Monday, March 30, 2015

douse

This is it! The final day of the 30/30 Tupelo Press poetry challenge. I'm delighted to say that I made it to the end without missing a day, and it was a challenging pleasure. Thanks to those of you who have been reading; I'm astonished to talk to friends and family who say they have been consistently reading the poems daily; there is no greater compliment. Thank you!

What didn't occur to me until about halfway through my version of the project (using the word of the day as a jumping-off point) is that I couldn't really cheat even if I wanted to because I've been attached to something--a word--that is released daily. I can't even work ahead and write, say, three poems on a particularly creative day. I really trapped (???) myself inside of the project, and the process really has been exquisite.

If you haven't already contributed, please consider giving something, anything please, to Tupelo Press in this final day of the challenge. I'm still pretty far from my goal, and every $5, $10, or $20 gift would help a ton at this point.

Today's NY Times word of the day is douse. It's not a articulately "poetic" word, but then again, what is? I think of douse from the perspective that it defines a change, a transformation, usually one of excess. I'm horrified by what is going on in Indiana, so this poem is written as a gesture against this injustice. The poem is not entirely political, but it has leanings and works towards images that welcome all kinds of love, regardless. I can't imagine having any kinds of leanings otherwise.

douse
against Indiana's Religious Freedom Act

what you know of gratitude
knows you too. it is with swollen
experience that I tell you this.

your body has a place or
maybe it's folded and walking
on its way to pray, half-covered

in snow and the relative weight of endings.
another self is drafted
and fought against in passive voice.

what a blue moon you cling to.
what a risk of being on the wrong side
of what we know

to be tenderness. rhetoric, birds.
the feathers up to my ankles.
I will swim in the green space

that holds the mitochondria.
to believe it starts there,
where we manufacture cellular energy,

where we begin to be drawn
to another body like the navigation
through a maze and over and over

arriving at the same place,
the same and other body that fits
& becomes someday utterance, love.

the child draws a flip book, images
moving down the page like gliding
towards you. catch her. it's your chance

to hold something that floats. so did the
white and effortless line
on the white and effortless paper.







Sunday, March 29, 2015

globular

We are in the finishing stretch: day 29 of the 30/30 Tupelo Press challenge. To recap, I've been writing a poem a day for every day of the month of March. I've been using "words of the day" from the NY Times Learning Network as well as Dictionary.com (on weekends when NY Times doesn't put out a word) as points of inspiration for the poems.

The point of the 30/30 challenge is to raise money and awareness for Tupelo Press, a poetry press that supports voices of all shapes, sizes, and colors in their publication of new work. If you like the work I'm doing here or you believe in the power of poetry to initiate change, please consider donating.

Today's word of the day is globular. I think of something gelatinous when I think of globular, though what I want to think about is an actual globe. Not sure what's coming out here.


globular

she asks about the eggs. where.
the surprise when they open.

snare drum. a clock and it's sounds.
sunday would have been a good day

to speak honestly 
about the weather.

to speak honestly about how
you pinch the happiness at the stem

before it manifests. I recuse. a fresh
cutting off. I was waiting for a space

to think inside of. 
that is the tragedy of today's story.

I haven't been following, you say.
I've known it all along. the crown

unravels from the friction.
her body is so small

and cubic. inside, the screen door
fails to hold me in. I've lost so many of these

battles with myself. cannonball. pieces.
preparing for another end.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

cantillate

We've made it to day 28 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge! With National Poetry Month on the horizon (April), there's a small chance I will continue this challenge into April. It's been a very productive process for me! Two months of every-day writing could yield just the work I'm looking for in my next collection.

I'm cheating a little today; I'm not at all psyched about Dictionary.com's word of the day for today, but yesterday's I can work with, so I'm going with it. The word of the (yester)day is cantillate, which means to chant or intone.

cantillate

we are surrounded until we are alone. it might have been intimate, the way he pulled my arms out like wings. back and out, held them there. so many drips or maybe a stream. when I do it to myself, if feels like a song is building in my spine. what story are you living? he showed me the space between my ribs. here. how tightness here is like a road in the gold light. there is not enough to lead us through. I almost fell into him like floating. I'm done with silence. instead I become the voice of all of my selves, singing. her (me) and her (me) and her (me). we are all. all alone. the moon gets softer with sound. now touch feels like it really happened. like a through and through. I'm on the other side where I catch myself opening and longing to erupt. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

bevy

Time is running out in the 30/30 Tupelo Press challenge. I've been writing a poem a day this month in an effort to raise money and awareness for Tupelo Press, which publishes a wide ranges of poetic voices and forms. I've held up my end of the bargain so far, and a few of my friends and coworkers have made generous donations, which I really, really appreciate! I need more, though, to reach the goal I set for myself, so please consider donating if you think poetry is cool, and maybe even if you've enjoyed a poem or two I've written here. If you do donate, please make note of my name in the comments section.

It's been a pretty vulnerable and raw process, I have to say. You don't just get to write when you have an idea or when you feel moved to write. You have to open yourself up every day to generate something, and I've been in awe of how productive that process can be (and there have been a few crap poems along the way, let's not be coy.)

today's NY Times word of the day is bevy, which is a flock of birds. Specifically a bevy can also be a large collection of people or things, but I thin the flock of birds will be where I go.

bevy
for Celeste

she tries to spell mountain because it's snowing there. technically, she's incorrect, but we are still impressed by the closeness. it's impossible to hold her in. we've learned. we are learning. scattershot. holed. she crumbles into piles if you set her off. yes, you. you will set her. sometimes you don't belong here. we can live every day from this place of light. 

she is still learning how to ask questions. I'm thirsty. I'm broken a little on the inside. I can't find my shoes. we coach her: what do you need? ask me.  

where does that shadow come from, the one that travels across the field? 
its a murder of crows, flying through the clearing.

where do you go when you disappear?
to the place where it's dark and quiet. I always see your face.

why are you crying?
because of tears and water and the shadow that's still moving away.

why are you the strong one?
because I am the strong one.

what will I see when I close my eyes?
only the shapes you allow yourself to recognize.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

ravage

We are in the finishing stretch of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge. Day 26!
I'm blessed every day of every month of every year to have amazing, sensitive, loving and intelligent friends. Today's poem is for one of them. The NY Times word of the day is ravage, which as usual, makes me think of something outside of the actual meaning of the word. I think of how ravages can destroy you, or they can change you. I think of how having children ravages a mother, and changes us inexplicably. I think of the lack of black and white in it all.

ravage
for Joy

grief lurks in the lungs.
I follow you there
faster than before.

       everything was fine

we will sit and count
the wounds:
bodies. the tenderness.
unfastenings. cascades. letters.
the one who wouldn't let go
when you walked away.

     she would be open

there are dressings,
I say,
but you already know that.

you've already had to look away.
you live in your lungs
like I do now,
raking through
what we know
is already gone.

         i need you to take
         but not to let

when I think of you
I think of movement
across an ocean
in the brightest light of day
or lightning in a snowstorm.

        where I can once again feel

maybe you are a bird
or a planet
that we haven't yet discovered.
     
        as the new season approaches

maybe there are feathers everywhere.
you are gone again,
my dear friend.
disassemble, assemble and reassemble.
gathering speed and distance.



Wednesday, March 25, 2015

acme

Day 25 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge is here! Today's word of the day from the NY Times is acme. Like most of us, I thought it was a made-up word that cartoonists used as a brand name for mail-order catalogs. It actually is a pretty "serious" word from Greek that means the peak of perfection. The pessimist in me sees the acme as the thing that makes all other things seem lesser-- the fastest a runner ever runs will only make all of her other runs feel slower. Or fame or fortune or acclaim. Hopefully happiness has no acme, or that it can be sustained, or that the limits are ever-expanding.


acme

what once was waiting now is punctuation. what once was silver now is rain. how quickly it changes to snow in the foothills. somewhere there are people in small sugar houses making syrup. I wonder what they say. what once was tree. what once was ice. the sugar doesn't wait for the seasons, or maybe it does. you are lighter than I wanted you to be. the blue boxes stacking up and away. quiet now. it will be spring even through snow. there will be syrup even through ice. strong-arm. the moment if flows quickest. your terrible sense of color. what once was crested now is base. I hope to see you there in the swarm of yellow daffodils. I will hold your hand like we did in the snow. you know who you are because you know who you are. quiet now. we hear it falling. we will become.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

occult

If you can believe it, it's day 24 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge! Today's NY times word of the day is occult. I'm drawn to the less popular definition of the word, which is a verb meaning "to hide from view, conceal, or have its light extinguished." This would be the version of the word more closely related to occlude.

As I described it to a friend, this is a bit of a "therapy poem" for me. The past year has been quite a journey for me, including a lot of letting go of crap and opening myself up to the possibility that two seemingly apparent contradictions can be true at the same time. Sometimes these contradictions keep me up at night, and I have to do visualization exercises (the breathing out of smoke in the poem is what I picture in my mind as I try to go to sleep) to let go of anger, polarities, pain. It works, and continues to work. And the complexities continue to unfold and be difficult. And on and on. So poems exist.


occult

i.
it's as if you can't find me
the last year so many drifts & contradictions

(sometimes finding dark is finding light
contrast: opposite colors draw the eye
it takes a certain looking to see)

happily the stars
were almost here

ii.
we see them as squares, the days
because they accumulate 
into patterns of bigger squares

only when she slept on my floor
was I able to sleep

sometimes she is me as a child
& I need to tell her things so she can sleep

things no one ever told me
but I needed
need now to hear

her small body like kindling
cradling the light from the hallway
so perfectly slumped

she needs me
& is far gone now into dream


iii.
only in winter does breakfast
smell like heaven

& at night I breathe out
the dark past
to sleep

like a cloud of black smoke from my mouth
this letting go
this breathing towards rest & quiet

each exhale closer
to the perfect juxtaposition

finding the light
somewhere in my body dream

the future way I will speak, breathe out
patterns of light and shadow
that anyone else can hear