sweet creek water

my mother is vintage lovely
this Kentucky woman
who displays a tobacco store Indian
on her front porch
makes tea like sweet creek water
knows how to pin curl hair
can identify horse apple
crab apple
and peach trees
who remembers what
flower and occasion
Sunday church
corsages are for

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this house has a history


i put on some water for tea

then decided to mop the floors

of our new little nest

before the furniture gets carried in

before the rest of our lives happen

Murphy’s Oil Soap

water and sunshine into a bucket

carried through the echoing emptiness

of what will be

over original hardwood

placed there in 1941

i love to clean

the ritual of it

i write in my thoughts as i work

images painting themselves

into spaces around my gentle humming

spreading wet across the grain

seeing hands that mopped this floor

before me

wives husbands

fathers mothers

lovers and

put-upon teenagers

oh this house

has a history

built the year

the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor

it’s all still there

nailed down memories

layers of time entombed in wax

someone stood in that living room and heard

we dropped the bomb

we landed at Normandy

of a flag raised in Iwo-Jima

Kennedy was dead

Vietnam was a lost cause only good

for folded flags being handed to weeping mothers

Nixon was a crook

Reagan and John Lennon had been shot

the Berlin wall had fallen

i heard first steps

crying babies

crying widows

joyous laughter

say cheese

wine glasses clinking together

realizing with a smile

this floor is mine

the foundation of a family

and i will love it


the teapot

began to whistle







she listens smiling

spring is quietly sneaking

on satin slippered feet

down winter’s hallway


she listens smiling


behind closed doors


tulips are snoring gently

but soon to wake


daffodils are whispering they should

arrive fashionably late


stock market bees buzz of nothing

but honey drippings and ticker tape


pansies sip tea

gossiping about cherry blossoms

who wear pearl earrings


too willing to open their petals

doomed to fall for a rake






poetry writing

two lumps

Sunday is the day

your old ghosts,


and crushing failures

drop in

for a spot of tea.

Americana geneology Kentucky poetry

Mabel Spaw Bates

Mabel Spaw Bates


I have dreamed about you

every night this week.

I would like to think you are visiting me

from the great beyond.

We’re in your house and

I can hear your voice,

I can smell your skin,

I can hear you laugh,

I can hear you sigh.

I can watch you smooth the table cloth

down with your hands

and wash the kitchen counter.

We watch Gone With the Wind together,

then have tea.

We look through an old Sears catalog,

we sort your quilt pieces,

we string buttons.

After we visit the Halls Gap Overlook,

we end the night at The Dairy Freeze.

I love you immeasurably.

The older I get,

the more I miss you.

Your absence is enough

to fill the world,

Mabel Spaw Bates.


Rest In Peace

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high tea

atop a Tibetan mountain

peaking through

a perfect cloud


i will take high tea

with the dalai lama


the platters


and cups

brought to us

upon the backs

of meticulously trained

boston terriers

billy goats

and bull frogs


when  given honey

wag away happily


his holiness will tell me a bad joke

as he pours

“Why is the Christian heaven paved with gold, but covered in newspaper?

Angel poop.”


to which i counter


“How do you make the universe laugh?

Tell it your plans…”


we giggle into our tea cups


Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends writing

our table cloth seemed more white

i shouldn’t have done it
hindsight being holy fuck

the check was paid

our table cloth seemed more white
because we were in kentucky

i remember the moment
a gust of wind violated
the stoic iron tables
where we held
doomed court
along the river promenade

that look is his eyes
what it was to see a man’s heart break

a red sea
parted in his tea cup

the pitcher of cream
screamed blasphemy

bridge lights shook into new evening green
fearing the blackening sky

when i admitted
to him
and the over priced pastries

that you were loved best
and kept
with the word


greetings from the colonies

it is sacrilege for me to say
i don’t care for the 4th of july

staking our independence perpetually
on someone else’s claim

i’m not unpatriotic for saying
every death in battle
is a death in vain

blowing our thumbs off
detonating explosives
is an american tradition

if we love our troops so much
let’s stop finding new and improved ways
for them to die

we sailed on a refugee ship from religious oppression
so that we could become more oppressive

the dutch wouldn’t let us stay more than a few nights
they didn’t want our puritanical bullshit
fucking up their children’s minds

my grandmother’s ghost
beaded with genocide
told me
you can’t discover a place
where other people are already living

america was built on a native graveyard

that’s why our culture is plagued
by angry poltergeists
and our child’s hands are glued
to a static tv
listening to paul revere
they’re here

the british weren’t so bad


i love tea

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

god lives in your mother’s kitchen

you are lovely
in your late morning robe

my ears have forgotten alarm clocks exist

invited to the table
by a red rosebush
i have tea with my closest ghosts


god lives in your mother’s kitchen

blueberry bagels are making the tangerines suspicious

i tell them julia child credited her longevity to red meat and gin

a cherry tree trial convenes beyond the window

the robin in the nest
just confessed
she was mae west
in another life

Jazz Music poetry Short Stories Uncategorized Urban Legends

death in a doll house

as i write


death perpetually sits in

the corner of my room

reading freud’s conceits


or when he’s feeling particularly




he is an old man now

as our time together is deep

smelling of camphor and whiskey

and cologne deemed a sin during biblical times


my constant companion

since the age of six

we have many times shared plastic play set high tea

and brushed barbie  hair

forced emily dickinson to eat bugs together


death in a doll house


he taught me long division

and later how to drive

bustled my prom dress

stood in the empty place

for the father daughter dance

at my halloween horror wedding

then sent me to mortuary college


how easily he became

my every electrified motivation


i so willingly devoured the

chocolate covered cherries

sugar-coated just for me


he has me hooked

on his sick sentimentality


luxuriating in the loss

agony so sweet upon the palate

injected into veins long desiccated

living in skin of unnatural colors


all i  wanted was a mommy in the kitchen

a daddy in the den

children in the treehouse

a reckless devil in hell

and a responsible god in heaven


so when it all died

i tried to become it

and i have failed


though i have receipts that reflect an attempt at a life lived

spanning the miles between California and New Jersey



he smiles at me wickedly

with his three good teeth

and says


remember baby girl

you will die

in the same place

you began


fearing unknown noises in the hall


right here