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Category: My Poems

New Poem: A Seagull Makes A Lone Call, Off-Course (after Sylvia Plath)

A SEAGULL MAKES A LONE CALL, OFF-COURSE

And across from me a bird roots
in the gutter, looking for spare twigs.

Its dark feathered body dip in and out
of the track, its tail striking the air. I wonder instead

if it has made a nest up there when its body
disappears. Chirps rise in the early, warm days

of spring. I make notes, so we might look out
the next time we clean the gutters, might check-in

if there’s another freeze. The sky is the rare robin’s-egg
blue of the birds who nested in a nearby tree

last summer. The heat on my neck suggests I might burn,
but I welcome it, treasuring the rare day

when the sun comes out of hiding.

—after Sylvia Plath’s “Little Fugue” from her Collected Poems (HarperCollins, 1981)

&

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New Poem: In The Morning, Where I Walk (after Sylvia Plath)

Where Sylvia Plath’s “Blackberrying” and social distancing meet . . .

IN THE MORNING, WHERE I WALK

Out to the street where
cars have been parked for days, I know little

of what brings the birds
out of their hiding, what has come

of the neighbors who leave their trash cans
out long past the pickup, even the cat

we used to feed. Most blinds
are drawn, white walls against

the light, where I know there must still be
life inside. Hope, less so, less food

or supplies than what may
have previously lined the pantry, but

we find a way to survive. I line
the entry wall, hanging over the path

that leads up to our house
with more pine cones stuck thick

with peanut butter and birdseed, take
the dimensions of the hollow gap

along the path to build raised flower beds
in the spring, so we can go through

the summer with our bellies full
of heirlooms and greens.

Before I go back inside, I look
off in the distance, to the corner

of my street and the next, and see
the wild bushes. Crisp, brown leaves hang

after a mild winter, and I hope they will
be filled with blood-red vine in spring.

&

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A New Poem: Social Distancing & What’s Left Of It—

SOCIAL DISTANCE
& WHAT’S LEFT

I look out my windows, check
social media, more often
than I should, & wonder where
the parked cars
have gone, also too often, question
if there is somewhere I could have gone,
too. Out there, I know, someone
is sleeping, more snow falling
in one night than in the rest
of the season
combined—perhaps fitting
to this thing that makes us
unable to walk
amongst
ourselves, our bodies now
so far apart, even
our shadows, elongated by noon,
unable to touch. What a time it is
to be alive—the bees, restless
in their sleep, flowers budding
& more pollen, calling
more snow to cover
it up, an inversion of crows,
spreading their wings to cover
what’s left of the world. So few outside
to enjoy it with, so few out there
with me to witness
the sun coming back down,
its orange light falling
on newly-hung birdseed-covered
pinecones.

&

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New Poem “In Nature” & The Prompt Behind It

IN NATURE 

My daughter calls the outdoors home & needs 
no reason to enter. Her skin, the brush. Her voice 

& birdsong. Her running speed & the air 
through the field. They are the same. 

Sometimes, she blends in so well, I cannot see her. 

The brownest strands of her hair & the bark 
of her favorite tree. Her brown eyes 

& the sparrow. The sway in the flowers & the wave
of her hand. I lose her, if only for a moment, 

but I sink into a feeling of loneliness, until I hear 
her call, her laugh, somewhere in the yard. Whether she is

behind the house, around a tree, or hiding under 
a bush, it doesn’t matter. I know she will come back.

Will be hungry & come home for dinner. 
I know she is under the sun.

*

Happy Wednesday, friends! I hope you’re having a wonderful week.

Today is Writing Prompt Wednesday, which means it’s time for a new poem, and a new writing prompt! I hope you’re ready.

You’ll find my poem above, called “In Nature.” I loved writing this one, and I hope you enjoy it.

And without further ado, here is the prompt I used to start writing the poem:

Think about an important, political, environmentally alert issue (there’s not much which isn’t these days!) that is important to you on a personal level.

I addressed this prompt from the perspective of nature—and nothing is more personal to me than how I’m raising my children in it. I’m doing my best to raise kids who prefer to be outside, playing, rather than inside observing a screen. I’m teaching them to love, admire, and respect nature, from the wind to the rain to the plants and all the little living things we may encounter out there. Right now, I’m writing a lot of poetry that centers around watching my children grow up in nature, and I can see this poem fitting in among that collection.

How will you use this prompt?

I can’t wait to see what you come up with. I’d love to see any of you attempt this writing prompt, as well, and send me your resulting poems! I’ll share a favorite or two on our next Writing Prompt Wednesday, in addition to sharing my new poem and prompt. I hope you’ll submit your work!

Happy Wednesday, all! And Happy Inspiration!

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“A Sleeping Octopus Changes Color While Dreaming” & The Prompt Behind It

“O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell
and count myself a king of infinite space,
were it not that I have bad dreams.”

—Hamlet

A SLEEPING OCTOPUS CHANGES COLOR WHILE DREAMING

I can see it up there, high in the corner
like a spider hosting its web. This is how my dreams

always play out: so many animals suspended

from the ceiling or sky. They hover above what I deem
is inescapable. They hold their bodies up high

where I can find them upon waking, untouched.

Compared to my body, which seems bruised
& battered blue, hands cramped from the guns

I’ve had to hold, my mind pulling away from me, away

from the stolen kisses, stolen bodies, I’ve seen. I look up
& I can see it, suspended in the corner

with its eight wandering legs, anything but

spider-like. I hope it will find the way out where
I can follow, but instead, it waits, eyes closed

& beak humming. Its body wakes with color, wandering

from deeper blue into coriander, into maroon,
into salt. It dreams & becomes the only thing in the room

with color; it becomes the thing I watch

while the world falls around me. Its beak
hums over the dust.

***

Happy Wednesday, friends! I hope your week is everything you’ve hoped for.

In the meantime, it’s Writing Prompt Wednesday! I’m so happy to bring this feature back.

For those of you new to this feature—Every Wednesday going forward, I will write and share a poem that was written from some type of writing prompt, as well as the prompt that was used and a few thoughts about the writing and revision process.

I’ve always found it to be fun to get inside other writers’ heads, so I’m giving you the opportunity to get inside of mine. Hopefully it’s helpful!

In addition to sharing my writing prompt and poem, I also want to offer an invitation: I’d love to see any of you attempt this writing prompt, as well, and send me your resulting poems! I’ll share a favorite or two on our next Writing Prompt Wednesday, in addition to sharing my new poem and prompt. I hope you’ll submit your work!

***

So, let’s get back to this week’s writing prompt and poem!

Like I’ve said previously, your writing prompts can be very simple. I want you to be able to draw inspiration from anywhere, no matter how simple, straight-forward, or complex.

This week’s prompt came along accidentally. I saw one of Laughing Squid’s more recent posts, which is entitled, “A Sleeping Octopus Changes Color While Dreaming,” and I thought, “That really should be the title of a poem.” So I used the line, and wrote to the title of the poem.

The Hamlet quote came to me because of the “While Dreaming” clause. I simply used the quote, because it represented the general vibe I was going for in the poem. If I attempt to publish this poem at a later date, I will keep the title (while giving credit to Laughing Squid, of course), but I probably won’t keep the Hamlet quote, as it isn’t referenced in the poem.

Your Challenge! Find a line from something, anything, that is provocative to you: beautiful, challenging, haunting, sexual—whatever gets you writing. Use that line as the title of your poem, and let it guide the content of your poem. The rest is absolutely up to you.

And then share, share, share! I would love to read the poems you write, give you a little feedback, and then share a favorite or two on my blog for Writing Prompt Wednesday next week.

I look forward to reading your words soon! Happy Inspiration to all!

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New Poem Tonight: “To the Dark Who Follows Me After My Second Child is Born”

TO THE DARK WHO FOLLOWS ME
AFTER MY SECOND CHILD IS BORN:


Tell me they’d miss me. Tell me they love me, even 
on the days when my voice rises higher 

than the tide. Tell me they believe me when I say 
I love them to the moon and back—that same moon 

that pushes and pulls the shore. Strong and wicked thing, 
tell me what their life would be like without me. 

Tell me, if you can, how long 
they would remember me—how long until 

they stop saying my name 
at the dinner table. How long until 

they push my death to the deepest parts 
of themselves—

the aftershock of a gun wound or too many pills—

and then let it go. 

Tell me. 

The work of your voice coming from the backseat 
has been a recurring drone, and on 

the darker nights, I believe it. But I like to think, 
I like to think they would hear me calling 

from some windy terrain, their names rising 
over icy sheets like fresh steam. 

I hold onto that hope like love. 

I hold onto their love like a rope. 

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“Exit Strategies” featured in great weather for MEDIA’s latest anthology!

Hi everyone, and happy Tuesday! I’m very excited to share that great weather for MEDIA has released their annual anthology, this year’s titled Birds Fall Silent in the Mechanical Sea.

I received my contributor’s copy yesterday and am even more pleased to share my poem, “Exit Strategies,” was featured as the opening piece after the introduction!

You can find the anthology for purchase here. I’ve read it and highly recommend it; it’s a lovely read.

Since it’s a print publication, I’ve also included a few pictures of the anthology and my poem below.

You can also see the inspirational image that started it all here.

Thank you, all, for your support and for reading! More soon!

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New Poem Tonight: “Nightlight, a celebration”

NIGHTLIGHT, a celebration

3:30 am—brother born, & the air in the house shifts 
like a pedaled drum. I touch his hair, 

his skin, & remember your similar textures, 
the softness. How your eyes, like his, looked to me

in adoration—looked to me & saw Mother, 
First Love, Captain of this ship sailing somewhere

into the sea. How things have changed 
as you’ve grown—how things will change 

for him. In the dark, I hold you, sleeping & close, & 
breathe you in. 

You are the growing cotton in the field. The seed
& the earth. The rock, the bed, the snow. 

You are the fire in the man-groves. 

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New Poem Tonight: “Light in the Field”

LIGHT IN THE FIELD

You can see our
mutual cornflower locks

across the field. When she ran
before I could braid it,

I look to you
as you watch

our daughter’s hair
fly high, & I’m relieved

you can see it: her hair
turning wide like a sail

against the great blue sky,
the green hill dotted

with flowers &
strawberry clusters. As she moves

along, she runs
carelessly

& touches anything
with her small hands, her strands

an extension
of the twining field, I try

to let go of feelings
of missed opportunities,

too little time writing
at the table. I hold

my breath as I focus
on this moment:

how her manners and love floor me—
how they flash in the light—

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“Daughter Wild” featured in Young Ravens Literary Review!

Hi all! I’m happy to announce my poem, “Daughter Wild,” was featured in Issue 10 of Young Ravens Literary Review, which is live as of today!

You can read the issue here, and you’ll find my poem on page 22!

I also want to give a nod to Wolverine Farm Letterpress and their Broadside Contest, which “Daughter Wild” was a finalist for. Thank you very much to the Wolverine Farm team, and judge, Jennifer Givhan!

Thanks, everyone, for sharing in this joy with me, and thanks for reading!

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New Poem Tonight: “An Accord”

AN ACCORD

In the early light, their see-through dress wings
show against my shirt, their bodies

muted yellow, & I do not mind if they might harm me.
The mutual understanding here is simple: let me live. The small

non-exchange of a sting for the smack of a hand. The need
for the bee to have somewhere to burrow its body

is the same as my need to rejoice
in the ruby red of the flower. We live our own lives

in a breath, only to minimally address the rest.

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Getting Back to the Poems!

Hi everyone! Happy Wednesday! I want to apologize first, before jumping back into anything, for the break in posts. I really love National Poetry Month and am incredibly disappointed that I don’t get to post every day this month to celebrate. This past week, I had a family emergency and had to travel back and forth between home and my family, twice—and if you have a kid or kiddos, you understand what a feat that can be. I’ve been home since Monday, but I’m finding it really difficult to get emotionally settled, catch up on sleep, and get back into the swing of work—not to mention writing my own stuff and doing laundry.

All that aside, though, I’m excited to get back into poetry. Even when I’m exploring a new poet or form, and I’m doing the work of parsing it, reading it is incredibly relaxing. I’m grateful to have poetry with me in the midst of all this.

I’m not sure if I’ll have my first post ready for you with a book recommendation, new poem, and prompt tonight, but for certain tomorrow! In the meantime, for today’s poem, I’m sharing something recent of mine that I’m proud of. It was hard to write, and will perhaps be hard to read for some (CW: loss of a child, accidental death); but it’s a dream I kept having on repeat (thank you, PPD) that I needed to write out (and haven’t had again since I confronted it). I hope someone enjoys it or even finds solidarity in it.

BAD OMENS

Months ago, I realized my son
would die, & the certainty left me weak

for days. A pit
in the lower-right of my abdomen, like a hole

where all truths must be born.
Whenever I have felt such certainty from this place, I have never

been wrong. The first time this part
of my body awoke, I was eight & aware

my barn cat had died. All morning I searched
the different air, & I found him mewling

at the bottom of a rusted barrel where he had
hidden himself away. I carried him home, offered

him water & blankets, only for him to die
a few hours later. Several other instances have

come & gone, & I am always right. This time
the truth comes to me in a repeated dream, where

the beginning is always different. Sometimes
my son appears as the toddler form of the baby

I now hold, knowing the world on two wobbly
legs. Sometimes he appears as a beautiful, gangly

young man with the thinnest veil of hair
on his chest, too dark for his pale skin. Then come

the series of causes: leaning in too close, running,
a fall, pure drunkenness—and finally, the part

that always comes: the deep, foggy dive
into the pit of a pool, never deep enough to resemble

the pit I now carry like a red-hot appendix. His body
like a ball in the foggy water & the certainty

that waves high like the moon I wish would fall. I awake
& hold onto my son like it will undo all the things

I’ve seen. I pray into his neck to go to quieter places—
places not quiet with the loss of my little boy,

where I leave him flowers & toys & visit
his room, surrounded by those I love who are also

colored with grief. I hide in his warmth, here & now, & pray
the rest will be washed away with the bedsheets.

&

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