Tuesday, April 30, 2013

npm: 30

Here we are, last day of April. This will be the last poem for National Poetry Month. Hooray! I made it!

To celebrate, I am sitting on my couch with a sore throat, achy joints and a fever. Hopeful plans to get out for a stroll/fresh air, but we'll see. This kind of sick sucks in spring.

Here is my last poem for npm. However, I'm going to try to keep posting as consistently. If I miss a day, then I miss a day. But this has been a great exercise, for sure.


a mouthful of mean
and pennies--
a thief
his wings;

our bodies,
of a clock.

Monday, April 29, 2013

npm: 28, 29

Day behind. You'll have that.



faceplant and footprint
the ground never looked so good
on our stupid hands


bad day

cancel the woods; i don't want them.
take all grass and align the blades
to fence us in--
drain the lake, drink it straight.
lips curled on broken bark
tree teeth tongue mess
suck the highways off my thighs
clean it up
leave the dust

Sunday, April 28, 2013

npm: 27


Slow motion field day
old loves and
miles of water.
I wake up swimming,
my arms slicing the air and
legs swinging sheets by snow angel's hush.
I come to on the bathroom floor
towel for pillow, my nausea stretched
from here to Alaska,
strand of molasses that keeps me
below sea level.

broken legs
arms full of oranges
I come to with half-moon marks
in palm beds,
left fist still locked shut;
I wake up to find the bookshelf
bending down to view me.
tooth parade in the china cabinet
the body on its own
being wild,
skeleton in a Buick
come to laughing,
wake up mid-sentence.

Friday, April 26, 2013

head over feet

I'm making little piles of mini-chapbooks for a writer symposium next weekend. They are a wonderful creation--when unfolded completely the book is a single sheet of 8x11 paper. All poems Garamond, 10pt font. Each one fits approximately 5 to 8 poems. Shit, it's better than a business card. A set of 3, 20 copies of each set.

I learned this trick in the fall of 2000 when the Dayton Slam team returned from nationals in Providence. It was a quick and easy way to trade poems with lots of people in one go of it, without the pressure of having to purchase a full collection. A tester perfume. A method of communication and staying in touch. Legitimate merchandise to offer in between full collections published. This practice was a big hit at nationals that year. Back in Dayton we adopted the practice and I remember a group of us taking turns formatting on Bill's computer. PageMaker made it easy--you could flip the direction of text and layout the page perfectly. Each one of us had our own idea and flair and need--I still remember that day, the concentration on our faces as we aligned stanzas and typed our thank you's and dedications. I remember the pile that grew as we folded them.

The making of. The speaking of. These are my priorities. It is a strange and wonderful time...stretches of writing that feel almost feverish, the way they are immediate and persistent. Knocking around until I release it. These are my favorite moments...when even the drive to create barely waits for me. I have to grab its neck and hold on.

It is lovely and it is frustrating. I want to put another book out. Or two books simultaneously. Dare I say three? Do I work on three and only put one out, so that at least the urge is satisfied? What is my connective tissue? Why does my latest draft already feel so incredibly archaic?

And dilemma is dilemma but how remarkable: to be a month shy of 32 and head over feet in love with writing. For all of these years and still smitten. The strangest love. A current, an element, the gorgeous criminal of my heart. If my most consuming worry is writing-related, then I am fortunate. I want to be folding tiny chapbooks all of the time. Most nights I'd rather be somewhere melting in a chair while listening to a new poet, getting inspired, having conversations, working hard to bring the ideas to life. I realize I want this frustration more than anything. I've been in love since the day we met...when crayon first made sense in my fist. When I wrote my first story on a typewriter. When I paced the living room shaking as I prepared to attend my first open mic ever. When I traveled for it, read it to a lover, wrote it for a friend. I look back on all of the experience and feel overwhelming pride in my chest. Writing has always been necessary, and I'm proud that I never turned from that(ha--not that I really have a choice when it comes to shunning something so vital...like dismissing all the water in my body). All this to say the fight is a good one.

npm: 26


We are just out of reach of the moon, your porch and lap I sit on--the hours come and go as our stories for each other build plots, characters, footnotes. One palm flat to your collar, adament on feeling breath. Not that this memory matters but it does. In some world somewhere it is the only thing existing, carrying orbit completely limitless. The only page to survive.

Before the rotten apples fell out of your mouth. When love notes were in pencil on brown paper towel--time faded those odes to an outline. You've gotta hold it to the sunlight to read it. And I love that. Love that I have to be assisted by current nature to read the past. Something about it ties together.

Somewhere closer to now I stand behind a microphone--I challenge my mouth to get as close as possible. I close my eyes and behind them sew '97 sky to '03 fights to '09 fall apart. I wiggle my body into the stitching. A pose in the fabric. I want to hang all this tapestry somewhere worth it. I want to say what I've never said. All my planets, hula hoop of shattered rock and scents. The incredible lack of weight. The incredible act of forgiveness.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

npm: 25

Today is my dear friend Joel's birthday so this poem is for him.

horseshoe curve of the monongahela


Refrain of
thu-thunk as
train traces roundabout,
each car reflection

is a lookout we climb to,
a counting of clouds,
a bend we believe in,
a guitar strummed
so loud that
the river shakes
the town sways and
echoes refuse to depart.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

npm: 24


and wild. leaves for royalty, how
their disintegration crowns our temples,
our kingdom of synapse. they will post words
in red on all the trees; we are wanted. we
belong to no one. dirt in shudders along cheek,
quiver slung. we pull weeds and make them arrows.
toes in moss, hurl larvae to stars.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

npm: 23...

Yesterday an eight year old boy was hit by an SUV while riding his bike with his father and sibling. He is listed in critical condition at the hospital. Cyclists are gathering tonight to do a ride around the neighborhood in solidarity for the family, for the boy, and for all cyclists in the line of fire out there on the road(s).

A ghost bike is locked up just outside the Co-op up the street from my house. This is where James Price was riding his bike when he was struck and killed by a driver who fled the scene last summer.

I ride my bike every day that I can. If the headaches are behaving, if the weather is worth braving. This morning I woke up and took my time gathering my things for work--I packed work clothes, a towel and toiletries into my messenger bag. I layered up and stretched next to the cat. I considered how fortunate I am to commute this way. I pumped the tires on my bike, hoisted the frame over one shoulder and locked up the apartment.

The ride in was beautiful. 40 degrees--chilly and gorgeous, just enough to feel all centimeters of air that fill the lungs. I stood up and climbed the hill into Squirrel Hill. I made small talk with the crossing guards. I dodged potholes as best I could. I double checked my helmet at most stop lights, just to make sure everything was cinched tight.

After work I will ride the same route home in reverse. It will be beautiful, I'm sure.

Today I ride for everyone out there that put 2 wheels in the road. For that little boy and his family, for the woman who struck him. I ride for James Price. I ride for the ghost bikes, which are always covered in flowers, folded notes stuck in the spokes. I ride for those notes. I ride for my father, who taught me to love cycling. I ride for the helmet that saved his life years ago. I ride for all the drivers that know the law, that give us room, that stay out of our lanes. I ride for the love and not for the fear.

There is no poem today. Instead I'll let my two wheels unravel the verse. The ride is the poem.

Monday, April 22, 2013

npm: 22


Call the blue.
Whistle up the dogs.
A river tied like ribbon in your hair
your rock of neck.
A wrist or two.
If you go we'll call it thunder.
If you stay we'll say miracle.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

npm: 20, 21



my bed of basil
in a love full of fences
grown coiled diamonds


room in a room in a window
in a car in a loss in a flame born loose
in a heart in a lion in a balled up solution

it is here my story curls
outline of a hemisphere

It's been an oddly emotional, cathartic weekend. After a 2 day migraine I had 3+ inches of hair chopped off. All dead stuff, all not worth carrying around anymore. I'm much better for it. Never fear change. It's the only sure thing.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

npm: 19 (catchin up)

2 day migraine put me a day behind on npm. Better late than never...


after acres of sleep
I sit up like a champ,
confusion of the light coming in--
it could be morning or dusk,
bird songs waterfalling through screen.

toes on floor--finally
feeling feet,
head all cautious and held
my thimble full of liquid
bones vibration
life coming back in
stuttering lengths,
kid with elbows tremble
pulling up the curtain

I'll post today's poem later.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

npm: 18



parking lot of religion argument
railroad tracks by the boy's house
the sound they make passing under my moving
junkyard gone--where do junkyards go?
everywhere there ever was a kiss--
front yard
in hunks of metal
over breakfast
below the table
in company of stars that never promised anything

there is the fence
gone or broken, hardly matters
neighborhood of deadends
shallow of our deep ends
what ever the fire ate away
swigs of a building gone
one black bicuspid jutting
sidewalk of polka dot gum rot
sunset grinning over memory
and even that
reads like fiction
at this point

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

npm: 17

Another wonderful Rachel McKibbens' writing exercise. Here is the exercise link:

and here is the poem that came from it:


the last straw

the switchblade
Little Texas slow dance
bad sex that left chest yawned open
half-packed kitchen
a week away
pickpocket bus station
three black toe nails
negative account balance
wrong medication
teenage baptism
fights in writing
wet ground and flat tire, bent bell
our road trip full of lightning

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

npm: 16

A lot of emotions today. I have a show tonight which I'm looking forward to, despite this heavy heart from the tragedy in Boston yesterday. My heart is also feeling weighty due to the documentary Bully. I have tried to watch it multiple times now, and each time I have to stop it after a few minutes. There's no telling how long it's going to take me to watch the entire thing. My heart breaks for the young in the thick of it. My heart also remembers witnessing it myself as a kid...as well as being on the receiving end of senseless ridicule. I've heard great things about the documentary, and the subject matter is important to me...but I really wish I could shelf my emotions just for a bit while viewing. At least so I can get through it.

Anyway, today's haiku is sort of about all that heaviness.



unfurling the fist
i find a light, shivering--
lifeline on fire.

Monday, April 15, 2013

npm: 11 to 15

Playing catch-up on my poems after a long weekend home with the family.



gravel in my shoe
turn the limp into a strut
can't fool anyone


the amusement park building fronts
were all fake.
you could push them over
or crane your neck to view
the empty space
no foyer, no partition to conceal vacancy
fountains on timers
fingernails full of salt
the walls aren't real


title: describe a house

Curtains that pull the green forth from everything. Nature-flavored backdrop to your silhouette of leg bent, climbing the air a bit. Floor throughout littered with material things. Fingerprints on all handles--one could track where another goes based on this evidence alone. Habit has yellowed the walls.

Mail kept in the refrigerator, headphones in a drinking glass. I am moving out. You are making room. The bulb is blown. The accidental elegance of your limb against the moss, I put that in my suitcase. My deceased piece of deciduous. I can't stop touching it so it keeps on crumbling.


the dollar sign of my stride
the lack of
they take it

everyday neon
the chaos of vegas

why is my wellbeing so expensive, if even existent?

what exactly are you looking after?

why are the outlets all puttied with people on pedestals when
I do not care what actors have for breakfast?


Ending predicted:

we were little kings and swimming holes
hotel room and track meet apart
when you worked nights
and I could read it in the rem
of your eyelids
when we videotaped it
and these bare arms wrapped around you
hips like bridges
the driving and driving
all of that driving
songs that soundtracked scenery
do you dear life
fit in this thimble
or starfish your body over entire ocean
to prove that you
fit into nothing
i can wither you
down to a moment
(your elbow in a square of sun
tracing the scar across your middle
pressed together in a dressing room
on the roof
in the water)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

npm: 10

I tried another writing exercise by Rachel McKibbens for today's poem. Here is a link to the instructions:


I opened I-hope-you-get-AIDS-and-wilt and out came his fist.
I opened the fist and inside was a broken cigarette
I opened the shattered cigarette and inside were tiny letters
I opened the tiny letters and inside were guns
I opened the guns and inside were roses
I opened the roses and inside were thumbprints
I opened the thumbprints and inside was lightning
I opened the lighning bolt and inside was fire
I opened the flame and inside was the one that got away
I opened the one that got away and found the one that stayed
I opened the one that stayed and inside was a root
I opened the root and inside was a sky.
I opened the sky and inside were apologies
I opened the apologies and inside were bottles
I opened the bottles and found his suitcase
I opened the suitcase and found a wasp
I opened his thorax and found the blanket
I opened the blanket and let out the storm

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

npm: 9


I will have to become an astronaut--I want to think of you in outer space.
I've got pictures to pin to the stars. Edges will curl and singe off.
Notebooks to let loose in the cabin, all those words weightless.
I'm gonna
drag this hand
that touched you
through a bunch of satellites.

Monday, April 8, 2013

npm: 8


animal of my love
always wild
sharpening teeth on trees until collapse,
shushing of their heads
as they tilt to block the path

translucent leaves
remark in shuddering,
sigh of pleasure born from
wind and spit.
licorice, spanish music
tumble from punctures,

all that earth
all that skin.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

npm: 7


new grass
flex of back
gin swig
a snow-covered town

(the softest thing
you were
most certainly)

npm: 6

Posting my poem a day late but you'll have that with busy/nice weather weekends.


A cheetah, folded twice,
back to natural light,
Dali over one shoulder,
Rebel of great calves
spoonbent spine
small eyes
hitting what echoes for hours.

Under the tongue
where youth rots,
a collect call:
I want you to be my wife.
Vow between dial tones,
a witness,
my old shirt in a fist on your bed--
teeth full of muscle you tear from my bones.

Friday, April 5, 2013

npm: 5

Today's poem is another writing exercise by Rachel McKibbens. This one ends up being a pantoum which is awesome(because, to be honest, I've never written one before).
The exercise is here:


green and seething, hauled venom
only contact a crack in the window, better to never get caught
cigarettes on the roof--when the bad feels so good
may all the worst happen to you

only contact a crack in the window, better to never get caught
woods of teeth in the sun
may all the worst happen to you
alone on a freeway digging dirt

woods of teeth in the sun
cigarettes on the roof--when the bad feels so good
alone on a freeway digging dirt
green and seething, hauled venom

Thursday, April 4, 2013

npm: 4

Wow, alright. I welcomed today with both arms open, wanting a challenge. And gosh did I find it. Rachel McKibbens posted a new writing exercise today and it was a doozy. Here is the link to the exercise:

You start with a word pool, and then you have to use all that words in a 20-line poem. Each line only 8 syllables.

I took a swing. Here's what happened:


fingers through honey, borrow you.
alone, field of your lips i could
crawl through. that thicket tongue busted,
our lungs on pause. we die a little every day.
questions get restless and leave us,
three hundred stung wings follow suit.
we settle distance with riddle,
every correspondance signed with
a pun. place perfurmed envelope
in back with molars. chew thoughtful.
our front yards share a fence, that's it.
your ground fertile, and mine boasting
track marks and tremors, curved keloids.
this heart, she's a crawler, wreckage
be damned. bloody knuckles and all.
there is no leash, no boundary--
heavy in thumb, rushes to you
foolish, hungry, criminal lust--
build you a black hole filled with spit
stir with clavicle, form tar pit.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

npm: 3

For this poem, I used one of Rachel McKibbens' writing exercises. This one to be exact:

title: grocery list discovered between bookmarks in the hitchhiker's bag(left by accident in topeka)

in pocket of the moon,

thoughts of ugliness
pure messiness
grin of gray hair
green for things i want/need
more minutes for slow hand meandering

monster made of children bones and charred trees
empty space where _________ should be
fruit in fridge
clean-pressed shirt
of snake
in the sun
singed edge bread
of rust.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

npm: 2


Tornado, remember the calluses you lured me with? That love em and leave em attitude I loved, my chance to be your last second superman. To catch the last tree falling, upright her with flick of hip. I knew you before throwing barns and tangled fences. Before you were the shape of a mind.

Because of you the bed is never made. I cannot comb my hair and keep it that way(could not even before you came). Because of you my bathtub is full of books and blankets. I throw my pens in the air and never see them again. I point above and say green. I let go and fly like paper. There are no locks--the doors never close. We kiss in scribbles. With the gutters gone, you can throw me to stars.

Monday, April 1, 2013

npm 2013, let's begin

It's April, which means National Poetry Month. I'm going to write a poem a day again. Here's the first one:


in land of
mud and money

i bend down to
smell the inside pages
of every book i read

i fix my hair
for the firing squad
pincurls of dynamite & seaweed.