Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year

Gateway ... in Cornwall, England, © Joan Z. Rough, 2004

Here we are about to leave the old year 2006, to enter into the New Year, 2007. What will it hold for us? Where will we be one year from now? Will the world be at peace? Will I be able to live each day to its fullest? Will I be able to recognize a ray of light even in the darkest hour?

It's been a tough year here at my house. My mom's health has been a big factor as well as the health of the planet and that of our country. I've felt very gloomy at times ... hopeless ... helpless ... unable to see the light. But with the changing of the year and the lengthening days, I am feeling a bit optimist for a change.

I'm suffering from a bit of "empty nest" syndrome at the moment. My kids left home years ago ... my son will turn 40 in a few months and my daughter will be 37 in May. It's not them I miss so much, it's my mom. She's been living with us for over 5 years. I miss her "good morning"s, her sneaking cigarettes out behind the house and her fiesty good humor.

She is now safe and happy in a nearby nursing home/rehab facility, where hopefully she will learn to walk again and to continue to be an inspiration to everyone around her. She has a tough road ahead. On top of emphysema, lung cancer and osteoporosis, she has bones that need healing and muscles that need strengthening. It's a "one day at a time" challenge filled with acceptance, acceptance and more acceptance.

I was recently reminded of the words of Thomas Merton: "This day will not come again." And so it is with humbleness that I carry these words with me into the new year and hope that I will remember them each morning as I open my eyes to greet the great unknown that fills each day. I would like to hold every moment as special and recognize in each day, great learning and clear light.

I wish all of you, my friends and family, a bright year ahead, filled with the joy of living! Happy New Year!!

See more writings on "Destination" at Sunday Scribblings!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Christmas Eve!

Nandina, © Joan Z. Rough, 2006

When mom arrived back in her room this morning after her surgery, she told us to "get out and do some shopping or something! I need to sleep!" So I asked myself why I worry so much and am pleased to know she will be fine! The doctors said there were no problems during the surgery and anticipate none in the coming days. She'll be sitting up tomorrow and I've been instructed to bring in some decent pjs for her next round of adventures ... walking again!!

Thanks for everyone's prayers and kind messages ... may blessings be heaped upon you in the coming days!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

My Mom At Christmas

frosty leaves at the river's edge, © Joan Z. Rough, 2006

Dear Friends and Family,

I want to update you all on my mom's health and the most recent events effecting her health. This past June, after 6 months of remission, her cancer showed up again, in exactly the same spot ... very small but back. She has gone through another 5 months of chemo, to find that the cancer is still there, but smaller.

She has "chemo brain fog," which plagues most people who go through extended treatment. She is very tired, forgetful, loses her balance often and tends to be confused alot of the time. She is currently taking a break from chemo and checks in with the doctor every 6 weeks. She'll probably have another scan sometime in February to see what is happening with the cancer in her lung.

Just before Thanksgiving we asked her to give up driving and after one last car trip to the supermarket on a very rainy, windy day, she said okay, enough!

This past Sunday, the phone rang at 7 AM. It was Mom, saying she had gotten tangled in her oxygen line and had just fallen. We called 911 and she was whisked away to the ER where she was diagnosed with a fractured shoulder. She was put on pain killers and told to take it easy and not use the arm ... there was only a sling to hold the arm, as the bone was lined up nicely and there was nothing else to do. She experienced a great deal of pain and was very shaky on her feet. She needed lots of help moving around.

Yesterday, we began preparations to have her admitted to an assisted living facility for a short stay of 3 weeks, where she could have around the clock nursing care and expert pain management. At about 3 pm we heard her calling from her apartment downstairs. She had again gotten tangled in her O2 line and once more had fallen. This time she suffered a spiral fracture of the femur just below the hip. Both the shoulder and leg fractures are on the left side of her body.

She is now at Martha Jefferson Hospital, here in C'ville, where her doctors are trying to get her blood thickened up so that she can have surgery on the leg. They will place a rod down the center of the femur to hold the bone in place so that she will be able to walk again.

She has a dynamic set of doctors and is getting blood transfusions and Vitamin K to reverse the affects of the blood thinner she has been taking. If they can get it to acceptable levels she could go into surgery tomorrow, but most likely it will be Sunday, Christmas Eve.

After her surgery she will be in the hospital for 2 or 3 more days before being transferred to a rehab/nursing home facility where she will undergo physical therapy to get her back on her feet ... probably for about a month.

Needless to say, it's been a difficult time for all of us, but Mom continues to joke around and be as fiesty as ever. Please keep her in your prayers over the holidays and into the New Year. She joins Bill and I in wishing you all a Happy Holiday Season and a New Year filled with peace on earth, good will toward all beings and lots of belly laughs ... probably the best medicine of all!


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Storms ... for One Deep Breath

This weeks prompt on One Deep Breath is "storms." It is a stormy time of year. It is a stormy time of life.

angry tears
like sudden summer rain
thunder and lightning, too

hot tempered heart
autumnal gusts of leaves
chilled by rimey nights

in winter’s hand
wind carries frozen crystals
the field a drift of snow

April’s greening pasture
early birds sing at dawn
a sudden flood of mirth


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

December Extremes

With day time temperatures reaching into the 60 degrees F range, one would think that the ice on the river that began developing several days ago would melt away. It does look a bit slushy by 4 PM, but then the temperatures drop quickly into the low 30s and the river presents us with new ice patterns by morning. Canada geese flap back and forth trying to pick a spot to land and Big Blue, huddles on the dock in the morning sun, looking somewhat like the grim reaper. This morning a huge bald eagle flew low over the river ... probably looking for a meal through the thin scrim of ice.

The summers here are filled with the music of colorful songbirds, cicadas and crickets. Flowers and trees provide abundant food. But it's during the colder months that we really get down to the basics of life here on the river. The birds that remain throughout the winter must work harder for their meals. Without leaves on the trees and flowers in the garden they become more visable to my eye ... the Cardinal's red can cheer up the gloomiest days. With the bird
feeders full of black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds and chunks of peanuts, we have joyous entertainment right outside the window.

a cardinal in the weeping cherry tree outside my kitchen window

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Ice On The River!

7 AM, December 9, 2006

This morning we had ice on the river for the first time this fall. It won't last long. Tomorrow and the beginning of the week will be near 60 degrees F again. Boo!! Hiss!! We have way too much warm weather here. I want a bit of winter at least in December for the holidays!!

The meadow still hasn't been mowed but it's just gorgeous in the early morning sun with frost on the grasses and blackberry canes. I'll post more photos in the coming days of this morning's spectacular ice show!!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

My Movie Mogul

That's my husband, Bill, holding the box, as he plays the butcher in a new film, entitled Disconnected, which hopefully will open in neighborhood theatres across the country in 2007. That is if he doesn't end up on the cutting room floor!

His last film appearance and also his first, was in Disappearances, which opened last year and is now out on DVD. In that film he plays a bartender and offers Kris Kristofferson a drink! He has one spoken line in both films. If he's not careful, his next film role will be as a baker ... in a film called, Discovered!! Maybe he'll have more lines by then!!

Because he's always been a film buff and has now gotten involved as an investor in independent film production, I call him my "movie mogul." Watch out Hollywood!!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Close Up ... for One Deep Breath

Lotus Seed Pod, Joan Z. Rough © 2006

This weeks prompt for One Deep Breath is "close up."

asleep within
swollen spheres
seeds of life

slender roots expand
in water’s fecund flow
goldfish spawning

in summer sun
lotus blossoms flourish
cycle unbroken


Sunday, December 03, 2006

Winter Garden

The garden, December 1, 2006

It's winter in the garden. The beds have been put to sleep for the coldest months. We've trimmed back, added mulch and watch as new color schemes echo the season. Winter berry, holly and nandena with their red berries and green leaves, impose a holiday spirit on the landscape. They stand out against a backdrop of winter browns and tans.

But the star of the show for the last month has been this Baby Blessed Iris, which friend Maria, gave me. She never told me that it would bloom in December, leaving it as a surprise I suppose. It has been blooming for well over a month through the crazy weather we've been having ... from killing frosts to mid 70 degree weather days. Today it feels like snow, yet this yellow beauty just keeps on going and more buds grow evident every day. She will bloom again in the spring along with the other irises, be dormant through the heat of the summer and come back to life once again in late October.

Baby Blessed Iris

Then there is this plant which I bought as an annual and have forgotten the name of. I planted it in the spring. It bloomed vigorously all summer, through 100 degree days, and now still flourishes just before the winter solstice. This plant is obviously not an annual. I will definately plant more of this next spring if I can find it again.

The mystery plant, December, 2006

These two flowering plants with their "don't ever give up attitudes" are making the garden a real delight this year. There have been days of late when I've felt like walking off the job, but these two winners along with my mom, keep reminding me that every day is a gift and we must fill each one with as much grace as we can muster.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sketching November ... For Poetry Thursday

Maples in November

Gray days in November bring about feelings of melancholy for me. The bright colors of spring, summer and fall are hidden, waiting for the planet's tilt to bring the sun once more over the northern hemisphere, when the explosion of color will begin again, taking us into the warmer seasons.

Sketching November

Eyes trace limbs
Across a somber sky

I draw lines staining
An emptiness no hand can fill

It's not the trees I desire
Only the murmur of leaves


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

My Mother's legacy ... for one deep breath

Mom before her diagnosis playing "choo choo" with great grandson Noah

The prompt on One Deep Breath this week is "legacy." Here is haibun about my favorite teacher, my mom.

At 83, she has lung cancer, emphysema and a host of other small dilemmas grinding away at her her body. The cancer has been treated with chemo. It’s dimished but not gone ... still hanging in there in one small spot.

tangled in her breathing tube
she says *#@+
then giggles

shrugs and smiles
confesses a great life
laughs at the smallest provocation

“Chemo brain fog,” renders her confused and shaky. It may get better with time, but probably not ... especially if she decides to do more chemo. She’s taking a break now. Will reconsider in three months after the next scan.

losing names dates
forgetting fouls the road
confusing conversation

I ask her to give me her keyes. Anger at first, then peace, as if she’s relieved. Now she says it’s the best thing she has done for herself ... is celebratory.

her spirit shines
through clouded days
she is my mother

teaching her children
hope eternal love


Friday, November 24, 2006

Giving Thanks

We return thanks to our mother, the Earth
which sustains us.
We return thanks to the rivers and streams,
which supply us with water.
We return thanks to all herbs,
which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
We return thanks to the moon and stars,
which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
We return thanks to the sun,
which has looked upon the Earth with a beneficent eye.
Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in Whom is embodied all goodness,
and Who directs all things for the good of Her children.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Chicken Soup ... for One Deep Breath

river in autumn

The brothers arrive today from New England for Thanksgiving. last week I cooked up a pot of chicken soup for anyone who shows signs of cold or flu while they're here .... my grandmother's recipe .... so delicious and warming. It's filled with carrots, onions, parsnips, brown rice and tender chicken. We'll have it for dinner tonight with crunchy sour dough and a big tossed salad. Perfect for a chilly autumn evening!!

smell of chicken soup
warming on the stove
grandma’s penicillin
for soothing scratchy throats

Look for more haiku here describing sensory pleasures!

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Fall Meadow

Most of the leaves are gone from the trees now ... the meadow fades to gold, bronze, brown, shades of beige ... colors of the season 'til warm sun and spring rain bring the grasses alive and the world turns green once again. The wood across the river displays lines of trunks and branches. Mounds of mountain laurel remain green through the cold and at night a few lights from several houses across the water whisper that others live here too.

I've called friend Phil and he'll come with his tractor sometime in the next weeks to mow the meadow down. I have this done every fall to keep the blackberries, honeysuckle, kudzu and oriental bittersweet at bay. I may have it cut again in the spring after the first flush of growth and I determine that these highly invasive species are getting out of "control." I hate doing it but I want to keep some space open for native grasses and wild flowers that would be gone if I let the others take over.

When we first moved here almost 6 years ago, the meadow was a "lawn" of weeds, cut weekly. We have let it grow except for the paths and the annual cutting. The varieties of wild flowers has increased and so have the blackberries which attract a multitude of birds and small mammals to feast throughout the summer.

I try to keep the meadow looking tidy and to provide some habitat for the local population of wild creatures. The growth also keeps silt from running off into the river from this piece of land. But I also fool myself ... I can't, don't control much here. The bittersweet I spotted growing down on the river bank wasn't there last year ... this is the first I've seen of it in that location and it was most likely carried there by a gentle song bird ... perhaps a cardinal or the mockingbird that lives in the cedar tree down by my mother's door. The river continues to silt in and change from day to day ... the birds come and go with the seasons.

faded goldenrod

For now I enjoy the fading meadow, notice the bent grasses where the deer sleep at night and look forward to the first snow fall that will render what I see out my window an entirely different landscape.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sunset On The River

sunset on the river

Sunsets are extremely beautiful here on the Rivanna during October and early November. As the sun lowers behind us in the west, the trees on the the east bank flare up like a massive bonfire ... the slow moving river catches every glint and flicker as the day comes to an end. We sit and watch, saluting each spark with a sip of wine and gratitude for our special place in this world.

Tonight we will also raise a glass to the changes that are about to begin taking place in our country. Yesterday's elections were a call to change the way we conduct ourselves in this world. I pray that those who have been elected will be able to bring peace and hope to our entire global community.

There was one major dissapointment. The marriage ammendment defining a marriage as a union between a man and a woman, will be attached to our state constitution. There will be no allowance for men or women of the same sex, living together, to enjoy the conveniences of living a loving life together ... whether they are sexually active together or not. This ammendment will effect everyone. Unmarried sisters, for instance, living together will no longer be able to will their belongings to each other, make medical decisions for each other and so on. Hopefully, this is not the end of the story.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Halloween Haibun ... for One Deep Breath

This week's prompt for One Deep Breath is to write Haibun ... a combination of prose and haiku. Here is my contribution along with photos of the pumpkin carving my grandkids did while visiting us on the Outer Banks just before Halloween. Find more examples of haibun here.


Blue Sky ... mild ocean breezes. Deena makes the first cut. Aha, a lid!! Zoe and Noah scoop stringy innards, draw faces with magic markers on bumpy skin. Deena wields her knife once more, cuts eyes, a nose, a mouth with missing teeth. Sun fills the empty shell!!

orange orb
filled with slimy seeds
a glowing jack-o-lantern

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Photography Exhibition ... for Poetry Thursday

Yes, I'm back and I will post some photos from my vacation on the Outer Banks of North Carolina sometime in the next couple of days. It was a wonderfully relaxing time but I'm glad to be home.

This week's prompt for Poetry Thursday is to reflect on a favorite line of poetry or quote. I wrote this poem a number of years ago when I was deeply involved in exhibiting my photos. The above image is the invitation to my last exhibition in 1998.

Photography Exhibition

How can I say things that are pictures?
Tony Morrison

Split second

Flooded with light


Portraits of myself
Behind the lens


Hung like clothes
In the sun
To dry


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Sea and Haiku for One Deep Breath

This is the view from the living room and deck in the beach house we are vacationing in for the next week. It's really wonderful here at this time of year. Yesterday was rainy but lovely. Otherwise we've had sun and temperatures much warmer than we expected. It's been a very relaxing, lazy time ... walks on the beach with the dogs first thing in the morning, riding my bike, naps, reading and just day dreaming. It's been hard for me to think about my blog, especially because it's been hard to get photos up ... don't know what their problem is but it's annoying. And annoying isn't allowed here at the beach.

I did write a quick haiku for One Deep Breath and you can find more here.

the sea
spewmy waves
a lone gull diving
pelicans dipping in the surf

Hopefully I'll be back with more before we leave this gorgeous place.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

River Mist

This is what the river looks like these cool fall mornings. Tomorrow morning we will leave this behind for a week or so and head over to the ocean for our annual retreat on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The summer folks will be gone, most of the shops closed and there will be few people on the beach. Our daughter and grandkids will come a week from today and we'll build sand castles and have a good time. We rent a lovely ocean front home right on the ocean with room for all of us.

Hopefully, I'll be able to send you some images and maybe a haiku or two while I'm there if our internet connection is working.

Hope everyone has a peaceful weekend!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Autumn Palette ... for Poetry Thursday

The Rivanna River, early October, 2006

Autumn is such a nostalgic time for me. It is a time for remembering all of life's gifts, especially the gift of a life partner who, like a fine wine, only grows more wonderful with age.

Autumn Palette
for Bill

Across the river trees flare
yellow orange gold
the flow of water a painting
awash in late day light
ever changing in intensity
as ruffles of wind eddy the surface
invisible fingers at play

A walk we took years ago
before we became us
in woods of scarlet sugar maples
Vermont air crisp and clear
the lake before us blue shimmering
deep and endless as the sky
we wandered under
projecting our future together
on the white canvas
of a passing cloud

We were young and limber
ready to climb the mountains
flame red in the distance
never imagining this day
you and I burnished by time
settled on a river bank
reflecting in October light


Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Big Blue ... for One Deep Breath

After three days of gray clouds and flooding rains (5 1/4 " ), the sun came out yesterday, revealing one of the most gorgeous October days I can remember. Big Blue, as we call a our resident Great Blue Heron, perched on our dock taking in the warmth of the day.

I wrote the following for One Deep Breath's prompt, to contribute something about the countryside. Find more here.

big blue preens
gossamer plumage
at his feet frogs forage
dappled morning light plays
in groves of scarlet maples

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Body .... for Poetry Thursday

from Nicolaides The Natural Way To Draw, © 1942

This weeks prompt on Poetry Thursday is ... the body. So I dug out this mrs heartwell poem that "fits perfectly."

body tone

ignoring fleshy overflow
mrs heartwell wriggles
into tights and leotard
drives ten miles at six a m
to the fitness farm
where she huffs and puffs
lifts weights
attempts pushups
watches her body
bounce across glass

eardrums protected
with plugs of foam
she can’t hear
the instructor
barking commands
only the beat bumping
from speakers overhead
she just follows
the crowd pressing
harder and harder
fading in and out
like the dark


Monday, October 02, 2006

Books and Reading .... for One Deep Breath

Reading is one of my most favorite things and I'm a bookaholic. I cannot go into a bookstore without buying just one more. If this addiction were to alcohol and drugs, I'd be one sick puppy! But thankfully it's just books!! So my response to One Deep Breath's prompt to books and reading was quick and simple. Go here for more on the subject.

the book on the table
tempts me with its pages
delicious words
capture my senses
meaning ambrosial

reading through the night
story binds me to the past
the sweet history of breathing
flavors the dark with love
no time for sleep

i’ve drifted away
on somebody else’s raft
words keep me afloat
clinging to meaning
i survive an angry sea


Sunday, October 01, 2006


The only fall colors here right now are in the garden. Sedums and fall mums in lovely colors remind us that tree leaves will soon start turning. Here in "warm" Virginia, it could be a while. And since it was a droughty summer, there may be little to none. Another week or so should tell the tale.

In the photo above, the darker burgundy flowers are Autumn Joy Sedums and start out a lovely pale pink, slowly darkening over a month to this deep, rich color. I don't know the name of the pink ones in this photo but they just opened this past week and are also Sedums.

I wrote the following poem a long time ago and it's about autumn in Vermont where we lived for well over 18 years. In the last 5 or so years we were there, we pressed our own cider from a small orchard of very old apple trees that produced several varieties of the best apples I've ever tasted. We also raised Romney sheep, angora goats and chickens. We were definately hippies and depended on the land and our livestock for much of what we ate. But I digress, here is the poem and yes, it often did snow in October!


The last of the crop dislodged
I gather windfalls firm and rimy
Rake the bruised into piles
Where pincered earwigs gather
Pulp ferments in the sun
Droning yellow jackets
Sample the brew

My children pretend not to hear
When I ask for their help prefer
The rustle of leaves tumbling
and diving scatter yesterday’s work

With sharpened knife I quarter
Blushing rounds pack the barrel
To overflowing lower the plate until
It resists pressing sweet amber liquid

I’m drunk on October apples
And wood smoke swishing mare’s tails
Across a field of sky
The threat of snow my morning


Tuesday, September 26, 2006

windows and doors ... haiku for One Deep Breath

Ginger Cat Dreaming

This week's prompt on One Deep Breath was to write haiku using images of windows and/or doors. Here is my contribution. For more go to One Deep Breath.

stormy day
rain spatters leaf strewn path
windows rattle

smell of baking bread
gust of wind blows
the door ajar

ginger cat dreams
sparrows feeding just beyond
the window pane

the river flows without end
inside I cannot hear it


Saturday, September 23, 2006

Instructions ... for Sunday Scribblings

Doll, Polaroid Transfer, © 2000

The Studio clean up is well under way and is feeling so good, I had time to get inspired by Sunday Scribblings' prompt , simply called .... Instructions! See more takes on the prompt here!


I’m sick and tired of ....

Release it!

Yes, but I ....

Let it go!

But who will ....?

It doesn’t matter!

Well, somebody has to ....

Release it!

I can’t!

Then live with the consequences!

But, you see if I don’t, then ....

I can’t hear you!

Yes, you can! You just responded!

I can’t see you!

Well, what if I ....?

See ya!

Where did you go?


Thursday, September 21, 2006

Daybreak ... for Poetry Thursday

This week's Poetry Thursday prompt is to go deep inside to see what's going on in there ... to write from our authentic self. This is not hard to do for me right now, as I have the poem below, written a number of years ago that fits as well today as it did when I wrote it.

I'm feeling crunched for time. I have too many things on my plate, all of which I delight in ... but there just aren't enough hours in the day to do them all. As if I needed another something on my to-do list, I signed up and am taking a 4 part pattern alteration class which meets once a week. I used to sew most of my own clothes and when my kids were little, all of their clothes. I've lately had the urge to do a bit of sewing again and that's how I've found myself in this predicament. The class is exciting ... this week I learned how to make the perfect pants pattern ... just for me ... and the fabrics available are more beautiful than ever.

Of course if I could get my studio organized I'd save myself lots of time. I think for now, I'm going to cut back on my blogging a bit to a couple of times a week, until I get my studio in order so that when I'm ready to work on a project, it's easy to access the space and the tools. I will naturally continue with One Deep Breath and Poetry Thursday.

Time managent is not a strength of mine. It's a nightmare ... like this poem!


A tranquil pool reflects
as only water can
the confection of moon
star lanterns
show the way down
to the mouth of a cave

A tattered moth
hands me her flame
tells me to wait
just inside at the edge
for a ferry to deliver me
to the middle of the night

Aboard the vessel
the oarsman leers
with eyes that glow
in burning sockets
his mouth overflowing
knots of squirming eels
I hold the flame close
easing my fear
a solitary owl hoots
at the sight of land

I am lifted to shore
by rigid talons
left on the sand
where a porcelain clock
elephant high
stands guard
naming the hours
as they race around
an eroding track

The clock strikes twelve
spills sleeping cuckoos
severed hands
left without time
frantic numerals gather momentum
lifting the flame to possibility
I ignite the ticking sky


Monday, September 18, 2006

Autumn Haiku ... for One Deep Breath

Migrating Monarch stops to sip nectar on Autumn Joy Sedum

Saturday will be the first day of autumn. Days are already shorter and my energy and attention span are waning. I have the urge to go to bed when it gets dark and not get up until the sun is well up in the morning. For me it's a sleepy time, curling up with a good book time, steaming hot cider or tea time, a walk in the crunchy woods time.

Here are a few haiku to set the scene. For more, go to One Deep Breath

leaves drop
scratch the window pane
wind from the north

tea grows cold
book open on the bed
afternoon nap

turns the field bright yellow
the moon is full

cool night air
trace of frost on grass
toad sleeps well

from the chimney
smells of oak and poplar
fox hunts nesting mice

feather quilt
pulled over my head
bear hibernates


Thursday, September 14, 2006

my name is sally ... for Poetry Thursday

"coins in my cup"

This week's prompt for Poetry Thursday is to write as if you are someone other than yourself. Besides mrs heartwell, I've gotten to know a woman I call crazy sally. I've written about her but never in her voice. So, I thought I'd give it a try ... this is what I got.

my name is sally

i’m sixty-three
found two dollars
in change not enough
for coffee a sandwich
tuna on rye
lettuce a slice of tomato
i’ll wait
a few crusts here
and there collect
coins in my cup
watch for the cop
no loitering
in doorways
on grates
it’s winter
i’m tired
almost out
of aspirin my knees
the pain so sharp
it’s hard to move
fast when
big john
he scares me
yells and shouts
tries to grab
my hair
when he’s
i lost my comb
the other day
when i fell
in the street
cars kept coming
no one stopped
it’s cold
i need
a place
in the sun
no wind
it could


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Tanka ... for One Deep Breath

December Cold, 2005

I'm not exactly sure that this is Tanka, but judging from some of the examples that the gals at One Deep Breath provided, it well might be. It does fits the "emotional" style of such poems, but the rhythm is its own. For more Tanka and links to Tanka sights go to One Deep Breath.

somber memories
eyes filled with tears
i lift my umbrella
wind blows in bursts

a plain pine box
the coffin
your son made
as his soul raged
hammer striking nails

remember your joy
finding me
when i was lost
in a snow storm
hands blue with cold

i am the daughter
warmed by your love
he the forgotten one
who bruised your ego
breaking his heart

in december cold
rain turns to snow
wishing you safe journey
he stands in shadows
your steel heart just now still


Monday, September 11, 2006


Ground Zero Today, Sunday New York Times Magazine, September 10, 2006

I wrote the following poem several months after the event that changed all of us forever.

We’re All Born Naked
thoughts after 9/11

People are the issue
crudely beautiful
we temper intelligence
with obsession and fear

Build dreams on recycled
foundations aspire to bold heights
transformative possibilities
variations on ancient creeds

The poetry of patterning
woven in caustic silence
the resonance of thunder
the force of wind

We cling to the planet
standard earthly forms
playing eccentric roles
the face of violence
concealed within our genes


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Homecoming ... For Poetry Thursday

Tree Peony, Joan Z. Rough © 2005

A while ago Poetry Thursday put out a prompt for a poem about ... ahem ... sex! I started one for that prompt but as everyone knows one cannot often just write a poem in a few days about such an important subject. So, I let it sit and went back to it now and then, not realizing it really was finished. I took it to my poetry group the last time we met and they put their seal of approval on it. So here it is. It is another "mrs heartwell" poem and I hope you all enjoy it!!


mrs heartwell dons a negligee
sheer and flowing
for mr heartwells’s homecoming
he’s been gone for days
visiting the city
where neon lights
paint evening clouds
brilliant stars dribble
balls across a court
to thundering applause

she lights candles
plugs in dreamy voices
mathis sinatra
nat king cole
imagines his arms
around her melting
the chocolate she offers
tucked between her breasts
his hands exploring her body
searching for more

breathlessly she awaits
his arrival
a car approaching slowly
footfall on slate
the neighbor’s howling dogs

the evening throbs
shrill cicadas lightning flashes
rain on the roof
gurgles through gutters


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Happy New Year!!! It's September!!

The sweater I've been knitting for years!

Unlike most people, September is the month in which I celebrate the New Year! It goes back to when I was in elementary school and the first day of school arrived.

I always wore a new dress and new shoes. I remember my saddle shoes and the first pair of patent leather Mary Jane's I ever had ... but those were saved for Sundays. I remember my dresses as well. I loved gingham and big collars. I also loved school, my friends and being out from under my parent's prying eyes! We'd have field days, when we got to spend all day outside playing games, competing in sack races and just having fun. I remember the smell of the school and the cafeteria with it's trays of "interesting" foods. My favorites were Jello, canned corn and chocolate milk.

I loved selecting notebooks, pencils, pencil boxes, erasers. It was the important business of getting ready for that big first day of school! I still find it exciting to pick out new journals at this time of year and very special pens for filling their pages.

January, though the traditional time to celebrate the turning of the year, is usually dark and somber. There is just not enough excitement for me. At the ripe old age of sixty-something, I still celebrate and rejoice in September. Here is poem I offer to you.


That yellow bus is back
all shiny and clean
beeping 'round the circle
every morning at eight
then again in afternoon
Monday through Friday

I recall chalk dust days
blue gingham stained with chocolate
climbing trees and jump rope
books whispering dreams

Hours slip away
dropped stitches
in a Christmas sweater
I've been knitting for years
return to every fall
rows of raveled days
purled again to perfection


Happy New Year Everyone!!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Solitude ... For One Deep Breath

Lotus, Joan Z. Rough, © 2006

Alone with myself
I open my heart to sun
A happy flower

Sitting in silence
I hear the wind moving sand
A happy stone

In the dark of night
I hear lonely hearts crying
I send them prayers


For more haiku go to One Deep Breath.

I'm Back!

Resting Swans in Stratford, Ontario

We're back from a lovely vacation in Toronto and Stratford, Ontario. It's been a long summer and this was the first real opportunity I've had to unwind. We saw two shows in Stratford ... an excellent production of Ibsen's, Ghosts, and a so-so version of Shakespeare's, Twelfth Night. We wandered the banks of the Avon and sat in the gorgeous garden at our B&B just enjoying the cool air. In Toronto, we took a city tour, visiting fascinating ethnic neighborhoods. Everyone is so friendly and I loved the international flavor of it all. We ate really well, too! Toronto is a really great place for "foodies!"

As I get older, I'm finding that vacations aren't all about packing in the sights and being constantly on the go. Now it's more about really resting, like these swans ... if I don't see it all it's okay ... I just want to relax ... let the mind and body off the hook and enjoy every sweet moment. So we read, talked, day dreamed and had time to just be.

Overachiever that I am, I'd set myself a task before I left to record a moment every day with a photo and a haiku. Well, it didn't happen and I'm just as happy. Why must I always be "doing?"

The following are simply a few snapshots of things that caught my eye ...

Artist's Garden, Toronto

Mechanical Billboard, Toronto

Tourists At The Rogers Center, Toronto

Toronto Skyline

I'm happy to say that here at home, Tropical Storm Ernesto blessed us with 6 1/2 inches of rain while we were gone! The river is almost full again and everything is once again green. We're still not out of the woods but it sure does help!!

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Drought 2006

The meadow and river, June, 2006

The dock, June 2006

The above photos are what we looked like in June. On this acreage in Albemarle County we had unmeasurable rain in March ... 2 3/8" of rain in April ... 1 1/2" in May ... 7 1/4" in June. That's why we were looking really good in June.

The photos below show you what it looks like today. In July, I measured 1 1/2" of rain and so far for August, I've measured only 1/8" of rain. There is a 30% chance of thunder storms on Monday and Tuesday of next week. And then it will be September. According to local records we have a precipitation deficit of over 11 inches for the year. I would say it's worse right here.

The meadow and river, August 26, 2006

The dock, August 26, 2006

From our living room window we estimate that the river level has fallen about 1 foot this week alone. Given that this is a reservoir for the City of Charlottesville, it will continue to drop as citizens continue to water their lawns, fill their pools and deny that there is a problem.

According to the Rivanna Water and Sewer Authority, water usage has spiked recently to an average of 13.5 million gallons of water per day, with a record of 14.1 million gallons this past Wednesday. They would like to see usage drop to 12.5 million gallons per day.

That we are only under voluntary water restrictions is disturbing. Mandatory water restrictions should have been put into effect several weeks ago. It seems that our local government is as slow on the uptake as the feds, who for all intents and purposes denied the possible destruction of New Orleans by hurricanes for years. They were forewarned and did nothing. In doing so they have given us a pretty clear picture of how this country operates.

We have acres and acres of upscale developments in this county where inground water irrigation systems automatically water lawns every evening ... even if it is raining. The county appoved a new development of 900 homes recently just up the road from here. More are on the way. It seems to me that before more new homes are built inviting the growth our officials seem to believe is necessary, we should be making sure that we will have enough water to go around.

The so called solutions to our water problems that have been approved by area officials by enlarging the Ragged Mountain Reservoir and piping water over to the Rivanna are years away. The proof of how much it will help is beyond that. Who knows what the number of households in the area will be by then? Who knows if these drought conditions will continue until then? Will there be enough money to make the changes that have been approved?

With Global Warming and the predictions of major climate change, it is time for all of us to start thinking outside of the same old box we've been living in. It is time to open our eyes, to start listening and to take actions that are different from those we've taken before.

Once the water runs out we won't have any to water our lawns or even our house plants. Isn't it time to act now ... BEFORE WE RUN OUT?

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Time Play: Act Three ... for Poetry Thursday

Time, Joan Z. Rough, © 2006

Time has never been my best friend. There is never enough or there is too much. I look for quality time, end up with no time. At times I've been able to stretch time, but that skill is elusive. It's either rush, rush, rush or ... are we there yet?? I waste time, I buy time ... I even kill time. It's a mystery ... I've written a notebook full of poems about it. Here is one for Poetry Thursday's prompt on time. I don't know any more about it now than I did before I took the time for this exploration.

Time Play: Act Three

Instead of rising the curtain falls
on a revolving stage numerals tick
tossing seconds back and forth
the orchestra marks each hour
with silver chimes

In the flyspace heavenly doors
swing open spilling light
revealing angels robed in red
feathered wings propel
cogged wheels around the clock

Beyond the flicker of footlights
tiers of aging faces line the dark
fear the cuckoo's wooden call
a chorus of fingers points to the dial
weeping candles hail the fractured moon