April 29th poem

Thursday, April 29, 2010

This is me having a life of the mind

Late April and I'm almost back to swimming feeling--
swim swim--under a washed-clean sky and all
those green for real leaves out my office window.
Birds picking their mites and students doing some spring
frolic thing I don't even want to know about on the beach
(lawn) by the admin building. It's all good vibes and secrets.
I'll climb the shallow concrete steps, branches curving
up like scythes. If I learn to build on what came before
there are cool places to hide.

April 28th poem

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Jesuit School
[poem found in the back of this semester's teaching notebook]

the way a nun in no habit will bend at the waist
cock her head a little and clasp her hands
smiling a little comic smile of God and understanding
when she sees you at the bathroom sink
(or is that woman a nun at all?)

April 27th poem

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Morning and “Opaline” Light after Three Days of Rain

These birds are calling machines, sound spinning on a string,

and then there’s the real machine—something cutting through

the last real rock Manhattan has. Yesterday was dumb

and not in a good way. An artist might be simple and strange,

lovely and dumb. Yesterday was not an artist. (I’m scared

of ugly animals, people with shopping bags and masks who

step in your way to cough in your face on Central Park South

remind me to walk on the other side of the street next time,

the park side where raccoons and lost schizophrenic sons

will watch over me.) I was on the 1 train thinking of you

after reading “Beware of bone-tiredness/ that brings sickness.”

Oh, friend who is my heart. For real. Come see me

someday before we’re dead. We’ll shuffle along together

and swing our arms bent a little, like you like to do.

The light’s a slow kaleidoscope. I can see one stunted

branch and a wall of light on brick through the grate.

April 26th poem

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


The in-between-- I see it now--
my true home and its ghost

John Prine

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 25th poem

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Today Was Cold April Sunday

Walking under the arms of new full leaves in the spitting drizzle,
everybody-- even the kids and dogs-- looked hungover.
It's still drizzling on the subway. A man is taking my picture
with his phone, or watching porn on his phone, or reading
text messages. Later I see him in the potatoes at the store.
A lady there follows me, walking in front of me and stopping
to block my way at the ends of aisles. Back home the sky
glows violet gray in my kitchen. My soup barely turns out.
Every single time I look at the clock today,
it's 52 minutes past the hour.

April 24th poem

Sunday, April 25, 2010


At a student reading, I hear
the line "I dream that my skin
is new" and take heart.

Fragments from April Notebook (April 23rd "poem")

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tonight for dinner-- crackers (cracked wheat) with aged parmesan, small container of blackberries, dark chocolate, a few pecans, two glasses of good, inexpensive red wine. These foods the result of sunny day mania.

Shaker spirit drawings. Their founder was a woman.

The hands of someone familiar-- "someone's hands familiar."

"Who do you think you are? You're not a star boarder." Something my great-grandmother used to apparently say.

Reading Mom's People as a kid, I was puzzled by "Liz Taylor's violent eyes." Such passion! But seemed to judge her for it. Years later: "Oh. 'Violet.' "

Ice in Italian: il gelo.

My security words: "Unbity" and "and pendulum."

Small girl on the bus saying "ever ever ever."

Jim Carroll and James Schuyler before bed. Life is short. I don't know how to live it.

The nice empty feeling when you cull and organize.

That guy I dated who'd make a face of mock-disgust when he was glad to see me. It was funny at first.

Bench in Central Park. Tourists from eastern Europe (acting their idea of American?). Bird whistle like the disco cop whistle in Donna Summer's "Bad Girl."

Dream: Archive of everything. What it leaves out.


Friday, April 23, 2010

Here are some recent/upcoming/ongoing developments:

1. On Saturday, I will be reading a poem or two at the THE LUNGFULL GALA RELEASE RAUCOUS AUCTION & READING SPECTACULAR. Last year's event was indeed somewhat raucous and spectacular. This year's event promises to be even more so. (An authentic Devo hat will be auctioned off!)

2. My poetry book, How We Were Strangers, was a semi-finalist for the Beatrice Hawley Award from Alice James Books. Even better, two of my friends (Ross Gay and Rebecca Howell) were finalists, too!

3. On Saturday May 1st, I'll be reading in Brooklyn in the CROWD reading series.

4. My new chapbook, Mesmer, will be available in May from Dancing Girl Press.

5. We are nearing the end of National Poetry Month. What have we learned? I've learned that when trying to write a poem a day for National Poetry Month, I tend to write in all sorts of ways-- poemy poems, prosey poems, compressed/lyrical fragments, talky pieces, found poems. I've also learned that while it probably isn't against nature to try to produce a draft per day, it may in fact be against nature to post them on your blog.

6. The image is a jackalope, an animal I first learned about from the KU Natural History Museum. I'm not sure if they still have the jackalope on display, but they still have the horse Comanche.

[Jackalope image found on blogulate.com.]

April 22nd poem

Friday, April 23, 2010

("One of these mornings, you're going to rise up singing")

I'm watching some miasmic chemical reaction between the decaf
and the regular coffee in the press and it would be easier to consider
myself awake if more light came in through the windows. (My mother
and I looking at New York apt. ads two years ago-- "Oh, look. Another
ad for light. What a selling point. Haha." Haha.) I go to the bedroom
to write down, "It would be easier to consider myself awake, etc."
and there is some light shining the white gauze curtain bright. I
shimmy a little, then try a tentative grapevine, then slouch and frown
and sit on the bed. The guy in the cranky introvert article said Sartre
might as well have said, "Hell is other people in the morning."
I'm almost my own other person.

April 21st poem

Thursday, April 22, 2010


The friendly guy behind the desk at the storage place is telling you about Beatles Fest when suddenly it's 11 p.m. The belligerent customer who was here when you arrived is now on the other side of the glass with his two sons in gold chains. They're all looking at you like they learned it from each other. What you found in your storage space are only huge stacks of typed material you may have compiled, one disassembled chair, an unsettling misc. box (semi-precious stones, old calendars, a cartoon map), and books written between the years 1722 and 1997. Most of the people who wrote most of the books are dead. The man who is telling you about Beatles Fest is still alive. He once played with the reunion of the Quarrymen. Now he plays when someone offers him enough money. He gives you a free lock. When you go outside again, the sky is strange.

April 20th poem (A day behind . . .)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Observations, Inwood Hill Park

1. Very small child with denim skirt, striped orange tights, and preternaturally long hair: "It's like a land of birds over here."

2. Light green trees across the top of a black cliff out beyond the bridge. The cliff's fancy hairdo.

3. Duck couple.

4. Bronx-Manhattan car bridge noise, on the Not George Washington Bridge.

5. Man speaking Dutch to his bulldog. Bulldog speaking back with snorting noises.

6. River's full today and doing that shimmer-shimmer-this-is-your-consciousness thing.

7. Tiny round-headed person, a baby, trying to imitate a jogger, then lurching in another direction, toddling over like a drunk politician to greet a lady on a bench.

April 19th poem

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

This Must Be the Place

Days you get up and-- something in me has given
way-- everything feels swimming. In the mirror
an openness of aspect, a falling away and smooth-
faced forgetting. Happens maybe several times
a year. You and the air are swimming.

April 18th poem

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Looking for Myself in the Mirror of Karma at the Rubin Museum

The mirror of karma is small and dark and perfectly round
and barely lustrous and comes from some earlier century.
I'm not studying the wish-fulfilling jewel at the top.
I'm swaying in my tennis shoes a bit-- sway, sway. sway,
sway-- to see a shapeless bobbing on the surface. Something swims
around in there, and I'm looking for a "me." Here I am swaying
trying to locate my coat and my haircut. Still and again.

Flash fictiony

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A piece of my short short prose appears in the latest issue of Pindeldyboz.

April 17th poem

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ars Poetica Dream (2)

you're at the family home
and there's no one

fire goes on by itself
curtains on a timer

view of the ocean all around
you can see where it pours in
comes rushing in

April 16th poem

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Ars Poetica Dream

you are the half-sister
of a famous artist
there is a large archive
electronic and material
the biography of you
strangely inaccurate

April 15th poem

Friday, April 16, 2010

I'm Always Misreading the Bus Schedule

I was in dream circles, from Boston to Canada back to Boston again, looking for my long-lost friend with her vintage bike basket. We were supposed to meet for tacos. I found her, and we were wearing our same skirts, but those people were following me, not to apprehend me, but just to appear at inopportune times and make me feel impatient and smothered. I never got my tacos. When I woke up, boyfriend had his sweet sleepface on and the covers up around his neck like a monk. I curled toward him and almost touched foreheads, and then he rested his fingertips lightly on one of my kneecaps. People with their beatific smiles and their "Do you have regular coffee or just decaf?"

Poetry Month, Midpoint Check-In

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I have a need of silence and of stars.
Too much is said too loudly. I am dazed.

from "Home" by William Alexander Percy
(quoted in Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings)

April 14th

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Partial Account of My Foibles

(after Ed Hirsch)

I ride the subway from 59th St. to 175th, thinking,
"I'm a fraud I'm a fraud I'm a fraud. Buy yogurt."

April 13th

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Upper Manhattan, 4/13/10
(for Wendy)

On one side of the bridge, ghetto Target.
(Trying on sundresses, approach the dressing room
attendant: "Is that four? I think that's four."
"I don't know. I'm outta here. Count the hangers." What.)
Fat mental-patient-looking man with originally sweet face
and oddleering stare as I walk back, above the water,
under the tracks of the 1 train. On the other side, Inwood Hill
Park, view of beautiful other bridge spanning some colors
of sky, duck mud, beige and brown people with little
kids, sound of aluminum bats (thwock!). The cliff
Columbia U. colonized with a huge light blue "C"
painted on the old old rock. If you stay long enough, the sun
and everyone go away. The bridge and the Bronx high-rise
across the river, a sparkly ship.

April 12th

Monday, April 12, 2010

Excerpts from a talk with A., who I've known for 20 years

"You always reminded me of an anchorite. Just in graduate school."

"I saw a man who looked like Mark Twain this weekend. Is that good luck?"

"I have to go think about salmonella now."

April 11th

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April Afternoon, I Want to Sleep
(with apologies to Jorge Guillen and James Wright)

chains their slow descending

the walk there and back

animal layers give way, each layer

the click-shush of turntable arms

sounds hold on

carriage behind gauze

April 10th

Saturday, April 10, 2010

That Bluet Breaks Me Up
(for J.S.)

"The day gets slowly started." --James Schuyler

I guess April's pretty cruel. No one can quite wake up
it's sun and sun and blue, except in the shade, where it's
clammy death. Last week was jury duty-- didn't get picked--
and summer warm in early spring, and I walked the Hudson
thinking lines: "In spring, I give a damn!" Where were you
when you wrote about the day getting slowly started?
(Where are the you that was you? Gone.) Listen--
I keep doing this thing lately where I say, "Listen--"
and then I have nothing to say.

April 9th

Friday, April 09, 2010

Birth Announcement

"do you,/ a girl from kansas/ imagine the invisible changes/ in front of you?"
--Jim Carroll

I'm not sure where I was before,
but I dusted my bookshelf today,
and checked myself out up close, new
and alien with my fists up like that--
someone cared enough to take that
photograph, someone else to send it home,
someone else to place it in a small
red wooden frame, to hang it up, and, yes,
years later, to hand the picture over to me,
then embrace me like I was leaving
before I left for the north. Can you imagine--
at 18-- looking into the sleepy knowing
eyes of a newly-here human and giving her
the name of a fictional Quaker ancestress?
Could any of us have imagined any of this?
It's Upper Manhattan. Punk was born and
died. I'm eating Greek yogurt with
honey. I remember you I remember
you I remember you. Whoever
you are.

April 8th

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Found Poem: Mom's Facebook Status Update

Karol Ross just broke the paper weight thingy that served to stand papers up so you can see them when you are working on the computer. It had a little fish in it swimming in the ocean. Who knew that the fish was actually swimming in an oily substance that is now all over my shirt and probably giving me some weird chemicals.

April 7th

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


Barreling down the sidewalk
with a swagger
and a limp

April 6th

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Here We Are in Tunnels Again

The sounds of track and glimpses
of blue and white lights are
some shared memory of before.

We could have found a city under here.

April 5th

Monday, April 05, 2010

[poem was here]

April 4th

Sunday, April 04, 2010

[poem was here]

April 3rd

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Little Edie, Valiant

Fed the several cats their luncheon, spied
the growth through opera glasses-- the best blue
scarf one's ever owned falls through, stays lost--
staunchly climbed the turret to scatter the beasts
their Wonder Bread. One loves animals. But raccoons
and cats, raccoons and cats, trying on the nerves.
And there walks Jerry, mother's friend, beautiful
paint-spattered youth, the Marble Faun. The kind
of people creeping around here now! This is mother's
house. She lets them in or keeps them out.

April 2nd

Friday, April 02, 2010

It is pleasant to stumble

In the Smoky Mountains it is pleasant
to stumble if someone with oversized hands
catches you in his hands like baseball mitts.
This is called dating.

April 1st

Friday, April 02, 2010


How a heaviness of my spirit pulled
against the lightness of the air. How
that was my home.

Poetry Month

Friday, April 02, 2010

I am going to write drafts of poems every day this month for Poetry Month. Then I'll go back and work with them later. I kept flip-flopping on whether or not to post these drafts on my blog. I had decided not to. Then, inspired by Ada Limón's blog, I decided to just go ahead and do it. She wrote a pretty awesome first of April poem. I, on the other hand, am getting off to a slower start.

So far, my first two poems are inspired by phrases from James Schuyler poems. And so far, my April poems are only three to four lines long. (Yesterday, April 1st poem was about 14 lines long, but today I just lifted the best lines, and made that be the draft.)

I'll post them . . .

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