April 30, 2009

Day 30: First gray

I found it
one day
with the browns
on the back
of my head
I plucked it out
and taped it
to my mirror
(out of pride?)


April 29, 2009

Day 29: Mixed signal

Has it ever happened to you
at a traffic light you
are waiting
the light is red
then next to the red light
another one turns green
the red one stays red
and you almost go
but stop


First it takes you a while
but once you realize
who it is you think
you ought to say hi
but you wait
(for what)
because you are behind her
but then she notices you
and says hi first
she's nice
you wait


Finally you realize there
is nothing left to do
but go
because everyone is
waiting for you
it's your turn
so you go
wind your way
down streets
through unconfusedly
green-only traffic lights
past a street named
and you are glad
you could at least talk to her
about books


April 28, 2009

Day 28: The comforting voice

It's no wonder that
when I reach the point of needing to
talk myself out of a panic
and keep calm
that I use—
no, I become
that voice,
one that permeated my childhood
in the form of Hayley Mills
or Julie Andrews
and British.
And as I go on it sort of evolves into
more of an Emma Thompson imitation
she is so wise,
my child self
rattled with panic and insecurity
simply listens, rapt.

If I'm alone in the car
I can pretty much talk myself
out of any worry
and it just looks like I'm
talking on my hands-free
to someone real.

April 27, 2009

Day 27: Why/When bad things happen to good palm trees

Take this one: transplanted as an adult,
chosen to landscape the grounds of the church.
It must have been a good palm tree to be chosen, right?
Done something right
made good choices—
its life plan set in front of it
and promises being fulfilled.
By all appearances, a good tree.

Perhaps at one point
it felt there was dissonance in
expectations there—
when the wind would blow sea breezes and
scents that stirred a kind of memory
(if a tree has a memory) and
realization set in: it didn't want this—
this prescribed pattern of being it was fixed in—
and so it could not perform anymore.

It hit just like a raindrop
suddenly but with hardly a notice
not enough to make a splash and gradual—
driving past you could tell it wasn't flourishing
anymore, (had it ever?)
illness had set in. Weak enough to die.

Every other tree remained green, able
to focus having retained
their ability to photosynthesize.

April 26, 2009

Day 26: Harry's poem

tell me how long till
it's morning
my eyes will not
stay shut

I love you more
than a dinosaur

now sleep beside me
for the whole night

I love you more
than a dinosaur

April 25, 2009

Day 25: Japanese bookstore

It is the only place to get
the pens
I love

but I got mad at the sales clerk
when they didn't accept a return
told her I refused to shop there ever again

So I send other people in for me
when I need replacements and refills
those tempting tiny fine little tips
my temper my tiny but sharp retort

April 24, 2009

Day 24: Sitting position at 32 years

I never thought of myself before
as round
but always sucked in my gut.
Now I don't have the energy
or the care
to suck it in
and don't have the metabolism
to keep from growing outward
from my center.

But when I'm forced to select
my body type
from the following shapes:
triangle, circle, rectangle or hourglass—
really? I have to say circle to be completely honest
because here in my middle
both back and front
I am round
getting thicker
feeling rolls
I've never felt before.

April 23, 2009

Day 23: In defense of bad drivers

My husband says I should be a spokesperson
for all the drivers he calls idiots
because I give them the benefit of the doubt.
Really I can see myself
doing the same stupid things
with little excuse.
He curses them
the annoyance of their existence on the road
the hazard they are to people everywhere
and I am explaining
how they could actually be thinking this
or trying to do something-or-other
or be having a brain fart for heaven's sake.
And we argue the whole way home
until our son is asking us
please stop like fifteen minutes ago.
It all boils down to the time I ran a stop sign
without realizing it and wrecked the car.
I never thought I was a bad driver.
But there it was

I feel passionately for these strangers' plight
and want to make their case heard
shield them from criticism they will never hear.
If I could be a bad driver
then anyone could be a bad driver.
I am every bad driver. Our average-ness is our excuse.
Our normalcy.
I will give them the benefit of the doubt
every time
unless I see them talking on cell phones.
Then they are clearly idiots
and I will give my unsympathetic husband
the benefit of the doubt for once.

April 22, 2009

Day 22: Circle soap

A plain looking thing
fat disk
of oil and lye
forced to sit and cure

something permanent
it may not have chosen
for itself

but holding it
between my palms
feels right
subtle thing

under warm water
bumpy rotation
awkward lather
it becomes ethereal.

April 21, 2009

Day 21: How to un-inform your self, 3rd attempt

Here's one
get yourself on one of those whale watching trips
carefully write down all information that needs
complete destruction
on rice paper with grease pencil
and feed it in tiny pieces to a sea creature
small enough to become
part of the whale's lunch
and you may come home with some relief.

April 20, 2009

Day 20: Water water

There is a flutter in my ear
I do not know how it got there
In the right ear every 42 seconds

Something it might be telling me
Is that I am finished doing
Somersaults in the pool

For today

April 19, 2009

Day 19: Exercise in draining

I am training
to squeeze
from where it
is plenty
or scarce.

Sometimes it
will build up
so that I
almost burst
and I would
for certain
if you caught
me off guard.

So I get
I hold it,
but then learn
to drain it

April 18, 2009

Day 18: On long-term dreaming

You once had
an aspiration
most people would balk at.

But who knew it would be so painful
to create
draining your daylight
to maintain the roles you created.

the steady drag
of the daily duties
of living (let's not even mention
the worst ones
like eating
and sleeping
getting in the way
heavy eyelids and
hunger pangs—
they interrupt
and are difficult

You are changed.
But you are not someone else.
To stop before you thought you would
is not damning.

April 17, 2009

Day 17: Thinking about my core

The first time
I realized I'd lost it
was a couple of weeks
after my second baby was born
I needed to sneeze and anticipated
the pain
afraid the force of it would rip me in half
or else make me implode
indiscriminate thoughts
of my body failing
falling apart
to ruin
from there on out

I made the moment into a laugh
but it was heavy with
not knowing
what would happen to me
in weakness

A year or so later I had a physical exam
as part of a job interview
because there would be
light lifting
they asked me to do a sit-up
but I couldn't
without cheating

I have not been working on repair
building a center of strength
I have neglected all kinds of
attention to my core
successfully ignored plain needs

So last night
I flexed as I lay on my back in bed
just to see

lifted my legs, straightened and stiff
and my shoulders suspended above my pillow
felt it burn
this is it, it is mine
this shallow and slightly curved "v"

April 16, 2009

Day 16: Cosmetics

Sometimes I am more interested
in poking my lips
when they are dry,
because I like the way
it feels
when they pop
back into shape,

than in taking care of them
like with lip balm
and other such cosmetics.

April 15, 2009

Day 15: Wearing it on your sleeve

You wear this shirt
for its plum color but
not for the length
of the sleeves

and the dress you keep
for the complexity
of its texture, stiff but soft,
but not for the fit of it

the navy one because
in it, you feel covered
and no one will notice
any weight you have gained.

Still not one of them
ever completely sheds
itself of things you
will have to confront.


Today you put on black
not white, because it means
something to you.
Not something dead

but living.
Not tidy
or still
but evolving.

April 14, 2009

Day 14: Poem dictated to me by my husband John

{Note: this poem has to be read aloud slowly for the full effect.}


scrimmage scrimmage scrimmage
take it
give it
for the scrimmage

you might
you might not
scrimmage scrimmage scrimmage

that's what it's all about
its scrimmage, your scrimmage
you thought I didn't know
but I know them like
I know
the scrimmage
scrimmage scrimmage scrimmage

April 13, 2009

Day 13: Strangers on a Train

In the other room
my house guests are watching
the Hitchcock film
tennis match to calliope climax.

I can hear their enjoyment
through the wall—
squeals and roars in unison
and I smile.

April 12, 2009

Day 12: Notice - This panic bar has been intentionally disabled

I saw it on a sign on a door
at the community college
and I didn't know what a panic bar was
but went through that door
every Tuesday & Thursday
to be in class.

One thing is for sure
that I actually feel better
knowing where the panic bar is
whether or not it is disabled.

And finally knowing where
the original losing-it took place.

April 11, 2009

Day 11: Please crack my back

As a girl I would twist round and round
in the swing until the chains wound too tight
to twist any more.

Then let go.
And repeat until I was sick.

What is it about making ourselves sick.

On a day like today, I find myself
twisting my torso and bobbling my head
until I hear crackles -
to one side, now other side
let go, repeat.
I sway this kind-of dance
and wish someone would step in.

April 10, 2009

Day 10: How to un-inform your self, Final attempt

When you have tried to contain it
or destroy it
water or air
earth and stone

when you have tried everything else
shout it into your pillow
and take a sleeping pill.

April 9, 2009

Day 9: Things I tell myself when I eat apples

I do not believe in the necessity
of breaking teeth to eat an apple.
Only in the necessity of breaking skin.

There also cannot be one true way
to eat the apple. Or to share it.
But I'll say it again, the skin must break
(even if the skin itself is not eaten).
But there is no need to scrape your gums on it,
or break your jaw. And if you are peeling
or slicing it, be careful with that knife.

Do you hear me? You don't have to hurt yourself
to eat that apple. You don't have to eat the skin
or seeds
or stem
or bruises.
God, you don't even have to eat
this apple.

April 8, 2009

Day 8: Tree fixation

I am doing research.
It involves fidgeting with a camera
and sometimes a pencil.
Also, it requires strict observance
of any and all surroundings.

But there is required some
mind wandering embroidery,
some imagining where I might push the needle
with black thread or gray on linen, stitch by
stitch the shape
of the trees

April 7, 2009

Day 7: Regarding my possessions

Take the dresser for instance
the one we got from his grandma
and when it was delivered
it was the wrong one—the flimsier one
some of drawers barely holding on
to their glue at the seams
so that soon the middle one finally broke
and I used the front piece and some hinges
to make it into a secret cupboard
that stays closed with a magnet
(oh, my poor craftsmanship)
which is where I keep the happy birthday music box,
my hats, orange handbag and a green one,
a box of pretty game pieces,
a chinese jumprope, a tea towel,
and a picture of me ready for prom.

This is where I start to give things away.

April 6, 2009

Day 6: Getting a man

I don't remember how long ago I read it
probably in a teen magazine
that if you have a mole on your left breast
you can have any man you want

When I discovered mine
I tried to cut it off
because I thought it was cancer
but just ended up pinching it

Next thing you know
I'm engaged

April 5, 2009

Day 5: Losing the Self-conscious Peel

Leaving it behind in a bowl
was intentional.

Tired arms,

But I know about these things.
How they grow back.

Right now

This is really what I

April 4, 2009

Day 4: How to un-inform your self, 2nd attempt

Try this
use breath-language
and blow it into a balloon
or several—
however many you need

Then you need to
tie them to an astronaut suit
just as they are packing the shuttle

Just make sure
and get that astronaut
to release them at zero gravity

April 3, 2009

Day 3: What I will take with me when I move across the country

one tree
with or without leaves

a breakfast
with grapefruit

a bit of softness
in my hips and back

a marble collection
in a glass jar

and the sewing machine

April 2, 2009

Day 2: How to un-inform your self

If you know something and
aren't supposed to know it
or it is very hard to know
then there is a trick that you must learn
and I don't know what it is called
but it is something like canning

What you do is you get the something
into a can by saying that
it's for its own good
and promise to get it out when you most need it
and then you seal it
at the drypack cannery

with no label
so that it is un-visible
and no longer accessible for
anyone without the right tool
but especially you

You would think that the best thing to do with the can
is mail it away or hide it in the basement with the food storage
but really the trick is not to bury it in the garden

What you have to do
because it will try to be remembered and
be heard is you must
turn it upside down and force
another noise out of the can

It needs to ring out something loud and
but repetitive
so there is only the din of
its being dented

That is what you must do

April 1, 2009

Day 1: Concerned about things

About the shape my pillow takes
when it is not new anymore when 
I have molded it for good
with compulsive structured sleeping habits.

About the scent my hair leaves 
on the pillow over and over
so I smell it every night
before I put my head there.

About the vulnerability of my armpits
and leaving them exposed
to the sleep gods or whatever
so I keep my arms tight at my sides.

And about being awake 
when no one else is awake which means 
I must take it back 
by going to sleep when they are all awake.

March 31, 2009

New Round of Daily Poems

It's national poetry month starting tomorrow. I decided it's time for a writing binge. My goal is to write a poem a day for the month of April. Some of them will stink. Some of them will have potential. They will be very new and raw. So I'm really baring all here. Instead of posting prompts like last time, I'll just be posting my daily poem. This will not be easy. Should you be feeling brave and unselfconscious, should you feel so inclined, motivated, or inspired:


Just put it in the comments. Or, you can give me and the other poetry writers feedback on our poems. And if you need ideas, you can always go back through the prompt posts below from December 2007.