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Category: My Writing Challenges



                                                 . . . Stared at myself in the mirror. My eyes were dark
                                                 pits and my gums had turned a pulpy red. I seemed to
                                                 be looking at the portrait of


a man who hadn’t eaten a piece of fruit
in years—he’s skeletal

but somehow large. Reaches for me
as I go to sleep, touches

my tongue with two fingers

as if trying to taste the peaches
from the previous spring, holds my earlobes

for a long time. Hears wind
and leaves. In the morning, he is gone

again, no semblance of skin

or clothing left behind, and yet, I know
he is real. A shadow, a moth,

but existing. Without him, I’d forget
how to feel.




Taken from Charles D’Ambrosio’s “Screenwriter,” included in his collection, The Dead Fish Museum. His writing ends on the second line of the poem, “in years.”






Here is how it ends—the whale
departs from its shell

and there is a curve of body and blood, a trail

of the mother’s womb. Counterpoise:
the redistribution of weight

and water—for a moment, you can see

the sea rise—and then,
the equilibrium.


and I see the earth growing smaller.




Dinosaur Bone


You brought it home, yellow with age
and old ligament, and propped it up

in the entryway of our home, next to
the umbrellas. This led to the making

of soup and a long discussion
about death. I asked, Can we just pretend for a moment

that all we have to do to survive is
follow a straight line?

And you agreed. The moon spends too much time
breathing, spying on our children

as they sleep, on the stovetop burner
that’s been left on once or twice

throughout the night, the fumes
finding their way into the living room

and up the stairs toward our beds, spends
too little time staring at that bone. Maybe the moon

has a better understanding of death:
once it dies, it is placed in the ground,

or isn’t. Either way, it is never spoken of
again, never spied on. But still, we keep it

next to the umbrellas, sometimes throw
a jacket over its length. And sometimes we ponder

where it came from, what animal, and
how fast it had to run from predators,

or how often.




Safe Word


Let’s try this again—instead
of walking down a dirt road, we’re walking
down a path in the park. We’ve ditched

the apples, and we’re eating
fall leaves. And instead of telling you
I love you, I’ll tell you

I never did. And you’ll be quiet,
because you’ll know. Because I don’t
love you. Not really. Not on this dirt road or

swollen path, not while my mouth is full
of apple core and leaf spine. You have to let go,
I’ll say, go do something else.

And you will. Because next to the path
is a river, but you won’t quite dive in. Instead,
you’ll take off all your clothes, throw them

into the water. Gather up a pile of leaves and hold them
over your crotch, clustered there,
and go running off. Your feet will blister

on all that pavement, your skin a graveyard
of bumps when you finally get home and tell your family
what I’ve done.

Only for a moment, you will hesitate—because
what have I really done to you but put sound to wind,
and watch a naked frame diminish up a path,

watch dark-matter fabric sink and drift with the current?




November Daily


In the past, I’ve always found myself attempting to complete the task that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel-Writing Month), always with very minimal success. What is interesting is that I find out every year, maybe two or three days before the month is over, that a “poetry version” of NaNoWriMo has been in progress while I’ve been struggling with something-like-a-novel… and what’s even more interesting is the fact that all of these little pieces of prose function much more efficiently as poems.

This year, I’ve decided to take on the task of writing at least one poem, per day, throughout the month of November, and making these poems available for others to read and comment on (whether they’re praising, critiquing, etc., exposure is useful to the writing process). I’m also happy to announce that I will not be alone in this endeavor, as I am currently running a blog for writers to produce and share poems on a daily basis throughout the month of November, entitled November Daily. It will primarily be a blog made up of WMU writers, but some of us have also invited our friends—such as my truly wonderful friend, and fantastic writer, Jeff Tatay—to join us, so it should be a great mix of individuals!

If you are interested in participating, please contact me (McKenzie Tozan) at, or via the Comments section of this particular post.