Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The things you write in the dark, after drinking two margaritas



I get tangled in what
I want to say


Her poems were too
much like
the hair
left in a brush


The switch from first to third:
a writer's oldest trick

---

I want to write boldly, 
like the earthquake
and not
the seismograph 

I want to rattle
the cage,
Explode from 
the branch

I want to be the hair
coursing down the long
switch of her back

The fever,

agitating,
before a sweeter 
delirium

God, let me write
and not be constricted
by the what 
and even less
by any whom

Let me smash that dam
into atoms,
recycle it into
kindling 

Let me break myself, 
in perpetuity,
and free the awful flow

and carry it forward 
until I can't

and kiss the end

of the road


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Waiting Game



December,
out at the lake,
and everything's the same
dispirited shade of

picnic-table brown 

except for the water,

whose Crayola hue is 
the slightly more colorful
dirty sock soup

But the pines
will maintain,
as stiff as saints

and the sky
still startles
to the provocation
of crows

and it's fine,
in its way

this waiting game

I'll take the crumbs
that fall my way

like a want
of horse flies
to chew up my legs

the promissory sun  
after a week of rain

and a few crusty leaves
that just refuse, 
by golly,
to budge 

Which is the kind of old lady
I hope to become

though that, too,
can wait 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Childish things



What if 
instead of his color
we saw first
the two arms,
the two legs,
the two eyes 
of a man

Or a kid
just like us
trying hard 
to be big,
trying not 
to show doubt

What if
the hardness of trying
became a defense
of what our families
had filled us with

What if
instead of his color
we saw our own fear
and alienness
reflected back
like a photo's negative 
held up to the light

What if the shock
made us throw up 
our hands:
caught,
chastened,
shot through
with pain, shame,
mercy

What if #blacklivesmatter 
were #whitepeoplesproblem

What if poems were cover

What if games of pretend
were the law

and empathy became 
policeman to all

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Wassailing

(Photo by Paul Rockett)

Beneath the crust
of first December

I went yawning for
some inspiration

when I saw the ghost  
of Glenn Gould's hands

and felt the echo of
a reflection of Bach

run across the roof
of my mouth

to make of me
a church 


Saturday, November 29, 2014

Out of Time



While cleaning recently, I came across an old cd case from my college years. Half the sleeves were filled with R.E.M. albums. It made me stop and realize something.

I never listen to R.E.M. anymore.

But I used to, obsessively. Michael Stipe was the one person in the world who seemed to understand the yearning that squirmed inside of me. And if that thought makes me smile in self-condescension now, it really shouldn't. His voice was my lifeline. 

Art is sometimes a lifeline. 

After college, I moved to Athens, Georgia for a year. Ostensibly for other reasons, but I wasn't fooling myself: I was there for the band, and the mystique conjured around their hometown. I was there because of the kudzu-choked cover on R.E.M.'s first LP, Murmur. I was there because I was searching blindly to know who I was, and what I wanted, and I followed the only thing that felt true to me. 

I wasn't any less lost in Athens, Georgia than I was in Athens, Ohio. In fact, I moved back home after 9 months. It was my first real-world experiment in trying to make a fantasy a reality, and I failed, miserably. 

But I don't regret the trying. 

I still love that music. It still blows me wide open. But I can't hear it now without also feeling trapped by who I was then. I remember an unhappiness so complete I didn't even know to call it unhappiness. I didn't know. All I knew was fear.

I'm not that girl anymore. 

Eventually, the band broke up.

But this blog owes its name to them. And that time in my life when the kudzu began to clear. 





Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Four corners



His hand
on her arm

the blood reacts

She is now other
than what she
appears to be 

A tree that's moved
from day to night

the moon 

quickening
through darkling 
veins

Foxfire,
she almost thinks,
breathing through
two paper legs

sipping her sips
of tonic water
with her radioactive 
lips






She hits the
target

his mask
slips

She sees ice
beneath

and likes it

While deeper
yet

darkness




Suffuse me
before you're gone

I am small and
winter is long




Words
running circles
around a rectangular
room

fall down in a flock
at the end of the day

Exhausted by what
they couldn't say


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Used To



I used to wear pink. 
Now I wear red.

Like a leaf 
no longer hiding,

Like a silent 
solid yes.

I used to hang 
on others' ideas;

now I make 
my own. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why You Write




You write because you’re alive. 
Because your brain is a singular specimen, 
but your heart’s on loan from humanity at large. 

You write to pick a lock. 
You write to go somewhere green. 
You write because the battle between the heart and the head 
can be a silent, choking civil war. 
You write because it’s the one worth fighting, 
on all the days. 

You write because for too long, you’ve been ashamed 
of the gap between the person you are 
and the person you were supposed to become, 
and the words are, if not a bridge, 
then a photograph 
in which the other you grows blurrier 
by the sentence, the paragraph, 
the story, The End

You write because you’re a narcissist. 
You write because you’re self aware.   

You write because sometimes you surprise yourself with the things you say. 
And other people seem surprised by them, too. 
And in the exchange of that shared surprise comes another flash of sparks: 
you are part of a chain reaction dating back to the Phoenicians, 
a small, if vital component in a rolling caravan of readers and writers, 
all hijacking the highways of literature’s nervous system, 
with no horizon line in sight. 
And if Shakespeare excites the highest hymns,
an individual’s response can still evoke the infinite. 
And hey--remember--you’re alive and Willy’s not. 

You write because you are humbled in the sharing, 
made more by the transfusion. 
You write because your ego is often skidded, but never fully squashed. 
And eventually, when your skin has thickened
into a callous-like armor threaded through with rejection, 
you write for something more than validation. 
You write--God help you--for truth.  

You write because clarity is the golden ring. 

You write because clarity is always somewhere else. 

You write because you don’t know what you believe 
until you set it down. 
And even then, it takes endless trying 
to set it just so.   

Right before it collapses in on itself. 

So yes. You write as prelude to revision. 
You erase and rewrite because you can no longer pretend to be like Hemingway, bleeding through his perfect typewriter in that perfect Paris 
of a perfect past which no one was ever, actually, part of. 
So you write until the hemorrhage has a form. 
A body. 
Intention. 
Until it pumps with a finely-controlled precision.  
As something apart from yourself. 
Character. Story. 
With great mounds of flesh on its bones. 
And later, less. 

You write to be reborn. 
You write, you write, you write. 

You write because even a poem 
composed on a napkin
isn’t worth the cost of a drink
unless it’s got some iron and oxygen 
blacking its ink.  

You write because the words are there, waiting on you.
You fail to write when the fear blocks your way. 
You write blind--and deaf--to meet the words halfway.  

You write because you want to live forever, and you’ve concluded 
there’s no other way, shoddy consolation that this is.   

You write to beat back the sameness of everyday life, 
no matter how nearly perfect, or almost empty, life is. 
You write to keep a child’s vision. 
You write to play.  

You write because words are your oldest and dearest friends. 
And sometimes, when you put them together 
in the most friendly fashion,
they burst into song. 
Or even keep you up at night. 

You write because you wouldn’t have it any other way. 

I should know. 



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

October



You are an old soul masked
in an adolescent's body

ripping off the pages
of a recycled diary

and setting them 
to flame

Before tossing the ashes
in the eye of a lake

and whispering your psalms
through the pine-bitten dawn

That Time is a phoenix 
with unfathomable wings

and we are the chlorophyll
draining its veins

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

And The Record Skipped

(Close-up of unidentified Rothko)

Intimacy lives
in that band 
of skin

above a man's

collar

beneath the
draw of his
barber's blade
   
Where Summer's
burn slides

into a white
Winter bed

And in the passage,
a woman's Fall