Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How Can This Be

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I am a wanderer
longing, searching
just like you

trying to find
the reason for
my being

here on earth
this planet floating

filled with light
and color
dreams and visions
music of the stars

How can this be
a grain of sand
a molecule . . .
stardust flitting
through the dark
night sky

I am all these things
and more
a particle of the

a song that
only I can sing

How glorious
this gift of presence
this moment
my life!

Joanne Cucinello © 2015

Tuesday, February 3, 2015


In my Easter bonnet and brand new dress
I walked hand in hand with my Mom.
We were walking to church together
for the first time since Christmas Eve.

I often wondered in my little mind
why we only went to church
together on Christmas and Easter.
Every other Sunday
I went to the Children’s Mass and sat
with my classmates and Sister Mary Genuflect.

One day I asked Mom why she never came
except for those two days. 
I told her what Sister Mary Genuflect said
about Mom not going to be in heaven with me
because she didn’t go to Mass every week
and Mom just shook her head and kissed me.

One day, when I was just thirteen, my Mother left
and my parents got divorced.
When I tearfully told Sister Mary Genuflect what happened,
she gave me her words of wisdom and comfort:
“Well now . . . it’s up to you, dear, to get your parents
back together or they will spend eternity in hell . . .
apart from you forever.”

And then I knew why Mom only went to Church
on those two days and I marveled
that she even went at all.

Joanne Cucinello   2007

** That was many years ago.  
Words are very powerful when spoken down at children by authority figures,
especially those who claim to know the love and mercy of Christ,
but haven't got a clue.  They don't brush off the shoulders or fly away in the wind.
They etch their way into the heart and soul of a child and stain their innocence . . . so beware.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Happiness Was a Picnic (A Memoir)

            When I was five, the world was green and anything was possible.  The spark of imagination ignited my dreams and life was magic.  She, who pumped the air into my balloon, was my very own mother and I embraced the wildness in her.  Marian was a pyromaniac of sorts, striking match to stone, calling wind through my brain to push the flames higher.  She loved my silliness and my laughter and I found that I had power to change her moods from grey to sunny, at least then, when I was a child.  Even though the day would come when I had to stand against her ~ that was not here on Linden Street where Marian’s magic bloomed.  That was not today, when I was five and the world was green. 

Concrete sidewalks do not fare well for children.  Scrapes and bruises and bits of old yellow glass find their way into tiny knees.  How I longed for soft green grass! My mother, who always knew my fragile heart, obliged my dreams with a plan to ease that longing, and gave me a gift that day.  Three young maple trees stood in a row, donning our city street in Brooklyn.  Each one in its own empty sidewalk square filled with soft earth, trees planted perhaps to watch over me . . . or so I thought back then.  They were the faithful signs of changing seasons I grew to understand. 

In the spring, I watched each day, as green grass grew around their roots and filled each patch of earth with life.  It was there that my dream of the country came alive and it was there that I took my little sister on our imaginary picnic.  Mom had packed a small wicker basket with peanut butter triangle sandwiches, bunches of grapes, chocolate milk and cookies.  Then she draped a checkered cloth across my arm and bade me “Go on now. Take your sister on a picnic . . . the grass is waiting for you.” 

The tree nearest our building was the safest.  There I could still look back and see our first floor windows, their striped awnings and my mother’s waving hand.  That day I claimed for my own and began a lifetime of loving trees.  Not a soul could tell me that this shady maple wasn’t mine and no one could convince me that the grass hadn't grown beneath it just for this, our perfect picnic.  I spread out the red and white cloth and there we sat silly, smiling from ear to ear, ready to feast on our basket of goodies. 

The bark of the tree felt alive and the new green grass a cool silky comfort to my knees. Tiny inchworms and furry caterpillars stumbled along its gnarly roots as we watched, so removed it seemed, from the concrete of our world.  Munching on cookies and sitting like little Indians, we looked up with bent necks, viewing the spring canopy of sunlit leaves that covered us that afternoon.  I was five and I was happy, safe without a care except to be a child pretending. 

Neighbors passed, coming and going, smiling and saying “Having fun, girls?” or whispering “They must be Marian’s kids.” But I paid no mind to their shuffling feet and their squeaky carts . . . or their whispers.   I just thought that nobody's Mom was as special as mine!  
The world stood still for us that long afternoon and it remains one of my fondest childhood memories, reminding me always that I was loved.

Joanne Cucinello   

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Because of You

In Memory of my Dad and his passing . . . December 1, 1994

Because of You

Time has passed, my Father,
since that day you left this earth,
but echoes of your life and memories
go on and on.  Your smile and your laughter
comes floating by in the wind sometimes, I could swear.
You were a tender man of many colors, hopes and dreams,
you were full of tomorrows, something better was
always on its way.  You taught me to look for rainbows
and silver linings and to keep expecting the sun at any moment
to poke its head through the clouds.

You filled your container as full as you could
with life, love, and laughter and gave it
to all your children . . . to make it our inheritance.
You lived your life in a hurry, always on the move,
gathering episodes, telling your funny tales, dreaming your dreams.
So I guess it was to be, that you had to leave before the chapter closed.

And yet, dear man, you always found the time to dry our tears,
comfort our fears, and chase the boogie man away
so that we too . . . could believe in tomorrow and smile.
You shared things, so simple, so good  . . . the real things,
the keepers, the ones that mattered.  Your love made us strong,
knowing we were wanted and cherished. You stayed through it all,
the good times and the bad, and because of you . . . we learned
the art of loving children . . . of our own.

Joanne Cucinello

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

She Can Rest Now

I'd waited a hundred years it seemed
to find the grace of forgiveness.
Give it up . . .  Let it go! . . .
something whispered in my dreams at night.
Nothing is worth the price of your soul!

But I, knowing that there would be
nothing left to hold onto without that pain,
decided to fasten it, like a scapula, to my skin
taking it with me at every chance
so that I could feel that feeling pinned
to me and never forget.

One day, without warning,
like the sun parting the clouds
In my heart I saw her, my Mother,
a child lost and forgotten
a waif with sorrow so deep I could not bear
and it all passed before me, her life
her loneliness inconsolable and hopeless
her mind disheveled and searching
for someone, anyone
to wrap her and rock her to sleep
and never have to say goodbye.

I let it go that day, and looked beyond my own pain
to this woman gone, my mother, whose life
I would not trade, nor could I change, waiting for
forgiveness that she knew would set me free.

Joanne Cucinello    2014

Sunday, August 31, 2014

I Have Not Dreamed of You

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I have not dreamed of you, my Mother
long gone many years now
I am so much older than you were
when you finally left this world behind ~
almost twice your age
so it is hard for me to think of you
as my Mother, unless I return to those days
when you and I were split
like dry wood that the axe took down

I keep trying to remember love ~ yours ~ mine
and how it was . . . once
but it's hard recalling, even though I know it
must have been . . . once.

Darkness swallows our trail
it floats along linoleum floors
and a porcelain sink that stood in the corner
of that small kitchen where you painted your hair
so bright, so red and necessary
for that look that turned men's heads.

I was very young, no matter
still you taught me how to
paint the hairs you missed
in back of your head ~
the back of your head
where you always kept me
close at hand for secrets
hard to hold for one so young
but you needed me
and I kept your secrets
yes I did ~ for years.

I wish that I could dream of you
just once ~
and the days when your brown eyes
smiled at me and your soft hands
touched my face, and remember how
love must have been ~ once.

Joanne Cucinello

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Still We Love

All the world is spinning, spinning
I can hardly breathe . . .

Like leaves in a tempest storm
flying past my face
every new creation, new idea
comes and goes and winds up
in the mortuary of humanity
a sticker on the wall of instant fame.

But there you are, my Love
reaching for my hand on the carousel
smiling with those eyes
that know me and can find me

If I tried to enter the abyss
and forget I had a name
you would call it, call me
come to you . . . no questions asked
no reprimands

In this fading world that's grown
so unfamiliar and fragile
it amazes me that you and I
have kept the promise
and still can love . . . in spite of all.

Joanne Cucinello  2014

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Christ Tree Twists

 Christ Tree photo ChristTree.jpg

I love how the dogwood
following its own lead
turning to the whispers
of the laurel, oak and ivy
as they mingle in the woods.

Outside my window
a great white lady
readies herself to bloom
sap rising 
ripening her tight buds ~
the warm spring sun
seducing her to burst forth
in lacy splendor.

Christ's blossoms,
cross shaped petals
tinged as though with sacred blood
they say ~
and in each center
there his crown.

I do not think
sweet Jesus hung
upon a dogwood
yet we yearn for mystic symbols
connections ~
wherever they might be
organic matter
to fertilize our faith.

Even in a tree ~ poor tree ~
just wanting to twist and turn
and share its beauty
with the sun
while all it asks of us
is the deep breath ~
the aah!
and silent yes
acknowledging its gift
so simple ~ so magnificent.                              

 Joanne Cucinello     ©2008

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Did We Say Yes?

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I am the flesh that bore your soul
the smile you saw when first
your tiny eyes adjusted to the light
outside my womb.

Who are we, the two of us
so blessed to be given a chance to love
and this game of life to share together?

Was it a lottery of some kind the angels drew
above the clouds or a puzzle
that our two pieces made complete?

Did we each say yes, when asked the questions . . .
"Are you ready to suffer for someone else?
Do you know what it means to love until you die?"

We must have nodded or whispered
quite unsure, yet willing to smash through the cosmos
and land here in this tiny speck of earth together
mother and child.
I know, for me, it was by far
the brightest moment of my existence
and none since then could ever compare
to the moment I felt you alive inside
and knew that you were mine.

Joanne Cucinello    2013

We Too

angels photo: angels ANGELS7.gif

They look down at us from above
white winged glorious beings
seeing mostly
the tops of our heads

like push pins
multicolored against the earth
walking, running, and some
still trying to fly

trying to believe that Yes,
we too had wings once
that we too
could sit at the foot of God's throne
and gaze into Ecstasy.

 Joanne Cucinello  2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013


light beams photo: Light beams Creative-4.jpg

Layers crust the earth and rocks
hiding what the chisel knows.
Time marks trees with circled rings
the proof of their existence.

We dig and chip away
hoping we will find somewhere
in the root of our beginnings . . .
that moment
that one glorious moment
when the first Being stood and
shouted to the stars . . ."Aha"!!
and knew that there was more.

We will not find that moment
in our diggings anywhere,
nor in any rock or tree recorded 
No . . .
that sound,
that first illumination
did not plant itself beneath his feet.

It traveled, racing
through the stars of the great night sky
straight across the heavens
and there it found   
beyond the darkness waiting . . .
the wild expectant heart of God.

Joanne Cucinello  2010

A Moment of Reckoning

It was well after dinner and a few Merlots
when I decided to stretch out on the rug.
My nine year old Shih Tzu, Max, had denied
my most wonderful offering of human food,
Pot Roast and Mashed Potatoes.

He went ape over it last night
when we had guests for dinner
but tonight I was cooking up
something else and he did not want to eat
luscious leftovers, even though any other
animal would have devoured them.

When he does this "rejecting thing" with me
I must admit . . . I DO become the animal
I say things I cannot repeat but
harbor in my sorrowful Dog Mother heart

So I lay there on the carpet
deep breathing and telling myself
Max is not a human, I can't give in!
And then he comes to me with his white fluff 
fluffing and his big brown eyes all full of fun

rolling and pressing his head on mine
wagging his tail, hopping away and then
rushing back to nibble my ears
panting wildly

and I surrender once again
to this little creature who must have been
human once , I'm sure . . . but not now!
And I remember how brief his life will be
and it is I who must give into
this moment of reckoning and meet him
halfway barking and wagging on the bridge. 

Joanne Cucinello ©2013

Monday, August 12, 2013

Spirit Child

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She dances sometimes
on my ceiling
in graceful swirls of ivory lace,
brushing by with wistful wings.
Childlike, hushed and innocent
she stirs my heart awake.

Such beauty!
How can this be?
She bears the face of an angel
a sweet cherub
captured by moonbeams
floating through my window.

I lay here watching
awed and silent
graced by
this gossamer being
caught in my world.
Why does she pass my way? 

Stardust falls from her hair
and I am spellbound
as she turns wide-eyed, angelic
searching for something
 . . . someone.

In hushed amazement, I watch as she gazes at me
who cannot speak, nor reach to touch.
Can it be that I’m the one she’s looking for?
I, who am not ready yet . . . to cross the borders of eternity?

Joanne Cucinello   2007

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