Monday, April 30, 2012

An Answer

This poem may be a little too influenced by the fact that I'm reading Edgar Allan Poe, but here is my answer to that eternal question--

in the end--
it is a river.
Why else are we
patterned in cycles?

Swept up
in evaporation
the you and I
indiscernible boundaries
joined together in heat
and in coolness.

in the beginning--
a pool was formed
by countless
indiscernible contributions.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

After a delay....

Spring is just bursting through in Michigan.  Yesterday as I walked home from working at the reference desk, where students scurry past to print final papers, I saw birds hop in similar paths pecking at the freshly green grass and I realized once again why I love the Midwest; the change in seasons always seem like a gift.

This blog has spent a short winter hibernating, but even in my absence, I have been thinking regularly about Susan's prompt from January; to re-read favorite poems and ponder on what makes the poem compelling.  After rereading dozens of contenders I returned again to Emily, and to the poem that spawned this blog:

THE LEAVES, like women, interchange
  Sagacious confidence;
Somewhat of nods, and somewhat of
  Portentous inference,
The parties in both cases        5
  Enjoining secrecy,—
Inviolable compact
  To notoriety.

                                                 Emily Dickinson

What is it about this poem, and much of Emily's work that moves me so much to write poetry? 

I love how this poem reads like an exhale, picks itself up in the middle of a conversation, as if to answer some question, or to interrupt an already flowing conversation with an abrupt observation.  Poetry, to me, is a way to answer the questions that we can't even form the words to ask.  As another favorite of mine, Robert Hass, wrote, "a word is elegy to what it signifies."  In this way, poems are elegies to abstract observations, to what the heart feels but cannot say.  This is why I love poems that pick up in the middle of an idea, or thought.

Maybe this can be our new challenge then - to answer an unspoken question with our next poems.

Happy spring, and happy writing!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Theme: Re-read

Elaborating on the theme of returns and branching out from our usual poetry assignments, I'd like to take time this week to rediscover our favorite poems, and perhaps discover some new ones. It's easy to get stuck in a stylistic rut when then only work you ever read is your own. I think it's important to keep reading poetry if one hopes to write it, but that can be difficult with school and work and then endless allure of novels and histories and all things prose.

This week, our assignment will be to revisit a favorite poem and write something about it. Notice its structure, its central theme - what is it that makes this particular work compelling? If you have the time, you might try to also find a new poem that strikes you in a different way and explore how it has been crafted. Happy reading!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Returns - Susan

After Christmas

I will not write about home.

You can never go back, that much

is well documented.

Here are the things I can return:

1 T-shirt, too tight around the middle

3 Spiral notebooks, poorly bound

1 Textbook, for a class not taken

One can give back what is useless, or broken.

One can lay claim to something new.

The former cannot re-emerge as the latter.

One can return, but not return to.

There are no stories in objects untouched,

spaces uninhabited, clothes as yet uncreased.

The old stories are gone.

They are in that home, whose doors are locked.

This emptiness is yours to fill –

Friday, January 13, 2012


To return is to
turn into yourself.
As an archaeologist
carefully brushes years
of dust aside
to uncover the pieces
of symbols of life
left behind,
I parse my way
through odd things;
crumbling relationships,
disintegrating memories
seeking some fundamental truth--
only to find that the heart
of the substance
is the dust.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

New Year, New Theme: Returns

For this week's exploration, we are going to delve into the idea of 'returns,' a common idea this time of year.  Whether you are wishing someone many happy returns, returning a sweater that just isn't you, returning home for the holidays, or returning to your daily life after a holiday trip, returns are popping up all over the place. 

A many happy returns to you!

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Recipe - Susan


With your hands, pull together

this shaggy dough,

marbled with sweet butter,

smooth as the skin

across his shoulders, and also

freckled, with cinnamon and salt.


Apples for sweetness –

slice them thinly,

mound them up and tuck them in.

There will be too many to fit,

eat one with honey,

lick your fingers clean.


Play the serpent.

Kiss his lips and let him taste

the nectar on your tongue.

The air is heavy,

perfumed, sweet and spicy.

Realize, you are naked.


Eat your fill.