Wednesday, December 5, 2012

New Resolution

After hearing about the tragic fire in Bangladesh, which took the lives of more than a hundred innocent girls, and having it traced to by (to me) reliable evidence that it can be traced to Walmart's customary attempts to pretend that their clothes are not made in sweatshops where young women work for as low as $2.40 per MONTH, I have resolved not to ever buy clothes again from any catalog, where almost every wearable item is marked (by U.S. law) "imported".  The singular one not so designated is not worth my time to look for it!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Redwood Lullaby for Sunday Scribblings

Oak tree and redwood tree,
Madrona and pine
Sing,"Close your eyes and sleep
Baby of mine."

Mother bird on her nest,
Beasts of the wild
Sing, "Close you eyes and rest,
Sleep, little child."

Someday my child will go
Far from the trees
No longer hear the low
Whispering breeze.

But while you choose to stay
The forest's strong arm,
Will guard you night and day
keep you from harm.

Oak tree and redwood tree,
Madrona and pine
Sing, "Linger close to me
Baby of mine!"

Sunday, August 5, 2012


The Sunday Prompt is Wise Old Owl

No, I'm not a wise old owl. I think perhaps no one is really wise.  Certainly I do not feel wise at all.  But there are many things that I "give a hoot" about. Also several that I don't give a hoot about.  I'll list them first (because  its easier).
                1. Celebrity gossip.
                2. Most celebrities.  I usually do not even know                         their names, unless they're authors.
                3. T.V. shows. (I got rid of my T.V.). 
Things that I do give a hoot about:
                1. Good books, good writing, good art.
                2. Music! Folk to symphonies and everything between
                    (but especially Mozart's 20th and 22nd Piano
                3. The welfare of those I love.
                4.The politics of my city, state, and nation.
                5. Peace for the world.
                6. Global warming (Climate change) and trying to
                   convince the nay-sayers that is real and a threat to
                   everyone on earth.
                7. Last, the frivolous stuff: pretty nail polish, bright
                   clothes, making a good impression. That ID photo of
                   me on my blog was taken five years when I had 
                   more hair and fewer wrinkles.                     


The Sunday Scribblings prompt is Wise Old Owl.


Sunday, July 29, 2012



I thought the world was mine.
I thought that I could swim in any ocean.
Clouds below were my familiar landscape.

How could I know that wings that carried me
would be landlocked, horizons shrink and borders close forever?

Oil executives
I object!
It's my life that you circumscribe.
I miss my world!
Your oil is running short; so too my years
and I am bitter with thwarted expectations.

I know that somewhere children starve.
Their eyes rebuke my selfishness.

But oh! I want my steaming jungles, jangle
of unknown tongues, smells of roasting coffee,
lights of a city never seen before that mark
a thousand homes in each of which
I live a lifetime
for a moment.
         Phyllis Sterling Smith   

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Under My Eaves

A delightful surprise

Sunday, July 15, 2012


If I could I would live on words.
I would chew grainy words like pumpernickel, lick
slick words that slip against the tongue
and melt like lilikoi
(luscious Hawaaian ice-upon--a-stick).
Nor would I live on food words only
but feast on all the savory
flavored dictionary words
the meaty ones like buxom and contemplate
seasoned with peppery sprinkles
of quip and apple
and I would nibble the edges
of flat round cookies of extrapolate, reforestation
and tickle my palate with perfumed words:
Aldebaran, oriental, satin.

I would open Webster's unabridged
and grow fat on specious, unadulterated, irresolution.
Never never would I grow hungry.

I would give thanks to the great god Gutenberg
and lay me down to sleep
after I sip a soothing drink brewed from
soporific, subliminal,and seraphim
and I will dream of books and libraries
burgeoning with sustenance.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dreams and memories (Part One)

At times I lie awake at night following a stream of consciousness that has me partly remembering and partly experiencing random moments from the past. Last night I encountered something from my very early past when my family first moved to Stockton, CA, from Santa Cruz where Daddy had been in partnership at the Beach City Cleaners with my mother's twin brother who now had other plans. Daddy was delighted to get a job at Fiberboard Products Company, a paper processing plant. He was started at the lowest job level, although in retrospect I think they may have been cognizant of his physics degree with thoughts of its future usefulness to them.

In Santa Cruz I had entered at the usual age of six, but due to crowded schools and the fairly high degree of intelligence I still give myself credit for, I was skipped all the way to grade 3 before we moved, when I was still less than 7. This was later to become a misery to me when the Stockton school year started. But that was in the future that summer when we moved to Stockton.

Daddy was being paid the low starting salary of his new position, so we were poor by almost anyone's standards. We rented a tiny house (called by neighbors, “ The Cracker Jack house”, as we later learned. It was the worst-built house on a street that had extremely modest homes occupied by their owners. It had two nice features, however, - a peach tree and an apricot tree covered with luscious fruits. So each hot summer evening, Mama would pack a picnic supper and Junior and me into the car and drive us to meet Daddy. But there was a catch to this. A railroad track ran into the plant and along it traveled trains carrying sometimes hundreds of cars. We had to stop on the wrong side of them and wait – and wait. Why couldn't Daddy just step across? Because the crossing was manned by a guard, employed by FBP and he wouldn't allow it. So we sat in our hot car and sweltered, bathed in ineffable stink of a paper-processing plant.

But finally – FINALLY – the train would pass and we would drive to the slough (pronounced by us to rhyme with through) and unpack our baloney sandwiches and peaches or apricots, find a tree to sit under to eat. Junior and I never had a hint that there was any hardship in our parents' lives. It was cooler by the water. We must have fished. It was never high on our family's list of pleasures, but I think someone must have done so because I remember that we had fried catfish the next day, heavily breaded and fried in bacon fat.

Our little house was wonderful in other ways that summer. Our street (was it Monterey Street?) dead-ended at the other at a boulevard that led from downtown to a park. Across that boulevard stretched a great area of undeveloped grassland,and that was where the circus pitched their large tent and the many smaller ones for side shows that lined their midway. Early-arriving circus workers had mowed the tall grass to a lawn-like length. But one thing they could not do, and that was to connect to a water line that did not exist. The circus set up in all its colorful wonder. The nearest water was at the end of our block that was farthest from the circus. So every day the elephants paraded past our yard, a very large number of elephants, to be bathed and to slake their thirst. I don't remember any other animal being brought to our hydrant, but I guess a horse or a dog or even a tiger would have their attendants carry to them buckets of water. And we weren't interested in men.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


My Eureka moment occurred more than once as I was translating Brazilian Portuguese poetry into English. It was the moment when I found the exact word in English that could still fit into the rhyme, rhythm and meaning form of the original. My only published book of translations (published by the department of Portuguese Studies at University of California at Santa Barbara, was “As Evidencias” by Jorge de Sena.  It was a coherent though sometimes mysterious book of twenty-one sonnets, all inter-related .  Here is an example:
       Seacoast anchors the dawn-illumined mist,
       and in its heart the ltttle birds that trill
       are crackle of the waves, docile and still
       at water's edge, not seen and only guessed.

       Green in the distance on the gilded slope
       the hills, sliding through hours of night and day,
       hover suspended in the freshness they
       knew when from shadow they took solid shape.

       Beside me now you breathe. Upon your breast
       as, in deep dark dens, the animals lay
       themselves to sleep (as shown on pictured pages)
       dries, serene, an amorous vein at rest.
       One after other must be dried each day
       in the fragile web of which they weave the ages.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

For the father of my children

              1917 - 2009
 Should I forget my name -
        and yours -

and shuffle, groping, speechless
through corridors half seen,
my search will not be aimless
nor my mind quite empty.

My toothless cry
will be your forgotten name.

Deaf ears will listen for your voice.

Driving my shambling steps will be
an ache of longing,
encompassing, intense,
for an essence that is you
and for your arms that held me close
     so long ago
             or was it yesterday?

Sunday, April 22, 2012


A gal was recounting her woes
As she pulled on her old running clothes.
I am sad to report
That my times now fall short.
But I have a long run in my hose!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


N is for Nasturtium
Bright as is sunlight
Spicy to the tongue.
Remember how Mother
Would butter the bread
Saying, "Go pick the leaves.
Make your lunch sandwich -
With cheese if you want.
Milk or hot chocolate?
It's all yours to pick!

Phyllis Sterling Smith (Granny Smith)

Sunday, March 4, 2012


Well, my problem was search! My search was  for a way to post on Sunday Scribblings! The problem
was that, when I went  to post, I found that my posting site was clogged with old postings and would not take new ones. Fortunately son Otto, computer expert conquered  the problem for me.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


The Sunday Scribblings prompt is Modern.
 Why do I  consider this a suitable poem for the prompt? Because I intend to show two different ways that it can be punctuated. And it will be up to you to decide which one is "modern". That is for later however.  I have already missed the dead line for Sunday Scribblings, so it can't be a genuine one, and I have been sick all week.  Good Night!
 a sonnet
     They told me it was time for me to heal,
     no longer miss you through all times of day
     and so I tried to fit, and now I feel
     your absence only once an hour – their way.

     Of course they didn't know the time I spent
     within that “once-an-hour” remembering you,
     the laughter shared, the places that we went,
     our pride and worries as our children grew.

     So now remembering you can give me pleasure.
               But sometimes tears still ambush me at night.
                         Your living body should be by my side!
     Why can't I banish logic that I treasure
               and conquer mind, have you within my sight
                         not know all tales of “afterlife” have lied?

Sunday, February 12, 2012


The Sunday Scribblings prompt is REST

Sometimes REST can be forced upon one by circumstances such as illness or age:
THIS YEAR  a villanelle
This year as spring comes tenderly
sun beads the silver threads of rain
too frail for weight of memory.

The scent of loam and hum of bee
drift faintly to her once again
this year as spring comes tenderly.
This is the year she will not see
the blossoms bud and bloom and wane
too frail for weight of memory.

She thinks she once was young and free
not bound in bed in which she's lain
this year as spring comes tenderly.
New grasses slim fragility
mirrors her failing pulse and vein
too frail for weight of memory.

Ban hope, ban song, ban flowering tree!
Remembering brings too much pain
this year as spring comes tenderly
too frail for weight of memory.

Monday, February 6, 2012

D is for Dandelions!

Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday has reached "D" in its ninth round. Please click on the link to see what other participants have chosen as their favorite "D"s.  And to see, also, what a wonderful tradition Denise Nesbitt started for our enjoyment.

These grow in my own
 yard next to the walk

Dandelions are more lush here than in any other place that I have ever visited with almost every lawn, mown or still unmown, studded with gold. When Port townsend was a place to visit rather than my home, I preferred to come at dandelion time. And, since I have lived here I have met many other residents who feel the same about dandelions as I do - glorious, golden gifts, first harbingers of spring! 

Sunday, February 5, 2012


The prompt for Sunday Scribblings is LESSON.

This may well be a lesson for me!  This is a poem I wrote several years ago, and I thought at the time that I had invented a new form of rhyme.  Knowing, however, that multitudinous rhyme forms exist, it is now hard for me to think that this is original!  So, if you are more informed than I am, please tell me about it.  That will be the lesson TO me.


Sing not of poison oak or sticker.
The sunlit meadow plays no tricks.

Hear note of lark or bee and sing it.
Ignore the broken wing and sting.

Reject vast emptiness of ocean.
Its rosy shells are better shown.

Man's poisoned air may choke and stifle.
Sing only of impassioned flights.

For gloomy word be reprimanded.
Don't let it slip that man is damned.

This bent brown child convulsed with rickets?
Try gentler views, more wisely risked.

Avert your eyes from floorless chasm.
Erect for skulls a smiling mask.

Though you have probably detected my rhyme strategy by now, I will pretend that this is a lesson FROM me and TO you:  

The couplets have regular four beat lines. The first line ends with one word with two syllables. The second condenses the two syllables into one word using the same consonants and, if necessary, omitting a silent vowel.  For instance, the title drops the "e" which it needed complete the two-syllable sound. In the first verse, one of the two "i"s is dropped. 

The rhyme, however, actually depends upon sounds, not spelling.  In the 3rd verse, "ocean" and "shown" are an example of this, as are "chasm" and "mask".

Lesson over!  Please turn to Sunday Scribblings to see other responses to this prompt. Do so by clicking on link.

Sunday, January 29, 2012


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Anna = Action! From the time she was small, Anna danced, climbed, balanced, twirled and jumped from high places. In the photo above, she was just getting to her room at our 2007 family reunion at Asilomar State Park. For her, this was the quickest route.

Here, in 2011, is Anna, resident of New York City area, actress, musician, model, music teacher, and still climbing!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Normal Day?


The day of destruction dawns like any day
-birds at the feeder, crumbs upon the table-
          "We're almost of toaster bread"she says.
        They hear no murmur of subterranean stresses
       to cause new rifts to gape, to split wide open
                      when earth's crust slips or an inadvertent word
releases tsunamis of ocean or tears         

The day of destruction dawns like any day.
Perhaps the undetected clot may migrate.
              "I'll buy another loaf on my way home."
And who knows? Maybe tis is not the day
the world will end. It still might be a day
like any other day.