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Tag: writing

What Growing Up Tastes Like

 
                —A poem today after a long hiatus

                —Happy International Day of the Girl

 
WHAT GROWING UP TASTES LIKE

 
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.

 
 

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A Walk in the Snow

 

When we were younger, we leveled
footprints in the woods—off

the path, of course, down deep
where the sun could barely

find us, where we blended
with the trees and hid behind

the shrubbery. I found a deer,

small, its eyes glazed and wide, still hiding
from the storm the night before.

Left berries. Made scarce. We could barely
make our way back up that track,

so steep, the rock, the roots.
We made it. We told no one. We

did not say why. We did not
say why.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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A Letter to the Candidate

 

                                                           —in response to the 2012 presidential election

 

It is winter, and you become separated,
disconnected, resumed—it is winter, and
you become a child. It is as if you are—
as if you always were—one body within
a much larger body, one window within
another. There is furniture where
the organs should have been, except for the eyes.
The eyes move, the eyes see, the eyes change color
with the weather. There are posters everywhere,
of children—of children eating, of children
eating goats, goat eyes, goat legs, goat kidneys.
The lack of donors.
A car careens into the intersection,
a truck merges into traffic as if reading
the definition to altruism.
It is winter, and it is a moment, and
it is a car and a truck, colliding.
The lack of legs, the eating of goat legs,
the donation of other parts, the taking.
The taking of children, their removal.
In a dream, I remember you stole my child.
You swallowed her hair over and over.
Your fingers never stopped touching her shoes.
The posters cluster together as if attracted,
making room for other posters, covering every surface—
the floor, the ceiling, the heart, the left kidney—
except the eyes that continue to look out
through the larger body, the body in the world,
the body that exists in the satellites,
that was made somewhere in the stars and
delivered through other larger bodies,
with smaller bodies watching.
It is winter, and it is the election.
Your smaller body turns and collides
with poster after poster, your smaller body turns
black and blue with its lack of water,
its lack of experience on the West coast.
There are words, and there are colors,
inside and outside the larger body, and
the color of your smaller body changes,
bleeding, corroded, dead.
And yet it is not quite dead.
It lasts until the final stretch, when your larger body
places itself on the stage, giving a speech and then—
you realize blue does not turn red with wind.
Red and blue combine.

 

 

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A Poem About Writing Better Poems

 

The next time you write about a man speaking
to an object, consider whether the object

should speak back. Particularly
if it is an animal.

Particularly if it is a red mongoose who
has just defeated two King cobras who learned how

to dovetail in the dark. Particularly if it is a woman:
try to portray me, she says, as if I were not

naked or in a painting or somehow filled
with red leaves.

You turn the page and continue to write, so
continue to write as if nothing has happened.

The sky overflows with intermingling clouds;
the apples in your kitchen begin to rot;

your cat’s food dish empties, and yet,
you do not care. You fill another page

as if it were only the world passing.
A painter says, try to include an object

that is otherwise out of place,
that is somehow…disembodied.

You write about a woman
without her clothes.

You write about an eye that washed up
somewhere in southern Florida, all blue.

From a swordfish, they say.
You write the disembodied object into her hands.

You can see the reflection
of her face in the surface,

looking off.

 

 

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Reading e.e.cummings (a found poem)

 

In lieu of e.e.cummings’ birthday—October 14, 1894—I have been reading his poems and wanted to create a found poem of some of his work. I hope you enjoy it.

Happy Birthday, e.e.cummings. You were one of my first poetic loves.

 

a found poem, a lost poem

 

into the strenuous briefness:

look, my fingers, which
touched you

and your warm and crisp
littleness
—see? do not resemble my fingers

that move

into the hair-thin tints of yellow dawn

into the women-coloured twilight

the other day

i was passing a certain

gate

i looked up and thought to myself: if day has to become night
this is a beautiful way

rain fell (as it will in spring)

ropes of silver gliding from sunny thunder

into freshness

as if god’s flowers were
pulling upon bells of
gold

 

*

 

all lines in my poem, “a found poem, a lost poem,” are pulled from E.E.Cummings, Selected Poems, edited by Richard S. Kennedy. New York: Liveright, 1994.

 

 

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Neutral Colors

 

                                                           —for Charles

 

Once I had a dream we were all wandering
through the dark on a pier, and there was a lone carousel,
all orange and yellow, and our faces glowed like silver,
rippling with darkness as each animal passed.
This is what comes to my mind first, and then
there are the real things: the yelling, the laughter,
the kitchen table, and then there is you:
Old friend. Lost soldier. First love.
It would be days before I’d find out that
the army had taken you—somewhere deep
in the dark where you could not see, could not feel,
could feel nothing but this. So even when
you were given leave, you could not
look beyond it. For days you felt this pain, and yet
you did not tell her. She was my best friend.
She drove the news into me like a knife at midnight:
you were nothing but moon and tide and sawdust,
gleaming like an urn. You were the love I would never have.
It has been a year, and still nights like this—the rain
and the wind and the fear—remind me of you.
I look out the window, and I search—no, I need—for color,
and there, I find this: a broken carousel, glowing at dusk, and
I settle for the softer colors. I find myself searching for
a lost horse, the gray and the white,
the shade of a tombstone that reads June 30, 1986.
I find myself wiping away the dust, breaking,
listening for the sound of lost hooves.

 

 

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On the Outside, There is a Heart—And on the Inside, There is an Old Friend’s Funeral.

 

                                                           “And a man newly dead would really know. And a
                                                           poet would bear witness to that knowledge, if only
                                                           he could work out the way of getting it.”
                                                                              —Unknown.

 

                                                           —for Chris Gerber

 

In the fall, it is cold air and red leaves. I lift
the brittle bodies into my hands, crushing them,
the remnants sticking to my gloves,
others floating off—some on the wind, some
back to the ground, to where they’d first fallen.
These are the questions I have of the afterlife—
some falling, some floating, as if their remains
had been transformed into something lighter.
I was told once that only the dead would know, and
the rest of us could become poets, searching
for the answers to what only you would know—
Chris, only you could tell me, but now
you are gone, and the pain is like silt and sea water,
the fish diving for better water and finding none,
their bodies floating on the surface—look at the
kaleidoscope they make. Look at the parade
they’ve left for you, not one for every passing year
but one for every passing memory, murmur,
your passing—it looks skyward.

 

 

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Miguel Hernández’s “Idea of a Poem”

 

MY IDEA OF A POEM

 

What is a poem? A beautiful affected lie. An insinuated truth. Only by insinuating it will a truth not appear a lie. A truth as precious and hidden as anything from a mine. One needs to be a miner of poems to see in its Ethiopias of darkness its Indias of light. A salt-wizened truth situated between blue and singing. Who sees that the sea in truth is white? Nobody. Nevertheless it exists, it flutters, it alludes in its sculpted spume to the color of the crescent moon. The clear sea—would it be as beautiful as its secret if it were suddenly clarified? Its greater beauty lies in its secrecy. The poem cannot present itself to us as either Venus or naked. Naked poems have only the anatomy of poems. And who could make something more horrible than a bare skeleton? Guard, poets, the secret of the poem: the sphinx. Let them learn to tear it away like bark from a tree. Oh, like the orange: what a delicious secret under its planetary circumference! Except in the case of prophetic poetry for which clarity is essential—because it does not try to illustrate sensations, or dazzle the mind with the lightning flash of a sculpted image, but rather to propagate emotions, to enliven lives–guard yourselves, poets, against fruits without skins, seas without salt. The poem has to work as with the Holy Sacrament. . . . When will the poet come with a poem in his fingers, like a priest with the host, saying “Here is GOD” and we will believe it?

 

Miguel Hernandez
(Orihuela, Circa 1933)

Translated by Ted Genoways

 

*

 

from The Selected Poems of Miguel Hernández, Edited and Translated by Ted Genoways. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2001. 2-3. Print.

 

 

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A Favorite Snippet of John Ashbery

 

from John Ashbery’s “Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

 

How many people came and stayed a certain time,
Uttered light or dark speech that became part of you
Like light behind windblown fog and sand,
Filtered and influenced by it, until no part
Remains that is surely you.

 

*

 

When I was first introduced to this poem, it was this exact segment, and it was recited… I wrote the lines down in a notebook I had with me and based the line breaks on how the poem was recited. Admittedly, I read the segment this way for so long that I became incredibly partial to it and still struggle when reading the segment in its proper context!

 

My version:

How many people came and stayed a certain time,
Uttered light and dark speech
that became a part of you,
filtered and influenced by it
like light behind wind-blown sand and fog
until no part that remains is surely you.

 

 

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