The Painting Lesson, and a Prayer

Two women in hats,
feet solidly planted in the damp grass,
lean toward a canvas
propped against an easel.
One woman dabs intently with a brush,
the other looks out at the ocean,
then makes a staccato gesture--
here, here, and there--
with two fingers,
pointing to an outcropping of rock.
They consider the horizon,
then regard the painting in progress.

There is both lightness and gravity
in the way they work.

God of all
thank you
for the rough loveliness
of nature
for whatever it is--
spark, soul, or instinct--
that makes humans
want to make beauty


Lost in thoughts of my to-do list
and creeping along in stop-and-go traffic,
I hit my brakes late
and slam into the car in front of me.

I draw in a sharp breath
and motion for the other driver to pull over.
We get out of our cars
and stand by the side of the road,
squinting in the bright sun
as we trade insurance information.

The damage is minor
and no one hurt, but I'm rattled
and apologetic;
he is irritated and insists
on filing a police report.

The officer arrives.
As she writes on her notepad
I look down at the smattering of squashed hotsauce packets
littering the roadside,
prod them with the toe of my boot.
I silently curse my poor timing,
wishing I had taken a different way home
wishing I hadn't looked down.
Wishing it all had been otherwise.

Then I think of Jane Kenyon's poem,

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
--and remind myself that I have a bad habit
of reading too much cosmic significance
into life's fender-benders:
Is it because I tried to get out of jury duty?
Is God, or the universe, trying to apprehend me
for something I've done
or left undone?
Yes, I could have avoided the accident
but I didn't
and it could have been worse.
I'm walking away from this collision
as is the man in the other car
and it might have been otherwise.

Blue Christmas

It was a December
of golden days
and crisp, sparkling nights.
I saw swooping pelicans
and Orion's belt,
bright blooming aloe
and holiday lights downtown.

Now that the brittle, shedding Christmas tree
is down by the street
and the ornaments have all been put away,
I flip through pictures of beach walks
and parties and presents opened and sunsets.

Most beautiful are the blues--
an azure sky,
the inky ocean
ruffled by an offshore wind,
indigo-purple mussels
holding fast to the rocks.

On Visiting Mrs. Blanton's Third Grade Class to Talk About Poetry

Little poets
with bright upturned faces
greet me at the classroom door.

I meet Julian
and Tasha
and Cole
and many others.

We speak of haiku
and poems about cats,
nymphs and goblins.

They listen
and bubble with questions:

Can I read you my poem?

What is your favorite poem?

and, from a charming young journalist, head cocked:

What magazines are on your coffee table at home?

The room vibrates
with the open-hearted, uninhibited creativity
that comes from smart kids
who still know that we all can create something beautiful,
who haven't been told that they can't.

I leave feeling buoyant and blessed.

Night Creatures

Between dusk and dark

at the bottom of Oak Street

the halogen glow of my headlights

falls on a group of figures


on a mattress in the middle of the road--

flashes of long, tossing hair,

a loud whoop,


I smile. Teenage girls.

I turn right on Glenneyre

and drive on

with that sense you get

when a creature

passes in front of your car

so quickly

that you only recognize what you’ve seen

after you see it.


Dear Friends,

So many good things have happened since I wrote my 365th poem in 365 days back in January. I sent my writing brain on vacation for a few weeks and then started up again. I just had to take a hiatus from my poem-a-day discipline, and work on some other things.

A book proposal and some chapters of said book (stay tuned). Also, a coffee-table book compilation of some of my favorite Laguna Beach-related poems and images from the blog, which is my love letter to my hometown of almost ten years. Watch for it in December.

Hmmm...what else? I did some copywriting and blogging this summer for my friends at Laguna Beach Stand Up Paddle Company--they recently launched a fabulous new web site. I've been working on my tennis game, but it's still not that good. No worries! (That's my new, post-40 attitude about things that are supposed to be fun.) I'm getting better at maintaining my pre-yoga zen while jockeying for a spot in Geo's classes at YogaWorks (breathe, no pushing, there's room for all 50 of us focused people to get our 90 minutes of wonderfulness, throw the mat down NOW!)

Some of the highlights--blessings, truly--of the past few months include watching my youngest son Willem's metamorphosis from smart, sassy eighth-grader to smart, slightly-less-sassy freshman at Laguna Beach High School. Also: watching my godson Vasco Possley turn into a surf-stoked grom this summer at Hakama beach. And: our eldest son Schuyler did a journalism internship in which he hung out with rock stars and dove with sharks (don't ask). And: my husband David wrote a book!--the companion guide to our friend Rob Bell's Love Wins. At risk of sounding like a bad Christmas letter, I'll stop now. But I'm so proud of my boys (all of them) that I am compelled to brag them up a bit. They inspire me.

Speaking of inspiration, I've recently joined a power posse of other women writers, Redbud Writers Guild, about whom you will undoubtedly be hearing more. We are a group of writers, bloggers, speakers and activists who support and learn from each other. This is a group of gals who get sh#t done, and who publish a book about every ten minutes, so I'm scrambling to catch up!

I'll be writing and posting poems a few times a week. It's good to be back.