Thursday, April 29, 2021

napowrimo day no. 25


The women in the garden hide knives in their smiles, stones in their pockets.

                    After lunch, rip each other limb from limb, sugar in the sockets,

                                     but poison in their mouth.  This one, a wayward husband, 

the mute daughter and wandering dog. Another, the barren womb.  

                        The tether that won't hold. Soap in her insides nightly, 

                                    rubbed til she's red.  The bed he placed inside her, where nothing

quickens, nothing licks the loins like the boy in her youth, Fists full of wildflowers. 

                    All the spirits gathering nightly, but nothing in the belly but feathers 

                                          and dirt. What hurt in his stare where the blood blooms

cleanly between her legs. What hope, the way she sings softly, knitting 

            the smallest things for the tiniest children that slip out of her 

                    in the night. The red sheets on every line

cover love | found materials, pt 2


Many dancing girl covers have their impetus in found materials, ephemera, & public domain materials, and they make some of our most striking cover images. Postcards, natural history illustrations, vintage photos and more...  Enjoy! 

i haven't met the new me yet

"I hope she'll be a beautiful fool.

who takes my spot next to you"


Like many Swifties the past few weeks , I've been listening to the re-recorded version of Fearless, and as such, revisiting my own past life in listening to songs that I loved more than a decade ago. Mostly when I first listened and thought, despite initial bias that TS was a country popster like many, that she was an actually an amazing songwriter, especially as later albums like Speak Now, Red, and 1989 attest.  While I've always been a musical omniviore, enjoying many genres of music, it's only in the last two decades that I've embraced a love of country after years of rolling my eyes as my parents listened to iit.  As such, I was a perfect audience for TS's cross-over creations, and while I didn't like everything in every album, there was still much that I did like on Reputation and Lover.  Of course, Folklore and Evermore are so good which actually pushed her back more toward country roots than previous albums. Especially since one of the things that makes country more appealing to ne is narrative and storytelling, which is as much true in poems as it is in songs, so I'm here for it. 

With all this revisiting of old music, it occurred to me how strange it must be, as a songwriter (or a writer or a artist or creator) to dig in intensely on work that's more than a decade old, and as such, come face to face with that older self and how it fits in among newer work.  For a few days I was giggling at the juxaposition of the princess-wishing of "Love Story" with "No Body, No Crime", a song about murdering your besties cheating husband. Or the difference between something like "White Horse" and "Illicit Affairs" in their take on infidelity, the latter more nuancesd and sad, yet also somehow simpler.  The span of age from 19 to early 30's is one of the most treacherous, and the early songs while very enjoyable, definitely less complex emotionally than the latter.   

As someone who was writing crap when I was 19, and, in my early 30's just beginning to figure out how to be a better a writer, I'm envious that TS was doing so well even at that age, which made those 10-12 additional years even better for her. going forward as she moves into the middle years of life.   I sometimes look at my first book, published in 2006 when I was 32, and while I am proud of it and dont hate it too much, it still doesn't seem like me who wrote it.  Or that the writer I am now would have written it at all.  Other times I look at it and thing that it what I write now is planted there as seeds., so 15 years later is reaping those plantings. Sometimes I've wondered if I just rewriting the same poems just from different angles and in different lighting.  

The poet who write the poems in the fever almanac is not the poet who wrote major characters in minor films, though some of the themes are the same when it comes to romantic poems. Ditto with sex & violence. My last couple book projects have been less about relationships, but then again, my relationships have been much more stable, and as such, seem less rife with material.  The &nbsp project is the closest to talking about intimacy and loneliness, and talks about the past, but it's still just notes at this point. But those are using the same subject matter and experiences of earlier books with a new lens--I've been thinking of it as an exorcism of sorts.

But then again, all books feel like exorcisms of some sort of ghosts-major characters... and feed feel most like this (and as such, are the poems I feel weirdest about letting people in my real life read.) The other books are more narrative and therefore distanced from me as a person who exists in the world, whether it's the sideshow women of girl show or the women of salvage (barring the mermaid poems, which were closer to home at points.) The longer you write and the more things you put out in the world, the more people begin to build a framework of your own life independent of the actual art, as many scandalous posthumous biographies will attest. On the other hand, there is something to be said of leaving audiences guessing. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

napowrimo day no. 24


In summer, my lover brings me things. Pigeon feather, moonstone, 

                    silver locket. Once a stolen pie from the baker, fat with cherries 

                                    and way too sweet. I make him a water whistle shaped like a warbler 

out of wood,  then hide it carefully in my skirts.  But nothing good can come of afternoon, 

            sun sticky and damp with breath.  Death so close we could still smell it, 

                                wafting from the tanning room. Creeping up from the kitchen.

I'd undo my dress and underneath, the marks on my body make him cry. The belt,

            the broom, the back of a hand. All written exquisite on the skin. The thin

                  membrane between my hand and thumb, a burn I rub salve  on,

but it never seems to heal.  The warbler presses into my hip as he takes me rough

               on the carpet. Over the chaise lounge. Warps in the humidity and won't sing

                       a single note. Only black water in it's craw, where no good can come of night.


Monday, April 26, 2021

napwrimo day no. 23


In the beginning, there was scarcely room for birds or children or even love.

                The ghosts took up too much room, walking the floors and knocking

                                        into tables.  We'd take turns opening our mouths and the creatures

would fly out single file. The doubt we harbored in the belly, so far down, 

                       but the doubt persisted. As children, my sister and I would whisper between

                                        us in the bed. Draw sticks from each other's closed fists.  This one,

the man with the magnificent house.  This one the penniless artist. 

                       The babies, fat-cheeked in the bassinet. Cupboard full of dresses

                                    and a kitchen full of cakes.  But the body would scarce produce.

Sheeted in the attic, dusty as a field.  The woman with the crystal ball and the son 

                    with a limp held my hand in the dark and forecasted a passel of squalling infants. 

                                    Sill, when they arrived, a surprise, each one. Plucked from the wraiths

                                                    in the cellar.  Each one prettier, but far angrier than the last.

Saturday, April 24, 2021

notes & things | pre-birthday edition

It being my birthday tomorrow and prime taurus indulgence season, I've determined to nothing much at all except maybe some bare necessity cleaning to keep the place from being a disaster, but that's about it.  J and I will have our usual stay-in date night tonight and maybe some tequila. I am making ribs tomorrow in the crockpot perhaps, and some cinnamon crumble cake. I got a giant canister of my favorite black currant tea as an early gift, which I was nearly out of, so I will drinking lots of that. Like last year, there won't be any outings, but this week, I get shot #2, so perhaps I'll feel a little safer (at least maybe with outside dining, which apparently will be more palatable since we're set to climb into the 70's, possibly 80's this week after a chilly mid-April.) 

As I've mentioned, it doesn't really feel like a real year, though outside of rising and falling infection worries, it still looks much like any other year--working, writing, introverting, The prime difference was that I didn't really go to restaurants or movies like I may in another year, and maybe I visited family a little less (though I still did when I thought it was safer last summer or after quarantining at Christmas.)It's 's difficult to get me out socially and work usually interferes with much of a social calendar, but I do miss occasional bbq's or beach outings, which will hopefully feel more comfortable this summer than last. I do miss reading books, which is something it's not been easy to do during the pandemic--hard to focus or immerse myself--esp. during my commute which is when I usually got most of my novel-reading done. For awhile all I'd been reading were poetry submissions and things online.  I have returned to reading some poems in actual books while eating breakfast before I start writing for the day, so baby steps.  And I do read bits & chapters of non-fiction now for research purposes here and there.  It's mostly a concentration thing.

So I'm not sure why it feels like a non-year when it hasn't been drastically different since going back to work last July, but maybe it's just more the tenor of a year that was so much encased in fear and anxiety, and then crazy things like social unrest and political turmoil--a completely insane administration, a contentious election, the Capitol attack. Constant police violence. I've never watched the news as much as I have the past year and now I know why. Also the way I have become more conscious of the distances between people, the dangers in any given space. Danger in all spaces.  It may look like a typical year on the surface, but it's really not.  Last week, I taught a zine workshop in person in a giant room of about 20 students spaced in a felt like teaching in an airport hanger.  Weird in that it's pretty much the same workshop I'd taught the week before lockdown for another faculty member in a regular classroom when it was already dangerous but we didn't know how much.  Everyone seemed kind of bored and really far away. I think when it comes to programming and really anything of my own going on--publishing, readings, lectures,--it feels hard to get anyone's focus for long..or maybe I'm just projecting my feelings onto others. But the year of 46 also bought some really good things.  I wrote many poems and finished two new manuscripts.  Made zines and many poetry videos if not a lot of visual art. I released two books of poems. Did a couple of fun readings (and even got paid for one.) 

So another year.  I found myself thinking about the spring I turned 17.  Around the beginning of May, I won $300 for an essay from the local bar association on the 1st Amendment. I'd spent the day of the luncheon at the courthouse for some sort of program I'd been chosen by my Government teacher to participate (I charmed him by writing a stellar paper on government response to UFO's I still have somewhere.) I spent the prize money on clothes and cassette tapes and whatever, but also to redecorate my bedroom with a quilt covered in thick, large, roses and framed artwork of a pastel girl in a field from K-Mart (or maybe it was a girl in a boat. Or a boat it a field?).  In a year, I'd switch it out to black an teal and an ocean theme, but in that moment, it was everything I wanted.  This was the spring I first read The Bell Jar lying on that quilt after school (actually I wasn't all that impressed.  My Plath fascination was a couple years off).  I was writing poems I kept entirely  to myself (some of which I also still have--I'm pretty sure it was then I wrote the seagull one in my earlier post.) I spent a lot of time listening to The Bangles Everything and Concrete Blonde's Bloodletting, both of which I was obsessed with. 

Time is stretchy like a rubber band, and of course this feels like it was another lifetime, but then sometimes not.  Today I woke up, not under roses, but my cozy gray comforter,  I didn't write something, new, but I did look through the week's progress on the bird artist daily poems. I put the Bangles on while I swept the flours and cleaned the bathroom. I read a review of the newish Plath bio, Red Comet, I saw mentioned not once, but twice in my social media this morning and added to my reading list for when I'm more able to read again. 

The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

Friday, April 23, 2021

napowrimo day no. 22


The man who sells magazines has the largest hands I've ever seen.  

               Keeps licking his fingers, fondling the pages. His tongue darts out, 

                                  then back in and my knees ache with spring. With the hinges in my haunches, 

the feathers in my lungs.  The whipoorwill spins on its weathervane

                in every direction. What is desire, but a soft turning of every gear

                                  in the body? The wrought interior, where the prism shatters with sun.


What is want,  but a fistful of pennies in the mouth?  A slap, a kiss. 

               The cabinet where the shelves are always empty. How do we determine 

                                 the border between lovers, the levers that twitch and release? 

The space behind the garden shed where my head bent against

                  the paint and left a mark. The hand prints on my thighs 

                                   and the bluebells in my hair. The ticking of the metronome 

inside the heart that pulls the wire that shakes the rattle 

                   that breaks the glass again and again. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

a friend of a friend

Last week, during our Urban Legends artist panel, one of the artist mentioned that urban legends were kind of like creating a creature after the fact like a dodo bird--something recreated from bones and fossils and speculation, but without actual pictures or existing specimens. Something wholly a product of the interpretations that came before it.  How urban legends and folklore in general are exactly like this.  Most of them start in some murky area of something that may or may not have happened, but change and get built upon with new details. Something changes in the story, or a version of the story, and shows up hundreds of miles away in another tale. 

Outside Rockford, there's this place called Bloods Point Road, whose name just seems to be asking for legend. I wasn't aware of it until after high school--my friends definitely being of the slumber party sort and not the exploring and drinking sort, but apparently many of my peers made trips out there.  The details vary, but a few things reoccur in the tellings--a spooky bridge, a phantom truck, a cemetery. Long after I had moved to the city, I did a little digging into the stories--one thing that kept cropping up was a bus accident that involved a bunch of children who were said to haunt the bridge they went off of.  Or maybe a train hit them.  Or they fell of the bridge and were hit by a train. The story was then that if you parked your car in idle on the bridge, honked your horn a set number of times, you would feel the car start to move forward as if the children were pushing you to safety.  

I later encountered a library student staffer who hailed from Rockford and confirmed that she and her friends had done this very thing, down to the practice of covering the trunk and fender with flour to spot tiny handprints for proof. I can't remember if they succeeded in their experiment, only that I later encountered this same story from another location entirely in the US, which was sure proof that Bloods Point was maybe not entirely its own legend, but an amalgimation of many different ones.

I had this loosely in my mind as I worked on conspiracy theories this winter.  There are some traditional urban legend types of things that appear--Bloody Mary, Lovers Lane cautionary tales-- but also it's about the sorts of mythologies and patterns we encounter and build in our own minds.  The things we use as a framework to build our histories and stories on.  I think as children and young adults we are more in that world than the actual world.  Or at least I was.  The things that we deduced to be true--the things we believed in like tooth fairies and women in the mirror. As we get older, we realize that legends are based as much in fictions, if not more than facts.  But I still won't do Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror even on the verge of 47...not because I'm afraid she'd necessarily appear, but more that I'd be a little sad if she doesn't..



napowrimo day no. 21


The cellar, by now,  is damp with rot. Plump with insects skittering beyond the lamp. 

                        We frighten them as much as they frighten us.  How we tighten our spines

                                           and descend. The hem of our nightgowns dragging the dirt. 

First, the daughters.  Then the sons.  We play backgammon in the gloom, where there's barely room 

                            among the discarded trunks and broken chairs.  The selves we cast off every spring, 

                                        every dress tightening our middles. Little shoes.  Little bonnet. 

How we lost it, then found it, covered in dust.  The doll was an argument, so they cut her in half 

                        with kitchen scissors.  Smashed the train on its tiny track.  Burned the ears off 

                                            the velvet rabbit.   How we squeezed ourselves into our old life, topside, 

but left part of us in the shadows,  How you'd catch the girls laughing in the corner 

                        and the boys mumbling in their beds.  The ghosts we brought back with us.

                                           We frighten us as much as we frighten them. 

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

the poet's zodiac | e-version

 It is officially Taurus season and in a few days, my birthday.  That means you can now read an e-version of THE POET'S ZODIAC for absolutely FREE!

read it here:

(You can also still pick up the print version in all it's sparkliness in the shop..)

napowrimo day no 20


The first bird was, by far, the best bird.  The tiny clicking of the gears, 

            bright-eyed and warbling. In the workshop, a miracle that set the heart 

                        into panic,   the frantic beat of it's wings.  The children oohed and ahhed

while the creature banged again into the ceiling.  Dropped to the floor. 

                Took turns fetching it from the corners. The sink.  Underneath the divan.  Still humming 

                            and chirping.  The second bird wouldn't fly, though we oiled it's wings  and whispered 

sweet nothings.  It sputtered on the table  and fell into the trash.  The third was a monster, 

                hooked beak and ragged claw. Black as the back of the closet where the children

                                  hid it to frighten each other. Not even mothering could save it,  terrible thing.

 I buried when it nearly took one of their eyes.  But it kept rising up through the dirt,

                    clogged with earth and leaves, Barely moving, it could croak all night

                                     from the garden, spite-filled and seething.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

notes on poetry and horror

I am deeply enjoying my daily poems, the bird artist (or at least what it's tentaively titled at present.)  There were some threads I had separated out of another project that I wanted to  play with when I got a chance, and that chance was somehow now.  With the pressure on to produce daily, I think it stretches me to travel a little further into the project each day. To build the bits and pieces and find some sort of framework therein.  This is true with all projects I suppose, especially those that are more on the narrative side than the lyric.The premise?  There were elements of mechanical creatures in unusual creatures, but I culled many of those bits out on the rewrite.  That story, about two sisters had enough going on without another storyline mucking up the works, especially since as it first existed, was just way too long and unruly. .  It's definitely a close cousin to that series, and will no doubt fit nicely into the automagic book manuscript eventually.  

As with a lot of projects, from that book particularly, things got dark kind of fast. When I first was writing victorian-feel poems back in the early aughts, things were a little less overly gothic. You had errata, which in so many ways was about genre--especially the victorian gothic--but the poems were less bloody and filled with violence. I sometimes, when things get dark,  think about how my writing is more influenced by horror novels and films than actual "poetry" most times, and this makes sense. (and definitely something that I talk about in dark country.) It's a violence that was always there, even in the fever almanac, but it was less overt. It may be that my first introduction to poetry I actually liked was Poe.  And yet, I'm not sure I would call my work horror poetry, becuase it's not all that, but it may be the world I am trying to create. Even in a lighter book like major characters in minor films which is set more in a contemporary, urban setting where there are less ghosts of the usual kind. 

Perhaps one thing that lends itself well to horror and gothicism in poetry is certain temporal freedoms you don't always get in more traditional storytelling, A-B-C type plots. Not that this can't be done well in other genres (and some of my favorite horror movies and shows play with time.) but poets are much more likely to do this by their very nature as fragments rather than wholes.  I could write a story of the plot details of something like the bird artist (though in this case, I am discovering them as I go) but it would feel different..more like I story I am leading the reader on than one they are collecting breadcrumbs as we go like a fairy tale. There is the treacherous path through the woods and the very cold children, but each new bit is something to be discovered rather than laid out politely.

napowrimo day no 19


Eventually, I learn to tighten the screws with minimal damage.

                                The breakfast oranges, the daylilies from the garden, all rife

                                                        with success. The way the babies fat  and their accoutrements

bleach white in the sun.  For fun, we cover them in blankets and are always surprised

                    at the game. They squeal with delight at everything. The deer. 

                                        The foxes sniffing round the porch.  The tiny metal cuckoo

in the box with the broken spring. They finger it's gears and smash it on the table    

            but still nothing comes from it--no movement, no sound. It's dead the way

                        all shiny things die eventually from disuse. The way all things

slow through the afternoon, songless by nightfall.   The cuckoo jerks sometimes

            and comes to life, but only if you crush it in your palm.  The babies crying

                    and the kitchen filthy, only when we whisper hush.

Monday, April 19, 2021

notes & things | 4/19/2021

This past week has been deceptively sunny, but chillier than it seems like it should be, though by now everything is blooming, even the slowest things. I have to remind myself daily how nice, even despite covid fears, it is to be out in the world to appreciate spring. Last year, I was shut inside, far more than I probably needed to be and felt like I missed so much.  It was also a busy week, with finishing up the online exhibit, a zine workshop on Weds, and finishing with our artist discussion Thursday night (and then of course, Friday in which I had a lot of daily things to catch up on that had fallen by the wayside earlier in the week.)  

While I did pretty good at daily poems the first half of the month, and am determined to see it through to 30, if not in April entirely  yesterday I gave over to loafing about and watching fashion videos and doing much of nothing (that is, except pondering whether I can possibly pull off metallics in my wardrobe and napping).  I am okay with this.  While I sometimes edit things on Saturdays when my brain is a little quieter, usually I don't push myself to actually write on those days, and lately, I've been careful to make sure they feel like days off--and that includes even my more creative pursuits, which are still a kind of work. Mostly Saturdays get eaten up in housekeeping and self-care and then just happily existing on Sundays with no productivity expectations.

This week is quieter, though I have a lot of press work to do on forthcoming books. Some cover designs and web shop updates. Firming up our Manifest plans for May and some Urban Legends trivia action in a couple weeks. In a week, it's my birthday day and a few days later, my second vaccine shot.  I'm feeling good about 47, though 46 seems to have barely happened.  I managed to score a green floral peasant dress I'd been stalking for a bit that kept being out of stock for my official birthday dress, though since it falls on a Sunday, it may have to wait for Monday wearing if it's actually warm enough (they are expecting some snow tomorrow, even this late in the year.)  


napowrimo day no 18


In dreams, the hunter comes at dawn, dragging a rifle across the grass. 

                A trail of blood  and a pheasant fat with maggots. Eggs shake 

                    on a high shelf.  The selves we thought to invent grow dodgy

with spoiled milk and infants at both teats. The hunter that eats his way 

                    through pantries and icebox, through bedroom sets and lace underthings. 

                            Frightens the cat who, one day, eats her stillborn kittens down to bones. 

So much birthing and dying overnight, it makes us mad.  Frothing over tea 

                    and  speaking in tongues.  Dead things everywhere, even in our boots.

                                Red in my hair, my mouth, my hands where I hold the babies 

in the river to save their souls from their father's boots. From the stench of rotted deer

                    that emanates from his throat night after night. The wheezing sound that precedes

                                his waking and roaming hands.  The silence that places a palm

                                                around my throat and squeezes til it all goes black. 

Saturday, April 17, 2021

napowrimo day no. 17


In the afternoon, we empty the cages. It's all seed and shit, but the feathers 

                        are so soft between my fingers.  The bones so fragile as I set them in teacups 

                                            one by one.  What fun when we'd chase them through the house,

the top of the drapes where they'd wait. Once, my mother opened a window

            and a pair of finches went missing for days, turned up in a town hours away.

                    Who can say what distances we travel while everyone else sleeps in the house.

How many times I carried them to the garden and begged them to go.  But every morning, 

            hungry on the ledge. They'd roll over and over in the dirt. Sip the tiny bits of water

                          in a bowl. I'd wrap the cages carefully in towels at dusk and they'd quiet,

but still I could hear them cooing softly in the dark.  The world circumscribed 

                     by need and even the trees so far from the house. We could never imagine 

                                      making it there before night or hunters got us.  

                                                        Our hearts stopped, so tiny in our chests.

Friday, April 16, 2021

a year of self publishing

I've been working this week on preliminary design for the next book project, which is my collection of midwest gothic awesomeness, dark country.  Over the past couple of years, I've finished an ungodly amount of full-length manuscripts (well, it's just 4, but it feels ungodly when they are sitting quietly unpublished.) I decided this year, since I don't have any book releases on the immediate horizon, and it had been a year since Black Lawrence released sex & violence, that I might as well get them out in the world.  It's been a learning curve--and something altogether different than publishing zines or chapbooks, which I am used to. A full-length book is just so much more unruly than a shorter book. More editing, more proofing, more design hits and misses.  And also, the after work of actually getting it in the hands of readers and getting any sort of blip on the promotion side. It feels hard with anything I write and put out there, but especially something like a full-length collection. 

I've spoken before on my reasons for self-publishing this series of books--mostly that my current publisher passed on a couple of them during reading periods (and obviously, they can't publish everything I write, cause yo, I write a lot.) I'm not feeling like sending to other contests and reading periods is really something I want or have resources to do.  I am also aware of the space I take up as a mid-career, already reasonably well-published author when there are so many other emerging writers out there who could have those opportunities. (I think this sometimes when I'm on the self-pity train, the why not me? train, but really sometimes, things like publishing luck seem really capricious and obviously skewed toward the privileged--whether it's age or gender or ethnicity.) We should all take up less space. Or at best, try to make room through our endeavors. But you also have to balance this with a desire to find your readers and thrive as a creative. 

Of course, there is a lot of uncertainty when you don't have someone--and editor, a publisher, backing you up.  Lots of doubts that you're not just putting more crap into the world.   Other people who probably think your work is crap.  But one thing I hope I've gained as I get older is not so much blatant overconfidence (which is totally true sometimes) , but moreso an ability to discern what is good, what is crap, what's worth launching into the world, and what should just stay safely on my computer for awhile or needs more work.  I also know how to put a book together now, more than I ever did.  Have even been able to help other authors with their through manuscript consultations.  Consultations which actually have taught me as much as I've helped the other author (hopefully I may have just muddied the waters).

So I find myself with a handful of unpublished projects, an ability to make them publishable, and a small audience that (the most awesome thing!) wants to read them.  I was hesitant before, but if covid has taught us anything, it's that certain things that used to matter, don't really all that much anymore. Or matter differently now.  The expense, which at the time was covered by some reading income, and in the future, stimulus funds wasn't all that prohibitive if you do al your own design, use POD small batches (less if you choose to sell through something like Amazon or the B&N site).  Also, that we have no idea how long we have in the world, so what the hell...

All of that is to say that dark country is coming.most likely in July if all goes well on the final edits and interior design front (margins, my friend, are a bitch when the format varies as much as mine does from section to section). feed, which was a longer time coming turned out to be a delicious little book, so I hope this one will as well. More soon...

napowrimo day no 16


You can pluck out the heart and replace it with ash.  The thrashing 

                of wings and feathers lasts only a second. Wire tongued, stiffed 

                            with news print, it almost seems like a real living bird. 

A real living girl. Or the one made of wood, poised outside the pharmacy.  

                    Her ornate box.  How she could tell your fortune for a dime, spit out

                                     between her lips.  Nothing below her hips but a deep cavern filled with coins

and paper. Nothing beneath her dress but spookiness and nesting sparrows. 

                    You can pluck the song out and replace it with static, like a radio signal coming 

                                         far across the valley and down into our mouths.  The houses

we burned to find the one with just the right amount echo. The men

                        whose hands forced open our throats and planted the seed.  

                                                You will go on a long voyage. You will find love when you least expect it.


                                                               Ask again later.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

napowrimo day no. 15


 One morning, they dragged the river for the woman whose husband 

                may have killed her. The children still in their beds come sun-up. 

                                        Come swallow song.  The small shoes they clamored into

and out onto the lawn.  The fawns that wandered through the fence.  

                and were shot summer before, blood everywhere. Even in our ears 

                            as they cried. The children clutching blankets and bears, bleary eyed 

and blinking.  The birds outside were so bright that day they could have been

                  angels, godless, flailing. Could have been shadows, spotting the retina,

                                Could have been our own hearts, thrumming in our chests.


                                                                Diving blindly toward the windows.


Wednesday, April 14, 2021

napowrimo day no 14


At dawn, my husband takes out the birds.  Puts them to bed. 

                When we wed, a percussion of wings in the courtyard, but now, 

                                they sputter and rust from the damp. Clutter the tops of cabinets, 

the kitchen pantry. I find one, one morning, tangled in my hair. 

                Small, leaking oil in my palm. Crushed in the hush of sheets 

                                   and blankets we pulled back and forth between us all night. 

How to account for such broken things, this wedded life.  

                   The knife we put to love each evening, then took away.  

                                   The bride cake and it's frosting teeming with ants at the reception. 

                                                            Spoiled in all that sun.   

Not only can you peruse my conspiracy theories pieces the online version of the Library's URBAN LEGENDS:  FROM PLAYGROUND LORE TO CULTURAL NORMS exhibit here, but it's also the debut of April's zine project offering of the same name, which also includes a slew of text pieces written this year.  I read a few of these at the Pretty Owl Poetry release reading a while back, but otherwise, this is their official debut.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

birds and drafts and juvenilia

 Yesterday, I switched gears on my NAPOWRIMO exploits and started something I have a few notes for that's a bit more narrative in focus.  I was laughing all morning that, yes, here I was writing mostly about birds again, then remembered this little draft tucked away in my drawers.  Written so long ago, the paper, three ring notebook and lined, is yellowed and more brittle than it was originally.  I think I was 16 when I wrote it after waking up from a dream about a dead seagull on a beach.  I had moved on from drafting short poems in my blue diary and at that point, had taken to writing drafts on notebook paper and odd bits of pen-pal stationary. I still have most I imagine--all really, really bad, though maybe a bit better than the diary poems when I was 14. I didn't write anything like regularly in those days.  Most of my life was school and otherwise lounging on my bed listening to music or reading.  I probably would have told you I wanted to be a teacher of some sort (this was before my marine bio obsession.)  The year before, it had been an interior designer. 

"Poet" was not something anyone actually did, of course.  Writer maybe...and I loved writing for the school newspaper and the very next year, would be a section editor. Maybe a journalist or a novelist, but never a poet.  Not in my world. But still, I occasionally turned my attention that way--to verse--long after I had started writing for school assignments. This was also around the same time I made my very first artist book endeavor for our Scarlet Letter, though I really didn't know that's what it was.  As I became involved with theatre my senior year, I thought maybe I could be a playwright. (though if you'd asked me,in my dreams, I was a Broadway songstress--hilarious since i am a poor singer.)  There was a burgeoning Poetry Club that met after school with about 5 people in it, but I kept missing meetings due to rehearsals. 

By then, by virtue of a charismatic AP Bio teacher I was being pulled toward science and environmental concerns, and the pieces I wrote for the paper reflected this, as did my decision to go to school in North Carolina that year. But still, I carried the writing with me--along with my electric typewriter and a penchant for perusing lit mags in the UNCW library between classes. A roommate, having again found me cross-legged on the floor of my dorm room again, typewriter in my lap,  said as much as I seemed to write, I'd surely be a famous writer some day. I guess I  am still kind of waiting to get there...but until I returned to the midwest, it was mostly prose and plays I was trying to write. 

Sometimes, I think I should throw out all these drafts--those and the ones on wafer thin typing paper from college and my first submissions.  The ones scribbled on random student government flyers, boring lecture programs,  and class notes.  The ones written during that last year of MA where i was finally making progress--some handwritten, some typed on my little word processor. Or after, the folders organized by year up to the point where I started organizing by project electronically in the mid-aughts.This  makes it harder to determine exactly when something was written except by memory--everything lumped together in a book manuscript, largely since I write a lot of poems in a blogger file or dropbox doc and then just organize them by project, but rarely do I print out and retain individual poems. And ultimately, I suppose, once there were books, those are the final record of a span of work. Obviously those early drafts are really embarrassing and just take up drawer space, but they are also kind of endearing. They help me remember the years of trying to get where I am now, even when I have doubts it's where I belong or should be at all. 

napowrimo day no 13


Begin with screws and wires. The song is in the slide of metal gears, 

                    the whisper of friction where the song lives, deep in the belly of the beast.  

                                         Out east, we slept through winter, feeling out the dark, coldest corners 

of the house only in the middle of the night.  My sister swallowed a bird 

                    that eventually killed her. Willed her onto mountainsides and train tracks. 

                                        No one could wrest it from her throat, though we tried.  Plied her with honey 

and milk and still, she whimpered all night beneath the covers. Her lovers 

                    slipping in and out the window. If you tighten the gears, you can approximate 

                                          singing but only to the untrained ear.  After all, we were listening to the wrong 

                                                            animal, the wrong music.  By June, everything rusted over and out of tune. 

Monday, April 12, 2021

napowrimo day no 12


At first, we sat down for dinner at seven. 

                    Our own little heaven filled with tea cakes and waterfowl. 

                                The best china from the best places. My grandmother's linens 

brought over on a sunken ship and tucked beneath her coat 

                    while others drowned around her. They still smelled like the sea 

                                when the wind was right, blowing on the line.  Still harbored her fear, 

damply rowing toward a distant shore. I would lie them out on the bed 

                      and live inside them for awhile in the afternoons, while the flies 

                                 flicked at the window screens and the children played in the tub. 

Each spot, so carefully rubbed out,  but so  much death woven into the cotton, 

                       the taper of lace. At night, it would undo us, send us falling through sheets 

                                of white and and into dark water. No matter how much we washed them, 

                                              they'd get caught in our throats. The boats too far off in the distance to save us. 

(switching gears today to something else.  I may return to the Walter Potter stuff near the end of the month, but I woke today with this little bit in my head, so we'll see where she goes.)

Sunday, April 11, 2021

napwrimo day no. 11

 the fly 


No matter where you go, its all shit 

and rot. In the field, they dont find the 

dead calves for days. Fruit grows soft  


on the vine, and Im here for it--

every hole that needs filling, every mouth 

slack open and eyes glazed over 


with death. The robin fell from the nest 

and already the insects were inside its 

feathered body, breaking it down into earth. 

Hard to tell what is living, already dying.

The ticker winding down to the final hour.

Muscle grown loose around bones, skin sag. 


and broken teeth.  How to know the difference 

between the already and the almost, 

not yet. Sometimes impossible. Especially 

when god keeps lining up the bodies so lifelike. 

Yesterday, the little girl in the field 

who buried the bird, so carefully 

with her rhyme but startled at my crawl up her leg. 

Already her insides grown black with char.