sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Here are three poems I wrote in response to photo prompts for F2k class at Writers Village University.  Writing a poem inspired by a photograph is harder than you think!


Of Frogs and Fishing

I’ve kissed a few frogs.

In the fourth grade,

warts on my hands

from kissing a boy,

no doubt,

his eyes bulging, croaking

hello in the halls.

The auto mechanic

who told me fish stories,

never kissed him.

Prince or pauper?

The newly divorced,

washed up on the beach,

flopping on the sand.

Yeah, I kissed him.

Plenty of fish in the sea,

or so they say.

The businessman who flashed

a fistful of credit cards,

enough for decent fishing gear.

I never kissed him.

Maybe it was the tin crown

that fooled me, the too shy

toad always just out of reach.

I kissed him.

Does that make me a princess

in a pink tutu, ever hopeful?

I’ve kissed

a few frogs.



I believe in liberty,

justice, peace and plenty.

All that good shit.

The flag for which it stands.

And the Pursuit of Happiness.

You both get out of my way

before you get trampled.

And that guy, carrying that flag

on the beach, like it was yours alone…

and alone to bear.

These red, white and blue tennies

will leave marks on your back.

So get out of my way,

get out of my way.



My bedroom,

shelves of notebooks

and books, both kinds,

hardback and paperback.

They could be the important

kind, history, philosophy,

politics, law.

Instead, fiction-old favorites

and new friends, cookbooks,

Astrology and travel books,

writing books.

The local branch

of the Westlund library.

Favorite Poems


Les Djinns is one of my all-time favorite poems.

Here is the poem (in French, of course)!

Here is a link to someone reading it on Youtube:

Here are the first couple of stanzas in French:

Murs, ville,
Et port,
De mort,
Mer grise
Où brise
La brise,
Tout dort.

Dans la plaine
Naît un bruit.
C’est l’haleine
De la nuit.
Elle brame
Comme une âme
Qu’une flamme

Toujours suit !
Note the rhyme pattern, A/B/A/B/A/A/A/B

The form, both the line length and the rhyme pattern, contribute greatly to the effect of the poem. It’s extremely difficult to translate, but here is a link to one that stays pretty true to both the text and the form:

At one point I attempted to translate it myself but gave up in despair. Instead, I ended up with the following piece of nonsense:


Lee Jeans

by Margaret Fieland


The real
the meal,
in short,
a quart
of grease,
the teas
a tease,
the torte


is too plain
and not sweet.
They complain,
I repeat.
It is plain
it’s insane
to remain
here to eat.


The chef, you know,
who kneads the dough:
he had to go.
It’s quite a blow.
He stole the plants,
a big advance,
and all the pants,
when things were slow.


I hear him approach
I know it is he.
He sounds like a coach
or an angry sea.
I may be a fool
but I think it’s cruel
and not at all cool
to take things and flee.


So I went down the hall
to see what could be found.
I had heard someone call
so I looked all around.
I walked down to the lamp.
I wanted to decamp
but I had a bad cramp
so I leaned on the wall.


It was warm for the month of May.
I looked around and he was gone.
The chef hid from me, and I say
that the search for him may drag on.
I know that he has run away;
I looked around to see which way.
I know I won’t find him today,
and I don’t know where he has gone.


Our restaurant will close. I want to weep,
We have no more money and we are dinned
by all our creditors. I cannot sleep.
He destroyed our livelihood. He has sinned.
He took the money and he stole away.
If he is caught, then for his sins he’ll pay,
but when that day will come no one can say
and for now all our money has been skinned.


We would need to buy some more pants
for the waiters and for the cooks.
We could get by without more plants;
but I took a look at the books:
we can’t get by without more dough,
and there’s no place we could go
that could provide us with the dough.
That chef has really cooked the books!


He has passed by the court!
I see him hide away
behind the kegs of port.
He’ll try to hide all day.
I know this thief is Ben
and he has fled again.
We must catch him, and then
he must be made to pay!


His name’s Ben Fontaine
He lives in Billox.
He can fly a plane.
He’s sly as a fox.
He has a strange smell.
It’s one I know well,
one like a gazelle
or maybe like lox.


His home’s a lab
with no front door.
He owns a Lab
or three or four.
His face is grave.
Although he’s brave,
he is a knave
down to the core.


It’s not vague,
what is more,
what a plague
to the store
was that man
when he can
steal a can
or some more.


No doubt
in brief,
the thief,
our woe
will grow.
We’ve no


What are some of your favorite poems? Leave us a comment and let us know.


Publishing update! An unconventional way to (possibly) get my poems.

In Provo, Utah, you can visit Enliten Bakery and Café and get poetry for a quarter. Put together by Provo Poetry, you can put a quarter into a re-purposed gumball machine, the POEMBALL machine, and get a capsule with a poem by a local poet.

They also have a portable machine at Happy Valley Farmers Market, and will be having a third machine soon at Pioneer Book.

And now there is a chance that one of those poems could be mine! Three of my poems were accepted for the project, and each will be printed at least five times. So if you ever stop by Provo, stop in at Enliten Bakery and Café and take a chance. Be inspired.

Mary Butterfly Signature

Here are  poem, but before you read it, here are the three jokes I mention:

Mathematician, Physicist, and Engineer:

In the high school gym, all the girls in the class were lined up against one wall, and all the boys against the opposite wall. Then, every ten seconds, they walked toward each other until they were half the previous distance apart.

A mathematician, a physicist, and an engineer were asked, “When will the girls and boys meet?”

The mathematician said: “Never.”

The physicist said: “In an infinite amount of time.”

The engineer said: “Well…in about two minutes, they’ll be close enough for all practical purposes.”

Violinist at the pearly gates:

A violin player dies and goes to heaven.  At the pearly gates he is
handed a beautiful new violin and invited to play in the Orchestra of
Heaven, a rehearsal of which is about to begin.  He sits down and
begins warming up.  After a while, a little old man with an unruly
mane of white hair steps up on the podium and begins waving his arms
wildly.  "Who's that?" the new violinist asks his stand partner.  "Oh,"
replies his partner, "that's just God.  He likes to think he's von

And here is the golf joke:

Jesus and Moses are playing golf in Heaven when they come to the par-three 17th hole, a long carry over water to an island green. Moses tees off with a 3-wood and hits the green. Jesus takes out his 5-iron and says, "I'm going to hit a 5-iron because Arnold Palmer would hit a 5-iron from here." 

 Jesus tees it up and hits a lofted iron shot that finishes 25 yards short of the green and in the water. 

 Jesus shrugs and starts walking on the water to where his ball went in. Just then, a foursome approaching the tee box sees Jesus walking on the water. 

 One of them asks Moses, "Who does that guy think he is, Jesmus Christ?" 

 Moses turns and says, "No, he thinks he's Arnold Palmer!" 

and finally, the poem:


Silly Season


“Do you remember

any jokes, Mom?”

My six-year-old

stares at me.


Violinist at the Pearly Gates?

Jesus golfing?

Mathematician,  physicist,

and  engineer? Nah.


Anything we told each other

as kids is politically incorrect.

“Besides lightbulb jokes.”

He’s heard those.


“No,”  I say.

“I don’t.”

An explanation, and another poem:

Many years ago, I heard a joke told by a friend (he was German) about a Frenchman, an Englishman, and a German. All three are supposed to be executed by being guillotined. The guillotine malfunctions, and the Frenchman and the Englishman are spared.

The punchline is something like:


So the executioner raised his axe, but before he could cut the rope, the German yelled out:

“WAIT! I see what the problem is!”


Thus the following poem of mine:



Fixing the Guillotine

Remember the joke

about three men

about to be executed?


The Frenchman and Englishman

are spared, but alas,

the German is an engineer.

More Poetry News

Snapdragon logoI have also been submitting poetry, and my poem “Seeking that which is Lost” is in Snapdragon Journal‘s Summer issue “Journey”.  You can get an annual subscription, or purchase the individual issue. Snapdragon Journal’s mission is to use creativity as a way to process and express the healing journey. The issue is a powerful, beautiful compilation and I am so proud to be a part of it. I have often used poetry as therapy, so I know its power and celebrate what they are accomplishing. I hope you check them out.




.. a couple of them, anyway.

Lvegetation   Like many writers, I’d rather be writing, so I’m often lazy about submitting. Recently, however, I had two poems published. One I submitted and had accepted last fall, and another I submitted recently.

“When I kick the Bucket,” was written several years ago. The title comes from a phrase my father used frequently growing up. In it, I imagine my own funeral. The name of the funeral home is one that was close to where I grew up in Manhattan, and the people mentioned in the poem are real members of my family.It appears in Lighten Up Online, an online humor zine. Here is the link:

The next one, “Faded Glory,” appears in the spring issue of a new online journal, Eclipse180. I submitted a set of four poems that spoke to the theme of war, and the editor liked all of them. Her favorite, “Faded Glory,” appears in the spring issue. I’m hopeful that the other three will appear in the summer issue, which is not yet out.

My middle son served in the army and did two tours of duty in Afghanistan. He signed up for the Army Reserve during his junior year in high school. He went through basic training during the summer between his junior and senior years in high school, and served in the reserve during his senior year. He received a ROTC scholarship and entered the army as an officer — a very junior lieutenant — after graduation. All four poems I submitted were written when he was serving overseas.

Here is the link to the site. You can click on the link for the spring issue. My poem is the last one in that issue.



Harlee - Marit 3


 To Friendship

An unraveling thread
suspends my heart
in the Universe.

One push can crush it,
one word
destroy it.

One or two at a time
hands appear
and hold me,

each touch leaves
its fingerprints
of compassion.

Surrounding my life
comes the vibration
of voices,

within each note
a rhythm
of healing whispers.

A patchwork quilt
of love
covers my soul.

Each square
a hand or voice
that shares its spirit.

They protect
and cradle
my aching memories

of joy and gratitude
and do not
let me fall.

mg, April 2016


Less than two months ago, I had to make one of those heart-wrenching decisions, one that truly has only a single option that is fair, humane, respects quality of life, and is a gift when a kindred soul is suffering.

Almost eight years ago, we adopted Harlee, an amazing almost-three-year-old Standard Poodle. We were her third permanent home. While we knew almost nothing about her history, she told us her story over the years. We saw how she reacted to sounds and movements, people, and — especially — other dogs.

With our love and support, she learned to trust us, and realize that she was finally safe. At times when she didn’t get the attention she needed, she was able to communicate her fear that she was going to be abandoned again.

Those times became fewer and further apart because she learned to not be afraid to let us know she was worried. At first, she tried to hide her aging issues, and it took a while to realize why she was reluctant to run down the stairs to go for a walk.

A leap of trust and faith was when she let us in on her problem. She couldn’t get into the car, and allowed us help her with a boost, and later, by finally agreeing to use “stairs” we got for her to walk up into it.

An easy jump onto our bed morphed to a running start to make it, then a boost of her back end, and, near the end, letting us pick her up and get her situated.

When she could no longer support herself to maintain her dignity when outside, she let me know she was ready to let go. We were very fortunate to have a wonderful veterinary clinic that had treated her throughout her time with us. They loved her, and she adored them, regardless of what she had done.

At the end, they were there for and with us, truly surrounded us with love and compassion, tears and shared sorrow. We received a sympathy card after, with notes from each of the staff. We will never forget the care and kindness of Dr. Sheila Johnson and her staff at Animal Health Associates.

Another major part of Harlee’s life was spend in grooming, which, like all dogs that have hair instead of fur, needs attention. At least monthly, she was excited to spend time with her friends there. I called it her Poodle Parlor spa day.

The picture of Harlee above was taken by Marit Vike, owner of Send Rover Over, last fall. I played with the background, wanting to feel her float in the clouds, but Marit captured her inquisitive look beautifully.

Perhaps people who don’t have pets, or never had the chance or courage to form the bond, don’t understand what I’m writing about. I knew walking into the relationship that I’d have to say goodbye to Harlee long before I was ready to do it.

I knew my heart would break. Part of the life cycle — the part I rage against and never want to accept. I’d been through this before, with Madame Wa, our other Standard Poodle we’d raised from a pup, nursed through all kinds of maladies, traveled thousands of miles with after we retired. She was almost fifteen when we had to let her go in peace.

I learned so much from these two friends, companions, kindred spirits; they looked out for me as much as I did for them. I experienced what unconditional love means and feels like. My life is empty from loss, but full with memories, and support.

This poem is my thank you to my human friends who have been there for me, including my family. I love and cherish you. it’s also a reminder to myself to work hard to be in the present, where life is happening with each breath.

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