Tag Archives: desert

Vegas, Baby

Vegas pic

Sometimes a single image can lead to an extended metaphor. Vegas, Baby is a poem born of a starry night and other lines hustled right in to join the initial image. Prolific Press included it in their Summer 2016 issue of Poetry Quarterly. The link is below, though the book is pricy. I’ll let you know if the poem gets put online.


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Mansa Musa’s Minecraft



Mansa Musa is still considered to be one of the wealthiest men in history.  He was a great King, but his accomplishments and times are far from current popular awareness. I wrote “Jerboa’s Beautiful Tail” to introduce Mansa Musa and Western African History to young people. Because folk tales are so central to African cultures, I’ve used one for the structure of my story. Every good folk tale has a lesson and so does mine.

Master teacher John Miller and I have worked together creating teaching units for twenty-five years.  He liked “Jerboa’s Beautiful Tail” and had his students at Chalone Peaks Middle School create a Minecraft movie of the story.  I think they did a great job!  Here’s the movie link:


All teachers who are interested in Minecraft will want to see how Mr. Miller created his lesson!  Here’s a link to his plan:  http://minecraft.edtecworks.com/2014/11/16/lesson-plan-making-a-movie-in-minecraft/

I posted the actual story and some reading comprehension activities for  it on TPT.  Both story and activities are free. The link is below.


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Poetry Reprise

Tuolumne 2 copy

Photo by Jon Walton

Those of you who enjoy my poetry may find five of my favorites on Verse-Virtual’s September page.  Seeing a group of my poems stirs my interest in assembling a book.  I’d want to employ a certain photographer, however, and the kid is busy!


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My reminiscence of a childhood walk in the desert with my grandfather was just published on “Dead Snakes”  Truly – and somehow appropriate!images.  Check it out here:


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Flashmob June 22nd

smoo-cave-21359946In celebration of flash fiction day, here’s my latest story:

Well of Souls

Her naked shoulder turned sideways as she slid between two green boulders and disappeared like smoke in darkness.

Earlier, hot dust tingled in my nose like freshly cut spice.

Earlier yet, dawn grew among declining stars.  Abbas spoke beside me as we turned our horses onto a blank slate of deep desert sands.  “You will see today the great treasure of our people.”

I rubbed my sleep-burdened eyes.  “It’s worth arising so early?”

Maryam murmured from my other side, “It is.”

Abbas continued, “Water flows from this well even in driest years, years like this one.”

Maryam nodded.  “It is said that the women of the well sometimes wander far.”

“Women of the well?” I asked.

“Bah!” snorted Abbas, “An old wives’ tale!”

Maryam shook her head.  “No, Abbas, it is their tears, tears of both joy and sorrow, which make the rains return.  When their journeys end so will the drought.”

Abbas raised his eyes to disappearing stars.  “Bah!”

Dust billowed yellow as cardamom from beneath the horses’ hooves as we hobbled them in the shade of two sandstone slabs leaning together.  Maryam scampered ahead of us into a slit in the hillside.  I followed Abbas into the slit.

Coolness enfolded me like a mother’s hands. I saw pools stair-stepped away from me into a cavern’s depths. Waters trickled from one to another like words meandering from grandmothers’ lips.

Maryam’s voice chimed like distant bells, “This way!”

Abbas shouted, “Wait for us!”

She looked back, her eyes teasing like starlight on midnight pools.

“Wait, Maryam!”

She cast off her robe and ran.

Abbas called once more, “Wait!”

Her naked shoulder turned sideways as she slid between two green boulders and disappeared like smoke in darkness.

I never saw Maryam again.

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