Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Poem Scraps


There is poetry for loneliness, for days you move the furniture
Around, stack books, avoid the mirror. There is poetry for times
You forget how it felt to be small, to walk to the lake, to leave
Your shoes on the rocks and feel the weeds around your ankles,
To wear a one-piece suit that's all pilled on the bum. There is poetry
For spring, for an island off the coast of maine, for pasta with manchego,
Brown butter, hotel rooms, and AC. There is poetry for bloodlines,
Family that gets hung up on the small things, for BBQ smoke that mixes
With cicada songs, pollen. There is poetry for love, for stillness, for us.


I might wear this family on me, they hum under my knuckles,
Thin little ones that purple in the winter, wider ones that shift
Over time. I quiz you after work; Galileo, Roman architects,
Exports of gold and ivory. Crumbs from the white loaf wiped
Into the sink, two crates stacked for the box fan whipping up dust.


I have a purpose to write myself out of this body,
To shed every layer of tissue and watch bones line up
On the hardwood floor like fiddlesticks. I hum Canned
Heat as it happens, think of cenotes and piles of fresh
Cotton, blue stretches of sky in New Mexico, and round,
Purple plums at the grocery store. Undo the pinched
Edges of hardship, unlearn the thrill of chaos, nights
Spent running under the cover of the moon for tulips,
Violets, rum. Do daily chores with bliss, fold clothing
With a hard-earned love for the mundane. Stop seeking
keep going, sing if you get lonely, watch me. I fold, I grow.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Thoughts on Mother's Day a Day Early

some of my most difficult memories involve my mama, although many of my very best as well. the older I get, the more I know she did absolutely everything in her power to get the raising of us right. I think about how she craved a certain kind of simple life and was forced out into the world with two people to feed and clothe and teach manners to even though she was barely over thirty when she became a single mom. then there were those wicked fights that made the bones in your arms and legs hurt from exhaustion - all that love in the marrow trying to make itself felt under everyones tired weight of fear. despite the hard years, the good ones outweigh them 10 million to 1.

this is a poem I write about a few things I remember from our drive out of washington state to missouri the summer before I turned 11.

although she's not in my life, she is a giant here, always. love you, mama.

The Motel Pool Matched the Color of the Sky, 2002 - 2017

Don’t forget Wyoming, Utah, Kansas, Shoshone, Thunder Basin, Pawnee, the KOA’s with grass trimmed so neat and don’t forget the showers you can buy for a quarter, dusty spider webs clinging to the window screen. Don’t forget who taught you how to cool your skin in the breeze or that your mama dripped love into flour and water and yeast and don’t forget the tomatoes she left peeling in the garden that split in the heat. Don’t forget you prayed once to Our Lady of Rolling Rock and Tequila and a smile so wide she’d get away with stealing. Don’t forget the blackberries near your neighbor's house, a U.S Army Vet, and don’t forget he gave your mama roses when you moved in.

Friday, May 12, 2017


I am two people at dusk, two bodies wrapped in thin cotton
Among the crabgrass on some night in August when the narrow
Alley light of the full moon shakes across the Atlantic, buoys
Waving from the sidelines. In more years I will be three beings,
For there are moments I think I might have grown my own self
From dust, evergreen, spare rooms, pollen on the underside
Of a fern, maybe chlorine or Sundays cleaning the kitchen mixed
With the blood ache for home. Indeed this is me washing myself
Away with lysol and epithelial cells, knees on the floorboards.
If our neighbor with the small, white dog walks past it will look
As if I am praying, the axis of the world bent just so that the sun
Runs up my cheek, the scars there little, fading hills of ochre.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Chilmark in July

There is a blue here I cannot name and a waiting, 

A new habit that grows and wanes: the Quansoo Oak

Bent against the wind from the Atlantic, humming

Bird titled towards the petals of some early blooming

Grove amongst the dusty light and grey corners of dawn.

Preaching to the world: everything’s gold, everything

Friday, March 3, 2017

it's going to be 17 degrees tomorrow, march 3rd. a few days ago, I had to wait in the hallway while I was on hold for almost an hour. I don't get service in the apartment so Very Important Boring Phone Calls send me upstairs pacing the hallway. anyway, I was staring out the window at the back lot and it would change from full sun and then get all dark if a cloud passed over. After 20 minutes I realized my mood would change just a tiny, tiny bit every time that parking lot was full of sunshine. I guess I'm like now I get why I'm googling apartments on miami beach.

Sunday, January 22, 2017


Anthropologist Wade Davis's book "Light at the Edge of the World" at just the right time. I was looking for something that dove into the necessity of culture and language and community as it relates to the diversity on this planet in contrast to the West, in contrast to what many anthropologists viewed as "less advanced" societies. 

Davis writes as if he is permanently in a state of awe, describing the cultures he visits with specific reverence to their worldview. In the Andes he meets the Ika and the Kogi tribes who survived all invasions by retreating higher and higher into the mountains. The Andean people revere stone as something more than matter, something fluid and powerful and draw their strength from the Great Mother, a goddess who dwells at the heart of the world. The mountains that they call home are ancestors and the rivers the veins of the earth. Within their tribe, men are chosen as babies to be taken and taught the ways of their people and to honor the Great Mother. For eighteen years, they are taught in darkness and sleep during the day so that "on a clear morning, with the sun rising over the flank of the mountains, the apprentices are led into the light of dawn. Until then, the world has existed as a thought. Now, for the first time, they see the world as it is, in all its transcendent beauty."  

Davis recounts his time with Bora and Witoto shaman in the Amazon who understand the qualities of plants that potentiate one another based on their concentration which is how they differentiate species of plants in order to prepare Ayahuasca. They are able to differentiate and recognize the plants based on pitch of their song... the plants sing to them!

One of my favorite passages is about the Penan people in Malaysia who have been fighting the deforestation of their rainforests (through an American company) since the 1980's. Davis writes that "the nomadic Penan have no sense of time, know nothing of paid employment, of poverty. they have no notion of work as a burden, as opposed to leisure as recreation. For them, there is only life, the daily round. Children learn not in school but through experience, often at the side of their parents. With families and individuals dispersed throughout the forest, everyone must be self-sufficient, capable of doing every task. Thus, there are no specialists and little hierarchy. As in many hunting societies, direct criticism of another is frowned upon, for the priority is always the solidarity of the group. The greatest contrast between the Penan and ourselves may well be the value they place on community. Since they carry everything on their backs, they have no incentive to accumulate material objects. they measure wealth not by the extent of their possessions but by the strength of their relationships. In our tradition, we long ago liberated the individual, a decisive shift in orientation that Maybury-Lewis has described as the sociological equivilant of splitting the atom, for in doing so, we severed the obligations of kin and community. The consequences we encounter everyday in the streets of our cities. An American child grows up believing, for example, that homelessness is a regretable but inevitable feature of life. A child of the nomadic Penan, by contrast, is taught that a poor man shames us all."

This planet!!!

Monday, December 19, 2016


“Oh do you have time
to linger
for just a little while
out of your busy
and very important day
for the goldfinches
that have gathered
in a field of thistles
for a musical battle,
to see who can sing
the highest note,
or the lowest,
or the most expressive of mirth,
or the most tender?
Their strong, blunt beaks
drink the air
as they strive
not for your sake
and not for mine
and not for the sake of winning
but for sheer delight and gratitude–
believe us, they say,
it is a serious thing
just to be alive
on this fresh morning
in the broken world.
I beg of you,
do not walk by
without pausing
to attend to this
rather ridiculous performance.
It could mean something.
It could mean everything.
It could be what Rilke meant, when he wrote:
You must change your life.”
- Mary Oliver