Monday, September 5, 2016


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My life will always be an unfinished story ~ a song with no refrain.
I’m a sprinter in the race, tiring before the finish line
always giving birth to something new . . . and fickle as the wind.

I’m like the Bag Lady, pushing her cart down the street
only mine is full of paper scraps ~ poems and fairytales, unfinished
memoirs and writings I’ve promised to publish . . . someday.

I’ve always found a way to excuse myself from writing a novel.
It takes too long ~ my life has too many distractions ~ I don’t live alone!
I’ve probably started at least fifteen novels, some of which turned into short
stories, most of which became my . . . poems.

But then, here’s the non-fiction part of my life, and there’s no Bag Lady to be found.
It’s Motherhood, and I couldn’t find a pushcart big enough to hold five kids!
Giving birth was the easy part.  Labor, with all its pain and fear of death
was a piece of cake compared to raising these “bright ideas” and realizing what’s true.
You can’t sprint through life when it comes to mothering a child . . . since you’ve
already signed on for a Marathon!

Joanne Cucinello © 2016

Thursday, September 1, 2016

It Takes a Lifetime

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Move over soon ~ the young need space to grow.
It’s getting time to pass the torch . . .
And you must pass it on, don’t worry . . . you just
have to let go!  And when you do . . . go find your way
to the top of a hill. Stand there and look out far. 
See how your one life has blessed the earth,
this beautiful earth that has been your home.

Sing your song to the wind ~ let it fly wild once more.
Touch the earth with your hands and feel the pulse
of the soft mother under foot.  This has been your time.
In the span of creation, what footprints will you leave?
How many paths have you carved through the mountain
of struggle?  How many trees have you marked so that others
might find their way?

Then come down and walk on the stones you have laid.
Tell your stories and the things you have learned. 
Tell of the Great Spirit who lit your way so many times
through the dark nights, till you finally opened your eyes.
Tell the Young Ones of hope, and the journey, and not to despair
for it truly does take a lifetime to make a human heart.

Joanne Cucinello© 2016

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Morning’s Here ~ and So Am I

I'm so attached to this world
to the flesh and the stones
all around me ~ things that make me
feel safe.

My grip has always been strong 
even though, as I write now,
“change” is slipping through my fingers ~
and there's no way to stop it.

All that used to be familiar is changing
morphing into forms that are 
hard for me to recognize ~ 
but I'm trying.

I tend to blame the mirror some nights
so I wait for the shifting light that seems
kinder at dawn . . . and hold my breath
as the sun begins to rise with the truth.

But, hey . . . it’s really okay.  Life is "change".
It has to be, and the ride’s been amazing.
Just makes me wonder when I’ll be
brave enough to open my hands ~ and let go.

Joanne 8/30/16

Friday, June 3, 2016

The Finger of God

tornado photo: tornado tornado_zps45fda44b.jpg

So what are we to make
of all this devastation?
Children crushed beneath debris
homes like piles of Pick Up Sticks
empty picture frames and broken glass
everywhere . . . remnants of memories
gone forever. There is pain, there is fear
there is such great suffering.

This ominous funnel, the Finger of God,
dark, swirling, pointing, making ready
to ravish some doomed earthlings
for this cynical game.

What are the rules of engagement anyway
for Mother Nature and her Associates?
Are we chosen on the map, or do they toss the dice
and let it land wherever . . . just for fun?
No one knows, not even the so called "righteous"
who claim to have the inside scoop.
They seem to think they know who’s going up . . .
and who'll be going down,
I say beware of thoughts like that . . .
Many are struck dead by Presumption!

We believe that if we're good
and obey the rules, somehow we'll
be spared and that Finger will not find us
but the truth is . . . some are lucky, some are not
and good doesn't matter, where fate is concerned.
Some of us are made stronger and more human
by disasters, though they bare our bones
and tear our hearts.

We turn to help the bleeding, we turn to search
for answers, but all will turn to dust one day,
and this is our conundrum.                                     

 Joanne Cucinello  2013

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Loneliness of a Young Mother ( A Memoir )

It's a very real fact that many young mothers experience deep periods of loneliness and feelings of isolation. It seems to begin soon after delivery. The excitement of bringing a child into the world, the feelings of wonder and pride, the combined exhaustion and elation of childbirth . . . all fleeting, as reality slips in and baby comes home . . . for the rest of your life.
I remember the apprehensive feelings that came over me after childbirth. Here was my first baby at last in my arms, our child with the whole world out there in front of her and totally dependent on ME . . . to keep her alive right now! I would have dreams that I lost her and would find her days later, starving and near death or I'd dream that I forgot I had a baby and weeks later remember . . . just in time, before she withered away.
Other feelings were flooding me with sadness too at this time when I felt I should be so happy. The first nights without her in my belly strangely brought on waves of melancholy. I was just me again, after 9 months of being and feeling "we". Loneliness engulfed me. I could swear I felt her moving still inside me when I slept, as if she left her little ghost behind and I missed wrapping my arms around my baby belly.
My body took care of her while I was pregnant and protected my baby from the world outside, but now things would be different. Doubt and misgivings were threatening to make me feel unworthy of my new rank and title . . . Mother.
I remember coming home from the hospital in the car with my sleeping little Cherub. As my husband pulled up the driveway, I looked at our front door and let out a deep sigh thinking ~ "Now we'll be a family". I had told my mother-in-law that "No thanks, I won't be needing you to stay with us right now. We need time to bond . . . just the three of us." (a statement I would live to regret). I was now Donna Reed and we were both in love with our new baby girl. Everything would be perfect. After all, the nurse at the hospital assured me that newborns sleep for almost 18 hours a day! LIAR!! We walked into our quiet little lovenest and I laid my little sleepyhead in her cradle thinking, well, let's see, she was just fed and changed a half hour ago before we left the hospital. The nurse said "She'll probably wake up hungry in about 3 hours . . . don't worry, she'll let you know." I have never trusted a nurse again!
My coat was barely off when she started screaming . . . and screaming . . . and screaming! What could be wrong? Could she be wet? Check! Nope! Screaming louder now. She can't be hungry, she just ate! My husband said "Look at her, she's starving! Do something . . . QUICK!" Okay, okay,I thought. Calm down, she's an Italian baby, of course she's hungry! This response was the beginning of my bout with cracked nipples.
Three days later, when I came to realize that I was going to DIE . . . I sheepishly called my unappreciated mother-in-law in desperation, pouring my heart out. She was on the train that afternoon and knocking on my door with her suitcase in one hand and a burping cloth in the other. This was a stellar moment in my life; Mary Poppins was closing her umbrella and marching through the door. "What about the bonding?" she asked with a smile. And I said "To hell with the bonding! Thank God you're here!" Little did that sweet Lady know, she'd become my Mary Poppins four more times over the next seven years! My own mother had passed away long before and I felt stranded and alone out in the boondocks of budding Long Island.
Elvira became a lifeline for me as the years went by, my confidant, my helper . . . the mother and grandmother my family came to cherish. After her retirement, she lived with us till she was 93. Elvira was Mom in every way I could have hoped for and her love is legend still to all our family.
She was family and she helped heal the loneliness of a young mother named

Wednesday, June 1, 2016


murkey green water photo: green water 2-5.jpg

My dreams are seeping and
weaving into daytime
haunting places so real they test my sanity.
I can't remember if they were once
a part of my conscious life
or some fantasy landscape I've created
repeating itself over and over
behind my lids as I sleep and dream.

There is a place so familiar
a place that returns again and again
where I swim unafraid and calm
in green murky waters
aware that reeds and seaweed
are reaching up from the bottom
swirling around me as I swim

Strangely, I'm not afraid
I just keep swimming in that
dark green water towards the other
side without struggle or fear . . . even though
I never seem to get there.

What are dreams?
What are we to learn from them?
I often wonder, as so many have,
which is reality . . . this life I'm living, or my dreams?
Perhaps both . . . perhaps they are one.

I still wonder; am I making another life for myself?
Or are the bits and pieces of my days
painting the palate of my brain
trying to make some connection at night
with that wild spirit bound in chains
the deeper meaning of my life
hoping to form a bridge to the other side?

Joanne Cucinello   

Sunday, February 28, 2016

My Credo

I believe in the power of the written word and that writing is revelation and no matter how well you think you know a person... a part of them lies hidden or dormant most of the time and is only revealed when pen touches paper and hand reveals the heart. I love discovering hearts!! 

I believe in true love and soul mates and journeys through lifetimes intertwined.  I know I've found mine!
I believe that there's more to us than flesh and bone and that somehow, someway our spirits will go on forever. 

I believe in my five children and their unabashed honesty, their creativity and amazing talents. No matter what I'll ever achieve in life, bringing them into this world is the greatest thing I've ever done. 

And yes, I believe in a loving God who knows my name and will take me home some day.

Life has carved its colors on my soul through sad times and glad times and given me my rainbow to live with... 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

So Familiar Now

sweet old couple photo: old couple 128493395587908540_91veUxcM_c.jpg

I lie beside you every night so blessed
that I am not alone here in this bed,
that you and I still have each other.

I've come to know the sounds
of your sleeping body
your soft breathing

the shifting of your legs
beneath the sheets
as you turn again to face me

and touch my skin,
your nightly reassurance that
I'm still here.

We are lovers growing old
so familiar now with every hair
and every look that passes
back and forth throughout the day.

At times we read each other's mind
so clearly that I wonder
if we've melded into one new life form
but no . . . we are really just
so familiar.

Joanne Cucinello

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Our Tree In the Attic

 Little Decorated Christmas Tree photo: Decorated Christmas Wreaths/Ornaments/Stockings 505a5fc9.jpg

Our tree in the attic is
cardboard boxed and labeled
"Memories are Here"
it is waiting once again
to sit by the window
all lit up and smiling.

Some buy
a new tree every year
cut fresh and forest-scented
but this has not been the way for us
and those with pine tree allergies

Our little tree of wire branches
and plastic pine needles
like the Velveteen Rabbit
waiting to become real
becomes our Christmas ritual each year
of love and transformation

The magic happens
as we hang each treasured ornament
and swag the tiny crystal lights
remembering the days
when our children were small
and full of nothing but giggles and fairy dust

The little tree in the attic
our door to the past and all the love
we've gathered through the years

I wouldn't trade it for the world.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Love Me Tomorrow

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I can still smile
and know who you are
my Love

but I feel
the earth giving way
beneath me
more and more

and I'm afraid

afraid the day might
come when I will be
a stranger

lost behind the door
of yesterday, unfamiliar
even to myself

and you, my Love
won't ever find
the key.

Joanne Cucinello

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Eve of All Hallows . . . Happy Halloween!!

halloween vampire art photo: VampireLanternSkullsFlash VampireLanternSkullsFlash.gif
 Eve of All Hallows
walks with the dead
when the gravestone slides
off her sodden bed
of rot and bone
no pillows there
just dried up skin and mottled hair.

The earth is soft and drenched with dew.
This loamy soil from ashes grew
For tranced escape
to make in haste
when the Moon is full
no time to waste.

Night owls screech . . . a creature’s near!
He hides in the crypt
his eyes to peer
as zombies slide through the sunken earth
and rise for the devil
to give them birth.

The howl of wolf cries across the moon
and Eve takes flight
on her ragged broom
while the crypt door opens
and the black-winged creeps
pushing and pulling
till he finally leaps.

Past the graveyard off in flight
He catches up with Eve tonight
“Darling, haven’t seen you since when?
New broom, I see . . . mmmmm . . . very Zen! “

Joanne Cucinello    2007

Thursday, July 30, 2015

I Am Me

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I often wonder how it would have been
if I hadn't reached this age and instead died like my mother at 44.
I kept dreading that 44th year of my life, and holding my breath
as it finally approached . . .  but then it passed, like the eye of a storm.

Ah! I was safe from the curse I'd fantasized, and my life would go on!
I could cut another thread from my mother's vest, resigned to the
fact that God had sent me a reprieve.

None of us realize how glued we are
and always will be, to the story of our lives
and the narrative we've memorized and regurgitated
time and time again thinking, like the Ten
Commandments, it was carved forever in stone.

But even stones change over time, as the rains pour
and ocean waves pound hard through the years,
smoothing and changing their surfaces once jagged and rough.
And so it goes with the superstitions of my Sicilian upbringing.
They've lost their hold on me; smoothed over and pounded
by my time-healed wounds. 

I am Me, and this life is my own. No one to blame for the roads
I chose to take. My past and its memories are mine alone
and so is my future. Like the marks and spots on my aging skin,
my surface has been altered much since that 44th year.

What's inside this heart and soul though, is a flame still burning,
never changing, since before I was born.  It's fueled by the love
of those I cherish, the Gifts of my life and the God who knows my name.

Joanne Cucinello   2015

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Me . . . No More


The earth is still tonight.
Not a leaf turns outside my window
no mouse scrambles in the hedges,
and the cricket castanets are silent now.
Even the Moon has turned her face
and will not hear my cries.

I am alone in my darkness, wondering
about the end of my days.
I want to sleep and let this wait
until the morning when I see the sun.
But no . . . the time is now
and this night has shaken my soul.

Ancestors whisper and I hold my ears.
“Are you ready?” they ask.
My mouth is shut.
They ask again, "Are you ready?”
"Never" I answer, and pull the sheets around my head.

I have never understood this joke called life.
I never will.
Must it be that this body I have come to know as Me
will turn to dust and ash, unrecognized?
All these thoughts and feelings,
this love that has grown inside me
the joy of my Darling, my children, my friends
all these . . . must I say goodbye to also?

Oh great shining Sun! Rise bright in the morning!
Cast away these ghostly fears of my demise.
Angels of Mercy, touch me with your wings
assure me now and always of God's love.
May I give back this gift, my life and body
gently on that day, without sadness or regret
and receive the eternal promised one.

Joanne Cucinello 2007

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