Thursday, August 30, 2007

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Oh hell. This feels like a death.

That being said, the debt of thanks I owe to Liz and Dana and the Poetry Thursday community cannot be repaid. I’ve posted more than 70 poems because of Poetry Thursday—more that I had written in the 10 years prior to 2006. I managed to complete a manuscript and co-found a literary reading series. I’ve developed relationships beyond the computer screen—all because of this deep, abiding love of poetry. All because Liz and Dana said that poetry matters.

Thank you, ladies. Thank you.

Because this feeling of community is so important, I am working with Dana, Jim, and Melissa to bring something new and innovative to the blogosphere. Our goal is to have it up and running next week. In the meantime, here’s my last poem for Poetry Thursday. It’s an oldie but one that is close to my heart. I am honored to share it with you on Poetry Thursday.


High above the treetops’ skeleton arms and bare fingertips,
large, white birds soar and glide in conversation with the air.

Are they angels flying in the formation of a cross,
their wings extended and exposed under the afternoon sky?

You and I have chosen a sullen life. We rattle our cages,
bite the bell, every feather of our fiery wings clipped.

As the curtains grow pale, we look through layers of light
while something in the world flies away from us.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Checking in

After a much-needed break, I’m back in the blogosphere with nothing on my mind but poetry. This break reminded me how much I enjoy being Poet Mom and running this blog. Lots of busy work going on behind the scenes here, here, and here on a project to keep the poetry love thang going once Poetry Thursday shuts down.


If you have been waiting for one of my extra-special poetry postcards, wait no more. Check your mailboxes this week for a special delivery from yours truly. Admittedly, I freaked out when I had to write so many new poems. And the ones I did mail came back returned (I really shouldn’t put my return address on a postcard.). If you’d like to receive a postcard in September, e-mail me at for more information.

I am bursting at the seams with all things poetry, so hold onto your hats—September will be a busy month.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Donkey on the Edge

(A Shrek movie reference)

As you've probably noticed, I haven't been posting this week. Suffice it to say that I'm worn out, which has not left enough time or energy to blog or write poems.


So I hope to get my second wind when I go home to Virginia to see my parents this weekend. Knowing me, I'll probably post something while I'm away. And I still have more postcard poems to write.

As for what ails me, I'm sure it's nothing that 26 miles of public beach can't cure.

See you soon.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Book Review: Maximum Ride

James Patterson
Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports
Young Adult Fiction

When I was a teen, I didn’t read much young adult fiction. I read, and loved, Catcher in the Rye and The Outsiders, but not much teen fiction beyond that. So as a 30-something mother of two, I am surprised to find myself fully engaged in a young adult novel about genetically altered kids. Huh?

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, part of the James Patterson series of books, is an entertaining yet delightfully freaky read. The story focuses on a group of genetically altered kids (ages range from 6-14) who have the ability to fly. Max, the central character, and her cohorts, are in a desperate race against time to save the youngest member of the group, Angel, from more genetic testing from the big-brother-like scientists.

As I’m reading the book, I am drawn to the themes in the story—alienation, conformity, pre-teen awkwardness, new love. This book deals with all of those themes effortlessly against the backdrop of world domination by a covert group. In the process, these lost boys and girls have formed a family. They’ve learned to lean on each other while respecting each other’s strengths, for the most part. These are teenagers, after all! They argue, make rash decisions, and often can’t handle the choices that come with so much responsibility. While running from “Erasers,” or the wolf-like creature that chase them throughout the novel, the kids begin to learn about past while uncovering their futures, with enough twists and turns to keep the story going for at least a sequel.

Living in a time when the television show Heroes captures so much of the public imagination, it’s nice to find a book that can convey the same emotions and excitement on paper. It’s also great to have a female lead as a main character. In a few years, when my kids are older, I can see myself sharing this story with them.

A book with such a rich narrative landscape can be a doorway into the awkward conversations parents and teens often dance around. Maximun Ride is the perfect book for any young adult looking to sink their litererary teeth into a fast read.

Visit the Mother Talk Web site for more information.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Dear Diary

Dear Diary:

I know I can talk to you and you won’t judge me. Here’s a list of gripes I’ve had over the past few days.

  1. I’m not feeling creative. Even though I’ve been working through my Postcard Poetry Exchange, it’s tough writing so many first drafts in a short amount of time. The ones I have received are amazing, so I’ll be sure to post when I have a few minutes.

  2. I’ve spent so much time writing postcard cards that I’m not getting any sleep. Generally, my work day has been more stressed than normal so it takes a little more out of me by the end of the day.

  3. My commute back and forth to work also wears me down. On a good day, it’s 45 minutes one way. But on the not-so-good days—it could take more than 1.5 hours. I usually feel the pressure during the afternoon commute when I have to pick the kids up from day care. My kids are usually the last ones there. Jokingly, I tell my coworkers at the end of the work day that if I don’t leave now, the day care providers will leave my kids in a cardboard box by the side of the road. Of course that’s not true, but that’s how I feel if I don’t get there in time.

  4. Why can’t the Boston Red Sox play consistent baseball? Granted, they are the league-leading team in the American League, but don’t they realize the New York Yankees are only five games back? Fortunately, the Sox have a softer schedule than the Yankees so with any luck the Yanks will be out of Wild Card contention by October. I’ll feel better when we start planning our Yankees’ elimination party. (Sorry, if you’re a Yanks’ fan, you’ll just have to deal with it.)

    Diary, I have to say I’m thrilled that my husband and kids are not on the gripe list. Usually, they’re at the top. But we’ve all hit a nice little stride where the kids seem to be listening, and my efforts not to snap at them or cut them off mid-sentence is paying off. And, lately, Tim and I have managed to find a few quiet moments at the end of the day, which helps immensely.

    I wonder how others deal with stress points in their lives?

    Thanks, Diary, for letting me vent on this Sunday.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Congrats Kelli!

Kelli Russell Agodon's poem, "Praying to the Patron Saint of Saved Marriages," was just featured on Verse Daily!

(I can't provide a deep link, so go to Verse Daily's archives and look for August 17, 2007.)

It is a wonderful poem, so take a moment to read it. And go by Kelli's blog to congratulate her on a job well done!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

An Announcement

A new group poetry site is coming soon to the Internet. Too early to disclose details, but check back here and at Dana's blog for details as they unfold.

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Happy Thursday!

All week I have been trying to make this poem work, but my third stanza isn't gelling. I think I need to that "zone" and just let go. So I'm posting the first two stanzas knowing I need to finish it.
Also, don't read too much into the poem's subtext. Lastly, I can't tab in Blogger, so the poem actually has a different format.

Looking forward to reading your poems this week.

If I Was That Kind of Woman

I’d feed the hungry waltz
dancing through my body.
I’d answer the call of
pheromones and proximity
growing inside the hothouse
that is us.

All day I am a tuning fork
attracted to the slightest
hesitation in our voices,
your breathe in my ear,
your eyes tilting the room
to where the heart flutters
and temptation comes to roost.
If I was that kind of woman
I’d let you hold my choices
against me, up against the wall
harder, faster, against
the order of things.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Poetry Exchange #1

My first postcard poem arrived in the mail:

dragonfly reststop

afternoon meditation

follow the journey

Thanks Deo Writer!

Monday, August 13, 2007

True Success

I’ve been thinking about that concept a lot in terms of my writing. If I never publish a book of poems, will I look upon myself as a successful writer? Hard to say. Many writers are satisfied without entering into the publishing fray. I don't know if that's my story. All I can do is keep moving forward, and keep attempting projects that help me grow as a poet and a person.

In the meantime, here’s my poetry to-do list for the next few weeks.

This week
  • Mail out eight postcard poems. OK, I admit it. I’m backlogged. So if I promised you a postcard, don’t worry. It’s coming soon.
  • Write a poem for Poetry Thursday
  • Write a book review
  • Choose dates for NEWS reading events for the fall

Next week

  • Send out to two publishers. This is one item that appears on my list but I rarely do. I think I’m afraid of being successful.
  • Write a poem for Poetry Thursday
  • Send manuscript to yet another publisher
    Write an article for a poetry journal for an upcoming project. More on that later.

Two weeks later

  • Write a poem for Poetry Thursday
  • Mail more postcard poems?
  • Start revising 2007 poems. My least-favorite task on the whole list. Some people like revision--I'm not one of them.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Goosebumps

A few months ago, I wrote a column for Poetry Thursday called “Chasing Phil Levine.” In it, I talked about the experience of writing a letter to Phil, who was my thesis adviser and mentor during my grad school years at New York University more than 10 years ago. Yesterday, I received a response to my letter—and that was certainly an occasion for Goosebumps.

Here’s an excerpt from the original article:

Studying with a talented writer is a real gift, no matter how famous or how many books he or she has published. Phil was more than a mentor. He was a physical representation of how I wanted to live in the world as a practicing poet. He gave his time to me and my classmates, encouraged us to experience life in the real world, and pushed us to question everything. I knew that to be the kind of poet I wanted to be, a part of me had to change to practice this vocation.

In other words, Phil taught me it was OK to make an ass out of myself.

The letter was my “state of the union,” giving Phil a long-overdue update on my poetic and personal life. I sent a photo of my family and a few poems, as if Phil would even want this information from me. But I always felt that we had a connection, and that he was a true advocate for my success. I wanted Phil to know that I was healthy and happy, still writing poems, still making an ass out of myself every chance I get!

In the Poetry Thursday column, I said that getting a reply from Phil wasn’t that important—I wrote the letter for me. Well, I lied! I wanted a response. Since so much time had passed, I thought I must have misjudged the importance of this relationship. But all was revealed in the letter, and without going into too much detail, he seemed proud of my accomplishments and loved my most recent poems.

Lately, I have been waiting for responses from publishers telling me something—anything—about my manuscript. So when my husband gave me Phil’s letter, it was the last thing I expected. I hesitated for a minute, as if it was still a rejection letter. In that split second, I felt Goosebumps rise on my arms. Now, I’ve come full circle. I'm ready to put this glorious part of my past to rest.
Visit Sunday Scribblings for more Goosebump-worthy posts.

Friday, August 10, 2007


How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I met Joseph Legaspi in grad school at NYU in 1995 (yikes!). We've grown up together as friends and poets, and now, he is reaping the rewards of hard work, dedication to craft, and persistence. His first book, Imago, will be available soon on and other booksellers in the next few weeks.

Not only is he a phenomenal poet, but he's a force in the poetry community. Did I mention he is cofounder of Kundiman, an organization dedicated to the development of Asian American poets? Simply amazing.

I'm just so proud of Joseph and honored to be his friend. Hope you check out his book or read more of his poetry online.

Men with Breasts

When I see men with breasts,
mammillary, twin elfin mounds
bulging through
shirts, I suppress
the bubbles of emotions
that might burp out of me—a moan,
a giggle. I think: nubile children trapped
in adult men, daughters
hidden in their bodies,
the women in these men
manifesting themselves.
Do their hands make pilgrimages
to these holy places? Do they
gently stroke the knobs
of their areolas to summon
a lover from anywhere across snow banks or Eden fields?
Or do they curse them
for obstructing intimate embrace
with pillows? Do they desire
the armor chests of Greek
heroes, demigods and gods?
At the beach they parade
in front of me like platters
of fruits: Chinese plums,
glossy pink and cup-sized, pale
strawberries, hairy kiwis. My father,
too, possesses a pair of dwarf papayas,
elongated, sagging into cusps
of rosy resin, languid, nestled
on his stomach like the Buddha's.
I know my father's breasts
are empty and my thirst
will remain
unquenched, I can suck
and suckle, work them
like the teats of a newly-birthed sow
or bitch, play the spherical
instrument of his nipples
with my tongue to hear
celestial music, and there will be no
warm, nourishing colostrum.

~ Joseph Legaspi

(I loves me some Jo Jo!)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Poem for Poetry Thursday

Feels good to have a poem written early on Thursday.

I was going to use this poem on the back of a postcard, but I liked it enough to post for Poetry Thursday. Looking forward to reading your poems this week!

Skinny Dip

Make peace with what cannot be seen
and what you do not know.
Try not to enter the pond scum,
the algae that swirls
in dark, empty rooms called water.
Pretend your body is a submarine—
impenetrable, even to your own thoughts.
Those breasts, underinflated flotation devices.
Your thick middle will keep you buoyant
though your arms, slender as sea grass,
won’t save anyone, not even yourself.
This is a world for one: the current’s
sublime lilt. The mumbles of light
from drunken stars. Nothing,
not even you, goes unnoticed.
You can swim for hours
and never get away.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Postcard Poem 1


The sound of breathing, the sound of wind
rustling curtains as they silently hang,

tucking our stories among the folds.
the sound of our story told

without words, even our shadows
hold their tongues. The inside of my hand

to the inside of yours. The dialogue.
The question and the answer

and the sound of breathing.

Charlie The Unicorn

Funny and bizarre, this fits right in with my quirky sense of humor.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Sunday Scribblings: Decision

A good friend of mine sold a home she and her family have lived in for nearly 50 years. It was a difficult decision, but, quite frankly, it was time.

The stories that this house held were endless. And now it’s waiting for strangers to fill the rooms with new ones. The nice thing about memories, however, is that they’re transportable. Those funny, outrageous, heartwarming, heartbreaking memories live in the pictures and teacups and fine china and quilts we unpacked today.

For many reasons, my friend needed a change. I know she had a different life mapped out when she started this journey. But life gets complicated. Clean breaks are needed. Fortunately, she embraced the change, showing a kind of dignity and grace that I have come to expect from her. So we took our cues from her, which gave us the strength to help her make this transition.

My friend is happy in her new place. Not just happy—excited! It was as if she was moving into her first apartment again. All those things you need for a new space we had to buy, such as a shower curtain liner, silverware holder, and a teapot. Fresh flowers sat in a crystal vase on the kitchen table. Laughter filled every crack and crevice. And a little girl celebrated her second birthday today.

A while ago, possibly in anticipation of this day, my friend had an artist sketch the outside of her home and gave one to each of her children. In a few days, she’ll hang that picture in her new home. Afterwards, I imagine that she’ll use the new teapot, pouring hot water into an old teacup. I hope it's the best cup of tea she’s ever had.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

New U.S. Poet Laureate

Damn. Didn't they know I was available?

I think Charles Simic is a terrific choice to follow Donald Hall as the next Poet Laureate, and reveals an unexpected diversity in his selection.

From a New York Times article (may need subscription to view):


Charles Simic, Surrealist With Dark View, Is Named Poet Laureate

Charles Simic, a writer who juxtaposes dark imagery with ironic humor, is to be named the country's 15th poet laureate by the Librarian of Congress today.

Mr. Simic, 69, was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and immigrated to the United States at 16. He started writing poetry in English only a few years after learning the language and has published more than 20 volumes of poetry, as well as essay collections, translations and a memoir.

A retired professor of American literature and creative writing at the University of New Hampshire, he won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1990 and held a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant from 1984 to 1989.

He succeeds Donald Hall, a fellow New Englander, who has been poet laureate for the past year.

The post of poet laureate has existed since 1987, although there were
27 consultants in poetry to the Library of Congress before that.
Laureates receive a $35,000 award and a $5,000 travel allowance.

Poem for Poetry Thursday

If it's Thursday, there must be poetry!

Finally, the poems are returning. I don't have much to say other that I started out writing one poem and then wrote something completely different--I love it when that happens! Still working out my pronoun issues; but still, this week's poem is a decent first draft.

Also, feel free to check out my Postcard Poetry Exchange project.

Out of the Blue

I don’t believe in suddenly. Nothing happens
all of the sudden, as if I couldn’t hear
thunder before lightning’s rip-crack
or feel a tree split in two.
There are ions that flow in opposite directions,
but that’s not us. That’s not our story.
We course between pulses of rain-drenched leaves.
We bow under buttressing branches
outstretched and wanting,
always wanting.
Listen to our low-shaded song.
For some, barely a shimmer of light
exists between them. They subsist on rock-gut,
on life left over. No place of origin.
No memory of the time before the blue faded,
when a sudden breeze carried
the electricity of surprise.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Postcard Poetry

My friend and fellow poet Joseph Legaspi (I’m linking to his first book, Imago, which comes out really, really soon!) has a project going with his circle of writers called Postcard Poetry. The idea is very simple: he sends a poem no bigger than the back side of a postcard to someone in his writers’ group.

He and I are starting to write postcards to each other. Here is his first card to me:

The poem reads (with no clue on the line breaks):

Begin with a peach, aflame,
suspended in the haloed air.
Then collisions, a series: high
speed train and cow grazing on
the grassy tracks. Ex-lovers in the
coatroom at an acquaintance's
party. A judge's gavel quieting
an unruly courtroom. And outside
in the blinding sun of a humid afternoon
how a green dress flutters from a flagpole
like these disparate images.

I wrote my first postcard poem and will be mailing it today. I’ll post what I sent this weekend—seems fitting that Joseph should be the first person to read it.

I’ve loved this idea ever since Joseph sent me Ted Kooser’s book, Winter Morning Walks: 100 Postcards to Jim Harrison. So I’m suggesting this to you. If you’re interested in participating in a Poetry Postcard Exchange, contact me at We’ll exchange mailing addresses and I’ll send you a brand-spanking-new poem on a postcard. The poem(s) you send me should be written by you just for me! (*smile*). Please let me know if I can post the card and the poem on my blog. Let’s keep it up for the month of August. Think of it as part writing exercise, part fun!

I loved receiving Joseph’s little gem in the mail. Looking forward to reading your postcard poems, too!


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