Writes With Pencils

fiction, memoir, essays and poetry

More Than Just Statistics


If pairs of ravaged lungs were silver coins

mankind became a millionaire today,

and with another zero on the end

we learned how many pairs of idle hands

were left behind when March let out its roar.

And then a pair of feet in Italy

ran on a porch, a marathon alone

I didn’t hear how many laps it took

but they were just enough for me to hope

that we may end this vicious plague some day.

April 1st: Notes from the Pandemic

copper pot


Rent is due today
the mortgage on our home is too
but the place that’s bustled
to feed its guests and pay the bills
for more than twenty years
—always filled with scents
of smoked paprika
sautéed garlic
and Juan Carlos’s cologne
as he reaches past a shoulder
with a second glass of wine—
is closed.
For twenty days it has been dark
the gas shut off to minimize the debt
not a single pilot burns.
In front of them the copper counter lies
cold and empty unaware
of the reason for its solitude
and the pots and pans hang silently above
no clang against the heavy iron stove
no sizzle of raw meat against their steel.
These things know nothing of my worries
of how I will divide
the unsold loaves and fishes
to pay the landlord and the bank
and turn the lights back on.
Unaffected by the unseen foe
that sends us all apart,
(each into a separate residence)
they wait for our return.

Canning Comfort

I just went through this time of year again. This year 247 lbs. of Bing cherries + 3 cases of red wine yielded 129 quarts of love in a jar that filled the entire cupboard.  I’ll share throughout the coming year with my restaurant guests and friends. The grief hasn’t grown any smaller four years later, but my life has grown larger around it. (If you’re curious about “what grief?”, take a look at my very first post. Thank you for reading.)


Writes With Pencils


I stock the old pine cupboard with rows of mason jars
full of plump bing cherries
from this year’s record crop,
each one hand-plucked and pitted
and steeped in sweet red wine.

Five pounds at a time, I first wash,
then pluck, pluck, pluck
the stems from their belly buttons
fully ripe, their cords had let go of their mother’s arms
into the farmer’s hands,
then from the pile I
pick, squeeze, pit—
each stone hits the bowl
with a joyous ping.

I stock the old pine cupboard with rows of mason jars
forty-one quarts so far,
the result of ninety pounds of pitted fruit
and a generous case of wine.

Next to them rests a single jar
of old fashioned strawberry jam
the only one left from last year’s harvest,
back when cooking and canning
was simply done
to capture and preserve
summer’s sweetness at its peak,
before it…

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Signs Along The Way


Along a pebbled shore
of sand and shells,
littered by storms of life’s injustice,
sprang a single, wild, fruited vine
that defied the lack of soil
spread its thorny shoots and leaves
sprouted clusters of tight berries,
(there’d been so little rain that season)
but black, and fully ripe
weighted with concentrated sweetness
and packed with seeds
of possibility.

Then after dormant winter
among some ancient boulders
beneath a ponderosa pine
and spreading broadleaf maple,
a golden pride of dandelions
welcomed hungry bumble bees
with their first taste of spring
and watched a sparrow
gather blades of grass
to weave a nest
in which it laid
five tiny, perfect, speckled eggs
discovered in the vines.

And as the hellebores bloomed
demurely in the shade of cedars,
we planted, you and I,
four budding twigs, the shape of baby trees
to form a living picket fence
around our loving home
and from those buds, burst blossoms
each visited by bees
that swelled throughout the summer
until we noticed on our wedding day
five perfectly imperfect apples,
our new family.

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