April 26th poem

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Another drawing-instead-of-poem. This one is also inspired by Lynda Barry's Making Comics. The monster is a collaboration between me and my son, who drew the shape for me, and the line is a discarded one from my notebook.

napowrimo #14

Sunday, April 19, 2020

It's the little things
A small man looked at me, pinched me, and called
me "Little Bit." Pushed himself back from the table
with his feet. Got in bed with me and read Shel
Silverstein poems, pausing to ask me if I knew
what very small thing could scare even a hippopotamus.
"Hm. A virus?" I said. He just looked at me. "No."

I received the forgotten technology of a very small
book in the mail, delivered by the US Postal Service,
coming wraith-like from a bird-bone-collecting
woman to my north. She used to haunt me and
be too small and pale and laugh at my jokes like
an attendant spirit but now she is a vengeful ancestor
goddess, but one who is on my side. When she
came to New York I positioned her on the floor and
anointed her with oils. I placed a smooth stone upon
her third eye and called her spirit halfway back to her
body, as instructed by the small voice in my head.
This is why I receive this forgotten technology and others.

During the pandemic, poems by boys came winging or
crawled out from where they rested, speaking of my
smell, my equanimity, my tendencies, my intoxicating
qualities, and wanting to keep me company by eating
my snacks. You can't take that away from me, and
I have the bruise to prove it.

Napowrimo #8

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Here is a catch up piece, made up of animal drawings and lines from unfinished draft in my notebook so far this month! (This was inspired by a Lynda Barry prompt from the book Making Comics.)

Portrait and Punctum

Thursday, March 15, 2018

I have a new essay up on the Approaching Mystery feature of the Sick Pilgrim blog.  I curate Approaching Mystery and occasionally write for it.  If you have a brief essay of around 750 words that explores the mystery of the everyday, send it my way.  

Here are some additional photographs to accompany my piece:

A vignette

Thursday, March 15, 2018

 Here's an example of a "portrait" piece I wrote in the past, a prose poem about my cat (though I didn't originally write it about this image).


Before I have to put my cat to sleep, I dream that I wheel him outside for some sun.  He is a teenage boy with a degenerative disease, and his stomach is hurting, so I rub it for him.  But we are enjoying the day, the sun and the grass and how we belong to each other but are separate, too.  Tom Waits comes into the yard to do some landscaping.  He is wearing his hat and suspenders, his undershirt and old suit pants.  I say, “Hello, Tom Waits.”  Then Andy says, “Hello, Tom Waits.”  His voice comes out in a slightly strangled way because he is a boy with a degenerative disease and also a cat.  He is making a joke about how he can talk now and about how funny it all is.  Then we laugh, and I’m thinking about how funny Andy has always been.  We sit in the sun like ambassadors, like kids at a Kool-Aid stand. 

When I wake up, my son tells me a riddle:

Sunday, September 03, 2017

(for Gregory Crosby)

It's a grownup.  It's a woman.  It's the person who gave birth to me. 

When I wake up, I pick up my phone to check the time, check Facebook, check the app that says how much deep sleep I got.  1 hour, 21 minutes.  You were 20% in Deep sleep.  Deep sleep helps with physical recovery and aspects of memory and learning.  If you're feeling extra refreshed, you likely spent some time in this stage.  I am not extra refreshed.  I try to remember my dreams.  I think I was getting something renewed, some government permit.  My friend, the poet who always wears a suit, was there maybe.  We were in a snaking line in a government agency, but we had each other to talk to.  We were kind of having fun.  We were kind of menaced.  I was in REM sleep for 1 hour, 38 minutes.  REM has been shown to be important for your memory and mood.  During this stage, dreams are more vivid, heart rate is elevated, and breathing is faster.  I think, I will set my intention for the day.  I will be compassionate toward myself and others.  My mind spits out expletives in return.

Before my son was born, when he was still a fetus named Eva or Ella or Charlotte, I found out he was a boy.  When the ultrasound tech told me, I said, Are you sure?  There was a period of adjustment, but I decided that I would named him Charles and walk him around by the hand, both of us scowling at people and being precocious, like Esm√© holding her brother's hand in the Salinger story.  Come along, Charles.  I came to realize, that while precocious, his name is not Charles, we are not orphans in wartime England, he is not my brother, and he will only intermittently hold my hand.  Yesterday at Barnes and Noble, he zipped back and forth in front of the Legos, his voice rising as he demanded larger and larger sets.  I redirected him to the small cars, helped him choose one, then we read a book about high maintenance ponies, and then I ushered him to the cafe to get my coffee.  He zipped ahead of me to come to a halt inches from a young man waiting for his drink, and then he pointed his finger at the man vigorously, saying, YOU!  The man did not look charmed, nor did we talk about military wristwatches and dead soldiers.  Come along, Charles.  

It is August and we are tired.  We are worried.  My son looks at me as I stand at the bathroom sink and bursts out, I don't want you to die!

Sunday is my day to sleep in.  My son tries his best to wake me, and I try my best to stay asleep.  Finally he walks away to find his father, leaving a rubber turtle next to my pillow.  When I wake an hour later, I am tenderly holding the turtle's flipper between my thumb and forefinger.  Come along.

(I wrote this poem as part of a poetry exchange with the poet Rebecca Bratten Weiss.  http://tinyletter.com/The_George_Sandinistas
We're taking a hiatus right now, but look for our chapbook in the future!)

April 30th poem

Monday, May 01, 2017

Some Facts about the Cold War &etc.

That time I refused to stand for the National Anthem being played over a film of daisies in a field, girls in bikinis, and fighter planes, and the kid from 8th grade asked if I was a communist—it’s lodged in my mind, diamond-like.   

My mother told me never to be polite at my own expense.
Everything else told me always to be polite at my own expense. 
When I was a young teenager, I had a summer job at a library warehouse that shipped books to Army bases all over Germany.  Before my first day of shelving books and slapping on shipping labels, I had to report to an empty chapel-like building on post and swear to uphold the Constitution.  I was 14.    

When I was 11, Colonel Bean came to our class to explain to us that our nuclear arsenal was a deterrent to war.  When we asked some questions about that, he asked us how we thought things should be in the world.  People shouldn’t have to worry about where their food is coming from.  Everyone should have access to what they need.  People should feel secure.  He told us that was communism. 

My son tells me, One day I just became alive.  Then asks, What did I say when I became alive?  
(He didn’t say anything.  Just looked at me like, “I’m here.  Here I am.” Like he belongs here.)

I don’t know where any of us are going with this. 
Something that wanders away to bloom somewhere else is called a volunteer.

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