Tuesday 13 December 2022

Four Poems by Roseanne Freed




On a hike in Malibu Creek State Park,

the Ranger points to a plant

with large, white, trumpet-like flowers.

This is Datura, aka jimsonweed.

Her flowers emit an erotic scent at dusk

but the leaves have a nasty smell.

Chumash Indians used the leaves

to encourage visions


before he finishes speaking 

the woman next to me bends down

to rub a leaf…


Beware of Datura. It’s highly toxic.

Once on a hike a woman touched a leaf

rubbed her eye

and had such severe hallucinations

we had to rush her to emergency.


My neighbour looks as if she’s going to faint.

I scratch her nose for her.


Middle Schoolers Today


Two buses of eleven-year-olds

from a North Hollywood school

for advanced studies, which I soon learn


is a euphemism for an ESL school

with low test scores. I’m one of the hike

leaders—nineteen in my group,


plus their teacher, and 'dos madres'.

There’s so much to see in a Wildlife Reserve,

I explain. We have a short time together


and there are a lot of you. Don’t talk.

Look and listen. Every tree and flower

has a name. Learn them. Become their friends.


I point to a red-tailed hawk on the tree

next to us, but the students carry on talking.

I challenge them to be silent. They manage


for one minute, and don’t see the gopher

popping out the hole at our feet,

or the hummingbird above the Current 


Bush. If you’re quiet you’ll see bunnies,

I say and realize I’m talking to myself.

The teacher usually co-leads. I look


at her. From her body language I can see

she’s not teaching today. Has she given up?

The mothers keep interrupting


by taking photos of the group.

In frustration I blow on my whistle.

The kids jump in fright, and are silent


another minute. Ninety degrees today.

Everyone is sweating, but the girls

refuse to take off their sweatshirts.


No one acts the class clown.

No one complements me on my glasses.

No one comments when the Osprey


catches a fish in the lake in front

of us. Their only question:

When’s lunch?


I go home and weep.



“In the middle of war, he’s asking for poems”

Ilya Kaminsky. New York Times. March 13, 2022


Images on TV—


            women birthing babies

            in unheated basements. In the dark.


            a dog howling next to its family

            lying dead in the street.


            fathers waving to their wives & kids

            departing in the trains.


Ukrainian is a beautiful language.

What form of goodbye do the families

use at the train stations?


     Pa-pa? Bye-bye

     Chao kakao See you later, alligator?

     Or proshchaj? Goodbye forever.


                        Your head aches.


If not for the courage

of your great-grandparents who sent

their three children away from Odessa,


away from the pogroms,

away from the people who hated Jews,

you’d also be running for your life.


                        You go for a walk.


Two men chat at a hip-high picket fence

next to a garden of citrus, rose & jasmine.


As you approach, a large dog snarls,

shows his teeth and jumps to attack you

from the other side of the low fence.


Yelping in surprise you trip and fall.

He likes you, says the man in the yard.


Can my words dance the tango while California burns?

Six fires. The closest seven miles away.

My little dog refuses to go out.


My eyes itch & burn.

I write a line & delete it.


Rhythmic footwork romances the music.

Roses bloom on my patio.


Smoke saturated with fear & grief seeps

inside. Emergency text:


If the winds change direction,

be ready to go at a moment’s notice.


Violin, bandoneon, sexy shoes, swirling skirts,

four legs in an embrace with the music.


The fires devour & destroy everything

in their path. A woman weeps on TV—


What was I thinking?

I took rubbish. Now it’s all gone


Should I pack my car?

What to take? I don’t do anything.


A couple stand close in the tango.

Horses burn in their stalls afraid to move.


I sit on the sofa & hug my dog.

He wags his tail.

Poet Roseanne Freed was born in one country, birthed her children in another, and is enjoying her middle years in a third. She loves hiking and shares her fascination for the natural world by leading school children on hikes in the Santa Monica Mountains.

Her poetry has been published in Verse-Virtual, One Art, Writing in a Women’s Voice and MacQueen's Quinterly among others. She’s a Best of the Net 2023 nominee.



  1. These poems are first class postcards to the world. Wise, witty and wonderful. Sharon

    1. Thank you so much Sharon.

  2. Once again you’ve worked your magic, pulling us into your experiences in the world. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for writing to tell me.

  3. Rosie! I just knew you had all this in you from the first blog post of yours that I discovered. These make me feel a part of you. With love from one of your Canadian friends.

    1. Dear Canadian friend. I think I know who you are. You have always been so supportive of my writing. Merci boucoup

  4. Thank you Rosie for letting the world into your thoughts, your insights, your soul. You are special, my dear friend. Lynn.

    1. Dear Lynn, Thank you for taking the time to read all these poems. I'm glad you were able to be in the moment with me.

  5. My dear Rosie,

    The poems each echo your spirit that was visible right from when you started the blog about your stories from the museum. Only, the spirit now flies with the words in every line.
    Much love,

    1. Hello dear Priya. Thank you so much for continuing to support my words.

  6. You paint different visions with each line you write Rosie, that engage us to think, laugh, cry, or listen. I find them very visual, educational or moving. That is a gift dear Rosie.

    1. Thank you so much. I wish I knew who you were to thank you personally.


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