"There's not much doubt in any of our minds that no complete idea springs fully formed from our brow,
needing only a handshake and a signature on the contract to send it off into the world to make twenty-five billion dollars.
The germ of the idea grows slowly..." - Walt Kelly

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ah, memories

Day 30: The last NaPoWriMo poem for 2012...Today's prompt is to incorporate at least three "I remember" statements into the poem.

I remember
when I held on to it,
reaching to a faint hope
far past its expiration,
dreams locked in cages
and epitomized
in the mud-darkened
puddles beneath my tires.

I remember
the rattle of broken parts
after it hit the ground
in a shower of frustration,
the only move that could
be made, a protest and
a solemn reminder
of where the time had gone.

I remember
the first time the storm
put me to sleep instead
of keeping me awake.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Yuck, Holing Out

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Vase construction

Day 29: Not doing the prompt today. Just not feeling it.

painting by Dane Lovett

Our heads are heavy
and borne again on stock film,
watered-down visions.

Our hands reach northward,
a place we've never been to
but would love to see.

Our eyes hang loosely,
downcast and weather-beaten
on our dad's front porch.

Our legs hold no weight
but the burdens we give them
daily, like sad gifts.

Our hearts ask questions,
looking for the wrong answers
for a test we'll pass.

The house leans southward,
a tendency toward life
and beauty in it.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Deer Tick, Smith Hill

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Day 28: Write a poem of space, perhaps just a general one (a building, for example) or a specific one with meaning (such as the dining room table you used to make forts out of).

In here it's
a swell of music,
drifting past branches
and feathery-yellow
flowers that seem
to hold on to nothing.
It's almost
anything, a home
or an escape, tended to
and forgotten
until a time of need.
Follow the scent
of darkness,
just a bare trickle
of sunshine floating in,
keeping one body -
or two -
safe and sound.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Beach House, 10 Mile Stereo

Friday, April 27, 2012


Day 27: Definitely not writing a nursery rhyme. I really don't like rhyming.

This whole world
looks like a commercial
from the eighties.

I spend time
conjuring foggy excuses
to get myself out
of light commitment.
It makes living
much easier
on the weekends.

pass me by slowly
like cars in traffic
or grains of sand
dropped one at a time
from my palm
on a beach vacation.

This whole world
looks like it's missing
a color spectrum.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Surfer Blood, Take It Easy

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Day 26: Only four more left! Today's prompt is to write an elegy.

There isn't much now
          to keep you here.
Just pictures of you
          in faraway places
Taken with a fisheye,
          showcasing you with
Something sleek
          billowing in the breeze;
Something dead
          curling into a question;
Something ancient
          buried in afterthought;
Something flawed
          held at a safe distance;
Something stained
          pinning your arms back;
Something deep
          drowning you.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Antlers, Bear

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Fruit cento

Day 25: Write a cento - a 10-line poem that borrows one line each from 10 other poems. My sources, in order, are Rachel Contreni Flynn, Tom Hansen, Grace Schulman, Frank O'Hara, Amy Clampitt, Carl Phillips, Jesse Lee Kercheval, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Billy Collins and Brigit Pegeen Kelly.

If light pours like water
chilled from overnight cold,
let a loose apple teach me how to spin
a color: orange. I write a line
of living matter, sown and tended by women,
or as bees would, if they weren't
all aluminum and curves. Inside,
it's the mangoes, avocados
and the basket of chestnuts on the kitchen table.
How many ladders to gather an orchard?

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Black Keys, Everlasting Light

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Mourn the morn

Day 24: Write a lipogram/Beautiful Outlaw/Beautiful In-Law (explained in more detail in the prompt). I'm choosing lipogram for the letter "i," which means I'm not allowed to use it in this entire poem.

Bow before the sun.
After all, she rose early for you,
woke you from whatever
bloated slumber kept you
lost between dreams
far past your allotted hours.

Two years have past,
and yet spaces stay empty,
though you haven't worked out
whether your thoughts command
or your cosmos plays games
to keep you stuck beneath.

PS: It was so freaking hard not using any "ing" words in this. No need for further discussion; I just want you all to know how difficult it was.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Fool's Gold, Surprise Hotel

Monday, April 23, 2012


Day 23: Write a poem that responds to, or is inspired by, a work of art, whether that be a sculpture, painting, photo or whatever else.

photo by Lukasz Wierzbowski

She's been hidden for days,
a careful calculation she made
that told her things would
finally come up clean.

She managed it for a while,
the mobilizing hunger
reaching deep behind her
capacity for self-control.

To the tallest place
she thought she could reach,
she brought the best
parts of her composure.

To the death, she said,
for it would be a mistake
to leave anything important
up for serious debate.

She kept her post safe
until the love she waited for
finally arrived in a box
taped three times on the side.

It was a risk to come down,
but when the box moved,
the temptation was too much
to leave it sitting alone.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Shins, The Rifle's Spiral (watch this video...SO GOOD)

Sunday, April 22, 2012

That green fuzzy stuff

Day 22:

Life on
the backside of
a large rock has never
been so interesting
as the time
when there were
not three,
no, not four,
but five ants crawling
up and to the left
of the spot where,
one time,
Joey Bloom was stung
by a yellow jacket
and proceeded
to cry a most unhappy noise
that did awaken all manner
of resting forest animals.
It can
be exhausting
out here.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Broken Bells, The Ghost Inside

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The truth about things

Day 21: Write in hay(na)ku form, which is a three-line poem with one word on the first line, two on the second, and three on the third, with no syllable restrictions.

our house
there are monsters.

live quietly
beneath the floors.

they feed
it becomes louder.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Grizzly Bear, Southern Point

Friday, April 20, 2012

Not a holiday

Day 20: Write a traveling poem, focusing on the sights and sounds of the trip as well as your mental state and the state of things around you.

This is all part of some mutual agreement, I think,
though I've never seen the actual paper contract.

Something about

understanding that while we are here, we are not
talking, breathing loudly, or making sudden movements.
It's a well-known fact that daily commuters are like
wild animals, prone to lash out at the slightest provocation.

Glare through the windows, despite the specks of dirt,
obliterates any lingering morning fuzziness before the train
reaches it's destination, before the bing and the driver's
announcement - and then it's a shuffling hustle to the stairs.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
LCD Soundsystem, All I Want

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Day 19: I'm terrible at following prompts this week. Hey look, a picture!

photo by Jeffrey Stockbridge

They found him crouched,
knees caught between
launch position and a prayer,
sorrow strewn about like
a sparse rain, salt and pain.
He held a hand upon
the remains of a lifetime,
the work and worth of a family,
the combined willpower
of seven hardy generations.

"Right when you think you've
got it handled," he said
between the tears, "life proves
just how helpless you are."
He was in the house, chin up
as he stared through the roof
at the afternoon sun, a blazing
contrast to the storm in his
mind, the tempest that tore
through his composure.

They followed him, carefully,
through the dining room,
the hall, the living room, kitchen.
In the bedroom he could move
no more, rudderless before
a full-wall painting of
his wife's dream vacation.
They left him cross-legged
in front of that mural, breathless.
"Need to get away," he told them.

 Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Common, They Say (OG Version)

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sight lines

Day 18: Don't want to write a lullaby, so...it's Three Word Wednesday (dependence, kept, rumple) and I have this weird thing:

Make the screen darker -
we'll slide in with new bones,
bits to whet the appetite
while the better meal roasts.
This dependence might cost us,

a point well made between
bites too large to chew and
sputters of our freshly rumpled
existence. Were we to realize
the year is past, might we make

a better run of things? Defeatist,
we imagine a backup plan
kept in accordance with the rules
we've made, cursed, and spat
upon, our wise and dearest friends.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The New Pornographers, Letter From An Occupant

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Dear commuter train...

Day 17: Write a poem in the form of a letter to an inanimate object, using at least four of the six items provided in the prompt (see link). Of course I used all six, since I'm awesome (read: glutton for punishment).

Knock it off.
No, seriously -
never have I thought
that I would worry
that something as simple
as a slice of watermelon
on the track
could keep me
from getting to work on time.
I can't imagine
finding something more
tragically triumphant
than the seven feet
you just moved
after our twenty-first short-stop.
Have you ever tried to
step in my shoes?
Can you see where I'm coming from?
It shouldn't be such a struggle
to move from 215th street
all the way to 216th street.
After all, it isn't like we're
Chamberlain, calling for bayonets
down the slope of Little Round Top.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
The Shins, Past And Pending

Monday, April 16, 2012

Where heaven ends and the earth begins

Day 16: Write a poem inspired by this picture:

On a day of blinding beauty,
the boat launched unhindered,
no waves in the harbor
to send it skittering back to its berth.
When the wind rolled in,
they were already on the ocean,
and the man stared down,
deep into the harshest depths.

The boat rocked in the current,
a steady dream, repeated wonder,
the ridges of the water set aflame
by the afternoon sunlight.
The man's father arched his fingers,
done damage over his long years,
and wound the line tight,
as tight as his joints would let him.

The man adjusted his cap, a gift,
a treasure from his father's past:
"I had one just like it, you know,
back when I was your age."
He smiled at the old man,
saw the lines of the sea in his face,
the many years spent at the helm
before the water was too much.

To the north the clouds stood still,
and the old man cast his line,
a blurry vision laid out before him
of a time he scarcely remembered.
He saw young men scattered,
bracing against the roughest waters,
muscles bunched in curves of rope
as they fought the weather's might.

The colossus they rode bucked,
a raging bull adrift in the tempest,
and the old man grew dizzy,
reaching out hands to stay himself.
The wind tore his hat away,
sent it spiraling into the roaring mist
that permeated every inch of the air,
a blooming, cascading shroud.

A stable hand landed on his shoulder,
his son's, and he pulled the old man back,
back to the boat on the ocean,
seated calmly on the abiding blue.
The old man sighed and leaned back,
remarked to his son, and to himself:
"I don't think I miss the old days,"
he said, "nor the fury of the open sea."

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Rage Against the Machine, Born As Ghosts

Sunday, April 15, 2012


Day 15: Not much feeling the parody prompt today, so I did something else.

We can suffocate the abstract,
dance concentric circles around the truth
and bury our embattled vigor,
but until our eyes can draw blood,
you may as well count us out.

The bitter family is brimming, now,
stranded on the outrigger as sharks unravel.

Then we'll find a new shade of black,
trapped in a wooden frame, embellished,
while the red mist pillows outward
and tugs our sight away,
back to the cold case, the unsolved.

The bitter family is swimming, now,
cast away to the black sea and forgotten.

At home there will be a finer touch,
songs lifted from the old books,
a finely woven chorus of anthills
sewn together in a rickety loop
and cast around our reddened necks.

The bitter family is dimming, now,
dusk settles on their backs and they're


Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Tame Impala, I Don't Really Mind

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The one with a rhyme scheme

Day 14: Write a sonnet. Get it? 'Cause a sonnet has 14 lines. Ehhh? Ehhh?

Under new management: They've torn down the walls,
they've made it just one large, beating chamber.
While I wait for mine to stop, an inner voice calls
to tell me that she's gone, no longer a remainder.
A cage lifted? Too grand a cliche, I fear,
though the weight feels to have lightened.
But it returns, and while the reason isn't clear,
I can tell the heart's noose has been tightened.
A quick search leaves little to the imagination,
an easy mystery solved, for all to plainly see,
but tell me: Is this only my creation?
Or will there be someone staring back at me?
My only hope is to take this where it goes.
A sudden drop? A feathery step? Only she knows.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Modest Mouse, Bury Me With It

Friday, April 13, 2012

Bought and sold

Day 13: Write a ghazal (explained in the link).

An angry soul, he was, born alone, bought and sold.
All his life he lived a plan, stolen goods bought and sold.

To wit, a pot of wilting flowers, never watered
but cared for from afar, memories bought and sold.

Take time to denounce the plan, even before
it's been presented, skepticism bought and sold.

At the end he wore nothing, empty, bereft,
materialism at it's finest, time bought and sold.

They spoke quietly at the ceremony,
a gaggle of mourners, cackling, bought and sold.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Incubus, Pantomime

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fragment two

Day 12: Translate a foreign language poem homophonically (put simply, rewrite it how it sounds, not how it translates). I chose Jeunesse Dorée by the Belgian poet Jan de Roek (but I only did part of it...it's quite long).

In heated excellence his vermin lead upheld
and nameless. The mural vocalizes met verbiage,
words angered pending the angst of a goatherd as seen pared in her sleep,
tousled house pets and morsels.

Helpful legend hurdled in my house and larvae,
entrusted vendor.
The speaker, a raven elegant
stands in my eye.

My brother, genesis of miles, glee can't
meet empty handed, meddling bare,
meet in word and tryst; red mile
of tram in wonder and heart stock as
reeds nightmare the bewildered.
Glee waits, green dyer is chosen.

The tide late lightens now, in rust my helm knocks at
my hands in winters gloves.
The ripples shrivel under a rig of cursive and breaking
apple garden, in crossing
dust air taken of my war hooves.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Q-Tip, Breathe And Stop

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Day 11: Write a poem using all five senses (and in my case, since it's Three Word Wednesday, the words draft, locate and serenity).

The air turns sudden around me.
It's there.
It isn't.
It's there.
It isn't.
It swirls and the hairs on my arm stand up,
at attention, a deep prickle rippling across my skin.
It settles and disappears, and the world sounds
missing - someone yanked the plug from the amp.

A deep serenity separates me from my surroundings,
but I'm on the wrong side of the line, the passenger
who missed his stop, now adrift in a sea of loss.
The taste is new, a sinister, too-sweet mixture that
makes a harsh blend with my swelling, drifting tears.

I can see this scene from the outside, as they often say,
an interloper, casual and blunt, looking in upon myself.
It's an empty place, this dorm room desk, callous and cold,
a place to rest your head as it descends through the aura,
cutting a path as cleanly as a samurai would, sword
tweaked and tuned like the finest musical instrument.

A draft of dry air sharpens the notes, and it smells of winter,
cool and with a twinge of firewood, long since burned -
curling through the scent receptors with an easy haste - 
to some a life and to others a pyre, steeped in tradition.
In it we locate our own, the one we've lost and cried over.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Emanon, The Words

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A professional yawn

Day 10: Steal the first line from another poem. I browsed The The Poetry until I found something that stuck out. It was from Elizabeth Clark Wessel's The House Wakes.

no big subjects today
too tired to consider
the effects of my own dialogue
too tired to wonder
what would be different
if i ever got
a full eight hours
too tired to reflect upon
some small concession
i might have made
so many years ago
too tired for words
and most certainly
too tired for punctuation

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Johnson & Jonson, Wow

Monday, April 9, 2012

By any other name

Day 9: Couldn't get anything with today's prompt, so here's this, instead.

photo by Fong Qi Wei

An untethered urgency hangs from his head,
a crown of worry weighting him forward,
trapped in a formal bow to the afternoon heat.

And to the dockside he goes, a quiet man
bothered only by his own insistence on denim,
sweating in a greenhouse of highly textured blue.

And at the water's edge he sits, contemplative.
Here he finds something he wasn't looking for,
a small joy, buried in the furious eddy of the river.

And in its drooping folds he finds her, lost, crying,
a tiny jewel cast aside at the last - a tragedy, he thinks.
He peers side to side, hopeful not to find the owner.

An untethered urgency tumbles from his head
and his back springs up - a tall, unweighted coil
to lift a dying man back to life - back to love.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
St. Vincent, Strange Mercy

Sunday, April 8, 2012


Day 8: Go outside. Yeah, that's pretty much the whole prompt.

Dusk sets between the reflections in my window,
falling slowly, like we're both stoned

and drifting through a shared dream.
The pale skin of your leg sparks through,

a pearly moonscape, adrift without orbit,
though I'd give anything to be the harmony

that corrals your somnambulant tendencies.
I watch the spotlight spring on across the street

and with it rises my questions, deep wishes
you'll do most anything to make ring true.

But with distance fades the impact, a bulb
weakening as the fuse refuses to draw power,

refuses to make me more than a faint glimmer
you may have once seen in the corner of your eye.

I keep waiting for the harness to reattach, and ask
if you'd please keep me closer; please keep me lit.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Bon Iver & St. Vincent, Roslyn

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Gray matters

Day 7: Write a poem based around one color.

Awake is a place beyond
the gray tips of my dead fingers,
behind the starry silhouettes
of her solemn gray eyes,
shimmering with something
just less than anticipation.

To the moon, Alice,
that lifeless gray sphere
blinking hopelessly

in the vacuum, a pulse
of slow, dark gray energy
ringing out like a singularity's
last call, violent, but clean.
A precision strike, straight
to the gray home of emotion.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Elzhi, Detroit State of Mind

Friday, April 6, 2012

Mountains out of anthills

Day 6: Write a poem about an animal.

There's something faintly military in the way the horns
     follow lightly in their footsteps, a dark residue of
     loss left to colonize the spaces they've made vacant,
     and only the sharp tones of the brass make it feel

     like this was once a home - not a proud one, perhaps -
     but to call it anything else would be an affront to those
     who built it, turned their spindly legs to earth movers
     and etched out a space in the dark, wild underground.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Mos Def, Pharoahe Monch & Nate Dogg, Oh No

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Center field

Day 5: As it is Opening Day (sort of, even though they've already played regular season games), today's prompt is to write a poem inspired by baseball. I'll avoid puns as best I can.

The view from here is better.
Sure, you'd love to be
the big gun, scorching fastballs
past the helpless flutter
of opposing lumber,
but who can argue with scenery?

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Dilated Peoples, Kindness for Weakness

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A dog without a crown

Day 4: Chose not to follow the prompt today...didn't feel like writing a blues poem. Instead, 3WW for NaPoWriMo using growl, hype and justify.

After the rise
comes the second rise -
no, not right, but correct.
The dark growl
of progress is shuttered,
sound-cancelling headphones:
"We spared no expense!"
What's left is only
to justify the thought.
So here goes:
"You see," he coos,
"I have an explanation
for this, I do, I do."
He scoops up the hype,
gathers it in one big net,
smashes it overhead
and calls his soldiers
to our graves.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Shad, Yaa I Get It

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Brighter than usual

Day 3: Write an "epithalamium," a poem celebrating a wedding in some way (I chose to interpret this rather loosely).

A ton of personality
is much heavier
than a ton of bricks,
but here we are with a scale,
measuring anyway,
singing in scales,
like the weight
of our words is too much to bear
without melodic delivery.

Overall, it's been
a journey through
the surreal, deep and
highly persuasive.
Funny to discover that,
until we fully immerse ourselves,
no manner of
hearsay, pleasant or otherwise,
can convince us.

Someone sang
that happiness comes in many,
vastly different forms:
an impossible touch or
hot gunpowder.
For me, happiness is
the way you blur in my eyelids,
like I've stared at the sun
for far too long.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Blu, Amnesia

Monday, April 2, 2012


Day 2: A poem based on the song that was #1 on the day you were born

The song for 7/23/87 is not giving me anything, so for today, I'm pretending I was born in 1986...WAY better. The song is linked below.

bunching breaking twisting tiring
and the lift:
straight up
to the sky.

A beat
starts with the quiet murmur of
burns loud
and jealous.

breathing is far more difficult
when she
rests upon
your lungs.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Peter Gabriel, Sledgehammer

Sunday, April 1, 2012

NaPoWriMo is back!

National Poetry Writing Month has finally returned! This is the first of 30 poems on the first of 30 days in the month of April, and this year I might even keep to the schedule and finish on time. Won't that be fun? This year I'm running with the folks over at NaPoWriMo.net, who will be providing participants with prompts every day to get the creative juices flowing. Now...let's do this.

Day 1:

It's simple when you
really think about it.

Stretch out a hand
and take another.

Buried in a constant,
blinding wave
of second-guessing,
it gets harder
to see what lies
outside your new
eight-by-eight cell. 

Blink against the
sunlight, bladed.