Thursday, May 8, 2014


Celebrating Mother's Day and the upcoming Listen to Your Mother show by re-posting some of my motherhood-themed poems this week...

My sixteen-year-old boy arrived at the hospital at 6:30
that Saturday morning to sit with me.
He sat between the window and my bed, his long fingers
curled around my own IV-taped hand.
And he was beautiful,
his lanky body bent over my bed, partially
shadowed by the window-framed sun.

He had gotten up so early just so he could sit with me
before his track and field meeting at school,
but I couldn’t move my morphine-heavy
eyes and lips to talk to him.
It seemed like I should say so much,
but I could only manage a few I-love-yous and
you-don’t-have-to-stays. But he did.

I kept drifting out and tripping up in my own
bad dreams and staples and tubes. I couldn’t
quite hold myself there with him. I kept wandering,
two nights back, to my mumbling pre-surgery prayers.
And I realized I could have done better.
Instead of my weak now-and-at-the-hour-of-our-deaths
and acts of contrition, I should have just said,

Look Lord, Here Lord, I made this boy.
And that would have been enough.


Celebrating Mother's Day and the upcoming Listen to Your Mother show by re-posting some of my motherhood-themed poems this week...

I wanted to say
When I saw
Your blue eyes brim
That the waters
That flood so fast
And rush past your lashes
Are the same ones
That spill from mine
That they come
From the same stream
Of love and regret
Of grasp and release
Of swell and stab
Are the same tides
Of contracting and pushing
Of me and other
That clean
And then roil
The bonds
Between child
And mother

Monday, May 5, 2014

Motherhood on My Mind

As I prepare for the Listen to Your Mother Spokane dress rehearsal tonight, and look forward to spending Mother's Day 2014 with my mom (for the first time in 10 years!) and all three of my sons, I definitely have Motherhood on my mind.  I think this week on the blog I will re-share some of my motherhood-related poems from the past. Let's start with this one:


My earliest world is
One of shapes and feelings
An awareness that
Everything in that little
Apartment is everything

Daddy is working late
Something called swing shift
I am eating chicken pot pie
And following her movements
With my young eyes

She is busy
I think she is folding
Laundry and carrying
Inside her what will
Be my little brother

She is always somewhere
Within reach
There is a cord that ties
I am for her
And she is for me

We are 

Friday, April 25, 2014

Incised Moon (NaPoWriMo Day 25)

Incised moon
Presents herself
In pieces
And knows
Her power
Must be

She is mindful
Of her potential
To pull
That which
The Earth
Cannot hold.

Remembering that
Two bodies
So attracted
To one another
Will bulge and break
The waters
If they are not

She allows
The fullness 
Of her faculties
Only twice
In a cycle
And exerts
The most influence
When she reveals
As Nothing
Or as

Incised moon
Knows that
The sands
Cannot withstand

So she reigns
Over the
In-between times
By portioning
Into halves
And quarters

It is Day 25 of NaPoWriMo!  Having just completed a fortnight of constant paper grading, I remain behind.
All week, I have been playing with NaPoWriMo's Day 18 prompt, and finally got something finished today. I hope to tackle today's prompt in a more timely fashion.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Personal Growth

The discovery
that the cute boy I knew in
high school--who  flirted

with me just so he
could try to talk me into
writing his research

paper--is now a 
bald man, prompts the fifteen-year
old in me to smile

and the grown-up me
to fall over laughing on
my middle-aged ass.

I still have some catching up to do, but just in case I can't, I will point out that each stanza in this poem is in haiku form, so in a way, I wrote five poems today, right?  
Today's NaPoWriMo facebook prompt was to write a poem about an old flame. Since I've been married to the same man since I was 19, I don't exactly have a list of old flames, so this is what came to mind instead.
Image from

Friday, April 18, 2014

Foundations (NaPoWriMo Day 18)

Put your head on the desk
and stop raising your hand
No one likes a girl
who shows
how much
she knows

The worst thing that you can do
is disappoint the grownups

Corn is a vegetable
Middle school boys will ask you to dance
Low fat cupcakes will make you skinny
A smart girl like you should major in business

Don’t worry your body
will naturally go into labor
on its own

You can prevent most problems
by worrying about them
before they happen

You will never be the kind of mother
who bribes her son with hotwheels
to get him to shut up
while you shop

If there is a hole
don’t ask questions
just fill it

If your husband is unhappy
that the junk drawer is disorganized
you should apologize

You will always need
these anti-depressants

Once you tell a story
about yourself
it becomes the truth
and you have to believe it

I'm still playing catch-up.  Though it's day 18, I've used NaPoWriMo's day 16 prompt: write a 10-line poem that is all lies.  I did 10 stanzas instead of 10 lines, but stuck with the lying.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Novena (NaPoWriMo Day 15--and yes, I still have some catching up to do!)

She is Our Lady of Divine
And though she shrouds
Her form beneath
A baggy sweater,
You shall know her by
The shield she wields
To deflect compliments
And the way 
She half-raises her hand 
In a timid blessing, 
Because of course
She understands
If you would rather
Get somebody better
To do it.

Please don’t count
Your prayers to her
On golden beads.
Reserve that for
Those goddesses who rise
From the foamy
Seas fully formed.
Not for her,
She’d be embarrassed.
And anyways, she has simpler needs—
Maybe some offerings of burnt
Reassurances now and then
Or a donut
On Monday mornings
To make her feel

That’s all it takes
To win her favor
And to gain
The unmerited grace
Of her sitting next to you
In important meetings—
Awkward and perspiring—
That you might shine
By comparison
In her presence,
And look good
While cleaning up
Her holy mess.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Souls (NaPoWriMo Day 12)

A soul is a small accumulation
Of liquid 
It can form either by pooling
In a depression
Or by tension
Upon a surface
That is flat

A soul is generally small enough
For an adult to step over
Souls can be a source of fascination
For small children
Small wildlife may be attracted
To souls

Medieval legend spoke of one man
Who was desperate
To find building materials
For his soul
So he stole cobblestones
From the road surface

The resulting hole
Filled with water
And a horseman who later
Walked through the “soul”
Actually found himself

Effects on Transport
Souls commonly form in potholes
On a dirt road
Or in any other space
With a shallow depression
And dirt
In such cases these are known as
Mud souls
Because mud tends to form
In the bottoms
Resulting in dirtied wheels or boots
When disturbed

In cold conditions
Souls can form patches of ice
Which are slippery
And difficult to see
And can be a hazard
To road vehicles and pedestrians

Soul Management
Souls tend to evaporate quickly
Due to the high surface-area-to-volume ratio
And tend to be short lived

Souls that do not evaporate quickly
Can become standing water
Which can become polluted
With decaying organisms

Natural Souls and Wildlife
Souls in natural landscapes
And habitats
When not resulting
In precipitation
Can indicate the presence
Of a seep or a spring
And provide


Napowrimo Day # 12: Today’s (optional) prompt is a “replacement” poem. Pick a common noun for a physical thing, for example, “desk” or “hat” or “bear,” and then pick one for something intangible, like “love” or “memories” or “aspiration.” Then Google your tangible noun, and find some sentences using it. Now, replace that tangible noun in those sentences with your intangible noun, and use those sentences to create (or inspire) a poem.

My "soul" information is from the Wikipedia page on puddles.  

Alignment (NaPoWriMo Day 11)

I sense only the slightest
Trace of betrayal
As my car aligns itself
With the ruts
In the Interstate
And settles into
The loud grooves
Laid down by so many
Studded tires.
As the remaining tread
On my soft,
Siped principles
Wears down against
The corrugated pavement
I sigh and let go
Of the wheel.

I feel like I am posting pieces of poems just to keep up.  Maybe the Blue Fairy will visit me at the end of the month and turn some of them into real poems!

Image: Studded tire damage on I-90 in Idaho from

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Promising (Catch-up Haikus for NaPoWriMo Day 9 and 10)

A boy’s shadow stretched
Beneath the basketball hoop
On the dry driveway

A napping dog stretched
Beneath a barely budding
Japanese maple


In the aftermath of the migraines, I am resorting to haiku to get me all caught up.  I hope to have more substantial offerings this weekend.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Migraine (NaPoWriMo Day 8--late)

No thing with feathers
Perches here, thank God

I wouldn’t have strength
For a that tune never stops

No—tonight those Boots of Lead
Are back, and I am wrecked solitary again.

If I could learn to make
That plank in reason finally break

I would be finished
and I wouldn’t care

If I ended knowing or not
Here—or Then—Or There

I didn't get this up in time because battled a tension migraine all night.  Yesterday's NaPoWriMo prompt invited us to rewrite a famous poem and make it our own.  I chose Emily Dickinson's "'Hope' is the thing with feathers"  and "I felt a Funeral, in my Brain" to help me handle the pain.

Image: Picasso's "Head of a Woman"

Monday, April 7, 2014

Stale Starts (NaPoWriMo Day 7)

There is nothing dignified about a donut.
It is the most pedestrian of pastries.
Lacking in any elegance and panache,
It sits like a squat simpleton
On top of the glass case containing its classier relatives,
All more sophisticated and European than the next—
The biscotti, the croissant, the crepe, the scone,
The asiago and cheddar Bavarian-style pretzel.
And while some hipsters try to dress it up
With bacon and lavender and irony,
It remains the crudest of carbs.

There is something painfully honest about a donut.
It does not delude you with promises
Of health or vitality.
It contains no flax seeds, no yogurt, no soy,
No whole grains harvested from organic fields.
It is unable to dissemble.  It is what it is:
A deep fried, yeasty, round blob of dense dough,
A cheap, convenience store quickie.
It’s the way I ruin the most important meal of the day,
My morning mistake,
My late-for-work shame.

I used today's prompt from NaPoWriMo: write a poem about an inanimate object.
Image from Sweet Clip Art

Sunday, April 6, 2014

This is College (NaPoWriMo #6)

This is where I play the role of punctuation prophet, pointing to the use
Of apostrophes for pluralization purposes
As a sign of imminent apocalypse.

This is where I draw cartoon faces on commas and semicolons
In order to breathe life into sentence boundary lessons.

This is where I seek substantiation and supporting evidence. 

This is where I push against passivity, and insist
On opening the text and returning to it repeatedly.

This is college.
This is where I shouldn’t have to give pop quizzes
In order to get them to read.
But I do.

This is where the dudebro in the back of my class yawns
And asks, When is this shit due again?

This is where I work myself up
Into a nearly perfect state
Of post-midterm self-pity.

And then
This is where a student stops me
And says,
I haven’t read a whole book
Since sixth grade
But I read that one you assigned us in just two days
Because it was
So awesome.
Thank you.

This is where everything
Is bright and right again.
This is where I live to teach another day.

This poem was inspired by the "This is Where" poetry contest sponsored by the Miami Herald.  You can read more about it here.  Since I don't live in Florida, I am not qualified to write a poem for their contest, but I was inspired by the "This is Where" idea.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Relief (NaPoWriMo Day 4)

When the grass
On the path to the
River turns green

Everything in me
Loosens and releases, finds relief
In knowledge that

I have a
Solid, straight place to put
My feet and

A way forward
Without risk of injury or
Muddy, demeaning grief

NaPoWriMo Prompt 4
Today’s optional prompt is to write a lune. A lune is a sort of English-language variation on the haiku, meant to better render the tone of the Japanese haiku than the standard 5-7-5 format we all learned (and maybe loved) in elementary school. There are a couple of variants on the lune form, but just to keep things simple, let’s try the version developed by Jack Collum. His version of the lune involves a three-line stanza. The first line has three words. The second line has five, and the third line has three. You can write a poem that consists of just one stanza, or link many lune-stanzas together into a unified poem. Happy writing!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Omen (NaPoWriMo Day 3)

Every spring a bird
Flies into the glass of my bathroom window
Over and over and over
I am sure there is a lesson in this for me somewhere
A metaphor for my life, maybe
But I don’t have time to figure it out
So I guess
I will just
Keep on doing
What I’ve been doing
And hope for the best

(Image from

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Scraps (NaPoWriMo Day 2)

Jeez, I can’t believe you’re so short!
You say,
As you press your nose to my forehead,
Your hands to my shoulders,
And look down at me.
I feign annoyance,
But press closer, and hope for more.
Starved as I am
For your touch—
I scramble for any scrap of attention
And am not above resorting to cheap tricks to get it,
Like buying you red velvet cupcakes from Fred Meyer
Just to have you put your arm around me and say,
Oh my God, you’re the best mom ever.

It’s pathetic, I know, but you need to understand
What you did for me:
Your birth allowed me to renew
My mommy card for a little longer--
To be assured of kisses and finger paintings
Well into my thirties—
And I am grateful.
As I watch you
Struggle to shrug me off
I know I need to remember
That none of this is your fault.
My inability to untangle
Your growing up
With the winding down
Of my motherhood
Is not your problem.
So I promise to try and suck it up
And forgive you
For no longer being
The boy who runs towards my touch,
And hugs me in front of his friends,
And whispers to me,
Mom even when I am old and married
I promise to still live with you
On weekends so we can hang out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Arrival (NaPoWriMo Day 1)

The way the river swells and pushes
The way the meadow sits brown and heavy
The way I switch with distrust from wool socks to cotton
The way the trailhead parking lot overflows on Sundays
The way ice gives way to mud and makes the hikers giddy
The way my face craves affection,
And turns with gratitude
To the stingy, sometimes-blue sky.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Resolutions Made at the Little Spokane River on My 45th Birthday

To walk.
To watch.
To write.
To know the precise green of the pines.
To be like the meadow and hold—
            then release—
            all in good time.
To avoid hunching my shoulders
            and clenching my teeth.
To sit in front of a candle,
            be still,
            and breathe.
And upon signs of confusion
            see above

            and repeat.