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.