this is me

I will never believe
that this inglorious me
as you have labelled
is the only me to be,

but choose to seek instead—
however disastrously
however comically—
to define myself!

to create my me
in such colors and tones
as I would most wish
to be seen by you—

speaking hugely in words
and accents as I would
most insistently, most proudly
choose to be heard,

for this is me

this is me

[Inspired by Lia’s ]

I cannot listen to this sing without crying. My thoughts dwelling on my mother and father, and our homelands in Scotland and Germany, and all of the family and ancestors there whom I will never know beyond the reading and imagining. So … here is Scotland’s own Kris Drever and Lau, singing “Ghosts”.

the sweetest smile

the sweetest smile
from this tiniest face
paints playful palettes
of gold and green
across my quiet soul

one look is all
appalling stealth and
wealth and leaving
artless deceptions dangling
in petulant wonder

for this, my lords and
ever torporous ladies
is what life really looks like
when languid you decry
the brightness of day

Me and my baby girl, Leona Mae

to be trusted

We hardly know
one another now,
and yet…

One day years ago in Turkey
she stepped on an urchin
unknowing, of course,
only that it caused her
to scream and cry
and she sighed miserably
when I lifted her up, cradled her
as I ran up the hill to our home.

Setting her down
I tended to her foot,
cleaned it, bandaged it
comforted her as best I could
but the tears had already ceased
and the crying, and instead
she looked at me thankfully
eyes smiling despite the pain.

To this day I still
feel that sense of gratitude—
no, not hers for me necessarily,
but my own for the chance
to feel that at that moment
I was right and true
and trusted by one so tiny
in my eyes, and yet so grand.

My daughter Asena at Ovacık, Turkey (July 2011)

whispering wonder

The whispering wonder
of your so eager smile
completely dazzles
the old worn soul of me.

I never knew such truth
could dwell in eyes
so small yet tremendous,
innocently reflecting stars.

For every dark moment
the angry cracking joints
of this cantankerous fool
grumble for needed peace,

there are a thousand more
when my spirit soars
at the merest sight of your
honestly shining face.

– for my daughter, Leona Mae Ellington


I recall the many voices
that sounded my childhood days
some in such lyrical fashion,
others with weightier authority—
those of my father, my mother,
brother, friends, even strangers—
and I would repeat them all
mimicking accents when alone
and safely unheard by others,
unheard and less likely to be mocked,
challenging notions of speech
and strictly defined identity,
never feeling quite comfortable
with being a singular voice.

Even now, I explore voices
while sharing them professionally
with others for pleasure.
Yet the one voice that must always
define me in accordance with
my own wishes is that of
my mother’s homeland,
land of the Stewarts and Bruces,
the Blairs, McConnells, Kennedys,
MacDonalds, Oliphants, Campbells,
McCandlesses, McWhirters, Hepburns,
and so many more clans besides
whose bloodlines still flow
in these aging veins of mine,
finding expression in the plethora
of pleading, playful voices
my heart endearingly speaks.

You are my past
and my future,
and to you all I say
tapadh leibh,
mo theaghlach.

Her Words

The sweetly tickling nuances of her words
never cease to amaze me,
nor how swiftly sullen me unfolds
to the touch of her voice.

This most prolific creator who populates
realms of finest fiction
with lives much more richly crafted
than I could ever imagine.

The fresh intimate tones of the tales
she composes seduce me,
tantalizing this reader to more than believe—
but to be in that space.

I long to race wildly through her LA streets,
to gently rise with her wisps.
If only I could pass through the portals of Qaf
or strive against ghosts in France.

Instead, I harangue the too arduous day
awaiting the silence of night,
when I might grasp once more at the chance
to turn to the next page.

My favorite author, Laya V. Smith, before Eilean Donan castle in the Highlands of Scotland (2015).

My Wee Sprite

my wee sprite speaks to the trees
and dances their sylvan singing
bringing vibrant hope to my soul,
bark growing stronger at her touch
roots stretching deeper and deeper
below her feet

my wee sprite chases away spectres
securing trust and eternal song
that pardons even the most egregious
envies that have broken bound me
to pursue such petty pleasures
in this life

my wee sprite promises me a day
when the Shellycoat herself bows
and allows me to ascend and ride
the very seas from shore to shore
only to see my wee sprite smile
once more

around and around

around and around she flew
over the well-trodden snow
giggling with such perfect zeal
such unrefined, unrestricted joy
that I found myself trembling inside
so very fortunate to be standing here
watching a child of mine experience
the finest truth of this being:
that to touch the world at its core—
to strive without pretence
to play without avarice
simply to live in this moment—
is to smile the biggest loveliest
smile that one is capable of

My beautiful baby girl playing in the first snowfall of this coming winter