Empty carousel,
finally fills with luggage,
my daughter is home.

New leaves unfurling,
the Green River begins to fall,
love thickens the air.

Let the music in,
your toes will guide your spirit,
move like a poem.


Twin Fiddlers

Twin Fiddlers0001Daddy took his little girl everywhere,
Especially when he went fishing and fiddling.

Once a month on Sundays,
At the Washington Old Time Fiddler’s Association,
They soaked up some toe tapping,
Mountain music.

One afternoon,
While sawing on his old fiddle,
With rhythm guitars and a bass strumming at his side,
Daddy’s little girl toddled up to the stage and tugged,
At his pant leg for attention,
To everyone’s delight.

He loved to play,
“Bill Cheatum,” “Arkansas Traveler,”
And “Bully of the Town.”

Just as Daddy conspired,
The fiddle bug did bite her,
At the age of three.

Three months of begging,
Sufficiently coaxed her determination,
And she solemnly promised,
To practice every day.

Her eyes gleamed,
As she was presented with a tiny,
One sixteenth size,

True to her word,
She practiced,
Day after day.

Then one cold dark evening,
With fiddle in hand,
She walked into the room,
While Daddy fiddled away in front of the fireplace.

She meekly announced,
With great disappointment,
Her fiddle was broken.

He carefully examined the fiddle,
And asked, “what’s wrong with it?”

With a long frown
She took a deep breath and said,
“It doesn’t sound like yours.”

© 2013 M. Tsai

A Father’s love, joy and sorrow

Naomi Cannon BeachThe doctor said my life will most likely
End in months not years,
Unless of course I get run over by a bus tomorrow.

The cancer invades my body,
Spreading as it pleases,
I take chemo twice daily to slow it’s progress.

Watching my daughter graduate from college,
Walking her down the aisle,
Teaching my grandchildren how to fish,
All seem to be an impossibility,

My daughter is so precious,
Sparkling like Sirius in the heavens.
I could not be more pleased
With how she has applied,
The passion and talent that burns within her,
In twenty years I have witnessed her amazing trajectory,

I have told her that I will always love her,
But not nearly as much as I do now.
I am as proud as any Dad can be.
Yet I struggle with finding more to say.

I am not a hugger.
But hugs feel especially good right now.
And all the love from my family and friends,
I drink up like a camel.

There is nothing left on my bucket list,
Except to live each day to the fullest,
Until I hope to have the strength,
To greet Death,
With grace and dignity.

© 2013 M. Tsai


1-IMG_1695Schucking oysters on this salty bed,
Popping open briny bivalves with my knife,
Their cold soft fleshy bodies sliding down my gullet.

My efficiency is astounding,
And the effect quite rounding,
Swallowing one after the other,
Until my belly is bursting.

My limit belongs in a zip lock bag,
But I store it in my greedy belly,
Why wait for the kitchen?

© 2013 M. Tsai

Tao of Fishing

IMG_2202Gone is my last drop of hope,
As I stand on this crack-of-dawn-boulder,
The sun shines high in the sky,
Above this raucus river.

Out of the blue you leap before my eyes,
Sleek chrome summer steelhead,
Jumping into the tail of this ancient pool,
Full of determined energy,
Right before my feet.

A childhood moment frozen in memory.

Every synapse of my brain lights up like a circuit board,
Adrenaline jolts me into frantic action,
In my haste I make a clumsy cast, and wrap my line,
The lure spins down like a tether ball,
At the tip of my pole.

Hands shaking, I deftly unwrap
The #2 Canadian Wonderlure and cannon ball split shot,
Casting my spoon a little higher into the pool.

You nail the silver spoon like a freight train,
My Mitchell 300 sings as the six pound test line
Whirs off my reel,
My rod dips wildly up and down,
I hang on with all my might.

Ferociously you rip across the emerald waters
To the opposite side of the river,
Under the dark green fir lined bank,
Cart wheeling wildly above the fast waters.

I work you back to my boulder,
Before you rip another memory into my soul.

The fishing Gods have given you to me,
My first summer steelhead,
And I will pursue you with respect and passion,
For a lifetime.

You beseeched me to chase you on ancient rivers,
Snoqualmie, Skykomish, Stillaquamish,
Satsop, Cowlitz, Puyallup,
And now the Green.

You promised me great adventure,
And you rewarded me well over the years.
You sacrificed your chrome rainbow body,
So I might find my own.

Standing on the smooth slick stones,
I find solitude,
Along this great river.

It is you who hooked me,
And pulled me into your eternal,
Ever changing waters.

Our sacred home.

© 2013 M. Tsai

Second Cut

36 glistening staples punctuate my belly,
The incision retracing much of the scar.
From my prior liver resection.

Lucky am I to have another operation,
Pregnant with hope and opportunity,
More quality time.

My bowels are frozen,
My abdomen gradually tightening,
Like the skin on a timpani drum,
Over the last six days.

I have reached the tipping point,
No more food can be packed in.

She sits exhausted and anxious
In the cramped emergency room chair,
While I lay in the gurney,
IV drip into the left arm,
My index finger pointing my heartbeat,
Into the monitor.

Waiting for the doctor,
to review the x-rays
With my surgeon.

The levity of narcotics slowly wearing off,
I begin to feel,
The searing pain of my incision,
And the tightness of my belly.

2-IMG_1027I wait anxiously,
Until 4:30 am,
To get all of my medications,
My heart beating

Carpe diem

© 2013 M. Tsai