The stained glass window
of the October leaves
before the sky
God’s Cathedral
The waves rush ashore
leaving the sand a virgin
for the next set of footprints
The gulls screech the hymns
of a million years

This poem was placed on copper and installed in the Albion Fair Arts and Crafts Barn, in Albion, PA. It was part of the Erie County Poet Laureate project of now past Laureate Sean Thomas Dougherty.
Dedicated July 2, 2022


I watched my mother

contract polio

I watched my mother

kick it to the curb

Talk about pick yourself

up by your boot straps

She had to do that

with only one usable hand

Life wasn’t difficult

she turned every obstacle into

a personal challenge

She could tie her sneakers


faster than I

could with both

We all learned adaptability

I learned how to crack an egg one-handed

I ironed on the wrong side of the ironing board

and I had no clue why

One time as a thirty year old shop worker

I was sweeping the floor

A coworker asked “why do you do it like that?”

I had my right arm

wrapped around the broomstick

and didn’t use my left

Because I learned my normal

from my disabled mother

I realized that day

Normal is just a setting on your dryer

My mother contracted polio when I was six. I learned everything through my mothers adaptations.


I was the

frail little scrawny girl

they always picked last

and always went after first

And then in sixth grade,

Pat Wagner

the kid who was

already like six foot

and the hero,

was up

Ball in hand

he looked right at me

and smiled

I knew this was it

I could see

the blood in his eyes

The ball hit me

in the stomach

so hard

that it took me

off my feet

I hit the floor


on my butt

I couldn’t breathe

I gasped air in

Through the fog

I could hear cheering

and I felt shame

When I looked up

it was my team cheering

I looked down

and realized

the ball was still

wrapped in my arms

I could taste

red rubber

and Pat Wagner

mouth agape

was out

Without a doubt this is a fan favorite when I am out reading.


So few memories of my biological beginnings

Just past pictures of my mother’s disabled struggles

Her husband, my father

never capable of being a real man

or someone my mother could depend on

Gone, and good riddance

I was half past ten when my step father walked in

to my life for the first time

My mother offered him every excuse to run

A mother of two

would be no fun

even if she wasn’t damaged

Well, he was having no part

of hearing of her imperfection

In fact

the correction

You are perfect for me.

Still in the back of my mind

HE wasn’t really my father

It took years

multiple tears

on several occasions before I accepted him

Then, when my sons were teens

and I was between divorce and sanity

I saw the light

How my step father

never instigated a fight

It was an impetuous girl

whirled about

in the drought of failed family

Who out of immaturity

had lashed out doubt

and now turned about

in great thanksgiving

for living

under the careful protection

and direction Of my Step Up Dad


My road, has been a bumpy lot

fraught with

trials and great tribulations

Intimidation, humiliation

and finally determined exasperation

which led to escape

There was no caped crusader

Just a single Mom

walking like a Wallenda on a rope so tight

with a fright       filled heart

that forced each foot forward

I remember the moment when

I realized I had gained

full balance I carried that load

high wire no net

No regrets

Just pushing through

to my next stop

Each time in my life

that I believed all lessons learned

A warning shot could be heard overhead

There are many of my loves

Missing in action not finished with life

Gone, just the same

Each time

I asked God to be my bones

and move on I did

I would close the lid

or turn the page to

my next chapter

To capture the next adventure

I have painted, crafted, and written myself

from the depths of despair

to the top of the stair

more times than this

anti mathematician

Can not count

I encourage you;

Who feel,     life has passed by,

or left you dry

to take a walk on my wild side

Caress the bumps and lumps

Do not ride your brakes too hard

and relax your grip

Try a trip on my road

It is a wild ride…


In 1968

My two girl friends and I stood

on the corner

outside of school

the last day of classes

We joked

about going to school in 1969

We huddled together

and carefully

unfolded the note.

The paper was pressed

in half, lengthwise

then in half lengthwise again

Bobby had then taken the long thin column

and creased it triangularly

all the way

up the long paper white formation

and finally tucked that last quarter inch inside, itself.

After taking her time undoing

as to not tear the precious piece

Charlene smoothed the

lined notebook paper

across her thigh

with her hand


after inhaling deeply

She repeated what she read


I really like you.


We giggled like school girls

Because, after all

we were.

I remember this

Forty some years later

and I wonder

will girls from today

remember a text

the same way?

This was a true story I will never forget. Tactile memories are being removed from our younger people.

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