Category Archives: Poems (mine)


Halloween Parade (19)

Front row to Halloween. Taken by me, October 2008, somewhere in central Delaware.

“All You Zombies” shuffles onto my Spotify playlist
as I pull into the parking garage
late for work on a Thursday
but because The Hooters are a track
on The Soundtrack to My Life
available on 45, cassette tape, compact disc
I remain seated in my car
(my paper-laden desk can wait)
because me and Jen and Seunah are singing
on a cold January night in an overheated gym
where we paid five bucks to see Philly’s hottest band
because someday they would be really, really big,
someday in our big scary future.

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sunday salon: a laid-back, do-it-yourself kind of mother’s day


Mothers Day 2015

Today is a low-key, very laid back kind of Mother’s Day. Hardly recognizable from any other Sunday, actually, which is fine with me.  Both of our mothers have been called, the requisite Facebook sentiments have been posted, and …that’s about it. I’m perfectly fine with Mother’s Day being an ordinary Sunday as it wasn’t that long ago (and yet, a lifetime ago) when this was a much more bittersweet holiday. Compared to that, I’ll take average and ordinary any day.

Still, I did take advantage of the occasion to purchase some gifts for myself.

Mothers Day 2015


(Why yes, you observant thang, there is a missing bottle of wine in the Barefoot Merlot four-pack. That’s because it was purchased and consumed on Friday night.)

And this arrived in Friday’s mail:

Mothers Day 2015 - Be BraveI wanted a Bravelet for various reasons, namely as a motivator and inspiration for writing about some things that I feel compelled to write more about, but at times struggle with. It’s also a reminder of times I’ve needed to be brave, because sometimes we tend to forget the hard stuff we’ve been through when the here and now shows up.  Finally, and most importantly, it’s a way for me to support the phenomenal work of the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation, an organization that is very personal to me.  ($10 from each Bravelet goes to a cause of your choosing, such as BYMRKH.)

Along with 1,600 other hopefuls, I applied to be a Book Riot contributor. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be, but I’m okay with that. (Here’s the funny thing about starting to send more stuff out into the world: in some ways, the rejection gets a little bit easier. There’s no shortage of places to submit to. If you’re not right for one gig or the piece isn’t right for one publication, there will be another coming along.)

This week, one of those places was The Philadelphia Review of Books. Poetry editor John Ebersole put out a call for political poems and stated he would publish them on the spot.  I had been thinking about hearing Desmond Tutu speak five years ago in Baltimore and the recent riots. The result was “Baltimore, April 2010” which appeared on The Philadelphia Review of Books’ blog along with more than 100 other poetry submissions. Go read them, as these folks are some fantastic company.


Salt Sugar FatIn the car, I’m still listening to Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss. It’s fascinating and sobering to learn the marketing and product development strategies behind some of the best-known brands. Scott Brick narrates the audio of this, and I just love him.


In the Unlikely Event

Last night I started the soon-to-be-released (June 2) Judy Blume novel, In the Unlikely Event, which I’m reviewing for the Post-Gazette. Here’s what I can say about this, as of page 31: this is definitely going to appeal to those of us of a certain age who grew up reading Judy’s books. We’ll see if that continues to hold true throughout, but trust me when I say that the nostalgia factor is strong with this one.

For those who celebrate this day and embrace all that it is, for those who look at this Sunday as just another day, and for those who, understandably, find Mother’s Day difficult for any myriad of reasons, know this: today and every day, you are and always will forever be mom enough, no matter what. Happy Mother’s Day.


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baltimore, april 2010 …and other political poems in the philadelphia review of books

I don’t know John Ebersole very well, but he strikes me as an intelligent, highly-creative, intense kind of guy. On Tuesday, he posted on Facebook that he wanted original “political poems of the now.” You see, John’s the poetry editor of The Philadelphia Review of Books and for most of this week, he’s been accepting political poems on the spot and publishing them immediately on Philly Books and Culture, PRB’s blog. In three days, more than 100 people have submitted poems about the Baltimore riots, school shootings, race relations, gay rights, economic inequity, Nepal, and so much more.

Such times we live in. Such talent.  These poems are so worth a few minutes of your time to read. I’m truly honored to have my words – about hearing Archbishop Desmond Tutu speak in Baltimore about justice during another april that seems a lifetime ago – among more than 100 passionate voices.

Here’s “Baltimore, April 2010” on the Philadelphia Review of Books blog, and also below. My thanks, John, for the opportunity and for providing this forum.

baltimore, april 2010

you have a noble profession

you have a calling, you have a vocation

archbishop tutu is saying these words to


and three thousand fundraisers

in baltimore

on this april night

we must inspire others to change the world and

we must be inspired to be the change in the world and

we are silent in our seats and

we are awestruck and rapt and

we feel the presence of god and

now he is paraphasing king

we must learn to live together as

brothers and sisters

or perish together forever.

Desmond Tutu - AFP

Desmond Tutu - AFP (2)

Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaking at the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) conference in Baltimore, MD. April 2010.

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you will feel a little pinch

I’m stuck in a dream when I awake  – disoriented amid the imprint of clingy cats with sharp claws, a lingering kiss, the domestic violence shelter, some of the friends we once shared, a long car ride through a depressed neighborhood and on darkened roads.

Another vivid dream, so real I believe I was really there – and in a sense, I was. Mark Doty’s latest before bed has led my nocturnal wanderings down my own deep lanes, it seems.

Madonna is singing about ghost towns as I drive to my morning dentist appointment – she’s still kicking ass, still leaving all these wannabe divas in the dust with their crappy songs, still singing the soundtrack to my life just like she did in those long ago years. I am in fierce immediate love with this new song. (“When it all falls, when it all falls down/  I’ll be your fire when the lights go out/ When there’s no one, no one else around/ We’ll be two souls in a ghost town.”)  The credits of my unshakable  dream scroll to the theme song.

I distract myself from the drilling by composing a poem, wishing for paper. I’m a perfect patient, my dentist says. So relaxed. Poetry will do that to you, I think. Two hours and two temporary teeth later, I have something I think I can work with. you will feel a little pinch …. I try not to step on Pink Floyd’s toes.

The Novacaine dissipates as I alternate between sleeping and reading. I’m engrossed in M.O. Walsh’s stunning debut novel My Sunshine Away, a fantastic title with a story I cannot put down because of writing like this.

“But for every adult person you look up to in life there is trailing behind them an invisible chain gang of ghosts, all of which, as a child, you are generously spared from meeting. I know now, however, that these ghosts exist, and that other adults can see them. The lost loves, the hurt friends, the dead: they follow their owner forever. Perhaps this is why we feel so crowded around those people who we know have had hard times. Perhaps this is why we find so little to say. We suffer an odd brand of stage fright, I think, before all those dreadful eyes.”

These lines take hold of my soul. I return again to my numbed ghosts – my lost loves, my hurt friends, my dead who follow me forever. The ones I still see as an adult. The ones who crowd my dreams.


You will feel a little pinch

–and I see the needle

before I close my eyes.

 You give me the play-by-play

–we’re going to remove all the decay

as if it was that easy.

 I’m back in last night’s dream

–the claws, the cats, that long kiss ….

 Tell me if you’re feeling any of this.


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hope, delivered

it happens like this:

after you sign permission slips 8 minutes before you’re due at the bus stop and

after the nonstop fighting and ihatehimiwishhewasneverbornimsorunningaway and

after the cancer and the kisses and

after the exhaust from the bus disappears round the corner

only then

you notice this

and this

and you remember albert camus from college

and his invincible summer in the midst of winter

and having the courage to sprout when it would be easier to remain frozen

and you notice

the undeniable proof that hope exists here

in february

on your front steps

just beyond your door

photos taken by me in our front yard, February 12, 2013

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copyright 2013, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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and so, it comes down to this …

and so, it comes down to this …
the holding of a friend close in heart
for tonight, for tomorrow
for always.
in hope and in prayer
for healing, for peace, for strength 
for love remains.
love you, d. and s.
photo taken by me at church, february 14, 2010.

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Poem for an Early Winter’s Morn (by me)

4:32 a.m.

are eight years old – or,
as you keep reminding me,
only two years away
from being two digits
and halfway
to getting your driver’s license

school can be a dangerous place these days
what with the teaching of addition and all
not to mention, your telling us of time
(time and time again)
fueling your love of all things numerical

but at eight years old
and at 4:36 a.m.
i will never tire
of watching you slumber in the fetal position
your hands
the ones that deftly control the Wii
and your life
now silently curled under your chin
folded as if in a prayer that is mine

I squelch the to-do list
of all that I could accomplish
in the here and the now
in these small hours

and instead close my eyes – just for a moment
still wondering of the minutes and
calculating the numbers like an accountant
swirling in my head and clashing with the sum
of however many nights more you will do this, this …

this sleeping in heavenly peace
experts silenced as attachment parenting goes on display in its finery
illuminated and bathed by glow of a winter’s full moon

and suddenly to my wondering eyes you unfold
not quite yet emerging from your cocoon
your hiberation from forces unknown

sleeping in even earthly peace is elusive now
as the moon awakens with facts, with moments to come

as we keep an eye on the clock
so we can always know the time

12/4/2009, 5:55 a.m.
copyright 2009, MelissaF

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