Skip to content

Category: My Poems

New Poem, New Project!

Happy Tuesday, friends! I hope you enjoyed your weekend.

Last night, around 3:30 in the morning, I woke up and laid in bed, thinking about a poetry chapbook I started months ago and hoped to finish soon for those looming contest deadlines. While thinking about what I wanted that collection to be, how I imagined it feeling as a collection, I started writing this poem.

It isn’t finished, and for once I’m struggling with a title (which usually comes to me first!), but it feels really good to be writing, and to have something to put toward a collection that means a lot to me.

What are you working on this week? Or, what project have you set aside that would mean a lot to have a chance to pick back up? Strive this week for what has been eluding you: a project, a subject, a deadline, anything! Write!

NIGHTLIGHT

brother born, and the air in the house shifts
like a pedal drum. I touch his hair,

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

in adoration—looked to me and saw Mother. 
First Love. Captain of this ship we’re sailing somewhere,

anywhere, across the sea. How things have changed 
as you’ve grown; how these things will change 

for him, too. In the dark, I hold you, sleeping and close, 
and breathe you in. You are the glowing cotton 

in the widest field. The seed and the earth. The rock, 
the bed, the snow. Young and wild, you are the fire 

whispering hot in the mangroves. 

Share

Today: Three Tiny Poems

BAR TALK

You remind me
of a father figure—not

my real father
who I leave absent

from my poems. Maybe for him, there are
too few words, or maybe

I prefer him like a ghost:
imprinted on walls. More words

I can leave scattered
on his grave.

 
WINTER BIRTHDAY

To the sister who has never
forgiven me, I often think of you

on a swing, as the young girl you were
before I was born. Every year

your birthday passes, and I place flowers
on a rock where I imagine you might one day

spread your ashes. To the young girls
we both used to be, these magnolias

in the snow: What a dark, inflamed heart you wear.

 
COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS

A heart full of sadness and blood
is really just any other heart. So common,

you might find one
at your local supermarket.

Aisle sixteen
next to the empty canisters.

On your way, pickup in Aisle two.
Outside, a broken

shopping cart gate
and a pile of runaway carts

now stacked against the nearest
Toyota. Outside, an old woman dropping

a brown paper bag
with something glass

inside.

Outside, the birds humming
with oncoming fall.
 

Share

“Sleepwalker” & The Inspiration Behind It

 
Happy Thursday, everyone! I’m arriving a tad late to the party again today, but I hope you each had a wonderful day, and I appreciate, again, you joining me in my writing journey. I’ve been doing things a little differently this week, writing every day, with a combination of free-style pieces and prompt-driven work.

Here is my poem for today, and the prompt/inspiration behind it. I hope you enjoy it, and thanks for the read! I hope you’ll share your own inspiration, and work.

 
SLEEPWALKER

My husband asks me why I leave the bed to sleep somewhere else        why
I don’t come when he calls, &—I have no answer for this. This scares me more

than the image of my nighttime body lurking elsewhere in the house, what I could be
getting myself into, what wall or street, or what small matter, finger sliding

on small screen, clicking ‘like’ on items my mind renders anonymous in its present
state, perhaps awake, perhaps now a part of the dreamscape that follows me

in the dark, has me rolling & begging for what little rest
That my aching joints & migraine temples can get. My daughter rests down

the hall, her snores floating & locked like little clouds out there. I imagine
waiting there for comfort, never opening the door, never looking, but some part of me

always listening—for her snores, her rustle in the night, for some other sign
that she will be more like me than I want her to be, & me always wondering

if there’s some other way for me to quiet that part of her down.

 
 
 
 
Prompt: Today’s prompt comes in the form of inspiration from my daily life, as a reminder that sometimes you don’t NEED an exact prompt in your life to do some writing! Think about something mundane and recurring in your life, exaggerate its features, and bring it into a piece.
 
 

Share

“I Remember Her Hair” & The Prompt That Led Me Here

 
Happy Wednesday, everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying your week. I’m doing things a little differently this week, writing poems every day, but in a mix of free-writing and prompted writing.

Here is my poem for today, and the prompt that inspired it. Thanks for being here, and thanks for the read. I hope that the prompt inspires you, and that you’ll share your poem in the comments!

 
I REMEMBER HER HAIR

I remember the crack in the ceiling by the front door, still creeping. I remember
the chair in the room, gone now, where I used to look out on our sycamore tree,

our neighbors, our fence that leaned a little bit with snow. I remember the hallway full
of her footfalls, her own small herd. I remember her hair, draped down

the length of the couch, our laps, on her pillow. I remember how it felt
in our fingers as we separated the strands, sunflower from gold

from chestnut and mouse. I remember its length, how soft,
the curls. I remember how the rain hit—our windows, the fog, the fingerprints,

pawprints, the dust. I remember planting flowers in the backyard.
I remember loving you late in the night.

How far off it all looks now. Bursting open.
I remember.

 
 
Prompt: “I Remember” by Joe Brainard, found here.
 
 

Share

“Where It’s Gone” & The Prompt Behind It

 
Hi everyone! Happy Tuesday! I’m doing things a little differently starting this week, sharing a poem and the writing prompt behind it (I’m back to writing poems each day, some written free-style, and some by prompt).

I know I’m a little late to the party today, but I still wanted to check in. Here is my poem, and its prompt. Thanks for being here, and thanks for reading! I hope you will share your work in the comments!

 
WHERE IT’S GONE

My room disappears one item
at a time: becoming less like the place I go

to rest my weary body, and more
like a place where strangers crawl, searching

the corners for stray marks. I’ve already
mourned this city once and didn’t plan

to do it again. The windows, the trees,
were mine. But now as the suitcase fills

and I see the items creeping up the sides,
I see bare walls, bare windows, until

the trees outside seem to bare themselves, too,
whiting themselves out.

 
 
Prompt: “Will Wonders Never Cease?”, from The Time Is Now via National Geographic, found here.
 
 

Share

“All My Things Are Empty Now” & The Prompt That Wrote It

 
Hello, everyone! I hope you had a nice weekend and are enjoying your Monday. Starting this week, I’m going to do something a little different. I’m back to writing every day, with a mixture of free-writing and prompt-driven writing.

I’m going to share a poem each day that is driven by a prompt, followed by the prompt that “wrote” the poem. I’d love it if you’d tackle the prompt, as well, to see what you come up with, or to share another prompt that you enjoy.

Here’s my poem and prompt for today. Thanks for being here, and thanks for reading.

 
ALL MY THINGS ARE EMPTY NOW

the kitchen and its table
                dark corners and wax        the bathroom        cabinets
extra items            stored     up     and     away
                wide     open     rooms                   quieter now
the walls and their hangings            my daughter            ’s friends
                cats gone missing               somewhere deep
the dust                the shelves
                the curtain            what white is left hanging
off of it                scarves thrown
over the back        of a chair
                (my suitcase        is full)     what moon
is left in the sky            what stars        what dreams
what        what
 
 

Today’s prompt: “Elegant Things,” drawn from Ivan Morris’s The Pillow Book of Sei Shonagon, prompt found here. I hope you’ll share your work in the comments!
 
 

Share

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.

 
 

Share

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.

 

 

Share

My Dumb Heart

 

                —To my fellow Benders, I threw on my grief.

 

MY DUMB HEART

 

is open wide and overflows with water. How I manage
to stay alive is beyond me. I like to think that I am more

than a wallflower, that others see something in me, that the love
I feel swells out in swarms, but sometimes I wonder what good

that will do—after the apocalypse, what will be left but a swarm
of beetles—what but exit signs, laundry, and dirt,

my sadness like a cloth underneath—still present and wet
with earth and never clean again, never reflecting

sun or moon or teeth quite like the first time. My sadness goes
with me like a cloud. My sadness rides around with me

in the backseat. It wears a black cape and snakeskin boots
that click down afternoon hallways. It trades, sometimes, for

feather-duster wings when it is a she and she
is in the mood for forgiveness. She eats chocolates by the handful

and offers them over silently. Every time
they taste like tears, because they were not meant

for someone like me, and yet
I try them, because there is a persistence

to them. They bring out the hope in me. I look up, like moon, and I think
that is what I love most about her. Every time she trades

for her wings, she keeps those snakeskin boots.

 

 

Share

Dear Emily—

 

Hope is the thing with feathers.

 

Here is a truth: I thrive
on hope. But yet, here is another: if you fill

a pillow with feathers, I cannot sleep—
I wake in the middle of the night,

heavy-chested and warm, throwing off the dark
as if it were a spare blanket meant

for the shadow sleeping
in the spare room. I will not lie to you,

I am lonely; I am restless; I dream
that others will recognize

the potential in me like a cloud. You prod
at that hope in me like a swarm of bees.

But when the winter comes, let me throw on my grief
like gloves because my hands will be frozen anyway—

without them, I will not be able to write you letters,
and how sad would that be, how sad your grave

would be without all these folded sheets
of paper—but really, how sad

I would be without you. Dear Emily, how I
have turned back to you

in the fog—

 

—for Kelcey Parker Ervick’s Letter to Dead Authors exercise at her reading yesterday at LangLab

Share

A Poem with a Gun Inside

 

It beats. It hums. My heart—

what else could beat so cold and low

as this : make me a list. give me

a kiss : Kalamazoo, I love you. Paris,

Baghdad, and Beruit, I love you. What more harm

can we inflict than gunfire

on a summer’s day, a winter walk, what life

can we take but ours : for every trigger

that’s pulled, down falls another mother,

another son, and I don’t think you’re ready

for that, I don’t think you’re ready

for what that calls up

in the hearts around the world—but take it.

Pull the trigger. There’s nothing more

I can hide from you, no secret,

no immortality spell, just me

and my skin and my heart

and what’s inside it : I believe

you have the power to stop. So stop.

So choose. Because darling, I love you too.

 

 

Share

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.

 

RITUAL

 

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.

 

SLEEPLESS

 

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.

 

THE GIRL YOU NAMED ME FOR

 

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.

 

SPAM #1

 

now I am completely full

of honey—sometimes

I drink beer

in public. others cannot

do this: fireflies. what light.

what nonsense.

 

 

Share