Rules of Childhood

challenging poses
stave off pre-holiday cold
virus can’t beat me

candy-scented home
bowls brimming with sugar dreams
homage to his mom

girls learn gift giving
how to think beyond themselves
wrapped in red ribbon

i’d wrap happiness
and place it under the tree
if it would save them

childhood rules us
far beyond its eighteen years
may theirs be happy


The Orange Room

what i wanted to write
in my semi narrative verse
aspens like shooting stars
on my ears and neck

connection to world
momentarily cut
as we walk along citahdel
stone covered path

as we carry three girls
on our backs up the hill
before stopping for iPhone
photo without full moon
perfect Porto tree and cathedral

what i wanted to say
in my spanglishportuguese
is that love comes forth

in more colors
than the rubio golden lights
of a stolen Christmas
that i could never
with merry words
whisper across the table






December (2011) Daughters


you tiptoe across carpet
in froggy footed pajamas
the small smile on your cheeks
as you wait for your turn
under the tree.

your sisters pick out gifts
easily identifiable
and we ask you what Santa
brought for little Riona.

you keep your small sweet smile
your eyes focused on a small box
of green marshmallow Peeps.
your little hands pick it up
and without a word you nod.

i hold back tears.
in five years i have instilled nothing
in the pure and grateful heart
you came into this world with
overlooking the bicycle next to the tree
for a candy you don’t even like
and i remember just why we are here.


you won’t sleep on long drives
as your sisters snooze away
you play games with your dolls
tell stories about adventures with Mama
and make song requests.

you have lyrics memorized
to songs i didn’t even realize
the words to myself

your favorite this month?
“If I Had a Million Dollars”
to which every last non-singing note
spills from your lips
in a harmony of artistry
from the back seat of the van.


she only loves you.
her almost-two hands push me away
with her classic dirty look.

she can’t say your name yet
but grins when you help her dress
take her to the potty
put food on her plate.

your almost-nine hands
are the perfect match
for your young cousin
and you proudly announce to the world
what an amazing child you are.

Grateful Grin and All

the sun has set in cloudville, but
on the drive home the clouds clear,
a starlit sky to bring in Santa,
who sits up setting up a bicycle
and filling stockings with little girl joys.

the clock ticks on. he is
as silent as the sacred night
and i know (i know)
he will let my tears slide
into the passenger’s view
of the endless drive.

they awaken (not too early)
and my unassuming five-year-old
overlooks the bicycle beside the tree,
pointing instead, grateful grin and all,
to the green Christmas tree Peeps,
the simplest gift of gratitude
that i ache to gather in my arms.

(if i could love)
if i could have for one moment
the beautiful temperament
she came into the world with,
the sadness surrounding my heart
would melt away with the first bite
of overly sweetened marshmallow.