Category Archives: family

30–“Ankles Cracking on the Stairs” from “Frazzle”

In my book, Letting Go and New Beginnings: A Mother’s Poetic Journey, I spoke to the emotional turmoil of our two kids leaving home for college. The upheavals and the adjustments gradually led my husband, Stephen, and me to our new life on our own. Then the economy collapsed and our son and daughter both ended up back home (while we were remodeling). We all had to readjust to living together—in the midst of chaos. The title of this poem came from the sound of my son coming home at night. How you may miss even those little things when they leave again.

“…their removal
will leave a hole…

And again…the longing.”

From poem 30, “Ankles Cracking on the Stairs,” in Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here:

Remind you of any time in your life?

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28–“My Daughter” from “Frazzle”

Each day I don’t sit down and select which poem to read for you. I started at the beginning of Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine and I continue reading chronologically…to tell the tale. Like all good stories there is a beginning, a middle, and an end. We are still in the beginning: getting to know the characters and the various “threads” that will be interwoven with the dramatic details into the overall narrative arc. This story is not just about external events of five years, but as close to actual life as I can capture: sublime sometimes, dark sometimes, messy and chaotic, or quiet and reflective, grieving or joyful, even funny sometimes. Being a mother is a major facet of my life.

My Daughter

the full moon
and I am the tide
pulled inevitably
by her cycling…”

Poem 28 from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here:

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17–“For John” from “Frazzle”

What do you remember about the choices you made and the chances you took to get where you are right now? Is this where you were headed when you set off?

Poem 17, “For John,” from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing. Listen here:

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15–“Remodeling as a Transformative Device (Better than Illness)” from “Frazzle”

In 2009 the world was in the midst of a major financial crisis and both of our grown kids temporarily moved back home while they tried to find jobs. Somehow we had chosen that time to remodel our house. What started as a specific project in the kitchen, expanded to a much-needed update of most of the house. My office was the only untouched room, although full of stuff from elsewhere. Stephen and I went from being well-adjusted on our own, in a quiet place, to true chaos. In a good way, of course.

Over the years, major illnesses have often been my teacher. I’ve gained many insights and deep healing of body, mind, emotions, and spirit. Was there any other—perhaps gentler—way to heal the past and transform my life? Poem 15, “Remodeling as a Transformative Device (Better than Illness),” answers that question. Listen here:


THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing

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14–“Scene: The Future” by Margaret Dubay Mikus

Some background:
In 2007 I was diagnosed with my third breast cancer tumor following a routine mammogram. Further testing showed I carry a BRCA 2 mutation, one of the genes which can lead to an increased risk of cancer. (My molecular genetics science-self found this to be a very interesting gene–as long as I didn’t think of it as affecting me.) I was stunned. This was 11 years after my previous cancer diagnosis and I thought I was done with all that.

It was summer. I sat on my garden swing in the back of the yard, to let the fear subside. I listened to my inner guidance and let the answer come to me…what to do? After gathering information and consulting with many people: doctors, family, dear friends, I decided to have the bilateral (double) mastectomy. Since I had so much radiation with the previous treatment, the tissue was very scarred and I did not to do reconstruction, a very personal choice. This is the kind of decision that jars you not just at the time, but later, when grief for what is lost can surface unexpectedly.

Writing continued to be essential to me during that time. Although not many of those poems have been published, my chapbook, New Year’s Eve Surgery, has a few poems I collected to give to my medical team. I needed them to know something about me—after all, they would be doing a very personal surgery and had not even met me beforehand. My sister had the idea for the entire medical team to sign my copy of the chapbook and they wrote me amazing healing notes of support. My poems changed the conversations from very medical and impersonal to very human and healing.

What insights came to you through medical experiences?

In Poem 14, “Scene: The Future,” from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine, I am thinking ahead to a future when cancer treatment may have changed a lot. Listen here:

Listen to more video poems from “Frazzle”

THROWN AGAIN into the FRAZZLE MACHINE: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing