhood beach.

Sometimes, you really can go back to your childhood home, and it’s a pleasure. The only thing is, it’s not really “home” anymore.

The End of the Easter Lily

My mother-in-law gave us an Easter lily last year, and we planted the bulb,  not expecting much because neither my husband nor I are great with outdoor plants, especially in Williamsburg, Virginia, where the deer and the antelope (that are really deer dressed like antelope) play. 

So, the darn thing comes up. And it grows, taller and taller, and then it has five white blossom buds on the top…  I was so impressed that our four-legged night visitors had left it alone. So, we made plans. Yes, I admit…plans. We were going to give Mom one of the blooms in the special one-flower vase. Another was going to my office, and well, you get the idea. 


Man plans and deer laugh. I looked out the kitchen window yesterday morning and all that remained was a straight green stem, about two feet tall. Nice for a stem. Really, straight, strong, green… 

This morning my husband confided that he just might be a little bit mad at the deer who ate our lily. I said, “Don’t be mad. I’ll bet that deer enjoyed every single bite.” 

A Fairy in my Garden

When my sisters and I were little, our father told us if we ever met a fairy and were offered something to eat or drink, we were to absolutely refuse the offering. Otherwise, we could be captured and taken into the fairy kingdom. Sometimes, I wish I’d had the opportunity. 

I took this photo outside my back door on September 22, 2014. I’ll let you decide. 

Fairy 9-22-14 png

Hope and Light

(For Janet and Karen)

In the darkest days of my youth,
I had moments that were devoid of hope;
each day, I carried cement bags of sorrow.

I began clawing lightness from other sources.
Literal sources—a light bulb, a candle,
the last embers of day slipping beneath the horizon.

Day after day, I pleaded, promising everything
until finally hope drifted in to my life,
like an entitled breeze, demanding daylight enter.

I didn’t care how awkward the entry.
I wasn’t expecting a soft caress—instead
I knew with all my heart:

Hope is the first crocus of spring,
the bulb pushing through the frozen surface;
the sigh of an old dog settling into sweet sleep.

It’s the realization that all is never lost.
Hope became my most cherished companion,
my reason for going on.

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