Wednesday, August 3, 2011


The sleeping thread
keeps close to its spool,
its ends hidden
from probing fingers,
wrapped in batting,
zipped tight in a pouch,
reveals nothing
of its potential energy—
Guarded by an imperfect memory
that knows
the danger
of letting loose
its kinesthetic possibilities
of complete separation,
of unraveling—
Protected by the itchy persistence
of one who knows the chaos
of tangled fingers
and endless webs—
Recalls enough to confirm
that neither end
has any business
near the eye
of a needle

Sunday, May 1, 2011


When what’s at the center
is a black, leaking hole
at that point
there's not much to know
No man-made chemicals—
neither dispersants nor antacids—
can stop the flow
And then if all the muscle goes
into the plugging of it
there’s not much left
in the way of energy
or intuition
or intellectual heft
to address questions of origin
or birth
least of all matters
of self
or worth

I have been suffering terribly from writers block for over a week now and have not fulfilled my partial NaPoWriMo pledge! I've decided, however, to not beat myself up about this any further, and just see how many poems I can post over the next few days. This poem is a response to one of Big Tent Poetry's prompts from last week, which asked us to write about what is at the core or center of something. This brought up memories of some emergency surgery I had a few years back, and I went from there to this...

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday on the Little Spokane

The deer, their coats matted and brown,
will not stay.
They risk the road instead.
The turkey turns his back,
is deliberate,
spreads his feathers.
The river pushes past,
smug with forward motion.
Its grasses press down,
stay low,
feign indifference.
The meadow
is heavy
with still water,
winter’s unwanted remains.
She assents.
She contains.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

An explanation

I will go again
to be
among the broken
who see
a fault as happy
a blemish as necessary
brings murky

Monday, April 18, 2011


"Woman with crossed arms" Picasso

A thousand small hurts
tenderly tied with ribbon
of sharp rusty wire

alone in the dark
unopened and indignant
plot quiet revenge

This prompt is loosely based on one or more of this week's prompts at Big Tent Poetry.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


From the beginning

your hands moved with the instinct

of the second born son,

first banging on me from the inside,

so I wouldn't forget you were coming.

Then reaching out in welcome,

like happy baseball mitts, clapping.

Or balled up into fists,

pushing hard against me,

while simultaneously


on sleeping right beside me.

Your hands took no prisoners,

even in peekaboo,

but always pointed just in time

to the full blue pools of your eyes,

or the perfect curve of your dimples--

smart hands!

And they felt so right

resting in mine,

but too often I had to drag them from behind--

the plight of the second child:

never enough sleep,

never enough time.

But now your grown hands strum your guitar,

and I can't remember the last time

your hands reached

for me.

But I want you to know

that you have always had me

head over heels,

out of my mind

in love.

My hands

will always miss yours

wanting mine.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Status Update

When you text your friends

under the desk in my class

I can still see you

Your smart phone does not

make you invisible, dude

there's no app for that

When spring comes

Snow melts and each word

from sputtering angry lips

melts into tulips

This kind of follows one of this week's prompt's from Big Tent Poetry. I'm having to resort to Haiku to keep this thing going!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

For Colleen

On the day we met,

I was struck by two things:

how your face opened up

like a book of kindness

and how completely in tune you were

with your own body.

You were confidence in motion.

I was in awe.

And my brother was in love.

And each day since then,

you have been

the sister of my heart,

a gift to my family.

Time and again,

I have seen

how you harness seamless energy

of mind, body, spirit:

on the basketball court,

on the dance floor,

Even in the throes of labor,

when you reached down

and delivered your own son

from your own body--

one of the most beautiful things

I have ever seen.

And so it seemed impossible

that the words breast cancer

belonged anywhere near your name.

A cruel incongruity.

A ridiculous mistake.

And I wouldn't have blamed you

if you had slammed that beautiful,

open, kind face

shut for a while.

But you didn't.

You wrote your story for all to read.

And you triumphed--

through surgery and radiation and fatigue

and teaching and mothering.

You came out cancer free!

And I just wanted to tell you

how grateful I am,

and how beautiful you are,

and how much I love you.

My sister,

my hero,

my friend.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


It's not true that April enrages me.

I reserve my violent emotions for March,

that drunken bastard who stays too long,

and spews sloppy snow all over my shoes,

and slushes himself all over my lawn.

No, by the time April arrives,

I am done.

I am spent.

I'm too tired to shake my fist at an April sky.

March has worn me down,

softened me up,

so that by the time April comes round,

All he has to do is show me some tulips,

And just like that--




This was written in response to Big Tent Poetry's prompt that asked us to start a poem with "It's not true that..."

Monday, April 11, 2011



of memory, the genius

of pain. The body

bends too easily

to accommodate.

The psyche

promptly imitates

such hospitality

of nerves and tissue and ligament,

thus completing

the fallacy.

The self detects no deceit.

Intruder becomes

pampered guest




most cruel of all--


Sunday, April 10, 2011


Well, life has been catching up to me and catching me from behind. I had planned to do 30 poems in 30 days for NaPoWriMo, like I did for the past two years, but instead I will be doing 21 poems in 21 days, starting today!

I dreamed

I was nothing

but solid stone

in the middle of the river's constant flow

I stayed put

through flooding, draining

snowing, raining,

rushing, lapping

sediment and clarity--

was all the same to me

I was the perfect answer

to perpetual motion

I was still

But the dream did not last

long enough

for me to know

what it was I felt





and whether it was enough

to observe

but not witness

to be carved

so slowly

as to never



Sunday, March 13, 2011


The sun allergic woman
At 40 days in the desert
Humbly for a more pigmentally appropriate
The sun allergic woman
Ankle deep in mud and dirty ice
To the slow, thick thaw and
That it be enough

Saturday, February 26, 2011


This week's prompt at Big Tent Poetry asked us to come up with our own holiday. I didn't come up with a specific holiday, but I thought of something to celebrate...
I would raise my glass
to all that go
from impossible
to inevitable
with no state of being
in between:
snow and tulips
babies and freckles
democracy and wrinkles
you and me

Sunday, February 13, 2011

On the Suspension Bridge

Last week's Big Tent Poetry prompt gave us the opportunity to cure ourselves of whatever ails us. Since I'm a bit tired of winter right now, I chose to imagine springtime at the suspension bridge over the Spokane River at the Bowl and Pitcher. I also am preparing to teach some of my students about blank verse, so I wound up trying my hand at it. I'm not sure of the results, but here you go...

On the suspension bridge my feet face south
Spring’s swollen current rushes past below
The river, through with February’s chore
Of churning sediment from melting ice,
Is free to rush in aquamarine haste
While I bend from my waist and launch my mind
Out on the river’s triumphant stampede
Inevitable motion! It is mine--
I give myself to its wet urgency
And overpower solid rocks and stones
We glory in the lack of should and will
And gush and rush and spray out do and now
But all this happens while my feet stand still
And calmly wait on the suspension bridge
Through wood and water’s kind duality
I know myself as anchor and as sail

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Learning Early

This week's Big Tent Poetry prompt asked us to use a photo (that we did not take) as inspiration. Check out this great picture on flickr of a baby girl chewing on a Ken doll. I used it as my inspiration.

The girl who cuts her teeth on Ken
Develops no illusions about boys
Who would be men
She starts out right, unafraid
To break a little skin
She laces up and goes solo during couples skate
She takes herself to the prom and doesn’t wait
For anyone to ask her
She doesn’t dot her i's with flowers
She doesn't want to make the squad
She’s the girl
Who reads
By herself
In the middle
Of the quad

Saturday, January 22, 2011


It is a full moon on the plate
Pulling my tides
Striking the balance between
Substance and light
My fork pierces it easily
But does not slide through it frivolously
And once in my mouth
It does everything right
Believe me
It feels so good
To swallow the moon

This week's prompt at Big Tent Poetry asked us to write about food...

Saturday, January 8, 2011


This week's prompt at Big Tent Poetry asked us to write about feet...
When my path is dry
And cracked with worry
You bend and pour yourself out
Make everything soft and green
And while you’re down there
You laugh
At my funny feet
And that
Is why
I love you

Sunday, January 2, 2011


January terrifies
stares me down
like a blank Word document
demanding my attention
and when I finally give in
I see my future filling up the page
and all my words are underlined
with red and green
mean squiggly lines