Poetry Niche – October 2023

My name is Christina Small shortened to Chris Small after I moved to Ajijic, Mexico with my husband Jim Small ten years ago.

Our marriage lasted thirty wonderful years—twenty in Marin and Sonoma counties, California. We met at a writer’s workshop in Mill Valley.

When Jim died four years ago, I experienced an awakening.

       Rather than plummet

       From a broken heart—I soared

       Remembering him

That haiku poem I wrote sent me on a journey of transformation. I started writing again.

At age thirty nine, I received a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dominican University in San Rafael— a late bloomer.

I am now on the path of writing a book of Auto Fiction Short Stories.

I think I will keep my name—Chris Small


All about Kisses

What is the proper way to kiss?
When is kissing proper?
How many kisses do you receive in a week?
What does a kiss mean?
What makes kisses different from one another and
                        how many kinds of kisses are known to man?
Do you kiss your sister the same way you kiss your dog?
Have you any kissing cousins?
What constitutes a good kiss?
Do you return a kiss the way you received a kiss?
Should you kiss a person you’ve just met?
What feelings does a kiss evoke?
Have you ever left a lipstick kiss on the bathroom mirror?
Must we limit kissing to the lips—what about the kneecap?
Can you remember where and when you had your first
                        French kiss?

Under what circumstance is a kiss appropriate?
Under what circumstance is a kiss inappropriate?
How about kissing under water?
What makes a kiss honest?
Should lovers kiss in public and if not, why?
What about men kissing men?
Do you kiss inanimate objects like a book, for example,
            or a good bottle of wine?
Have you ever said, “Let’s kiss and make up”?
Have you ever said, “Kiss my ___”?
Have you ever been to a carnival where men line up
                        for the kissing booth?
Should a kiss in the morning differ from a kiss in the
Have you ever tried Eskimo kissing?
Can celibates refrain from dreaming about exotic kissing?
Does blowing a kiss mean that you can’t reach the person?
We’re you ever tempted to kiss the mailman when he
            delivered that long-awaited love letter?
Has Covid brought on a shocking decrease in kissing?


Babbling on at Babylon

The Hebrews called it Babel,
The name for the city of Babylon
Where people built that
Tall tower to heaven.

Milton says that God
Came down to Babel
And in derision set
The people’s tongues a split.
He sowed a jangling  noise
Of words unknown to them.
A hideous gabble rose
Among the builders loud.
Each to the other called
Not one word understood.
Thus was the building left
And the work Confusion named.

Discombobulated language
Never bothered Voltaire,
When to Catherine the Great
He proudly told,
“Madame, I am utterly unlike
That Lady at Versailles,
Who complained,
“What a dreadful pity that
Awful business at the
Tower of Babel—getting language
All mixed-up, why, but for that
Everyone would always have spoken French!”

Now today, if you talk nonsense
Or senseless prattle
You are said to babble.
Babble from
Middle English, “Babelen”
Which in turn had come
From “ba—ba”.

Whether you twattle or twaddle,
Jibber or jabber
Patter or prattle,
Remember those brave builders
At the Tower of Babel
And ask yourself—
Was it all fiddle faddle?

And next when you find yourself
At the Forest of Arden,
Sitting keen and serene
Along side some calming stream,
Remember that it may not
Just be a veritable
Babbling brook.
But a special place
Where you find—
“Tongues in trees,
Books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones,
And good in Everything!”

Evelyn Reads First

She reads first
That’s the way she writes.

Her poem is sharp and short
Skitters across our brain
She’s and ice skater of words.

And we listen
On edge
Without breath.

Shaves of ice
From her frozen lake
Frost out faces.

A refreshment of images
Sheered bold
Like spearmint in Winter.

The blade gliding
Over our veins.


Lanai—Elements from Within

The diversity of trees, Lanai
Crowned by the moisture-held Cooke Pines
The Palms fanning the shore
The towering Eucalyptus pealing naked
And the circus-like Banyan tree—
A side show of tangled bones
Wrestling above ground.

A complexity of clouds, Lanai
Blowing like tumbleweed
Across a sky momentary blue
Until a sudden and swift wind
Umbrellas the island in a haze of fog-white.

A simplicity of color, Lanai
Painted in red, green and blue
The blood-stained soil no rain can wash away
The shifting greens on land sharing
Light of day with dark of night
While blue, the depth of blue, gives water new meaning
And sky a partner with white.



I don’t think I’ve seen
Anything more beautiful
(Except when I have and can not remember)

But here, just now
Watching a mama cat
Curled asleep around
Two tiny babies

On the bodega rooftop
In the garden
At dusk


The Nuptial Hour

On Christmas at half past five

Her face

Unavailable to things unfeathered

Sydney, the feline in winter grey

Keeps hidden during the ceremony

Her paws silent as snow.

While Ginger, her opposite

Nestles at ever turn

In a room lit with cozy

Her tail whizzing lineage

Dog eyes gaping wet.

Watching twelve wedding guests

Holding slender white candles

Waiting near the fire

Each sustaining his or her part

The wedding hour about to begin.

The couple’s newest vow honed

Pared down this time, almost smug

Do you Christina, take Jim…

Middle age filling out their torsos

The sharp angles of youth removed

Their eyes drinking minutes.

The groom’s daughter enters


Singing to her father, “The Water is Wide”

And to the new woman

Though never to be her daughter

Perhaps a friend.



“The sweetest flower when first it’s new”

The drift of voice purling

Even the Christmas tree overburden

Glare-eyed with ornaments

Seems to listen.

Finally, the room becomes a circle

A circle of faces, of arms

The nuptial hour over

The cat emerges



Ah—the Joy of Inanimate Objects—When…

I find my lost keys

I hug his sweater

I hold a spoon

I open a book

I turn on a switch

I visit her grave

I hair-brush my cat

I kiss a photo

Sharpen a knife

Drink from a cup

Paint with brushes

Rinse the dishes

Take off my bra

Fluff a pillow

Sip champagne

Lather with soap

Read under a lamp

Start the engine

Write at my desk

Wait for a cab

Throw a doggie ball

And finally—one of my favorites—speak into a mike


For more information about Lake Chapala visit: www.chapala.com

Mel Goldberg
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