Another Word for Love

They say
that cancer
of the breast
is a path

you walk

The truth is
will ever
be the same

ever is

It would be easy
to look at it
as just another
to be solved
but there is
no solution

There is

It keeps you alive
a little longer

It isn’t a cure

there is no cure
for death

The truth is
we are always
walking towards

Cancer is
a not very silent
reminding us
the end of our path
is near

And so
all those things
we put off

Healthy foods,
exercise for the body,
solace for the mind
becomes a need
not a choice

And then
there are days
like today

Where I sit
on my old
beat up sofa
looking out
the window
at a gray English
winter day
with a bright red amaryllis
blooming her heart out

While my mind
catalogs memories
happy ones
forgotten ones
curious ones

but no sad ones
no angry resentful ones

They haven’t
been invited
to this party

With the pain
my mind tumbles
in slow motion

I remember
the smell
of a vegetarian quiche
and the smile
on my little boy’s face
and the feeling of pride
in my fatigued heart

and love

I remember love

This path
of the woman
with half a breast
is always moving
in the direction
of love

There is fear
and pain
and isolation
but always
the mind and heart
join forces
turning my face
in the direction
of love

This cancer of the breast
is just another word
for love.




Happy Birthday, Mr. Ferlinghetti

Today is Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s Birthday. He’s known for a lot of things but first he was a Beat Poet and then he opened a bookstore in San Francisco called City Lights.

This is a repost from some time ago.

I think I must have written this before the disastrous American Presidential Election of 2016. Today the $600 billion tax cut for the 2% masquerading as a new health care bill failed miserably. There is still a lot of work to do. There are still too many people without affordable health care, too many children living in poverty but at least we didn’t roll the clock back to much darker days.

As I read this again tonight in this time and place, I couldn’t help but reflect on how different my life is since I originally wrote it, maybe only five or six months ago. I couldn’t help but reflect on how different the world is. The changing pace of each day seems to be rapidly accelerating. We are all being pulled and pushed to be something greater, to create something greater.

However, this is a rambling memory of the day I first discovered his poetry, a very long time ago, a time I barely recognise now. Still… I catch myself smiling because I know I carry this little memory in my DNA now. It is as much a part of me as the air I breathe, as the beat of my heart.

Today, however, it has a special poignancy.

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ferlinghetti.

”We have to raise the consciousness; the only way poets can change the world is to raise the consciousness of the general populace.” ~ Lawrence Ferlinghetti


He’s often forgotten as one of the great beat poets of the fifties and remembered more for opening City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco which is an amazing place. I’ve been several times now and I still regret not visiting it more.

When I was in my twenties Beat Poets made me think of Kerouac and Ginsberg. I knew of Ferlinghetti and City Lights Bookstore but I hadn’t read him.

One day I stumbled across this poem in an anthology of poetry in my local library.

He published it in 1958. I was probably 5.

I discovered it in the early 70s in the midst of the Vietnam War and anti-war protests, Buddhist monks setting themselves on fire in protest, and the civil rights movement and women fighting to be recognised and heard and LSD and music, so much music. The first concert I attended was to see Jimi Hendrix and then a little later, Led Zeppelin, in 1970. I had already lost my heart to a musician who would end up being the father of my child. It was a world in upheaval and tremendous creativity and alternative thinkers and hope and belief in our ability to create a better world and days of dark despair and colour everywhere. But most days you woke up filled with hope and determination and ended them with sadness and confusion or escaped for days in music and hallucinogens that made the world a prettier place.

And in the midst of all that I discovered this. I couldn’t stop reading it. I just sat in my library and read it over and over until I pulled out my journal and copied the entire poem in its pages. I think it was a defining moment for me. I don’t think I had truly grasped just how powerful words could be until then. I had an epiphany in my tiny local library.

So this one will always be my favourite Ferlinghetti poem:

I Am Waiting


I am waiting for my case to come up
and I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting for someone
to really discover America
and wail
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right
and I am waiting
for the Age of Anxiety
to drop dead
and I am waiting
for the war to be fought
which will make the world safe
for anarchy
and I am waiting
for the final withering away
of all governments
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Second Coming
and I am waiting
for a religious revival
to sweep thru the state of Arizona
and I am waiting
for the Grapes of Wrath to be stored
and I am waiting
for them to prove
that God is really American
and I am waiting
to see God on television
piped onto church altars
if only they can find
the right channel
to tune in on
and I am waiting
for the Last Supper to be served again
with a strange new appetizer
and I am perpetually awaiting
a rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for my number to be called
and I am waiting
for the Salvation Army to take over
and I am waiting
for the meek to be blessed
and inherit the earth
without taxes
and I am waiting
for forests and animals
to reclaim the earth as theirs
and I am waiting
for a way to be devised
to destroy all nationalisms
without killing anybody
and I am waiting
for linnets and planets to fall like rain
and I am waiting for lovers and weepers
to lie down together again
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the Great Divide to be crossed
and I am anxiously waiting
for the secret of eternal life to be discovered
by an obscure general practitioner
and I am waiting
for the storms of life
to be over
and I am waiting
to set sail for happiness
and I am waiting
for a reconstructed Mayflower
to reach America
with its picture story and tv rights
sold in advance to the natives
and I am waiting
for the lost music to sound again
in the Lost Continent
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting for the day
that maketh all things clear
and I am awaiting retribution
for what America did
to Tom Sawyer
and I am waiting
for Alice in Wonderland
to retransmit to me
her total dream of innocence
and I am waiting
for Childe Roland to come
to the final darkest tower
and I am waiting
for Aphrodite
to grow live arms
at a final disarmament conference
in a new rebirth of wonder

I am waiting
to get some intimations
of immortality
by recollecting my early childhood
and I am waiting
for the green mornings to come again
youth’s dumb green fields come back again
and I am waiting
for some strains of unpremeditated art
to shake my typewriter
and I am waiting to write
the great indelible poem
and I am waiting
for the last long careless rapture
and I am perpetually waiting
for the fleeing lovers on the Grecian Urn
to catch each other up at last
and embrace
and I am awaiting
perpetually and forever
a renaissance of wonder

Original link from The Poetry Foundation website can be found




Departures: ramblings on a plane

I find myself
In a giant metal contraption
Hurtling through space
Toward the country of my birth
I have the salty taste
Of too many tears in my mouth

One of the flight attendants
Is a French woman
She is walking the aisle
Offering cof-fee, cafe?
And I am reminded of the times
You took me to France

Paris, where I bought a magenta beret
In a large department store
Because I wanted something special
And nothing says special like a magenta beret

Do you remember?
We were celebrating my 50th birthday
It was December in Paris and so very cold
You gave me a gold wedding ring
Covered in intricate Celtic knot work
To go with the rubies and diamonds you gave me
On the day we married
In a beautiful registry office in Surrey

But this one,
The one you put on my finger in Paris
Had the words truly, madly, deeply
engraved on the inside

We were in a fancy bistro in Paris
We ate too much. We drank too much.
We spent too much money.

Just as the chocolate gateau
was due to be served
The lights went out in the entire place
I gasped in surprise
And a kind of childish wonderment
As the waiters, all of the waiters
Began to sing Happy Birthday in French
I clapped my hands
And my laughter bounced off every
Candlelit table and reflected in the faces
Of the strangers who chose that night,
That place, to dine out in Paris and share
In a strange American woman’s birthday

I blew out the candles and made a huge wish
And for awhile that wish came true
Endlessly, in endless days and nights
of joy and laughter
And hope
And dreams
And belief

And then a few years later
You took me to Briancon
Briancon in the French Alps
It was September
No snow but I still ended up
Sick at the end

But before the sickness came
We spent sunny days
In French farmer’s markets
And open air cafes
And we found a restaurant
That specialised in fondue
Before we found
Our favourite restaurant
That served hearty
Country French cuisine
I wish I could remember
What it was called
We ate there every night

The town boasts
The most sunny days
In a calendar year
And there were sun dials
Absolutely everywhere
And the Alps towering
Over everything

We ate hard French sausage
And soft French cheese
With crusty French bread for lunch
And beautiful rich red wine
With everything

There was no television
No mobile phones
We took books everywhere
We read and walked and ate and drank
I was drunk
On wine
On the country
On the friendly French man
Who cheered me on
When I butchered
His language with my
American sounding Mais Oui
And you. I was drunk on you.
You were my rock
My calm
In the turbulent storm
That had made up my life
For so long
I leaned hard on you.
Too hard.

Today we said goodbye
You held my hand
Continued to be my rock
My stable place
As we both broke down
In Heathrow
Our last goodbye
My goodbye to you
To my adopted country
And just as I made it
Through the gauntlet
Of Airport Security
My boots still in my hand
Your Bon Voyage text
Chirped in my pocket
More French

I don’t know how you do it
Continue to love me
I am so very hard to love
I know one day you will stop
But not on this day. Not on this day.

We both know how we ended up
Wrapped in each other’s arms
With too many tears between us
In Heathrow Departures
Instead of joyful kisses in Arrivals

We have spend too many nights
In too much thoughtless talk
As our marriage unraveled
Before our unsuspecting eyes

And yet, still
That invisible cord between us
Tugs and pulls and stretches
And I feel as though
I’ve left my heart behind
I feel as though
I’ve walked off with yours
Beating hard in my chest

And even at take-off
While weathering
The onslaught
Of a child
Throwing a monstrous
Temper tantrum
I looked out my window
As the green hills of England
Grew smaller and smaller

I openly sobbed
Shook with sorrow
As familiar iPod playlists
Filled my ears
With yet more memories
And I finally slept

Until I heard that familiar accent
The French voice drifted toward me
Woke me up from my tortured dreams

And I remembered Paris
I remembered Briancon
I remembered the feel of you
The sound of your laughter
Your touch
Your goodbye

I don’t want to say
“We’ll always have Paris.”

But the truth is
“We will always have Paris.”
And so much more.

Briançon, Hautes-Alpes, France ~ photography by me, Robin Dalton September 2004
Briançon, Hautes-Alpes, France ~ photography by me, Robin Dalton September 2004

Friday 24 December 2010: Christmas Eve

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~Norman Vincent Peale

Christmas is a time when you get homesick – even when you’re home. ~Carol Nelson

I try to stay busy at Christmas. I treat it like a job or one long to-do list. This is not really ideal and I don’t do it consciously. I believe it is a coping mechanism.

Nine years ago I moved to England, a truly beautiful land with beautiful people. I am so very blessed.

At Christmas, however, I miss my son who lives thousands of miles away in New Orleans. I want to celebrate Christmas with him. I want to hear him laugh. I want to feed him pie until he begs for mercy.

I miss my three sisters who live equally far away in Oklahoma and their children whom I adore and their children’s children to whom I wish I had the opportunity to be that eccentic Great Auntie in their lives. I miss my brother who used to make the most incredible pot of Chili for our Christmas Eve family get together. He had a shy smile, a deep voice and a laugh that made you laugh. He has passed on now but we still celebrate Christmas with him in our hearts. I do sometimes wonder if anybody thought to get his Chili recipe. Just like after 33 years I still have questions I wish I had asked my Mother.

I will have a lovely Christmas with my husband and his family and of course the irrepressible Dixie (even if she is laid low with illness at the moment). Tomorrow I promise to regale you with joyous tales of an English Christmas. But for just this moment, I would like to remember and hold in my heart family and friends I am unable to touch…

I have let my mind
stroll through Christmases past

With a promise that I will not linger
That the misty sparkle of images
I cannot quite make out
Will not make me mourn but rejoice

For Christmas present is filled
with the light of Christmas past