Monday, December 15, 2008

3 down, 6 to go

after about 40 minutes standing in line at the post office and another several dollars in postage (which is peanuts compared to to $50-$60 application fees and the ungodly sum I paid to take the GRE), i now have three of my nine MFA applications officially sent off and out of my hands. if there are any poetry-friendly gods hovering around wisconsin, minnesota, and michigan - put in a good words for me, okay?

what else? i typed up the first draft of the collaborative poem sam and i are working on. it's interesting... here's the beginning:

When I was young I used to sit and write my name over and over.
More often I would trace the names of enemies and their histories.
Their names always seemed much more interesting, more beautiful, than mine
and with twenty-six letters I came to forgive them, their fallacies
that my letters were dull, lacking in exotica, that this reflects
how simple the act of writing is, yet the repercussions linger.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Collaboration is fun

But first, an update: I submitted the other two December apps online last night, will print off all my stuff today, and then pick up the last letter Monday. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the wonderful person who is saving my sanity!!!!! I will drop those three packets in the mail Monday, and then think about the next batch after the New Year.

And, here is the very first draft of a collaborative poem Stacey and I wrote over the past, oh, month, or so... We got sidetracked and distracted and busy a few times in the middle of the process, but we finally found the ending yesterday. Look for her to post it on the PoCo site, and on her lovely blog as well.

Velvet Elvis

Rest deep in the field of matte black
plush and dense as Mississippi night
no screams will jolt you from this
reverie, no girls will faint at your feet
except me, clawing to get behind
the wide gilt frame centered on the wall
to run my fingers thru your hair, to recline
against your muscular thighs, to climb
up your twisting legs, to scale your hips.

Rest here and wait for me. I will come
to grasp your shoulders, to cling to your name,
taste the sugar and the smoke of your mouth
but when I try to press my lips against yours,
I feel nothing but dust clinging to the painted fibers
and the rough places where a painter's brush
paused, the paint pooling on your bottom lip.
You are all man, rough, hard, surrounded by a sea
soft and impenetrable, velvet waves fading
into a bright white glow at the edges of your face.
I brush one finger along the angle of your jaw,
slowly slide it down the short softness that lies
flat, the revealed triangle of your chest. I step back
I see the gold surrounding him, the end of a plush life framed
forever, a bright spot on the dark paneled wall.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Desperation (re: grad school apps) of my recommenders is MIA..... I sent her an email last week, the day after everything was supposed to be back to me. No response. Sent her another one today. I have a postmark deadline of Monday for my first application, and am really freaking out. It's not even an app I'd feel at all okay about scratching off the list either; in fact, it's probably my top choice right now. I don't know what to do. I'm desperate enough to ask someone else to write me a letter, but I don't know who I'd feel okay about springing it on at this late date. Ugh! Lady, you're stressing me out!

And this may be insane, but I am thinking of scrapping my SOP and re-writing it. Everyone else's seems to be so much more INTERESTING than mine. Actually what I think I'll do is set aside an evening (either tonight or tomorrow) with lots of coffee, and just sit down and write a new statement, then compare the two the next day when I am no longer under the influence of a late night caffeine buzz.

But I'm seriously freaking out about the recommendation letters..... Seriously.

Monday, December 8, 2008

American Sentences: Two Girls in Love, a Cold Ohio Night

I watched Romeo and Juliet (the 1990's version by Baz Luhrman, which I just love - I really think it's a brilliant re-envisioning of the story) this weekend, so that's in this poem, as is the religious issue my mother is having with the fact that I have a girlfriend. And the collaborative poem I was working on Friday is being written in American Sentences, so I am thinking in terms of 17 syllables at a time.

American Sentences: Two Girls in Love, a Cold Ohio Night

The sky is the color of the slate roof of the house where I grew up.
Snow threatens to return and cover all the tracks we have made so far.

How far we've walked, you and I, fingers numb from cold but still holding hands.
We will outpace the storm, find or create shelter long before limbs fail.

We've both read "To Build a Fire" and we know the temptation to lie down.
Let the snow be our bed and we will never rise, we two Juliets.

This is a modern tragedy: lovers blessed by the stars, crossed by God.
It is up to us to triumph, clear a nest, build a tent, and a fire.

Your cheeks bold pink, your eyes misted from the wind, never more beautiful.
We traverse a wilderness of snow, warm inside, love like a beacon.

Follow love. Do not stop moving forward. The stars will outlast us all.

re: the previous poem about maps

one of the things that was bouncing around in my head when i wrote that is a set of lines from a richard hugo poem. i don't remember the title of the poem, or where i read it. it's not in any book i own. the lines, as far as i remember them, and this is probably not exactly right, are as follows:

not every river flows south
whatever maps might claim.
if you were mapped the color would be wrong:
no brown adequate for harm,
no white white enough for pain.

i'm sure that's slightly off, but if anyone knows what poem it's from, i would love to know. thanks!

The Composition of the Air I Breathe

There is no substitute for oxygen
but the warmth of your breath
makes me almost wish to suffocate
on carbon dioxide and kisses.

I don't mean to die, but to push
my lungs to their limit, to fall
into you until I am gasping
and terrified and alive.

Suicide doesn't interest me.
Living is the true challenge,
to keep running, breath after
freezing breath, icy December air

clouding in front of me, eyes
tearing, watching my feet
so snow does not get the better
of my balance. I struggle to hold

myself upright in my mother's eyes.
She prays for me every night
as I lie in your arms and she fears
we're on our way to hell. Of love

she knows nothing, claims words
from the original Hebrew or Greek
condemn me. If you wish
to understand me, you must understand

her as well. She is resigned to sorrow,
a dutiful wife, a grieving mother,
blaming herself, praying for my soul
and for His forgiveness for sins

no one has committed. I love her.
I love you. I place my heart like my feet
carefully on a slippery path, sunlight
glints off ice, off your beauty, off the tears

that come unbidden when you hold me.
It always comes down to this:
I can not change who I am,
I can not change where I came from.

Friday, December 5, 2008

An American Sentence (ETA: make that three)

If god was a cat, I would worship gladly by napping in the sun.

There’s so little sun in winter; streetlights through my window must suffice.

Inspiration for these two came from the poetry collaborative. It's posted there as well. Go leave your own, if the muse strikes.

And this one may be the first line of a collaborative poem Sam and I will write:

When I was young I used to sit and write my name over and over

Info about, and many many examples of, American Sentences can be found here.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Visual Aid

Here in the dark language fails.
Your hand traces rivers on the map
of my back. They all flow south.

You look at me without speaking
but I need to fill this space, make manifest
the destiny I feel lying naked in your arms.

Language fails. I can not explain
what you will find as your explore me.
I want to warn you, to tell you

I am riddled with danger, mountains
of snow, and valleys of hurt, miles and miles
of solitude. But you are young and brave

and your fingers are so gentle on my skin.
I will guide you. Together maybe
we’ll reach the far shore. Language fails

but the maps do not lie. You draw
me closer. I press my words to your mouth
and let the warm waters rise.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Prose (there may be a poem in here towards the end)

You sit across from me, your dark brows drawn down, eyes gazing at the screen of your laptop, as I do the same. Or I try. I try to work. Write, revise, repeat. But I keep sneaking glances at you, your hair falling behind you, the wrinkles in your forehead that only exist when you’re concentrating, the way your eyelids hide your gaze like a layer of snow hides the grass outside.

As beautiful as you are like this, thoughtful and intense, and god(dess) knows I’ve always liked intelligent women, as beautiful as you are while you write or think, I want you to close the computer screen and turn your eyes to me. I don’t want to see your solitary eyes, or your public laughing eyes. I want to see your fairy eyes, the way they glow in the dark of my room at night, a tourmaline green around the large pupils, then warmest bronze, and edges the dark brown of wet earth, just as alive. Your eyes are a forest I could lose myself in, a dangerous place, full of magic, bearing the essence of the rainbow, the whole rainbow transmuted in you to a pale green, a subtle red in your lips, and so much white, the white of your skin beneath my dark fingernails, the way you light the air above me, white, the presence of all colors at once.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

grad school update

i paid my first application fee last night! $56 to wisconsin. yes, that's really $56. when i looked at my nerdy little spreadsheet, i thought it was a typo, but no; i finished filling out the online app last night and got to the end and it really is a $56 application fee. weird. now i only have $395 left.

i'm going to do one per week, more or less, to spread it out. i looked at a calendar and i've got enough time to do it that way and get everything in on time; i think only two or three are due in december, then a bunch on january 15th, and then one or two not till february. i also filled out the online app for west virginia but haven't submitted/paid it yet. might try to get the others filled out soon too, just to have one less step later on. the wisconsin online app was long and involved, but wv was very simple; no clue yet what the others will be like.

waiting to get letters back from my recommenders so i can actually send the physical stuff out. right now, after working on my statement again last night, i feel like i'm about as ready as i'm gonna get and i want to just get it over with and out of my hands and out there to the universe and let things happen as they are meant to.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

A poem about last night (fictionalized, of course)

First Date

I took you to the Taj Mahal.
It was November in Ohio,
dark by dinner time, damp
biting cold as we walked
from the car. The air inside
was warm and fragrant. I caught
your smell as you removed
your coat, wanted to breathe in
against your neck beneath
the unruly cloud of long dark hair.

We drank sweet spiced tea softened
with milk, shared pakora and naan,
channa saag and aloo gobhi
and tender aromatic rice. It was all new
to you, the spices and textures, my hand
on your knee as we sipped tea
and talked after the meal. I caught
your reflection in the gilt-edged mirror
across the room, pale face framed
by dark silk curtains, gold bells.

I wanted to take you everywhere
in that moment, place your beauty
securely in my world. I wanted
to hide you inside, away from cold
and judgment. We ordered kheer,
thin rice pudding with pistachios
and cardamom. The waiter, a dark
beautiful boy with wavy hair to his collar,
brought our dessert, one bowl, two heavy
spoons touching, nestled comfortably
on a creamy white, gold-stamped saucer.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

an old larry's assignment i finally did


We walk through the park alone at night. We run marathons, waste countless hours on the trail, risk blistered feet and aching knees and sunburn and windburn and numbing cold. We stay up late to read or write even when we have to work in the morning. We stay up late to make love. We fail to pay our bills on time but always find money for at least one drink.

We are the dreamers, the wanderers, the lovers and pacifists and poets and artists. We are crazy cat ladies, street corner singers, solitary and full of love. We’ll take any excuse to wear glitter. We like parades and parties and dancing in the rain.

You call us freaks with your Bibles raised in the air, call us failures from the tinted windows of your SUVs. You call us fools, but we know better. Our wisdom is this: that happiness is a virtue and the real fools are those who fail to live life fully.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Assignment from last Monday

I did my assignment this week, Miss Stacey! Aren't you proud of me?

The haunted pinball machine at Larry's went off while the featured reader was reading last week, so S. gave us the assignment of writing on the dangers of poetry in a bar. I took a very literal approach, but couldn't think of anything better.

Hauntings, Stalkings, and Stained Pages (or The Dangers of Reading Poetry in a Bar)

There are of course the obvious
risks of drunkenness - slurred
words, bungled lines, cheap wine
spilled on only drafts of poems
that seem brilliant in the dimness.
And there are surprises like the dirty glass
light fixture crashing to the ground
with no one touching it, the door
opening to let in a roar of traffic
and non-poetic voices just at the moment
when your voice has dropped
to add drama or emotion
to the climax of a poem. And you risk
wandering attention in the audience,
scribbled notes, whispered conversations,
the clink of glasses, the rattle of ice,
or you risk too much attention,
the fans who will corner you
after the reading, not let you leave,
tell you how much they love
your poems, ask you to read theirs –
they always rhyme or contain the word
“fuck” or both. Oh, but the benefits
far outweigh the dangers – poetry
is not meant for the classroom, so neat
and fluorescently lit with desks in rows
and windows that won’t open. It is meant
for the messiness of the world, the perfect
buzz while reading, the ability to laugh
at the interruptions, talk to the ghost
who knocked the light down, ask him
if that was his version of applause.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

on the blessings i don't believe in

on the blessings i don't believe in

i stopped believing long ago
that we are punished
or rewarded
by a willful old man in the sky

i will take my chances
with karma or luck
do good works for their own sake
accept failure as the result
of my failings

how to explain now
just how blessed i feel
by a week's worth of sun,
a vote that finally went right
the sweetest lips
against my own

the universe is smiling
on me brilliantly
and steadily
with the warmest
november this state
has ever seen

what have i done to earn
all of this? and what
must i do to keep it?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

One of the paradoxes of existence

(This is not poetry, and doesn't even directly relate to poetry, but I wanted to post it here anyway....)

I am thinking right now of how happy I am, how lucky I feel to be where and who I am right now. It was the most amazing weekend here. The weather was perfect, sunny and so warm for this time of year. Halloween was Friday, and the event in the Short North was as fabulous as I'd hoped; I had a fantastic time with some of my best friends, a special new friend, and the community at large. Saturday was a very nice Gallery Hop. Today, Sunday, we walked downtown to the Obama rally. We stopped for coffee, ran into friends everywhere, the sun was out, the crowds were thrilling and thrilled, and it was just so exciting and inspiring to be there! Four of us grabbed some food afterward, then I came back here and talked with S for awhile.

I just keep thinking how happy I am. How perfect this weekend was. How I feel so lucky to be here and now and involved and present in this city, this community, my group of friends, etc. The thought of not being here in a year makes me want to cry. The thought of losing the community here, of losing the family I've created with my friends, breaks my heart.

And yet.... And yet I still look forward to applying to graduate school. I hope to get in. I hope to be living somewhere else in a year, surrounded by new faces and new poems and new inspiration.

I am living fully present in my life right now, enjoying every moment, trying to pin down the nuances of beauty in the everyday as well as the high points and holidays, so happy and so aware of the impermanence of everything, present now and happy, yet hoping to be elsewhere soon, aware of what I'll lose but gambling that what I gain will be worth it, knowing that what I've learned here will come with me.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

something a bit different

started writing this yesterday...sort of in a different vein than I usually write, but whatev. here it is. unfinished, obviously. i've been focusing on revising for my writing sample so haven't done a huge amount of new writing recently. plus trying not to get sick. and getting ready for Halloween.

but anyway, here it is, whatever it is....

The messiah has come
back from his sojourn in the desert.
He left Tucson a year ago,
returned to his humble roots
here in the city where anything
can happen and almost everything
has. It has been so long

since anything like this
has happened to me. I sat
across a small stone table
from him, and asked why
he'd cut his hair. He wanted
to grow up, he said, the long hair
made him look so young.

I felt my faith return when he reached
across the table and took my hand,
a miracle to feel this at thirty....

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

something to make me feel better today

i have a sore throat and my car is kind of dead, so i needed something to cheer me up (other than the prospect of halloween friday, which is wonderful and exciting, but makes me really really really not want to get sick). so when i checked my email this morning, and read this lovely response from one of my grad school recommenders, it made me smile a lot. i'd sent her some poems and a draft of my statement last week, then yesterday sent a quick email to let her know i'd dropped the recommendation forms in the mail, and here is most of her response. the first line scared me, but then it got better:

I'm not going to lie to you. I hadn't looked at the statement and poems yet until today when I got your email and thought I'd have a look over so I'm ready to write when I get the info..
I just wanted to tell you how much I loved the poems. In particular, the river poem and the September 11 poems--I think they are done so well. Very moving. I mean it.
Anyway my little brain has begun drafting so there won't be any problems with getting them back to you in time. I'll confirm their arrival here and also let you know when I post them back so you needn't worry.
But really, Emily. I'm well and truly impressed by what I've read.

it just made me very happy! and it's interesting to me that all 3 of my recommenders picked out "the river that doesn't exist" as one of their favorite poems in my sample. makes me think i really should lean toward more of the prose poems. also, her response to the september 11th poem validates my decision to include something so new (the middle is heavily revised from the version posted here).

so, yeah, all good :)

Friday, October 24, 2008


And something very new. A prose poem. Obviously. I may have posted the beginning of this here earlier, because the initial image popped into my head back in August, one day while I was out running.


The weeds along the riverside path where you run in late August smell of pollen, of dust and exhaustion, a tired heavy sweetness like the lace on your grandmother’s wedding gown that crumbled in your hands when you cleaned out the attic after she died last year. Your heart was raw and stinging from a breakup then; when you cried at the funeral you were crying for them both, for your grandmother who’d spent 85 years giving herself to her family and for your ex-girlfriend who’d spent a year trying to give you what you claimed to want.

When you heard the story your aunt told, that your grandmother said the happiest times of her life were between moving to the city and getting married, and then the years after her husband died, the only times she’d been free, when you heard that story, you cried for yourself too, and you thought maybe that’s where you got it, that desire to be free above all else, the way you always run away from love.

"There Are No Bad Fridays"

Another oldie... Originally workshopped that same semester, but it started the semester before, fall of 1999, when Shannon died. She wasn't my cousin, or even an extremely close friend. She was just this girl I'd known since 2nd grade through church and private school. Her brother was one of my "boyfriends" in second grade; he and Brian used to fight over me on the playground. Brian died in a car accident when we were seniors in high school. I didn't go to his funeral. It's more complicated than that, but when Shannon died four years later, it through my world for a loop. I scribbled a few lines of this the weekend of the funeral, didn't complete it till months later, then added/changed a lot during that workshop the next semester. When I dusted it off again recently, I made some more drastic changes.

“There Are No Bad Fridays”

the man on the radio says, but I disagree
today as I drive through sheets of rain
toward my cousin’s funeral. She was nineteen,
her boyfriend was behind the wheel. He lies
in a hospital bed, stable, in pain. I was almost
afraid this morning to get in the car.

The radio plays on, a constant drone
of scripted words and recycled songs
blurring into a noise as nearly white
as the sky. I should be remembering her,
at holidays and parties, as a child
and a teenager, and a woman just starting
to grown into her beauty, but the radio
recalls last night’s conversations,
and the later kisses, and thoughts
flow through my mind as quickly,
as pointlessly, as the sound. I shake
my head to clear it and focus
instead on the rain.

This is a bad Friday, I think,
annoyed with the voice which said
everything is fine, and I glare
at the spray flung onto the windshield
by the truck in front of me. I realize
I am tense, that I keep tightening
until I am squeezing the wheel
with both hands, hunched over,
an old woman at twenty-six, straining
to see. I make an effort to relax,
uncoiling, pressing shoulders back
against the seat, and I try to look
beyond the tail lights in front of me.
Rain falls in waves, rolling down
the glass, splashing off. We are,
all of us, back in the womb on this highway,
securely wrapped in glimmering cars
while water holds us separate
from the outside world.

All I can see is the color of rain,
the pale grey fabric of clouds unbroken
by sky, and I know the weather won’t change
today. I feel the truth of the falling sky
as I navigate the slick pavement
that glows in my headlights. The truth
is that the radio tells lies, the leaves
change color and die, the rain
always falls downward, and all
we can hope for is to grow old someday.

Photographing Ghosts

This is an old one, from my last year at BG. I went with with a friend to take pictures in an old house. Some of the images are real, some are made up. As old as this one is, it still feels somehow complete to me. It's been revised of course, several times.

Photographing Ghosts

I’ve heard the house is haunted
but there is no evidence
of ghosts, only empty rooms
and dirty shards of windows.
There is very little left
that has not decayed or been
stolen, but I finish one roll
of film and start another before
the winter sun starts to fade.

I focus on Mason jars lining a shelf
in what must have been the pantry,
a stained sink filled with dust
and crumbled bits of ceiling,
flowered wallpaper clinging
in faint strips to the stairwell,
curling at the ends as it tries
to pull free of the wall.

I hesitate before ascending,
not knowing what I’ll find
or if the steps are sound. Upstairs
a door with its flaking coat
of blue paint does no want to open
as though someone holds it shut.
I push a little harder, afraid it will
break, but it gives up and opens. A gust
of bitter wind shakes the second floor.

The door creaks behind me as I enter,
rust flaking from corroded hinges
and falling with a sigh. Inside the room
is a baby’s high chair, legs broken
off, a fractured piece of drywall
in the seat where the child
should have been. Sun comes through
the vacant window in harsh bright
angles. The room glows with pain.

I look away, find time in a closet
in stacks of newspapers, bundled
and tied with baling twine. The date
on top is 1951, just before an unknown
disaster, then emptiness, a myth
about some ghost.

And then vagrants sleeping on wood floors,
oblivious, teenagers breaking in
almost hoping to meet the supernatural
but seeing nothing, leaving broken
bottles glittering in the morning.
Their brown and green shards
are still embedded in the cracks
between floorboards and catch
light like tiny mirrors.

And after these invaders, the house died,
the colored tiles falling from the roof,
rain eroding carved stonework
around windows. And now, every
so often, people stop their cars,
pull into the cinders beside the road,
and take photographs of the house,
picturesque in its decay. The ambitious
venture inside, searching as I am for spirits
or for nuances of shadow, forms and
textures in the wood, the brick, the plaster.

But no matter how many rooms I examine,
the story escapes me, leaving hints
in washed out color, cold January rays
which can’t illuminate the past. I can’t tell
what color the flowers on the wallpaper used to be,
how the vegetables in the pantry tasted,
why no children took over the farm
after their deaths. The house alone
knows what happened between
the headlines in the closet and the broken
highchair in the attic, and its ghosts
won’t whisper into curious ears.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Untitled for now

Your cat left scratches on my hand last night,
tiny red lines beneath the skin, dried blood
across my knuckles. It barely hurt, and I know
they will heal. I wonder if you'll still be here

or if the sting and thrill of a new love will fade
along with the marks on my skin, like every other love
fades away, scarring over, disappearing
into the geography of lines on my hands,

the creases that grow with age, the healed wounds,
the lovers that have been here before.



drive everywhere,
drink Starbucks coffee, fail to
see beauty in dirt.

a cheap way out, to do a haiku for the prompt Stacey gave last night. I'll probably come up with a longer one too.

Just wanted to post a poem here cuz it's been awhile.

GRE is over now, half-marathon is over now (it was great!!!), and so I can focus more on poems now.

Friday, October 17, 2008

GRE Update

Took the GRE yesterday.... I left work at 3:00, stopped at home and walked my dog, drank a Diet Dr. Pepper, then went to take the test. I'd wanted to be early, but because of poor directions and a really f'd up parking system, I didn't sign in to the testing room until 4:01pm. It was fine though; the testing center staff kids were all very nice and organized and relaxing. I was nervous and anxious to just get it over with. I sat down in my little cubicle, skimmed through the tutorial just to stop my hands from shaking, and then started the exam. The first essay was the long one (45 minutes, make an argument based off of one of two statements). I kept the study guide's suggestion in mind to keep things simple. I jotted down my basic idea on scratch paper, then typed it out. It seemed to work well. I finished with six paragraphs and about 5 minutes left, even after rereading it a couple of times. So I went on to the next one. It was 30 minutes, analyze an argument given. I liked the topic; it was easy to critique. Again, I jotted down an outline on my pretty pink scrap paper with the annoyingly hard scratchy pencil, then started typing. I finished with five paragraphs, after proofing, with a minute and a half left. Thought of taking the optional 10 minute break, but decided to just forge ahead. Verbal section was next. It was hard. It seemed harder than most of the verbal practice sections I'd done (which was only 3 or 4), but I read things carefully, took my time, paid attention to things like purpose and parts of speech and shades of meaning. Stared at the ceiling to visualize words on the page of the study guide. Finished with a lot of time left. Next up was the Quantitative section. It started okay, then got torturous. I'd say the first quarter of the questions were about the same types of things I'd dealt with in the practice tests, then I started seeing things I didn't even know how to interpret. I guessed. The questions got harder. I scribbled madly on my scrap paper, I drew diagrams, I plugged in numbers, I gave up and guessed an answer at random. Then the questions got easier, and I knew I'd totally messed things up. I got frustrated. I eventually muddled through. Finished the section with a bit of time left, but don't remember how much. I clicked to continue, and got another Verbal section. It was easier by far than the first Verbal section. I finished it quickly, making an effort not to rush, to think through everything. I selected four schools to receive my scores, filled out all the little questions at the end, and finally, after several confirmation screens, got to see my scores:

560 Quantitative (70 points lower than in 1999, but my goal was anything above 550)
700 Verbal (20 points HIGHER than in 1999, and my goal was between 650 and 700)

I grinned. I would've laughed out loud if it hadn't been so silent in the room. Clicked through to the end, signed out, grinned at the staff members, retrieved my bag and scarf from the locker, and left. I am satisfied with those scores, and I'm hoping for a good score on the Analytical Writing too. I would've liked to be a little closer to 600 on the Quantitative section, but the average score for all entering grad students in the humanities is 561 so I'm right there at the average (and perhaps slightly above average for MFA students? that's a guess). And I am thrilled with Verbal score. Really thrilled. Dave hates me, but that's okay ;)

I was comparing my goals on the GRE to my goals for the half-marathon. I'd set a minimum goal of 1200 (550Q, 650V) and a top goal, which I didn't really expect, of 1300 (600Q, 700V) for the GRE. In the half-marathon, my minimum goal is to finish in 2.5 hours and my top goal, which I'm not sure I can do, is to finish in 2 hours. So my GRE score of 1260 is equivalent to a time of 2 hours 12 minutes. I'll laugh if that's my time, but I'd be super duper happy with it too!

Friday, October 10, 2008

This is a sex poem (and a Halloween poem too)

because Halloween and sex go together so very, very well IMO. And it's that time of year, and I have some great Halloween sex stories, and well, yeah, that's about it. Anyway, girls, my Larry's assignment is now completed :) I couldn't come up with a better title though, sorry. Suggestions are welcome.

One Night Stand

The darkness never frightened me,
the falling into another, the ghostly
glow of moonlight illumining a shoulder
rising above me, a hand reaching
for something, a lock of dark hair
snaking over the pale smudge of your face
in the night. I was not afraid then,
not of pain, not of pleasure, your teeth
against my skin, your heat
against my tongue, the beat
of our bodies and our hearts
to a breaking point, a crashing,
the limits of pressure and sensation,
the end of anticipation. It was later,
in the light of morning, as we dressed
and kissed goodbye, that I felt fear.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Request....

to my readers who may or may not be out there.

I have put together 15 pages of poems that I'm thinking of submitting as my writing sample for grad school applications. I would love to get your feedback, either generally or on specific pieces, what you think are the strongest, what are the weakest, what should not be submitted, what should go first, etc. If you'd be willing to help me out with that, leave a comment and your email address if I don't already have it, and I'll send them over.

Thanks muy mucho!

Oh, and I scheduled my GRE! It's next Thursday, October 16th, at 4:00pm. I've got another week to study, but I just want to get it over and done with. I would LOVE to score as well as I did in 1999, though I honestly expect my math score to be substantially lower, but I don't think MFA programs care too awfully much about math scores. So, wish me luck on the GRE, and please let me know if you'd be willing to give feedback on poems.

Thanks, my lovelies!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Water and Copper

This is not a sex poem, although that was our "assignment".... Fred Andrle read a poem last night about wells, and our table at Larry's was sort of brainstorming what the word "well" makes us think of, and I started writing a poem about that during the reading but didn't really finish it or love it. Today, I was going to write a sex poem, and I was thinking of kissing someone in the rain years and years ago, a moment I'd forgotten till reading an old journal reminded me of it, and I'd been writing yesterday in my LJ about being afraid of getting what I want, and I just sort of put all that together and came up with this.

Water and Copper

I dreamt of wells last night
of cool stone at my back
rain falling on bare shoulders
as we kissed under the moon.

I dreamt pennies falling
from my child's sweaty palm
splashing far below, the darkness
and the mystery of wishes.

I dreamt of getting what I want,
my hands on your skin,
lips to your cheek, your lips,
your throat. I woke

afraid that I was trapped
in the well, that I would fall in
after my pennies and tumble out
of sight, that I'd really kissed you.

This is the dark side of wishes:
I have the power
to make them all come true.

Friday, October 3, 2008

View from the Kitchen Window after Four Years of War

this is a poem that started a very long time ago, in my first college cw class, i think. it's gone through several revisions since.

View from the Kitchen Window after Four Years of War

I turn off the television, tired
of watching the same news every day.
I need a drink of water, go to the sink,
brush the faded curtain aside and stare out
through the screen ---

Cubed green hills as brilliant in the sun
as any pigment in a box of crayons,
cornstalks waving slowly
in a too warm wind, the grid overlapping
all, like attack plans on graph paper,
perfection simplified, a patriotic dream,
a child’s game in rural America.
Cows dot the fields like fallen toy soldiers,
the leaves ruffled by the breeze
could be flags. It is a history book
battlefield, dramatic, glorious.

I bring my face closer to the screen
to look through the square cages of wire,
knowing that the world isn’t neatly broken
into perfect cubes, that war is not noble,
and that dust coats the rusted screens
of seldom washed farm house windows.

Why He Still Matters When I've Been a Lesbian for Five Years

remember, kids, this is fiction! or, at least, not literal truth.......

Why He Still Matters When I've Been a Lesbian for Five Years

I never loved him,
it's not that. It's just
that the meaning
and the beauty
of the universe
came clearly to me
for the first time
with his body
in mine, our eyes
in the mirror, the world
in his mouth. I was
too young to know
it's always like that -
devoured, restored,
the rise and the fall,
the cycle of life.

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Quick progress update on the grad school applications:

I think I have one Statement done! It's a 1 page "Statement of Goals" for the NEOMFA. I picked that one to complete first, because of the 1 page limit, and because a statement of goals seemed easier than a generalized personal statement. I did it last night, edited from my big long rambly generic statement that covers everything. I'll re-read it, and then maybe pass it on to my recommenders to get their feedback.

I have forms filled out to request 9 sets of transcripts and send them to the appropriate schools. SDSU for some reason specifies on their website not to send transcripts until you've filled out the online application, which I'm waiting to do till I have some more money for fees. And there are two schools I'm still not sure I'll apply to or not (Indiana for complicated reasons and UCSD because I'm not even sure if they're going ahead with the program). Just need to drop that in the mail.

Other than that - poem ideas in my head, no money in my pockets, not enough time in my days, and too much mess in my apartment.

Such is life, and we carry on :) And, hey, speaking of, why don't you go listen to Kelly's new songs?

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A bit of a poem

which is very "current", shall we say? It's just sort of off the cuff this afternoon, and maybe a little too true...... Or maybe not.

Untitled for now

There are blessings that look
so much like curses – storms
that knock out the power
and transport you back
to candles and cookfires
and nothing to do at night
but talk, running late
the day there’s an accident,
the funeral that reunites
a family, and, maybe, this.

A message, filtered
through layers of twenty-first
century reality, appearing
on a screen, from a man
you never could say no to,
now, when you’ve said no
to men for four years.

In grad school news - I printed off ten transcript request forms today. Yes, I think I'm pruning my list a bit, but I can always print more if I decide to hit all 12 schools on my list after all.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

An Overdue Update

I have been slacking off with my blog lately. Sigh! I've been busy with work, trying to keep up with my running (and mostly succeeding), working on grad school stuff and revisions of old poems.

I went to Stacey's reading on Sunday night. I've mentioned before that we read at Larry's. Well, there's also a monthly reading series in town called Peripatetic Poets, which attracts a slightly overlapping group of people; last year, right after I'd started going to Larry's with her, one of the organizers of Peripatetic Poets asked Stacey if she'd want to be a featured reader this year. She read with Liz James who's got a great poem in Cap City Poets. Stacey read first, and even though she seemed nervous the whole time, she did well, and people seemed to respond favorably. Then there was a break, in which most of Stacey's friends left, which I thought was rude. I mean, I know poetry reading are not everyone's cup of tea, but it just seemed rude to leave after your friend reads rather than stay for the rest of the evening, but hey, it's up to them, and I'm glad so many people came out to support her. Then Liz read. I've never heard her before, and even though I really enjoyed a couple of the poems, in general, she left me a bit cold. Maybe it's an age gap, or just a matter of preference, because she seems to have a following. Another break, then a very good open mic, at which I read for the first time since the last spring reading at Larry's. I was nervous! Strangely nervous. I read Sleeping Beauty in Love and it seemed to go over pretty well. It's weird because I really like that poem, but I feel that it doesn't quite fit with everything else I write. The interesting upshot of the whole evening though is that I was asked to be a featured reader, co-reading with Stacey, next year. I think that would be fantastic! I agreed to do it before realizing I may be clear across the country in a year, but the date we are scheduled is the weekend before Thanksgiving, so there's a good chance I'd be here anyway, and it's easy enough to make sure I am, so yeah, I'll be a featured reader November 22, 2009. Be there! Don't worry, I'll remind you closer to that date ;)

And the other exciting news is that I finally lined up my third recommendation for grad school! So I have two former college professors - one I took two creative writing classes with and considered a friend as well as a teacher, and one I took a freshman comp class and a senior year lit class with. Both MFA holders who are currently teaching at the university level, one still at BG, one elsewhere. And a current client, who is an English professor at Otterbein, but who knows me in a different context. I'll let her read my statement and my writing sample, but we've talked about the fact that it's more important to just get a current perspective on my work ethic, personality, maturity, etc. So I feel pretty good about my recommendations now.

I also wrote a lot of personal statement last weekend, but I think it's way too much of a narrative, story of my life sort of thing. I need to go back and read what exactly the schools are looking in a statement (I've saved this info already) and then revise it down to answer those questions. But at least I got something started. And I need to revise and organize my writing sample.

Okay, I'm done babbling about grad school now.

I wrote a poem Sunday after the reading, and typed it out last night, and I kinda like it, but it's not here to post at the moment. Sorry :(

Friday, September 26, 2008

another old one

Written my senior year at BG while I was taking a Psychology of Language class. I'd kind of forgotten about this poem. Actually I remembered writing it, and who it was written "about", but didn't remember much of it clearly. When I went back and read it today, I liked parts of it. This is actually a slight edit; I took out the set of lines that were really a vindictive commentary on the specific person, and made a couple of other very small changes. There were several people in my creative writing cohort who wrote a lot of very intelligent poems based in other academic disciplines (art, physics, music, chemistry, etc) and this sort of fit into that same mold, in a way, though it's got my particular penchant for the sex/romance/personal aspect as well.

Regressive Saccade

The eyes do not only move forward
when reading, but backward too,
fixating on words already seen,
an effort to comprehend. And not all words
are equal - fixation varies
according to frequency, plausibility, length.

I think of seeing you
naked when we made love,
how seldom it happened – you’d shut off
the lights, dress after, your body
still a mystery shrouded in sheets;
and how I never thought
it would work between us, but tried
anyway while you hid yourself
from me with cotton and lies.

The average time of fixation
is 200 milliseconds, but a poor reader
may take 500 or 1,000, wasting
a whole second on one unworthy
set of letters. Our duration
was one month, long enough to learn
my initial reading had been correct:
a non-word, there was no meaning.
I had performed badly on this task,
wasted time, failed to let my eyes move;
but I know that learning has occurred,
the brains tiny neurons will remember
this pattern, next time I will know better.

something old

going through some old poems from college recently and came upon this little one, which i always liked.


The greatest failing of evolution
is that human beings never developed
the ability to purr, express pure

Instead, they use looks and sounds
ambiguous, or words forced out
to clutter up moments
like teacups left on tables.

If language is the one field
in which humanity excels,
this is proof we still
have much to learn.

Monday, September 15, 2008

After the Storm

The remnants of Hurrican Ike came through Central Ohio yesterday. It's quite a mess, but I feel very lucky to be here and not on the coast where it caused more serious damage. We got no rain, just wind gusts of up to 75 miles an hour. Trees, branches, chimneys, power lines, etc down all over the place. Over 260,000 people without power. I worked yesterday until 5:00; the worst of the wind came through between 4 and 5, I think, but it was still insane walking home. My skin was coated in dirt and debris by the time I'd walked six blocks. I had to cross to the opposite side of the street twice because there were power lines down on the sidewalk. Everyone was sitting on porches calling out greetings and warnings to the people walking by; a little old man told me to go home, I said I was on my way.

Amazingly, my building never lost power. I'd left windows open, and the wind had slammed doors shut and blown papers around and scared poor Lucky. He met me at the door with his tail all uncurled and a very unhappy look on his face, but everything was intact, and we walked out to make sure nothing had fallen on my car, and it too was fine. One of the trees out front is split into three pieces, one standing upright, one fallen toward the sidewalk, one fallen backward onto the brick privacy wall we used to climb last summer.

I was getting ready for work this morning when I got a call from one of my bosses. Our office has no power, so I got to stay home. I took Lucky for a long walk and surveyed the mess in the neighborhood, then I came up to Cup o' Joe, and am going to try to get some work done on grad school applications. I think I came up with a third recommender this weekend; I'll have to ask her, but I think it'll work. She's a client of mine now, and although she doesn't know my writing, she is an English professor, and she can speak about my personality and work ethic and my current self; my other recommenders are college professors from my undergrad, so that's been quite awhile.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008

September 11, 2008
for Tom

I woke this morning not knowing why
I had one of your songs in my head, and not
a song I ever really liked. It wasn’t about me.

I walked my dog this clear, chilly morning
singing to myself. I could have been
your Valentine, now I’m just a tale to tell.

I was almost your wife. I didn’t like
your songs, but I tried to be supportive.
I remember waking seven years ago,

today, to your panicked voice on the phone.
Turn on the radio (we didn’t own a television),
turn on the radio, something’s happened.

I sat alone on your scratchy plaid couch
in the wood-paneled apartment above
the pizza shop, and I listened to true fear

in the voices of the reporters, shock,
and something more like excitement than sorrow;
it was the biggest day of their lives, the type of thing

they’d been trained for. I was not prepared
when I finally saw the footage that night
subtitled above the bar. I walked outside

into the dark, let the wind blow through me.
You followed me, and held me, and even though
I knew I didn’t love you, I clung to whatever it was

you offered me, a man’s arms, a promise
of stability, a shared place in the world, shelter
from the wind and the debris.

Monday, September 8, 2008

In a Supermarket in Columbus, Ohio

I thought of this for some reason when I was driving today.... I thought of that first trip to the grocery store when I'd first moved out of my ex's apartment, and I thought of Ginsberg's poem of course, because how many other poems are there about supermarkets? It doesn't really relate to his, except in the title and first line. It might want to relate more to it, but for now, here's a beginning....

In a Supermarket in Columbus, Ohio

What thoughts I have tonight of my former selves
as I wander these aisles alone, nearly in tears
because I can not find the raisins in this labyrinth
of chilled air, bright lights, and preservatives
I can not pronounce. Grief is green and bitter
at this stage, my first shopping trip for one
in five years. My mind puckers at the sourness
as I walk past the things I only ever bought for him.

I am free now to buy only what I like, to lose myself
in reading labels. I am shivering, too skinny
in a skirt and sleeveless blouse, sandals rubbing
my heels raw. I am lonely, yet I am shopping
at midnight so I'll be alone. In time I know I will
blossom again, fill out this new life, taste sweetness
and, if I am lucky, tenderness.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Balance (or, My Sunday To Do List)

Wash the dishes that are starting to stink
piled beside the sink so neatly. Fold
and hang the clean clothes littering the linen chest.
Get outside, run 7 miles, don't forget
to drink a lot of water. Shower, eat, write,
don't ignore your friends.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The list

This is of course subject to change, but I wanted to put it out here in writing. I have read and researched a bazillion grad programs, put together a list of about 30 that appealed to me in different ways, did some comparisons, some more research, and narrowed it to 18 earlier this week, and now I finally have a list of 12. There are a few here I'm not married to trying, and there may be a few I've eliminated that I could be convinced to giving another look, but right now, here is my list of 12, in alphabetical order by state......

Colorado State
Columbia College, Chicago
Cleveland State (NEOMFA)
Penn State
West Virginia University

A couple of big names - Indiana and Michigan. Several solid programs that aren't quite as "top tier" - Wisconsin, Minnesota, Alabama, Penn, Colorado, SDSU. A couple of lesser knowns - WVU, Columbia (both of which appeal immensely to me on a purely intuitive level). And two new programs - the NEOMFA is a joint program through Cleveland State, which has for awhile had a fairly solid MA with creative writing emphasis, Akron, Kent, and Youngstown, so it's new but getting some good buzz. The other new program is at UC San Diego - no one seems to know much about it, and it's one of the ones I'm not totally sold on. It's on my semi-short list because of the location more than anything else.

Thoughts? Anyone?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Busy busy busy

August may appear to have been a slow month for me, but it's in fact the opposite. I've been busy with work, busy with running, busy watching the Olympics, busy thinking about and researching grad schools. I've been writing some things that I haven't posted here... I expanded that last snippet I posted into a little prose poem type of thing. I almost finished the poem about the devil's sister. I wrote something really quickly before going to dinner on Sunday that I liked a lot. It's not finished, but I got a good bit of it out in a hurry, now need to come back to it and finish and refine.

There's always that whole revision thing, which I'm not so good at unless I have a reason. A writing sample for grad school applications is one really good reason. The reading series at Larry's is another....aside to myself - I need to figure out when the first one for fall is scheduled.

Okay, back to work. Just wanted to throw some sort of post out here since I know people who read but don't comment and I wanted to let you know I'm still here. Psst, I think I left a pillow at your house!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Snippet of something

The weeds beside the river in late August smell of dust and exhaustion, a tired sweetness, like the lace on your grandmother's wedding gown that crumbled in your hands when you cleaned out the attic after she died last year.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The End of Summer

another recent one, which i think i like. fyi: anyone who knows me, and might know who the "she" is at the end - i didn't see her. it just seemed to fit. author input aside.

The End of Summer

Every day of August
no matter what the mercury says
bears a chill. The days drag

sluggish through the haze.
They evade our grasp. We sleep
through the last of the warmth.

I will not go back to school
this year, haven’t even taken
a vacation, but I feel the loss

just the same. Empty shells,
cicada-shaped, cling to the sticky
bark of trees whose leaves

are drying, thinking of turning.
Grass, scratchy as hay but not as fragrant,
crunches underfoot like dead leaves,

like bones, like insects
on a windshield. I drive
home from Cleveland on the most

perfect August day. I saw her
for the first time in three years.
Everything was different.


one of those aforementioned poems i've written recently. this one (all of them actually) i wrote out long-hand first, in my little green journal, then typed up, so they aren't quite first drafts because i edit slightly as i type. this one i also just changed a few words while waiting for my wireless to connect.


Have you ever wanted so badly
to stand alone in the dark, stretch
wide your arms and call the rain?

You don’t believe it’s possible
but on a dark night like this
with a cold summer breeze

when all you are is a question
and the stars look down
their daggers and you wait

for something without knowing what
you want to believe, you wish
you still had some faith.

You don’t know how to cast a circle
or speak the language of the wind.
All you hear is the emptiness

swirling dry leaves around your feet
speaking of space and time,
endless motion without matter,

the desire of flesh to join
with spirit. Call. Silence to silence,
emptiness to emptiness, anything

to something, and the answer
will come, with a breath, a cloud
curtaining the moon, a gather

of darkness sheer as silk.
Wait. Stand still, close your eyes,
and wait. The rain will come.

I get my car back tonight!

I've written three poems recently which I like a lot, but have not had the chance/inclination to post up here, plus a group of twenty-sevens about the devil's older sister. Sounds odd, and probably is, but kind of fun. I was working on that last night but just got too tired to keep counting syllables and hadn't felt the end yet anyway, so went to bed in the middle of a line. I'll post some stuff soon.

In other news - I heart Timothy Liu. He read at BG when I was there, and he was so fantastic! He did almost everything from memory, which really impressed me, plus I loved the poems. The stuff on (where I linked) includes one I remember from that reading : "An Evening Train" which is just wonderful. I started thinking of him last night when I was thinking about poets I'd love to study with. Unfortunately, he teaches at a school without an MFA program. They offer an MA in writing, which might not be bad, and if I could study with him, it would be worth it!

Other people I've stumbled on and liked (as faculty in programs I'm looking at) are: Arielle Greenberg and David Trinidad at Columbia College, Sandra Alcosser (who studied with Richard Hugo, who is one of my classic favorites) and Marilyn Chin and Ilya Kaminsky at SDSU, Rae Armantrout and Roberto Tejada at UCSD (both of whom I'm not sure I like but are interesting). More to come... Doing lots of reading/research....

Friday, August 8, 2008

On Keeping Silent

On Keeping Silent

Do I watch things unravel
and not try to capture the threads?
I know I can not trim them all,
can not sew quickly enough
to fix the hem.
But should I try?

Is it the effort that matters
more than the result,
or is it a waste of time
like using a newspaper for an umbrella?

There is beauty in getting wet
letting the rain curl your hair
and soften the leather of your shoes.
There is beauty in the frayed edge,
character you can’t get from the neatest stitches.

Debits and Credits

Debits and Credits

I know so much less than they credit,
never live up to their expectations,
am afraid of heights yet accept the pedestal
on which they have me stand.

I know more than they credit when it’s over,
where I failed, when they gave up,
what I’m missing that they hope
the next girl will have.

I balance my accounts, calculate
what I learned, what I lost. It always
comes out even.

Monday, August 4, 2008

and another twenty-seven

Is it arrogant
of me to say
my perfect woman
is a lot like
me? She is just
a bit more humble.


Another twenty-seven.... Been thinking this recently, and was talking about it last night with some friends. I've gotten a LOT out of living here, I really have, but I feel like I may have gotten all I can, and it's time to move on. I'm not sure, but maybe. I'm also thinking again about applying to MFA programs for next year, so that goes along with it. It is part of that whole process of turning 30 and deciding to do the things I always wanted to do.


This city has been
home for five years,
longer than any
other. I love
it here, but now,
it is time to leave.

Thursday, July 31, 2008


I'm thinking this might be more than one poem mushed together, or maybe it's a longer poem that isn't filled out yet. I like that it kind of builds rhythm, like the running it describes. Not sure what else I think. It's a thought that came into my mind on my short, fast, incredibly sweaty run on Tuesday.


After the third mile I know
if I stop running my eyes
will sting, salt trail
down my face, one drop
then another, then a flood
that would take more
than these dirty hands to stop.

They are not here when I run
those ghosts, those worries, obligations, disappointments.

So I don’t stop at three
or even four miles – four
is too easy, two out, two back.

I divide myself with each step.
I am not my apartment, door closed behind me,
its view, its books, the rent I pay.
I am this heart, pumping blood,
its rhythm, unconscious wisdom.

I turn a corner, sidewalks and trees, sun and shade.
I am not my cheap sunglasses
not my parents’ disappointment.
I am these muscles, legs and arms,
lungs and breath. I am this sweat
that drips like tears from my hair into my eyes.

I am not my past, not your future.
Each footfall takes me farther, each breath in and out
expels more that isn’t me till I am shining
and simplified, my physical self,
the body I was born with, nothing more.

I am completing a circle, or more like a square,
returning back to where I started.
It will be seven miles, indivisible
by anything but itself.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Twenty Seven

Stumbled across another new little poetic form today. It’s called a twenty-seven. You can read more of them, and an explanation, here. It’s a six line poem, with lines of 5, 4, 5, 4, 4, and 5 syllables. Rhyme is optional, but should be ABCBDB. I wrote one with rhyme just for fun at work this afternoon. Might submit it to the blog…..

ETA: 8/1/08 it's posted on the blog now - go check it out!

Monday, July 28, 2008

I was walking the dog last night and I thought of something I wanted to include in poem. Now, of course, I’ve forgotten it.

Figures. I had a very good weekend, very full of “real life” as opposed to poetry and quiet time, which was fun, but I am embarking on a phase now where I will hopefully make a lot of quiet time for myself: I am starting to train for a half marathon, and as part of that, I am abstaining from alcohol for the next twelve weeks, so I will most likely be quite a bit less social than I have been. Hopefully it will be good for my writing too.

We’ll see…

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Haiku for my sister

just what the title says...

i wish i could give her better advice, but there really is none to give. life is what it is, and our families are what they are. we each make our own choices and our lives, whether we choose to own that responsibility or not.

Haiku for My Youngest Sister

When I was your age
I was more in love even
than I admitted.

She broke my heart, just
as I broke my mothers heart -
not what she wanted.

You could learn from this.
None of us are the answer
for anyone else.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Oh, George.....

felt compelled this morning to search for poems by former instructors of mine and found this one, which i'd never heard or read before, by george looney. he headed the bfa program at bg when i started; i was lucky enough to have one class with him and to hear his final reading in bowling green. he left the university to go to penn state erie after my sophomore year.

it's a lovely poem. enjoy!
"Music Left by Another"
by George Looney
from The Literary Review

Monday, July 21, 2008


from my drive home from work....

I didn’t see it when I put the car in reverse,
backed carefully as always out of the parking lot,
didn’t see it when I shifted to drive and accelerated
gradually down the street. It appeared
from nowhere – a blank windshield one moment
and the next a brazen summer grasshopper.

It walked unsteadily up the glass slope
until it was just above eye level, then turned
like a dog circling before lying down and faced into the wind
long antennas blowing backward, like it enjoyed
the breeze. I wondered what 30 miles per hour
must feel like to a creature only an inch long.

Like a hurricane, I guessed, all but overwhelming,
but it hung on, antennas flying, body buffeted,
six tiny feet gripping the smooth surface
until I stopped at a traffic light. I thought about reaching out
my hand, trying to scoop it off the glass and into the grass
beside the road, but it turned and walked sideways
further up the windshield.

Green like the light, not one of the brown grasshoppers of fall,
the kind that sting against your legs when you run,
dry and hard and eating holes in the crops, it was pale
and the color of new leaves. It sidled up the glass
and then hopped out of sight onto the roof of the car.
I missed it immediately, wished it luck, that strange passenger
on my short urban commute. May you find the green grass
by the river, the tall weeds, disturbed only by bicycles and runners,
not the dirty exhaust-dried borders of this road.

Minutes later I parked the car at home, got out and slammed the door
without thinking, making it jump, that spindly-legged miracle
that had survived my driving. I tried to apologize
for the bumpy ride, but it skittered away from my voice.
I’d been used by the little green insect. It got what it wanted
and didn’t want to talk afterward. It’s been fun, it might have said,
but let’s not make this more than what it is.
I noticed that the titles of three of my posts in July start with the word “just”. I knew that I was feeling insecure about my writing recently, feeling like it’s not very good, and like no one reads it anyway, but seeing the evidence right there, seeing that denigrating little word I used without thinking, makes me feel even worse.

In a way.

In another way, it makes me mad. It makes me mad at myself for still being that shy person who doesn’t value her own voice, and it makes me mad at everyone who’s ever made me feel that my voice doesn’t have value.

Just a few summery lines

Bare feet dirty except where her sandals had been -
they sit beside her, resting heads bowed in the sun –
grass warm and scratchy, heavy with the dusty honey scent
of clover. She doesn’t search

for the lucky ones, doesn’t pluck petals
one by one, already knows the answer
to that old mystery – she loves me, she love me

Friday, July 18, 2008

Quick quote

"We two, together, on a darkening day
Took arms against our own obscurity."

It's Roethke, I'm 99% sure, but can't recall what poem. A pair of lines that pop into my head every so often, and were there last night. Actually the impulse behind the poem I wrote before bed and promptly forgot.... Maybe tonight I'll look at it again and post.

The High Points

per my rambling thoughts earlier.....

The High Points

Light strikes the high points
reflecting white and green
angling down to the valleys
filtered and fractured and true.

This is where life happens:
on the forest floor, the moss
soft and cool, the tiny darting creatures
oblivious to all but the next meal
or threat, clearings heated and brilliant,
rocks just right for basking in the sun.

The high points are too rare,
exposed as they are, nothing
can live long that close to the edge
of the atmosphere.

Just some thoughts

I wrote a poem last night, and now I don't even remember what it was about. Must not have been very good.

I'm thinking today about history. How it's taught, how it's understood, how it's invented and altered and explained. Both in the context of the history we learn in school and our own personal histories. How it's always a matter of hitting the high points because it's too much to try to know it all. But it's not always the high points that really matter so much; it's the day in day out flow of life that makes us what we are, just as much if not more than the dramatic events we tell to others.

And I was thinking last night about the line in yesterday's poem, about being meant to be alone. Maybe it's not so much meant, as just able. Solitude can be a gift, the ability to be okay with nothing but oneself.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Just a little white lie

Just a Little White Lie

Sometimes I think we're both
lying and I don't
even care.

What is a lie
if not an effort to improve
the truth? My truth is
I'm meant to be alone,
yours is you don't know how.

If we can lie together
like this, so sweetly
and believably, what harm
can there possibly be?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


That's not much of a title, I know. The conversation about microwaves causing cancer came up the other night at a bar, and then last night S said we should both write poems about it. Kind of a silly subject, but hey, we work with what we've got.


My friend is afraid to use the microwave.
She thinks it wants to hurt her, says
she’s heard that microwaves cause cancer.

I laugh at her and turn the oven on instead.

I think of the word microwave –
micro meaning small, tiny, microscopic,
waves like lightwaves or soundwaves or
electromagnetic waves, but I’d rather think
of waves in the ocean, lapping the shore,
or hands waving hello. I’ve never been good
with science, or goodbyes.

Those tiny waves as you drive away,
the waves of feelings I can’t explain, the microscopic
ways things change, maybe they do cause cancer,
eating me away inside until I’m blackened
and hollow, an echoing room with the only lightbulb
burned out. I lie in your bed, wilted
and limp, and I want to tell you
that microwaves do cause cancer.

Turn on the oven, light the flame on your stove,
anything but these tiny, invisible, cool little waves.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Sleeping Beauty in Love

The revision I mentioned earlier. This was called "Spinning Wheel" when I posted two stanzas before.

Sleeping Beauty in Love

You are the spindle
around which she winds
her silken threads,
the gridlike loom
stretching her taut,
the hands that pull
her strands, your fingers
under her and over her.

You are the weaver
of the tapestry, the trimmer
of the threads, maker
of beauty, of borders
and ends. You hold it all
in delicate yet calloused hands.

You are the spindle
around which she winds,
the polished point
upon which she falls.


Sometimes I am reminded that I really do believe we control our own destinies to a large extent.

And on an unrelated note, I revised a couple poems this weekend, but don't have them with me to post at the moment.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Untitled for now


I tick them off
on long-nailed fingers –
last year, the year before
so full of yearning, three years
ago so independent, four years
ago so stuck in something
I didn’t even know I wanted
to escape, the year before that
too far above the earth
to see clearly. This, I tell you,

is the value of holidays.
They are landmarks, ways
of seeing where we’ve been.
We were practically strangers
last Fourth of July, I’d dreamt
you without knowing it
the year before, any farther back
it would have been impossible.

I try not to look forward.
The past is safe – classifiable,
arrangeable, a story I can tell,
truth and lies and the unrelenting sweep
of years. I will not think
of next summer, I will hold you here
in the one year I know,
let the present be enough to celebrate.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

July 1988

long, probably rambling, too prosey perhaps....

July 1988

Those blasphemous raspberries resolutely refused
to ripen during the bright clear days of June,
color rich and glossy but tart enough
to keep even the youngest of us from eating them.

Every day my mother sent us up the hill
to check on them. We’d try a few, competing
to find the largest, the darkest, the highest, hoping
to find one sweet, return defeated and scratched
with that sour still-green taste in our mouths.

We watched the sky for rain because she did,
eyes darting west at every little breeze, watched
the garden dry and crack, plants yellow and droop.
Every evening when the sun went down, we filled
five gallon buckets in the stream, as full as we could
carry, my sister and I sharing one bucket,
my mother with one and a baby on her hip,
my father a bucket in each hand, a scowl on his face.

We poured water carefully, focusing on the roots
not the leaves, trying to save the rows of corn,
the hills of potatoes, squash, beans, the sad spindly
tomatoes and peppers. The garden seemed endless
in those dry, rapidly cooling twilights, no humidity
to hold the day’s heat, spilled water quickly evaporating
from our hands and legs. It should have been enough
to feed all of us with plenty left over to sell
and freeze and can and keep for winter.

When it rained on the 4th of July, we ran outside barefoot
to play in the muddy water that filled the yard
too much for the dense clay to absorb so it splashed
around our legs, scooped up by hands too young
to be grateful, watched by eyes too young to be desperate.

The rain didn’t stop.

She forgot about the raspberries, worried now
about flooding, drowning the plants in the garden,
water in the basement and mold and mildew. I woke
on the 7th, the first day of sun, everything in rainbows
and mud puddles. The overflowed stream had stopped
just shy of disaster, the corn in the garden stood tall
and truly green, bees reappeared, buzzing heavily
between the purple blossoms of beans. I climbed the hill,
my sister in tow, carrying one small metal bucket.

The raspberries hung from their pale thorny vines
plump and beaded with dew and rain. I reached for one
and it fell apart in my hand, juice staining like wine,
tried another and it too dissolved. A smell rose
from the crushed berries, too sweet, too soft. We turned
guiltily, humbled by those blasphemous berries
we’d forgotten for a few days, long enough to miss
our chance. She wouldn’t blame us, we knew, but we would
blame ourselves as we'd been taught for not braving
the rain to pick berries before they rotted, for not remembering
what we’d spent the past weeks looking for, for not
picking them sour and adding sugar, for not outsmarting nature.

Monday, June 30, 2008

just a bit about the weekend

we were walking around comfest yesterday and someone commented that it smelled like the zoo - it was a combination of mud and straw, mixed with sweat and dirty people and dogs and greasy food. that's all this is, a description of that.

We move barefoot
over straw-strewn mud -
not quite naked animals
cavorting under the hot sun
for the amusement of others.

Sweat sheens our skins,
mud and grass and straw
decorate our feet and legs,
we dance or pose or sleep
as you watch from the other side.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

just a couple lines

Let me be hollow and ringing,
a bell or a bird bone,
echoing the world, reflecting the wind.

The Desire

I want to be bruised by God.
I want to be strung up in a strong light and singled out.
I want to be stretched, like music wrung from a dropped seed.
I want to be entered and picked clean.

from "Clear Night" by Charles Wright

I must have read this for the first time at least ten, if not eleven, years ago, but it just sticks with me!

I read it then as a desire for greatness, at least in part: to be touched by god, or by power, to be so close to it that it bruises; to be recognized, admired, unique; to be tested, challenged, and expanded; to be overwhelmed by something larger than the self, something so big or so strong or so real that all the junk inside is culled away.

There's the acknowledgement of pain, that it's part of the process, the desire for it if it leads to greatness, the willingness to be transformed no matter the cost. I always come back to the word "overwhelmed" when I think of these lines, that desire for a transformative experience.

/End of random thoughts. Comments?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Faces of the Dead

S sent me this link earlier this week: It's a photo collage with portraits of all the soldiers who've been killed in Iraq, where each little photo is a block of a larger one and they reconfigure themselves as you click on individual squares. Kind of hard to explain, but go look at it if you want. I wrote this little paragraph that day because I couldn't come up with a poem immediately, but wanted to put some thoughts down right away.

Faces of the Dead

They are not really black and white anymore, just shades upon shades of grey, all equal in the past. Their names blur, their ranks, their states of origins, the dates of their deaths, each one just a part of the whole. They are overwhelmingly young. I see fear in the serious eyes in their photographs, but maybe I'm projecting. I want their stories. I want to know why they did it. My friend is coming home from the Air Force today, on leave before deploying; I want to ask her why, beg some explanation, find some sense beyond some 4,000 deaths, some 4,000 grey faces, shading away into nothing.

After Light

After Light

Maybe I dreamed them all
those tiny lamps in the night.

Tonight we are empty
the sky and I -

nothing flutters against my cheek,
the only lights flicker from my neighbors' televisions
and the courtyard lamp's faulty wiring.

I sit down on the concrete stoop
still slightly warm from the now-past sun,
wrap my arms around my knees,
shiver in the eleven o'clock breeze
and wait

for the lightning bugs,
for anything,

to come back.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Strong Sun Moon

first lightning bugs of the season tonight.... a whole courtyard full of them... lovely little critters, aren't they?

Strong Sun Moon*

It’s been the hardest June
less alone than I’m used to
and more than I’d like.

I stare up at the sky
clouds like smoke on a chambray cloth
dry and pale near the horizon
the fabric wet and stretched translucent
above my head.

Out of the corner of my eye
a tiny flash of light a dark flutter
in the twilight disappearing as I turn toward it.

Suddenly I realize they are everywhere
these dark-winged nightlights
as random as love as brilliant as lust
slow-moving and easy enough
to surround with one hand
wings beat lightly against my fingers
remain dark in the cavern of my palm.

I rotate my wrist let my hand uncurl
and six tiny legs tickle as the lightning bug
walks slowly over my palm
then with a gentle flip of wings
lifts off
lets go
and lights up like the full moon.

* The first (and usually only) full moon in June.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A Life Without Tears

Once upon a time there lived a princess. She was not a beautiful princess, but she was very caring and sweet. This princess always seemed to be crying; whenever anyone in her family was sick or hurt or sad, she would cry. When any of her friends were hurting, or any of her pets, or even if she saw a stranger in pain, or heard stories about far-off wars or tragedies, the princess would cry. Big salty tears would fall from her blue eyes which would look even more blue than usual as the tears reflected the light.

As the princess approached marrying age, she started to wonder what kind of prince would want a wife who always cried. What kind of man would want to marry a girl with swollen eyes and a reddened nose, a girl who never wore makeup because it always smeared off with her tears? So the princess went to see a magician who was reputed to be able to solve all sorts of problems.

“What is it that you want?” the magician asked the princess as she stood shyly in his chamber. Her eyes were still damp from the tears she’d shed when she saw a dead sparrow on the way to see him.

The princess took a deep breath. “I want a life without tears.”

The magician looked at her kindly. “Are you sure that’s what you want? Almost all lives have some tears in them.”

“I have cried enough these past sixteen years,” the princess replied. “I want a life without tears!”

“Very well,” said the magician, who was duty-bound to use his magic to fulfill the requests of those who solicited his help. “You shall have a life without tears. Once you leave this room, you will never cry again.”

“Oh, thank you,” the princess exclaimed. She hurriedly paid the magician his fee and left the room.

As the heavy wooden door swung shut behind her, the princess realized she could no longer see or hear anything. She reached out blindly for the door handle, but could feel nothing. In a panic, the princess tried to call out for help, but she had no voice. She tried to turn and go back to the magician, but she had no legs. She was bodiless, nothing but spirit, with no eyes to see suffering, no ears to hear others’ cries, no way to connect or communicate with the world, and, true to the magician’s word, no eyes with which to cry.

She was never seen in the castle again, not by her parents or her friends or anyone else who loved or was loved by her. Sometimes at night, they thought they heard a rustling or saw a shadow in her room, but no one in the castle really believed in ghosts, so they went on searching for the lost princess as long as they lived, but they never, ever found her.

Monday, June 16, 2008


Metaphor or horror story, take your pick....

She offers her beauty to you -
spare and white, a bloodless
body curled on a silver platter.

You could cut her open -
the knife glitters so beautifully
in the candlelight - and she
would not complain as you open
a long straight line from her slender neck
to the heated spot where her legs meet.

You could reach between her breasts
and pull her heart still beating
from its protective cage of muscle and bone.
She would allow it, watch it pulse
in your hand, stain your arm as you raise
it high and marvel at the light reflecting
ruby and garnet and pearl.

You want it.
You know you do.

Spinning Wheel

A beginning of something, or maybe an end. I wrote the last four lines last night along with a couple of other stanzas of fairy tale allusion, but didn't love anything but the beginning, so today as I sit here at work and talk about whiskey with my colleagues (seriously), I took the lines I remembered and just expanded that one scene. And when I wrote it last night, it was "You are the spindle/around which I wind" but I like it better without the I.

Btw, thanks for the comments recently! Keep them coming :)

You are the spindle
around which she winds
her silken threads,
the gridlike loom
stretching her taut,
the hands that pull
her strands, your fingers
under her and over her,
creating the helpless beauty
you see in your mind.

You are the spindle
around which she winds,
the polished point
upon which she falls.

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Storm Poem

great thunderstorm last night....

A great dark cloud has covered this city,
moving in slowly from the southwest
a heaviness preceding the storm. The first
rumbling discontents arrived around 5:00,
a slow leeching of the sunlight
a rising breeze
a transparent gauze
instead of air.

Inside, on the third floor of my heart,
I wait for it. I listen carefully,
counting the seconds between
each beautiful flash and its following crash.
They get closer together each time
until I no longer can tell the difference
between beauty and pain.

The windows are all open to the south,
the wind blows in gusts, panting
with the effort. It begins to rain,
and I sit on my couch
and let it soak me.

When the storm finally passes by,
I will sift through what's left and make sense of it all.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I Am Not the One She Wanted

I Am Not the One She Wanted

I am not pretty and silent,
I can not sit and wait with crossed
ankles and folded hands
for God to redeem the world.

I do not pray at night
for a man to marry, a provider,
children to raise up in the ways
they should go, the ways she raised me.

Sometimes, mother, they do depart.

I am thin and poor and alone.
I worked all day, then ran four miles.
I am self-sufficient, and I don’t believe
in that white-haired, white-light

Patriarch with his condemnations
and abominations.

I am not the one you wanted either;
I will not dictate my will like the goddess
you would make me. For every gift
you think I have, I lack the skill

or the courage to use it.

I have grown too large for one role,
remain too small for the other.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Playing Dead (tentative title)

so, this is the poem i was talking about not being able to write.... tried a different approach, and got closer to what i wanted. will come back to it and try again....

She was nothing
but a body, pretending
to be dead. She was
in the grass and bleeding,
and then in his arms
her hair dragging the ground.
She was lifted up, cold metal
beneath her back, her legs
swung up over that same metal
railing, held still for a moment
and then dropped, or pushed,
or released.

She was nothing
but gravity, a body falling
and trying not to move.
She hit the water half wishing
it was ground. Muddy water
slapped her body, closed
over her head, added its insult
to her injuries, cold reaching
almost instantly through her
fingers, up her arms, reaching
for the hole that hadn’t reached
her heart.

She was nothing
but instinct, freezing
for a time. Her feet
kicked enough to keep her body
afloat, she breathed just enough
of the icy March air, and after enough
time had passed, her eyes opened.
She could not see the bridge.
or be seen from it. She swam
for the nearest shore.

She was nothing
but the cold, numb arms
pulling her pain through dirty
water, heavy legs kicking off
heavier shoes, finally finding
the muddy riverbed, wading
through shallows rimmed
with ice to fall on her knees
in the wreckage of last year’s
weeds, seeing the miracle
right before her eyes, the very first
green shoots of another spring,
the pieces that had survived.

Or not

Apparently, I have a bad memory. I did post an earlier draft of that poem here. Oh well. Now you have a new draft to look at.

And I can not seem to write the thing I was thinking about before. I guess I just don't know to approach it without retelling the whole story.... Hmmm....

I had a poem idea last night as I was walking, but when I got home, I lacked the motivation to actually write more than a couple lines. Perhaps I'll finish it soon.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

On the Fourth Day It Rained (revision)

an edit of a poem from a few months ago, which I don't *think* I've posted here before....

On the Fourth Day It Rained

I woke too early that Sunday in San Diego
Still not accustomed to West Coast time –
My body believing it was past ten
When my California friends thought they were sleeping in
Exhausted from entertaining me and showing
Off their sunny homeland.

I made coffee in the high white kitchen,
Tore off an oval of last night’s bread and spooned
It with jam because I could not find a knife,
Wandered out to the balcony and sat
In my pajamas, watching a diffuse light
Reveal the view of palm trees and pastel buildings
Clinging like lichen to the hills
That settle gradually down to the sandy shore.
I watched the rain move in slowly,
Great banks of clouds drifting like ruffled skirts
From the ocean a few miles away.

I sipped my coffee, too hot, too strong,
And welcomed the chill that came with the misty rain.
Back home, in Ohio, this time of year
Is miserable. I have not grown used

To the sunny days, the temperance,
Wearing thin sweaters, pretty things
Too flimsy for February, the failure of weather to reflect
Reality – that this city is like my own, like
Any other – both beautiful and flawed, peopled
With angels and artists, devils and debutantes,
The poor and the powerful, a place just as human
And as precious as anywhere else.

Monday, June 2, 2008

What haunts you?

For most of us, there are personal memories and fears that haunt us, but sometimes there are also external stories that somehow get in through the crevices of our psyches and take up permanent residence. Writers and artists are so often voracious observers of their surroundings, cataloging news and events and stories and environments, sensitive more than others to nuances of pain and ironies of existence. As children we are often described as too sensitive, internalizing everything, unable to separate reality from imagination. As we grow older, we learn those boundaries, or we learn to pretend. We use our art to explain the world, or to be make something beautiful or meaningful. We can not get away from our own personal pasts, or from those other pasts, those horrors and heartbreaks and near-death experiences that may not have happened to us personally, but somehow seem almost as important as if they had.

There are a few of those in my head, stories I heard that I have internalized until they are my stories as well, even though I didn't live through them. They make their way into my poems quite often, or some of them do. A poem I've always meant to write started to take shape last night; right now it's a solid page of prose, but the beginnings of a poem are there. It's not a happy poem, but I'll post it when I get some sort of draft together.

Friday, May 30, 2008

What Poems Should Do

In response to S's latest poem....

What Poems Should Do

Make me cry, make my
eyes burn and pool with salt
as the tide of words
goes in and out.

Make me laugh, delight me
with a new image, a new
word, or an old old thing
made somehow new again.

Make me blush, blood
rushing to my cheeks
and other, lower places,
words that tease and touch.

Make me write, above all
make me think, set my mind
in motion. Make me respond
to your words with my own.

Thursday, May 29, 2008


and oil
really do mix

only if
shaken hard enough

break apart
then combine anew.

and I
are like that

we exist
together we explode.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

I Would Be

My poem "I Would Be" is up on Mind Sprocket now. Yay! It's actually not a poem I'm incredibly happy with; it was very new when I submitted it, and I kind of did it on a whim, but there you have it.

In other news, someone please comment on my blog! It's lonely! ;)

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spring Storm

Sitting here watching the leaves flip themselves in the wind. That's all that's behind this. The story just appeared as I started writing.

Spring Storm

When the rustling leaves
Show their pale underbellies
I was told that means the rain
Is coming. They toss and turn

Like me in your bed, anxious
Without knowing why. The curtains
Drape your window, the city light
Seeping in no matter how late

We go to bed. I wish you would leave
Them open, enjoy the view,
Let the spring air freshen the room,
Caress our bodies as we lie

Side by side. You sleep
Soundly, soundlessly, politely
Curled away from my thrashing
Limbs. I want to touch you,

Press my breasts to your back,
Mold my body to yours in sleep,
But I am afraid to wake you.
Thunder rumbles outside, loud

Enough to penetrate the brick and glass
We’re protected by. I turn toward
The window, my back to yours,
Aware of your warmth but not

Close enough to disturb you. I wait
For the next sound, a rattle of rain
Striking the glass, then a flash, a crash,
And as it all falls down around us

I close my eyes and finally relax.


I walked the darkest streets I could find, long after midnight, with tears in my eyes that just wouldn’t fall. I wanted some threat, some outside fear, to force me to be strong; but there was nothing. I walked until my legs were chilled under my skirt, until I couldn’t tell if maybe the tears weren’t real anymore, just eyes watering because of the wind.

Just a random meme

This meme involves revealing how many literary “classics” you have read. Some of these I've read parts of but not the entire work. I bolded them anyway. The ones in bold are the ones I have read:

Achebe, Chinua ­ Things Fall Apart (excerpts)
Agee, James ­ A Death in the Family
Austen, Jane ­ Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James ­ Go Tell It on the Mountain (excerpts)
Beckett, Samuel ­ Waiting for Godot

Bellow, Saul ­ The Adventures of Augie March
Brontë, Charlotte ­ Jane Eyre
Brontë, Emily ­ Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert ­ The Stranger
Cather, Willa ­ Death Comes for the Archbishop
Chaucer, Geoffrey ­ The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton ­ The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate ­ The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph ­ Heart of Darkness

Cooper, James Fenimore ­ The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen ­ The Red Badge of Courage
Dante ­ Inferno
de Cervantes, Miguel ­ Don Quixote
Defoe, Daniel ­ Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles ­ A Tale of Two Cities

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor ­ Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick ­ Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (only excerpts)
Dreiser, Theodore ­ An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre ­ The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George ­ The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph ­ Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo ­ Selected Essays (excerpts)

Faulkner, William ­ As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William ­ The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry ­ Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott ­ The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave ­ Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox ­ The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von ­ Faust
Golding, William ­ Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas ­ Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel ­ The Scarlet Letter

Heller, Joseph ­ Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest ­ A Farewell to Arms
Homer ­ The Iliad
Homer ­ The Odyssey

Hugo, Victor ­ The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale ­ Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous ­ Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik ­ A Doll’s House
James, Henry ­ The Portrait of a Lady

James, Henry ­ The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James ­ A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz ­ The Metamorphosis

Kingston, Maxine Hong ­ The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper ­ To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair ­ Babbitt
London, Jack ­ The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas ­ The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel García ­ One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman ­ Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman ­ Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur ­ The Crucible
Morrison, Toni ­ Beloved
O’Connor, Flannery ­ A Good Man is Hard to Find

O’Neill, Eugene ­ Long Day’s Journey into Night
Orwell, George ­ Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris ­ Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia ­ The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allan ­ Selected Tales

Proust, Marcel ­ Swann’s Way
Pynchon, Thomas ­ The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria ­ All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond ­ Cyrano de Bergerac

Roth, Henry ­ Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D. ­ The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William ­ Hamlet
Shakespeare, William ­ Macbeth
Shakespeare, William ­ A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Shakespeare, William ­ Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George Bernard ­ Pygmalion

Shelley, Mary ­ Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon ­ Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander ­ One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles ­ Antigone
Sophocles ­ Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John ­ The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis ­ Treasure Island

Stowe, Harriet Beecher ­ Uncle Tom’s Cabin
Swift, Jonathan ­ Gulliver’s Travels
Thackeray, William ­ Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David ­ Walden
Tolstoy, Leo ­ War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan ­ Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark ­ The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire ­ Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr. ­ Slaughterhouse­ Five
Walker, Alice ­ The Color Purple
Wharton, Edith ­ The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora ­ Collected Stories (some)
Whitman, Walt ­ Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar ­ The Picture of Dorian Gray

Williams, Tennessee ­ The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia ­ To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard ­ Native Son