Thursday, April 23, 2015

Femme d'une age

Femme d’une age certaine
they say with a Gallic quirk of the eyebrow,
as if this sweetly whispered label
makes any damned difference
to those of us sandwiched between
adult children and death.

Women of a certain age,
you know, them,
the ones who are no longer first in line
and whose talents and achievements are recited
as if they were an old mantra
from now-defunct religion.

Donna di una certa età,
say those dark-eyed men with
twitchy fingers at the rumps of
younger women who do not yet
know better than to walk too close—
Sono ossessionati dai loro peni.

They, who wrap us in these words
before relegating us to the shelf,
do not understand the truth of this age.
There’s a reason we witches are not
depicted as kittenish young girls,
but as sleek, powerful cougars.

We are only à mi-chemin,
a metà strada,
halfway through with you.

Copyright 2015 by Femme Malheureuse
Graphic: Fruit, c. 1897, Alfons Maria Mucha

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Monday motorcade moans
a mile away from where I lay
waking to lingering regret.

This is an anniversary
marked by many motorists
though they don't know
they weren't invited.

Built from a decade
of self-denial and sweat,
this house sits square
parallel to the highway.

Emerging from a field
the color of puffballs
surfacing beneath the soil
where corn once grew,

The frame assembled
then windows sealed
the snow and rain from
hearthstone inside.

Deer hunters' morning,
the sounds of men and trucks
faded with each window
falling into its sash.

Looking out the wet glass
over the sapling-studded grass
I knew in my bones
the trees would shield me.

But I was wrong,
each morning a reminder
that life doesn't stop
once a goal is attained.

Did the trees know
another truth in the earth
below them and this house
I built ten years ago?

They do not mask
the motorists' march a mile away
or failure's maudlin emotion
this side of the pane.

Copyright 2015 by Femme Malheureuse
Graphic: Regret by karmablue via Flickr

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


hum of suburbia
widest riding mower deck
hovering over the greenest grass

whine of desert
widest wingspan
levitating over the sparest earth

plane parked
tarmac waits wetly
passenger trance along jetways

communications confused
technicians mouse warfare
weapons from too-distant screens

Copyright 2015 by Femme Malheureuse
Graphic: Fog Drone by johannesg via Flickr

Monday, April 20, 2015

Rise, Again

The photograph lies, its thousand-word array in millions of pixels
portray a second from decades past.

Helmets and batons, shields and guns, teargas and dogs,
the city’s summer streets of Sixty-Eight.

Soldiers, police weaponized, their attitude Spartan
against the Persians at Plataea.

Hoi polloi, angered, their attitude righteous,
rail against their impoverished, punishing serfdom.

But the photo lies, its focus betrays the scale
of victims’ names drawing a larger, menacing picture.

Hone in on the details, jeans, jackets, all the attire
different than it was, now nearly fifty years ago.

Forty-seven years will not fit in this frame,
spilling over the asphalt like ageless smoke, as adolescent blood flows.

Copyright 2015 by Femme Malheureuse
Graphic: Baltimore, c. 28April2015, by Arash Azizzada via Flickr

Sunday, April 19, 2015


Shades there be,
not those hues
ridiculed or ridiculous.
Reality spans
nearly nuclear white,
shy of midnight’s black,
and all the universe between,
undefined, unnamed, oft unseen.

Shades of the past drawn,
my grandmother’s furs,
the blinds on the windows,
the smoke and the ash,
the granite on her grave,
my inheritance in dust.

Shades of this day color
my mother’s hair,
the foam on third coast waves,
the sunrise after the storm,
the fen’s air at twilight,
my son’s eyes at birth.

Shades of tomorrow toss
my own wind-blown hair,
the shadows on the wall,
the snow across the screen,
the light over the pond,
my daughter’s pale face at dawn.

Unbidden, unwritten,
often unfolded, unending
Truth spreads
its whitening wings wide
over darkened day
where underneath
these shades be.

Copyright 2015 by Femme Malheureuse
Graphic: Scott Smithson via Flickr

Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Two of You

Your presence at the edge of my lawn is both reassuring and odd.
I wish I could ask you so many questions and
have a reasonable expectation of a cogent response.

Why are you here — and why the two of you, together?
It's clear you're together-together, like a couple.
One of you watches while the other eats or rests.
Even when you both rest, one of you is always alert,
always watching out for the other's best interests.

Your attire gives nothing away, dressed in the same
comfortable uniform common to your kind.
I don't even know if you are male and female, and unrelated,
or siblings, cousins, or an old, long married couple
whose gender no longer matters because
the kids have long flown the coop, so to speak.
I don't even know if you're M/M or F/F,
though it really doesn't matter to me any more
than it appears to matter to you.

And why my lawn, this patch near the pond?
Naturally you do not prefer the treeline or the trees,
across the path away from the pond.
That's not your thing, and you're like-minded about
this preference.
Birds of a feather, as they say.

Will you be here long?
Should I plan on your company for the month,
for the rest of the spring and summer,
for the rest of the season?
Should I tell the neighbors so they avoid my lawn,
walk their noisy little yappy dogs far from here,
leave you in quiet, undisturbed?
The loss of their presence won’t hurt my feelings.
Not one bit.

Should I tell the lawncare people
you will be here for weeks, or months,
so they exercise more care with scheduling their work
around whatever schedule you two keep,
doing whatever it is you two do,
besides eat, sleep, and watch?

I wish I could ask you these things.
I wish I could know what it is I should do for you.
But communications between our people are stymied
until you two learn to use cellphones,
or until we learn to speak goose.

Copyright 2015 by Femme Malheureuse
Graphic: Larry McGahey via Flickr

Friday, April 17, 2015


Pink quartz sand, tinted afternoon warm,
cold water wash over pine needles,
broken cedar branches bowed by breeze.

With my eyes closed, I am 16 again,
my skin feels the same, my nose knows no different,
here on the beach stretched out on a blanket.
The coarse grass rustles at the top of the dune,
as it did decades ago.

Sugar plum trees sag, purple fruits sway,
wax wings whistle under the branches.
Sea gulls skree passing by overhead.

With my eyes open, I can see the same blue,
my sight finds nothing different in the passing clouds.
So long as I do not move, the world has fallen away
and back to the place where I was his,
as I was decades ago.

Lake waves lull, soft rapid rhythm.
Blue melds grey as surf susurrus shifts,
crows warn a northeaster coming.

But cooling air and raindrops demand the truth,
I am not a girl on a beach any longer.
There is only a woman, gathering a wet blanket,
who can see much further than Superior's horizon,
as she wished she could so long ago.

Copyright 2015 by Femme Malheureuse
Photo: Heidi Blanton via Flickr