Showing posts with label Poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Poetry. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

bleak week

I'm having a tough time this week. It's not that I can't go on... I am. But I keep feeling like I can't... On the surface, things look normal, but it feels like my sense of reality is being eroded--like the sandy shore slipping from under my feet that I dreamt of yesterday. 

What's it all for if I can see the horror every day and am absolutely incapable of saving a single child? The amputations and caesareans without anesthesia, the firing at U.N. food distribution camps, the six-year-old calling emergency services trapped in a car full of her dead family... This is truly the stuff of horror.  And yet.... yet again... The U.S. has vetoed a ceasefire in Gaza for the third time. A ceasefire! 

BOL's cat who saw them through undergrad and grad school died and I want to be there to support them the way they supported me when Scout was dying... But also, it brought me back to that month of slowly losing Scout... the dread of every day. I'm surprised that it will be a whole year without my darling in just about two months.

Pic: E.D. Wilson's poem "My Phone is Full of Cute Cats and Dead Children."

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

The Sun: a poem and a pic

Mary Oliver: The Sun
Have you ever seen
in your life
more wonderful
than the way the sun,
every evening,
relaxed and easy,
floats toward the horizon
and into the clouds or the hills,
or the rumpled sea,
and is gone–
and how it slides again
out of the blackness,
every morning,
on the other side of the world,
like a red flower...

Full poem here: 
Pic: Sunset on my way home. Despite everything, the beauty of our world is just so breathtaking...

Saturday, February 17, 2024

the first cousin to die

for Sunil

I'm always eight, you're always fourteen
in the long time ago that lasts forever 
I know now I'll never see you again

you have other people to haunt and anyway
 they probably want to hang with you--
the dad you lost at two, your young uncle...

all those men in your family who died young
it's why your mother, grandmother, sister 
 dote on you, as if to try to keep you forever 

I wondered how you had more friends than books
I confused you too--I remember when you 
congratulated me about my school exams, 

and seemed so confused why it was important...
 I mean--you were so rich you didn't have to work
--and I don't think you did even at 40, right?

but you were always kind... if a bit ganja-fueled 
when a single kindness could keep me happy
for days. I wonder at my dad saying

I shouldn't be alone with you... I feel you loved 
my gentle dad, wished he were yours
in the sheerness of the childhood--

which brightened us up... now only if this end
too could lift us up... instead it sets us adrift... 
as if to warn us we're going... extinct 

Pic: An icy, windy day--but oh, such brilliantly blue, sunshiny skies. A long walk with Big A to the MSU Baseball stadium. 

Friday, February 16, 2024

what we do

the sky is full of bright 
holes, so whatever falls
from  them  is starry-- 
starting from distance 
but  now  lodged here

like empathy turned
into  a fact,  eternal
and  then carefully
teaching us to crest 
in  announcements

on  days  when  our
world seems ready to 
ignite, we can shout:
"I love you so much"
in a room of strangers

Pic: Max and Nu in yesterday's surprise snow. 

Thursday, February 15, 2024

in every register

my thoughts grow still 
in a landscape slowing
with  sleep, reckoning
now embalms the day

today  I  have  filled
my  heart  again  and 
again... today I willed
my soul to feel beauty 

for on learning in me 
the enduring vapor 
of stars; the brilliant 
 brevities of  flowers

I choose from the new
the needed next step... 
I will see the end arrive
still speaking only love 

Pic: Saying goodbye to Huckie and Maxie is the toughest part of my morning.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

on not meeting expectations

I don't like my grade the student says
You're not from here, are you?
the student says

So where are you actually from? 
(India!) I thought so...
student smiles

I got the assignment wrong because
of your language (English?) 
the student says

It is so rude of you, the student says
to say... that my assignment 
didn't meet expectations

Note: This came from a long and unsettling office-hour exchange with my one disgruntled student today. It felt demeaning and I was so... crushed. Luckily, it was also the day our PR team had alerted me to an alumni interview which spoke glowingly of me, so I had some balance. But I'd been working on a new version of our land and labor acknowledgment, so it also felt like I'd been wrestling with issues of prejudice all day. 

Pic: No pic today--it was too, too hectic. My Thursdays are so long that they've become standard Subway-for-dinner days--Big A picks them up between his clinic and hospital shifts.

Wednesday, February 07, 2024

an infinity

the curl of this wave... like
the undeniable curl of a smile
the curl of my hand inside yours

I may be in love with 
the unbothered way it spills
over... of how its crimped cusp

holds in everything: 
laughter erupting unruly
the turns and returns of grief 

look how tightly it wraps
itself around us, so we know 
its whorl could swallow us whole  

Pic: Not Michigan. On the beach in Cabo a few days ago. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

not here

the seasons may be changing 
but longing is replaced with
longing over here

I can hear you calling for me
and turn around eagerly
but all is empty here

you must have moved away 
where did you go--you 
who were once here?

I pretend I'm with you and alive
supposing I live only because 
you haunt me here
Pic: Oh, the irony! A sudden thaw and now there are giant puddles in the backyard everywhere... except in the pond we dug! I laughed every time I caught sight of this today. 

Thursday, January 25, 2024

from a place of absence

Scout's  harness in a Ziploc
stays a  door always ajar
becomes a souvenir in
a sweet completeness 
of loss... nostalgia

Scout's photo on the altar 
has guarded so fiercely 
hellish trails of regret 
just my two eyes...
all these tears


Pic: Snow and sky in the backyard this weekend. The last couple of days have been so foggy... I've been white-knuckling it to and from work as visibility is very low, especially in low-lying pockets, and it's easy to imagine shapes where there aren't any and miss objects that only loom up at the last minute.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

winter afternoon

the book forgotten in my hands
this blood rush in my wrists 
leaves of light and insight 
quickly extinguished 

by my impatience for happiness
the dear, vulgar excitements--
where I embrace your 
suspended grace 

expecting your face will soften
when I say my wild gladness 
doesn't know where to end--
has only learned to bloom 
Pic: From this afternoon's walk with Big A. The Red Cedar is frozen upstream, but here by the rapids, there were crowds of mallards with their emerald plumage and ridiculous orange feet. 

Friday, January 19, 2024


falling  where I  stand
fireworks and splinters 
of every moment's joy 
waving back like seas.
Every time  I  wonder--
if  this  is the  last time

Every time I remember--
it could be the last time 
I keep  up  conversations
with my body, its  borders 
while stars fall into my lap,
songs dissolve into laughter.

Pic: One of Max's many cuddly contortions with Big A.

Wednesday, January 17, 2024

buried in an obituary

            with MMN
keep your grip tight, I'm afraid 
of slipping away from life
a spectator, a specter

            It's because the days followed 
            us everywhere we went
            Right? Is that why?

I reach into my breast pocket
for a snack and I pull out 
a rib, a nipple, a heart

          I'll decorate this door on both 
          sides--you won't even know 
          if we're coming or going

Pic: Blue skies and a slight improvement on my back today. I'm a bit giddy with relief. 

Saturday, January 06, 2024


the "V' of birds overhead
is a rippling wake

the sky uniform and infinite
steals the sun

the coastline's broken crags 
catch in my voice

we are a world into which 
many worlds fit 

but still tomorrow will not
come until

I have finished toying
with today 
Pic: snow flurries along the Red Cedar while out with Big A.

Monday, January 01, 2024


How tired the world
how long the way
how we have been 
survivors for over
365 days

may the new year 
be kind, enormous,
hold us in peace
may it gently--
24/7--teach us

to resist, to vary 
history's encore--
the hum of hope
its own language
in 2024
Other New Year's Day poems:

Pic: Our holiday card!

Sunday, December 31, 2023

1 2 3 1 2 3

As the internet has it, today is 123123 (12/31/23--only in the US with our weird month-before-date practice, but still); pretty cute.

I'm very dissatisfied that I haven't done my weekend chores (caretaking plants, vacuuming) going into the new year, but c'est la vie. Nu came over to gently hug me when I was worrying about this and said: "Don't worry, mama! You'll get it done, you always do." I had thought they were going to offer to help me, (LOL) but this is sweet too. 

Also, health is SUCH a privilege. My standards really dropped yesterday. Although Nu was having a sleepover, I didn't make food, check linens, etc. I couldn't. It helped that the guest was celiac and carries their own food, but still.

At 9:00 pm today, I'm headed off to the NYE write-in with the lovely Pooja Makhijani and crew. My plans are to finish the annual New Year's Day poem and work on a couple of projects. 

There's some lingering and irrational sadness today because of all the strange and unsettling dreams from yesterday. But all told, still a good day. I'm glad to have recovered. Grateful for people who light lamps for me when my light flickers. Grateful for family, friends, kindness, and decency in this hurting world. Oh, how I wish Scout were here with me every day. I'm grateful to Max for making me laugh every day.  I am absolutely stunned by the moments of beauty and grace life continues to bring. I hope all of it and justice too will come to all of us. "Ring out the thousand wars of old / Ring in the thousand years of peace."

Pic: I'm in love with this dead branch absolutely bejeweled with moss (from a soggy walk with Max and Huck).

Wednesday, December 27, 2023


trees seem to really
need each other
waves too ...

even stones primordial
and lonely need
other stones 

for blessed are the homes
and families made of
what we have 

we could ask: why we are
inventing new

as our world falls apart 
as our words break
and separate  

misplacing m-o-t-h-e-r-s 
into emptily echoing 

Pic: A shelter made of branches we saw on the Pinckney Potawatomi Trail on Sunday. I wonder if they are live branches that will green in the Spring. I can't wait for Spring... we've now had several of these soggy, grey days that L calls "dome days," because it feels like a grey dome has been placed over us. We had to hurry back to the trailhead on Sunday because daylight was fading fast and as it turned out, there was no sunset--just a fading into darkness. We were glad to make it back to the trailhead before we had to use our headlamps. The nice part was seeing all the light displays in Pinckney as we drove home. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

finding a center

                    I learn my lessons 
                    from trees who
pull me into the world
all leap and vigor
                    to fall into sudden
                    serene returns
in cushioned shadows
hard as thunder 
                    under vanished arches 
                    grasses drink
at ever new horizons
of fear/wonder

Pic: The rapids of the Red Cedar across from Spartan Stadium. I took myself out for a long walk to clear my head for a writing project. I was surprised by the number of work emails in my inbox--isn't everyone supposed to be on break until the new year?!

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

a morning manifesto

Every morning, with 
exactly seven squeezes 
of lemon in my tea
I feel like every child 
who has ever dreamed 
of being free

and although the future 
turns out differently 
than it used to be 
everything is still birthed 
and broken, cracked 
open--I still believe 

I... still try... for love
--here on the ground 
we... could be... become 
a surround... a vast tent... 
a tenderness for children as they 
throw their arms to the sky

Pic: The Red Cedar from the woods behind L's house. It's funny how things get into our heads. I've always liked pictures of the water, but as I was taking this photo, I could hear Engie saying somewhere how she always wants to photograph reflections.

Thursday, December 14, 2023


I know I can retell the stories 
until I get them right... 
            I may never get them right
            don't be afraid, maya
it's just... the sky is falling
my body is failing 
            there's room right about here 
            for a quiet chorus 
but I hear only stalled words
vowels leave, aiyo aiyo 
            like an ocean finding freedom
            deep inside me
and though disaster is far away
I'm right here, waiting 

Pic: I got some mall-style Winter Wonderland when I dropped off some stuff at the Fretail Store. (I'm so happy this store, which gives people the experience of shopping while giving away things for free, exists in Lansing.) Today was also a day I had to pick up Huck and Max from the groomers and then turn around to take Nu and myself to the dentist. This is what happens when I press pause on all non essential appointments in the final weeks of class. I guess I was tired; I fell asleep while the dentist and hygienist were still peering into my mouth.

Tuesday, December 12, 2023

life or something like that

I wonder if there's an alternate 
autobiography somewhere
just a shift of a world away
                          in a "nice" arranged marriage
                          where my words have wars 
                          locked into them 
or one with so many or no kids 
I am--again--lost amongst
lives falling fast as rain
                           perhaps I grow angry like stars 
                           beginning to dim at dawn
                           all heavy and alone 
today (at least) all the alternatives 
seem wrong, basic, way less than
reality's own beloved mess

Pic: Huck, Big A, and big baby Max. Behind them the clutter of life--mail, walking leashes, dart board, magazines. On the magazine rack, I can see my face peeking from the top rack from when I won that teaching award earlier this year!

bleak week

I'm having a tough time this week. It's not that I can't go on... I am. But I keep feeling like I can't... On the surface, t...