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

Thursday, May 25, 2023

dinnertime rapture

by day's end
the tuning fork stabbed so deep 
into my heart begins to sound 
some kind of song

and the sky is
a syrupy catastrophe--but somehow
now even moths lumbering blindly
signify hope

Pic: Smelling the lilacs with L

Friday, May 19, 2023

in the now

Now comes light and kindness
now vagrant  looks and opaque  fights
now the child tries to die again
he is 12, and he's tried eight times  now
I comfort his sister, make her tea
 give her my empty words, take hers on
but we're a continent too far away
things are always going--pride and  envy
the burst seeds of temper or love
if the not dead dream of kindness and light 
can we bring it to them right now?

Pic: From the nave of St. Martin in the Fields. Lunchtime concert (Carolyn Taylor and Sebastian Issler).

Friday, May 05, 2023


sometimes it takes me all night
to  believe in myself
the buckling swirling sweetness
of time a delusion
I believe in stories the dark tells
plots strange as stars 
whole galaxies of grief and strife
open sleepless portals
to ghosts who listen to questions
with growing hunger 

Wednesday, May 03, 2023

sorrow bird song

a sorrow bird sits in the tree outside
she'll sing her terrible song
when I notice her

the buds on the branch are waiting 
they'll crawl into yearning
when her song opens 

I pretend I don't need to hear her go
ah--for what is life, what is life 
without pause or answer

I say goodbye to all that before it starts
it turns out, I've gotten quite good 
at repeating goodbye

Pic: Such a grey day today, but no rain at least. Huck and I found all this greening when we dropped Nu off at the school bus stop. Scout would have made us late with all the things he'd have wanted to sniff on the way.

Tuesday, May 02, 2023


my love   spills   like an accident 
becomes the far, blue soup 
of the sky 

even the longest goodbyes end
even the deepest breaths 
end with why

and how we lean into earth's pull
until    nothing   becomes 
the only thing

I could try to    open    my heart 
I could try to let you go 
but you won't go

Saturday, April 29, 2023

long-distance relationship

all love is a long-distance relationship
nowhere is the beloved right here 
never is there enough time

fates stir in this flesh
the slow allotment of our time 
moving from complicated to complete 

Wednesday, April 19, 2023


every day is goodbye  
                                       every breath is a sigh    
every day a library of sadness circulates inside

                                        every day is goodbye
every breath is a sigh   
every day another opportunity to dream/decide

every day is goodbye       every breath is a sigh    
some day you will have    known me not to cry
as sharp shards of hope               scrape for joy 
every day is goodbye       
every breath is a sigh 

Pic: Daffodils, MSU Beal Gardens

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

favorite child

Pic: I've been thinking of this post from two years ago a lot. It's clear now, despite all my previous protestations, that I do have a favorite child... and Scout is it. 

Thursday, March 30, 2023

2016 redux: good bones, breaking news

You've surely read Maggie Smith's poem "Good Bones," which went viral in 2016 and you should read the article she published in The Cut yesterday about how her fame led to the breakdown of her marriage. Her ex sounds like a dick--any marriage in which one spouse becomes "the staff" in the household is deeply unjust and unloving.

That aside, I was distracted by her declaration that "When I walked in the door, I was married. Mrs. When I walked outside, I was divorced. Ms." This isn't the point of the article, but where does this belief that "Ms." is for divorced women come from? I thought the whole damn point of "Ms." was to move away from the marriage specificity of "Miss" and "Mrs." I was a "Ms."since I was 14? 15? Currently, I like"Mx" best of all.

I'm in Denver with our English honorary students who are presenting at the annual international convention. At and Big A are home to make sure Nu has some fun on their Spring Break. They're having sleepovers and going to movies and I'm missing them and missing out.

Pic: The kids sent me this candid of Big A at the moment he found out about Trump being indicted for the 2016 hush money payment. Has any photo demonstrated more "fuck around and you'll find out" energy?

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

From the Dictionary of Sleeplessness

memory is just a mix-and-match
of a hundred doors and 
a hundred songs 

reverie is very nearly recovery
the surprise surplus from  
my unspent dreams

mystery is a mess of meditation
the splash of insight amidst
the magic wreckage

Pic: On a day I needed kindness, waiting at my office door were kind words and a Princely present from CW--student-teacher and barista extraordinaire. I get by purely because there are so many kind and lovely people in the world who help me through this thing called life.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


I wonder what our mothers say 
to each other, the way their 
sentences leaf and flower

to split us into saints and kismets
knit us into the center
of every cosmos

look how devout their bright love 
which in the sum of certainty  
becomes who we are 

Pic: Red Cedar River, MSU

Monday, March 13, 2023

a small victory

the annual war                    and a small victory
all the feelings of triumph for   a small victory
the earth exhales       into an armful of  flowers
this is bigger than a chess game but nothing like 
a world war     like I said, only  a small victory
failure is a luxury                   I do not have      I
imagined another life      until this life found me 
the self part disappears     from my self portrait
you dance on my chest like a garland of victory
I've hung you there                    like a white flag

Pic: Winter buttercups (aconites) brave the snow; MSU Beal Gardens.


Sunday, March 12, 2023


Ok, I'm still here: trying to climb 
this ladder straight to sleep

breath slides down time, tries to flee
what continues to be today 

should I say my wild hopes out loud
counting uncertain sheep 

or could I reach--assuming I don't fall--
for the safety of dreams  
Pic: Scout and Huck critique Big A's downward dog.

(Actually... we set up for yoga, but Scout and Huck think mats are for wrestling.)

Tuesday, March 07, 2023

two-moon day

Today was the first teaching day after break and there was a headlong quality about it. I kept remembering things I didn't get to tell students... like how much I enjoyed reading their midterms. (And also: damn, I write good exams.)

The poet Shonda Buchanan visited my classes today, and it was inspiring to see her work the room. A student who is usually quiet in the literary theory classroom was absolutely animated discussing her poetry. I loved seeing that.

I'm headed to bed in a minute and I'm just feeling so much joy at the thought that I can lie in bed and gaze upon the full moon until I fall asleep. There's something primitive (?) in me that rejoices in the sky--the night sky especially. 

I saw the moon this morning when Scout, Huck, and I walked Nu to the bus stop too. Just on the basis of these sightings, I'm counting today a success.  

Pic: Full moon and sunrise blush this morning.

Wednesday, March 01, 2023

turning around

the city still in layers of fears, flowers and tears
considers restoration after destruction
we hang brute, creatures perching 
heavy as bruises in the air

like chalk outlines, my mind falls empty inside
meanwhile--from hard, unforgiving ground
a new, green shoot sticks its tongue out
takes us to March
Pic: Scout wondering if he can figure out what my password is.

Sunday, February 26, 2023

find out

Now I dream myself as a tree
my desire amnesiac as winter
yet free as a wind in my veins 
breath now a blur of whispers
shadows revisit, quilt surprises
to deposit at my own bare feet 

The sermon today (and all February) at UU was about love. But sadly, I spent at least ten minutes fuming in an unlovely, unloving way because I heard the person sitting behind us say to my 15-year-old Nu (masked and dressed in all-black and a hoodie, as always) that if they had shown up like this three years ago, people would be calling the police and they might have been arrested. I think this person was trying to be funny, but it was a weird thing to say to teenager who was there with their very brown mother. I turned around at the end of the service to offer my perspective with "love and respect," but then realized that the person who'd said that to Nu was very old and very stooped and probably a first-time visitor (no name badge, just the "My name is" sticker) so I ended up not saying anything. 

But WTF.

Anytime people mention hoodies as an indication of menace or wrongdoing, it reminds me of what a big deal people made of it when Trayvon Martin was hunted and murdered. And Twitter just reminded me that today is the 11th anniversary of his death. Now I'm mad all over again.

Pic: Baker Woods in the afternoon sunshine.

Saturday, February 25, 2023

song of forgetfulness

the birds who live through winter know 
how it is possible to be lonely 
buried in never ending seams of snow 
their small calls lie unanswered


stoic, they tuck distance under each wing
as if for a soft, shapeless journey 
and seeing them lets me dream of spring
begin remembering the way out

Thursday, February 23, 2023

OMG/ChatGPT/Canon in D

I took a trip down memory lane earlier this week when I recalled the first time I heard Pachelbel's "Canon in D". 

Then on a whim I sauntered down AI Alley when I asked ChatGPT to write me a poem based on that incident. ChatGPT obliged with the poem on the left. 

It's quite the doggerel. 

Which is why I don't share the moral panic about students using it to cheat on essays and exams. From everything I've seen, ChatGPT seems to tend towards the bland and the banal. I think I'd be able to tell something was off from the odd combination of impeccable grammar and tediously repetitive sentences.

Famous last words as I head off to grade midterm essays and exams...

Wednesday, February 22, 2023


Ice storms today and no school for Nu (no school tomorrow either, as a matter of fact). Luckily, Big A was home so Nu got a nice, lazy day at home without having to schlep it to my work. 

Pic: I'm asleep with Scout and Huck on me. I wonder why I'm so serious in sleep.

A Shift
my bed is the place I remember
things I forgot at my desk
although I can't see in the dark
I can still see darkness 

work is a metropolis of clouds
and softest unknowing
I seek out the eye of the storm
and plan to claw it out  

Friday, February 17, 2023

I try to understand another mass shooting / I hope it's better where you are

the police come by to tell us to turn off lights and lock doors
the police tell us to turn off lights and lock doors, so I do
feeling this body in which I have always lived recede
I sleep with the puppies, trying to keep them quiet
dipping my thoughts into the night 
the nearness of this dunya,
the facts of 
the world
44th day of the year = 67th mass shooting of the year
330 million people : 393.3 million guns
50,000 students on campus now - 8  
It's like one of those rubbish 
math problems and anyway 
I'm so rubbish at math 
my only math quote 
is from the movie
Mean Girls:
the limit does not exist
the limit does not exist 
and what little I know cannot begin to explain 
the things you kind of know and cannot say 
this rapping against rumor and fear 
in class I lectured on literary theory
parenthetically on New Criticism 
those old formalists proclaiming
poems are self-contained 
and self-referential
they should not 
mean, but 
just be

the author's intention doesn't matter
the author's intention doesn't matter
in the morning after, those of us who've survived 
can hear the FBI and several State Police 
who are are live on the radio asking
in a carnival of indecision why-- 
why did he do it, what made him
want to shoot up campus 
it seems a bit oblivious
I want to tell them 
what I learned 
to yell
what little I know cannot begin to explain 
there's no math or meaning making here
the author's intention doesn't matter
the limit does not exist
the author's intention 
doesn't matter
the limit 
does not 


Max is tiny; the responsibilities are huge.  One forgets the massive undertaking the care and keeping of little ones can be.  He's absol...