Oregon, Columbine, October, November, December—


I think of you, fellow teacher, and I fear what lies

on the other side

of the door, the window, the rain. What power

lies in waiting, what anger,

what brown paper bag

concealing fire. I lean back

in my desk chair and make myself

a little smaller, blend

into the fibers. We are all made of the same

blood and bone, and from that pile

of particles, we share a silent

understanding: history repeats itself in the face

of gun powder. Whenever I hear of another

school, another tower, another town, I never want

to check the names, but I still do.

In case it is you. In case

it is me, and somehow, what’s left has not

woken up to the daze. Like glass,

I look at the series of names, praying for each one

like a chant, praying for their home towns—Roseburg,

Sutherlin, Myrtle Creek, Myrtle Creek, Roseberg,

Roseberg, Roseberg, Winston, and Glide—

and the craters settled there, where the world holds

its breath.




Poem up at Rogue Agent today!


Hi all! Just in case you haven’t heard elsewhere, my poem, “Memory Stone,” (which is arguably my best poem about the grieving process) is up at Rogue Agent Journal today!

Dear Editors, thank you so much for this recognition and giving this poem a home; I was one of the fortunate ones to hear of your journal shortly after that first issue appeared, and I have been following it and loving it ever since.

So, readers! Please take a little break and sit back to read this seventh issue; I’m sure you’ll love it. And thank you so much for reading my poem!

Until Later ~ Best, from Me.



Poem up on Thank You for Swallowing today!


Hi all! Just in case you haven’t heard elsewhere, my wedding night poem, “Undress,” is up at Thank You for Swallowing today, alongside my all-awesome, only-for-Thank-You-for-Swallowing duckface.

Dear Editor, thank you so much for this recognition and giving this poem a home; I am extremely appreciative of your aim and everything you’ve accomplished, and I don’t think that’s recognized nearly enough.

So please! Take some time to browse through Thank You for Swallowing‘s wonderful collection of works; they are doing wonderful things. And thank you so much for reading my poem!

Until Later ~ Best, from Me.



I Will Vandalize His Angel Tombstone


                    And it is from this moment that you are going to live.
Think of that. You’re standing in the middle of what used to be a cornfield,
          now pocketed

with headstones and wire, combing out a space that says this is where we lay
          our dead, take
whatever you want
. You have changed: you used to treasure this space to
          mourn for the dead, but now,

now you look down on your uncle’s grave, and the wilting flowers placed
          there, once alive
and thriving and cut through the stomach, and you see that these are only an
          unequal trade

for what lies down deep. He couldn’t care less about what you’re going to do to
          him now. So take
your best shot. Throw out your paint cans and make that angel bleed, tear the
          ground open

with a rake, that moist mouth gaping with earthworms in the nighttime, only
          to be fried dry
with the mid-morning sun. This is the moment to prove yourself: Damage me.

Take your keys and grind them down into the stone. Write something useful,
          tell the truth, tell
anyone who passes by who your uncle really was, why this angel is so
          pointless, where was she

when it really mattered. Tell your uncle you’ll never forgive him, and
          somewhere, he’ll hear
the dust fall. Then look into my face a few more times, search my eyes for the

that my lips can’t touch. Make me understand why you’re doing this, and
          remind me, once it’s done,
that it’s going to make everything okay again. Lock the gate on your way out.
          Mourn me,

and get it over with.



Friends! Help Me Welcome MLT Editing Services into the World!


Friends! Again, more time has passed than I would have liked before writing to you… As I said in my last couple posts, I have been spending much of my time this summer figuring out my life as a mother and as a writer (and now a teacher!), but I have also put a great deal of time into launching something new and pretty awesome:

MLT Editing Services is my new business where I offer editing, outlining, consultation, transcription and long-term/writer’s assistant services for resumes/CVs/cover letters, poetry, fiction and novels. The website officially launched on Thursday, August 20, and I already have a few projects underway, but I am attempting to spread the word as much as possible.

If you would be so wonderful, please share the information for MLT Editing Services’ main website, its Facebook page, or my Twitter feed, as those will be the primary places for updates on services.

Thank you all so much for your support! More poetry and stories soon!

Until then, All Best,
from me.



Hey!! A New Feature is Coming to My Blog Very, Very Soon!!


Yesterday evening, I wrote a sort of long-time-no-see post, followed by a post that very well may have opened a huge door for me. I shared how a poem from my earlier writing life had hugely intersected with a specific incident from my day yesterday, and I came to a realization after sharing that post: I had known before that being pregnant and becoming a mother were changing me as a writer… but I had failed to realize that I also have something to say about that process. Something that may be entirely worthwhile to write about and, ultimately, for you to read about.

11751772_10153427067727118_1443220781355402859_nThere are many secrets involved in being and becoming a mother—many misconceptions, many questions left unanswered (until experienced), many details left unnoticed, despite how beautiful and raw they can be. Becoming a writer first and a mother later in life gave me the opportunity to re-explore what it means to be sentimental, what it means to write about passion, joy, and what it means to be gentle or angry or vulnerable. I wanted to push the limits on what it meant to write about these experiences, and write about them well, and honestly. I wanted to thoroughly explore what it meant to be pregnant, and a new mother, and many of the resulting poems made their way into my circulating poetry manuscript.

These are the sorts of things I want to talk about, and how they became involved in the writing process. Not only how we write about these things, but the ways in which they change how we write. How I’ve changed as a writer in becoming a mother… and perhaps even ways in which being a writer has challenged my thinking as a mother.

Now don’t worry, if these subjects aren’t your “thing,” because you won’t see these posts all the time. Rather, every once in a while, in-between the rough draft poems and the book reviews, I might post something like, “Hey, here is something I just learned as a mother, and here’s what it’s got me thinking about as a writer.” I’m tentatively thinking of titling these posts “First She Was a Poem” or “Cadence on the Swings” (both of which feel fitting, to me). I hope this interests some of you as much as it interests me.

Until Later, Best ~ from me.



First, She was a Poem: Cadence on the Swings


11742658_10153453969622118_953100391710070779_nI had a bit of a moment today, and I really have to share. In the picture to your left is my beautiful, nine-and-a-half-month old daughter, Cadence (yes, like the title), and she had her first turn on a swing today—one of those little, infant-safe ones on a backyard playground set. And then it hit me:

I wrote a poem about this.

Now, that may not sound like much to you, but here’s the thing: I wrote “Cadence on the Swings” during my second year of my undergrad, back when “Cadence” was just a name I was madly in love with, back when I didn’t even know my husband existed yet… and back when my mentor first took me really, really seriously as a writer.

I originally handed this poem in as my final poem of the semester, before handing in a portfolio two weeks later of new and revised work, and I got this poem back, only with parts underlined that he loved and a note that said, “This poem is so dense! You need to be in graduate school.”

And so there it was: my future, laid out for me.

And now I have a beautiful little girl to share it with: my Cadence on the swings.

Thanks for listening, all.




She peeled away the web between
her toes. The skin seemed to stretch,
transparent, and finally break,
lying in her fingers like a
used rubber band. Her throat was tight
then, forcing gills to grow at her
neck, stubble on her chin. The
water would swallow her lips, her
lungs, as her mouth opened in wide
gulps, street salamanders, a salt
water lake. She couldn’t
understand why her mother would
turn on the defrost at the same
time as the heat, as though to glimpse
the driver behind her, planning
to pour its lights in a
triangle around her as her
legs wrapped around one support of
the swings. She recalls she screamed when
she realized she couldn’t untie
her legs, the accordion knees,
her finger-trapped body.



Writing My Summer Away: In the Early Days after My MFA


10985421_989606764925_3672885219015003963_nHello, everyone!

Needless to say, it’s been a while—sorry for the radio silence. As some of you know, I graduated this May with my MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan, and my life since then hasn’t quite been what you would have expected. As my younger self, I would have expected myself to have a full-time job lined up, to still be working in publishing, and to have long-since figured out these routines of writing-every-day and getting-things-published. But that is not the deck I was actually given.

Some things have been better, though unexpected, and some things have been, yes, disappointing. Despite the title of this post, I have not been writing my summer days away; in fact, I have not written a full, revised poem since the last I wrote for my thesis (granted, that poem was written two days before my graduation reading and was added at the last minute). In part, this has been because I simply needed a break away from deadlines—finishing and revising a thesis, knocking out a book review every week, writing other articles to build up a portfolio, etc—but it’s partly because I have been the b-word: busy. Traveling (to Croatia, finally), settling into my house (yes, making it a home), finishing up my job at my previous press position (so part of my summer was dedicated to publishing, at least), and “simply,” well, being a mom.

Now I know some of the writers out there are cringing, and before being placed in my current shoes, I would have cringed, too, when someone said the above things. How could there not be time and inspiration and motivation and all the other tools we need to write while traveling or simply being at home? And how do you not have energy and time while caring for a child? Well, since Cadence was born, I have had to put my foot in my mouth, repeatedly. I am not going to go on and on about how difficult and time-consuming it is to be a mother, or to move into a home and fix it up, but I will say that my life has grown to be different and unexpected from what I had originally envisioned for myself. Am I disappointed that life didn’t go my way? I have my days, my moments, small things I wish had gone differently. But I am growing into myself, and my surroundings, and what I have been given. And you know what? It’s all turning out to be okay, and fulfilling. I’m reaching the point where I’m happy enough that I want to write again. I haven’t been able to say that for a long time, admittedly. I was writing, but rather mechanically, and I’m beginning to feel that burn in me, a sort of ache, that has me chomping at the bit to write something down. I’m going to hold out a little longer, a few more days, until the itch buries itself a little deeper and then I’ll probably knock out a few poems in one sitting, grab ten collections off the shelf to read, and then I’ll be back in my old rhythm. I’ve just needed some time to settle into my own skin, outside of the deadlines, to figure out what I want and how I’m still going to be someone I want to be without getting the original things I wanted in the sense of location and vocation and what have you.

So I guess what that means for you, dear readers and friends, is that you’re going to start hearing from me again—very, very soon. I have several books sitting out waiting to be reviewed, and there are books I want to read, just because, and I really need to get back to writing—both poetry and research. And maybe, just maybe, when I send work out this round, I’ll have good news to share with you all about issues to check out that have my name in them.

Until then, All Best ~ from me.



The Division of History & Fiction: Reading Kristy Cambron’s A Sparrow in Terezin


Kristy Cambron_A Sparrow in TerezinIn Kristy Cambron’s A Sparrow in Terezin, the second novel in the A Hidden Masterpiece Novel series, two central female characters, Sera James and Kája Makovsky, bridge the gap between a past genocide and a present-day criminal investigation. Kája previously fled her home, escaping the Holocaust; Sera is dealing with a situation that may put her future husband in jail; and it is when these two stories find their crossroads, and these two women take support from one another, that the story becomes truly interesting.

As a writer, I find historical fiction to be involving, but tricky. There is a certain line that has to be crossed, in the interpretation of history, filling in the blanks, and creating believable, realistic characters—but also there is the preservation of history to consider. Beautifully, this feat is attempted and achieved in Cambron’s novel, in which Kája’s escape and return to her home country, accompanied with Sera’s journey, is riveting.

I apologize that this is a short review, but this novel is truly about the story, and I do not believe in spoilers. I recommend taking the time, slowing down, and reading this for yourself. The novel is somewhat narrative-and-detail-heavy in several places, but these moments are well worth it, as they offer a great amount of depth for the rest of the story. Kristy Cambron is certainly a novelist to look out for.




NOTE: While I read Kristy Cambron’s debut novel, The Butterfly and the Violin, I did not review it and did not include it as part of my above review, despite A Sparrow in Terezin being its sequel, as a part of the A Hidden Masterpiece Novel series.




KRISTY CAMBRON has been fascinated with World War II since hearing her grandfather’s stories. She holds an art history degree from Indiana University and has fifteen years industry experience as a corporate learning facilitator and communications consultant. Cambron writes World War II and Regency fiction and placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations and 2012 FCRW Beacon contests. Her debut novel, The Butterfly and the Violin, was nominated for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards’ “Best Inspirational Novel” of 2014. Kristy makes her home in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons.



“The Way Poetry Evokes Things / Only Potentially There”: Perception, Identity & Heritage: Reading Allan Peterson’s Precarious


Allan Peterson_PrecariousIn the quiet moments, when we stop to take a breath and think, we may realize that all of our thoughts, our questions, our hopes, are connected—that is to say, back to two main ideas: Where am I going? and Where have I been? Again, as if to say something toward longevity, What am I leaving behind? How will I be remembered? Whether or not we want to admit our involvement with these questions, they are always there, always looming, and they impact where we go, who we become, and even how we perceive where we’ve come from. They impact what we do and what results from what we do. The irony of this is that not all things can be controlled, nor left to chance, but the same way we are sometimes challenged to perceive all of our decisions relating back to those two opening questions, we are sometimes motivated to prove the opposite. We want to prove our actions can be impulsive and unrelated to our lives, and we expect some occurrences to be left without explanation. For instance, when we imagine something as being precarious, we think of its synonyms, something that is “insecure” or “dependent on chance”—something “dangerous”—and perhaps that is Allan Peterson’s point in the titling of his collection, Precarious. These poems are rooted in the exploration of connection—of the identity, of connection through the landscape (via geographical exploration) and one of heritage. What’s more, Peterson’s poems are passionate in their study of these elements, as well as images and the greater concept of isolation, particularly as it relates to a narrator searching.

I love these poems, their introspective nature on the external, the inevitability of it, and, of course, their deeply-intellectual involvement with image. I will admit, it took several readings for me to feel as if I were truly grasping the sensation of these poems—not for lack of interest, but for their intellect. We say this often about poetry, but truly, these poems are layered; they appear to spend their time in the act of observation and introspection, and they surely do spend time here, but they are also greatly involved in considering our connections across landscapes and heritage, and consider how little we can do in forbidding these connections; these poems, in the end, suggest that these connections cannot be severed but only realized and built upon. That is an ultimate challenge for our humanity—realizing what we are, knowing what we cannot change, and ultimately, making the best of it. Then, when we are able to mobilize that idea, and bring it to something as visual and feeling as poetry, that seems to be a step in the right direction.

What I found myself fixating on the most in my reading of Peterson’s work was his use and complicating of images. If we take, for instance, of my favorite of his Precarious poems, titled “Heat Escaping through My Head,” we can see not only the inevitability of connection, but of the beauty, and the complexity, of it:




Granite remembers fire like Gulf sand

the mountains of Carolina

Ilex leaf shadows on weathered wood grain

reconstruct fragments

of a Qashq’ai rug so that this remembrance

might drift in

below the angel’s warm garden o’s woven

that the calories

might escape like a lace scarf

But freezing now

the stiff plants have turned to lettuce my heart

sticks close recalling

thoughts of the tram that cannot leave its wire


I love this series of images and their relationship—how one element remembers another, impersonates another, and how we connect deeply to, both, the natural and the mechanical elements around us. It truly is impossible to avoid earthy relations, which are both beautiful their lasting and troublesome in their loss, but they also help to define us, what is important to us—in this case, the outdoors, nature, the ability to travel; it’s telling. And Peterson’s poems naturally work in this fashion, giving us snippets of understanding, giving us man-made locators, such as a Hardee’s or a Books-A-Million, or more natural, if man-named, places like the Carolinas, as well as creatures we coexist with, dogs and stingrays… Despite the time we appear to sit fixed, thinking about the message and sentiment of these poems, we are actually firmly surrounded by living beings and goings-on, all the time, on every page. It’s astounding, really, even a feat to have been captured.

Which brings me to another element I found myself returning and returning to—as I started referring to them, mile-markers, places the narrator has been that more easily locate the reader to a place, if a not a time, and there’s that unusual element of elevated connection to another human being when we discover that they, too, have been out of town to a particular spot—how we suddenly have something more to talk about, a new point of insight. And these idea is interweaved into some, if not many, of Peterson’s poems, through his references to particular geographical landmarks, store and dining locations, and even pop culture. While some writers may steer clear of such references, fearing whether or not they will bring a heightened awareness or cloud the sentiment of the poem with other references, Peterson uses these fearlessly, and they become more so the side commentary that might appear in a conversation of another subject, contributing though not stealing focus. These small inclusions make for even more honest poems than they were originally, and they create for us references where the narrator has been in the body and where the narrator is currently in the mind.

Because along with intellectualism and the act of reflection, there comes a certain amount of personal isolation. While these poems are lovely and explorative, there is an element of loneliness and perhaps even a certain of sadness, intertwined with observation and admiration. It reminds the reader of our and the world’s impermanence, as well as the questionable nature of identity, after-life and religion. In giving these poems the opportunity to connect through relatable and familiar places, references and acts, the reader is given a greater opportunity to relate, and while this does not occur in the poems themselves, there is a suggestion of evolvement on the part of the narrator, as readers “get to know” the speaker through reader, introspection and familiarity with references.

Allan Peterson handles writing about extremely sensitive and personal topics—the things that most shape us—with surprising ease and continuation. While I have focused more so on the value of the image and the connections made to readers on the part of the narrator, these poems also do beautiful work in answering questions about the role of heritage and a higher power in our beliefs, everyday lives and identity. These poems are complex, imagistic and feeling, and there are beautiful parallels of self and sea, natural and man-made places. These poems take time, patience and thought, but they are well-worth it. You read them, and you find yourself sinking, taking it all in, and you come out on the other side all the wiser. These are poems that should not be missed; take the time to read them; they’re worth it.

And before I go, I would like to share with you two of my other top-favorite Precarious poems, because they deserve and need to shared with more readers, and interestingly-enough, they are placed in close proximity to “Heat Escaping through My Head,” right at the book’s center. Cheers.




Where I am, with me is

Frances to whom my muscles are attached,

dogs that perk with a whistle,

catching urgency from whatever state I call.

Even the strangest will do the same:

And what has flown low below me, stingrays,

loons, hooded mergansers

the almost frozen wolf eel ribboned in the depths,

whose beauty is my god’s

revenge on austerity, whose cloudy wrist tells time,

white as a moonstone.

But I have no god. It is just me feeling like the African

figure full of nails

that says the future is likely all rust and worms, muscular,

attentive, but with extra dogs.




Autotomy in spiders is a voluntary act.

With such surprises, anticipation should have them

humming like the truck of wear-dated carpet

that idled all night in the Hardee’s parking lot.

Yesterday at the falls above the old quarry

a man put a running shoe on his plastic leg

for a fleet and normal look the way poetry evokes things

only potentially there, things attached for survival.

Then what was taken from the cliff became a lake

bathers spun down to on a single string.

What comes after is unknown, how a spider throws a leg,

us leaving our pennies where they fall.

What could it cost the present if a few heads were missing,

discovered eventually black as frostbite,

meaning don’t forget us, we are leaving things behind.



“The way poetry evokes things / only potentially there” is taken from Allan Peterson’s poem, “Don’t Forget Us,” as it appears in Precarious (42 Miles Press, 2014).


ALLAN PETERSON is a visual artist and poet living in Gulf Breeze, Florida, and Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared widely in print and online literary journals. He has published five full-length collections and seven chapbooks. Honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the State of Florida and ten nominations for Pushcart Prizes, as well as a variety of poetry prizes and appearances in anthologies. He also has a lengthy record of visual work in national, regional and invitational exhibitions. His mixed media work has been represented in corporate, university and private collections.