“Rules for the Fourth Quarter” by Joan Cusack Handler

Semiarid landform, slope into a valley that rises into scarps and peaks, green and orange and brown, with curlicue cirrus, against a cerulean background.
Montosa to Rojo by Kathleen Frank
Turn the other cheek.
                                         (That’s going too far.)
Try the benefit of a doubt. Assume no evil intention.
Celebrate the dogwood, magnolia & forsythia
     without the tirade that follows the snowfall that steals them.
Answer the phone.
     (But not when you’re pissed or your heart’s breaking).
     Just say nicely, it’s not a good time.
Thank Everyone. There isn’t a person in your life
     (or for that matter walking the street)
     who doesn’t deserve at least one Thanks!
     weekly – one a day, close friends & family,
     the rest adjusted for how often you see them.
     Be generous!
Plan a parade of play dates with your grandkids!
Make a commitment: wild rice & pesto (his favorites). Never run out.
Walk one half hour five days weekly.
Get out of bed!
Love the gray sky (as much as the blue)!
Cheat less sweetly—peanut butter, chocolate, gelato, scones.
Stop talking down to your sister!
Let the cab driver talk!
Don’t feign sleep! Respond.
Dig a hole, plant a tree—
     lilac for the cousin you no longer love,
     then lilies of the valley for Mom.
Sing your heart out!
Forgive the Chihuahua.
Take leisurely baths.
Try dancing!
Get out of bed!
Stifle your impulse to attack, accuse.
Say Hello to a stranger.
Do that daily!
Love the __      Love everything!
Let go of the clan you were born to.
    Forgive them.
Ignore what’s missing with everything, everyone.
    If only…
Love the world!
Keep singing! Louder, no longer shy!
Give up shame.
Find old friends
   (Start again – if they’ll have you).
Confront envy.
   Admit it—
   it’s the first step to defuse it.
Relinquish greed.
Control yourself!
Find ways to pray again other than in crisis.
Clean up your room.
Give praise,
   even if the other vies for it.
   Let them have it. What does it cost you?
Try not to be afraid.


Joan Cusack Handler, in a cream scarf and dark puffy coat, standing at the edge of the sea before a dark green mountain under a cloudy sky.

Joan Cusack Handler is a poet and memoirist whose poems have been widely published. Her work has received the Sampler Award from Boston Review and five Pushcart nominations. She has five published books: Confessions of Joan the Tall, a memoir, and three poetry collections: GlOrious; The Red Canoe: Love in Its Making; and Orphans. She co-edited, with Gabriel Cleveland, the poetry anthology Places We Return To. In her other lives, she’s a retired psychologist, a blogger for Psychology Today.com (Of Science and Art), and the founder and publisher of CavanKerry Press.

Santa Fe landscape artist Kathleen Frank, raised in Northern California, has a BA Design / San Jose State University, a Masters of Art / Penn State and has studied woodcarving and printing. In Pennsylvania, she taught printmaking and costume design and co-founded the Printmakers Studio Workshop of Central Pennsylvania. Frank shifted to painting, seeking light and pattern in Pennsylvania farms, California scenery from mountains to sea and now the unique landscapes of the Southwest. Publications include Southwest Art, Western Art Collector, and The Santa Fe Travel Insider and exhibitions include Jane Hamilton Fine Art, Desert Caballeros Western Museum and the Susquehanna Art Museum. Collections: Desert Caballeros Western Museum, Pattee and Paterno Library at Penn State.