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Tag: writing poems

What Growing Up Tastes Like

                —A poem today after a long hiatus

                —Happy International Day of the Girl


I sit with my windows open, drink of the air
as if it were the gumdrop from childhood

that never melted, that never tasted
quite like the color coating implied:

daffodil yellow, all-of-your-dreams-come-true-
blue, make-a-wish-like-it-matters-white

cotton. Now, I chew on gum only until
the flavor is out, long before it can turn

gray skeleton, harlequin moon, empty lake
by an extinguished fire.



big poem, small poem / new poem sure / longer poem, brighter poem / birds birds birds


Hello all! It’s been a while again, I know. I’ve been missing writing in the worse way but otherwise wrapped up in my new job, writing a new bio: McKenzie lives and writes in South Bend, where she works at Indiana University, etc. It’s been a blast, but I’ve only been writing what I call “snippet poems” lately: small snapshots, quick thoughts, that I can get down on the page and keep going. I miss meandering through a longer poem, perfecting an image, an ending, the title, working on my full-length. Below, you’ll find three new snippet poems, from a selection of poems I’ve been working on about nighttime and the truths of home, as well as my very first “spam poem,” invented from, you guessed it, creating erasures out of spam messages—mostly from the ones that pollute my website space (but goodness, they’re fun). I hope you enjoy these, and I promise to post more often—and get back into the reviewing rhythm—very soon.

Also, P.S. You know how sometimes a song gets stuck in your head? Yep, it’s “Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty.” Now in poem-form. Help me.

Until Later, Best ~ from me.




Come night, every night

is the same : I close the shades, tuck

the bed sheets tight at the head

against our night noises, loose

at the foot so he may slip

from the covers : foot bare

in the afterglow.




Dear child, close your eyes—

my heart, my limbs

are tired. Your tears wake us

in our separate cities & at times,

yes : I get lost in the haze.

In you, my fog. Go to sleep.

My love, my rest, I promise:

all will be better with the light.




dies in a fire in a movie

from the ’80s. Hardly enough

to search & discover the movie’s title

but there it is : my sake. Her hair color,

her age, I do not know, but this

is how I imagine the story ends : black smoke

or at least the froth of it, cries choked out

on what I imagine black sky : fires never rise

in the middle of the day, unable to compete

with the sun. I ask you again the name

of the film & again, you falter, say it was

a good one, strange, its focus

on family : my name spelled to reflect

the one Irish branch of our family tree, that which

I have fostered long after you left

for more Grecian- & Sioux-like skin, how strange :

this focus on family roots.




now I am completely full

of honey—sometimes

I drink beer

in public. others cannot

do this: fireflies. what light.

what nonsense.




Two Truths & A Lie


My future & my past are essentially the same:
whether it is me or her riding in the back seat, I still have to ask permission

of my mother or daughter if I can go anywhere. I traded
in my happiness like a receipt

for defective batteries, & the world keeps turning
without me. I wish it were as simple

to lure my happiness back in as it is
to fill a grocery bag—or better, to drop it: the contents

spilling across the sidewalk, oranges
against gray cement, & I would. I would take them

to the highest point in a fifty mile radius—those
life choices—drop them from the top

of a building, & wait for them to strike to pavement.




I Treat Your Swollen Ankle


propped on a pillow on our oversized coffee table, all
of our ice packs                    lost

in the move, & I try to talk to you
about my impending job loss, another poem

rejected by a favorite magazine, & you fill the room
with pleasant thoughts until I cannot swallow

another bite, instead moving
to the kitchen where I can drown

you out, where I can break ice down
with a meat tenderizer.




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.




My Attempt at a Definition Poem while Reading Allan Peterson


This is why I love reading: it opens so many doors.

While reading Allan Peterson’s Precarious (published by 42 Miles Press, 2014), I began to consider less-than-common terms, synonyms that are so interesting and unique that we often do not use—for instance, why use the term “precarious” when we could just as easily say “dangerous” or “unsafe” as they are more commonly used in the mainstream?

Intrigued by this thought, I looked up the definition of “precarious” in my old, old, old dictionary and loved what I found—so much so that I wanted to write a poem, and not just a poem, but a series. I began to consider those less-common, lovely synonyms of words we so often use, looked them up, and began to write a set of dictionary poems that each begin as definitions and then spin off.

Anyway, this is not revised, but it is the first from the collection, all of which are titled “DEFINE” and then open with the word researched.




                precarious          —to be

not securely          (surely)              held

or in position        —dangerous

likely to fall; collapse; dependent

on chance; uncertain

uncertain; insecure; unpredictable; risk-

y; hazardous; dangerous; un-safe un-settled un-stable un-

steady; (I’ll bleed the wine right out

of you);              shaky; (both bees

and limbs like trees, left falling

left falling—collapsing        across

your driveway, lightning          struck, or is it

the other way around, your chimney

smoking,          like birds—the raven—left calling

left calling;          return)