Friday, November 26, 2010

Young Girl

Who is that girl
with crooked short bangs,
plastic sunglasses?
Her dress striped yellow,
blue, pink and white
with zig-zag trim.
Patten shoes on
pigeon-toed feet.

Is it the same girl
who believed she helped
in the front yard
at the house on Yandell
raking leaves
with a miniature rake?

Tell Me Why...

I must wait so long
for winter to twist into spring
spring to roll into summer
summer to transform into fall

Tell me why ...
my days speed faster than
a second hand rotates on a clock
their momentum intrudes on precious time
thrusts between seasons

Tell me why...
life is much more fragile
as years furl behind me
tasks take longer to finish
loved ones grow older

If I See This House for Real

The mystery of entering an unlocked front door
of a deserted, New England stone home
left me uneasy, intruding on spirits.

Closed doors—Should I open them?
What if one door led to a deep tunnel
full of ghosts or crazy people?
No, I would not open them.

I opened a door to one side of the house;
aged ivy plants covered a high wall.
The walkway needed maintaining.
For a moment, I thought it was safe.

In the back yard, stone sculptures and potted plants
cracked and stained by crusty bird droppings
surrounded by weeds, trees, and crevices.
I felt spirits lurking at me from there.

(from an old reoccurring dream)


We were lost on a detour
driving miles and miles
of desolate ranch land.

Trees in the distance,
one lonely dirt road.
Silence prevailed
except for our car's motor.
A mysterious ambiance.
A shiny object in a cloudless sky
flashed blinding tails
reflecting the sun--
followed us there.

It was a small town
in the middle of nowhere,
a tall, bulbous water tower,
a few homes half hidden
behind trees and white fences.
No children playing outside.
No human beings at all.
No cars parked anywhere.

The road curved to the right
as we approached the water tower.
The polished object hid behind it.
As we drove to the other side,
the object vanished.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I try to keep positive.
Worrisome thoughts intrude.
What if I drop tomorrow
in spite of other plans.

Hope for healing--
eliminate pain,
a plan for the house--
all new flooring,
give back what I can--
donate to a cause.

I don't want much
and loved ones
still there for me
when I need them.


Stiffness in my fingers
an arthritic knot in my left thumb
bone rubbing on bone
cramping, snapping, aching pain,
ouches and creaks.
Must rethink how I use
these worn extensions.

It hurts to unscrew lids
turn door knobs
pick up pots and pans
cut with scissors
write, type
tie my shoes
do laundry
water the yard
lift my purse
carry groceries
pull out keys
from my pant pockets
take out trash.

Must I do hand exercises
for the rest of my life?
Be a pill bag forever?
I don't enjoy growing old.

Dr. Baker says, "Don't say that,"
covering his mouth
shaking a finger at me --
"Those are bad words."

Weeping Willow

Dear petite weeping willow --
I have watched your frail, short strands
grow to long reaching branches.

You are more flexible and stronger
than the monstrous mulberry in front
that broke large branches
in the last ferocious storm.
Yet you survived, unbroken.

Your young leaves wave in the wind
long strands delicate and thin
skinny bark, half-wrapped and supported
to keep high winds from snapping you.
I shake my head and wonder
that you did not break and fall.

You are life - a resilient child
who sways with graceful bends
bouncing back, as youthful as
the active sparrow that jumps
around the delicate yellow
and pink petals on the small shrub
by the chain-linked fence.

I look forward to your cool shade
when you are more full-sized
I can see myself on a hot day
hiding inside your breezy house,
in a comfy white chair with a book.

Cucaracha Number Two

In my efficiency apartment
above a garage on Hadley,
I sit on a long bench eating dinner
at a white picnic table
in my narrow kitchen.

A large flying shadow
swoops across the white walls.
"Oh, it's just a moth."
I shrug it off without looking.
Moths are quiet.
This one is buzzing.
I look up and my calm heart
crashes into my ribs.

I shift into overdrive.
A red cucaracha,
longer than my palm
with extra long wings
flies around my kitchen --
a mad bug on drugs.
Quick, to the closet
to grab the broom.
I wrap my hands
around the stick end,
swing the straw end in the air
thrashing the nasty cucaracha
against the walls
shredding it into broken pieces.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Cucaracha Number One

So I turn on the bathroom light,
jump and jiggle as if I saw a ghost.
A big brown one scampers across
my bathroom sink, behind the faucet,
behind the lotion, soft soap, and electric toothbrush.

With my right hand, I pull shoestrings
to take off my right shoe. It stops to hide
behind the soft soap. With my left hand,
I punch my fist against the soap bottle
to squish it against the back of the sink.
Its legs wiggle as it tries to escape.
I press harder a few more seconds.
I let go, thinking it is dead.

It scuttles to the right.
With my right hand inside the shoe,
I tap it to the left to make it fall
over the edge of the sink.
It slides down on its back,
into the slippery basin,
legs squirming like boxing arms
waving in the air with nothing to punch.
I smack it a few times until
its brown guts splatter.
Its stuffy stench wafts up my nose.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

First Presentation

All those eyes
looking at me --
my classmates,
meek as lambs too.
Their eyes filmy
with distant voids
sharing their shock for me
when the teacher
calls my name...
her eyes pierce mine
like flying daggers
that aim at me.

I hide under the table --
try not to receive
their condemnation.
No solid closet
with locking door
to crawl into.
Only wide spaces
between chair legs
to peek through.
She repeats my name.
I cannot do it...
even if demon hands
grab me by the shirt,
drag me out on the floor,
scoot and shove me
to the front of the room,
I cannot do it.

No whispering,
no fingers pointing,
just dumbfounded faces
that stare at this girl
too shy to go up there
for her first presentation.

(Author's note: This memory dates back to my early elementary school days.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

A Waiter at El Patio

This tall, clumsy, yet handsome man
wearing indigo and bone,
and well-groomed auburn hair,
smooth talks ol' Al
into serving customers' drinks.
He emerges holding a
big, round charcoal tray --
unstable glasses and bottles
waddle in slow motion,
lean and sway
like pivoting dancers who,
in seconds, swivel, loop
rotate, propel in larger circles
as he approaches our table.

Quick, I push back my chair
pop up from the table
step far enough away.
Tipsy bottles and glasses wobble
clank against each other
like struck bowling pins.
Liquids spill onto the table
on people's laps, onto their hair,
soaking their clothes.
I get a quick whiff of beer,
wine, rum and coke.
Bottles and glasses fall,
crash and shatter on the floor –
startling reflexes, scowling lips,
protruding eyeballs, flaring nostrils.
Patrons shriek, yell,
flail their arms into the air,
grabbing thin napkins
to soak up the puddles.

I rub my chin,
sprint to the left,
skip on my way
to the bathroom, laughing
like an hysterical escapee.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Wishing for Rain

I want to be a turquoise bird
with a sandy beak and sandy legs,
coral rings around blue eyes,
salmon bands across the feathers,
white throat and white chest,
sitting like a sculpture on my
weathered, rustic picket fence,
to feel the wind blow black clouds
southward, to wait like an icon
wishing for the coolness of rain.

Instead I lay down on the couch
and fall asleep like a tired ol' bear
who just ravaged for dinner,
feeling fat as a fully fed female
on a fearless Friday night,
with nothing else to do except
drag her feet around the cave
after waking from a two hour nap.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel - St. Louis, MO

I just got back from the ACE Conference in St. Louis, MO. This is my fourth conference as a member. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to go elsewhere outside the hotel and nearby Westport Plaza. I wanted to go to the famous arch, but didn't get a chance. Making the best of the area around me, I took a lot of photos around the hotel and plaza. These are my best shots.

Plants and Flowers Outside the Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel - St. Louis, MO

Lake with Fountain by the Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel - St. Louis, MO

Duck Outside the Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel - St. Louis, MO

On the lake side, there's a beautiful stream with landscaping, bridges, etc., between the Sheraton Wesport Chalet Hotel and the swimming pool. The lake is on the other side of the swimming pool.

A Vase Inside the Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel - St. Louis, MO

Portion of a Tapestry on the Third Floor - Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel - St. Louis, MO

Top of a Door Frame Inside the Sheraton Westport Chalet Hotel - St. Louis, MO

Westport Plaza - St. Louis, MO

There are restaurants, shops, and other businesses in the Westport Plaza in St. Louis.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Westport Plaza - St. Louis, MO

The Pavilion - Westport Plaza - St. Louis, MO

Some Signs - Westport Plaza - St. Louis, MO

The Funny Bone Comedy Club - Westport Plaza - St. Louis, MO

A Bar - Westport Plaza - St. Louis, MO

I thought of my guitar-playing brother when I saw this display while walking around on the Westport Plaza. I love displays, so I took the picture.

Back Street Jazz and Blues Night Club - Westport Plaza - St. Louis, MO

I wished I had known on the second night that this blues/jazz club was so close to the hotel. I could have taken in some entertainment. But it was late and dark, and I hadn't had a chance to explore the plaza at that point. By the third day at the ACE conference, I had more time to explore, found this night club, liked the window display, and took a picture. The place was closed the third night. Shucks!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Flowers in my front and back yard

Copyright - Sue Miller - May 2010


A friend sent me a birthday card.
It touched my soul. The mint green
envelope bordered with butterflies
and flowers -- a young, barefooted girl
graced with leaves for wings
and a leaf apron tied around her waist.
A white pouch filled with strawberries
hung from her shoulder. She wore a
brown top and checkered, funnel-shaped
skirt, stood on a small, grassy hill, bent
forward with her garden kettle,
watering strawberries in yellow pots.

Inside - expressions - white over sea green.
Imagine two newspapers folded into sailors' hats,
like sailboats, and horizontal squiggle motifs
implying waves. A message wished me
to have dreams that sailed far and wide,
and may the child in my heart stay forever –
it's these words taking shape, moving
in hopeful directions, that mattered.

Monday, April 26, 2010


Rub it between your fingers
and smell it. You'll know
if it is rosemary. It smells great
when picked on the spot.
The green-needled leaves
taste superb when they're firm,
slightly rubbed, crushed,
added to vegetable soups
or in a rice skillet dish.

I am blessed to have
a Rosemary bush.
It is a blessed herb,
symbol of remembrance,
helps stimulate memory,
can ease a tired mind.
It is a natural disinfectant,
preserver of beauty products,
preserver of life.

The name Rosemary reminds
me of someone I know.
She is gentle as rose petals,
paints colorful roses, and is like
a sweet, blessed Mary.

Bird Friends

Doves wait, watchful on their high wire
that stretches across the back yard,
from Mexican Elder to China Berry Tree.
Their heads follow me, birdseed
bag in hand, walking toward rocks
against chain-linked fence.
Seeds smell like vitamins and minerals
and a mild scent of orange peel as I pour
them into a blue Tupperware bowl.

The bigger birds are growing bellies.
Do the smaller birds get enough to eat?
White-winged Doves dominate, flap
their wings, kick up dirt, eat their share,
shove little birds to the side, make them fly
away. But the little ones return, flock
to the bowl, frolic, hop, skip, jump,
flutter, from spot to spot.
A happy House Sparrow bounces
like a gorgeous rubber ball, looks
from side to side, picks up a long strand
of grass. The proud sparrow flies away.
I believe my birds do get enough to eat.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Pulling Weeds

Tranquility and a pleasant sun
met me in the front yard,
as I took advantage
of a dry day after the last rain.

My body on all fours
kneeling on yellowed grass,
on an old blue folded towel
to protect my pointed knees.

Gray gloves on both hands,
an almond dish pan nearby.
The weeds didn't like
my new jagged knife,
bought to cut into the soil,
to dig under them.

It gave me time to think,
to listen to the silence,
hear a sigh of relief;
or to listen to the trucks
with rattling trailers
clang banging over potholes;
motorcycles roaring by;
a neighbor closing car doors;
a chorus of birds tweeting
their whistles high and low.

With fixated eyes and nose
to the ground, sprouted
weeds still everywhere,
the sun glided gently --
too dark to see --
and I know the rest
will spread like wildfire
before I return.

House Plant

The poinsettia I received
two months ago, sits
on a tan, linen tablecloth
on my kitchen table.

This is a miracle for me,
"Miss No-Green-Thumb" --
the longest any plant
I've kept has survived.

It still has a few red leaves
having shed some parts;
now more airy than before
when it was lush, full.
Some have fallen to the table,
half burned by the sun,
or curled, dried to a wither.

It likes my daily practice
to give it's pot a quarter turn,
so that when it bends
toward the kitchen window
one day, it balances out
at the end of the next,
so it doesn't stay bowed
like a person with osteoporosis.

It likes when I softly touch
its soil, to test its moistness.
It likes the Western light
when the blinds are louvered flat.
The sun kisses it between the slats
to give it warm massages.

It used to be – if I stared
at a plant, it would die.
Perhaps I have hope.

Friday, February 12, 2010


a striking sunset
from my kitchen window
made dish washing
more pleasurable
for as long as I could see

the horizon and sky
intense canary yellows
tangerine oranges
ruby reds
tall like a blazed forest
died to a faint
line of smolder
until nightfall
snuffed out the light


From the 70s and 80s
boxes of papers and stuff –
empty them, sort into piles –
file this, get rid of that, take
to the recycle center, shred.
Newspapers, magazines, tear-outs
class notes, flyers and copies
of what was important then.
Old articles about health
car accident police reports
repair invoices, insurance notices,
bills, receipts, statements, checks,
tax returns, pay stubs, doctor's notes.
Why in the name of life's history
have I kept these papers so long?

Have I become my worst opponent –
storer of information?
I am amazed to see only one or two
crusty, dead spiders, flies, roaches
shattered between the sheets.

Brittle rubber bands are broken
into a million pieces, no longer holding
yellowed, tattered, dog-eared envelopes,
sections stuck to what they once enwrapped
or fallen to the bottom like bad crumbs.
Stuff in these boxes is so old, its stale
smells clog my nose and make me sneeze.

Making progress the last two months,
disposing of loathsome stacks of papers,
How many more boxes are there
to sort through, how many tons
of papers yet to shred?
Will I abandon this project again?

A Bird in the Pine

It felt good, the sunshine.
I felt like working in my yard
to lift my "hate the winter" spirit
on a warm Sunday, overcast clearing
to a baby blue sky.

Content to unwrap, unroll
a new garden hose
to water pines,
evergreens and shrubs.
I still need to learn
what trees they are.
A shrub between
carport and chain link fence,
is dotted with fingernail-sized
bluish-purple flowers.

As I water one of the pine trees,
wings flutter into the branches.
A small bird frolics in the pool of water
underneath, as if it is Spring,
flying back to upper limbs
then back to splash in water.
I don't know what kind of bird it is –
a finch? – smaller than my fist
with gray and white on top of its head,
neck, wings - short, manicured tail,
a pale, pale yellow on its underside.
It has a cute, paunch belly.

I must buy wild birdseed and pour
it into the oval-shaped basket held
by the sculptured garden angel
that the previous homeowner
blessed me with, left in my back yard.