Thursday, August 17, 2023



She was dying

   She was always dying

The newest and most original

   ailments kept coming

We took a bathos

   in her pathos

Until finally

   She passed

And on her tombstone,

   what else?

"I told them I was sick."


I think of death

   as a character flaw.


©️ 2023 Muriel Thumm 

Monday, January 9, 2023

The Wind


The Wind

is stripping the roof

off the birdhouse next door

The old man who lived there

would have it replaced by early spring

Would not let a birthing go by

Alas, he's dead and his kids

grown as they are, and well-nurtured

by him and his widow 

will stop by and answer her needs

without a look out back at the little home 

that saw so many nestlings thrive

and leave 


©2020 Muriel Thumm

Friday, December 16, 2022

A Longing



I wonder now in Bethlehem

as shepherds tend their sheep,

is the grass upon the hills

coarse beneath their feet?

And do the shepherds search the sky

taking light from milk-swept stars

and start to hear a harmony,

a faint sweet sound, forgotten choir?

I wonder now these miles away

with all my concentration bent,

could I hear, too, a remnant play

across the generations sent

to those who would participate

in the Christ Child’s birth, however late?


©1995 Muriel Thumm

Saturday, December 3, 2022

From the bus window


He was playing air guitar,

I mean, really. Solo, right out front

of a junkyard, a discarded marble doorknob

curled in his left hand, right hand dream-rolling

from finger to finger reaching

for notes you could see clear through.

Skipping the easy chords, I heard

all the most difficult. I toggled

through faces of passersby

--- they weren't looking, not at his open army coat,

hairless legs, sneakers. If only he'd

had a styrofoam cup or an army cap

between his feet, they might have witnessed,

and tossed a coin.


                                           But he was playing it solo --

silent guitar, blind audience. I alone stared,

riding along his bridges, and yet,

I was angry no one seemed to want to hear

him. Maybe that's my problem -- I mishear.

The other day, I heard a guy say,

"I graduated from failure," and I thought,

there's a school for that? They should advertise

on the buses. Make a mint. I could use a course

or two, of course, more could improve

my rate of failing. Sustained failure. Pushing

failure to its limits.


Maybe failing was something he left behind. Could

the air guitarist and I, all of us, become such experts?

Congratulating each other when we lost

another case, spilled another cup,

dropped another thou in the market?

Since most of my life looks like

something I need to apologize for, I'd like a degree

to hang, "Expert in Failing." Remember,

I said I have this problem mishearing --

you are free to make anything you want

of this. If you heard me say, "misbelieving,"

for example, that's okay, too, because everything

I say is interchangeable.  Put a Phillips head, blade first,

in the guy's left hand and he could be riffing the air

trying to find the hidden stud

behind the wall of the home he may have promised

himself after the war, in which case, failure starts

when he locates the dull place

after so many remarkable echoing taps, or

is sometimes taken as success


depending on whose side you're on, sort of like

a war, when the headlines say, "War Going Well,"

and you wonder,

for whom?


©2012 Muriel Thumm


Friday, November 25, 2022



It's that whole sapien thing!

We think we have a right

to immortality

and the animals don't.

That we won't rot.

Something about transcending

the flesh or whatever.

What's this! The god desire?


So what! we can think, can read,

can gain knowledge.  Biggie.

The memory of knowledge?

None.  Memory has a self-editing tool

long before the worms get to you.


©2015 Muriel Thumm

Saturday, November 5, 2022

Love on The Third Rail



The Third Rail

Is close enough to touch

Should I? Dark and mysterious

Down here on the tracks

Wish I could be like the others

Smiling on the platform, some glum

But none taking the risks I take

Some call it reckless

But if it’s wreckless, no wreck involved

Then the risk is a gain

So where do you come in

Sad and reckless man

Will you join me on the third rail

Watch out for sparks


©2019 Muriel Thumm

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Second Sight



I saw a young scientist

at work today

and could see him as an old man

tufts growing out his ears. But

just the other day

I saw an old man and, for him,

I erased wrinkles

firmed his jaw muscles

and could see what a fine-looking

young fellow he had been.

What is my mind doing

of its own volition?

I didn't ask for this second sight.


©2016 Muriel Thumm

My Suitcase



I carried her suitcase

No, it was my suitcase

I never saw it again

My blue cloth coat was full

The girl in the drugstore giggled

When I asked directions

Her mother, the owner shushed her

Lorrie was in the Florence Crittenton, 

A home for unwed mothers

Her due date was approaching

We went to see the baby later

I brought it a present

She didn’t, just her big toothy grin

Life was like that for Lorrie

At least I thought it was

I was her friend

She went to see her biological mother once

She didn’t have time for Lorrie

Ironing board up, kids running around

Barely acknowledged her

Lorrie left for Virginia with a sailor

I never saw my suitcase again


©2015 Muriel Thumm

Friday, October 14, 2022


Bayonne, NJ


He came home from his mother's wake,

surprised the burglars in his own driveway

was beaten and robbed of everything on his person

and then they went through his car.

Hadn't he suffered enough, we ask?

The answer is no.  It's never enough.

There is plenty suffering to go around.


©2014 Muriel Thumm

Monday, August 8, 2022

Age of Erosion



I think I’m in the Age of Erosion

No, no, not that one from a billion years ago

But I’m in my Own Age of Erosion

In the scientific one, things crumble and tumble away


If my age has anything to do with this

I see things sagging and bagging

Enter face lift creams, booster bras

I’d like the sagging and bagging allayed


©2021 Muriel Thumm

Saturday, July 23, 2022

I thought it was love



You tell me it wasn’t

I ask, Please tell me

how to know

Is it something I’d see

in your eyes?

Feel when you’d wrapped

your coat around me,

shivering yourself

that day on Carson Beach

Or sense when you shared

your family memories

while we waded at Mattapoisett?

Do you really know

for sure,

it wasn’t?


©2021 Muriel Thumm


  She was dying    She was always dying The newest and most original    ailments kept coming We took a bathos    in her pathos U...