Monday, July 31, 2006

Where is my super suit?

Hello! I'm back from our family vacation in Matunuck, Rhode Island. Every year, we rent a beach house for 22 adults and kids, which never disappoints. But now, the bags are unpacked, the laundry's been put away, the Red Sox are on in the background (I'm hoping they don't give the game away to the Cleveland Indians), and most important, the kids are asleep.

So on vacation, Alex watched the animated film The Incredibles, and now it has become his new favorite movie. That’s fine with me because it’s one of my new faves, too. After seeing it for the fifth time in four days, however, I've come to realize there’s a scene that for me sums up the meaning of motherhood.

Elastigirl (a.k.a. Mrs. Incredible) is flying a jet on her way to save her husband, Mr. Incredible, from himself. Actually, he’s gone off to save the world but neglected to tell his family. So she's going to the bad guy's not-so-secret lair to retrieve her husband. Meanwhile, the two oldest children (Violet, a teenager, and Dash, her precocious younger brother) have stowed away on the flight only to be discovered by Elastigirl.

The jet is targeted by missiles that she can’t outmaneuver. As the missiles hit the plane and they face certain death, Elastigirl turns herself into a giant ball, envelops the kids with her body, and protects them from harm. After the jet explodes, they plummet toward the ocean, but not before Elastigirl turns herself into a parachute and guides them safely into the water.

And isn't that what moms (and dads) do? We think quickly and act fast. We protect our kids at all cost. Elastigirl didn't hesitate to pull her kids close, danger be damned. Many times I have wished I could make myself into a ball or a parachute to absorb the brute force of what life is serving up that day. But I know how to soothe a bruise, kiss away a tear, or give a hug when needed.

Now does that make me a superhero? Absolutely!

Gratuitous Cow Photos

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: My $.02

I was going to post today on a totally different topic, but when I opened the pages of the Boston Sunday Globe, I was reminded of the one issue I feel will cripple our way of life as a society: debt.

The article, entitled "Debtors' Hell," discusses how the rise of consumer debt has given way to debt collection, and how repossession—once meant for deadbeats—can happen to anyone: you, a family member, your best friend, your boss. Here’s one of the many stats I found shocking:
An estimated one of every 11 consumers has at least one credit card that is more than 90 days past due, according to nationwide data provided to the Globe by the credit reporting agency Experian.

Can’t imagine losing a car or a home because of an unpaid debt, but it goes on every day. Bad things happen to good people. Losing a job, an unforeseen illness, or foolish spending can derail the best-laid plans. Credit cards has become a way of life, and if the Visas, Fannie Maes, and Sallie Maes of the world have their way, we will be a financially enslaved cashless society within the next 10 years.

Ask yourself this: if your car broke down or you had to take a flight out of town to see your sick mother, how would you pay for it? Would you charge it or take the money out of your emergency fund? If you don’t have an emergency fund, this is how bad things start to happen to good people.

Long ago, my husband and I decided not to be cash poor/house poor. We cleaned up our credit cards, student loans, and car loans; last month we made our last payment and became debt free except for the mortgage. No magic bullet, we just saved money, didn’t buy things we couldn’t afford, talked about money decisions together, and stuck to a budget. Believe me, it hasn’t been easy because my husband decided to start his own business last year. We don’t have the newest gadgets or latest toys. But I wouldn't change the feeling of having cash in my pocket for anything.

There are no easy answers here. I know credit cards can keep families afloat in the hardest of times. So for this Sunday Scribbings, my advice is to save your $ .02. You never know when you might need it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Hello! Just a quick break from vacation to write and post a poem for Poetry Thursday. (I bow before the poetry altar of Liz Elayne and Lynn.) I’ve missed you all and even though I have Internet access, I decided not to blog. But I may need to take a day off from work to catch up on all of your blog posts! My heavens, what have I missed?

*I’ll be a bit slow to respond today, but I’ll try to get as many of your PT posts as I can.*

So today’s poem is about last night’s dinner. And I won’t go into it too much except to say I burned the sh*t out of my finger with hot oil. But the crab cakes were the best I’ve ever made. Does that qualify as suffering for my art? Needless to say, this poem is still uncooked (pun intended). Feedback welcome.

How to Make a Crab Cake

Start with your own body,
the small bones of the hands
moving toward the inlets of the fingertips.

Wanting it too much invites haste.
You must love what is raw
and uncared for.

Think of the crab cake as the ending,
as you till away at the meat, digging for
errant shells and jagged edges.

Always, it’s a matter of guesswork
but you hold it together
by the simplest of ingredients.

Here, the body learns to be generous,
to forgive the flaws inherited—
the warped spatula and uneven pan

yet you never quite know
when it happens,
the moment when the lumps

transcend egg and breadcrumbs,
the quiver of oil in a hot pan,
to become otherworldly:

a delicate morsel
with its crispy outer edge,
and its imperfect, unexpected beauty.

Friday, July 21, 2006

I'm Outta Here!

Originally uploaded by

Taking a break. Family vacation. Beach house. Lots o' kids. Catching crabs. Bike rides. Fishing. Ice Cream at the Vanilla Bean. Aunt Carrie's clam cakes. Lavender. Swans. Inlet. Kayak. Sleep. Sea air. Poems. Day trip to Newport, RI. Long overdue mani/pedi. Me time. Us time. Kisses. Play Dough. Pancakes. Talent show. White wine. The Ocean Mist. Living deliberately. Recharge batteries. Breathing. Will miss Sunday Scribblings. Can't miss Poetry Thursday. Be back soon. Wish you were here.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

SEXY Poem for Poetry Thursday

Happy sexy Poetry Thursday!

Hmmm ... This is not the poem I intended to write, but it's what I ended up with. As far as the process, it feels like some older stuff written in my mid-20s, which feels light years from where I am now creatively. But seems appropriate given the topic. Also, I can say that I was reaching for bolder "let's-just-call-a-spade-a-spade" language, trying to push the envelope between being poetic and being crass. *gulp* It did feel like a stretch to write so maybe that's a good thing.

So I'll just paraphrase what Lynn says on her blog: Yeah, I could say that the reader shouldn't assume I'm the person in the poem but who am I kidding.

Here's a poem about my sex life. Enjoy!


Sex and Pizza

Once a classmate told me
sex is like pizza:
no matter how bad it is,
it’s still pizza.
Strange, coming
from one of the unsexiest people
I knew. Didn’t believe him
until my early 20s
when all I wanted was hard,
kinked-out, unexplainable sex.
9 ½ Weeks sex. Blue Velvet sex.
The small town of my body
sent me outward to a friend
as local as my fingertips.
His body, beautifully taut,
and I was happy hour
poured into a miniskirt.
Before we knew it,
the quick blows of our bodies
struck together like rocks
catching spark.
Ass up, head down,
no stroking, no kissing,
just clumsy, fractional fucking
that was over before it began.
I remember walking
into the unfamiliar daylight,
sleep deprived and scorched
like a house gutted by fire.
Years later, I think
my classmate was right.
How else can I explain
the lip-biting, sloppy goodness
of exploration, of bodies seeking
those fine mistakes and digressions,
the cock and the pussy,
the world dividing into hemispheres,
sliced into its imperfect selves.

(Also, here's a non-sexy poem I wrote this past week: Afternoon Commute Love Song.)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Exquisite Corpse Poem

For all those who contributed, a thank-you and a big, wet sloppy kiss! We'll have to do it again sometime.

Here's the original post about Exquisite Corpse. I took a few liberties trying to make it work as a poem, but if someone wants to try their own spin on these lines, have at it!

Cialis Blues

He came this minute, a blurred gray shape
roaring out of a dive, out on the lawn
I heard such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed
to see what was the matter.

My expensive fake penis
doesn't work
when the one you love
is 72.8% water.

An attitude of unattachment
was essential to existence
in liminality.
He had Scottsdale-type snobby girls in mind.

He had drained the cup of gloom:
it filled anew.
Alas, the penis was for use
in continental U.S. only.

This unusual and free exhibition
fuses graffiti and calligraphy
in a contemporary style
dubbed “urban Islamic art.”

As the lights start to dim,
noise from the crowd
quickly turns
to silence.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

New Poem

Afternoon Commute Love Song

Every day I approach this landscape like a crime scene:
glimpses of tiger lilies along a stitch of road,
all those violent hues
of orange and crimson abutting
dented guard rails, the shrapnel of tires.
Summer with its small explosions.
Sprigs. The interconnectedness of things.
Humidity pushing everything down
while the blacktop reflects skyward.
Most days, I am fierce behind the wheel
armed with a stone for a heart.
I seek out what’s coming and try to destroy it
before I am destroyed. The highway
with all of its whispers.
I tell you this at the risk of madness.
I know where love goes
when there is nothing be to loved—
Tree roots break through asphalt,
its branches clipped by power lines.
Every day, I hear the lecture of the organic.
Roll down your window.
Everywhere there is evidence. Remains.
I am a small hazmat team.

(Note: I can't figure out how to "tab" with Blogger. So if some of the enjambments look awkward, it's because I can't format the poem correctly. Drat!)

(Another note: I started this last Wednesday when my 45-minute commute home turned into 2.5-hour ordeal. There were 30-second stretches where the cars weren't moving so I took out my journal and wrote. I was bored--I can only listen to so much NPR in one sitting!)

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Questions of Travel

My take on the "with baggage" prompt from Sunday Scribblings was to create this meme. Seemed appropriate to lift the title from Elizabeth Bishop.

Questions of Travel

1. How many bags or suitcases do you own? 2 carry-ons, 2 big suitcases, and a duffle.

2. Carry-on or baggage check? With two kids, baggage check.

3. Have you ever traveled alone? Yes.

4. Do you talk to strangers when you travel? No. In fact, I make a point of giving off that "don't talk to me" vibe on every trip.

5. What's the one thing you never travel without? After the essentials, my journal.

6. Have you ever taken a train to your destination? Yes

7. When traveling in a car, who controls the radio? The driver.

8. When driving, do you mind when your passenger sleeps? Yes. Hate when that happens.

9. Do you prefer to fly or drive? Fly.

10. Are you afraid of dying in a plane crash? No.

11. Favorite movie about travel? Airplane--Leslie Nielsen at his best.

10. What places would you like to visit someday? I'd like to see Italy and Australia, but I'd also like to visit Napa Valley and Monterrey, CA.

11. Favorite things about airports? People coming and going. The overlapping of lives meeting in the nexus of the terminal.

12. Do you like airplane food? When I can get it, yes. Also, I love the smell of coffee on an airplane. Don't like to drink it, I just like the smell.

13. How do you pass the time on a flight? Writing.

14. Name something that you left at home but absolutely needed on a trip. Breast pump.

15. Other than a ticket, what do you like to purchase pre-flight? Magazines, bottled water.

16. Have you ever missed your connection? Once, from L.A. to Boston.

17. Are you a member of the mile-high club? No, but my husband and I did apply for a charter membership!

18. Worst travel experience? Traveling in the hours and days after 9/11. See #22.

19. Where was the last place you traveled? Norfolk, VA.

20. Favorite travel guide? Lonely Planet.

21. What's your favorite poem/book on travel? Poem: "Questions of Travel" by Elizabeth Bishop:

"Think of the long trip home. Should we have stayed at home and thought of here?
Where should we be today?"

And Paul Bowles, The Sheltering Sky (don't have the book in front of me but I think this is correct):

"A tourist is someone who thinks about going home the moment they arrive,
whereas a traveler might not come back at all."

22. Most memorable travel experience? Tim and I got married on 9/15/2001 in Norfolk, Virginia. We were scheduled to fly down from Massachusetts on 9/12. But 9/11 happened and we ended up driving all night to get to my hometown, 12 hours on the road. I remember passing NYC, not being able to travel anywhere within a 50-mile radius of the city. We took detour after detour. I remember being near the Garden State Parkway and hearing the faint sound of debris hit the car, as light as falling snow. The car had a thin layer of soot that looked like pollen.

We got married without a problem, and then a few days after we were able to fly off to our honeymoon. It was touch and go for a while, getting to the airport at 3:30 a.m. for a 9 a.m. flight. Once we got on the flight, there was a man who looked of middle-eastern decent. After some discussion, he was escorted off for no reason apparent to us. We just had a feeling that this was a sign of things to come.

23. Do you carry any emotional baggage? No. Like most baggage, I check it at the door before entering.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Exquisite Corpse, sort of

This is a poetry experiment!

I need your help to create a collaborative poem. I'm hoping it will be nonsensical yet almost mean something. Consider it an electronic version Exquisite Corpse. If you're unfamiliar with the game, click here.

1. Post a random line from any source: an original line of text, something from the newspaper, a line from a spam e-mail. Heck, read the back of a can of Spam and add it. When I have enough lines, I’ll repost the finish product. Also,

2. Feel free to grab a few lines and repost it as flash fiction or a new poem altogether.

Here's the line:

He came this minute, a blurred gray shape roaring out of a dive ...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Questions About the Blogger

1. Do you try to look hot when you go to the grocery store just in case someone recognizes you from your blog? No, but maybe I should. 2. Are the photos you post Photoshopped or otherwise altered? They're 100% authentic. 3. Do you like it when creeps or dorks e-mail you? Yes. The creepier and dorkier, the better. 4. Do you lie in your blog? No. 5. Are you passive-aggressive in your blog? No, but I don’t reveal everything. 6. Are you in therapy? No. If not, should you be? Ahhhh. No. If so, is it helping? Still no. 7. Do you delete mean comments? No. Do you fake nice ones? Occasionally. 8.What celebrity would you most like to have post on your blog? Russell Crowe 9. How many blogs do you leave comments on in a day? 5-10 10. If your readers knew you in person, would they like you more or like you less? You’d like me even more. 11. What's your occupation? Writer/Editor for a college. 12. Do your coworkers read your blog? I've only told two coworkers--one checks now and then. 13. If someone offered you a decent salary to blog full-time without restrictions, would you do it? Absolutely. 14. Which blogger do you want to meet in real life? Lynn. 15. Which bloggers have you made out with? None. 16. Do you usually act like you have more money or less money than you really have? Neither—I don’t act above or below my means. 17. Does your family read your blog? No. 18. How old is your blog? Technically, I started it July 05, but I didn’t pick it up again until April 06 (National Poetry Month). 19. Do you get more than 1000 page views per day? Not yet. Maybe by the end of the year. Do you care? Yes. 20. Do you have another secret blog in which you write about being depressed, slutty, or a liar? No. 21. Have you ever earned money as a result your blog? Sadly, no. 22. Is blogging narcissistic? Yep. 23. Do you feel guilty when you don't post for a long time? Yes. 24. Do you have enemies? No. 25. Are you lonely? No. 26. Why bother? I blog therefore I am. And, I'm a better writer because of it.

From The Daily Meme, but some of the questions were lame so I rewrote a few.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Chapbook vs. Full-length Collection

Poet Nick Bruno has an interesting discussion at his blog about publishing chapbooks vs. a full-length collection. Get in the discussion: They Shoot Poets - Don't They?: I'm Still a Virgin...

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Jack-in-the-Pulpit No. IV, 1930
by Georgia O'Keeffe,
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, Bequest of Georgia O'Keeffe

Happy Poetry Thursday!

This poem I consider an oldie but a goodie, so I'm resisting every urge to edit. The subject matter and language is a bit explicit. Definitely not what I call "funny" but it brings a smile to my face nonetheless.

The Fly

“Has it been there the whole time?” You ask. Curious spectator,
trapped in the bombed out crash site of my room. Silent. Kinetic.
Only an hour ago I was staring up at you, nostrils flaring, thrusting
deep within my thickets of pubic hair, a thousand coiled snakes
guarding my stamen, my Jack in the Pulpit. We lay among
candle wicks, burnt into black nubs; sheets filled with moons and stars,
balled up in the right corner of my bed. The wet tangy smell
of sex and sweat hangs over this lost weekend, the weekend our
instinct kicked in. This weekend we became carnivores, going
to that place, that wildlife refuge where the most feared, protected
animals roam; where the mattress shakes and bangs into the walls,
the bed springs coil and recoil from the weight of pleasure. Tonight
we slip and slide and pull the room into us, taking the chairs,
the table, the bed, the paint off the walls, leaving here nothing,
nothing but this.

After posting here, visit yesterday's entry and tell me about the one poem that gets you going when the going gets tough.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

In case of emergency, break glass

What poem(s) do you carry around in case of emergency? Put another way, what is that one poem you lean on when you need a lift?

For me, it's Mark Strand's Keeping Things Whole:

Keeping Things Whole

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

~ from Selected Poems by Mark Strand. Copyright © 1980 by Mark Strand.

This poem describes how I'm feeling most days. If I'm not in balance, then I'm frenetic in an effort to restore order. Days that that leave me with a why-am-I-here? feeling. The line, "I move to keep things whole," reminds me why I do so much for so many people. That's the job description for a mom and an editor: keeping things whole.

(Also, I've heard Strand read it live, so it's his voice I hear in my head. )

So, what poem keeps you whole?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


I will walk every day to get in shape.
I will walk every day to get in shape.
I will walk every day to get in shape.

Every day, I vacillate between performance and excuses. Every day, I have to make a decision about which I will choose for myself.

I can’t bear putting on another pair of shorts that I can’t snap because of baby weight. So it’s just time to do something about it. Change doesn’t happen until I say to myself: I’VE HAD IT, AND I’M NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANYMORE!

I’m there.

Of course there all those days that I’m on autopilot: going from meeting to meeting, head down at desk, not dinking enough water, not eating as well as I could. And when I do get home, there’s play with kids, make dinner, bathe the kids, get ready for next day, and watch Red Sox in bed wile blogging. Play—Dinner—Bath—Blog. Play—Dinner—Bath—Blog.


I see that old familiar rinse cycle of life washing over me (that was an unfortunate metaphor!). So last night I took my kids out for a walk after dinner. Didn’t want to do it, but I did it. And I lived to tell the tale. I do like spending time with the kids, letting Alex point out every little thing that comes into his field of vision.

So, on this day, I’m not going to focus on the negative. I’m not going to whine about my new “womanly” figure (FYI, most days I’m happy with how I look, but every once in a while, I catch myself in the mirror and remember my “girlish,” flat-tummied self.). Today, I will perform. I’ll put on my sneakers and take control.

Nike, the shoe company, got it right with their ad campaign, just do it.

Today I will live my life with purpose.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Thanks, Audioblogger!

... for posting my audio clip 4 days after Poetry Thursday. I really appreciate it.


Here's the original link to my poem, The Small Plans.

The Small Plans
this is an audio post - click to play

So, I listened to the posted audio with my husband and daughter in the room. Talk about surreal.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: There is poetry here ...

At the Brook Farm Inn in Lenox, Massachusetts. I was there more than 10 years ago with about 20 classmates from NYU as part of our MFA program. Sharon Olds and Galway Kinnell were our chaperones, and we spent a winter weekend talking about, you guessed it, poetry.

The inn is down the road from the Tanglewood Music Center, summer setting for the Boston Symphony Orchestra and a variety of musical events. It was an isolated, picturesque spot--exactly what you would expect New England to be. From the photos, the rooms are basically the same as I remember, but the pool is new. Definitely new.

At the time, we came to know Brook Farm as the only inn in the U.S. devoted to poetry. And I guess it's still true (even the last four digits of the phone number spell "poet").

We were a mixture of first- and second- year students (I was a first year), typical grad students: young and cocky, working the local NYC poetry scene by giving readings and attending as many literary events as possible. None of us had money, and that was especially true in Manhattan. But we were bonded by our demanding writing schedules, uncertain futures, and our desperate need to please Galway and Sharon.

During our 2 1/2-day stay, I remember having to write two new poems. Knowing me, I probably started some pieces before I arrived because I hate being caught with my poetry pants down. Our days went like this: get up early, eat a communal breakfast, break out into groups for a morning writing session, eat lunch, attend an afternoon session, have free time to get our heads together, meet for dinner, freak out, come up with a first draft for the next day. Ahhh, we would sit in the inn's extensive poetry library 'round midnight with a glass of wine and all of our anxieties. Some common questions: Am I any good? How do I put together a thesis of 25 poems? Will I publish before I'm 30? How am I going to pay off $35K in student loans ... as a POET?

Some of my warmest and fuzziest memories are of Sharon. I remember how she and Galway were always together--they've been great friends for years. Sharon used to carry around a typewriter when she traveled. I don't know if she still does (I hope she's moved onto a laptop), but she'd strap it to her back and take it with her wherever she went. Both Sharon and Galway wrote poems to present along with us in our daily workshops. And for lunch one day, I have the distinct memory of her making a mayonnaise sandwich. Maybe there was cheese on it, but it always struck me as kind of odd.

The MFA program was a great learning experience--the weekend was just one little kernel from the whole delicious batch. We had the kind of access to our professors that most programs can't offer. And they were always available, yet careful to set boundaries. I remember after lunch when a fellow classmate called Sharon "our mom." Boy, Sharon was quick to correct--she was not our mom, Galway was not our dad, and this retreat was serious business.

I guess I'll leave you with this poem. The other weekend requirement, besides writing and reflecting, was to memorize and recite a poem to the group. I chose this one from Adrienne Rich, from her book in Brook Farm's library. Seems appropriate given the times.

What Kind of Times Are These

There's a place between two stands of trees where the grass grows uphill
and the old revolutionary road breaks off into shadows
near a meeting-house abandoned by the persecuted
who disappeared into those shadows.

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled
this isn't a Russian poem, this is not somewhere else but here,
our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,
its own ways of making people disappear.

I won't tell you where the place is, the dark mesh of the woods
meeting the unmarked strip of light--
ghost-ridden crossroads, leafmold paradise:
I know already who wants to buy it, sell it, make it disappear.

And I won't tell you where it is, so why do I tell you
anything? Because you still listen, because in times like these
to have you listen at all, it's necessary
to talk about trees.

~Adrienne Rich, from Dark Fields of the Republic

Click here for more Sunday Scribblings.

Just Because

Friday, July 07, 2006

Who do you share your poems/fiction/nonfiction with?

After reading this post, I thought it would be an interesting question to pose here.

While in grad school and then for several years after, I had a small group of friends who read my poems and offered feedback. And I did the same for them. We’d find the best places to publish, and commiserate when rejected (which seemed more often than not in the early days).

But now, my college friends have published more extensively that me, with books and grants and paid reading gigs under their belts. I went a different path by starting a family and temporarily stepping away from poetry.

Who reads my work now? You do. When I post a new poem, it’s hot off the computer screen. My husband, while supportive, could care less. He’s happy that I’m happy to write and blog, but that’s the extent of his interest. (Love ya, babe!) But who reads your work before you send it off to be published? Do you have a group or a trusted friend who will tell you, “eh…I think you should take a second look at this.” If you’re in a writing group, do you worry about your vision being rewritten by someone else?

Who reads your work?

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Another Poem for Poetry Thursday

X's and O's

At the cocktail party
you are the X
in a room full of O's.
They are everywhere
while you, the lone X,
wait in silence
for your first engagement
into conversation
that never comes.
How they think you don't notice:
crossing the room
to avoid conversation,
pretending, if approached,
not to hear,
going out of their way
to deny acquaintance.
The X is used to going it alone.
From their vantage
displeasure is X.
And there you are
in medias reys--
every insecurity
filling your pockets
like old napkins.
What do you really know
of this world
and its soft hurts?
What do you know about
the power of X? Still,
you have to give it to the O's--
they recognize the order of things,
and how to speak the words
not yet spoken.

I wanted to write a poem that was somewhat generic but still a bit confessional. But at some point, I took "me" out of the poem an opted for the more universal "you." The concept: anyone can be an X or and O. Anyone can be a minority in the broadest sense of the word, and even if you expect it, it still can be disarming. How many times have you been on the outside looking in?

By taking myself out of the poem, it becomes harder to end because I'm missing the emotional attachment. At this stage, I think my ending falls flat so I'd like to see where it goes with the next revision.

I'm feeling a bit like an X posting an unfinished poem for Poetry Thursday.

Poem for Poetry Thursday

The Small Plans

You won't remember this.
Not the shallow breathing and gray lips.
Not the vomit. Not the milk
that overtook you like a breached levee.
Remember nothing.
Not your heart.
Your heart.
A hymn beating so faintly.
Not the midnight emergency visit or the staff
of fifteen swelling to save your little life.
Not the incision, your line of demarcation.
Not your muscles working against each other,
despite each other.
Forget coarctation.
Forget the tubes, the I-Vs,
the doctors with their bad jokes,
the nurses with their latexed hands.
Not your father feeding you sugar water
with a cotton swab, or your mother
kissing your lips pursed tight as a clasp,
those perfect lips God gave you.
Is it true He doesn't give you more than you can bear?
Forget I asked.
Forget Him.
Forget the small plans we have for today,
watching you vanish and reappear
in the space of my hands.
You, who have been blessed by pain,
forget your first two weeks of life.

It's Poetry Thursday--my favorite day of the week.

"The Small Plans" is a poem I wrote for my daughter Ella sometime at the end of last year. In August 2005, two weeks after she was born, Ella was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect called a coartation of the aorta. She had surgery immediately after it was detected, and I'm happy to say that my good-as-new baby will celebrate her first birthday in August! (Woo Hoo!)

So, I wanted to write a piece that captured the experience as much as a poem can. Ella's ordeal was so intense that I still can't shake it from my being. But I do have enough distance from the poem that I can discuss it critically.

Ultimately, I think words fail the poem. Yet, I'm left to wonder if the words are failing or if it's me who has failed the poem, and the experience expressed in the poem. Being out of the moment made it easier to be a bit more journalistic in my approach to writing about it.

From a technical perspective, I don't know if the prayer element coupled with the rhythm works completely. But writing down the experience makes me feel as though I have controled that particular moment after the fact. I guess that's how I feel about all of my pieces. Time and distance can work miracles in the realm of the poetic.

*And where the f*^% is my audioblogger post?*

(FYI, I decided not to go into too much detail about coarctation now. But I will incorporate more detail into a post closer to Ella's first birthday.)

Self Portrait

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Independence Day

Happy 4th of July!

This has been a crazy time in our household. Today is my husband's birthday, so we have spent the last few days seeing friends and family. We drove across the state and back twice. And to tell you the truth, I'm pooped. We did so much traveling that it caught up with the kids, especially Alex. He's out of sorts tonight because he's missed naps for the past two days. Ella, however, is a little party girl, ready to kick up her heels at a moment's notice.

Alex is so tired that we did not go out to see our local fireworks display; I think Tim's a bit disappointed about that. As a child born on the 4th, he grew up believing that the fireworks were set off for him. The kid in him still believes it and wants to share that feeling with his kids. But Alex is so exhausted that he's cranky and feverish. With any luck, he'll be back in action tomorrow.

Suffice it to say I haven't had a chance to blog, even though I had five days off. I've been craving my laptop--I've missed the feel of the keys under my fingertips. But again, I'm tired, so I'm cutting myself some slack and posting a meme.

This meme comes by way of Susannah.

The Countdown

10 Favorites
Favorite Season: Summer
Favorite Color: Blue/navy blue
Favorite Time: 9 p.m., after the kids go to bed
Favorite Food: The Chick-fil-a sandwich
Favorite Drink: Hot tea with lemon
Favorite Ice Cream: Chocolate
Favorite Place: My bed
Favorite Sport: Baseball, tennis
Favorite Actor: Denzel Washington
Favorite Actress: Hmmm. I'm stumped.

9 Currents
Current Feeling: Sleepy
Current Drink: Hot tea with lemon
Current Time: 10:36 p.m.
Current Show on TV: Law and Order: SVU
Current Mobile used: Motorola
Current Windows Open: Word, Explorer
Current Underwear: Black bikini cut panties
Current Clothes: Red cotton top, grey men's pajama bottoms.
Current Thought: "Can't get my poem to work out so I'll post this meme instead."

8 Firsts
First Nickname: Boo Boo
First Kiss: Age 12, it sucked
First Crush: Duran Duran--I loved Simon LeBon
First Best Friend: Don't remember
First Vehicle I Drove: My parents' Reliant K
First Job: Concession stand employee at a movie theater
First Date: High school prom
First Pet: Two mice, Garfield and Odie

7 Lasts
Last Drink: Hot tea with lemon
Last Kiss: One hour ago
Last Meal: Lobster ravoli and mixed greens
Last Web Site Visited:
Last Film Watched: Rent
Last Phone Call: With dad
Last TV show Watched: Red Sox "taking it in the shorts" courtesy of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays

6 Have You Evers
Have You Ever Broken the Law: Maybe
Have You Ever Been Drunk:absolutely!
Have You Ever Kissed Someone You Didn't Know: No
Have You Ever Been in the Middle/Close to Gunfire: God no
Have You Ever Skinny Dipped: No, damn it.
Have You Ever Broken Anyone's Heart: No

5 Things
Things You Can Hear Right Now: My daughter snoring, the fan, fireworks from Boston.
Things On Your Bed: Brown down comforter, greenish sheets, pillows, socks, O magazine
Things You Ate Today: scrambled eggs, toast, pineapple dipped in chocolate, steak tips, lobster ravoli
Things You Can't Live Without: My family, iPod, books, Red Sox, my Subaru Outback, a good cup of tea--yes, it's all about the tea
Things You Do When You Are Bored: Blog, call friends, read magazines

4 Places You Have Been Today
The bed, Best Buy, backyard party in Western Massachusetts, and "my happy place" (my mental vacation spot from my family).

3 Things On Your Desk Right Now
Bills, Nomar Garciaparra Red Sox bobblehead doll, lots of pens

2 Choices
Black or White: Black
Hot or Cold: In the words of Buster Poindexter, Hot Hot Hot

1 Place You Want To Visit
Barcelona, Spain

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sunday Scribblings: Two Peas in a Pod


One day, this boy will take the car for a spin. He'll go to college, meet a girl (lots of girls), land a good job, move from city to city to city, meet "the one," get married, have babies, and, with any luck, get the chance to hold his son in a photo like this while on vacation. One day, our boy will find this photo and show it to his son and daughter and say, "That's my dad. He's a great father." And he'll say that not because of the photo, but because he'll realize that all the little things--from playing baseball to walks around the block to the occasional "Time Out"--actually mean something. That all of these moments make a life.

One day, we'll be there as our son raises his own beautiful peas and makes a pod for his family. (Gosh, I guess that means we'll be grandpeas someday!)

Happy Birthday, Tim. You're a terrific father. Where does the time go?

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Inside the Actors Studio Meme

My friend, Boston Erin, posted the Pivot questions from Inside the Actors Studio on her blog. These are the questions that host James Lipton asks each guest at the end of the show.

Because there's a creative synnergy between acting and writing, and because once posted these questions become a meme, I thought it was time to give them a second look.

1 What is your favorite word? Serendipity
2 What is your least favorite word? Boogers (My husband taugh it to my son. *sigh*)
3 What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? The feeling of a plan coming together. Family. Poetry. Blogging. Blogging about poetry.
4 What turns you off? Bad drivers
5 What is your favorite curse word? The "C" word. Never knew what it meant until my mid-20s, so it doesn't mean that much to me. But I love other people's reaction to it, especially in the car to bad drivers. Also, Mother F*ck*r is close second.
6 What sound or noise do you love? My kids' laughter
7 What sound or noise do you hate? Dental drills
8 What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Torch singer
9 What profession would you not like to do? From the movie Say Anything -- "I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed ... or buy anything sold or processed ... or process anything sold, bought, or processed ... or repair anything sold, bought or processed."
10 If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? What took you so long?

Feel to post your answers.


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