No Job, No Pay, No Way

photo for La Palabra.a book of poems and photos about our bodies

photo for La Palabra.a book of poems and photos about our bodies

No job, no pay, no way

In spite of

he can’t read in spite of

Roe v Wade

in spite and spit

on his feet,

in spite of feel retreat or kill

in spite of Gloria’s smile

gone south

in spite of we’ve been had

again, the ceiling low enough

to knock in spite of dancing

in high heels

it’s how we’ve been sad

again in spite of her no smile’s

the work’s begun

again and Susan B.

re fracking fucking and getting

bashed, again, in spite of spit

or shit this president

this fakeyumpalous, pretentious man

is not my pres

I choose decline

in spite of elves’ unholy

Never mine. Not now. Not ever.

Not mine.

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I Saw a Tiny Woman

I saw a tiny woman on page one of the Times.

A turquoise scarf holds her flowing hair off the sticky resin she gathers.

Where are her sons? For the magenta-poppies sunset in Mayanmar,

a sole reporter treks to see her.

She stands without a man, without a son.

Her hand grips the bag, the other plucks pods to stuff into her sack.


Her joyous clothing belies the effect on our side of the globe.

As the poppies disrobe, they drip their amber juices.

Stripes on her bag tie tightly to her waist, the colors

of the earth and orange-gold poppies, her open-necked shirt

reveals burnished skin.


Her family used to grow for medicine: stomach aches, accidents,

but they too, have sons smitten to shards of themselves,

laid waste by the needle, the smoke of the resin, powder defiling the nose,

love shrinks back to the size of a seed.

The flowers open and propagate medicine that banishes pain.

Grown on hilltops, one small , qne tiny packet inside a pillowcase will feed her family for a year.


The tree-dotted fairy-land rolls to the edge of the earth.

The hills are quiet as men come for bribes pushed into fists.

Trades are made. High stakes for high grade dope from

the Golden Triangle into which our children disappear.

“Heroin,” you said, “is the drug I’m afraid of.”

And your anger rose and swept you away in a stream. I miss your smile.

Your son asks if I’ve seen you; we are partners in missing you.


Your small notebook sits by the phone.

Neat entries of names, numbers, and debts

You protected us from your compelling

need to use, took your business elsewhere.

You have covered your power with rags,

laid siege to your sanity. The pretty girlfriend,

one or both of you may wake up alive.

Which cruel world are you hiding from or in?

And your son? And your daughter?


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Expecting Him Home That Day in Some Kind of Recovery

I resorted to hippie-ism and all that

morning I baked bread.

The dough puffed up like a big pliant sponge,

alive and rising in the warm kitchen sun.


I let my hands guide me through shaping loaves

then rolling out and up into crescents,

sprinkled and smeared with butter and

sugar and raisins, sliced thick

and laid loosely in buttered pans;

they baked to a worthy product,

doubled again in size and lightly browned.


When cooled, the glaze would be drizzled

into ribboned hieroglyphics, the DNA-looped

swirls of mother love.

Secret messages from ancient bakers

coded the delicate rolls.


The scent of their baking filled the house for

hours and hours. When he arrived, my little dog and I

cried; and he, happy to be so missed, commented

on how good it smelled. Both of us dismissed

the memories that might have haunted us, the times when

the dog did not do flips of joy, when

I had nothing beautiful I could do or say.



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Oregon Beach Town 2016

At 13, I smoked in the California sweet shoppe bathroom with the older girls.

My sister’s friends called me Volup Bear, and mother loaned them her car.

Pebbles spun as two boys raced down the dark hill, wet night glittering

up the other side. I knew enough to get the car driven home.

Nothing to prevent these rites of passage, even stealing beer

from my father’s men’s club pool, even guzzling a fifth of whiskey.


At the beaches and rivers on my belly in hot sand, I tested the power of cleavage.

Ecstacy a set of doors, beckoning.

In the forest at home, my brother was selling smoke by smoke

Mommy’s Marlboros; his leukemia came when we moved to Oregon.

The tumbling of this scaffolding surprised me when I awoke;

friends gone, house gone, just sooty skies and snotty, Oregonian kids.


Still like that; my son can’t quit smoking, his girlfriend too.

The grandson swears he’ll never start, but addictions lurk like fish.

Next time I visit Oregon, winter months will rule the tsunami zone;

waves big as apartments, in my dreams my father’s hand reaching out.

My sister assures me I am welcome in her toy town with one of everything.

We could die together; it’s heavenly in the zone; we never turn our backs on the sea.

Then there are the feral people in forests on the hills wherein lie houses with hydrangeas.

The ferals descend and nod, just like everyone else. Every day a beach holiday, she says.

None of us, she says, go far into the forest alone. Their home is our escape from the zone.

The towns’ people smile and talk and greet as if long-time students of Mr. Roger’s.

I return to a thoroughfare designated mine, tumbling waterfall days.

My people, watermelon sunsets, my luckeee oasis in the city.

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my email

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Back-cover info on Free Love, Free Fall: Scenes from the West Coast Sixties

Stephen, Merimee and Paul at Panhandle ParkMerimee’s stories slip readers into the times that were “a changing,” the time between beatniks and hippies and then some. The settings follow a winding path from San Francisco to New York City and back to the farm factories in eastern Oregon. The young couple, vagabonds on the road, give a glimpse into pre-women’s lib society and the musicians and sadhus looking for love and life beyond the inelegant, patriarchal norm of the fifties. Free Love, Free Fall is a must for those who are curious about how it really was, at least for this author, and for anyone who also was there, in that time, living through social upheaval and creating it on a day to day basis.

A trip to the Red Dog Saloon in 1965 starts a journey of music and musicians in the Haight Ashbury and life without an instruction book. Merimee’s stories embody the themes of the times: Make Love Not War, No Hope without Dope, Be Here Now, and—surprise!—Peace and Love. The PH Phactor Jug Band makes a not-so-profitable career move to Portland in the Summer of Love, resulting in an end to the relationship that had become too entangled with the detritus of the music scene lifestyle.

Eventually, Merimée flees Portland following friends to New Mexico where she falls in love with the land and the culture. The loosely linked stories don’t tell it all and readers may wish for more where these came from. Lets hope she keeps producing the sketches that piece together an era and a lifetime. Dealing with instability and a child, the young mother begins to let go of her free-spiriting and takes on the serious task of sole breadwinner in the beautiful town of Taos, New Mexico. The stories create a coming-of-age tale in the counter culture, an awakening, and a readiness to move on.

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dependable sweater

Valentine’s Day Feb. 14, 2016


My mind is trying to find an in on “dependable sweater”

Maybe she means one that doesn’t disappear for days

and not even apologize

One that never unravels when your parents are visiting

Too late now (RIP Mother and Daddy)

Maybe this sweater shows up at 8 when she says 8

and keeps you just as warm as the label indicates

Maybe she trims off a little fat with those

well-placed pockets and she never sags


Bring a sweater that stays quiet, doesn’t nag

or want to go when laying back is a better choice

but still sensible, demands dependably a walk even when

the temp drops and you’re still looking for wool socks.

She will hold her buttons faithfully.

The dependable sweater never confuses size

with purpose or style.

You can tie her arms around you and she won’t fall

or drag.


Yes, really. I already knowwhich sweater gets to go to West Concord

for the kids and g-kids

& the Arctic freeze, where frostbite threatens like horrid

parents of yore, to kill fingers or cut off toes.

I know it’s the thick pea green with the big fifties’

buttons that stay closed until you undo them with

intention. She’s a good sweater, that one, quite dependable,

like a good man, like my Valentine, he’s going with me too.

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