by Marsha J. Perlman


Inspiration for Doug Macgregor's Synapsisty—Art/Poems 2012

I am off to settle a wager with myself.

Last time I passed this way

I saw walking trees on the shore,

Or was it bright sun engaged in foolery?


I approach the island,

slender mahogany-colored limbs

appear like arched bows walking,

clam-shaped feet edged with oyster shell toenails.

Branches intermingle until herds of visible

impenetrable tangled roots stand firm

in cold, black muck. Red mangrove trees

fringe tropical shore.


I punt alongside to steal an intimate glimpse—

two foraging raccoons, blue heron prints,

below me a school of young fish,

scampering crabs, creeping snails,

tiny shrimp, all sheltered within tangled roots.


Trunks support horizontal arthritic arms

with gnarled joints like giant knobs of ginger

open, ready to protect against hurricanes.


My thoughts leap to contemporary human roots

interlaced like baskets of unraveled balls of yarn.

Add, subtract, blend, knit.

Create intricate genealogy.

Arms open to nurture life with time

and patience, filter vulnerable amid distractions,

furnish nesting and shelter from intrusions.


My mind and eyes play tricks,

attempt to untangle all the roots,

as Herculean as striving to build

a seaworthy vessel without a blueprint.


If I knew magic:

                I would straighten the roots.

                Chaos.                  Confusion.

                Reverse course.  Balance

~ Marsha J. Perlman





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Gliding the warm ocean floor
I’m a sassy swimming saucer.
When humans approach
and continue to encroach
I become a double crosser.


A venomous barb on my tail
poses potential danger.
My personal protection
guarantees your dissection
you seacoast amateur.


Here’s my advice to you
For eluding my under-sand ruffle.
Wade near the shores
to eliminate stressors



Dance the Stingray Shuffle.

Marsha J. Perlman
Spirit Life

Taste Life Twice
SYNAPSISTY  by Doug Macgregor
ArtPoems 2012
click for larger image




See them, river color, swimming leisurely,
their bulging eyes above the surface.
Observe them, sprawled on beds of dry grasses
along steep river banks,
waddling in and out of fresh water,
four-feet, ten-feet, fifteen-feet
alligators whose habitat I am entering by kayak.


Late afternoon, three robust
strokes propel me onto shore
of a windswept lake.
My left foot almost touches the ground,
my peripheral vision glimpses movement.


Racing from the water on all four legs,
his cavernous jaw displaying bone crunching
teeth, high-speed swinging tail,
hissing, grasses mashing between us.


Heart thumping, trembling, vigilant,
I fall backwards into my boat,
pulling in rope, safety vest, paddle.


Gator pauses within reach of the bow
swivels, then bolts towards assertive tourists
armed with cameras and surplus sandwiches
clicking, tossing food, laughing
at gathering of mature alligators.


Ignoring posted signs warning of provoked aggressions.


Marsha J. Perlman
Spirit Life



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I’ve been to court in Colorado countless times.

Not because I broke a law.

Not because I was arrested or presented with a warrant.

 I, an instructor of English as a Second Language.

 They, my classes of Mexican male and female students.


 Yes, crossed the border illegally at night while entire villages

 lived marginally to support one of their own to start a new life.

 It was a new life, a scary life.

 At first they couldn’t read the rules they were expected to observe.


 They acquired English by day, but not fast enough to understand that

 in this country, for example, one doesn’t offer a bribe to a policeperson

  when pulled over,  hand cuffed or incarcerated.

  Four-person jail cell was home for a month until court date.



Lost wages, hungry families.

Lost English lessons, no jobs.

Lost car, no transportation.

Lost apartment… homeless.

What is the definition of JUSTICE?


Imagine an unbroken world designed for compassion with:

Harmony rather than conflict.

Unity instead of threats.

Defense in place of blame.

Acceptance without prejudice.

Laughter replacing tension.

Let us wage peace and rediscover JOY.


~ Marsha J. Perlman, for Charleston, South Carolina Vigil 2015

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Today, I slid the last payment on my house
Into a mail slot inside the post office.
Where are those bankers
tenacious as construction crews
erecting roadblocks, barriers, detours?
All those years methodically balancing my checkbook,
drafting checks, enclosing coupons.


Replay life’s old tapes, beginnings and endings,
frightening and reassuring.
Naïve as any 50’s girl, I was hooked,
later cut loose from fractured dreams.


As a single mother with three young children,
frantic as a submerged swimmer gasping for air
I continuously countered negative labels.
But my children thrived.
I seized opportunities to follow dreams.


Hesitate, exercise caution and moderation I had been taught.
I tossed this lesson aside, designed and orchestrated
an innovative script.
Time was fleeting, split second decisions
effected delightful indulgences.


Lightness. Accomplishment.
Bits of sadness and regret. Cycle ends.
No expectation of repeating these ventures,
Intimidating at the start, archaic in retrospect.


It’s time to excavate my past.
Secure it as a memorial of an era,
A tribute to my rich, admirable life.
Continuing, expanding, widening horizons.
Creating a gift for future generations.

Marsha J. Perlman
Women’s Voices of the 21st Century


It only takes place
once a month when
the full moon rises before the sun sets.


On that day at dusk
I sit in my kayak in open water
focused on nodding palm fronds.
My heart thumps as a white sphere
emerges solo from the east, floats upward,
illuminates the sky for all to behold.


He winks at me. His smile meets mine
His reflection skims up and over me
then slides onto the sea,
shines and fractures in silence.


I paddle home by the light of the silvery moon.

Marsha J. Perlman
Poems of the Super Moon

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Too young to have a job, too old to need a sitter,
mature enough to devote the summer to
baking contests at Brighton Beach.


My three best friends and I followed this simple recipe:
Arrive Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:00 a.m.
Wear two-piece suit.
Lie face-up on colorful wide-striped towel
parallel to each other on gritty beige sand.


On the hour, the day’s designated timekeeper bellowed, “Baste!”
With military precision we slathered all exposed skin with copper tanning oil.
Three hours later, “Dip.” Ten-minute group-swim in the ocean.
Moved to tree-shaded palapa and gossip began.


One hour later, day’s clock-watcher shouted, “Time!”
We hustled to our green lockers and faced a wide mirror.
Very delicately, counted in unison, “One, two, three.”
Each snapped the strap off her right shoulder and we
compared original color skin with the newly  baked-on-brown.


The girl with the greatest variation declared champ.
The prize? An edible recipe, a banana split with three balls of ice cream,
the important banana concealed by oozing chocolate fudge,
multi-color flakes, chopped walnuts, chocolate sprinkles,
and whipped cream, crowned with a red cherry and transported
by a chocolate egg cream.
The losers salivated.


When I think of those days, I question the reward.
Had we known the cosmetic consequences
would we have done anything differently?

Marsha J. Perlman

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lotus petal



Email: mjperlman7@q.com



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