Category Archives: NARRATIVE VERSE



she was a dumpster digger
of an undetermined age
a little strumpet left
to cruise the city streets
hurting fighting dirty

when a trumpet-playing hand
in the Salvation Army band
lifted her up from misery
took her to shelterland

“Hallelujah” was the name we
gave her when we took her home
we cleaned her double paws
we fed her fish and love and
just plain “Lulu” she became

not cute not pretty she is
small and oddly beautiful
a true fur person of droll
asymmetrical black markings
on a fluffy coat dull gold
strangely short-legged
with wise yellow eyes
mooting the question whether
felines really do have souls

since winter’s come she has
the job of watching snow

leaving her customary station
on the piano by the metronome
she jumps to a wide windowsill
as soon as flakes begin to fall

there she remains a sentinel
until snow stops she simply
stares quite statuesquely still

it’s harder now with getting old
yet there’s a grit about her
watching there—like a survivor
pondering a once-known time
or place where it was very cold



She was alone, with mouths to feed,
her dreams of art school pounded
into dust. In bleak necessity she
took a job at Texas Bank and Trust.

They liked her at the bank, devoted
worker that she was, and praised
even promoted her. They let her
dress the windows for the holidays.

Her major gripe about the daily
grind was for the typos made
with carbons triplicate–shades of
ugly smudges so hard to erase.

Then she recalled how artists
will “paint over” when they err
and wondered: could her errors be
concealed, if not effaced?

At home,with trusty kitchen blender
she concocted a solution using
mostly tempera paint, and despite
the frowns from higher-ups

the typing pool named her a saint for
bringing them those little jars of white.
It was as if mistakes were gone.
(Though underneath they still lived on.)

The rest is history, as they say.
She started her own business
selling “Liquid Paper,” as it’s known, and
one fine day, Gillette, the corporation,

phoned her with an offer she could not refuse.
She sold-out for a bundle—took a cruise
to good and plenty, did Ms. Bette Claire.
In 1980 Bette died,a millionaire.


Bette Nesmith Graham, inventor of “Liquid Paper,” was also the mother of Michael Nesmith, one of the
four “Monkees” in that pop/rock band of the 1960’s. In an interview with late-night talk show host David Letterman, Michael was asked about his mother’s secret formula for “liquid paper”, and insisted it shall remain a secret.