Sunday, November 4, 2012

Day 301: Listen

Your answer is the thing you see in the mirror,
the animal under your feet in the morning.
Listen to the flower breathe.
It is quiet, but it is still growing.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

366 Days: I was born yellow

I was born yellow.
Like the bones of a dinosaur
dug up and studied
piece by piece.
Here you can see: 
he was an herbivore
he ran slower than the others
he probably swam
he smells like ancient smoke and dust
he was a coward.
I honor this mustard-colored fossil 
each year on my birthday
commiserate his fate
knowing my life will end in a blaze of sun also.
And that I am a coward, too.

Friday, July 13, 2012

366 Days: If You Really Knew Me

If you really knew me you would say I am quiet.
If you really knew me you would say I am loud.
If you really knew me you would say I am brave
If you really knew me you would understand shame.
If you really knew me you would be shocked.
If you really knew me you would love me.
If you really knew me you would know the horror of abuse.
If you really knew me you would say I am a good mother.
If you really knew me you would want to know more.
If you really knew me you would tell me however I show up is okay.
If you really knew me you would ask me questions.
If you really knew me you would want to open me up with a can opener.
If you really knew me you would not allow me to be alone.
If you really knew me you would be worried.
If you really knew me you would be proud.
If you really knew me you would see ugly scars.
If you really knew me you would be wounded.
If you really knew me you would know that I lie. 
But more often I tell the truth.
If you really knew me you would ask me to dance. 
If you really knew me you would sing out loud with me.
If you really knew me you would want to marry me.
If you really knew me you would know I never back down from a dare.
If you really knew me you would be angry.
If you really knew me you would wrap your arms around me. Tight. Tighter.
If you really knew me you would unfold.
If you really knew me you would call me a soldier.
If you really knew me you would say I am loyal.
If you really knew me you would be bold.
If you really knew me you would taste bitterness.
If you really knew me you would jump through hoops.
If you really knew me you would want to be my friend forever.
If you really knew me you would tell me to stay.
If you really knew me you would love better.
If you really knew me I would love better.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

366 Days: Take What You Need

Take what you need.
Erotica in the poetry section.
Morse code paintings that spell spill love.
Poetry by telephone.
Stained glass truth.
Rivers of freedom.
Clapping hands. No,
better yet, a standing ovation.
Spotted pigs with wings.
A yes to everything.
Pull down the book from the shelf.
Ride the highest thermal.
Leap. Yell.
Punch the keys.
Take exactly what you need.

Friday, June 15, 2012

366 Days SWF: Seeks Friend For The End Of The World

She must be:
Prepared, like a Girl Scout.
Smart (cunning and wily).
A rule breaker.
Stylish, because if we’re going down we better look good.
Wise and fair.
A good dancer.
Ready to laugh at all times.
A wishful thinker.
Want to make the world a better place
(in case we get a do-over.)

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

366 Days: Rare Alignment

Sometimes we are graced with a rare alignment
the tipping of an axis point, subtle
secondary evidence of efficiency,
a spectacle seen once and only once
in our brief lifetime.
Suddenly, a curve rather than a straight line,
cairns appearing then disappearing again.
A suspension of one reality, while slowly
our bones and muscles shift into new spaces.
Expect a new sequence of angles, trust
this rearranging of your capacity for love.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

366 Days: I Won't Forget

Love the ghost woman
who lives lightly there
inside of you
like a cool velvet-green lake.
Skim stones on her surface
circle wide around 

the child you hold too tightly.
Enter the disintegrating shelter
on a timbered trail,
devour the porcelain windowpanes
celebrate the mountains of freedom
you chose.
Answer with a blush.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

366 Days: Roots (Day 135)

The springtime rain is falling
and the road is filled with longing.

I realize, this is such a worn cliche.
But when you love with wild abandon
sometimes you are left standing
underneath a wilting apple tree.
The fruit falls bruised and battered.
Your fragile heart is shattered.
But the roots, the roots will set you free.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

366 Days: Still Here, Still Writing

Childhood, 1934
Do you remember our childhood?
There was the empty schoolyard.
There was a gnarled dogwood tree, white blossoms,
smell of brushfires scenting the air.
It was hot that summer,
sweltering, you bent before me
writing secrets on the dusty ground.
Late evenings cooled off.
Daddy brought us ice chips
and laughed at the chickens, clucking and pecking.
Yes! How could I forget this? Yes!
We were girls together.
Dripping beads of water, tasting dust.
We saw the sun going down. Going down.
Watching our mother’s back
as she waltzed away.
Forgive her.
Forgive us.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

366 Days - Waking From A Dream

I dreamed we never knew each other
but instead of oblivion,
I wandered dimly lit hallways
searching for a trace of you
fragments of bone or drops of blood
proof you had paced these floors beside me.
An orderly offered me cold compresses, strips of gauze
and slices of stale bread
when all I really wanted was a glass of wine.
Wine that tasted of sterling silver and sea salt,
smoky anise and stone cherries.
I lay down on a raft
waiting there silently
until he struck a match and pushed me out to sea.

Friday, April 6, 2012

366 Days: night sky haiku

The moon is joyful

waiting for us to notice

pregnant with her hope.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

366 Days: ten ways the day converged in the hollow of a tiny spoon

Bicycles spinning across the water.

Architecture rising to our attention.

Bathing in sunshine.

Laughing at dogs while freedom towered above us.



Water to wine.

Sun setting on a verdant secret garden.

Sweet cream.

Moon gaping between gnarled oak branches.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

366 Days - I Will Fix You

I Will Fix You

All your broken parts,
the loose springs, the rusted gears
the key that doesn't fit perfectly in the lock.

I will oil your squeaky wheel
and tighten your spokes.
Fasten your seat belt.
Remove the spot
blot the stain
clean the mess.
I will heal the old wounds
rub the salt out
lick them clean.
Wipe your tears.
Affix the band aid.
Solve your mysteries,
resolve your quandaries
and amend the memos.
I will shake out the cobwebs
erase the memories
polish your past.
I will breathe new life into you
when I take your breath away
with my kiss.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

366 Days* The Tell-Tale Heart

My son imagined out loud what it would be like

if we were forced to squeeze our own hearts

to stay alive.

He quickly decided he would drink

from the Hudson River,

grow himself a third arm that could do the work for him

while he built forts,

slew dragons.

I figure I would just get tired,

bored of the endless motion, pumping again and again.

Eventually I would lose interest in the process

drift off in some other direction

chasing a more amusing destination,

realizing too late my breath had slowed.


* Allison and I are still here, still at it, still chipping away at 366 days. Day sixty today and it feels like a hell of an accomplishment. We have written something every day, even if it's terrible, even if not one word is acceptable or decent or printable. But we have showed up and engaged each other and inspired each other and some days, some days I suck in my breath and feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck and I read her words and think, "THIS. This is why we are here." The guts of life. The dread and the hope. The pain and the pleasure. The absolute mystery of it all. We are writing down our bones. Writing to make it make sense. Writing to save our lives.

Monday, February 13, 2012

366 Days - Fire

My babysitter set herself on fire.

Not while she was watching us,

but years later. When we had already moved.

She was nearly grown up by then,

still lived in the house next to a field of milkweed.

I heard she poured a can of gasoline

over her head,

sat on her bed,

lit a match.

I can imagine the pain.

Not the physical pain,

because who can imagine that?

But the burn of words unspoken

cries for help like kindling,

small twigs and dry leaves, blowing.

Sparks of anguish melting

in the heat of a summer’s day.

Desperation igniting that way.

Sometimes when I smell smoke, I think of her.

Remember the corn

she would pop on the stove,

removing the top

watching two girls clap and twirl

as the snow-white kernels

fell around us like rain.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

366 Days - FIMO


I made an impression of myself in clay tonight,

a self-portrait of sorts.

My maleable alter ego.

I wish it was so easy to shape-shift,

to make myself into something I am not.

Raven haired

green eyes instead of blue





It’s often difficult not to catalog my faults

my daily blunders

and imperfections.

The alien was my best attempt

at disclosing my true self--

a sometimes imposter--

a foreigner in my own body.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

366 Days - Don't Be Tossed Away

So it is very deep to be a writer. It is the deepest thing I know. And I think, if not this, nothing--it will be my way in the world for the rest of my life. I have to remember this again and again.--Natalie Goldberg

I figured I'd better check in. I mean I made this big pronouncement about writing a poem a day for 366 days (I think I said 365 but this is a Leap Year so lucky us, we've got an extra day this year) and then . . . nothing.

But it hasn't been nothing. It's been 12 days and I've written a poem every single day. And it's not easy. In fact some days it's darn near like pulling teeth. I find myself whining to myself, "What was I thinking? I have nothing to say. I can't write for shit. I can't think of a topic. Aaargh." And then, I write.

In Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg tells us, don't be tossed away. Don't let the little voices in your head sway you from your goal. Don't be tossed away. Understand your mind and don't listen when it comes up with a million excuses and insecurities. Don't fear failure or success. Just do it. Don't be tossed away.

I was already in the habit of treating my writing as an exercise. After 3 semesters at The Writer's Studio in New York I have learned that not everything (in fact most of what I write) is not precious. It's just an exercise. It's helping me learn to be a better writer. By studying writing, by reading as a writer and not as a reader, by practicing writing, I am becoming a better writer. Maybe I've used one line that will speak to me again. Maybe I turned a phrase differently and another poem will blossom later. Maybe there is simply one word I can use as a springboard on Day 244. My mantra is always, it's just an exercise. Anything else is a bonus.

Another bonus is that I've already found myself looking at the world differently. I mean, I think I've always been the kind of person who notices and appreciates the little things, but now I do so even more. I stop myself multiple times as I glide through my day and wonder, "That's interesting. How would it feel to write about it? What would my first line be? What would my last line be?" I find myself looking at my world more closely, valuing the smallest moments, welcoming a deeper acknowledgment of life and the way I choose to honor it through my writing.

And so I will keep writing so that I won't be tossed away. Here's one I thought I'd share. . . .

I Am Not This Poem

These words do not define me.

They do not even exist, really,

abandoned quickly on the page.

I you we are merely a moment

in time

in space

Carl's blue dot.

These words are a river

coursing through my universe

in a hurry to meet your horizon.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Word for the Year

I've never been one who makes resolutions. I used to half-heartedly try to do it every New Year's Eve. Exercise, eat right, less drinking, more structure, blah blah blah, but by January 2nd I was already cheating and cringing every time I caught myself in the mirror. The last decade or so I stopped trying.

For the past few years I've watched from the sidelines as some of my friends have adopted a new tradition of embracing a word for the year instead. A word to live by, so to speak. I admired this idea. And still, I was fairly certain it was just a sneaky way to get me to make a resolution.

And it is. Sort of. But the idea intrigues me anyway. So this year, I'm choosing the word PRESENT, or in reality the phrase "to be present" and I'm combining it with . . . you guessed it, a resolution! I am going to write a poem a day for the entire year. I won't be sharing them here in this space, not all of them anyway, that's too much pressure. And a lot of them are going to be crap. I mean total garbage. But the point isn't so much the poem that transpires, but the new way I'll be looking at the world. To be present in the moment, in the minutia, in the everydayness of my life. To start seeing things differently. To ground myself in my present, rather than looking back at the past (with regret) or projecting into a future I can never see.

Reflecting on the smallest details.

Delighting in my surroundings.

Savoring them in a different way, as I leave a trail of poems behind me.

My friend, Allison, has agreed to do it with me. And being accountable to someone else is HUGE in my book. It will help keep me going on the days I feel like I can't pick up a pen. I'll picture her sitting in her treehouse scribbling away and I'll jump to it, even if it's the last thing I want to do because I won't want to disappoint her. And then suddenly I'll realize I don't want to disappoint me either.

I like it.

It's already January 2nd. Two poems written. Still looking myself in the eye in that mirror...