Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Two things often happened in my dreams as a child:

I’d hear someone creeping, creeping up the stairs, a stranger,
An uninvited guest, stepping quietly in the dark,
Always a threat never realized
The toilet would come alive with a deafening growl,
It would lift itself from its tile floor surroundings and
Start to shuffle, shuffle toward my room.

Sometimes, the two intruders would creep and shuffle
At the same time, a grand nightmare outside my bedroom door,
Moving closer but never meeting, never quite making it.

What did they want, what did they mean?
What would have happened if the creep on the stairs
Met the plumbing monstrosity in the hall?

Maybe I should have introduced them. Maybe
They were just loneliness incarnate, maybe
They needed a firm handshake and a “Hello”.
I was not as powerless as they would have me believe,
Maybe I could have distracted away my own nightmares,
So that, in my adult dreams, I’d finally be able to scream

Write a Poem That is Also a Prompt

This is your chance! For your whole life, you have been waiting
For an opportunity to be heard- not listened to, heard.
Stop waiting! Tell me, now! I’m gaping ears, unrestricted mind, open arms
 I am the living blank notebook you always wanted.

What words didn’t you know, when you got in trouble as a child?
When you witnessed someone else’s pain, what do you wish you could have yelled?
What would have changed the course of your history?
Yell it, immediately. It’s never too late.

What’s that comeback that came 30 seconds too late?
That perfect, respectful pick up line for that beautiful woman?
The sentence that may have kept him home,
The phrase that could have saved your job?

To those questions you never got to ask: it’s time to give birth.
And those answers you never received: it’s time to make them up.
Take back your voice, own what you know and admit it:
You know the rest of the world needs to hear what you have to say.

You are bursting! You are ready! Your stillness serves no one,
Least of all you. Let it out, let it go, you will always be refilled,
Each word that exits leaves behind a breath of fresh air,
Suck it in, and just scream. It’s exactly what you need right now.

Monday, April 28, 2014


The list of poets who have committed suicide
Is anything but short. Something about that vision,
That sensitivity, that third eye always watching the world,
Seems to make us more susceptible to madness,
To the inability to take it anymore.

Yet, so many of us hesitate, when offered a tonic
A regulated way to take the edge off: pills, that horror,
That addiction that’s rumored to dull the senses and
Drain our creativity like hemorrhaging blood.  We’d rather
Feel sharp, bright pain than live in dull, functioning shadows.

I tried. I tried to be a chemical-free poet, tried to
Tackle the daylight without a helmet, tried to
See past the fog of fear without headlights, I tried
And I did not succeed. I sank at an alarming rate,
Too weak to tread water with my legs alone.

Anti-depressants have been the buoy that
Keep my head above water  while I exercise my legs,
Working every day to get stronger. I can’t see the shore. 
I can only take great gulps of fresh air and sing of hope,

Of the feeling of muscles growing in my legs.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Poets talk about their poems as if they are children:

Unfolding with hot breath, wet, always growing,
Requiring as much care and maintenance as an infant,
Keeping their mothers up at night with insistent wails.

But poets are wrong when they talk this way, because
Poems are really new growth from old skin, another limb,

Sawed off and re-planted for the public to consume.   


I wrote a poem today but it was too personal to be shared.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Did I Ever Tell You About the Time...?

Once, as a child, my teacher called me “sour grapes”.
Instead of letting the hammer hit the nail again
I bounced her words back like a metal trampoline
And told her she could eat them; I’m just expressing myself.

Once, in middle school, a boy rubbed my leg
Without asking my permission. I stood up
In front of the class, asked him if there’s a problem,
If maybe he’d forgotten which legs were his.

Once, in high school, my youth pastor told me
My heart was made of construction paper and
Ripped so easily I’d leave pieces behind in the chests of others.
I showed him the holes filled in by what they’d given me in return.

Once, in college, the chaplain told me I was suffering
Because I had unforgiven sins weighing on my heart.
I tore open my gut and laid out my scarred insides,
I left him with the pain and dis-enrolled that day.

Once, as an adult, three men in a pick-up truck
Whistled and honked as I walked to work.
Ten a.m., basked in sunlight, I grew to ten feet tall,
Chased them down, and slashed their tires.

Once, I imagined I had superpowers
Once, I was respected and not vulnerable.
Once, my body was my own to control.
Once, I stood up for myself.

Once, I forgave myself, for all the things

I wished I’d said and done. 

Thank you, Nicole Homer.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

YOLO is a Lie.

He says he wishes he could live two lives, that,
After this shell cracks and his soul leaks out,
He could have another body, try it all over again.
I say, we all live forever, that we,
With limited breath set the stage for eternal life:
Each outward expiration sticks to someone else, like pollen,
So that we are carried, fertilized and grown,
Even over fearfully built brick walls;
Even in countries where we’ve never been;
Even after our bodies give out and fade to dirt;

We grow quietly, forever, on the gardened backs of others. 

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


It’s a loneliness that makes my heart feel hollow,
Radiating an echo that keeps the world away.
I want to wear you like a cape, fingers clutched on arms
So hard they’re leaving grooves. I don’t want
To have to feel the wind, even when I can hear it whistle
Through my desperate core.

Over and over again, I lose myself in someone else.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Turn to Them Your Back Also

As a little lamb in Sunday school I learned:
The meek shall inherit the earth
Love your enemy, turn your cheek
And even, kill them with kindness.

But it is hard kill my enemy with kindness
When my enemy doesn’t know who they are
When I keep turning cheek to cheek declaring,
“No, it doesn’t hurt. Nothing is wrong.”
Then the only thing that dies is me,
My voice muffled under a swollen jaw,
My body shrinking from the weight of so much benevolence.

Sometimes, the only kindness necessary
Should be given to Myself, to allow myself
To ask for help in shrugging off the burden
Of meekness, to massage  my throat
Until my vocal chords re-emerge, victorious,
With a yell, “GET OFF. GO AWAY. STOP.”
I will not stay meek for the sake of your peace
I’ll stop sacrificing myself in the name of avoiding conflict.
I will keep screaming the truth to you until
It’s safe to turn my back on you,

Instead of just my cheeks. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Reid Park, February, 2012

To my first Rebound Romance:
I fell into an obsession with you in Hour One
Of our Eight Hour date. Reid Park in February
2012, Tucson, bright green grass rolled out
For us to explore under come hither sun.
You straddled the park bench like a baseball player,
Leaning forward onto thin legs, fingers knotted,
Curved back aged in cheap whiskey, you
Were never young like Nate Ruess said we are.
I heard your childhood ended in addiction so when
The Bar Closes, You Feel Like Falling Down,
I wanted to carry you home again, and again, and again.

I couldn’t stop thinking of you! Between Hour Eight
At milky black Gates Pass, and the next text message
In the morning where you interpreted my dreams but not
As the warning signs they should have been. How! Was this
Obsession and not love? Isn’t this what Nicholas Sparks
Tried to warn the world about? No, it was fixation, taking
Control of me in prodigious pelvic thrusts. Once, just for the sensation,
I clenched my fist around a piece of ice until it melted into
Great rivers streaming down my arm, over the dog bite scar.

Has your life frozen back together since you melted away?

It might help if you read the "recipe" for this poem...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

What Do You Do That Makes You Invisible?

I’ve always had the echoing refrain,
“Let me not be a burden” bouncing
From wall to wall in every corner of my brain.
Let me sit over here so I don’t
Infringe on your personal space;
Let me move out of the way
Instead of “playing Chicken” on the sidewalk;
Let me lose weight so I don’t
Take up as much room on the planet;
Let me be invisible, if that’s what it takes.

“Let me not be a burden,” but to what end?
What waste have I created by letting myself
Act as less than I am? Even when I become lighter
Or farther away, I still exist, and with less of me
There is less to give. “Let me not be a burden,”
By blowing up and wearing neon lights
And a sandwich board that brightly declares,
“You are worth it, I’m out here for you.”


Saturday, April 19, 2014


How will I pass this test?
                Have faith, just believe.
Is this the right college for me?
                Just pray, and believe.
Why did my friend die?
                God has a plan, believe.
Why was he healed, but not her?
                God works in mysterious ways.
How can miracles be real?
                Because we believe they are.
Why does a loving God send people to hell?
                You must believe he has a reason.
Why do I still get panic attacks after all these years?
                Because you haven’t believed-

                                                                -hard enough.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Why I Hate Stuffed Animals

I was nine years old
When my parents cleaned out the house.
Divorce, it was time to move.
I was sitting on the front porch steps,
(The ones that had been washed so many times
By spring thunderstorm rain while we watched,
Safe under the roof in lawn chairs)
I caught the crooked eye of a derelict teddy bear
Positioned haphazardly on a bulk of trash;
It’s mouth halfway unstitched, it’s nose broken.
Though it was alive I’d never seen it before.
                (How could I miss it? All of mine were
                Individually named, with back stories and
                Regularly scheduled hugging.)
I snuck the teddy bear up to my room.
We cried together, me out of pity,
He, out of fear, until I named him,
And added him to the hugging rotation.
                (My therapist, so far removed but
                So far in my head, would say: “Do you

                Think you found yourself that day?”)

Thursday, April 17, 2014


Sometimes runners looks ridiculous:
Muscular, limber women and skinny men
Heel-toeing it down Speedway at six miles per hour
With nothing visibly chasing them.

I wish I were chasing them.

Sometimes I have dreams where
I’m running with full breath, where
My lungs are clear buoys holding
My feather-light body in the clouds I’m pushing through.

In real life, I am just a rock wearing Addidas,
Trying to propel my way through rain and pollen
With anxiety hung around my neck,
And spilling down my back.

Maybe runners only look ridiculous

Because I’m always watching them from behind.


I'll keep telling the lies
As long as you keep believing.
We'll dance under that umbrella
(Half in and half out)
Gathering water, until we can't
Find our bodies anymore, until
We have to dig to find where our clothes end 
And our bodies begin.

It's a performance but it's not sexy, 
Like a kiss in the rain,
And we won't find the truth
In a heart-wrenching montage-
(Is there a truth? Which one of us is right?)
It's just an age-old ritual to keep us from
Drowning in the devastating delight

Of Spring rain on bare skin.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


It fits like an aura, an opaque cloak;
A sudden arrival during daydreams
I try to figure out what broke.

I float in the shower, upstream
I open my eyes wider to search
Watch desperately for a meaning, a theme.

One day I’ll figure it out, with a lurch.

Monday, April 14, 2014

"There's No One Here At The Moment"

Say, “Hello?”, pull off her glasses,
You’re met with a glassy eyed stare.
Peek in the window of parted lips,
There’s nothing;  the lights are all turned off.
Rip open the chest!
                Give up, go home.

There’s no one here until tomorrow morning. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014


Earth was written in the spring
By a soft shade sunrise creaking quietly awake
From an eternity of hibernation, each ray
Slowly caressing this new beginning to speak.
Blooming words pushed up from fresh soil:
White roses, daffodils, iris and, rising taller,
Red tulips, a declaration of eyes opening and
Smiles emerging in pastel blushes.
Each year this poem is read aloud 
To a soundtrack of tremolo birdsong
That grows in intensity to a burst of violins
As we are reminded to shed skin, open arms,
Free our limbs and start again, this time,

With hope.

Inspired by:

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Worry Is The Coldest Season

When it snows, we catch snowflakes in our palms
And smile as they melt. We breathe in cold air,
We breathe out the power to destroy.
When we want to be creative we collect hundreds
Of snowflakes, briefly turn our warm breath away,
And let each distinct sliver of snow meld into one.
We breathe in excitement, we breathe out and let
The snowballs fly. We’re hit, we giggle, the game goes on.
When we’re bored with our cold, flat street, we move
To the mountains, ride with skis to the top, 
And let ourselves fly, momentarily breathless.

Once, you wouldn’t let go.  You crouched at the top
Frozen, because you took a breath in
And forgot to let another one out. What was different
About this snow? What did you think you could control?

When they told you everyone must let go and continue moving,

Did you think that didn’t apply to you? 

This started with:

Friday, April 11, 2014

"Write Drunk. Edit Sober." [Hemingway]

The mind waits, rocky and gray, hidden
By a long winter of sobriety. It is easy to ignore
That purple fire, its small flame, when the
Words you have to work with are cold, and serious.

Water your mind with wine, soften
The gray matter, let the liquid reach down
To where seeds have sat dormant for decades
Waiting for eyes to be opened and sun let in.
With red rain spring erupts into a kaleidoscope
Of plant life, flora both native and unique,
Intertwining leaves into a mess of splendor.

When you wake up on the edge of the field
You will find your poem, a familiar path
Framed with idyllic garlands you left behind

While dancing, drunkenly awake.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

American Horror Story: Introvert

Lights focus on a rusty car pulling into the last parking spot
In front of a house in a suburban neighborhood.
The camera zooms in on our hero, reluctantly unbuckling,
Checking her phone one more time, Google searching:
“Excuses to turn around and leave”.
The car door opens, our hero exits, she moves
Like a former tom-boy, current book nerd who
recently gained fifteen pounds and feels it but
Is trying to swagger confidently in her tight jeans and studded boots
(The audience wonders if she’s already drunk).
Zoom in on the jeans for a moment.
The swagger moves her to the front door, only after, for once
Stopping to smell the flowers because- what better time
To slow down and enjoy life than right before a party?
Our hero pauses with her hand on the door, the camera pulls back
To show a few people scattered in the next room
And then the next as our hero finds sudden speed and
X-ray vision; she almost jogs to the backyard after realizing
She doesn’t know anyone at this party but the hosts.
Show the hosts laughing, spilling drinks, show
Our hero’s wide eyes and lips pressed tight as the hostess
Goes in for a tight embrace.
Zoom in on a plate full of food, quivering slightly, show her
Hand moving up and down rhythmically as the food disappears.
Show one glass of water, then two, emptying quickly
Match the arc of her eyes with the angle of her watch as she
Lifts the glass over and over again, especially when another person
Moves within speaking distance.  
There hasn’t yet been more than two sentences of dialogue.
The camera takes a shot from above: our hero is cross legged
On the floor in the dark, empty hallway, in between two sleeping dogs,
Texting furiously. A shot of the text:
“That cool guy who makes all the short films is here. He
Has cool glasses and a pretty girlfriend.”
Sudden shot of the cake, a burst of “Happy Birthday”, our hero
Is intrigued. She smiles for the first time and rises to meet the cake.
She waits in the back of a crowd in a blindingly bright kitchen,
An obvious shot of the movement out of the corner of her eye,
Then a slow motion shot of our hero’s head turning and her eyes widening again,
Her face twisting into something like a confused smile, brows furrowed,
As the girlfriend of the cool guy with the cool classes
Progresses ethereally toward our hero donning a coy smile of her own.
Slow motion shot of the cool guy’s girlfriend reaching up an arm
And sliding it around our hero’s shoulder; next we only see
A slick mouth next to a perspiring ear, pause, pause, pause.
All noise but the pounding heart of our hero stops and then-
“Honey, your fly is down” is heard like an avalanche and our hero,
Slow motion startled, drops her plate of cake. The camera follows
It’s fall down to the tight jeans, the open zipper, the studded boots.
Focus on the horrified and disappointed face of our hero.

End scene.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Yoga In The Dark

It is possible to let go, to let
My body become so light it floats.

After all day pushing heavy rock legs
And pulling breathe out of tiny lung holes

It is possible to wring out my body,
To release a layer of mud and wash it away.

Hands drift away from my chest and
My jaw relinquishes dense rust.

It is possible to stretch my body

Into something brand new, to begin again. 

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Let's Go

Tonight is a good moon.
Let’s pop the cork and start to drive,
Head to San Diego and dump our feelings
In the ocean, let them sink to the bottom
Where they can’t be observed by anyone,
Not even the fish, not even the other debris.

Let’s keep chasing the coast
In search of greater Californias.
I want to find earthquakes,
To watch the earth split in two and race
To the ocean floor to further suppress
The vulnerabilities we left behind.

Then, I’ll lean back, let go of baseless speculation,
And follow the earth into the sea.
My life has always acted like ocean water,
Filling holes in wet sand made by footprints
Walking away. Maybe this time, I

Can be what fills the looming emptiness. 

Thanks, Uut Poetry.

Monday, April 7, 2014

To have unanswered questions is to be alive!

"I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don't search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer." -Rainer Maria Rilke in "Letter to a Young Poet"

To have unanswered questions is to be alive!
I breathe in curiosity, I breathe out inquiries.
Each one unfolds as a flower blooming: slowly
With grace, beautiful to watch at every moment
So that each spring I have a garden where I lay,

Thankful for purpose:  another answer to seek.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Tired Poem

I learned, "Love your neighbor
As you would love yourself",
But I never learned
How to love myself.

Saturday, April 5, 2014


There was no such thing as co-ed dorms;
If we wanted to walk to class together I’d
Wait outside in the snow, looking up four stories
To see if I could catch a glimpse of you
For the first time in twelve hours.

There was no room in the dorms
For budding sexuality. We were moved
To less orthodox ways of expressing  passion:  visiting
Your pastor for advice, praying together, Bible studies
On your bed during visiting hours- we never really did
Learn how to communicate.

There were visiting hours but we didn’t like anyone else
So we escaped. The campus was so small; there was so little
To explore. We hid on the playground, spied on holier couples
Who stayed outside of the twisting slide, bundled in jackets,
Hands in full view. We’d return to our separate dorms at ten,
Unwilling to admit we were unsatisfied.

Then, there was no way to stop you
From buying that ring. Perhaps if we had shared a room,
Seen the clothes on your floor, the books on mine;
Perhaps if we had shared chores, a bed, even a dog, you really
Would have heard me when I said, “I don’t want to get married.
Not to you, not now, not ever.”

Inspired by Nicole Homer

Friday, April 4, 2014

Citrus Tree

Roots reach out               
Like fingers opening, spreading,
Into the soil.

In unfriendly desert
The thin trunk keeps growing;
Branches reach out.

Green bark and
Purple flowers on thin arms,
Desert spring beauty:

You are my
Sapling poem; my reminder of

So much progress.

Inspired by:

Thursday, April 3, 2014


It once seemed odd-
How you showed up in my dreams at least once a month as unfinished business.
I thought I had closed and sealed that lid; I remember
Standing proudly on top of it declaring, “IT’S ABOUT TIME”.        

But here you are,
                Again and
                                Again and
                                                Again and
Smoke creeping from my ears in the morning, leaving me
Groggy in a fog of incapability and failure.

These dreams are always-
                I see you in the store but hide in another aisle, kicking myself because I STILL haven’t just called
                You to tell you no.
                I invite you to my birthday party and regret it because you’ve gotten close to another one of my
                Friends and now we are even more enmeshed.
                Your mom sends me another e-mail telling me how depressed you are and somehow, even as a
                A 12 year old, we all think I’m going to do something about it.

I try to seal you in after every dream but I’m running out of places to hide you and now
I see you in dustbunny corners under my desk at work
Or in the hatchback driver cutting me off on my way home
Or in the stray beauty and fortune of where I live. You
Are ten years of me and you’ve fit yourself into every crack of my life
Where I might still be messing up.

These dreams
                Are not unfinished business.
They are you, a tattoo under my eyelids;
To which I return again
                And again
                                And again
                                                And again
Whenever I need a metaphor

                For my shortcomings. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014


Our heritage is full of women rebelling:
First Lilith, then Eve, who refused to fit the mold
In which she was cast: the antidote for Lilith, a model obedient
Wife, now blamed for original sin because she couldn’t conform.
Ruth defied convention when she married a foreigner and was
Rewarded with a place on the family tree of David; Brave Rahab’s
Perceived sexual trespasses didn’t stop her from saving.
Some say Jezebel was only depicted as evil because she dared reign over a man;
The adulteress still exists as a metaphor for Christian treatment of sin.
Even Mary, the mother of Jesus, became pregnant  before she was married-
We’ve built a legend of fear around what was good enough for God and his son.

I was raised with these women as role models, with the
Underlying message that what is scorned by society 
Is good enough for the being that society worships. I refuse,
I will not, hold myself to lower standards. I can
Save the world, be a role model, bring good into the world, I can!
Without the same refrains: Get married, have children,
But wait until you get married, settle down, cover your skin,
Protect yourself, someday you will want children- I
Do not fit this mold, I cannot limit myself to convention, I
Am not afraid of the stones that may be cast when I
Am middle aged and still unmarried, sleeping contentedly

In a bachelor’s life. I, too, am a legend, a myth in the making.

This poem jumped off from here.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Poem #1

Poems are never finished-
After the final line, life continues
And when we return to our words
We look down into a valley and find
Stretches of landscape we neglected to describe.

We cannot stop writing; we must
Add one poem to the next and to the next;
We must work toward a legacy to leave:
One complete poem, a full panorama,

A life for someone else to read.