BIG Dreams for LITTLE People

An engineer’s brain saw a cross-country train
Feeding greedy men’s dreams of riches
But to build the train across fields of grain
Is hard — don’t they know them sons of bitches?
And yet the crazy thought 
Of just one-week travel
Makes our own sweaty juices flow.
It almost seems funny that
We work for money,
But that’s not all, 
We know.
The railroad’s BIG in every way. 
A huge, gutsy step from our past
It’s scary,  it’s hairy.
And dirty? Very.
We work it and hope we last!
But while it’s BIG. We’re just a tie
A spike on the railroad’s tracks
We want a piece, of the riches, ‘fer sure
In return for breaking our backs.
“Whatchya gonna do
With the money you make?”
I’m gonna start a store, how ‘bout you?
“I’m gonna buy some land,
Have kids, like I planned.
And run a farm
Just like my old man.”
The railroad’s BIG in every way. 
A huge gutsy step from our past
It’s scary,  it’s hairy.
And dirty? Very.
We work it and hope we last!
This cross-country train is BIG; we know it. 
It’s why we keep on toiling.
It’s bigger than BIG, a crushing task
Through ice and rain and boiling.
Cuz here’s the thing we cannot do.
We simply cannot blow it.
And cuz it’s BIG, we continue to try.
It’s bigger than BIG; we work or die.
It’s BIG
We know it in our gut 
It’s BIG
We want a piece, a cut
It’s BIG, no lie.
We work and cry
It’s BIG
It’s BIG
It’s BIG
 Let’s not die.
This piece will be set to music and will be a part of my next historical fiction production, The Woman Who Saved the Transcontinental Railroad.

What Music Am I Playing Today?

My Piano Hands!

I play music as I pass through my day.

 Sometimes it’s harsh, and sometimes easy-breezy, hooray.

Each day it’s a choice to:

Curate the chords

Making majors from the minors.

Nurture each note and

Relaxing on the rests.

Dive into dissonance

Forcing fortes and frowns.


Pianissimos seeking peace,

Soft pedals pushed down.

Channel rock ‘n roll?

Relish Rachmaninoff!

  Meet Miranda or Mozart.

It’s a joy, it’s an art.

The best news is

The music I play.

Is totally mine,

To make my day my way.



If I’m Being Honest

If I’m being honest, I’m checking my authentic truth for falsehoods.

“Really? Is that REALLY true?”

Women Who Run With the Wolves author Clarissa Pinkola Estés says we must turn to art to find our true selves. Find silence. Be somehow willing to acknowledge a higher power.

If I’m being honest, I don’t know what to call the higher power. I think there’s one. I pray to them sometimes. But I’m still on the fence about “God” with that name. It could be anything. Here’s what. I believe we humans are more than an evolutionary fluke. A Charles Darwin leap from an ape to a person. Nope. There’s something or someone. I believe that.

If I’m being honest, I am absolutely sure I have been specially blessed with more than my fair share of REALLY cool stuff. I am grateful for all of it. I wonder when the “shoe” is going to fall. But then maybe I’ll not bring it on by asking too many questions.

If I’m being honest, I absolutely know that there are few accidents. It’s all pretty much planned. All of it. The good, the bad, and the ugly. I am often good, sometimes bad, and unfortunately, plain ugly from time to time. And yet, if I’m being honest, I try to catch myself and get better. That’s all we can ask for, because, well, we’re lucky to be here, maybe being ugly, and still having people who love us even so.

If I’m being honest, I’m trying to be objective about the things I say and do. It takes stillness. And the willingness to work hard to change the things you see that, if you’re being REALLY honest, are REALLY bad. Those are hard times.

Evolving Language Speechless


Out of the thoughtless earth, Words struggle to grow through the sludge-mud to where Pooled Rain Water is shoved sideways by Wind. Teenage frogs wink at each other as their tadpole brothers and sisters look up hoping to see their older selves with legs if all goes well and a smarmy hungry Snake Snot doesn’t eat them in one gulp. Mom and Dad Frog do not croak a warning. They are too tired.

Besides, Words stuck in muck behind a root truck never exit Mom and Dad’s Froggie Mouths. Señor snake licks his lips, wishing for arms to rub his bulging tadpole-bump tummy.

I hope to keep my Mom and Dad self from warning me. For if I am swallowed whole, I will see darkness and know that I can escape and make new words. Evolved language. Or at least overreach my croakings in new ways.


Photo Credit:

Dead at 39

Dead at 39

This post is about life and gifts.

Last night, we watched the George Gershwin movie, “Rhapsody in Blue,” made in 1945. The lead was played by Robert Alda, Alan Alda’s dad. Alan Alda was Captain Hawkeye Pierce in the long-running M*A*S*H television series, among other successful roles.

In the Rhapsody in Blue movie, George Gershwin’s key trait was his inability to rest. He was always in a huge hurry to finish the current project so he could start another. It’s easy to say that he was pressed (almost to distraction) to create because he had a sense he would be dead at age 39, but is that possible? 

Did he know? 

He never married. He was as much a failure at romance as he was a success at writing music. His gift came with a cost. Is that true of other gifted people? These talented individuals died early, too. Elvis Presley was 42 at his death, Judy Garland, 47, Philip Seymour Hoffman, 46.  And Robin Williams, 53. 

Did they know?

We all have gifts. Some of us have more than others. Some people’s gifts are more evident to outsiders because movies or plays or musical pieces make the gifts public. For some folks, their gifts are never opened. The gifts are left under life’s tree and are never claimed. Maybe those people are spared the angst of Gershwin, et al. 

Do we know? 

I would like to say my gifts have come with a cost, but they haven’t. I haven’t pursued them to distraction. Is that good or bad? Does every gifted person who pursues their talent die early? No. But on the other hand, what is the cost of not opening your gift, or at least only opening one end? Has that life been a waste? What would have happened if Gershwin lived longer? Garland? Would they have lived longer without the hot pursuit of fame, perfection, creation? What drove them? Would a longer life have been worth it? What were they here to do?


My ficitious novel “Deathlist, Death, and the Devil” lets people know how long they have to live. Exacty. How. Long. With or without gifts. With or without using them to build tall buildings, swing a golf club, write an opera, or sing in the choir. 

If you knew you were going to be dead at 39, would you live differently? I would hope I would live my life here forward with a different speed and heightened pressure to finish. For that, I would need to embrace  fearlessness. So I ask…

What would you do if you knew?