A Heart Song


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There’s a woman I have not poemed for this year, but I really love her and her first anniversary of completing chemo to defeat (defeat seems too small a word: crush, conquer, obliterate, devastate, crest, surf, these don’t do it justice either) breast cancer is tomorrow. I owe her a big ole’ poem. I want to link to her blog now, but I’m not sure if that is too public a thing. Then again, she posts her stuff, honest and raw and so inspiring, on a blog, which is all up there in the internet, so I guess it should be okay. My heartsong friend’s blog, which I’ve linked to before is called Love, Hope, Trust, and you really should read it. She is a fabulous writer, and a phenomenal woman. These are my favorite quotes from today’s post:

“Probably, the biggest change for me is not putting off things I want to do.  And trying new things that are scary but fun.  Like going to the motorcycle rally in Sturgis, SD (way, way more fun than I could have imagined!), driving the truck and horse trailer by myself (oh! the freedom!).  Going to horse camp, going back country horse packing in the Bob Marshall wilderness, riding on the back of my husband’s motorcycle-all of it.  All the wonderful, glorious fun-filled adventures that are out there, just waiting to be enjoyed! I encourage you to go and do it, whatever it is.  The dishes, the dust, the laundry… all of that crap will be there tomorrow- Don’t forget to live this life you have!!

I try to enjoy (really, truly, deeply enjoy) every little joy that comes my way.  Magpie, our border collie, wagging her tail and licking my face. My horse nickering at me. Our cat stretching up on his hind legs, begging me to pick him up. The deep, deep pinky oranges of the sunset. My husband hugging me for no particular reason and telling me I am his favorite. My life…
My life kicks ass.

I try not to worry at all.  I don’t mean not care, or not be careful or thoughtful.  I mean worry- like “what if this?” “what if that?”  “what if the whole world exploded???”   Key word being try… I still find myself obsessing about money (or really lack there of) and being grumpy about last minute changes.  But I can put it in perspective pretty quickly.  Having survived a “life-threatening illness” gives you a different perspective. “

“All the Crap Will Be There Tomorrow” might be my new motto. It’s pretty rad, as far as mottos go. I just relished lots of long minutes reading her prose from years past, and turns out, she’s always been a writer, and always been just as rad as she is now. But this year, this year was a shitty year for my friend, and I wept for her, and I prayed for her, and I stood in awe of her as she came to to work straight from shitty chemo, and there really aren’t words for that kind of inspiration. Except this is a poem blog. So I have to find the words.

Here goes.

A Heart Song

To me, your hair has always played second fiddle to your laugh, great notes rising with sharp release from your bosom, no matter what state it was in then. And no locks could match your cheeks stretched and pointed to the ceiling in mirth, and when your headscarf slipped I wished you would rip it off and lariat it above your head like a Chippendale, like I know you wanted to do. Like, seriously, it was apparent that you wanted to. And no lie, there was a day, when you turned and looked so paper light, that the fear grew up through my tendons and took hostel in my chest, but then you cackled, with such quick grace, and I cried with the thanks and relief of it, because yours is a joy with iron behind it, and though it floats up like birdsong, it is forged in a new and elemental joy.


Okay, my friend. I know the word “bosom” made you laugh, and that was pretty much my whole goal tonight. If that didn’t, maybe it was “Chippendale”. Anyhow, you rock, and I love you, and I’m taking your words to heart. I did not even do the dishes before sitting down to poem to you. That right there, that’s some inspiration. Happy Thursday!

Already in the Daydream


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Oh lord, the feels at my job. It’s late, it’s Wednesday, but somedays I go all day desperately trying to recognize the inspiration, and then it full on hits me smack in the face in the form of a student telling his story up on the hearth. I’ve told y’all already, about my job and the HUGE MOUNTAIN OF FEELINGS that comes along with it, but tonight was a moment I must now sit through, and feel, via a poem. I pulled said student aside tonight and asked if I could poem about him. Not about his experience, because I can’t know that, but about the feeling of listening him tell the school about his dad’s suicide when the boy was in fourth grade, and about his life since then, and about my own experience when he played this song for the school. This song that his Dad played for him and his little brother on Saturdays when they were at his house, to wake them up. It’s The Freddy Jones Band, “In a Daydream”.

“Already in a daydream”. It really couldn’t be more shattering than that. This will have to be a fast poem, because of the hour, but it deserves to be more than that. This just got bumped to Number One on the List of Future Revisions. Just have to do it.

Already in the Daydream 

In the daydream, now, is all you can be. Oh, you should’ve seen him, and the bravery in the twitching hands and eyes that flashed through anger, through devastation and such pain, welling, finally, at joy at the pictures he passed ’round the hearth. Oh, you should’ve witnessed him think on you while listening to the song you played him to wake him on Saturday mornings, to sugar cereal and cartoons, followed by football in the yard, and wrestling and jumping with both little boys on the couch-bed. That’s what he called it, “the couch-bed”.  Did you know about what daydreams do, when you used it to love them, or was it just a favorite song from a favorite band? Did you know about the power of the daydream? You must’ve already been it, to bestow such snapshots of sharp memory, already in the land both dulled and brightened, by the things that take away the pain but bring about the darkness. You were already in the daydream when you imagined that the end would be less painful than the result. It’s there I will find the sympathy, in that dark creature of your brain’s own conjuring, Sympathy for the nightmare is compassion, and I think your son might have it. He’s already forgiving you, for the daydream.  He could be a bright light that went out for a bit. Oh, you should’ve seen him. You should’ve seen him up there.


I don’t want to exploit my students and their trauma for poems. I just couldn’t not do this one. I also don’t want to express anger or judgement at those who contemplate suicide. That’s not what this poem is about. I’ve just had lots of students who had to experience that particular loss, and it never gets easier. And ultimately, the sentiment remains. “You should’ve been there.” Wednesday, poemies. Love you.

It Was the Ficus


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Here is what is getting me down to it tonight:

It’s good. I’m feeling a quick and funky poem tonight:

It Was the Ficus

It was the ficus! Not a busted pipe at all, just a dried out plant siting on top of a vent upstairs, and both he and I took turns killing the ficus with large doses of water from the girls’ water bottles every single night when they wanted “new fresh, now”, until it all spilled over and came bursting through the bathroom ceiling. This makes lots more sense, given that we could not figure out where that pipe could possibly exist up there. It was the Ficus, of course, that stupid houseplant, sitting up there on top of the carpeted vent, just being a receptacle and pleasant piece of of greenery, of course, the thing that caused the ceiling to close-collapse was the Ficus, what a stupid plant we inherited by virtue of mortgage, what a seriously stupid plant that caused the leak and that was the least possible worry sold when we fell in deep love for this moneypit house by the creek that we hold dear onto and plan work on, and on, and on.


So, it was our fault, for watering the giant plant too much. I curse that plant. Goodnight, poemfriends. Happy Tuesday!

Signs Here and There and About


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There are times when my anxiety makes me think I have, like, the ESPN and stuff.  My students like that reference to Mean Girls. Makes me hip. Or so I like to think. Anyhow, I’m feeling much better today. It gets difficult, sometimes, to recognize the signs in our lives, but I’m fairly certain that yesterday’s heartshudders were just precursors to today’s ill-ish child and broken pipe. Turns out our kid was just fine, but for a lingering little cough because she is three and can’t expel her phlegm, but the broken pipe is now a thing and will continue to be one until we can fix it with our home depot credit card and house-fixer friend.

So, a poem for the signs?

Signs Here and There and About

Where are they, though? On the way to work, is the deer that turns back a sign, then, and if so, is it to carry on or to turn back?  Is the moon left hung in the sky a sign, or an omen, and what is the difference, then? Sometimes there are stars and sometimes not. When do they mean anything, then? Is it when the satellites are clear in their swoop, or not? Or is it when the moon is dark, or is is it when you can hear every instinct still burbling over the rocks and when the stop sign makes you want to go fast down the highway, always, over and over.

There are signs here and there and all about, all pointing and causes, and when an arrow is loosed, well, damn, there it goes. What are they, though, the signs now? Is there a single one that could tell us to turn back, from our fast-paced future? Wouldn’t it take just that single turn towards, well, we hate to say it, but a single turn, quick-spun would turn us right back toward peace, would it now? Would it not?


Good night, poemies. Happy Monday. Happy-ish Monday. Happier Monday.

A Poem for A Broken Day


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Some days I really wish I had just resolved to post other people’s poems instead of write my own. Today has been weird, and hard, for some reason, and I’m not feeling overly optimistic about tonight’s efforts. Every once in awhile I have days where I am just mired in the yuck. Just stuck beyond belief in a twisted maze of overwhelming anxiety. Usually this happens when have not gotten enough sleep, and when HP works late and I am alone with my fears. It’s a scary world out there for a highly-sensitive person, and even though I try to stay on center, occasionally I just wake up panicky and overwhelmed and stay that way all day and night, no matter how many walks in the woods are taken or cups of tea sipped.

This is how I feel about poetry today:

“Poetry”–Charles Bukowski

a lot of
it’s not
either to
or even to


I felt a lot of desperation today, and dissatisfaction, despite all my thousands of blessings, and I’m feeling, just, low. I’ve been trying to fight an awful tension headache all day, and all I’ve designs on now is a shower and bedtime. I’m trying to let Bjork teach me how to handle the broken days, and it is helping, somewhat:


Poem for a Broken Day

When the caffeinated pacing and frantic cleaning does not provide a single clear thought, and when the fear snakes ribbons around my heart, and it seems that I am a husk of myself, watching a muttering madwoman flit about her kitchen, and watching her hands tremble over the cereal bowl as she pours milk for her daughters, and wanting desperately to call out to her, “Wake Up! The light and laughter is all right here for you, brimming in those smiles! Wake up to right now and leave this cage of serpents! It is all here, waiting for you to attend to it”.  As she moves blindly through their imaginary games, picking up toys and many pieces of tiny clothing, she doesn’t hear, she is gone deaf with worries, and though I yell at her, the loud fears mute my screams until all there is left is a tinniness in her voice and in her ears, a scraping sound as her blessings go uncounted, and there is nothing left to do, but to put her to bed, and hope that tomorrow she wakes rested, and reminded of her strength, and full of thanks for being able to rise again.


Ah, Sunday nerves. If this were the 1600’s I would definitely be diagnosed with a wandering womb. Hysteria is just the word for how worked up I managed to get myself today. Ah well. Some days are better than others. What do you do when you wake up with a case of the blues? Happy Sunday, poem friends. I’ve got to put this day to bed.

night new mama

Today I need to poem for my friend Kely, who gave birth to a brand-spankin’ new baby boy yesterday. Good work, Mama. It’s her second child, and I remember that feeling, vaguely, the one of being so newly-connected and firmly and satisfiedly-attached to the babe but yearning so piercingly for the eldest at the same time. Oh, babies. Makes my phantom womb ache. Goodness gracious. Shall I write I birth poem, then? I shall.

Night New Mama

Gripped down deeper than the holler, deeper than the creek-bank, here are those sweet pains coming down from the shoulder-blades and taking taking root down deep, there, at the bottom of the spine. It’s called a sacrum for a reason, now we all know that, and there the tensing gets bundled up and bursts forth, all squalls and soul and relief in shudders. Behold, the gasping creation, hold him, all slimy and wriggling towards the breast, all squawking and slippery and alive. Here I pray deep for you, mama, I stand pushing behind you and thinking of ducts, I think now on latchings, he will, this angel child, get yourselves all hooked up and hope now, hope and sleep the wakingest sleep now.



Night, night new mama.

These Days Dancing


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I felt stuck for a second, just now, sitting down here to do this. Then I played some sexy music and danced around for a bit, and now I believe I can write anything. I’d almost forgotten about The Marilynn, and I haven’t poemed that way in awhile, so it seems fitting.

So, a sexy, dance-y poem it is:

These Days Dancing

It begins, these days, in the kitchen when the music is loud and the dishes dirty, it begin with a big slow roll, letting the top of the head rest down toward the shoulders all in beat, then chin falling to chest and up around the next side, how can you stop the hips from following, the, in the rhythms you crave, swinging with drums. What follows next is just an easy drop and roll, down to the heels and up through the spine, and yes, it pops these days, but it feels better now, more on time and necessary, yes, I can still put my hands on the floor at the same time as my feet, and yes I can arch like that, still, and yes these hips circle like mechanical egg beaters, yes, that’s just exactly that. Suddenly my feet wake up, and remember the bones in those arches. My calves are humming along and they crave that snare, its the thighs that get the bass, and carry it up, straight on up. These days dancing means more after the dishes are done, because its just exactly that reminder, it’s just precisely that great reminder, that I have nothing to lose by loosing the maelstrom that is my hips, I’ve got nothing to by giving over to this beat, only minutes can be spent here,

and all the percussion is owed to me now.


I dance every night in my kitchen. I’ve probably written about that before, but whatevs.  Happy Friday, poem people.

A Poem After the Fall


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I almost don’t have it in me to write a 9/11 poem. At school today we did a moment of reflection and poetry, and it was hard. Many of our students were toddlers then, so the War on Terror became their boogieman, and a shadow in the dark. I’m going to try. I don’t know if a day of remembrance is meant to be poemed at all, but I’ll try.

A Poem After the Fall

They don’t remember where they were on this day we ask them to remember, because they were babes then. Each of us adults has a story to tell on about where we were on that day, but they do not. They grew up hearing the muddled talk gurgling in the background, pale voices in the way of dinner, talk of roadside bombs and limbs and bodies, talk thickened with spittle and badges, lilting talk, mean talk, and talk so distracting it deserved medication. These ones, these newly-hatched, they know conflict only, and so we treat their fear with money, and hide them from the news when it should be taught, that each explosion is a great multiplier of sadness, and each rocket compounds the ice inside veins, and that maybe the only, the one and onliest only is survival.

Ask them to remember and they will bow their heads, but the nod has no image to revere, it has no newscaster on the TV at ten in the morning montana central time, it has no roommate to wake it up, to say, you have to look, now, look, now. It has no family to call on the coast, no professor to call who used to work at the state department, that nod, cast upon them, these larvae in their nascent grief, it has nothing but fear left now, cast down upon fashionable sneakers.

Ask them to remember and they will. They will remember some kind of terror. And then they will ask why.


Okay. I wrote an 9/11 poem. Goodnight, poem people. Happy Thursday

When Will It?


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There’s a gathering wind out there. The moon is loud and full, and the clouds have been gusted away up there to make room for the painting, and the trees are snapping and flinging their branches away. Sometimes I don’t know whether or not my poemintros are poems themselves. I do know that after a long, long Wicked Wednesday, I am ready to write something stormworthy. I just cursed out autocorrect for insisting upon me that I separate those words. Dammit, autocorrect! Don’t you know I’ll misspoem something if I damn well want?

This block I’m teaching a creative writing class, so you’d think I’d get the poeming done early, but it seems like I’m not able, at least in these last two hectic weeks. I have exactly two lines from our freewrite time to go on. So, there I begin. I wrote that several minutes ago. I sure can kill a minute.

When Will It?

When will your miracle arrive? Has it already? And if it had, how would you know? Was it that smile of that first babe? and if it was, if that was your miracle, does that mean when you need one, you are out of luck and moonlight? How do you know when your miracle, your one saving grace, is spent? How do you recognize a miracle when it happens, and what if you fail to see it? Does it count, then, in the giant count-off? Do you count each smile or moment of grace? Does each kindness count then, to offset the inevitable, why, I figure it might then,

because we only get, only,

the one miracle.


Goodnight, Wednesday readers of poem.

A Traveling Moon


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I’m teaching Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, An American Slave. Written By Himself. It’s very necessary. I occasionally run into troubles teaching race to privilege, or, not troubles so to speak, but challenges. When I encounter them this is the text I give them, and while searching around for some other LaTonya Peoples songs I play them during this week of the lesson (LaTonya People’s “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” and “Wade in the Water” and Roosevelt Charles’ “Let My People Go” and others), I happened upon this:

I bet you can’t watch just half. You are going to have to see the whole thing. I guarantee it.  I try to give them all the lessons I can about Race in America, and it is always the music that comes through to them most. I’m going to try to poem what if feels like to open these eyes. It feels a little strange, because I never know if I’m doing a good enough job, but right now it also feels absolutely necessary.

A Traveling Moon

What can I say to teach it, this course of blood and swinging, what am I going to say, swing up, sweet chariot? When all the blood said

let me, let my people go,

and I cry out I don’t want it to be a theft, just love, when I say now is the afternoon then, to wade in the water, to take those shuttered children into the water, those sleeping children, and wake them

right up, tell them to go up and up until the spilling ground is a cloud beneath them, up and up under the super moon, up there until they reach

the sweet honey on the rock, and the moon is a traveling moon.


I don’t know. It is hard to explain, how I feel trying to teach a bunch of comfortable white kids about the world. I know a lot of you understand this. Here’s another mesmerizing thing to watch before you go to bed:

Night, happy Tuesday!



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