Winning Cinquain

I’m thrilled to have won a case of Cinquain Cellars flagship wine, Cinquain, in the latest poetry contest.  For those not familiar with a cinquain, it is a five line poem with defined syllables in each line. The first is 2, then 4, 6, 8, and the last back to 2.  2-4-6-8-2

Here is the poem that will be on the back label of the bottles when they are released later this year.

Five grapes
Cinquain melody plays
Harmony crescendos inside
My glass

Cinquain Cellars is definitely worth checking out. I love their wine and they are great people.


Winning Cinquain


My mirror reflects a woman,
five feet tall, grey hair,
age spots daubed with foundation,
dusted with powder,
yet still visible.

Ancestors from Britain, Ireland, and Alsace Lorraine
fill my gene pool
But they don’t tell you who I am.

Once the title on my business card
defined the square footage of my office,
the quality of my chair,
the level of respect I was afforded,
but it did not tell you who I am.

Height, age, titles,
allow you to lump me in groups,
bucket me in stereotypes,
but that’s your issue,
that’s not who I am.

I am my dreams.





Review: The Family Under the Bridge

The Family Under the Bridge, by Natalie Savage Carlson was published in 1958, my birth year. So, I am surprised to learn this is a Christmas classic and loved by millions. I’ve never heard of it. More shocking to a writer diving into the middle grade children’s literature area, is that this book won the Newbery Award, an esteemed children’s literature honor.

This surprises me because the story contradicts several “rules” of kid lit that I’ve picked up over the last three years in books and workshops: the main character must be a child slightly older than the age of the reader you are writing for, the main character must solve his or her own problems in the story and the adults, if any, in the story must not make everything happen for the child. This leads me to believe that the story was written more for the adults who are reading to children.

I’m bolstered in this thought, by the recognition that Despicable Me, an animated movie with evil villains who attempt to steal the moon, has the same plot; single curmudgeon takes on three small children, learns to love and ends up with a family.

I wonder if the Family Under the Bridge would be considered for publication in today’s environment.

Review: The Family Under the Bridge

Koi Pond – Santa Rosa, 9-11-16

Perched on a bench at water’s edge

surrounded by starbursts of chlorophyll

dark gray skaters glide on liquid green

sunlight flashes across white and orange scales

water melodies trickle down the rocky falls

rustle the surface with irrational waves


How radiant my world above the water must seem

to the koi

as they hover at the bottom

afraid I’m a bird or raccoon about to snatch them


Just as the glorious heavens above

dazzle me

as I await the inevitable hand from an unknown world

to lift me from my pond

and try not to be afraid

Koi Pond – Santa Rosa, 9-11-16

Detached from the Author’s Strings

I’ve been thinking about character a lot lately. About what it means to develop a character through the story arc, through description and through actions. How well do we know those around us, such that we could capture their personalities on paper? Fortunately, we can make our character’s foibles fit our plot needs; tune their hair color, skin color, tics and whatever else we need to suit our story.

Kwame Alexander wrote a piece on character skin color that’s worth reading. The focus on skin color that fills our news plays out in the fictional world as well. I’m inclined to develop a character with green, blue, purple or some color I make up just to permit everyone to be able to see themselves in the character. But skin color alone doesn’t define us. Beneath the skin we all have the same colors: blood, muscle, fat, bone. What really defines us is how we chose to live our lives, what forces effect that decision, how our personalities play out against those forces.  These factors don’t have color.

Some authors don’t tell the reader what color the character’s skin is to allow them to fill in that blank with whatever color makes them feel more affinity with the character’s plights. I’m intrigued by that but don’t think it addresses the essential truth. It is through speech, movement, actions, thoughts and decisions that a character is distinguished. By reading we gain understanding and then appreciation for all people, religions, preferences, life styles, cultural background and political positions.

This pair of poems describes the role characters take as we(authors) develop them and they(characters) whisper in our ears what our pens should write.

Detached from the Strings of the Author #1
When are we ready to cut the strings?
Maybe after we’ve described them
So well you’d know them on the street

Hair color – black
Handedness – left
Eyes – dark as the deepest part of the sky
Where the stars hide

Or maybe after they meet that one
Or force
That gets in their way
Chokes their joy

No, it’s when they wake us up
After the crickets have stopped
And demand release
Only then is it time

Detached from the Strings of the Author # 2

Barely visible strings
Pull my wrist
Force my hand to wave
My author decides when

I have no choice
Which way I go
Whose hand I hold
The battles I wage

My character profile is complete
I’m blond
Have a dog and never say “apparently”
As in “apparently I’ve screwed up and this damn author won’t let me go”

But stumble I must
If they want a book launch party
The scissors are in the kitchen drawer
The one my strings won’t let me reach.


Detached from the Author’s Strings



Orange and black
Flutters around my garden
Stops to sample the lavender
Check out my assortment of weeds

Just a visitor
Heading to the coast
Like snow birds who shun slush and cold
head south to Florida

Do butterflies gather in large klatches
Play bingo and maj jong
While away the days until
they migrate home?