Tag Archive: Memories

July 14


When the music plays
and the hips begin to sway
and the hands let go of phones
and one another,
there is no difference
between  the little girl in the tutu,
the teenager in the summer dress ,
and me in my t-shirt,
all swirling and closed-eyed bliss
keeping perfect time.

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

July 4


Flash bang

Friends and food and fire

The dog who tried to eat

A fountain of firework

The kids with water balloons

S’mores and corn and fresh fruit

Shots in the kitchen

And finally the snoring

And late night tv

This is Independence Day

In style

~ 2014

July 2

S’mores in Heaven

Long ago, child, do you remember still?
When I was a good mother and we made s’mores
You stabbed each marshmallow, dead-center,
Always careful to get it just right, delighting in your skill
I can still smell those nights, all damp wood and sugar on fire
You couldn’t resist the urge to watch them burn
And hold them, torch-triumphant, in upraised fists of glory
I loved to watch you waving them like power
Your face clenched in victory over the elements of life
A simple bag of sugar can make us into gods
But finally, hungry and ready, you placed your fate into my hands
And asked for golden brown with full faith
You knew, you knew that I was patient, capable and kind
So I took my time, spinning and spinning over glowing embers
While you watched like it was church, silent and still
And when it was finally perfect like the night
You kept vigil as I slid it so carefully, golden and plump
Between graham cracker and chocolate, slowly like a prayer
And when I delivered it safely into your waiting hands
You knew that it was never just about giving you dessert

~ Liesl Dineen 2014



We couldn’t really be much more different and still be nice people

You carry everything inside and I’m, quite literally, an open book
But who you are shows to me clearly if I pay attention to the right things
The way you care for the dogs with love, and sugar-talk, and frequent baths
The coffee you make and pour for me before I leave for work every day
Even the way you worry with a wrinkled forehead, the look I often mistake for anger
Four years ago I promised you I would indeed screw up often, and I have
And I promised to keep trying harder when that happens, and I am
When I’ve tried to break this vow, you’ve called me out and called me back
And I’m never sorry for trying, only for failing and falling like I do
So thank you for making me walk the walk, and reminding me to stop and think
And thank you for loving me in spite of the excuses I keep giving you to stop


Day Twenty-seven

From Napowrimo.net:
Our early-bird prompt this year (on March 31) was an ekphrastic poem. This is something similar — a poem written from a photograph. There are four below, one of which I hope will catch your fancy. But if you’ve a particular photo in mind that you’d like to use, go right ahead.

I had a particular photo in mind…


“inspiration” picture, a self-portrait

Walking meditation

She walked with purpose along the beach
But in no hurry, well aware that she had time
And the ocean to herself
Just she and her growing shadow
Keeping pace with the rising sun
She was there to say hello

She focused on the details
The damp sand sticking and falling off her bare heels
The waking birds celebrating the day in song
The holes from clams just catching their breath
The pulse of the ocean, coming in waves
Acquainting herself with what she was becoming

She didn’t know, not quite yet
That for the rest of her life
She would reach out for this morning
Grabbing hold of its lifeline
Whenever she was drowning
In the deep well of her own mistakes

She walked with purpose along the beach
Leaving footprints and regrets behind
Knowing that the ocean, regardless of witnesses
Withholds its judgment always
Brazenly forgiving herself more with every step
She was there to say goodbye

She grew more as her shadow shortened
Fueled by simplicity and the certainty
That life goes on, and knowing anything depends
On whether you’re a pelican or a clam
Or a woman on the beach walking with purpose
Through the morning and her life

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

Day Twenty-one


3561607From Napowrimo.net:
Today’s prompt is to write a “New York School” poem using the recipe found here. The New York School is the name of a group of poets that all lived in New York in the 1950s and 1960s. The most well-known members are Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, and Kenneth Koch. Their poems are actually very different from one another, but many “New York School” poems display a sort of conversational tone, references to friends and to places in and around New York, humor, inclusion of pop culture, and a sense of the importance of art (visual, poetic, and otherwise). Here’s a fairly representative example.

In following the recipe, you can include as many (or as few) of the listed elements as you wish.

Holy smokes, there’s a lot of stuff you’re supposed to try to add, but all fun! I think I got almost all the ingredients in this one!

Meet me at The Three Monkeys

Did I tell you we saw David Letterman live
when he interviewed Jimmy Carter
at the end of March, just a week before announcing
his retirement from The Late Show?
It was Monday, the same day that we watched Jay
playing bassoon at Carnegie Hall!
We wandered around with John’s parents
after the performance, and then on our own after lunch
until we got close enough to the Ed Sullivan Theater
to be on the lookout for a proper beer.
That’s when I saw the sign for The Three Monkeys
and felt the pull of craft beer and Irish accents.
It was sleepy in there, just one other couple getting up to leave.
The bartender said (I want to remember him as Declan
but I know that’s because of a crush I had
on my Irish Latin teacher way back in Buffalo)
“Oh, Letterman? You’ll be right back here then.
This is where they send ya to wait.”
But back at the theater, they put us in the “A” group
which meant very little waiting and only
one more beer. By then though there were lines
in The Three Monkeys at both bars and on the stairs,
and only two stalls in the ladies room downstairs,
and one of those was occupied for at least ten full minutes
while angry women began telling stories with clenched teeth and legs
about that woman and just what she was doing in there.
I wondered about heroin and death until it was my turn,
and then listened carefully for any noises coming from her stall. No.
But three minutes later we were around the corner on Broadway again
in another line, where we were herded and coached
and warned not to whoop or woohoo at all.
Then they sat us down in the theater seats,
and there was Alan Kalter and the show, and John finally got to see
the band, especially Will Lee, and they didn’t disappoint
and Jimmy Carter spoke bravely and seriously and Dave was amazing
at listening well and still being so very, very Dave.
It was only an hour, after all that waiting,
but it was, I’m pretty sure, my second favorite thing about that trip,
next to Jay at Carnegie of course!
Even though Motown the Musical was magical,
and the Lindy’s cheesecake was semi-orgasmic,
and Al Roker took a selfie with the kids next to us at the Today Show,
and Evan walked us through Soho and his old record-shopping life,
and oh, the Irish pubs – we loved you all!
We’ll be back again when we can pay
and maybe then we’ll line up for Stephen Colbert
after a couple more beers at The Three Monkeys.

~Liesl Dineen 2014

Day Seventeen


1397750153April 17th. No prompt except the date.

My daughter was born 14 years ago today. Even though it’s been more than a year since she’s been willing to see or speak to me, I can still close my eyes and go back to so many good times.

Kid coffee was always a special time of each day. I hope she can remember and smile too.


Kid Coffee

I make the Kid Coffee with special care
While she watches me, attentive, making sure
Our rituals are followed to perfection
Because I know to her Kid Coffee means Belong

I pour the cream into the Pyrex cup
And heat it in the microwave, just warm
Testing the temperature with my pinky
Before pouring it gingerly into the mug

I spoon in sugar, she knows the right amount
Approving with a two year old’s precision
And then I pour the coffee, just a taste
Enough to tint the sugared cream

And we sit together at the counter then
The two pajama’d ladies with our cups
She delights in the stir-sip stir-sip ahh
And I delight forevermore in that

~Liesl Dineen 2014


8359806When I wrote in my last blog post about where I was from, I didn’t expect to learn so much myself. The truth is, after writing down just those little snippets of my life, I began processing so many things at once. I think I’ll be at that for a while to come.

My poems started reflecting things, the cat that died, surviving disasters, stuff like that… My dreams started getting even more trippy than usual. I mean, the cast of characters spans 40 years of life, and stuff just gets weirder every night. I dream often of houses, filled with crazy nooks and hidden spots, and Escherian stairwells. The houses are all different, but all complicated and full of secrets. Almost every room in these houses contains something or someone that I have business with in some way. There’s ex-boyfriends and a few that got away, old friends, family, and lots and lots of children and babies, some mine, some not mine, all needing help, care, love, shelter, mothers.

And so I see how my life’s path bleeds into everything. Like how seeing a mother and young daughter at a store picking out fabric for bedroom curtains together takes me to those places and times when I was that mother, and my daughter and I spent time enjoying one another, shopping and looking at interesting things, sharing laughs. And I probably watch the two a little too closely, and a little too sadly, but I almost always look away before they notice. And while the wind blows through the hole in my heart, I try to relax and pretend it’s just a cool breeze. And I change the subject in my head before it can whisper my daughter’s name too loudly.

On the street I see people walking, favoring one side of their body, and I remember waiting for my smile to grow less crooked every day after the stroke. I try not to stare –  not only because it’s rude, but because they will assume I’m just staring at the asymmetry, and they won’t know that what I’m feeling is connection. They won’t know that I notice a little crooked in my smile every day still, and a little extra weakness on my left side that I’m working on at the gym three days a week. They won’t know that my throat is a little paralyzed on the left too, and that I have to watch how I swallow. They will think that I think they’re a freak show, and they won’t know that really I feel just the same inside.

At the store I see a mother struggle with a child most people think is “too old’ to have that kind of tantrum. I see the stares of the people around her, and the way others walk as fast as they can past something they don’t want to see. I want to yell on her behalf, you don’t know what it’s like, you don’t have a clue! I want to tell her that I do, I do know what it’s like, and I will never forget all the stores I had to leave, cart full of groceries or clothes, holding tight to a flailing child I could barely carry anymore. I want to tell her that she’s not alone, that I know she’s doing everything she can. I want to tell her it will get better. But of course, I can’t even begin to know that for her.

And so I go on through these pieces of life, every day moments, one after another, and I’m beginning to see where I fit, and where the moments fit, and I know that my past is a bunch of signposts that I followed and that I’m still following signposts. And I know that next year if I’m lucky there will be new things to notice and remember, and so on. And so forth.

Every day, I see how I fit into the world a little bit more. Every day I notice this change, because I was never someone who fit in. I know I’ll never be that stylish, snazzy looking woman with her head held at that perfect angle, hair flowing behind her as she walks gracefully in 3 inch heels. But there’s a place for me. I make it myself, more and more each day, and it’s mine, and I belong.


Day Twelve


Sometimes being home alone lets you notice the simple things. I like simple things. A lot.

No “official” prompt today, just lunch.

Comfort Food

Sometimes the ramen tastes so good
Eaten surreptitiously, like sin
In private stolen moments
When no one with an opinion
Is nearby to share

No, it’s not my ramen, of course
It belongs to the boys
Who think that this is cooking
I purchase them in packs of ten
Nobody notices the missing

I break the noodles in half
With the bag still sealed
The way I did it thirty years ago
Back when food was scarce as money
And we couldn’t afford to lose a curl of starch

I boil them, gently, three full minutes
Yes, of course I check the clock,
Who wants them all soggy and fat- wormed?
I treat myself and use a strainer
Instead of the lid that I left in the cupboard

I hold the flavor packet like a bomb
Delicately tearing along dotted line, no spills
I only use a tiny touch
Full flavored MSG madness
Isn’t suited to my non-drive-thru tastes

I mix noodles and powder in still-hot pot
Then put them in a bowl, because I can,
And sit down to eat them prayerfully
I love the way they curl into my fork
And how they stick together

I nibble the pieces hanging off the fork,
Shepherding stragglers into shape
I savor tastes and textures,
Eating the past, letting it linger on my tongue,
Tasting times long gone

I decide to leave the bowl unrinsed,
Thinking it looks cozy there nearby,
Noticing, but not minding
The tiny curls sticking to the walls of the bowl
Cementing themselves in place

I have time, later, to win that fight
Later, when I’ll remember tastes,
And still be thirsty from the salt,
And I’ll smile ever so slightly,
Grateful for tap water and memories

~ Liesl Dineen 2014

Day Nine

From NaPoWriMo on Facebook:

Write a poem to someone you love or once loved something you never got to tell them.

Sebastian was a tuxedo cat, and the coolest damn cat that ever lived. Oh I could tell you stories, so many stories. He was, simply, a bad ass cat. He lived for over 18 years, from my college dorms in Freshman year all the way to Texas, from my teens to my 30s.
When it was his time, old age putting him in a near coma, I was talked into letting my (ex)husband hold him as he was put to sleep, so as not to taint my memories. It was a huge mistake.



I’m so sorry I didn’t hold you
When they shot you full of death
Although I know, and you knew too
You were mostly full already

I just didn’t understand
You know I’ve always taken bad advice
And it was bullshit when they said
I’d remember you better this way

I’m sorry I wasn’t the one
Stroking your face and whispering love
It was my job, my right, my vow
And I stood there just outside the window anyhow

Watching you pass into the dark
Wishing you sweet feather breezes
To set your whiskers twitching
Wishing you open fields of mice

I’m sorry I didn’t believe in myself
Or know love would make me strong
Our eighteen years together, love,
Deserved a far far holier parting than this


~Liesl Dineen 2014

So where are you from?

4741034Recently, my husband and I had the amazing chance to go to NYC and see all kinds of things, from my step-son performing with his Wind Ensemble at Carnegie Hall to the Late Show with David Letterman to a Broadway show. It was his first time in NYC and I loved seeing it through his eyes.

We went to a couple, okay, a few Irish pubs in the four days we had there, and I got to see a side of my husband that I rarely see and dearly love. He was outgoing, and asked people about themselves (mostly the servers who all hailed from Ireland themselves).

The conversations were wonderful, the beer was flowing (lightly really), and the fact that we were on vacation for a few days made everything more relaxing. And so many people asked us where we were from. And I found myself saying, well, I LIVE in North Carolina, but I’m FROM New York state… Which made me think a lot, as I’m prone to do. It turns out I’ve moved a LOT! And that may be part of my problem.

I mean, where am I from?

Is it Brighton, NY, where I lived my first 8-9 years in that carefree lifestyle people my age remember fondly? Where we stayed outside until dinner or dark, inventing games, riding bikes, skinning knees, putting on plays and drinking from the hose?

Is it Rochester NY, where I held my first hand, walked my first dog, learned to play trumpet, bought my first 45s, and learned how it feels to not really belong?

Is it Corning NY, where I joined choir and went through all the joys and agony of high school, first loves, stupid decisions, hurting good people, being hurt by “bad” ones, and learned to enjoy a good buzz?

Is it Buffalo NY, where I went to college and learned to live on cabbage ($2 could go for days), where I made even worse decisions, moved in with a boy, struggled, failed, learned about date rape drugs and disease and dropping out, struggled more and succeeded, became a wife, and finally managed to graduate with a dual degree?

Is it Rochester again, where I got my first job and carpal tunnel syndrome, dealt with a crazy and violent neighbor, finished graduate school with a 4.0 (thanks to my mother typing my papers for me since I had those bad wrists), and lost my grandmother?

Is it Macedon NY, where I learned how it feels to be robbed, where I almost lost, but then gave birth to my son, struggled with being a “working mother”, and learned to scrapbook, bake really good chocolate chip cookies and host birthday parties?

Is it Moorseville NC, where I went with my husband to escape his past, where I stopped “working outside the home” and started going to playgroups and book clubs, where my daughter was born, and I would swing my son for hours, and host more birthday parties?

Is it The Woodlands Texas, which I hated so much because I never wanted to be there, because almost when I got there the towers fell and my daughter fell too, bleeding and scared, and my son was diagnosed, and my beloved old cat died, and the women wore tennis bracelets and treated me like vermin, and the schools tried to ruin my kid, and the committees decided to put fig leaves on the statues because art was obscene, but the barbecue, well that really was awesome?

Is it Garner NC, where I got the kids a dog, and another found me, and I began to homeschool and make new friends, and I sunk into depression, and lived in Everquest2, and fought my way out and started to heal and write again, and divorced my husband, and left my dogs behind, and ruined my children’s lives while trying desperately not to?

Or is it Raleigh, where I live now, where I had a stroke and my first surprise party, where I learned to suck at dating all over again, where I learned to dance and play again, and made way too many crazy friends, and way too many mistakes, where I learned about real loss, and where I found love, and new family, and two new dogs, and found out I’m still me after all?

I guess the answer is I’m from all of these, the different places and different lives all made me who I am, whoever that is. Memories are blurry now, and different people’s stories don’t always match my mine, but I can accept that. They have their own stories and places, after all.

But I still have no easy answer to that simple question, where am I from?

I don’t know, but I do know that I’m home now, with my loves, and damn glad to be here.


%d bloggers like this: