28 November 2010


For day 28 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: "What really happened."

you wouldn't believe--what
really happened--it was the
stuff of Hallmark, magical
memories served up steaming with

a mug of hot cocoa, the edges of
the page glistering with those
sparkly bits that decorate
shop windows, turn the page, turn

the page until we read our, our
finally, our
happily ever after

snap a picture, quick, before
it's gone


For day 27 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: "Blame the ______."

blame the way the sun
crept in at the window, boiling
gold, covering the canvas, the
pane, from top to bottom

too soon, too bright for the
eyes still longing for sleep,
the hands fumbling for
coffee, the feet stumbling

into shoes, this lassitude
(and nothing else)
making her tongue wordless


For day 26 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: an "on the run" poem.

down the stairwell again
and out the door, bang
with a slap upon the
sidewalk, the school run

then the bank (open at eight),
the post office, grocery (pepper,
milk, bread, bones for soup),
drugstore for baby medicine to

lower a fever, bandages for a skinned
knee, the stationers for several
cards, the cherries covered in

on the run to beat the bus,
collect the mail, call the social
worker, laundry then, and dinner and

Bad Animal

Day 25 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: an "animal" poem.

teeth bared to tear
man--is a
bad animal indeed

burrowing into the
gloom and shade
best suited to
such deeds as he


For day 24 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: a "spaces" poem.

between quilt and fitted sheet is
the best space

before the yolk of the sun
has broken from the shell

of the sky. dark, yes, quiet,
no--the radio hums thickly,

male, male, with a touch of
female to tell the traffic


lazy hand slaps it quiet, for
a space

until a cry, the final alarm,
brings soles to carpet and then

on and on through all the day,
tangled-thick, trying

Bird's Custard

For day 23 of the PAD challenge. An "anti-form" poem.

custard, so, coalesced in the
pot, stir, stir so it does not

congeal (wrist heat-seared) the Birds's for the
pudding, the delicious lack of

form puddling down onto the
old country roses, pale gold sweet, the

holiday taste wrought from
powder and a little milk, strange

chemistry to make memories
amongst the sultanas, the spices,

dried currants, citron too

25 November 2010

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

For day 22 of the PAD challenge. Poem that "takes a stand."

and here we see the natal
star to guide their way, some

thousands of years elapsed and--
still we wait for him--how

hard for her, alone, in a strange
country, and she so young

in a desert land, so far from
mother, sister, aunt, a number on a form, to

be registered, and still he is
remembered, in thought and word and

deed, though spat upon, reviled,
the star still shines


For day 21 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: A "permission" poem.

Yes, in as many words as that,
the forms, filled in triplicate,
tucked neatly away. Where? You

do not need to know--perhaps in
the dead files, the contracts cancelled
by those who cannot fly

and she recalls the file cabinets,
row upon row, their metallic ranks, some sticking, some
so loose they would bruise your

shin and catch upon your stockings, the
fine dust from the carbons coats her
hands, the telex shudders as the

yellow tape, now perforated, chugs,
chugs the message through to
Budapest, behind the wall, received

on the other end as she
and the other (so junior) assistants
re-apply blood lipsticks in a nineteen-thirties
washroom, heavy-mirrored, honey-gold color of
the furnishings outside so warm as to

suffocate as the Borden woman
swings down the hall, her bronzed
offspring (late of some Grecian islands) performing
oh-so-perfunctory filing

and tuneless whistling fills the air,
and there's a job, he says, for you
in California, whenever you want it

21 November 2010

New Podcast made on Podbean, 11/19/2010


Wrong Turn

For day 20 of the PAD challenge. A "right" or "wrong" poem.

no right or wrong turns with you, map in
hand, marshalling the troops,
loading the luggage

heading for the flat middle of
the country, carpeted with
corn and soybeans, we

stop for lunch at the Flying J,
fingering pink packets of saccharin and
staunching bleeds of ketchup with a

quick swipe of a napkin, heading
off the mess before it spreads
too far, then back into the car,

even right in your wrong-ness,
the happy mistake, the accidental
short-cut, bringing us back to that quiet cul-de-sac


Day 19 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: A poem with a "hole" in it.

the hole that is the whole of him
(so it seems, sometimes) with his
dear volubility, discoursing away
faster than the birds in the bush

and herself only half-awake at eight and
longing for some--liquid stimulant--
to rouse her to awaked-ness

straining his words through her hands
she places several (snap!) in her purse,
some, twinned like the pepper and
salt on her countertop (click-clack), still
others atop her bathroom looking-glass,
and a stack in the milk-white breadbox, fresh
when she needs them most

the hole filled with the whole
of him, hands, mouth, stomach....
his words so freely given,
so greedily received

Lost and Found Again

For day 18 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: a "lost and found" poem.

moving from lost to found all she
needed were the right co-ordinates,
internal gps did the rest--
sorting through all the noise, the
murmuring meant to distract, the
dripping tap diverting thought (what
was that, then, I wanted?) as
she stands, in stocking feet, on the
threshhold of the bedroom, framed there,
held, for a moment, as if in a
memory box (this scrap of blanket, blue, this
carbon copy of a bill of lading, yellow, the
rough brown of paper, wrinkled deeply, that once
wrapped flowers)

and has she found some shade of
self again? retrieved, like
a blue wool balaclava from the
bottom of the box: found (amongst all
the clobber of chilren's things, some
marked with names, more
without, the scarves twisting
into accidental knots)


landmarks on the map are
not to scale - legends for schools,
public parks, houses of worship,
all in primary colors, the filiments of
railway lines snaking, sinuous,
off the four corners of the page


so lost in thought, coming to the
findings, finally, at the bottom of
a jewellery box, broken glimmerings of
metal, found after all these
years, the necklace, too, of green
stones she thought lost, how he played
with the clasp that final night


flotsam, jetsam, the effluvia of
all our days lost, found, lost
again, pendulum moving back and
forth, the tick-tock of sun/moon

17 November 2010

Tell Me Why He Loves Her So

For day 17 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: "Tell me why _____ ."

tell me why, again, you paint
those you do and how you
choose the colors and the

brushes, too, to stroke the
tempera onto the smoothed wood,
until she stares at me so,

(pigment-powder-to-paint to make a saint)

boldly, as if to say, I, not you,
own his eyes, I am his
delight from morning until noon, I

glow in the sun, resplendent,
unspeaking, every attention paid to
my lips, cheeks, hair, eyes, the

wrinkling of my collar, the top-
most button forgotten in his haste
(and tell me why he loves her so)

Financial Times

For day 16 of the PAD challenge. A "stacking" poem.

above the fold of the fleshy-pink
Financial Times some legends of loss

stacked upon the tottering pile "to
read and discard" distinct from "to save and file"

pillars of print, glossy four color, dull black-
and-white, perfused with perfumes

--the stationer stocked them, you
brought them to me, along with

grapes and neatly labeled
recriminations, bulletpoints round,

blackpools one could fall into,
headfirst, and not notice until

the morning after
the night before, the baby's breath

softly punctuating the squares of tile

16 November 2010


dancing on the tightrope as the
Palm Springs doctor looks on, taking
notes on a lined yellow tablet

rings of gold, sliced pineapple, shine
wetly at the sun, occluded by
thick syrup, held in a blue bowl, sweet,

tones clipped as the bristles of a new broom, the
secretary pencilling in the next appointment
and the next, the next, the next,
starlight mints twinkling away in the cut-
glass next to a prim cloisonne
peacock, green, blue, green, green again,
splayed out to hold paperclips

nearly matching the brooch perched on the
sweater of the tightrope dancer (see
her bleeding through all that
pepto-bismol pink) pricked pale

beyond the blue door wind
whips leaves into a frenzied
circle, transitory autumnal crown,
brittle, so, it cannot last, is
sodden down by pelting rain, half ice,
half water, as if made to order,
cracked in a striped towel, shaken liberally, hurriedly,
chapping the face into a frozen mask,
herringbone heavy upon her shoulders

his notes not done, they go on forever
in their famous, spidery script, from
Harvard yard, to leafy Connecticut, and
back to New York again, the car
serviced, the oil and tires checked,
ready for that last and greatest journey,
to his dear, his lost one

15 November 2010


For day 15 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: "Just when you thought it was safe."

shadow on a film, the grey cloud
on black, the white splintering off
to the side, just when you
thought it was safe, turning the
golden key in the mailbox, the
thin envelope, all edges, rests
in your hands, black type a
cold contravention, the
landscape of soft interiors
soiled over and she daub,
daub, daubs the latest stain
just when she thought it safe
to sleep, the shouting died
down, the common creaks and
rustlings all she heard, just
when she thought it was
it was not

14 November 2010

Three Roads Converge

Day 14 of the PAD challenge. A "crossroads" poem.

three roads converge, the
triple-faced masks stare
down (gas, food, lodging) and she, her hounds
to heel, holds a torch aloft,
small moon of light suspended
to illuminate three roads, torn
over by the weather, ragged
furrows of asphalt forgotten
by the surveyor

which way, then, to turn?
the buzz and hum of electric
lights attract a chorus of
insects, singing....so far you
have come....so far yet
to go

13 November 2010

Where Did the Time Go?

Day 13, PAD challenge. Prompt: a "question" title.

she asks and sighs to see
the hands on the face moving
forward (too fast, always) as she pulls
her hands over hers and turns
back to the packing,
hands already gloved with a fine grey
dust, packing the books first,
then the winter clothing, last
the teakettle and
kitchen implements

pennies, warmed in our hands,
burnt holes through the thick
garden of ice on the windowpane, that
tapestry of cool, so we could
see the drifts new-pillowing
the hills, deadening sound

lovely in his bones, throwing off
his coat, with a shrug, with a
stay awhile
but no
he goes

pages, crumbling, of Time and
Tide, arriving in a pale
envelope, hand-lettered, the
stamps uncancelled

added to the last-minute
box, the grocery circular too,

a final sweeping of the
floor, then gone, wondering, indeed,
where the time went

12 November 2010


For day 12 of the PAD challenge. Prompt A "forget what they say" poem.

lay your head on my shoulder, forget
what they say (meaning and masking matters
not one whit as the sun rises, sets, the
shifting face of the moon will smile down
on us, seeing, as she does, similar spirits, pale
dead rocks that, nonetheless, burn bright, are
changeable, blotted by dark patches, like
moss on the wall, built up, stone by stone,
to make a whole from parts once scattered
far and wide)

no need for the words of others, mine,
as we build our walls water-tight, thick-
mortared, to keep out such as would harm us

McCarra/Poetry Reading Number Nine

11 November 2010

No One Wants the Knock on the Door

For day 10 of the PAD challenge. Prompt "No one wants (blank)."

at midnight and the children
long abed, then the
knock on the door followed
by dogs, slips trailing from
tumbled drawers, the
clothes press ransacked,
the crockery knocked from the dresser
and for what?

skirting board cracked, a
jagged gash by the
window sash, a black
hieroglyph she stares at
and tries to decipher, the
mark of a boot, the stroke of
a rifle....no matter....
some language past her understanding

10 November 2010


For day 10 of the PAD challenge. A "love" or "anti-love" poem.

what need have we
of another love-poem?
they grace the fluorescent
check-out aisles, in stacks,
next to minty chewing gum,

pricked onto fine linen decorative accents,
ubiquitous as chain-hotel
wallpaper flocked in blue
(a neutral blue)
to soothe the tired eyes of men

still, love comes in at
the eyes, so who am I
to argue? When all is
said and done, some
talk of thee and thou

who is the wiser as the
sun rises, with the gas
still to be paid and
dinner made

the heart still sinks, an
elevator gone awry, when
thought of love-loss in quietude strikes
like a fillet knife to the throat, the
garotting wire shiny taut, so

love letters, dusty, in the
drawer, a footnote (or two),
some ancient, ardent, artifacts fit only
for museum shelves, flowers
pressed flat as a pancake

between printed pages speaking
of love, unspeaking, that
vast unraveling of sense
and sensibility

09 November 2010

Waiting for the Dough to Rise

Written for day 9 of the PAD challenge. A "slow down" poem.

there's time, yet, while the
bread-dough rises, to stop
and speak, your words
metrical in their efficiency...
oh, that I could blur
their clipped edges with
my fingertips,

no shame in slowing that
engine down to a low
roar, our words reappearing in
the air, held aloft as
dandelion spores, there
for us to savor their
meaning during this

drift and pull along
suburban sidewalks brisk
with activity, as the
dough doubles, only to
be punched down for kneading,
time yet, whilst it bakes,
to have some talk of this
or that

but no, and so,
a floured hand is grasped goodbye

08 November 2010

Rooftop Dining

For day 8 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: an "agreement" poem.

just tell me when you
can get the money; that's all
I want to know
(ses navy-blue jumper, khaki trousers,
neat black shoes and the cellular
clapped to his ear, so)

soles pressing upwards, to inspect
the rooftop, after a shout through
the door

whilst the men of leisure
enjoy their breakfasts, their
letters of agreement and
memorandums of understanding
signed long since

as Sal smiles and says "them
cigarettes get heavy to lift"

and she agrees to another cup
of coffee (black), the toast
scraped over with butter gone cold

07 November 2010

Gone to Ground

November and the rabbit
gone to ground, no
more to be seen,
his haste evident in
the white flash of fur
down the burrow

evading the ferret, so
he lives another day to
blink and twitch in his
rabbity fashion,
endearing, so
on a picture-postcard

of Easter yet to come

meanwhile, the bare branches switch
at the sky, thrashing as if
enraged at their annual disrobing

Town, At Night

For day seven of the PAD challenge. Prompt: a poem that is "pro" something.

dream-enlarged, they greet one
in this night-town of twisted quilts
and goosedown supporting
various and sundry themes: flight, fear,
lust, touch, tenderness, the
journey, too, through sleep, so
often unrestful.....waking with a
start, drenched-- and I still
here-- and what day, what hour
might this be called?

envying so childsleep (now I
lay me) but even that troubled
by bogeymen hewn from different strains....

faces rise up, unbidden:
and how are you my dear?
and how are you my darling?

have you started to put down roots?
will it be a good year?

thwick, thwick, thwick, the film reels off
in technicolor, one short leads to
another, the final denouement
the brilling of her alarm

06 November 2010

Slipped Stitches

Day 6 of the PAD challenge. Prompt: "Looking for (blank)"

slipped stitch that strains
the eye, perfection except for
the lapse in attention caused
by....what? a knock on the
door and your knitting falls
from your lap? nerves disordered
plucked as a harp, discordant, jagged notes at
four ay em, the china pot cracked
into a map of crazing that leads,
well, nowhere

looking for the thread to mend the
slipped stitch, her tongue, thick
with worries, as silent as those
on the butcher's block, next
to the crubeens


searching out the light behind
the leaded glass, the diamonds
of glass winking back

the conversation rises, falls in
erratic amplification, so
many stitches tied and knotted
off, some talk of Christmas letters

(and the baskets yet to
be auctioned)

no knife to be found for the bread, and so
their crosses remain uncut, wheat
and white amongst the
canned fruit salad and
plastic forks cold-coddled beneath
electric light

05 November 2010

Butterfly, Loch Avon

For day five of the PAD challenge. Prompt: a "metamorphosis" poem.

in four-color plates, this
special featurette of our

ten steps to a new
curving script to detail
this cunning
to be pulled off (in a
most determined fashion)
between the marshalled
efforts of: dressmaker,
manicurist, and
the like, not
forgetting, of course,
some themes of self-
improvement (so dear to
our editorial hearts) whether
whisking eggs or
curling our eyelashes

and here she is, presented on
the penultimate page, our paragon,
our gold and ivory baby, our butterfly, her
teeth tearing into peachflesh,
ready, finally, for her close-up

04 November 2010

The Ties That Bind

Day four of the PAD challenge. Prompt: a "constriction" poem.

the ties that bind and
then the whalebone stays,
the golden feet and wasp-
waists confined into
their garments, iron-seamed,
the corsetings and beltings
hobbling her stride so she
makes only mincing steps
towards the door (and

this maiden's form

long lines and
full support
of the famous 502

small compensation

McCarra/Poetry November 2010 reading

McCarra/Poetry November 2010 reading

03 November 2010

Fleetwood Bridge

For day 3 of the November PAD challenge. Prompt: a "location" poem.

the roadmap streaks blue and red,
twisted, knotty, the veins I trace
with my finger....
were there a global positioning system
that could find you, it would be on
a bridge over Fleetwood's tracks,
casting your eyes over, casting your
bread upon, the river, where we
saw an opossum, swollen-bellied,
amble down to take a
drink, silvery under the electric

squinting, so, at the
green, gold, red, heavy-lidded through
years of yellow paint, one coat upon
another, you gripping the steering wheel
as we plot the best route,
from aye to bee to cee and finally,
oh so finally, to zed. and home. and rest.

but now it is as black as a North Korean night on
Google maps, the last candle snuffed
out and no electric light to be seen

brights on the bridge, at night,
a necklace, sparkling, but
hot to the touch, they warned one
off, the wires, too, woven azure, crimson,
grass-green, jewel colored, touch me, touch me,
if you dare

02 November 2010


Day 2 of the November PAD challenge. Prompt: a "not ready" poem.

seven o five and OH the
minutes tick down, and dear,
this stocking is already laddered (where IS
another?) and there the
kettle blowing her top, steaming
away as if she would power the
whole house and
dammit where are my keys, so
sure I left them on the hook
by the door,
tick, tick, tick echoing back,
the click, click, click of
hasty shoes upon the boards (too
late, now, to worry about the
noise) snatching at purse-
strap then
dash-dark-down the stairwell,
ready as she'll ever be
(resolving, always, to be better:
that graceful, unhurried woman espied from afar)

Page-Turner (Can One Trust the Narrator?)

For day one of the November PAD challenge. A poem re: turning the page on past events.

leather spined, she turns the
first, blank page, to see the
frontispiece, in short inky strokes,
obscured, so slightly, by paper tissue-
thin, the uppermost corner
wrinkled as if the last reader
closed the volume with an
impatient (or hasty) hand

endpapers, printed in peacock
colors, the whorls of red, blue,
green merging into a whole as
rich as plum pudding

turning the page, forgoing the
inevitable dedication (not to
her, certainly) musing over the
cryptic capitals punctuated by
oh-so-definite periods

chapter one was romance, the
treacle thick on the fingers,
licked off, delicious it was, so

no eye for foreshadowing, the
page missing from the index
vexing her, and can one,
really, ever trust the

no. and so--she turns the
cream colored sheets, looking for
some legend she will understand,
oil black, that
she can trace over. but. no.

placed back upon the shelf at the
last and left to the whims
of the removal men