Tuesday, December 31, 2013

And all the Bees/toward 2014

It's all I have to bring today 
It's all I have to bring today-- 
This, and my heart beside-- 
This, and my heart, and all the fields-- 
And all the meadows wide-- 
Be sure you count--should I forget 
Some one the sum could tell-- 
This, and my heart, and all the Bees 
Which in the Clover dwell.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christopher Wool

Almost 2014. I will be looking hard and harder.
Happy new year you all.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry and all that

A dusting or so of snow unexpected. Listening
to Britten's Ceremony of Carols. Thinking of
Afghanistan and wondering about the stars
there, constellations, planets. Peace on earth
peace out. Merry merry 2013.

Friday, November 29, 2013


By Jake Adam York

Because my grandmother made me
the breakfast her mother made her,
when I crack the eggs, pat the butter
on the toast, and remember the bacon
to cast iron, to fork, to plate, to tongue,
my great grandmother moves my hands
to whisk, to spatula, to biscuit ring,
and I move her hands too, making
her mess, so the syllable of batter
I’ll find tomorrow beneath the fridge
and the strew of salt and oil are all
memorials, like the pan-fried chicken
that whistles in the grease in the voice
of my best friend’s grandmother
like a midnight mockingbird,
and the smoke from the grill
is the smell of my father coming home
from the furnace and the tang
of vinegar and char is the smell
of Birmingham, the smell
of coming home, of history, redolent
as the salt of black-and-white film
when I unwrap the sandwich
from the wax-paper the wax-paper
crackling like the cold grass
along the Selma to Montgomery road,
like the foil that held
Medgar’s last meal, a square of tin
that is just the ghost of that barbecue
I can imagine to my tongue
when I stand at the pit with my brother
and think of all the hands and mouths
and breaths of air that sharpened
this flavor and handed it down to us,
I feel all those hands inside
my hands when it’s time to spread
the table linen or lift a coffin rail
and when the smoke billows from the pit
I think of my uncle, I think of my uncle
rising, not falling, when I raise
the buttermilk and the cornmeal to the light
before giving them to the skillet
and sometimes I say the recipe
to the air and sometimes I say his name
or her name or her name
and sometimes I just set the table
because meals are memorials
that teach us how to move,
history moves in us as we raise
our voices and then our glasses
to pour a little out for those
who poured out everything for us,
we pour ourselves for them,
so they can eat again.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I thought about this poem today during a late
afternoon walk cold windy sun on the down
low, missing my son who is gone now wanting
for his safety the whole long time. I hope the
"queen under the hill" will watch over him, bring
him home to this place.

Often I Am Permitted to Return to a Meadow

By Robert Duncan

as if it were a scene made-up by the mind, 
that is not mine, but is a made place,

that is mine, it is so near to the heart, 
an eternal pasture folded in all thought 
so that there is a hall therein

that is a made place, created by light 
wherefrom the shadows that are forms fall.

Wherefrom fall all architectures I am 
I say are likenesses of the First Beloved 
whose flowers are flames lit to the Lady.

She it is Queen Under The Hill
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words 
that is a field folded.

It is only a dream of the grass blowing 
east against the source of the sun 
in an hour before the sun's going down

whose secret we see in a children's game 
of ring a round of roses told.

Often I am permitted to return to a meadow 
as if it were a given property of the mind 
that certain bounds hold against chaos,

that is a place of first permission,
everlasting omen of what is.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Where I wish I was, where I was, where I did
swim like a selkie I shed it all and
the Atlantic was all there was that
was more than enough

Monday, October 14, 2013

they say it's your

My Skeleton
My skeleton,
you who once ached
with your own growing larger

are now,
each year
imperceptibly smaller,
absorbed by your own

When I danced,
you danced.
When you broke,

And so it was lying down,
climbing the tiring stairs.
Your jaws. My bread.

Someday you,
what is left of you,
will be flensed of this marriage.

Angular wristbone,
cracked harp of ribcage,
blunt of heel,
opened bowl of the skull,
twin platters of pelvis--
each of you will leave me behind,
at last serene.

What did I know of your days,
your nights,
I who held you all my life
inside my hands
and thought they were empty?

You who held me all my life
inside your hands
as a new mother holds
her own unblanketed child,
not thinking at all. 


Sunday, October 13, 2013


I found one small stone and placed it in my pocket to take
home. That is all. There's not much time or room on the shelf
these days. For shells or bones. More space for the too-many
photographs. And the lie is alluring. Take another and remember.
How seductive. How shiny. A scroll of them to unwind but
the years diminish. A photograph can be visual clutter.
But recently I want them more than beach stones.  Happy birthday.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Georgia tree

I often lay on that bench looking up into the tree, past the trunk and up into the branches. It was particularly fine at night with the stars above the tree.-Georgia O'Keefe

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


I spent last weekend looking. At my son.
At the wave action of creek water over
a rock and how the light and shadows
created a kind of pointilist Chuck Closian
painting on the surface. At huge mid
western type corn fields sprawling
across New York plains. At my son's
friends huddled around the firepit, their
faces lit and young. I spent the time
wanting to take a photograph of all of it
as if this could be a record of something
or a practice that could hold back danger.
To burn or carve a poem that captures
these days, that makes something of them
so they're not lost or forgotten or taken away.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Birthday month is here. To mark it I hope to post
every day, though I don't know that anyone visits,
which is alright.
The photos are from upstate -- fall near the Thousand Islands
and Lake Ontario where my son the soldier is.
In a month he goes overseas, deploys,
goes down range, in military jargon. He is a warrior.
I know this, have known it, honor it. He learns
by doing, always in the thick of it. The doing
he's going to be doing will be dangerous.
This is what he wants and I get it.
I've been writing about this for a few years.
Pages of poems that circle around being
the mother of a warrior. Maybe I'll post some
poems during the month. To illustrate
the intricate delicacy of mothering a warrior.
Of someone who may indeed kill or be killed.
I've been building a house with the carbon
from ancient oracle bones for a few years.
A book, a manuscript, a myth. I don't know
that anyone is interested in this. War weary
war weary is the mantra. So to depict
the warrior's family, which is what
I set out to do in making the house,
this book. You out there may not be a mother
or parent or warrior.

Here is a landay -- a form of folk poetry
from Afghanistan, made by Pashtun women.
An oral and anonymous tradition.

I call. You're stone.
One day you'll look and find I'm gone.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Full mooon with trees and lines.
For my faraway friend Rebecca Radish King.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Time travel

Libra Horoscope for week of August 29, 2013

The online Time Travel Mart sells products you might find handy in the event that you travel through time. Available items include barbarian repellant, dinosaur eggs, time travel sickness pills, a centurion's helmet, a portable wormhole, and a samurai umbrella. I have no financial tie to this store. So when I recommend you consider purchasing something from it or another company with a similar product line, it's only because I suspect that sometime soon you will be summoned to explore and possibly even alter the past. Be well-prepared to capitalize on the unexpected opportunities. (Here's the Time Travel Mart.) 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

sky waves

I want to paint the feeling of a space.
Joan Mitchell
I want to write the feeling of a space but mostly get lost
in things. I'm reading Maggie Nelson: Women, the New
York School and Other True Abstractions.

Friday, July 26, 2013


Rape Joke
By Patricia Lockwood

The rape joke is that you were 19 years old.
The rape joke is that he was your boyfriend.
The rape joke it wore a goatee. A goatee.
Imagine the rape joke looking in the mirror, perfectly reflecting back itself, and grooming itself to look more like a rape joke. “Ahhhh,” it thinks. “Yes. A goatee.”
No offense.
The rape joke is that he was seven years older. The rape joke is that you had known him for years, since you were too young to be interesting to him. You liked that use of the word interesting, as if you were a piece of knowledge that someone could be desperate to acquire, to assimilate, and to spit back out in different form through his goateed mouth.
Then suddenly you were older, but not very old at all.
The rape joke is that you had been drinking wine coolers. Wine coolers! Who drinks wine coolers? People who get raped, according to the rape joke.
The rape joke is he was a bouncer, and kept people out for a living.
Not you!
The rape joke is that he carried a knife, and would show it to you, and would turn it over and over in his hands as if it were a book.
He wasn’t threatening you, you understood. He just really liked his knife.
The rape joke is he once almost murdered a dude by throwing him through a plate-glass window. The next day he told you and he was trembling, which you took as evidence of his sensitivity.
How can a piece of knowledge be stupid? But of course you were so stupid.
The rape joke is that sometimes he would tell you you were going on a date and then take you over to his best friend Peewee’s house and make you watch wrestling while they all got high.
The rape joke is that his best friend was named Peewee.
OK, the rape joke is that he worshiped The Rock.
Like the dude was completely in love with The Rock. He thought it was so great what he could do with his eyebrow.
The rape joke is he called wrestling “a soap opera for men.” Men love drama too, he assured you.
The rape joke is that his bookshelf was just a row of paperbacks about serial killers. You mistook this for an interest in history, and laboring under this misapprehension you once gave him a copy of Günter Grass’s My Century, which he never even tried to read.
It gets funnier.
The rape joke is that he kept a diary. I wonder if he wrote about the rape in it.
The rape joke is that you read it once, and he talked about another girl. He called her Miss Geography, and said “he didn’t have those urges when he looked at her anymore,” not since he met you. Close call, Miss Geography!
The rape joke is that he was your father’s high-school student—your father taught World Religion. You helped him clean out his classroom at the end of the year, and he let you take home the most beat-up textbooks.
The rape joke is that he knew you when you were 12 years old. He once helped your family move two states over, and you drove from Cincinnati to St. Louis with him, all by yourselves, and he was kind to you, and you talked the whole way. He had chaw in his mouth the entire time, and you told him he was disgusting and he laughed, and spat the juice through his goatee into a Mountain Dew bottle.
The rape joke is that come on, you should have seen it coming. This rape joke is practically writing itself.
The rape joke is that you were facedown. The rape joke is you were wearing a pretty green necklace that your sister had made for you. Later you cut that necklace up. The mattress felt a specific way, and your mouth felt a specific way open against it, as if you were speaking, but you know you were not. As if your mouth were open ten years into the future, reciting a poem called Rape Joke.
The rape joke is that time is different, becomes more horrible and more habitable, and accommodates your need to go deeper into it.
Just like the body, which more than a concrete form is a capacity.
You know the body of time is elastic, can take almost anything you give it, and heals quickly.
The rape joke is that of course there was blood, which in human beings is so close to the surface.
The rape joke is you went home like nothing happened, and laughed about it the next day and the day after that, and when you told people you laughed, and that was the rape joke.
It was a year before you told your parents, because he was like a son to them. The rape joke is that when you told your father, he made the sign of the cross over you and said, “I absolve you of your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,” which even in its total wrongheadedness, was so completely sweet.
The rape joke is that you were crazy for the next five years, and had to move cities, and had to move states, and whole days went down into the sinkhole of thinking about why it happened. Like you went to look at your backyard and suddenly it wasn’t there, and you were looking down into the center of the earth, which played the same red event perpetually.
The rape joke is that after a while you weren’t crazy anymore, but close call, Miss Geography.
The rape joke is that for the next five years all you did was write, and never about yourself, about anything else, about apples on the tree, about islands, dead poets and the worms that aerated them, and there was no warm body in what you wrote, it was elsewhere.
The rape joke is that this is finally artless. The rape joke is that you do not write artlessly.
The rape joke is if you write a poem called Rape Joke, you’re asking for it to become the only thing people remember about you.
The rape joke is that you asked why he did it. The rape joke is he said he didn’t know, like what else would a rape joke say? The rape joke said YOU were the one who was drunk, and the rape joke said you remembered it wrong, which made you laugh out loud for one long split-open second. The wine coolers weren’t Bartles & Jaymes, but it would be funnier for the rape joke if they were. It was some pussy flavor, like Passionate Mango or Destroyed Strawberry, which you drank down without question and trustingly in the heart of Cincinnati Ohio.
Can rape jokes be funny at all, is the question.
Can any part of the rape joke be funny. The part where it ends—haha, just kidding! Though you did dream of killing the rape joke for years, spilling all of its blood out, and telling it that way.
The rape joke cries out for the right to be told.
The rape joke is that this is just how it happened.
The rape joke is that the next day he gave you Pet Sounds. No really. Pet Sounds. He said he was sorry and then he gave you Pet Sounds. Come on, that’s a little bit funny.
Admit it.

WOW is what this is

Monday, July 22, 2013

Friday, July 12, 2013

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Falling women

Or tumbling. Upended. Twisted. River work. Tree trunked.
Can you see the women? I've been in Idaho. Have you?

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


God’s Justice
By Anne Carson

In the beginning there were days set aside for various tasks.
On the day He was to create justice
God got involved in making a dragonfly

and lost track of time.
It was about two inches long
with turquoise dots all down its back like Lauren Bacall.

God watched it bend its tiny wire elbows
as it set about cleaning the transparent case of its head.
The eye globes mounted on the case

rotated this way and that
as it polished every angle.
Inside the case

which was glassy black like the windows of a downtown bank
God could see the machinery humming
and He watched the hum

travel all the way down turquoise dots to the end of the tail
and breathe off as light.
Its black wings vibrated in and out.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Work Gloves on Clothes Line, 2009

The Pennacesse Leper Colony for Women, Cape Cod: 1922

for Laura
The island, you mustn’t say, had only rocks and scrub pine;
Was on a blue, bright day like a blemish in this landscape.
And Charlotte who is frail and the youngest of us collects
Sticks and branches to start our fires, cries as they burn
Because they resemble most what she has lost
Or has little of: long fingers, her toes,
And a left arm gone past the elbow, soon clear to her shoulder.
She has the mouth of sea perch. Five of our sisters wear
Green hoods. You are touched by all of this, but not by us.
To be touched by us, to be kissed! Sometimes
We see couples rowing in the distance in yellow coats.

Sometimes they fish with handlines; we offend
Everyone who is offended most
And by everything and everyone. The five goats love us, though,
And live in our dark houses. When they are
Full with milk they climb the steps and beg that
They be milked. Their teats brush the steps and leave thick
Yellow trails of fresh milk. We are all females here.
Even the ghosts. We must wash, of course, in salt water,
But it smarts or maybe even hurts us. Often with a rope
Around her waist Anne is lowered entirely into the water.
She splashes around and screams in pain. Her screams
Sometimes carry clear to the beaches on the Cape.

For us I say so often. For us we say. For us! We are
Human and not individual, we hold everything in common.
We are individual, you could pick us out in a crowd.
You did. This island is not our prison. We are not kept
In; not even by our skin.

Once Anne said she would love to be a Negro or a trout.

We live without you. Father, I don’t know why I have written
You all this; but be proud for I am living, and yet each day
I am less and less your flesh. Someday, eventually, you
Should only think of me as being a lightning bug on the lawn,
Or the Negro fishing at the pond, or the fat trout he wraps
In leaves that he is showing to someone. I’ll be

Most everything for you. And I’ll be gone.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


abandoned mine Kellogg Idaho

This is how my writing is. A looming edifice.

Also this:

Jolly Green Giant

So jolly and large. Standing on my chest. Hands at hips. 
Pleased as punch the writing goes no where.

I want/know/hope the work will look like this:

Joan Mitchell

Eduardo C. Corral: His Slow Lightning!
Another of my fellow NEA-ers' books.
Inspiring in its various forms. 

Some lines:

Every word I utter/is opalescent. 
Through the window, sky like a torn sketch of the ocean. 
I asked once for a sonnet. You
peeled back the skin and muscle of your left hand: fourteen bones. 
I know
what Eve
didn't know: a serpent
is a fruit eaten to the core. 

Next on NEA reading list: Jill Alexander Essbaum's Necropolis.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


When autumn turns winter, the snow covers
us into secrets.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


                                                                                                                                                 Reservoir Fire 2011

Some lines selected here and there fromTraci Brimhall's OUR LADY OF THE RUINS

This is not the place your life begins or ends.

We want to ride the horse of the past backward
through time to first wounds...

Take the blackbirds from your hair and lay them in grass. If
their eggs hatch in your hands, go north.

Find the immaculate muscle which did not
burn, and take it.

the revelation of stone is slow

Say the body is a needful animal petitioning the sky
to satisfy its thirst. Say it is a haunted cabinet.

These are the ruins
I mapped onto my body so I might always be lost.

I dreamt my daughter dove
for whale bones on the abyssal plains,
surfaced from the seafloor bearing
spines, ribs, colossal skulls.

When he asks for a sacrifice, I offer
another woman's son.

A woman's body is a memory with no language.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


Some lines from THRONG by Jose Perez Beduya:

When you speak again
Use your wilderness voice
Not your factory voice

You and I conferenced
All night
Cold pronouns

You think hollowness unlike depth
Is a grace or a loveliness

Wheel away the dusk and floodlights
Squeeze through the trees

Because cars are an eternal river

So many minutes to a field

We were the long
Lawns while the muzzle
Flashes in the fields
Were our sisters

Our record- and peace-
Keeping done remotely by objects

Our bodies so clean
They're smoke

A curfew of the skull

We drank
Water from our uniforms
And tasted
The dead in everything we ate
We waited for a pattern
To cut down through the clouds
We measured our era of drifting
Not in years but daughters

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Such beautiful creatures these books of poetry by my fellow
NEA writers. Their covers startling mostly. Titles like Throng
and Sad Daughter. I want one, a book I mean. A book book.
No chapbook. No POD. Nothing against those. A book of my poems.
That's this year. And/or the next and next. How long is a game.
And so I'll read. I ordered some of their books, those I could find
on Amazon. In alphabetical order will go my reading. Perhaps
too some writing here about what I learn as I go through the stack.

THRONG by Jose Perez Beduya
OUR LADY OF THE RUINS by Traci Brimhall
WITHOUT by Maxine Chernoff
SLOW LIGHTNING by Eduardo C. Corral
NECROPOLIS by Jill Alexander Essbaum
COFFLE by Reginald Flood
SAD DAUGHTER by Sarah Gorham
WE ARE STARVED by Joshua Kryah
MULE by Shane McCrae
ORANGE CRUSH by Simone Muench
UP JUMP THE BOOGIE by John Murillo
VOYAGER by Sikranth Reddy
BY THE NUMBERS by James Richardson
COPPERHEAD by Rachel Richardson
ROMEY'S ORDER by Atsuro Riley
ARCO IRIS by Sarah Vap
PERSONS UNKNOWN by the late Jake Adam York