all this happened, more or less


Exhortation from the restroom of the Hungarian Pastry Shop. Who’s in?

(That title is from Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five; it may be off-tone to use a title from Slaughterhouse Five for a blog post. But.)


I haven’t been here in so long I wasn’t sure of my password. Now the semester’s over and all this happened, more or less:

Over the last few years, I sent every poem in both of my (as yet unplaced) manuscripts‚—that’s seventy-four poems— to FIELD, a journal I’ve long loved. FIELD rejected all of them except three from the very last batch I sent, which are in the current issue. I’m really happy to see some poems from the new ms. finding homes in the world, and happy to be in good company at FIELD.

Over the last month, I’ve been to New York City and back to attend the Poetry Society of America awards ceremony. One-hundred years ago, I lived in Morningside Heights while I earned my first Master’s degree. During my visit, I stayed way, way uptown so I could bum around in the old neighborhood. I visited what I think of as my first coffee shop (where I grew up and where I went to college, there was no such thing)—i.e., the first place I ever went with my writing notebook to write: the Hungarian Pastry Shop. They still have the smallest tables and the best apple strudel ever.


at the Hungarian Pastry Shop, Amsterdam between 110th and 111th

I visited the MoMA, where I saw my favorite Jackson Pollock, Full Fathom Five. I saw my favorite Franz Kline: Painting Number 2.

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 10.03.37 AM

Franz Kline, Painting Number 2, 1954

I saw the water lilies… my favorite part of which is the right-most territory of the painting, where the beauty trails off into murk.

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 10.01.47 AM

Claude Monet, Water Lilies, 1914-1926

And I saw my all-time favorite Matisse, “View of Notre Dame,” which I love for its abstraction and its unfinishedness. Especially for its unfinishedness.

Screen Shot 2018-05-03 at 9.55.22 AM

Henri Matisse, View of Notre Dame, 1914.

I saw my dear, dear friend, one of four crucial Lauras in my life. Late in the last century, we found each other being highly introverted on the edges of a room at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. These many years later we shared loves and losses and BLT’s at a diner at 103rd and Broadway. A gift.  Alas, we were too busy enjoying each other to take a photo.

Then, later, I took a cab way, way downtown and met, in person, poets whose poetry I’d admired from a distance for years. I dressed up and wore the bling-y-est earrings I’ve worn since the last century. I shared some Real Talk with other poet-moms about motherhood, and poethood, and mother-poethood. I talked with another Laura Jensen fan about Laura Jensen (another of the four crucial Lauras in my life). I listened to these poets read their poems. You should read them, too:

Victoria Chang, winner of the Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award, read one of her obit poems, which have been appearing here and there in journals recently. Here is the one she read at the awards ceremony.

Kevin Prufer read his poem, “The Newspapers,” winner of the PSA Lyric Poetry Award. Every time I read it, I lose my breath at the end and need a minute.

Jennifer Chang won the William Carlos Williams Award for her book, Some Say the Lark (Alice James). I adore this book, and have been waiting for it since I read Chang’s poem, “Dorothy Wordsworth,” years ago. Happily she read this poem at the ceremony, along with another of my favorites from the book, “We Found the Body of a Young Deer Once.” This one’s a poem about friendship, a subject I believe doesn’t get enough attention in contemporary poetry.



Elizabeth Knapp, winner of the Robert H. Winner Memorial Award, read her very timely poem, “Fourth of July.”

I listened to Billy Collins award the PSA Frost Medal to Ron Padgett, whose acceptance speech was mainly a list poem comprised of the names of all those who have been a part of his poetry life. It was a reminder that we are all standing on each other’s shoulders.


And I read my own poem, “Interior with a Woman Peeling Oranges, Snapping Beans.”


Me, reading.

That seems like at least a year ago now. It seems like it all happened to someone living in another body, not the one I inhabit. But the photos and the memories are proof.

I missed my kids (and they might’ve missed me?). I missed my cat and she definitely missed me. And I am glad I went, even though it’s always easier (at least for me) to stay home with one’s nose to the grindstone. Shout-out to my mom who made it all possible by coming down to stay with the kids and keep the wheels turning en la casa del poeta.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing all the mom stuff, applying for jobs, helping my students with their final essay of the semester, snuggling with my cat, looking side-eye at the news, reading Jorie Graham, looking side-eye at the laundry, reading Jenny Molberg, getting shook by an earthquake (wha–?), writing a panel proposal for AWP19, looking side-eye at The Winter That Will Not Loose Its Grip on the Midwest, reading Ghassan Zaqtan, Driving People Places (this always deserves its own category), soaking in the tub, looking side-eye at the (generally empty) refrigerator, reading more Jorie Graham (“I think I am in love with silence, that other world.”), editing book reviews, grading, grading, grading, grading, and grading. Submitting final grades. Collapsing.

Also, it was 84 the other day, so, BYE, winter.

All this happened, more or less, and I am tired, and a little dazed, and a lot grateful.



Oh, did you actually want to sit in your own chair at your own desk? —Mrs. Brown

Hello, Reader. It’s been a while. Nearly every day I think of something I’d like to write here, but for now other areas of life—kids, teaching, editorial work—are keeping me mostly quiet in this space.

I’m here today to share a little news, most urgent of which is this: I am now an official poet because I have a cat. Mrs. Brown (named after Judi Dench’s Queen Victoria in the movie of the same name) came to town in December. She was very shy at first, but is getting comfortable in our busy house, and particularly so in my study where she’s taken to napping (or not) on my chair and climbing up onto my lap to “help” me with whatever I’m working on. I must admit: I am besotted.

In other news, I have poems in the current issues of Gettysburg Review, New England Review, and Ploughshares. Three of them are from my new manuscript, so it’s nice to see those poems getting some traction in the world.

Here is my review of Christian Anton Gerard’s Holdfast at Tupelo Quarterly.

Lastly, I’m delighted to have won the Lucile Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America with my poem “Interior With a Woman Peeling Oranges, Snapping Beans.” This poem began on an evening in December 2016, as I was listening to NPR’s live coverage of the fall of Aleppo. It began as as attempt to reconcile the lack of suffering in my life with the horrific suffering of others. It began because those two things are irreconcilable. You can read the poem here.

As always, I hope to be back here again sooner rather than later. Until then, write on!

in lieu of wordless wednesday: taking stock


Hello again, Reader. There was no Hermit Monday for me this week due to the holiday. Yesterday was a fairly nice substitute in that I spent almost four hours in my sunny corner at the library. Today will be more hermit-like yet as I plan to park at my desk and stay here until school gets out. I have an impulse to take stock of where I am with my writerly work, although the usual time for taking stock — at the very beginning of a new year — is past. The fact that soon it will be February is somewhat mind-blowing, no?

At any rate, here’s a look into the shelves of my poetry pantry just now…

applications  I spent much of September and October applying for things. One of the gigs I applied for was a residency at Hedgebrook, and I did not get that gig. Bummer, but no big surprise — I typically assume you don’t get anything the first time you try for it. I’ve also learned it can be good to try for things even if you’re not sure you’re 100% ready. There is value in the exercise of applying: you polish your best work, organizing into a manuscript, write an artist’s statement. These are all things that help you see where you are on your creative journey. I have to say their rejection note was one of the nicest rejections I’ve ever received — perhaps in keeping with their focus on being a nourishing global community of women writers.

submissions  As usual, I am not the lean mean submissions machine that I aspire to be. I continue with my habit of sitting down to submit, then revising. Revising is a good thing to do, though, and if I see something I think can be stronger I’d rather make it stronger than send it out. This contributes mightily to my tortoise-like pace, but I keep telling myself: slow but steady… you know the rest. Right now I have poems out with 10 journals and two batches of poems sent off to contests. I have received — ahem — several rejections from  wonderful journals — forgive me, I’ve lost track (technically, I could look it up but let’s not go there). Only two acceptances since September. Ouch. Despite it all, I have more confidence in my work than ever before. I have many poems that I believe in, that I believe will find a home at some point. Onward.

I do have a poem in the most recent issue of Spillway. It’s a small, quiet poem called “A Story About the Kitchen.” It has to do with family and inheritance (I probably don’t need to say: conceptual, not financial).

new work  Although I didn’t exactly keep with my usual one draft per week goal, I did end up with about 20 new drafts in the last half of 2013. Most of them are drafts with spark — things I want to work on. But…

old work  …I also have a reasonable stack of in-process poems that need attention. By which I mean re-visioning. It’s a good problem to have: too many poems. Remind me of this when I hit my next dry spell.

the Mail Order Bride  You knew this was coming, right? That b%$#@h (this is how I’ve come to refer to her — forgive me) drove me crazy all fall. A few times now I’ve thought she was done and then she reared her wacky head again. At this point, though, I have sent her west in a chapbook with a series of aubades and a series of poems with titles taken from the traditional Christian wedding vows. She had been in a full-length manuscript I’ve been working on, but after (many months of) further discernment, I came to feel that she was overpowering the rest of the poems, because she is so wacky (or as a friend put it, much more charitably: “richly imagined”). We will see how she does now that she’s out there in the world with some friends.

organization & process  Oy. One of the things that fell by the wayside as I hustled to meet contest deadlines is organization. Ideally, I’d spend a day putting the system back to rights. Whether I can tear myself away from more creative work to do so remains to be seen. My process remains the same: reading and free-writing in the early morning, crafting/drafting/polishing other times.

coming up  I’ll be working on two reviews, one of Donna Vorreyer’s a house of many windows which I’ll publish here, and one of the forthcoming Bone Map by Sara Eliza Johnson(Milkweed, summer 2014). I also have a hefty stack of poetry to read and learn from.

AWP  Suddenly, I’m going. And I’m already worrying about how I’m going to fit my bathrobe in my two-day suitcase #trueconfessions.

Well, all this should keep me busy and then some. Thanks for letting me take stock. I hope your pantry (figurative or literal or both) is well-stocked and ready to take you through what’s left of winter. Thanks for reading.

at forty…

Heron Tree 1 with partial map of Michigan stamped in copper

Heron Tree 1 with partial map of Michigan stamped in copper

… you realize holy smokes that went fast, so

… you stop worrying about a lot of things, not least of which is that your bed hasn’t been made in a week, and

… you start doing the things you’ve been telling yourself you’ll get to “someday,” and

… you stop spending time with people who drain you, and

… you decline to make clam chowder for 5th grade colonial days regardless of the social fallout, and

… you know how lucky you are to still have your kids and your parents around, and

… you remember her, that girl you were back then, before anything ever happened to you.

I’m 41 now, but I’m very thrilled to join the lineup at a great new journal, Heron Tree, where my poem “At Forty I Remember Her” appears this week. This poem began on a borrowed line (which I eventually revised my way out of) from my friend Cintia Santana, who wrote a draft called, “At Forty I Dream of Home.” So, a big thanks to Cintia for the inspiration, and to the editors at Heron Tree for selecting this poem.

Heron Tree‘s tagline is “poetry online & bound annually.” They post a poem each week on their website, then produce a print journal that includes all the poems posted online for that year. I just received my print copies of Heron Tree 1, and it’s a beautiful journal: spare but elegant, and full of poems I’m ready to read and study again and again. They’re open for submissions now: submit here.

Thanks, 40, for all you teach us. Thanks, Heron Tree, for the poems you put out in the world. Thanks, Reader, for reading. Have a great week.

friday roundup: all of these faces, Spillway 20, and “Traveler’s Field”

[background music: Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson,” lyrics replaced with “Where did you go social contract?]

Friday again. Hello, Reader. This morning I upheld my end of the social contract by tracking down the grownup on my street who yelled the F-bomb and other choice words at my boys for riding their bikes on the sidewalk. Very politely, I reminded this gentleman (ahem) of his responsibilities to the children in the neighborhood. Namely, that a friendly reminder, and talking to me or my husband directly if follow up is needed, is really the way to go, rather than yelling and swearing at a ten year old. #justsayin. Sometimes I feel like our society has become too mobile and nobody knows their neighbors anymore, and so we sometimes forget our responsibilities to one another. But yes, that is me: the activist neighbor who will gently speak to your child if s/he is doing something unsafe or disrespectful, and who will remind you of good manners, Mr. F-bomb. Sheesh!

Now that that’s out of the way, we can get down to roundup business:

all of these faces  I’m really excited to share with you the new website of my former mentor and teacher, Deborah Keenan. When we lived in St. Paul, I studied with Deborah at the Loft Literary Center, and in her private Monday morning group. Those years learning from Deborah were so formative in my growth as poet. From her, I learned how to dissect a poem to see why and how it was working, and to write out of what I was reading. She took my work seriously, and helped me to see that it was time to start believing in my work, sending it out, claiming the title Poet. She’s also the person from whom I learned to make Handouts (which, er, reminds me — I’m a little behind on The Handout schedule, but don’t worry, it’s on my list).

As her website says, Deborah is poet, artist, and teacher. If you poke around a bit, you’ll see her amazing collage work, and run into some quintessential Deborah writing prompts (click on “writing inspiration”), more of which will be added to the site over time.

I hope you enjoy it. And if you’re wondering about my title for this section (and as she writes on her website) the phrase “all of these faces” is what encouraged Deborah to begin her collage work years ago (Hmmmm, what poem would you write under the title “All of These Faces”?).

Spillway 20  So, I’m going to be reading up in Marin this weekend, for Spillway 20 where my poem, “Making Dinner with Joan of Arc” appears (I wrote about drafting this poem here, and by the way, I wasted quite a lot of time to be able to draft it!) Each reader will read her own poem, and the poem of one other contributor. I’m excited to read Kathleen Kirk’s poem “Cassandra Can’t Believe the Headlines” (man, I know how Cassandra feels!). I’m looking forward to the reading, not without some nervousness. I’m walking around my house repeating this mantra: “Practice, wear your Haystack, and have a wee small glass of wine.” 🙂 Wish me luck.

“Traveler’s Field” A while back, I wrote a bit about poetic citizenship, and today’s poem comes from a stellar example of poetic citizenship, the Central Arkansas Broadside Project curated by the indefatigable Sandy Longhorn. Hop over and read a little bit about the project. One thing I love about it, besides the fact that it moves poetry into public space and consciousness, is that each poet whose broadside is featured recommends other poets whose work they enjoy. If I had had even one of these broadsides in my hands when I was 16 years old…!!! So, Sandy, three cheers for you and the CABP. And Reader, for you, here is “Traveler’s Field” by Hope Coulter.

Happy Friday, happy weekend, and thanks for reading. And now, for me it’s back to, “Practice, wear your Haystack, and have a wee small glass of wine.””Practice, wear your Haystack, and have a wee small glass of wine.””Practice, wear your Haystack, and have a wee small glass of wine.””Practice, wear your Haystack, and have a wee small glass of wine.”……….

friday roundup: Gretel in print, on workshop, and ‘She has composed, so long, a self’

Penelope... from wikimedia

Penelope… from wikimedia

Happy Friday, Reader. My big plans for the day involve submitting some poems and procuring basic household items required to get us through the next few days (you guessed it: milk and TP — where does it go?). But first a little poetry talk…

Gretel in print  In yesterday’s mail, I received my contributor’s copy of The Massachussetts Review, which includes my poem “Gretel, Florida, 1978.” The story of the poem is one from my own life — getting lost on the way home from the mail box in my Papa’s retirement community when I was six years old. I wrote the poem to explore the way the world can feel dangerous to a child, even when the child is pretty darn safe. It begins, “Who knows now where my brother was. Locked away / for fattening, or gone to the store with our father.” It ends with a mother pulling something from the oven and offering Gretel a bit of it to eat (insert ominous laugh here). It felt so good to see Gretel in print — she’s been around so long I was starting to get sick of her. Finally finding a place for this poem reminded me about the importance of persistence in the writing life. I’m grateful to the editors at The Massachusetts Review for finding a place for Gretel, and looking forward to reading through the issue (which I’ll have plenty of time to do at ballet dress rehearsal tonight).

on workshop  Last night my workshop group met, and another writing-life reminder came home to roost. I’ll explain: I usually bring poems to workshop that I feel I really understand, and for which I feel I’ve done all I can do — then I see if they can stand on their own two feet in a group of tough readers. But last night I brought a poem that I don’t fully understand, and that I know isn’t done. The experience of having it workshopped was like whiplash: what one person loved and thought was effective, another person thought fell flat — and this all through the poem, which is long for me: three sections, 76 lines in all. There was spirited debate! I sat listening, jotting things down. But as I drove home, I thought about the fact that after all the workshop dust has settled, it’s the poem and the poet that remain. Following on yesterday’s post about mature poets: Mature poets know that workshop can’t decide things for you; the poem itself must be the guide. Mature poets know that until you understand every choice you, as poet, have made in the poem, it’s not done. Ever onward!

‘She has composed, so long, a self…’  Also at workshop last night, we briefly discussed Wallace Stevens’ work. Reader, I confess: Stevens is a gap in my poetry education. Of Stevens, I know only what’s in the Norton Anthology. I know I need to study his work, but I’ve been putting it off… mea culpa. One of my fellow poets asked me if I knew Stevens’ poem “The World As Meditation,” and I said I did not. Oh, he said, you are going to LOVE this poem. And Reader, I do. I LOVE  this poem. I hope you will go read it here (out loud, I beg you, out loud!). I hope you will LOVE it to.

And I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for reading!

friday roundup: the conundrum of self-promotion, after the smoke clears, and ‘the whisper of girlhood’ (and… some other stuff)

I'll get around to the housework... after the smoke clears... (snagged this image from FBTroublemakers via Sandy Longhorn)

I’ll get around to the housework… after the smoke clears… (snagged this image from FBTroublemakers via Sandy Longhorn)

Reader, this week has been devoid of long, quiet library mornings. It has been devoid of long, quiet anythings. We have had birthday and fever and birthday-fever. And then some more fever. I’ve been telling myself: make use of whatever time you have, and believe that it’s enough. People ask me, “How do you write with three kids?” Answer: sometimes I don’t. Other times, I write in whatever time I have. I’ve drafted poems on the way to the zoo, at swim practice, and in the ballet studio waiting room. Also the doctor’s office waiting room. Also in the aisle at the grocery store and the movie theater. I’m extraordinarily lucky to have a few hours every day those weeks when everyone’s in school (I remember this in theory) — so I’m not complaining. Just saying: whatever your passion is, slip it into the tiny cracks of your days if you have to, until a wider plain of time opens up. Yes, I am writing this to remind myself — thank you for bearing with me :). Now on to the roundup:

the conundrum of self-promotion  Erin Coughlin Hollowell writes today about the conundrum of self-promotion. Her book Pause, Traveler (which I’m looking forward to reading) is coming out soon. Erin says, “The problem is, like most introverted writers, I feel awkward promoting myself and my work. Pushy, self-aggrandizing, embarrassed, uncomfortable.”

I don’t have a book to promote, but I certainly do feel the same way when it comes to spreading the word about my poems as they make their way in the world. Still (deep breath), I’m going to share with you a link to Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke, an anthology of erotic poetry from Tupelo Press, that I’m happy to have a poem in. Other contributors include Cynthia Rausch Allar, Michelle Bitting, Lisa Coffman, Amy Dryansky, Li Yun Alvarado, Paula Brancato, Gillian Cummings, Darla Himeles, Joel F. Johnson, Christopher Kokinos, Amy MacLennan, Stephen Massimilla, Barbara Mossberg, Susanna Rich, Aubrey Ryan, Anna Claire Hodge, Janet R. Kirchheimer, Conley Lowrance, Lea Marshall, Mary Ann Mayer, Steven Paschall, Liz Robbins, Jo Anne Valentine Simson, Jeneva Stone, Judith Terzi, Gail Thomas, Kim Triedman, Bruce Willard, P. Ivan Young.

The book is available in print and e-book format. I’m grateful to the folks at Tupelo Press for finding a home for some of my work. And here’s a teaser: Peter and Wendy… who knew? 😉

after the smoke clears  I’ve been reading through a really cool issue of Poetry East called Origins: Poets on the Composition Process. For each poem published in the issue, there is also a short essay on the poem’s origins, written by the poet. It has been fascinating to read about the process behind each poem.

And yet, one of my favorite essays in the issue is “For Once Let’s Not Talk So Much About the Poem” by Joseph Stroud (whose poem “Grief” appears in the issue). Stroud says,

“Perhaps the best response to a good poem is silence. Or to read it again.”

He says,

“In the end, after all the smoke clears, after all the discussions and theories and criticism, there are two kinds of poems. Poems that make a difference in our lives. And poems that don’t. Let’s hold on to the ones that do, hold on and cherish them, and do all in our power to try and write them.”

Let the people say, Amen!

‘the whisper of girlhood’ (and… some other stuff)  Reader, forgive me, but I just haven’t been able to narrow down this week’s poetry selection to one poem. No, I’m sorry, but I have to ask you to go read this entire issue at Connotation Press. Because I know you want to read some of Sandy Longhorn’s sickly speaker poems, and Bernadette Geyer’s garbage disposal poem (and also her yoga poem), and Brooke J. Sadler’s poem/prayer involving…, well I don’t want to give it away — but it involves breakfast meat and go read it. And also Julie Brooks Barbour’s work (teaser: watermelon!). And then Erin Elizabeth Smith’s Alice in Wonderland poems (where you’ll find ‘the whisper of girlhood’). And there are other good poems there, to. So, click around. You’ll be glad you did.

Oh, and then, just a note: I’ve been having some blog-keeping issues. My whole list of po-links somehow disappeared. I’m slowly rebuilding the list, but in the meantime, sorry about the  missing links.

Happy Friday, Reader. Happy poetry! Thanks for reading.

friday roundup: to sound through, apocalyptic poetry, and “They fall from my life”

I want to be the Woman with the Cracked Face. P.S. Don't they look heavy? from wikimedia

I want to be the Woman with the Cracked Face. P.S. Don’t they look heavy? from wikimedia


Um, wow. That week went by fast.

This morning at the Wee, Small House, there was a frenzied search for a “white elephant” gift for the 5th grade gift exchange, a moment of panic during which I wondered if I was supposed to provide gifts for the 3rd and 1st grade gift exchanges (I chose ignorance, which is bliss), and a spirited debate between Husband and I about where to set up the annual Christmastime jigsaw puzzle:

Me: Can I set it up on the card table in front of the fireplace?
Him: No.
Me: Grrrrrrrr!
Him: (furiously searching Google for “puzzle boards”)

I confess, I actually growled. We are, as yet, undecided. But now, on to the roundup:

to sound through I’ve been thinking a lot about persona poems lately. Partly because I still have several Mail Order Bride poems that aren’t quite done (if you have know idea what I’m talking about, read here, here, and here). Also because I’ve been working through a series of persona poems around the Demeter/Persephone myth. And also because two more personae, who I’m not quite ready to talk about yet, are knocking at my door and demanding to be let in. Sigh.

According to my sources, the etymology of the word persona is a bit murky, but may have come from the Latin personare which means “to sound through” — as in the masks used in ancient Greek and Roman theater to amplify voices on stage (world’s first PA system, see photo above). I like this idea of the poet’s voice and experience “sounding through” whatever persona the poet is working within. For myself, I think the most effective persona poems are those that effectively marry a universal (or nearly universal) truth of human experience with the known (from myth or legend *or — I’m just realizing I should’ve added — history &/or current events)) or imagined truth of the persona. For more persona poem reading, here’s an essay by Jeannine Hall Gailey on the use of personae by Lucille Clifton, Louise Gluck, and Margaret Atwood. I found it thought-provoking and insightful.

apocalyptic poetry Well, it appears that the Oreo Cookie was right — here we are. But over at Escape Into Life, Kathleen Kirk has curated a poetry feature around the theme World Without End. I’m honored to be part of the feature; mine’s the last poem down, but don’t skip because the art and the rest of the poems are fantastico. I confess, I’m totally jealous of Karen Weyant’s disco poem — why didn’t I think of that? Thanks to Kathleen for this timely feature.

[I pause here because I feel the need to apologize for linking to so many of my own poems. Normally, I’m not so self-referential.]

“They fall from my life…” Reader, this week I read a poem that took the top of my head off. I can’t find it anywhere online, so I’m going to hope the gods and goddesses of fair use will have mercy on me if I print it here. Because it’s amazing. Here it is:


Ovarian Tree by Olena Kalytiak Davis

All night the dull ache
of an overripe dream: a room
swollen with women — Look
at their hands, their hair, fern-like,
falling —
bouquet’s of adder’s tongue
hung by the root —
in a gravity that rests so low
it drags on my heart, bends
down these boughs; the hysteria
of hands and hair and gravity
and a beauty so rare
it is familiar: Look
at their waists, that’s how they bend.
Look at their wounds, that’s where
their children play. They fall
from my life until
there are no women left,
only children pulling at berries, and berries dropping
and dreaming of a new blossoming

When I’m awake, I’ll call this curvature of the soul a state.
When I’m awake, (where are the women?)
I will have forgotten.


I am so wowed by the imaginative leap that turns ovaries and fallopian tubes into an ecosystem — a room full of women; hands and hair and plants and roots and boughs; that low-resting gravity. This poem comes from Davis’ book And Her Soul Out of Nothing, which I’ve been reading and loving (and learning a lot from). Buy it here.

Also, I love that in her bio on the Poetry Foundation website she says her life is:

“mostly, getting my children raised, or just dressed: finding two  matching socks, making sea creature mobiles, reading The Magic School Bus and Moby Dick to them, sweeping over and under the mess, including scraps of construction paper and scraps of the western canon.”

OMG, my life too!!!!!! 🙂

And now, Reader, I am Behind on Everything. And it Might Rain (I’ve intuited that the phrase “Might Rain” is always capitalized in California). And, yes, the most wonderful time of the year, etc., etc., etc. So I’ll sign off, but not before wishing you a wonderful and restful weekend and holiday. See you back here soon.

sometimes it’s good to leave the house

a ship leaving the Golden Gate at dusk

Reader, we have been away. Briefly. But sometimes briefly is long enough.

We went camping with some friends in the most lovely and secluded little spot just north of the Golden Gate. On Saturday, we packed like mad, drove up through the summer fog in the city, pitched our camp in the chilly morning air, then camped fast and furious. The kids melded into a roving pack that played capture the flag on a WWII bunker, swam in the frigid Pacific, buried eachother in the sand, made war against some very bold raccoons, and devoured untold numbers of s’mores. The adults swapped it’s-a-small-world stories around the campfire, shared the joys and challenges of family life, applied multiple coats of sunscreen to myriad limbs, cheeks, and noses, and took turns feeding the faces of the roving pack of children.

It was sheer bliss, even the sleeping on the ground part. Although, I do seem to have a camping hangover, despite the strongest drink having been instant coffee. I’m told we arrived home again yesterday afternoon, at which point I began working through a large hillock of laundry. I’m told we all showered to scrub the sand and the campfire out of our hair. I have some memory of scrambling around the house this morning and dragging the kids along to a poetry date (which was, for the benefit of the kids, at a park). I have barely stumbled back to my desk, where it has come to my attention that the Mail Order Bride rides again.

Actually, I was expecting her sometime soon, so it wasn’t a complete surprise. But, I’m so happy to share with you a few more Mail Order Bride poems, and one other poem, that are up at Escape Into Life. Escape Into Life is an exciting online venue for literature and visual art. If you haven’t already, I strongly suggest you spend some time browsing and taking it all in — it’s a really wonderful site. I’m so honored to have my work there, paired with evocative photographs by Jennifer Zwick. Thank you to poetry editor Kathleen Kirk for selecting my work for publication at EIL.

And now, I’m going to try splashing some cold water on my face to see if I can emerge from my camping brain-fog. Something tells me there’s still some laundry in need of attention, and I know for a fact certain people will be expecting dinner in a few hours. Which I will cook with a smile on my face, giving thanks for all that’s beautiful in the world — fog and cargo ships, parks and poetry, small upturned faces brown from the sun — all of that and more.

we interrupt our scheduled programming to bring you

beach day!

the Mail Order Bride.

Here’s what happens: You wake up a crabby mommy. I mean a really crabby mommy. Because why is there clean laundry in a jumble on the floor in the boys’ bedroom? And why are you always out of milk? And also, why are they so LOUD all the time? Grrrr. Having been a very crabby mommy before, you know a change of scenery is in order so you hastily declare a beach day (woo-hoo!). Things get even LOUDER and where on earth is the sunscreen and why was it not put back in its proper place the last time it was used? Grrrr. Et cetera.

Then you go to the beach and there is space on the sand between you and the children who are jumping in the waves. There are a few other mommies to talk to. And there is space between you and the children as they build an aqueduct. And the wind and the waves drown out their voices into background noise. Next thing you know there are the remains of a picnic lunch, many sandy bodies, and the day is turning toward evening, so you head home. There are showers and vigorous double-washings of hair to get the sand out, even though you know you will never get the sand out. Even though you know you will be finding sand in your house, your car, your beach bag twenty years hence. And this thought makes your heart swell with happiness.

Then there is dinner (leftovers), pj’s, the night brushing of teeth. There are stories and tuck-ins (here the crabby mommy re-inserts herself with a stern, No get-outs! And she means it!) and then there are dishes to wash. Then the not-as-crabby mommy sits down at her desk and finds out the Mail Order Bride has had a busy day! That she abides! Sometimes the universe knows just what a crabby mommy needs.

So, Reader, here is another of the Mail Order Bride poems on Linebreak, one of my very favorite journals. Thank you to Johnathon and Ash, the editors at Linebreak. The poem is read beautifully by the poet Emilia Phillips — thank you, Emilia. And thank you to everyone who saw it before I did and sent notes of congratulations. I’m a not-so-crabby mommy today. 🙂