Lost Dad

Dad the Secret
Dad the Dread
Dad and empty words he said.

Dad the Absent
Dad the Lost
Dad I wanted at any cost.

Dad the Guilty
Dad the Frail
Dad who always seemed to fail.

Dad the Gone now
Dad the Still
Dad the Sorrow that always will.

Dorothy Hagan
March 7, 2017

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First Cats

First of own was Ringo Starr,

Whitest cat I’ve had by far

Before him though was Shashie black

First one I ever almost smacked

Took my bologna and scratched me good

Me just four so I guess he could

Snatch that meat with sharpest pinchers

My Aunty pegged him The Bologna Snitcher.

But Mom said to forgive him

Because he liked bologna.









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Of Birds and Bobcats and Offspring All


Of Birds and Bobcats and Offspring All

Inspired by Anne Bradstreet’s poem
In Reference to Her Children, 1659

I had four bobcats in my lair,
Two were toms and two were fair.
Off they’ve ventured far and near,
Seems unreal with not one here.
Three from litter, one was claimed,
Miss them all with pain the same.
Most solitary, each of them,
Just one mate in just one den.
Claimed tom now in desert deep,
Pray the Lord his soul to keep,
Safe as he hunts with those quite brave,
Wish he were now here in my cave.
Eldest tom is firm and lean,
Light of foot and eyes quite keen.
His den is close which brings delight,
Can take him food on a moonlit night.
Eldest female traverses far,
Across the spans to another star.
Her coat is red and of spotted hue,
She’s focused, sleek and agile, too.
Baby kit strong as the rest,
Playful, thoughtful, full of zest.
Bold and tender, small and swift,
She will make my spirits lift.
That’s my four to Anne’s full eight,
Birds and bobcats were our fate.

So universal a mother’s fears,
Perils change not throughout the years.
When they were wee I panicked all,
Certain each would trip and fall,
Into trouble of unending kinds,
How do mothers not lose their minds?
Oh, how dear when I stroked their fur,
Kneaded, snuggled and heard them purr.
Nestled snug in our den so tight,
Safe from dangers about the night.
But fate decrees they grow and flee,
Far from here and away from me.
Now trust is what I must embrace,
Believing full in faith and grace,
That they’ll live their lives with full aplomb,
As they make themselves a snuggled home.

At first I wandered lost in thought,
Paralyzed by the change this wrought.
My empty lair so stark and still,
I longed once more for it to fill,
With playful noises amidst the den,
How could I now live without them?
When hunting for a meal to share,
A rabbit brought into the lair,
But kits to eat were now nowhere.
Within me cries “How is this fair?”
Can a bobcat cry like a human lost?
Her entire purpose now since been tossed?
But, oh, how now this angst must end,
Replaced with thanks that kits now spend,
Their days in places they choose to be,
Coats shining strong and velvety.
They’ll bring rabbits to their own one day,
Groom them well, and hug and say,
“What utmost joy were my bobcats dear,
Who now are gone far away from here.”

I must thank you, Anne, for your theme so real,
For collective truth and broad appeal,
To mothers all in whatever form,
Who know the love of those we bore.

Dorothy Drusilla Hagan
February 11, 2017

And now follows, a brief commentary:

A Modern Comparison
to Anne Bradstreet’s poem
In Reference to Her Children

Written 358 years ago, Anne Bradstreet’s In Reference to Her Children is a tribute to her poetic prowess, and a testimony to the many universal themes of motherhood. Composed in forty-eight iambic tetrameter couplets, the poem is ninety-six lines in length. It is composed in roughly three parts: a description of her children, her fears as she brings them up, and her feelings as life slows down when this task is nearly done. Try as I might I could not exactly repeat her eight-syllable lines; for the most part seven syllables seem to come more naturally to me, and I feel perhaps that’s what I am meant to contribute.
Having had the privilege to teach Anne Bradstreet to my high school students, I was overjoyed to find this poem outside of class in another text. It has inspired me to try to imitate her theme, meter and rhyme scheme. The emotional trappings of motherhood are much the same over the centuries. Truly, I was struck by just how much her feelings were my feelings. Mrs. Bradstreet used the metaphor of birds in her nest; I have chosen bobcats in my lair.

Thank you with every shred of my being, Anne, for sharing your poem with me and inspiring me thus. One of your daughters shared my name, and I hope within this namesake I may reach across the ages, and offer blessings, from my family to yours.





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A Fog Song


As I stepped outside a number of nights ago, I became enveloped within a grounded cloud. The wind was silent yet there, and I stood in captivity in the vapors. Certain I had dropped in upon celestial passages, I became inspired to pen this little poem.

A Fog Song

Sometimes the spirits employ at night
Transforming fog and dark and light
They spring out sideways and up and down
Their destinations outward bound.

They dance and tumble and forward go
Billowing out with a rapid flow
Falling, fleeting, crawling, leaping
Effervescent with vapors seeping…

They’re more than cloud but not quite mist
Silent yet vocal with a sound like sliss
Illuminated with burst from a lamp
These spirits of fog too quick to be damp

They land on my hair and my head and my face
Promenade on with no time to waste…

Oh, where are you going my phantoms so blithe?
Where shall you sojourn Fog Spirits of Night?

By Dorothy D. Hagan
January 26, 2017


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Sushi in Two Bites? Please Don’t Judge, Stephen


This post from 2013 popped up in my Facebook memories today. I thought I would re-post to further explain my continued lack of literary fame and acclaim. And I will always grab an opportunity to plug one of the best writers in the History of Time. It is an honor to explain myself to Stephen King.

Not long ago, while sharing some sushi rolls with my eldest daughter, I sliced one in half and consumed the bite.
“You can’t do that,” said the Daughter.
“Sure I can, ” says I.
“Mom…you’re already not using chopsticks, how weird do you want to be?”

I sighed and felt compelled to explain.

“But I like the smaller bites. They fit my mouth better, and besides, that way I get to enjoy every single ingredient’s flavor. And use more ginger. And it lasts twice as long.”

Satisfied with my complete and logical reply, I get the look that says I love you and all, but that’s just not how it’s done.

I guess I have approached my writing life the same way. I go at it in small chunks, clearly on a much smaller scale than is customary. Stephen King, an author whom I adore, (though I’ve not read one single book except his On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft,) comments below. I read these words first in 2001, and they haunt me still. (See Steve, you haunt me in spite of myself. I am a colossal sissy when it comes to the horror genre. Two or three times I have turned one guarded eye toward your movies, yanked in against my will. As I am now in my fifth decade, I may be able to toss my sissified trepidation aside and tippy-toe into your written world. But no promises.)

From On Writing: A Memoir on the Craft, while discussing novelists who only write a very limited number of books, the words of Stephen King:

On the other hand–the James Joyce hand–there is Harper Lee, who wrote only one book (the brilliant To Kill a Mockingbird). Any number of others, including James Agee, Malcolm Lowery, and Thomas Harris (so far), wrote under five. Which is okay, but I always wonder two things about these folks: how long did it take to write the books they did write, and what did they do the rest of their time? Knit afghans? Organize church bazaars? Deify plums? I’m probably being snotty here, but I am also, believe me, honestly curious. If God gives you something you can do, why in God’s name wouldn’t you do it?

Well, Steve, since you asked, with the exception of deifying plums, yes, I was doing all of the above. I would not think of boring you or anyone else with a list of life’s humdrum activities. But since I began writing in 1996 to the present day, I am, without reservation, eating my storybook plate of sushi in two bites, maybe even three or more. My world is full of durable afghans, well-organized bazaars, and I chase people down to pick and haul the fruit from the trees in my yard. In my defense, I am at least a two-book wonder, and that may not entirely be the last of my creative contributions.

So I suppose along with my sushi, I am consuming my literary capabilities in small, tasty bites as well. And yes, that violation of protocol does render me weird in the eyes of many. But I am savoring each bite, and leaving on the plate what I mean to leave.

To each his own, screamed someone. Probably while bleeding…in one of Stephen King’s magnificent books.

Dorothy Hagan is the author of The Offshore Triumphs of Karla Jean, not one bit scary but clever and funny as hell. She has super-duper (thanks again, Steve) reviews on Amazon. Read them. She also published a companion novel, The Edge of the Grace Period, 2000, that folks spoke of in the same breath with Willa Cather, Eudora Welty, Mary Karr and Molly Ivins. Seriously. She’s not making that up.

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Tammy Labude: I Think I’ll BE


Facebook isn’t always politics and kitty cats. And it wasn’t for me today. It was the mournful media that informed me of a personal loss so heartfelt it is difficult to describe.

How do you describe having known an honest-t0-goodness living, breathing, celestial yet terrestrial…angel…and now she is gone? How do you describe someone who was never supposed to be here on this earth, yet was…how do you describe someone who dropped into your life at the exact moment of necessity, who brightened your days of sorrow and darkness, and touched not just you, but virtually everyone fortunate enough to be found in her presence?

With only two words: Tammy Labude

I met Tammy in 2002 when she was directing a production of Heidi in Garland, Texas. My eight-year-old daughter Abigail was up for the part. She got called back, did a good job and to our utter joy was cast as the lead. Seeing my daughter ecstatic with the joy of a dream come true was the first gift Tammy gave to me.

But soon this joy began to flow to me. I was living in a city away from home, and was profoundly homesick. While waiting for something or someone before rehearsals began, I was blessed to visit with Tammy for more than an hour, just the two of us. An instant friendship was born. We talked, we shared, we laughed, and I went home lighter than I had been for more than a year.

And her blessings to me and my family just multiplied. She always seemed to be there and available the exact moments and days I needed her. Always. Eventually, I moved back home, and so did she. We stayed in touch with occasional phone calls and messages. Every time we talked it was like we had just spoken yesterday.

And now I realize that my daughter and I were but two tiny woven threads on the loving, giving, living tapestry that made up Tammy’s life. Because the gifts she gave to us she gave to everyone who was lucky enough to cross her path. And I believe wholeheartedly that her paths, her every steps were God directed.

How else but Angel might she be called? She was born with frailties that would have taken most away. She bore human challenges most of us have never seen. She was never interested in the grand earthly things. People were her business. Small ones. Tall ones. Old ones. Young ones. All ones. She gave and she gave and she forgave and I will never know why I was so blessed as to have been among those who had the privilege to know her.

I noticed some time back someone on Facebook quoted to her “To be, or not to be?” and Tammy answered, “I think I’ll BE.” And boy, did she.

That I could BE a fraction of her goodness…

God speed, Tammy, and God willing, until we meet again.



Posted in Addiction, Angels, Director, Friendship, Heidi, Recovery, Students, Teaching, Therapists, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Elevators: Portals or Transporters?

inside elevator

I have always harbored an intense dislike and distrust of elevators. Prince dying alone in one this week isn’t helping my predisposition.

I have oft felt alone in my leery unease on the subject of elevators. I have spent a lifetime avoiding elevators at every possible turn. I have quit jobs to avoid them, I have changed doctors to avoid them, and when forced to enter one, I go to great lengths to make sure I am never in one entirely alone. I stalk friendly faces and law enforcement as I smile and politely inquire if they are going to such and such floor?

Elevators…I hate their looks. I hate their doors. I hate their shiny, brassy rectangular shape. I hate the slit in their doors that slides open and snaps shut at their will, forcing you to move fast in or out. (Who decided this soulless machine gets to determine how fast I move? Who gave it permission to make me hop in or jump out?)

I especially distrust the seemingly benign opening of their doors, that deceitful invitation to step in and hand over your entire control. I distrust the interior of this up-and-down, unpredictable beast that swallows you whole, body and soul, until when and if it decides to spit you back out where you hope to go.

Finally, I hate the awkward interior etiquette of the passengers (prisoners?). I hate the mindless chatter (guilty) or the cold silence (tomb-esque) that’s different with every ride. I hate getting squished by the same types of pushy-doos who park their giant vehicles four inches from your front seat. I hate that I am generally half as tall as any of the inhabitants.

But you know what makes me the most uneasy about elevators? It is their ability to transport people and cargo to seemingly other worlds. They aren’t transporters. They are portals. They take you to worlds you don’t even know exist until you get there. It makes me uneasy to look up at a 10, 20, 50 story building and know that there is a different world, a different reality, a different dimension, a different life, on each floor, in each room, in every nook and cranny within these giant steel encasements. There are thousands of people, of critters, of insects, all living their existences in their elevated worlds.

I recently served eight days on a jury for a case on the 17th floor. I somehow faced my fears and got up and down, several times a day. (The source and nature of this bravery will be a subject for another day. Suffice it to say I believe I was intended to be there.) My fears and anxieties were lit on fifty cylinders. But what I could not fathom was what a completely and utterly different reality transpired within our section of our floor of our building, how it so differed from those folks who scurried on the ground, on the streets, in the cars as they entered and exited the city.

Like many, I am missing Prince with an ache that leaves me hurting. But I am especially sad that he died alone in what I view as a limbo of sorts, an elevator, a non-place. But what do I know? It is my prayer and my belief that those shinny, brassy doors flew open for him to enter the next world. His Final Elevator, his Portal, took him from here to There. God speed, my friend.

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