Sunday, July 15, 2012

Khepera: put your hand on my heart, it's been a long day.

Khepera: put your hand on my heart, it's been a long day. 

What you are not saying
(I fear)
is what I’m not saying too.

There is a little blue house
on a green hill (far away)
where the grey skies feel like sunshine.

Sometimes I think about the table
(Jesus, that table)
and all the things I should’ve known. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Frost, "Devotion"


The heart can think of no devotion
Greater than being shore to ocean -
Holding the curve of one position,
Counting an endless repetition. 

(I want to believe.)

Sunday, May 27, 2012


I'm crouched, shivering, in front of the heating vent of my new SLC room, wearing only a cami and underwear. Most people would take this opportunity to throw on sweatpants and a sweatshirt. Not me. I'm too busy being inspired and wondering who chose the color for this bedroom. 

Touche, Neil. I'm picking up what you're putting down. 

"There are days I wake to peace I can't explain" <--yes. 

Remind me, quick. I'm drifting.  

And now some poetry. 

Yesterday two of my favorite people on this planet got married. Kellie had this poem printed on her cake so I was able to slip it into my toast. The world is full of so much win...and so much love. 

(This is one of my favorite love poems of all time and I'm kinda jealous Kellie got to claim it before me. Oh well.)

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
                                                      i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that's keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Jack Gilbert, "Failing and Flying"

I really, really like this poem. And Press Play-Poetry. And NPR.

Many months ago, I marked May 1 on my calendar as a day of change. In ways that I did not expect at all, it is very much such a day. The tone in this poem reflects how I feel, today, about this tornado (in the very best of ways).

Failing and Flying

by Jack Gilbert

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Edna St. Vincent Millay

I wonder how many times my mother has uttered this prayer for me. Do all mothers of daughters whisper this prayer? What a strange and beautiful world we live in.  

Prayer to Persephone 
Be to her, Persephone,
All the things I might not be:
Take her head upon your knee.
She that was so proud and wild,
Flippant, arrogant and free,
She that had no need of me,
Is a little lonely child
Lost in Hell,—Persephone,
Take her head upon your knee:
Say to her, "My dear, my dear,
It is not so dreadful here." 

I remember the moment this poem struck me when I was but a tender-hearted college freshman. Strange how the words connote the same wistfulness but have a different meaning now; how bittersweet all the years that both connect and estrange me from that dreary winter morning have been. 

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why (Sonnet XLIII)
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why, 
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain 
Under my head till morning; but the rain 
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh 
Upon the glass and listen for reply, 
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain 
For unremembered lads that not again 
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry. 
Thus in winter stands the lonely tree, 
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one, 
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before: 
I cannot say what loves have come and gone, 
I only know that summer sang in me 
A little while, that in me sings no more.

Right from Wikipedia to my blog! Yehaw: 

Edna St. Vincent Millay (February 22, 1892 – October 19, 1950) was an American lyrical poet, playwright and feminist.[1] She received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry,[2] and was known for her activism and her many love affairs. She used the pseudonymNancy Boyd for her prose work. The poet Richard Wilbur asserted, "She wrote some of the best sonnets of the century."[3]

Saturday, April 21, 2012

dusk again

the bees, too, prefer the drunken aroma of springtime citrus
orange, lemon, grapefruit
they, too, get drunk on the delicate white kisses,
blooms unfolding in the evening air

please, God, You know where my heart is 
reveal my heart to me

I have been Tipsy 
waltzing with my Father 
hoping the current will pull me out a little farther

God gave them autopilot for evenings like this
(slow setting sun lush and almost shiftless)
their wings beat mechanical as the scent intoxicates
(belle notte)
they browse halflight drowsy

but, God, You know where my heart is and
something's buzzing below my collar bone 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Robert Frost, "Birches"

This poem is a favorite of mine. 

Situations in my life are unfolding in such a way that I believe this poem is uniquely applicable. My apologies for the cryptic nature of that last sentence. Suffice to say: sometimes both the wistful dreamer and the exhausted doer within must be reminded Earth's the right place for love. 


When I see birches bend to left and right
Across the lines of straighter darker trees,
I like to think some boy's been swinging them.
But swinging doesn't bend them down to stay.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them
Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning
After a rain. They click upon themselves
As the breeze rises, and turn many-colored
As the stir cracks and crazes their enamel.
Soon the sun's warmth makes them shed crystal shells
Shattering and avalanching on the snow-crust--
Such heaps of broken glass to sweep away
You'd think the inner dome of heaven had fallen.
They are dragged to the withered bracken by the load,
And they seem not to break; though once they are bowed
So low for long, they never right themselves:
You may see their trunks arching in the woods
Years afterwards, trailing their leaves on the ground
Like girls on hands and knees that throw their hair
Before them over their heads to dry in the sun.
But I was going to say when Truth broke in
With all her matter-of-fact about the ice-storm
(Now am I free to be poetical?)
I should prefer to have some boy bend them
As he went out and in to fetch the cows--
Some boy too far from town to learn baseball,
Whose only play was what he found himself,
Summer or winter, and could play alone.
One by one he subdued his father's trees
By riding them down over and over again
Until he took the stiffness out of them,
And not one but hung limp, not one was left
For him to conquer. He learned all there was
To learn about not launching out too soon
And so not carrying the tree away
Clear to the ground. He always kept his poise
To the top branches, climbing carefully
With the same pains you use to fill a cup
Up to the brim, and even above the brim.
Then he flung outward, feet first, with a swish,
Kicking his way down through the air to the ground.
So was I once myself a swinger of birches.
And so I dream of going back to be.

It's when I'm weary of considerations,
And life is too much like a pathless wood
Where your face burns and tickles with the cobwebs
Broken across it, and one eye is weeping
From a twig's having lashed across it open.
I'd like to get away from earth awhile
And then come back to it and begin over.
May no fate willfully misunderstand me
And half grant what I wish and snatch me away
Not to return. Earth's the right place for love:
I don't know where it's likely to go better.

I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Dusk and the Bougainvillea

Bees serenading the citrus blossoms
                                                        and me.

I lean against the house, feet cool on the adobe tiles

in the long hallway,
the wind traipsing bougainvillea blossoms magenta across my lilac toes.

I wait silently
listening for footsteps or voices or cooing doves,
listening for my own heartbeat to grow soft.

When I am satisfied that I am


I say it into the heavy dusk:

I love you.

And then again:

I love you.
I love you, I love you.

I taste the salty caramel of it on my tongue,

velvet words hovering hummingbird-
winged eternal.

Letting the words dance up my esophagus, I hope,
might unravel the tempest of my soul's haute sting.

I wait for a phantom to appear so I may know at what feet
to lay my quivering love.

But no phantom appears.
No phantom ever appears. No face ever illuminates the night.

There is just only the moon chiding my childishness;
just the bougainvillea rustling, gentle kissing wind-caressed.

Just the doves' sleepy tittering, "It's never so easy. You
already know it wouldn't be so easy as that, not for humans."

Just bees serenading the citrus blossoms
                                                                  and me.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Brian Doyle, "The child as verb"

My heart yearned for this today. Talk about soul food.

Go to the original post here

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Home » January - February 2006 > The child as verb

The child as verb


I was shuffling along the roaring shore of the misnamed Pacific Ocean, humming to myself, pondering this and that and t’other, when I saw a crippled kid hopping towards me. She was maybe four years old and her feet were bent so sideways that her toes faced each other so she scuttled rather than walked. I never saw a kid crippled quite like that before. I thought for a minute she was alone but then I noticed the rest of her clan, a big guy and two other small girls, probably the dad and sisters, walking way ahead.
The crippled kid was cheerful as a bird and she zoomed along awfully fast on those sideways feet. She was totally absorbed in the seawrack at the high-tide line—shards of crab and acres of sand fleas and shreds of seaweed and ropes of bullwhip kelp and fractions of jellyfish and here and there a deceased perch or auklet or cormorant or gull, and once a serious-sized former fish that looked like it might have been a salmon. In the way of all people for a million years along all shores she stared and poked and prodded and bent and pocketed and discarded, pawing through the loot and litter of the merciless musing sea.
She was so into checking out tide treasure that her dad and sisters got way out ahead of her and after a while the dad turned and whistled and the crippled kid looked up and laughed and took off hopping faster than you could ever imagine a kid that crippled could hop, and when she was a few feet away from the dad he crouched a little and extended his arm behind him with his hand out to receive her foot, and she shinnied up his arm as graceful and quick as anything you ever saw.
She slid into what must have been her usual seat on his neck and off they went, the sisters pissing and moaning about having to wait for the crippled kid and the dad tickling the bottoms of the kid’s feet, so that I heard the kid laughing fainter and fainter as they receded, until finally I couldn’t hear her laughing any more. But right about then I was weeping like a child at the intricate, astounding, unimaginable, inexplicable, complex thicket of love and pain and suffering and joy, at the way that kid rocketed up her daddy’s arm quick as a cat, at the way he crouched just so and opened his palm so his baby girl could come flying up the holy branch of his arm, at the way her hands knew where to wrap themselves around his grin, at the way the sisters were all pissy about the very same kid sister that if anyone else ever grumbled about her they would pound him silly.
And this is all not even to mention the glory of the sunlight that day, and the basso moan of mother sea, and the deft diving of the little black sea-ducks in the surf, and the seal popping up here and there looking eerily like my grandfather, and the eagle who flew over like a black tent heading north, and the extraordinary fact that the Coherent Mercy granted me my own kids, who were not crippled, and were at that exact moment
arguing shrilly about baseball at the other end of the beach.
I finally got a grip and set to shuffling again, but that kid stays with me. Something about her, the way she was a verb, the way she was happy even with the dark cards she was dealt, the way she loved openly and artlessly, the way even her sisters couldn’t stay pissy but had to smile when she shinnied up their daddy’s arm, seems utterly holy to me, a gift, a sign, a reminder, a letter from the Lord.
In my Father’s house are many mansions, said the thin confusing peripatetic rabbi long ago, a line I have always puzzled over, yet another of the man’s many Zen koans, but I think I finally have a handle on that one. What he meant, did Yesuah ben Joseph of the haunting life and message, is that we are given gifts beyond measure, beyond price, beyond understanding, and they mill and swirl by us all day and night, and we have but to see them clearly, for a second, to believe wholly in the bounty and generosity and mercy of I Am Who Am.
I am not stupid, at least not all the time, and I saw how crippled that kid was, and I can only imagine her life to date and to come, and the tensions and travails of her family, and the battles she will fight and the tears she will shed, and I see and hear the roar of pain and suffering in the world, the floods and rapes and starvings and bullets, and I am too old and too honest not to admit how murderous and greedy we can be.
But I have also seen too many kids who are verbs to not believe we swim in an ocean of holy. I have seen too many men and women and children of such grace and humour and mercy that I know I have seen the Christ ten times a day. I think maybe you know that too and we just don’t talk about it much because we are tired and scared and the light flits in and around so much darkness. But there was a crippled kid on the beach and the Christ in her came pouring out her eyes and I don’t forget it.
In my Father’s house are many mansions, said the Christos, confusingly, and then in his usual testy editorial way, If it were not so, I would have told you, and then, in a phrase I lean on when things go dark, I go to prepare a place for you.
But we are already in the doorway of the house, don’t you think?
Brian Doyle is the editor of Portland Magazine at the University of Portland, in Oregon. He is the author of six books, among them the essay collection Leaping (available in Australia through Garratt Publishing) and a musing on hearts called The Wet Engine (through Rainbow Books in Australia). You can email him at

Sunday, April 8, 2012

How easily I


trying to dream of you.

                                 I haven't yet


maybe I don't have to
                                  meet you
             on an imaginary plane
                                        to see you as you are

                                      (or as you will be).

For all the times I crouched by the kitchen sink (begging to be believed),
for all the times I believed, handing over everything to the Freddy Krueger of my waking life,
for all the times I couldn't stitch together my rag-doll heart without weepy British guitar telling my story,

I walk softly here.
                            I walk softly
                                                                    glides in on Christmas morning.

I walk slowly here.
                             I walk slowly
                                                    as a
                                                                                     tip-toes into the open meadow.

I walk silently here.
                               I walk silently
                                                     as an
                                                                                            wanders the contours of a human hand.

Even so,
how easily I find myself


trying to dream of you.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Corrina Bain, "Girls Putting on Make-up On the L Train"

I use two types of mascara to get my lashes just right. I wonder what C. Bain would think of that.

Girls Putting on Make-up On the L Train

Two of them are seated next to each other.
One black, one white.
One of them painting a Russian stripper
onto an Iowa cornfield. The other,
laying out powder to deaden to mud the
dewy pleading of her face. From the brush,
she switches to a tiny, fuzz-tipped want,
sodden with gloss, to shape her mouth.
The other, prying her eyelashes away
from the socket with a small sooty comb.
In this way we pass, lurching,
under the water between Brooklyn and Manhattan.
In this way we leave home and prepare for empire.
They have the look of experts
arriving at the scene of a wreck.
Impervious to the hurling speed, the rails'
sudden unevenesses. Ready. Ready, now.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sharon Olds, Topography

This is one of my favorite poems. It's simple, beautiful, magical and yet so tangible and real. 

I long for this. 

I am moved to share this poem in honor of one of my best friends on this whole entire planet, Kellie, and her newly returned missionary Matt. I am so happy you two made it to this point.

We are all so excited for the future. 

(I realize this poem may be too risque to honor an LDS missionary homecoming, but you know how I do.)


After we flew across the country we
got into bed, laid our bodies
delicately together, like maps laid
face to face, East to West, my
San Francisco against your New York, your
Fire Island against my Sonoma, my
New Orleans deep in your Texas, your Idaho
bright on my Great Lakes, my Kansas
burning against your Kansas your Kansas
burning against my Kansas, your Eastern
Standard Time pressing into my
Pacific Time, my Mountain Time
beating against your Central Time, your
sun rising swiftly from the right my
sun rising swiftly from the left your
moon rising slowly from the left my
moon rising slowly from the right until
all four bodies of the sky
burn above us, sealing us together,
all our cities twin cities,
all our states united, one
nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

— Sharon Olds, The Gold Cell, Knopf (1987)

Monday, March 12, 2012

I thought my heart was in Patoka Lake

But when I hold my breath under every overpass 
or bridge 
or tunnel 
anywhere a wish might be hiding 
like a cavity that has not yet begun to ache 

My mind's eye returns to
the air fresheners and the candles,
the florescent lights blinking, 
the way I laughed at my own un-made mind,


how easy it would be to get used to
that particular brand of exasperation in a man’s eyes. 

Saturday, March 10, 2012

12 Hours in the Echo

All the sagebrush
mile after mile
the long grass, the desert trees;

Ranchero Caistas on the left
inky-maned tawny horses grazing lazy
behind the fence.

Only 17,  she drives banshee wild.
I almost tell her to pull over

so I can pick wildflowers,
trade seats,
throw myself in front of a car...

Let's not derive meaning from the
crows nest in a dead tree.

Hearts of cactus,
we let Prince, Whitney, Madonna do the talking.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Dante Ocariz

This week's (belated) feature poem is by a resident of the Phoenix area and considers himself "Bukowski 2"--whatever you choose to make of that is your deal; I choose to enjoy it for what it is and giggle politely at what it is not. 

Bad cockfight in Tijuana

Several pot-bellied cowboys stand over the dead body of a fighting cock
I had 50 dollars on.
A few laugh while others count their winnings.
The owner of the bird removes the steel spurs
and hands it to the winning team as a prize 
then walks off.
the scene empties with the last of the spectators
hitting the bar for shots of mezcal.

I'm left alone staring
at a once tough
champion with an eye missing. 
The wind mockingly plays
with his raised feathers
and covers his wounds
with the dust of the street.
The blood dries quickly
but the memory of his failure is fresh
in my empty pockets.

Shit .
I thought we both would make it today.
But it was luck,
pure luck,
not ours.
And they all leave
with whatever you gave them.

dead with a snapped neck
and me
lost in Tijuana
with no bus ticket home.

Friday, February 24, 2012

just a tasty tidbit

"Poetry lies its way to the truth." - John Ciardi. 

Do I lie in my writing? Yes. Intentionally? Rarely. 

Sometimes it takes writing a poem to realize you've been lying to yourself all along. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Sierra DeMulder, Unrequited Love Poem

This weekly feature goes out to to all the ladies with friendie-dude problems. (I guess also to the dudes with friendie-lady problems, but I don't feel as bad for you since you have more power to level up the relationship at any point in time. #truth #ldebatemeifyoudare)

Sierra DeMulder presents the contradictions, the inner turmoil, the frustration in such a way that is at once generously forgiving and poignantly condemning. This piece is brilliant. 

(Sorry, Sierra, that the form isn't correct. I had to guess. Also, I highlighted a few of my favorite lines.) 

On watching someone you love 
love somebody else. 
You will be out with friends
when the news of her existence
will be accidentally spilled all over
your bar stool. Respond calmly
as if it was only a change in weather,
a punch line you saw coming.
After your fourth shot of cheap liquor,
leave the image of him kissing another woman
in the toilet.
In the morning, her name will be
in every headline: car crash, robbery, flood.
When he calls you, ignore the hundreds of ropes
untangling themselves in your stomach.
You are the best friend again. He invites
you over for dinner and you say yes
too easily. Remind yourself this isn’t special,
it’s only dinner, everyone has to eat.

When he greets you at the door, do not think
for one second you are the reason
he wore cologne tonight.

Someone told you once, a soul mate is not the person 
who makes you the happiest, but the one 
who makes you feel the most. Who conducts your heart 
to bang the loudest, who can drag you giggling 
with forgiveness from the cellar they locked you in.
 It has always been him.  
In his kitchen, he will hand-feed you
a piece of red pepper. His laugh
will be low and warm and it will make you
feel like candlelight. Do not think this is special.
Do not count on your fingers the number
of freckles you could kiss too easily.
Try to think of pilot lights or olive oil,
not everything you have ever loved about him,
or it will suddenly feel boiling and possible
and so close. You will find her bobby pins
laying innocently on his bathroom sink.
Her bobby pins. They look like the wiry legs
of spiders, splinters of her undressing
in his bed. Do not say anything.
Think of stealing them, wearing them
home in your hair.
When he hugs you goodbye,
let him kiss you on the forehead.
Settle for target practice.
At home, you will picture her across town
pressing her fingers into his back
like wet cement. You will wonder
if she looks like you, if you are two bedrooms
in the same house. Did he fall for her features
like rearranged furniture?
When he kisses her,
does she taste like new paint?
You will want to call him.
You will go as far as holding the phone
in your hand, imagine telling him
unimaginable things like “You are always
ticking inside of me and I dream of you
more often than I don’t.

My body is a dead language
and you pronounce
each word perfectly.”
Do not call him.
Fall asleep to the hum of the VCR.
She must make him happy.
She must be...she must be his favorite place in Minneapolis.
You are a souvenir shop where he goes
to remember how much people miss him
when he is gone.

You can learn more about Sierra DeMulder and her poetry here

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Let's be a Team

You can be the brains and I can be the brains.
You can be the brawn and I can be the brawn.
You can be the boss and I can be your dame.

Let's be pool sharks together. Let's hang out in pools
that do not belong to us. Let’s swim around with
cardboard fins and neon floaty wings. When they tell us
it's private property, let's chomp our teeth at them and then sing
I’m in the mood for love/simply because you’re near me.

Let’s give the world some absurdity to jot in their diaries.

Let's ride down Main Street on rusty bikes. I will be a
suffragette in bloomers and a Sunday bonnet. You will have
a monocle and a moustache. Let’s emancipate me, baby.
You like your woman emancipated, don’t you baby.
Let’s yell it into megaphones one front porch to the next:


Let’s not stop there. Let’s put on our Bonnie and Clyde
costumes. Let’s fill our arms with lies like baby chickens
hatched and counted. Let’s sell our lies to ‘em all. Let’s get
real good at card tricks.You could charm ‘em with your
smile; I could bat my eyelashes.

Let’s pull a fast one with our arm-filled lies. But, please,
let’s give each other only truth. Tell me you can do it better
than any of the guys who tried to make a home in my no,
my stop, my wait not this and I will believe you.

I’ll believe you, baby. For real this time.   
The world is incurably absurd.  

You’ll get some buddies to join Hell’s Angles—
the mathematically inclined biker gang of your brilliant
imagination—and I'll be your ol’ lady with my hair twisted up
in curlers at night. You’ll still think I’m bangable. Let’s wear leather
jackets so tourists will take black and white pictures of us,
me in my red lipstick and you in your white tee and blue jeans.

Let’s ball that absurdity up into something beautiful;
we’ve got tomorrows in spades.

But then. You’ve been doing so many math problems, angling
yourself closer to and then farther from me.
You read one out loud one night:

A beautiful woman leans against a brick wall. The angle made
by her feet and the ground is 6 degrees less than 7 times the
angle made by her body against the wall.
Will she stick around when I get too old for this?

This is when I realize that you’ve been doing all the calculating.
You have been tainting our inertia with your calculating. And then
maybe I’ll realize I’m fed up with all the calculating. I am tired of
bleaching my hair blond. And I’m tired of the cigarettes,
and the godawful diner grilled cheese sandwiches, and your
compadres banging on the door at 3 a.m. with the drunken revelation
that the answer has always been 46.

This is when I realize the world is too absurd.

This is when I say, this is my last shot of whiskey for a while.
You didn't have to make it inevitable, baby.

Let’s let several wasted years pass between that night
and the night we see each other again. Let’s let the silence
heal all wounds. I thought you wouldn’t find me in the desert,
what with all the stars so crisp out here and all. But here
you are on a white horse painted black,


Let’s be a team, you say.
You can be the brains and I can be the brains.

Let’s talk about Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne instead
of fumbling through apologies. Let’s put on our
Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne costumes, fill our arms with
each other and dance our last years  like they’re all watching.
Like they’re all whispering in their seats, like they’re all clapping.
Like there’s gunna be a rave review in the paper tomorrow.

When we take our bow, let’s think,
all this time and it’s still better to dream with you than about you.