Thursday, April 30, 2009

NaPoWriMo 30

(WOO HOO!)


In Medias Res


It’s time to take inventory
of all we have lost. If we lie still,
we can hear the hours
whistle through the empty house.
A spring storm moves in from the south,
catching us all by surprise.
So much left undone. We cling
to the psalm of structure like an ark,
but the truth is no day is promised.
Blame the weather and its proverbial
smooth sailing. Boy, were we fooled.
The sky is utter and vast, with more questions
than answers in each tiny bulb of rain.
How much can we really hold in our hands?
Beyond that, it’s beyond our control.

NaPoWriMo 29

(Yesterday's PAD challenge was to title a poem "Never (blank)" with you filling in the blank with a word or phrase. Here's my attempt.)


Never Let Them See You Cry


Bury your tears in the yard
with everything else
you hope might grow
into something else.
Let the green stalks rise
to meet the sharp edge
of your pruning shears.
Silence is what you need right now.
Pay no attention to the back-and-forth
of the grackles in their noisy
he said/she said conversation.
What do they know about
the stone in your heart?
What do they know about
the open throats of tulips
choked by rot underneath?

Inside, dinner is on the table
as the afternoon drifts into dusk.
Take the shears and clip forsythia
branches for the dining room table.
Make the room dumb with beauty—
let no one be the wiser.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

NaPoWriMo 28

Among


Bedtime comes and goes.
I splash the kids with the last of my kisses,
putting them in their place among the things
of their world: stuffed animals, action figures,
Lego blocks, and puzzle pieces. Then I take
my place between the sheets of the queen-sized bed,
listen to wind rattle the hooks on the neighbors’ flagpole
as the last evening commuter rail pulls wearily into the station.
Tonight I am grateful for this almost-silence,
the cadence between night and day,
and the chance to insert myself into it.

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks! Hope it's warm and sunny where you are (we're looking at 90 degrees in the Boston area—woo hoo!). Share your hot 'n' steamy confessions with us, and don't forget to visit the sinners in The Confessional.


I'm feeling kinda icky today. Upset tummy. I believe it's a direct result of some stressful things happening in my life. But if one more person says I have Swine Flu, I will lose my mind!

In all seriousness, I'm a relatively healthy, "mind over matter" kind of person. I eat right; I exercise and drink plenty of water. So being sick always throws me for a loop. And I've never been sick because of stress. All I can do, I think, is look for ways to manage the stress because it doesn't look like it's going away for a while.

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My little guy is sick at home with the same stomach icky-ness that I have. Poor thing. But I don't think it's stress related.

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NaPoWriMo … three more days. We're through the looking glass, folks. After trailing for most of the month, I'm back on track. It's amazing that a project like this has changed my blogging and writing habits. Just haven't had the time or the energy to write blog posts, upload photos, or visit other blogs. Thankfully, in May I can spend more time doing all those things, as well as put together manuscript #2. So I'll spend the month revising and reshaping. I have a feeling I'll write a short series for the new collection.

May 1, I'll post a recap of my personal NaPoWriMo highlights.

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Drunken Boat delayed posting their latest issue a week; I'll post a link to my poem in Issue 10 when it's ready. Also received a rejection from the Cincinnati Review. Receiving that rejection made me realize that I don't have many poems out there in circulation. Time to start sending out again. Any suggestions on where to submit over the summer months?

Also, a question for U.S. poets: Have you tried submitting your work to international publications? Just curious.

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Go Red Sox! Go Celts! Go Bruins! It's a good time to be a Boston sports fan.



Monday, April 27, 2009

NaPoWriMo 27

The New Thrift




The shape of our lives is a chipped plate, the knees of jeans patched and repatched. Mixing craters of old lipsticks into a brand new color. Cutting the toothpaste tube for one last brush. Nail polish thinned with drops of remover for one more coat. And the coats, passed down from brother to sister. Welcome to the new thrift. Teabags steeped twice for an extra half-cup, in the handle-less teacup destined to become a spring planter. Last night’s baked chicken becomes tomorrow’s chicken salad becomes Tuesday’s noodle soup. Words in poems I renew, reuse, recycle. The art of thrift isn’t too hard to master. Mend it (Save it!) to fend off disaster.





(Yes, I know. The last lines is a complete rip from Elizabeth Bishop's One Art. Decided to give myself a break and write something cheesy. Must get some sleep tonight. Confessions tomorrow.)

VQR's 10 Most Common Titles

From the VQR's blog, here are the 10 most common titles of submissions received in the past two years:

Untitled
Aubade
Gravity
Prayer
Homecoming
Night
Drowning
Home
Sonnet
Sleep

Sunday, April 26, 2009

NaPoWriMo 26

Advice for My Son upon Entering Kindergarten


Don’t be surprised
if the other kids
wonder what you are.
They may make fun
of your Spider-Man backpack,
your brown bag lunch.
They don’t know
that it’s impolite to ask,
“Who’s your mama?”
or “Where’s your daddy?”
You are fair and smooth.
The girls will fall in love
with your long lashes
and tight curls shorn
close to your head.
They’ll fall in love with
the unanswerable in you,
while the boys will envy
your ease with them.
Be smart.
These boys may push,
cut you in line,
think they’re entitled
to something more.
The playground
is an unlikely place
to contemplate
the human condition.
They may look into
your coal-black eyes
and demand that you
choose your color,
yet we know black or white
is not that simple.
You are the best of both.
It’s your choice to choose
or not to. I say,
let that be your first
fuck you to the world.

NaPoWriMo 25

(This prompt is from the Poetic Asides challenge to write a poem about an event.)


At the Zoo


In the photo, he is five and she is nearly four,
Both standing with their dad in front of the jaguar pit.
Cheeks flushed from the unexpected gift
of an 80-degree April day. They stand in front of him,
and I pose them, while they force a kids smile,
which looks more like a grimace than joy.
To look at the pictures from the day,
it’s as if I didn’t exist,
such is the quandary with mothers,
in the background but not a part of it.
Look at the kids pretending to be meerkats,
Watch them stand on one leg with the flamingos.
There I am, the lone wolf, perched on a high rock
looking at all of the foolish humans with their cameras
trying to shut out the negative.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

NaPoWriMo 24

Uncoupling


This is a poem about the end of love,
that horizon seen from the highway
but only in the rearview.

This is for the beginning, middle, and end of it,
for all the things said and never said—
the sheets we filled with hours,
and dishes heaped with hunger.

This is for surviving on a thimbleful of light,
holding it up against a darkened sky
to defend ourselves against certain lunacy.

This is for the days being numbered,
the writing on the wall, the jig being up,
and every cliché written the absence of something.

This is for the heart’s undetected murmur,
For the ache of loving what is lost,
and the longing for what might restore it.

Friday, April 24, 2009

NaPoWriMo 23

(Yea! Back on track. This poem is from the Poetic Asides prompt about work, one of my favorite topics.)



Luck


Is when the recession scythe
spares your job. Can’t say the same
for the guy in the cube next to yours
doing the same dirty work as you,
the one up to his neck in anguish.
What a terrible definition of progress,
but this is not your fate today.

You are part of a world full of things
it can no longer keep—nonessential,
I believe that’s the term.
Come to the going away party.
We’ll have cake and a card
with quotables such as,
“It’s been a pleasure,” and
“You won’t miss us at all.”

In truth, you are nobody’s star.
You are a cog in a machine
full of wonderful cogs,
all paper clips and rubber bands
like the ones at the bottom
of the desk drawer
you are lucky enough
not to have to clean out,
not today. And for this
you are thankful.

NaPoWriMo 22

The Year in Review


It was the year the Red Sox started the season 2-6,
the economy tanked, and spring dragged its heels
with a wind that curled itself into a kind of brooding.

It was the year our lives exploded on canvas
like a Kandinsky painting: chaos, control;
chaos, control; a large, colored mass signifying nothing.

It was the year the word “maybe” pivoted
like a turnstile in the middle of conversations,
refusing all requests for wisdom or clarity.

It was the year you displaced silence
the way the body displaces water in a pool,
the way the bed remains sullen from your depression.

It was the year I believed everything alive in the world
got here by learning how to adapt. Even our shadows
rise in the still air, keeping their miseries to themselves.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

NaPoWriMo 21

At The Scope


That big nipple of a dome where my father
took me to see pro wrestling matches,
I remember the blue cotton candy he bought
with the glossy program we used to spot
“the villans” from “the good guys.”
The giant ring was an 8-foot cage that barely contained
the likes of Andre the Giant, “Nature Boy” Ric Flair,
Hulk Hogan, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat,
and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka.
It was a circus, with a swril of violence
and a few thousand strangers shouting out
their sad aggressions. “Kill ‘em!” “Beat ’em down!”
We yelled from our safe distances,
and they honored us with body slams and clostheslines.
They knew we loved the spectacle,
the mock ballet of body blows and piledrivers,
hitting themselves until purple splotches
blossomed from their eyes and mouths like flowers.
We took it all as fact. Who knew it wasn’t real?
Anybody could see there was something inside
that hurt so much it wanted it out.


(The last line is borrowed from Nate Pritts’ poem "Apeman", featured on Verse Daily. And, here's The Scope.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NaPoWriMo 20

Chocolate Chip Pancakes, 7 p.m.



Tonight, we do dinner easy.
I take measuring bowls
from the cabinets,

mix Bisquick, egg, and milk
with a wooden spoon,
fold the batter

while semi-sweets
drop from Ella’s fingers.
Alex mans the griddle—

I hold his hand
as he flips with a spatula. Soon,
everything floats in a sea of syrup.

And my heart, full from laughter,
requires no napkin.
I lick happiness my fingers.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

NaPoWriMo 19

Saving Change


My dad and I saved our money
in a Maxwell House coffee can
with a fine slit through the plastic lid.
I loved hearing the heavy quarters
and tinny dimes drop to the bottom.
My father knew the value of a penny,
every one counted, so I’d always looked down
at the sidewalks in front of the grocery store
and the 7-11, after he bought cigarettes,
while I got a slurpee and a mouthful of Bazooka gum.

We’d gleefully count at the kitchen table,
stacking our wealth in miserly piles,
then encasing them in brown papers sleeves,
our hands dirty and silvery from the our reckoning.
That weighted walk to the bank was a celebration
of diligence. Later, as an adult, I’d find spare change
to save for a house, vacations, an emergency fund,
enjoying the value of value—that simple circle,
the rim of the coin and its reeded edge.

Pulitzer Prizes 2009

Here are the awards that relate to the arts. (I heard the Merwin book is excellent.)

LETTERS AND DRAMA
Fiction -- Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout (Random House)

Drama -- Ruined by Lynn Nottage

History -- The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family by Annette Gordon-Reed (W.W. Norton & Company)

Biography -- American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by Jon Meacham (Random House)

Poetry -- The Shadow of Sirius by W. S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press)

General Nonfiction -- Slavery by Another Name: The Re-Enslavement of Black Americans from the Civil War to World War II by Douglas A. Blackmon (Doubleday)

MUSIC
Double Sextet by Steve Reich, premiered March 26, 2008 in Richmond, VA (Boosey & Hawkes).


And a little more info in the poetry category:

POETRY
For a distinguished volume of original verse by an American author, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000).

Awarded to “The Shadow of Sirius,” by W. S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press), a collection of luminous, often tender poems that focus on the profound power of memory.

Also nominated as finalists in this category were: “Watching the Spring Festival,” by Frank Bidart (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a book of lyric poems that evinces compassion for the human condition as it explores the constraints that limit the possibility of people changing the course of their lives, and “What Love Comes To: New & Selected Poems,” by Ruth Stone (Copper Canyon Press), a collection of poems that give rich drama to ordinary experience, deepening our sense of what it means to be human.

Confession Tuesday

Happy Tuesday, folks! Thanks for stopping by. Feel free to share your sins, and don't forget to reach out to my fellow sinners in The Confessional.




A big wet, sloppy kiss to Kristi, Joseph, Alex, Suzie, Erin, Colleen, Heidi, Stanley, Rosemary, Tom, Heather, and "pubs" for helping me navigate through some difficult personal waters. I'm following the example of Dory from the movie Finding Nemo: "Just keep swimming!"




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Two really great pieces of news. One of my poems that was accepted to Drunken Boat last year will appear online this week in issue #10. There's an audio link, too. How exciting! And, Joseph Legaspi and I will be reading in the Joaquin Miller Cabin Reading Series in Washington, D.C., this June or July! How cool is that? And with any luck, maybe we'll get to read at Busboys and Poets.


This is the start of lots of summer travel. Wish there was money to travel, which means all of my summer adventures will be the "shoestring" kind. But I think that's the best way to go sometimes. Nothing wrong with cheap eats and free stuff. I'm just psyched that most of the museums on The Mall are free!


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NaPoWriMo is kicking my poetry *ss! It's tough when you're writing to catch up. I mean, try writing three poems in one day. But I hope to be back on pace in a day or so.


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That's all I got this week. When you're trying to write a poem a day, that lives little time for chit chat. Happy NPN, everyone!

Monday, April 20, 2009

NaPoWriMo 18

Spring


The garden out back is waiting
to be tilled. Leaves cover the rows
where tomatoes and basil once grew,
while grass sprouts through
the hard, cold ground.
You did not ask for this.
You crave the lush life of summer,
where hazy, hot, and humid
is the only language you speak.
You want to flower under the blazing sun
and make believers of us all.
It is time to compost what is dead,
time to feed what still lives under the surface:
a longing, a seed, a kernel
that delivers on the promise of bloom.
Soon, the head will unfurl,
new buds will unravel and seek the sun.
Soon, the body will lift its stem
making an easy choice
between heaven and earth.


(The last three lines are a play on the last lines from "Take Cover" by Angie Estes, Verse Daily.)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

NaPoWriMo 17

This poem was created from a list of words given to me by my coworkers. Here's the list:

Bird
Turquoise
Green
Umbrage
Lovely
Less
Strength
Skirt
Carpenter



Skirt


Birds peer inside from the sapling branches.
They watch me iron a green and turquoise skirt,
fresh as spring from the close line. What strength
it takes to do this work, to take what is less
and make something lovely once more,
without umbrage, in celebration of abundance.
I flatten the hem as deftly as a carpenter levels,
while steam rises and releases itself into the air.
I embrace this little triumph, this solitary pleasure.
Let the rest of the laundry spin in the dryer
like yesterday’s news.

NaPoWriMo 16

After Hours


A stout man enters the inner chamber of the bank.
Afternoon light splits itself into a half light
as he fumbles for the bank card in his wallet.
He’s tired, and smells faintly stale.
Maybe he just got off work, needs a few bucks
For gas or beer or for tonight’s dinner,
pork chops and potatoes,
a meal his wife will surely to cook
as soon as he walks through the door.
His fingers tap the ATM keys. Then
there is this unexpected song,
a mouthful of air gathering
into a chorus of “No, No, No, No, No, No, No”
in synch with the machine’s rhythmic beeping.
He pauses; listens to his own breath come and go
as he tries to catch it, his funds Insufficient,
the question of capital asked and answered—
the money is somewhere yet nowhere.
It takes him a moment to remember where he is
and that he is not alone. He calls his wife
to have that uncomfortable conversation
about not having enough, about what to do next.
And for this you don’t have the words.

Friday, April 17, 2009

NaPoWriMo Check-in

I don’t know about you, but it’s a good thing NaPo happens only once a year because I couldn’t handle it otherwise. Oh, the pressure to keep up! I’ve barely had time to write blog posts and read other blogs. But I love it! This really in one of my favorite times of year.

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And now for something cool. Boston University is presenting a series of live poetry webcasts this weekend as part of their Guestbook Project. Here’s the description.

Poetries of the Stranger, a three-day festival starting at 7 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, April 17-19

Friday, April 17, 7 p.m.
Strange Voice
Featuring James Tate, Fanny Howe, and John Ashbery

*
Saturday, April 18, 7 p.m.
Strange Image
Featuring Henri Cole, Jorie Graham, and Mark Strand

*
Sunday, April 19, 7 p.m.
Strange Place
Featuring Adam Zagajewski, Lucie Brock-Broido, and Derek Walcott

Thursday, April 16, 2009

NaPoWriMo 15

Mortgage


And yet my body slouches toward acceptance—
not of the cost of life, but of living it
under the roof we greedily wanted
so much we would pay for it over time,
yet all day the sky mirrors the heavy clouds
and brittle trees. Surely it is love
that keeps me pruning.
The house has grown on me,
and in me, there’s a window
that overlooks an acre of gratitude
that is vanishing over time.

NaPoWriMo 14

Prayer


Tonight I pray to the god

of small children and broken toys.

Since it seems as though we are made

in Her image, thank you for the tiny curls

in my daughter’s hair. Blessed is She

who holds those galactic swirls close to her beautiful head,

thanks for letting me run my fingers through them

as we read Goodnight Moon at the end of a long, wrecked day.

Thanks for her little hands with chipped nail polish

and the laughter ebbing from her coral lips.

God of the color pink, god of Dora the Explorer,

Thank you for rain as we begin our journey into sleep,

let the sky fall one drop at a time.

That we can find ourselves

in this unearned sweetness,

to the god of small miracles,

I say, Amen.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

NaPoWriMo 13

In the Company of Women

Make me laugh over coffee,
make it a double, make it frothy.
Make my cup overflow
with your small happiness.
I want to hoot and snort and cackle and chuckle.
Let your laughter fill me like a bell.
Let me listen to your ringing and singing
as Billie Holiday croons above our heads
Sorry, the blues are nowhere to be found.
Not tonight. Not here.
No makeup. No tears.
Only contours. Only curves.
Each year claims a color,
each chocolate takes our soul.
Can I have a refill, just one more.
Let the rain collect around our feet.
Let us take this happiness to go.

Confession Tuesday

Confession Tuesday

If it’s Tuesday, I must be confessing. Sorry I'm confessing late. Don’t forget to visit my fellow confessors in The Confessional.



Woo hoo! We’re halfway through National Poetry Month. I hope it’s been as good for you as it has for me.

There are many critics out there who say that poetry should not be relegated to one month. But it gives those of us who love poetry an opportunity to open up a dialogue with nonpoets about this topic. We get to celebrate with others. At no other time during the year are readings and events so plentiful. I *heart* National Poetry Month!

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On Sunday, I wrote my NaPoWriMo poem so early that it gave me a chance to take an extended break and skip a day. Now, I’m two days behind. Yet I'm in great “poetry shape.” Maybe my standards for writing poems are lower. But I feel as if I can tap into this place and write about anything. I needed this.

My biggest fear is that I lose the intensity for writing poems after NaPo. This happened last year, which caused me to spiral into a non-writing cycle for most of 2008. It was so disappointing. So my task after April ends is to find a balance between writing and the rest of my life.

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Lastly, I was sad to hear of the passing of poet Deborah Digges. She was my professor for a semester at NYU long ago. And there was a time when I interviewed with her for an adjunct teaching position with her at Tufts. Teaching wasn't my calling, and I think she knew that. But she was kind and generous with her time. And when a poet leaves us, the world gets a little smaller.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

NaPoWriMo 12





Easter Morning


After the kids find their chocolate bunnies
in pastel baskets with fake green grass,
after the jelly beans planted last night
magically turn into lollipops at dawn,
I listen to them cheeping in the living room
gaps of silence then and an uproar of chatter.
This is the sound of happiness: two kids
in conversation, all present tense, wonderfully broken,
like the fine clicking noises of squirrels,
high-pitched banter, a brother-sister repartee
with the laughter that comes from total and utter glee.
My early risers, their dialogue is meaningful only to them.
About what? Coloring books and waffles,
maybe Easter dinner at Nonna’s, where the talk
is more akin to cross-examinations by grownups.
I am privy today to the secret lives of these children
as they play without want or ire,
happily entertaining themselves,
with no idea that anyone at all is listening.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

NaPoWriMo 11

Ferrari’s


The bouncer stamps our hands
“too young to drink,” but no matter,
let’s get this party started right.
Synchronized moves, we dip and flip,
bump and grind to “It Takes Two,” “Wild Thing”
“Bust a move,” and that’s what we’d do
as the sweat drips from our bodies--
we don't need no water
let the mother fucker burn.
Can you Cabbage Patch? Let me see you
do the Wop. Let me see you Vogue.
Throw your hands in the air,
and party like you just don’t care.
Doesn't matter where we go
let the rhythm move you.

When “In the Air Tonight” played,
it was last call for alcohol.
The double doors thrusts
us into the night,
where the beat goes on
and on and on

NaPoWriMo 10

(Ok, this one is problematic. I used "making" twice, which I had to edit. I held it up a day to revise but sometimes you have to just let go.)


When It Rains

There’s a hole in the ceiling
I only notice when it rains,
and tonight the rain beats
against us all. I wonder
what mold, if any, lives above us,
making us all invisibly unwell
and always under the weather.
When it rains
the door jambs swell and stick
with each passing squall.
How I have loved each creaky step
leading to sloped rooms
with so many stories
the plaster cracks into
bolts of negative lightning.
What small consolation
the rain is against the dark.
Somewhere there’s a hole
in need of repair—
I just know it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

NaPoWriMo 9

What Love Cannot Do


It cannot save itself
when it expires
like a tire’s slow leak.
It cannot bring back
the greediness of youth,
mouth on mouth, skin on skin,
that gnawing, that longing
you carried until the next time,
and then there is no next time.
You never see it coming
but always see it leaving.
It waits by the door, bags packed,
full of the stones from your life.
What it can do is mark the distance
between Point A and Point B,
which feels a galaxy,
every star you ever wished upon
imploding before your eyes.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

My Article at Poets & Writers


(Boston poets Harris Gardner and Sam Cornish)

Woo hoo!

I submitted an article or "Postcard" to Poets & Writers online and they took it!!

The Postcards series highlights poetry-related events happening across the United States. And this is a personal victory for me to have them accept one of my pitches.

Do me a favor and go read about the Boston National Poetry Month Festival! *And be sure to leave a comment on the P&W site.*


NaPoWriMo 8

Tea with My Husband


I climb into bed thinking of
the kids’ shoes readied by the door
backpacks packed, bills paid,
the computer’s final hum
and click before shutdown.
The kettle spits and whistles
over the furious burner.
I hear water splashing into our mugs,
into the same mugs we have used for years.
No amount of sugar could make this any sweeter:
the moment when you place our teas on the nightstand
and slip your warm body into the sheets.
I love the way we border each other
into the night.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

NaPoWriMo 7

(This poem comes from a Poetic Asides prompt to start a poem with the line, "The problem with XXX.")


The Problem with Change


The problem with change
is that you never see it coming
The world is silent and patient,
and still there is nothing to do
but forgive and start over,
to walk outside, let the wind
pull through your hair
like a comb. It whispers
its colorless, odorless breath
to the plants and trees,
hand-dipping everything
into a new season.

Monsters vs. Aliens: An Artist's Rendition


Artist: Alex
Age: 5.5
Media: Markers on white paper
Characters in photo: Left to right, Bob, The Missing Link, Ginormica (aka "Susan"), Doctor Cockroach, and Insectosaurus.

Here's the trailer for M vs. A.

NaPoWriMo 6

(This is based on Robert Lee Brewer's Poetic Asides' prompt about a landmark. )





The Scope


From an aerial view it looks like
a giant breast with no nipple,
a tan dome in the middle
of a square city. In Norfolk
this was the height of all
that was modern, the city’s centerpiece
raised to anchor an evolving downtown,
a place for concerts and the circus,
for car shows and boat shows,
with every military and high school
ceremony in between.
Through the clouds I am surprised
How clearly it see it—your new breast
buttressed by stitches around it,
a mountain without its peak.
Can’t imagine this place without its topography,
yet the streets still hums and thrums
as it always has, as it always will.
Every year a crepe myrtle blooms
around you is a gift.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Confession Tuesday

If I'm confessing, it must be Tuesday!

Unburden yourself. Share tell us something we don't know, and don't forget to check out the other sinners in The Confessional.

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I was up to 2 a.m. writing an article. Details to come very soon!


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Because of that, I’m behind a poem-a-day behind.

In trying to encourage a friend to keep going with his writing this month, I said: "The thing about writing a poem daily is that for the next few weeks, in order to do it, 30 poems-30 days, you have to make it a priority over everything and everyone. It's a totally selfish act. You have to carve out time when you can, because catching up is tough."

I'm trying very hard to balance this writing life with work and family. It's a delicate balance. Some days, I feel frazzled while other days I'm happy if everyone gets that one thing that they needed from me, no matter what it is. But truth be told, I love the NaPoWriMo challenge. I feel more myself when I'm active in the this creative pursuit than almost anything else.

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Keeping confessions short so I conserve time and energy to visit blogs. And, I'm attending my local writers' workshop this evening.

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My only goal today is to get everything done before midnight so I get a good night's sleep. That's what I need today.

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How are you, today?

Sunday, April 05, 2009

NaPoWriMo 5

Kissing at 40


When I kiss you now, at 40,
I savor everything:
lip, tongue, teeth. I kiss
and no air escapes. Nothing.
I take it all and take it in.
Our breath stops and starts
rises and falls in our gorging,
our coming back. Salt on the lips
salt on the skin,
my mouth waters
at the thought of it.
Something inside
wants to get out—
a love-growl, an engine
turning over and over
in the dark,
ready to drive us
anywhere we want to go.

Groovin' on a Sunday Afternoon



Captions, please!

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Yesterday I attended the Boston National Poetry Month Festival, which was a marathon poetry reading featuring more than 50 poets and several open-mic participants. What can I say, it was a great day for local poets. Such a wide range of talent from the greater Boston area.

Hope you have an equivelent event in your neck of the woods.

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And today, I took the kids to see Monsters vs. Aliens. I was a little apprehensive about it because it's rated PG and my kids are under 6. But gosh darnit, it's being marketed to kids everywhere. Turns out the rating had to do with some of the dark space scenes, which look fantastic but might be scary for young kids, and some potty humor. Ella did get a little scared during the space scenes, but both Alex and Ella loved the movie.

Of course, McDonald's had the tie-in promotional toys so we got Happy Meals--the biggest ripoff of all.

****

Are you enjoying all of the National Poetry Month (NPM) activities where you live or on the blogosphere? If you are participating in some sort of poem-a-day challenge, are you keeping up?

Surprisingly, I'm back in the mix. I've written six poem in the past week, so keeping pace has been not been a problem for me.

My biggest fear is that I take time off from the challenge, like I did in '08, only to find myself unable to write anything for the rest of the year. This year, however, the prompts and NPN activities have kept me going.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

NaPoWriMo 4

Zebra


You are not who they say you are.
You are Nubian with white stripes
and sport a Mohawk for a mane.
Once hunted to extinction,
your deafening bray
is a song for the fallen.
Some might even say you are God’s mistake.
But how ordinary the world would be
without you. They will tell you to stay in your herd,
stick close to your mother’s side. Remember,
you are all equine. Put another way,
you are a wild ass. Raise those ears.
Kick your legs. Gaze that impenetrable stare.
Your forefathers once grazed on African grasses.
Your place in this world is the one you claim.

NaPoWriMo 3

A Mother’s Tale


I tell my son
that the best poems
are written in the sand
and washed away with the tide.
I say, the moon controls the waves,
uses the wind to rake the shore.
It is an open invitation to fill
the world with words
because like seashells
you can never have too many.
I tell him to wade into the water.
Start a conversation with
the tiniest grain on the beach,
the one that catches his eye with its glint.
It will tell him everything he needs to know
about this moment, about how to stay in it
a little longer. It will tell him how to be,
for an instant, the thing he most wants
to become.

Hello from the National Poetry Month Festival

I'm mobile blogging from the Poetry Marathon at the Boston Public Library. What fun! Will tell you all about it later.

After a terrible day of flying, and spending the bulk of the day away from kids, i'm spending the rest of my day catching up with my life. Didn't get a chance to post poem #3 before I left so I'll post poems #3 and #4 later tonight.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

NaPoWriMo 2

Bathing My Mother


She braces herself
for the question of hot water
and her whole body responds in relief,
the first bit she’s had all morning.
Leaning against the shower wall
we begin, the way I would
if I was bathing a child—quickly,
as not to prolong this simple act.
I lather soap between my fingers,
unfurl my washcloth over her skin
carefully, so not to touch her incision.
It is all business, my hands rotating
in a circular pattern down her hips
and between her legs,
her body slick as a sea lion’s.
She reaches around for the cloth,
no words, but I listen
like a stethoscope
for her to say something.

Boston National Poetry Month Festival

Hope to see you there!

****

BOSTON NATIONAL POETRY MONTH FESTIVAL

Saturday, April 4
10 a.m.- 4:45 a.m. OPEN MIC:30-4 p.m.

The Festival will be held at the Bostob Public Library's main branch in Copley Square. FREE ADMISSION

53 Major and Emerging poets will each do a ten minute reading; ALSO

Featuring six extraordinarily talented prize winning high school students: Dianna Willard & Joshua Mejia from Boston Latin High School; Yolanda Cruz, Peter Li & Yamira Serret: Boston Arts Academy; Gabriella Fee: Walnut Hill School for the Arts. These student stars will open the Festival at 10 a.m. SAM CORNISH, Boston’s current and first Poet Laureate will open the formal part of the Festival at 11 a.m. 52 additional major and emerging poets will follow with a

POETRY MARATHON

Some of the many luminaries include SAM CORNISH, Diana Der Hovanessian, Richard Wollman, Jennifer Barber, Afaa M. Weaver, Barbara Helfgott-Hyett, Dan Tobin, Ellen Steinbaum, Charles Coe, Ryk McIntyre, Elizabeth McKim, Regie O’Gibson, Kate Finnegan, Michael Bialis, Gary Tucker, (Kaji Aso Studio), Marc Widershien, Sandee Story, CD Collins, Marc Goldfinger, Diana Saenz, Stuart Peterfreund, Valerie Lawson, Joseph DeRoche, Frannie Lindsay, Ifeanyi Menkiti, Dick Lourie , Mark Pawlak, Lainie Senechal, Harris Gardner, Joanna Nealon, Susan Donnelly, Irene Koronas, Doug Holder and a Plethora of other prize winning poets.

This Festival has it all: Professional published poets, celebrities, numerous prize winners, student participation, and open mic.

Even more, it is about community, neighborhoods, diversity, Boston, and Massachusetts. This popular tradition is one of the largest events in Boston’s Contribution to National Poetry Month.

FREE ADMISSION !

FOR INFORMATION: Tapestry of Voices: 617-306-9484 or 617-723-3716
Library: 617-536-5400

April Poetry To-Do's


(Downtown Norfolk, VA)

Day Two. NaPo is already kicking my butt. I’ll post my poems in the evenings.

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As if writing a poem a day wasn’t enough, here’s my April to-do list.

1. 30 poems, 30 days.
2. Review copyedits to my manuscript
3. Submit poems to two lit mags
4. Attend three poetry events. I’m going to Boston’s National Poetry Month Marathon on Saturday, and a Robert Bly event later in the month. And I hope to get in another event later in the month.
5. Write and publish and article about the poetry marathon. Keep your fingers crossed—I have a pretty good lead.

****

And this made my day.

Robert Matthew Van Winkle Named US Poet Laureate After Kay Ryan Steps Down

An excerpt:

Robert Van Winkle, known by most as “Vanilla Ice,” a former rap artist has been living in Texas as a poet since his music career died out. For the last twelve years, he has been corresponding with well-known American poets including Paul Muldoon, Louise Gluck, and Jorie Graham. When the position of Poet Laureate came to end so quickly, the Library of Congress along with Academy of American Poets said it was a “no-brainer” who to pick.


(Thanks Kelli. LMAO!)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

NaPoWriMo 1

(I can't put tabs into Blogger's formatting, so the poem will not appear in its true form.)

From the PAD Challenge: Write an origin poem.




Infantry

From the Latin infantem,
a youth, the youngest foot soldier
shoved in the front of the cavalry.
The first to die, the most expendable.
I think about other words I can’t define:
honor, bravery, sacrifice.
There’s no solace
in what can’t be explained,
like the thrum of the sun,
the iron in the neck
the sweat beading down
the citadel of your skin. Look alive.
You are the frontline, the first line,
maneuvering terrain on patrol, in pursuit.
Always there is a bullet with your name on it.
Always there is the absence of reason,
as if any loss is acceptable, yet you soldier on,
soldier, I am enamored with you,
come home safe and come home soon.

Someecards

Happy National Poetry Month!

It's the most wonderful time of the year—a month chocked-full of poetry. Are you participating in the numerous poem-a-day challenges moving through the blogosphere? Are you attending readings, or maybe you're giving readings? Whatever it is, thank you! Poetry needs its supporters to survive and thrive now more than ever.

Looking for a way to participate? Try one (or all) of these poetry activities this month:

  1. Write a poem a day in April. I'm participating in NaPoWriMo and the Poetic Asides Poem-a-Day Challenge, but there are others. Try the challenge that works best for you.
  2. Attend a reading or poetry gathering. The poets are out and about this month—take advantage of the many readings going on in your area.
  3. Read poetry aloud. If you're in a book group, this is the perfect month to read a poetry anthology or a collection as this month's selection.
  4. Read at an open mic. Maybe this is your time to find your voice.
  5. Donate your time and/or money to a poetry or arts organization.
  6. Buy a subscription to a literary magazine.
  7. Send a poetry postcard to a friend.
  8. Post a poem outside of your office, cube, workspace, or front door.
  9. Stop lurking on poetry blogs and jump into the conversation!
  10. And, for the non-poets, take a poet to lunch!

So, how are you celebrating the so-called "cruelest month?"

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