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.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

weekly feature poem by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

I'm going to try to feature a poem by an author other than myself once a week. We'll see how this goes. 


When my body had forgotten its purpose,
when it just hung off my brainstem like whipped mule.
When my hands only wrote. When my mouth only ate.
When my ass sat, my eyes read, when my reflexes
were answers to questions we all already knew.
Remember how it was then that you slid your hand
into me, a fork in the electric toaster of my body. Jesus,
where did all these sparks come from? Where was all
this heat? Remember what this mouth did last night?
And still, this morning I answer the phone like normal,
still I drink an hour’s worth of strong coffee. And now
I file. And now I send an email. And remember how
my lungs filled with all that everything? Remember
how my heart was an animal you released from its cage?
Remember how we unhinged? Remember all the names
our bodies called each other? Remember how afterwards,
the steam rose from us, like a pair of smiling ghosts?

I found this particular poem here

Here's another poem by Ms. Aptowicz with a completely different tone than the one above, but also totally awesome.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The Way We Hold Our Guns

You didn’t mean to make it my job to put your            
sacred things into boxes for you, but here I am.
Sacred things get more tattered, less sacred as the
box fills. But I am not one to give up on sacredness.
I make your sacred things fit into manageable boxes.

It’s been a long time since I felt safe looking for God in you.
When they ask how we are, I try to anticipate
what they want to hear so I can tell them the truth like that.
“Not my will but Thine be done”—like that.
I don’t hint at the eroding sacredness. The boxes.

The full moon brings something out in you.
It would be easier if you grew fangs and fur.
Or cancer. Cancer would be easier.
No one ever says cancer would be easier,
so I must be some kinda lunatic too.

Our occult is a cautionary tale,
the way we hold our guns like edible cake toppers,
like these guns are going to taste so good tonight,
tonight when the candles are out and the moon is
asking a favor again.

Cruel mistress, that moon. How we chase her
with poppy seed mistakes on our breath!
How we make a hoax of that chase, how we laugh.
How we let our bones stretch out, holding out
our guns like sugar figurines.

You stopped wearing shoes in the desert,
but you were hoping we wouldn’t notice 
(You were hoping to step on a scorpion. Maybe then
it wouldn’t take a gun. Maybe in those last moments
things would get sacred again).

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Dust to Dust

There are days when world is a whirling dervish.
Isn’t that pretty, whirling dervish?
Infinite angels clasping hands, dancing the hora.

You see the golden sandals, gold-leafed wings.
You hear the daffodils springing from the sweat drops.
You feel the crystal-morphed intoxication of the dance.

Some days the world is just a tornado.
Connected to both the earth and the clouds,
it is the dark link between us and why, God?

I think about the dust.

The symbol of the embrace is a generous step here.
We touch lightly. There is no crushing joy in it.
Our bones are the drowsy survivors of a 50-year-cyclone.

I think about the dust.

The ribs in his back feel like they are disintegrating.
In that brief moment when my hands graze his ribs,
I feel the hollows and I wonder if he wants to die.

I think about the dust.

Sometimes I imagine he is a mummy.
I imagine the bones in his back are the most resilient.
These are the bones that have lasted the longest.

I think about the dust.

I wonder if his father’s ribs are likewise hollow,
the man who made his 8-year-old granddaughter
get a switch off the willow tree for whistling.

I think about the dust.

You. I wonder if your bones can stand it.
When the twister drags us into that atmosphere,
will you clasp hands with angels?

I think about the dust. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

A note on constructive criticism

I like it (when you call me Big Poppa) ß had to.

Anyway. Yes, I like constructive criticism. In fact, I long for it. I would kiss it every day. I would caress it like a baby kitten.

I recently decided that there is value in putting unpolished work out into the ether. This is a big step for me (perfectionist that I am).

To make this step mean something, I would like to be able to start polishing said work. This is why I need you. Help me see what I do not. I may not always take your suggestions. But they help me expand my view of my writing. 

If you be so kind as to constructively criticize my work, I would appreciate it if you would...

A. Remember that, although I am openly asking for ways to improve my writing, I am still a delicate flower. So tread gently, but be honest. 

B. However, if you like something, say so! Please include specifics. I like to know what I am doing well. 

This type of comment helps me a lot: 

I really liked this line “___________” because of X reason. I didn’t understand “_______________” for X reason. I would like more clarification here ____________.


I lost interest by _____ point. You could probably take out __________ line and ________ line and maintain meaning.


For some reason, the fourth stanza simply doesn’t move me. I can see why it's there, but I just don’t like it. Is there a way you could take it out?


If you just want to tell me I’m ultimate fabulous wonderful amazing and to never ever change, I’ll take that too. But I’ll be a little bummed out.

You get my drift.

Help me hone this craft, folks! I will be forever grateful.

Love Me Like My Grandfather

Plant something that deserves to live and let it grow. I will adore your farmer’s tan and all that it signifies. Plant something beautiful in my heart. I think alfalfa is beautiful.

Some days the Ice Queen will return, blackening the earth at my feet. She will breathe frost onto all the buds you so delicately brought to life. Remind me that God doesn’t care where I’ve been, only where I’m going. It’s a cliché. But it’s enough warmth to lull the Ice Queen back to slumber.   

Take your shoes off for me so I don’t have to barefoot trudge my way into that church alone. Make a burning bush of me. I will put the fire out with my tears. Rebuild, rebuild, rebuild until I understand.

Acknowledge my faults. No matter how true your love, I will never wish to be labeled perfect. Let my faults be the map and I will bring a book for cross-country hours. I will let that engine hum.  

Do dishes with me after dinner. With suds up to your elbows, tell me stories I’ve heard before.  As I dry each porcelain plate, each pan or fork or spoon, I will let your stories wash over me tingling with new.  I just want to be by you.

Never offer me the moon. They renamed me Saturn so I will remember the way they pushed so many moons into my orbit (60 moons and counting). I never asked for this. Wipe the slate of all their empty promises. Leave me naked for a time so the universe can rebuild my magnetism slowly.

Instead of so many moons, offer me something tangible. When I am a hundred miles out of earshot, say “I’d sell my truck for her.” I want to feel the truth of it echo through my bones and shiver electric out my fingers.

Love me like that. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The time my knees scraped the cement and I tore my jeans and bled all over

If I were really honest,
like really, truly, very, really really truly really honest—

I would tell myself that it happened when you didn’t want to go to that birthday party alone. I would tell myself that it was the quiet pleading that kept me from retreating. I would tell myself it was they way you pretended not to care. I would smile. 

What a Cheshire smile it would be,
the one following the salty pricks of my own blood on my own tongue.

“Nevertheless I think you’re upsetting people.”
And then there would be daisies and gravestones. Sunflowers. 

This is a side-stepping omission.

Self-inflicted fabrications waxing involuntary;  
silent Tourette syndroming sideways.

Rewind, fast-forward, slow-motion destruction.
Bullets in and out my eyes.

If I were honest,
I would say winter, and so many after.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012