Answer Poem


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Monday Monday Monday. A Monday Poem. I know I am a poem behind, so one of these days I’ll post two. But not this Monday. This is a one-poem kind of day. Hp and I are both teaching Cormac McCarthy right now, and we just got into a philosophical debate about whether or not, were we starving, we would eat “a human infant, headless and gutted and blacking on the spit”.  It’s also a question I posed to teenagers today, and the consensus was that they would, nearly without remorse, despite already being identified as “the ones who carry the fire”. What?I try so hard to teach them the good stuff.

Goodness. Fine. It was only the prepper in our midst who inspired the teaching in the first place. On The Beach, how’s that for an update, anyhow? That’s posty-fiction, for sure.

I don’t know what I have to spill tonight. I’m thinking, again, about the end of the world, and of babies on spits. Thank you, Cormac.  But also, I’m teaching Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, so I’ve got that to poem as well?

I’m also trying to avoid asking questions in tonight’s poem. It seems like I do that a lot. Makes sense, because I have many questions.  But, really, how many “what if” poems can one write?

Here’s an answer poem:

Answer Poem:

Here’s the answer: “because we carry the fire”. What an answer. In the other, just confess, and that’s the answer. Confess and be done with that guilt. Let’s talk about the point you talk about eating off the spit, and in the third curricula we teach of the conquering destiny, we teach it nonchalant, like a matter of course, like it had nothing to do with the sexton or shackle. Or no, we teach with big hearts and peel back the eyes of careless, baby-eating youth.

Here is the answer: because belief. We called it faith. In the old meaning it meant old shame, some heat-knowing of old lessons, and some big lessons on the road. The flute gets tossed out, and no one knows why, except them both.

The answer curls along the darkroads and dark woods, and disappears like footsteps in the ash. He’s given us the answer, and we are the dead prophets seeking still along the road, we carry the fire, so we are the good ones, we are, we are, let’s talk in the firmament again, here we are, so good at last.

Here is the answer: What did you dream, ever, before the fall. Those dreams need to last, like thirst.


Goodnight, poemfriends. I know I’ve written a lot of silly poems, and this Road one might be another, but that’s okay by me. Happy Monday, people of the poem.


Bird of Cuzco



So, sorry to get right into it, but I worked late tonight and have to get to the teaching in the morning, so I’m just going to spill it. I’ve been thinking of my brother’s best friend, Sonny, who died when the plane he flew collided with a mountain, lately, mostly because of all the summertime air traffic. I’ve poemed about him once before, I think, but I’m going to do it again because it is what is true. When I first learned of his passing, I listened to this song on repeat, and I don’t know why. It’s a beautiful song, but I think the reason I listened to it over and over was because my first introduction to it was this youtube video, with the song playing over video of Sally Rand dancing with these amazing wings. The way she moves them in this footage, the exuberance and angelic (or slightly devilish) glee those wings take on, just remind me of him, somehow. Here it is:

So, tonight, a poem for a

Bird of Cuzco

The wind, the way it was blowing. The peaks over Moiese are a fitting place for a spirit such as yours to return to the spirits, though us, mere mortals, were not ready. Flight is the only fitting way for a guardian of light to die; it makes the most sense of stupid tragedy and burned up necklaces. If only everyone had, just once, felt the freedom in those wings, scintillant and buoyed by updraft, wouldn’t we have flown too? This bankrobber spirit of yours, no, the Robinhood spirit, does it live still, there in the rock and burnt earth, covered over in the green moss? Do you look out from that grey rock and see the bison as your brothers, now? What are the questions asked of this, when the brightlit are taken from us? Only one. Just why, and why, and why.


That was hard to write, and not in a good way. Stupid planes. Happy Sunday, my poemfriends.

Boats and Fairs

Our internet has been broken for three days! It’s the result of a tremendous thunder and lightening storm, with more strikes all at once than I’ve ever seen. It’s funny, this life thing, because, it just so happens that I’m teaching one class The Wasteland this week, and we just read “What The Thunder Said”.

So, I guess I have to post three poems today. It would be nice if I had three written, but what I have is a bunch of poemshards and a birthday party (mine) to attend. But, but! I’m poeming from my office, which HP finished for my birthday. It is lovely, to have a room of one’s own.  I feel spoiled, and I am. What lilystruck luck is this? This life of mine? Sometimes it is so good that I get the feeling that certain doom must lie ahead, because no one deserves this much, especially me. Actually, I pretty much always have that feeling. Is that normal? I’d like to hear from you on this one, poemies.

Better get started here. A couple of days ago I started a poem about the fair I went to growing up, in Superior, MT, so I’ll lead with that.

Mineral County Fair

Here I am again, small and waiting for the county fair. Here I am in the ring light, skipping in the dust barn fumes while the tailgate crafters pack it up for the day, mourn brief their unsolds, and turn on the headlights toward this dancing town.  All the ribbons have been won, we like the sheep and pigs best, and the H’s, head, heart, hands, health, not a single H comes first, they link like clover, when the contests are done and the stick food eaten, the calves roped and the clowns safe, then they dance it off. They dance off the mortgages, the hard buzz of the timber slump, the closing of the mill, they two-step right on over that, with christmas lights strung up above the danceground, and we twirl, we wee ones, with sparklers in the hard-won dusk.


Aw. I miss the fair. This North Idaho one just isn’t the same as the backwoods MT ones.  So, my new plan, given that it is late and post-birthday boat/party, is to write two poems today and two tomorrow. It’s a good plan, I think. If I do this next one and still feel poemy, I’ll go ahead and go with it, but at the moment I am so full and sun-heavy that I’m already thinking about bed, and it’s not even 10:00.  I’m going to save the poem-pieces I wrote earlier this week for tomorrow, and access the fresh boat poemshards of today. It’s good to get out on the lake once a year, because we live here, and we deserve more than the shore. We are now on the five-year boat plan.  Also, sidenote, who are these castle-builders up here along the shoreline? Who has castles? Would they be offended if I just pulled up and asked, hey, so, just curious, how did you make your living? Was it by teaching at-risk youth, by chance? Because, word. Just call me Captain.

Boat Poem

What do I know? What do I know about this land? What do I know about the bushes that ripen into black pearl? I know because it is recorded in my carla emery encyclopedia, in pen on the finesoft paper, about when to reap.  I know about when it is going to snow, and I know the smell of a melting wind the second I step out the door. I know the minute fall begins, and I know the heft of sunburn in deep summer. I know this land.

From shore.

We spend all our time on shore but deserve a boat. What if the helpers owned the castles? What if the teachers and artists outpaced the manufacturers, what if care was reimbursed accordingly? Wouldn’t we all be the heart-sung, then?

What do I know? I know the star-poses this time of year, where the bright spots lie up, and I know the insect calls, I know the names of the flowers, indian paintbrush and columbine, lupin and daisy and foxglove, I know trillium,

on the shoreline.

Here’s where we dream the boat dreams, and wonder if money might be evil, and suppose it must be, because we are not, and we hard try every moment. Here up on the shore we wonder at those toys, how they must be fun, how we wonder at those toys and moneyed children,

from the banks.

Here is what I know: the lacquer-light on the creekflow that froths over rocks, where to lay the line for cutthroat, how to get it out there, that’s the most I know in any given day. On any given day I know the lines of the goose flight on into

the friscalating dusklight just offshore.


I promised HP I would try to include that last line at some point this year, and so I did. Allusion! In my dreams, forty years from now someone will look that up and be like, “whup der it is”. Happy Saturday, my dear poemfriends.


Birth Story


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Birthday poem. Still sick and hacking, but buoyed by all the birthday wishes on the book of face. There are several former students on my wall, currently, including the one always disappears and who I wrote a “good thing you are still alive” poem for not too long ago. My recent bout of illness caused a crimp in Hp’s plans for this birthday, which is a good sign because HE HAD PLANS!!! this is a huge development. Really, worth celebrating.

I have to go to bed soon, but first I’m going to poem all the birthstories I know.

A 7/22/1981 Poem.

Birth Stories

Here, here is the birthstory we all know by heart, the one Dad will tell anyways, after the cheesecake and berries, of how he saved my life by turning that old Toyota back on that dirt road, back to the hospital. Here is the story of big ole surprise me wrapped in foil like a baked potato, here is the story of the sunrise from a helicopter.

This here is the story of you, how they sent me off to get my hair braided for hours, and then you came, and they brought me down, but wouldn’t put you on the floor to play with, and they wouldn’t believe me when I said you would be a girl someday. How I remember Puff the Magic Dragon, the movie, on the TV when you got locked in the bedroom for you jaundice, by accident.

There’s a shadow story, baby Carrie. Shadow of shadows.

These are the stories I inherit, and this, this is the mud on the tires. How it rained when you were born, and how I told him not to speed, but screamed anyway. How you were born by candlelight, in the bathtub, and how they passed you off to him after, to take care of the bleeding, and how he looked at you.

How the daisies were in bloom and I sneezed you out, how you were a disco bathtub baby, how you rooted and rooted until you found where you fit, how you fit immediately and just right, how these stories are my own water stories, and how they build and grow, and grow tall.

So, these are my birth stories. And today is my birthday. I’ll celebrate it another day, when the blight is not upon me. Happy Tuesday, readers of poems.

The World is Feverish


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The fever dream broke around 6:15 this morning, and that’s where I am today. In and out of the fever dream. Hp took care of my classes while I had nightmares in the sheets. I am upright at a desk, which is a good thing, and I haven’t needed any cold meds since before dinner. Summer flu= double bummer.

Here is what I’m listening to tonight, in the flu haze:

This is the good stuff. I have about as much of a poem in my brain tonight as I did last night, but I’m going try anyhow. I think this poem might just be a collection of sounds. Is that okay?

The World is Feverish

The world is feverish, and a child who quivers in the death of day, a merely babe shuddering in arms. This is the weight of one dream, rocking and rocking out of the decades. Sure, look up at the angel at noontime, and think of epiphanies, look up in the night and reconsider neuroses and blank fears, look up in the sunrise and see the arrows of bright graces.

The world is feverish and confused, now, and now the distant lessons across unseen wires come flying down, with the jagged teeth of one carnivorous insect, to pierce and bite and sting. What becomes of anything, new and new discovered, in the bright blue light, now, with the fastest keystrokes?

The world is feverish and rehearsed, and tired in its stories, but is has the mountains left, to echo off the glaciers. Here is something to discover, the sound off the rock, and the big chords of water off the rock, the world is feverish and pristine, broken and clean, pristine, and now, and loud.


So….maybe I’m still a little feverish, or else that wouldn’t have gone so fast. Night, poemies. Happy Monday.

Fever Dream

I woke up last night with a fever and sore throat, so I’m penning from bed tonight, on my phone. Poor hp has been taking care of me all day. I’m going to do this fat and then take cold medicine and go to sleep.

Fever Dream

In the fever dream everyone is lost to me, and I have to hurdle branches in the dark, fast and stricken, to find you. Get this shuddering nightmare gone, where are you in the dark wood? For a brief moment the comforter breaks through, and the mountain blanks back where it came from and you are all found, and I cling to the sheets, sweating fear.

Ugh. Whatever. Happy Sunday, poem friends.

Fever Dream

I woke up last night with a fever and sore throat, so I’m penning from bed tonight, on my phone. Poor hp has been taking care of me all day. I’m going to do this fat and then take cold medicine and go to sleep.

Fever Dream

In the fever dream everyone is lost to me, and I have to hurdle branches in the dark, fast and stricken, to find you. Get this shuddering nightmare gone, where are you in the dark wood? For a brief moment the comforter breaks through, and the mountain blanks back where it came from and you are all found, and I cling to the sheets, sweating fear.

Ugh. Whatever. Happy Sunday, poem friends.

Birthday Poem


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It’s coming up upon my birthday. On the day itself I have four hours of training in stuff people should just know. And then, on the weekend, HP is planning me a surprise party. I know this because he is not sneaky. We share a workspace at the jobbie job, and he wrote down some of my best friends’ phone numbers on a pad, and I put two and two to come up with four. I’ll take it. This has been a hard year, and I’ve earned it. I’m going to quick-poem about that, and then get back to my weekend.

Birthday poem

This has been a hard year full of lessons, ones of patience and gratitude, and of pranks. You found me lost in the the skin, and the touch is savior, the touch is big love and waiting, waiting for healing. This is a year of stumbling to joy, weeping, deranged even, shuddering on until dawn. This is the year of limbo, of purgatory and of healing, this is the year of my origins, merely frightened to the quick and understood. This rotation has been a freefall, deep with effort and supple graces. This is the year of wisdom, of long womanhood, of great care and cavernous learning. This is the rounding of light keystrokes in the birth night, this is the long gestation of things held latent, it is the pushing out of love into the air, this is the milk of life drunk long and creamy, like children do. This orbit is a child playing, it is an instant ministry and a long-forgotten mystery, this year was my initiation, long time coming, to the world of adults.


That was quick and fun, and I’m not sure what it means, except that I always feel about the same as I did when I was seventeen. So, maybe life comes in halves? Happy Saturday, poemfriends.

I Had Not Before


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In order to do the work and the life, one must be well rested, but the work and the life stay up late.


i Had Not Before

I had not before known terror, until she went missing in the yard, and I had not before known love until I met you.  I’ve  got half a mind to pass these problems, with their host of attentions, is anything at all a memory? Is anything cosmos anymore? I had not before quieted the mystery, and I had not cared much, not much before.


‘night poemfriends.

Fire Season


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So I actually did assign that free-write today, and they rocked it. We talked for a full forty-five minutes about how the world would end. All on their own they realized that the end of the world and then of civilization as we know it are different, and divided their catastrophes accordingly, into man and nature categories. And, at least two students recognized the songs I hummed as I put their ideas on the board…this one:

and this one:

Which is fun and makes me feel less old.

If I had second doubts about teaching the emotionally-disturbed teens The Road, they are quelled. These kids have though this stuff through before. These are the kids for whom Osama Bin Laden was the biggest boogieman of all time. They remember the people jumping from towers the way we remember flashes of the Gremlin movie, or the sacriest parts of ET. It was awful, the way college students paraded when he was captured, but we have to remember how young they were when all they heard on TV and in grown-up discourse was terror terror terror. And that hasn’t stopped since. How could we think that that exposure wouldn’t cause them to dream in terror? Do we have any doubt about why they are medicated for anxiety? People, we did that to them. And even though my students know little of politics, now (we’re working on it), they are sharply aware of honesty, and they know bluster when they hear it, and they are having none of it. Gives me hope.

This is why I read this book, Life Doesn’t Frighten Me At All, by Maya Angelou and with illustrations by Jean Michael Basquiat to my girls, and why I turn off the radio whenever the news starts talking warfare or bodies. Here is Maya Angelou reading it:

Anyway, they brainstormed lots of ways we could end, and then lots of ways the earth would end, and the most astute (and arguably the most spectrum-y beautiful girl in class) said, “well, I think there’s no doubt that we’ll mess things up beyond our repair, and then nature will finish it off”. And the rest of the class agreed. They do have hope, though. They agree that The Road is the greatest argument for disarmament that they’ve ever encountered (and it may be the only one, because I had to teach some of them that word), but I think there is hope. I’m going to stop poemcrastinating and poem something before HP gets home.

Fire Season

Today the mountains are layered back, way back, six times back, in hues starting with lightest lakewater to brackish navy, and this is the best time teach how we imagine the end in fire. Fire season came early upon us, and dreaming the end is easy when the sun is smokelit and tangerine, and the clouds near to reach are salmon, then dun, then gray. What could be the cause, the teacher may ask. Man, they say, and here’s how: warfare, nuclear, dirty, bioweapons, ecological collapse, fracking and big soil poison, economic collapse, because none of them can fathom how we’d get on without money, and they recognize that good would sift out and leave the rest to hurt us, and finally, robots. What about nature? says the teacher. Well, solar flares. Asteroids, black holes, colliding galaxies, a red giant, an inevitable supervolcano, and finally aliens. And in between? Some matrix stuff, some inception stuff. Maybe we aren’t really here at all. Maybe we never have been. And Bhwheeewww.  So tell me, she says, the teacher, what do you do when the world ends? Fill up the bathtub. Find the parkas, because it’s about to get cold. Band together, we the seekers of light, those who wouldn’t hurt the dogs. We make a band as big as any vela flash, and we stick close, we huddle, us, the seekers of light. Canned goods and bathbombs, says the prepper, son of a government worker who works for the agency that knows all, and all of a sudden the teacher wonders why he knows so much, what does he know? Not as much as he wants too. She gains traction in the fact that she knows how to forage, and can, and preserve. She preserves things in great tight glasses with tight waterbathed lids, and when she wakes in the great pink dawn, the light breaks through the brine, and it is a rainbow. They want to know how, and she will tell them if they learn the three living words, the words are “hope” and “action” and “love”.  Can we get out from under this fire, they ask. Where does it come from? From the west and from the south, depending on the winds. Will it hurt us? Not yet, not yet if you learn the skies, and not yet if you learn that this is the land that we would scorch, you’ve said yourselves, we’ll do it,

unless you learn to read it.


Another end of the world poem. Good stuff, at least in the classroom. Night, poemies.

Here’s just another thing I’ve been listening to:



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