Monday, March 30, 2015


This is it! The final day of the 30/30 Tupelo Press poetry challenge. I'm delighted to say that I made it to the end without missing a day, and it was a challenging pleasure. Thanks to those of you who have been reading; I'm astonished to talk to friends and family who say they have been consistently reading the poems daily; there is no greater compliment. Thank you!

What didn't occur to me until about halfway through my version of the project (using the word of the day as a jumping-off point) is that I couldn't really cheat even if I wanted to because I've been attached to something--a word--that is released daily. I can't even work ahead and write, say, three poems on a particularly creative day. I really trapped (???) myself inside of the project, and the process really has been exquisite.

If you haven't already contributed, please consider giving something, anything please, to Tupelo Press in this final day of the challenge. I'm still pretty far from my goal, and every $5, $10, or $20 gift would help a ton at this point.

Today's NY Times word of the day is douse. It's not a articulately "poetic" word, but then again, what is? I think of douse from the perspective that it defines a change, a transformation, usually one of excess. I'm horrified by what is going on in Indiana, so this poem is written as a gesture against this injustice. The poem is not entirely political, but it has leanings and works towards images that welcome all kinds of love, regardless. I can't imagine having any kinds of leanings otherwise.

against Indiana's Religious Freedom Act

what you know of gratitude
knows you too. it is with swollen
experience that I tell you this.

your body has a place or
maybe it's folded and walking
on its way to pray, half-covered

in snow and the relative weight of endings.
another self is drafted
and fought against in passive voice.

what a blue moon you cling to.
what a risk of being on the wrong side
of what we know

to be tenderness. rhetoric, birds.
the feathers up to my ankles.
I will swim in the green space

that holds the mitochondria.
to believe it starts there,
where we manufacture cellular energy,

where we begin to be drawn
to another body like the navigation
through a maze and over and over

arriving at the same place,
the same and other body that fits
& becomes someday utterance, love.

the child draws a flip book, images
moving down the page like gliding
towards you. catch her. it's your chance

to hold something that floats. so did the
white and effortless line
on the white and effortless paper.

Sunday, March 29, 2015


We are in the finishing stretch: day 29 of the 30/30 Tupelo Press challenge. To recap, I've been writing a poem a day for every day of the month of March. I've been using "words of the day" from the NY Times Learning Network as well as (on weekends when NY Times doesn't put out a word) as points of inspiration for the poems.

The point of the 30/30 challenge is to raise money and awareness for Tupelo Press, a poetry press that supports voices of all shapes, sizes, and colors in their publication of new work. If you like the work I'm doing here or you believe in the power of poetry to initiate change, please consider donating.

Today's word of the day is globular. I think of something gelatinous when I think of globular, though what I want to think about is an actual globe. Not sure what's coming out here.


she asks about the eggs. where.
the surprise when they open.

snare drum. a clock and it's sounds.
sunday would have been a good day

to speak honestly 
about the weather.

to speak honestly about how
you pinch the happiness at the stem

before it manifests. I recuse. a fresh
cutting off. I was waiting for a space

to think inside of. 
that is the tragedy of today's story.

I haven't been following, you say.
I've known it all along. the crown

unravels from the friction.
her body is so small

and cubic. inside, the screen door
fails to hold me in. I've lost so many of these

battles with myself. cannonball. pieces.
preparing for another end.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


We've made it to day 28 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge! With National Poetry Month on the horizon (April), there's a small chance I will continue this challenge into April. It's been a very productive process for me! Two months of every-day writing could yield just the work I'm looking for in my next collection.

I'm cheating a little today; I'm not at all psyched about's word of the day for today, but yesterday's I can work with, so I'm going with it. The word of the (yester)day is cantillate, which means to chant or intone.


we are surrounded until we are alone. it might have been intimate, the way he pulled my arms out like wings. back and out, held them there. so many drips or maybe a stream. when I do it to myself, if feels like a song is building in my spine. what story are you living? he showed me the space between my ribs. here. how tightness here is like a road in the gold light. there is not enough to lead us through. I almost fell into him like floating. I'm done with silence. instead I become the voice of all of my selves, singing. her (me) and her (me) and her (me). we are all. all alone. the moon gets softer with sound. now touch feels like it really happened. like a through and through. I'm on the other side where I catch myself opening and longing to erupt. 

Friday, March 27, 2015


Time is running out in the 30/30 Tupelo Press challenge. I've been writing a poem a day this month in an effort to raise money and awareness for Tupelo Press, which publishes a wide ranges of poetic voices and forms. I've held up my end of the bargain so far, and a few of my friends and coworkers have made generous donations, which I really, really appreciate! I need more, though, to reach the goal I set for myself, so please consider donating if you think poetry is cool, and maybe even if you've enjoyed a poem or two I've written here. If you do donate, please make note of my name in the comments section.

It's been a pretty vulnerable and raw process, I have to say. You don't just get to write when you have an idea or when you feel moved to write. You have to open yourself up every day to generate something, and I've been in awe of how productive that process can be (and there have been a few crap poems along the way, let's not be coy.)

today's NY Times word of the day is bevy, which is a flock of birds. Specifically a bevy can also be a large collection of people or things, but I thin the flock of birds will be where I go.

for Celeste

she tries to spell mountain because it's snowing there. technically, she's incorrect, but we are still impressed by the closeness. it's impossible to hold her in. we've learned. we are learning. scattershot. holed. she crumbles into piles if you set her off. yes, you. you will set her. sometimes you don't belong here. we can live every day from this place of light. 

she is still learning how to ask questions. I'm thirsty. I'm broken a little on the inside. I can't find my shoes. we coach her: what do you need? ask me.  

where does that shadow come from, the one that travels across the field? 
its a murder of crows, flying through the clearing.

where do you go when you disappear?
to the place where it's dark and quiet. I always see your face.

why are you crying?
because of tears and water and the shadow that's still moving away.

why are you the strong one?
because I am the strong one.

what will I see when I close my eyes?
only the shapes you allow yourself to recognize.

Thursday, March 26, 2015


We are in the finishing stretch of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge. Day 26!
I'm blessed every day of every month of every year to have amazing, sensitive, loving and intelligent friends. Today's poem is for one of them. The NY Times word of the day is ravage, which as usual, makes me think of something outside of the actual meaning of the word. I think of how ravages can destroy you, or they can change you. I think of how having children ravages a mother, and changes us inexplicably. I think of the lack of black and white in it all.

for Joy

grief lurks in the lungs.
I follow you there
faster than before.

       everything was fine

we will sit and count
the wounds:
bodies. the tenderness.
unfastenings. cascades. letters.
the one who wouldn't let go
when you walked away.

     she would be open

there are dressings,
I say,
but you already know that.

you've already had to look away.
you live in your lungs
like I do now,
raking through
what we know
is already gone.

         i need you to take
         but not to let

when I think of you
I think of movement
across an ocean
in the brightest light of day
or lightning in a snowstorm.

        where I can once again feel

maybe you are a bird
or a planet
that we haven't yet discovered.
        as the new season approaches

maybe there are feathers everywhere.
you are gone again,
my dear friend.
disassemble, assemble and reassemble.
gathering speed and distance.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Day 25 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge is here! Today's word of the day from the NY Times is acme. Like most of us, I thought it was a made-up word that cartoonists used as a brand name for mail-order catalogs. It actually is a pretty "serious" word from Greek that means the peak of perfection. The pessimist in me sees the acme as the thing that makes all other things seem lesser-- the fastest a runner ever runs will only make all of her other runs feel slower. Or fame or fortune or acclaim. Hopefully happiness has no acme, or that it can be sustained, or that the limits are ever-expanding.


what once was waiting now is punctuation. what once was silver now is rain. how quickly it changes to snow in the foothills. somewhere there are people in small sugar houses making syrup. I wonder what they say. what once was tree. what once was ice. the sugar doesn't wait for the seasons, or maybe it does. you are lighter than I wanted you to be. the blue boxes stacking up and away. quiet now. it will be spring even through snow. there will be syrup even through ice. strong-arm. the moment if flows quickest. your terrible sense of color. what once was crested now is base. I hope to see you there in the swarm of yellow daffodils. I will hold your hand like we did in the snow. you know who you are because you know who you are. quiet now. we hear it falling. we will become.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


If you can believe it, it's day 24 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge! Today's NY times word of the day is occult. I'm drawn to the less popular definition of the word, which is a verb meaning "to hide from view, conceal, or have its light extinguished." This would be the version of the word more closely related to occlude.

As I described it to a friend, this is a bit of a "therapy poem" for me. The past year has been quite a journey for me, including a lot of letting go of crap and opening myself up to the possibility that two seemingly apparent contradictions can be true at the same time. Sometimes these contradictions keep me up at night, and I have to do visualization exercises (the breathing out of smoke in the poem is what I picture in my mind as I try to go to sleep) to let go of anger, polarities, pain. It works, and continues to work. And the complexities continue to unfold and be difficult. And on and on. So poems exist.


it's as if you can't find me
the last year so many drifts & contradictions

(sometimes finding dark is finding light
contrast: opposite colors draw the eye
it takes a certain looking to see)

happily the stars
were almost here

we see them as squares, the days
because they accumulate 
into patterns of bigger squares

only when she slept on my floor
was I able to sleep

sometimes she is me as a child
& I need to tell her things so she can sleep

things no one ever told me
but I needed
need now to hear

her small body like kindling
cradling the light from the hallway
so perfectly slumped

she needs me
& is far gone now into dream

only in winter does breakfast
smell like heaven

& at night I breathe out
the dark past
to sleep

like a cloud of black smoke from my mouth
this letting go
this breathing towards rest & quiet

each exhale closer
to the perfect juxtaposition

finding the light
somewhere in my body dream

the future way I will speak, breathe out
patterns of light and shadow
that anyone else can hear

Monday, March 23, 2015


It's day 23 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge, and thanks to some amazing and generous coworkers, I've actually raised some money! I'd love to raise a lot more, though, so please, please donate. If you enjoy the poems I'm writing, or if you just consider the project to  be worthy, please consider donating something. Don't forget to put my name in the "comments" section.

Today's NY Times word of the day is extenuate. It's a great word, and I'm having a good time contemplating all of the different approaches one could take to the idea.


In the most common light of mid-morning, he said to her, breathtaking. For a moment, it was as if she was looking sideways at a mirror inside of a mirror, and the hallway of her own lung capacity was endless. She could see the translucent wings of a dragonfly; she could even hear them; she could even feel them vibrating like ambivalence on her throat. She thought about the eye in a jar, how it was so far removed from his heart, how she helped them snip each muscle until they scooped it out. There it sat, on the table, waiting for her.

So he said it again, breathtaking, this time without a break in his voice, and he might have been talking about the architecture or the spreadsheet or the hint of grey that had entered the atmosphere in what was previously the most common light of mid-morning. But he was looking at her. She was thinking about the brushstrokes, how she would have painted this moment, how the light would have been brighter, how it might have smelled as it does moments before the snow falls.  How the eyeball had been sent, as it always is, for testing at the lab, and how soon, when we get the results, we will know everything we need to know.

Sunday, March 22, 2015


Day 22 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge is inspired by a strange word,'s word of the day: gibber. I imagine this is where the word gibberish comes from, as it means pretty much the same thing. This poem is inspired by a conversation between my oldest two kiddos while they played Roblox together. It was pretty fun to write.


one potato two potato
                  another love poem
she says whisker accidentally
because I dreamt about you
for all my life
(all of you & all about you)
                 all of a sudden
                 I need more time

three potato four
                  she meant to say whisper
hush & hush
now I can see inside of her
your face & the other
                 & she sleeps so immediately

five potato six potato
                  the musical fragments
I am not a god. 
can you make me a god, please?
you move along in the shady caverns
how many scraps of colored paper and pulp
                 creep out of these moments

seven potato more
                 sometimes I wonder how I can be
only one
and often I feel like a fraction
(you say decimal)
I imagine stone as I imagine quarry
                 I am hardly ready to be buried

Saturday, March 21, 2015


It's day 21 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge, and I'm going to cheat a little today. While I usually use a word of the day for today, I'm going to use yesterday's word of the day from because I can't resist. I just have to. The word is anthesis, a botany term for the "period or act of expansion in flowers, especially the maturing of stamens." I love botany terms. I love poems.


this is how it's happening. parabolas. the electric charge. urban noise. public transportation. that was over a decade ago, the stretch. spring of city. it felt like you were always planning to arrive. the way you were  born--infection. interruption. now, when I watch you, I watch expansion. you are gracefully on fire. it's easy to believe you will change the world. you go now to find a question. goodbye. now now. city still alive inside. you were never small. now you know how to lift. blur circles into mouths into eloquent words. you are even taller today than the last. you speak as if speaking is dancing  running  waterfalls. it will be the most difficult blossoming to watch, the more. further away you unfold. me always to enfold. 

Friday, March 20, 2015


It's day 20 of the Tupelo Press 30/30 challenge wherein several slightly insane poets like me try to write 30 poems in 30 days. Today's NY Times word of the day is centigrade, which couldn't probably be a less traditionally poetic word, which means I love and embrace it as a challenge. The definition itself has some great ideas in it from which I will happily steal.


it's all about water 
the 100 steps 
it takes to freeze
or evaporate

100 hues of red
blood to fire engine
crust you follow too closely
eggshell you didn't count on

water is blue
when it freezes to tightly
the closest end of zero
where I fell for you

the dialect of a name
when I almost forgot
how to count the stairs (up and down)
by holding on too tightly

vermillion and blue
the 100 sounds the wind makes
when it bends things
birth again and again and once again

it doesn't have to be 
a love poem
and usually 
its not even close

but we are moving
like water through
the 100 steps up
and 100 steps back down again

Thursday, March 19, 2015


Here we are on day 19 of the 30/30 Tupelo Press challenge, and I'm still at it. Today's NY Times word of the day is reminiscence. I thought, "Great!" when I read it--how entirely poetic. but things that lend themselves to poetry are often the most daunting, as was writing a poem about memory and reminiscence. In fact, I tried to create it to be in a sort of conflict with itself, resisting something absolutely reminiscent. Don't really know if it worked.


the hardest way to get there is from the high ground. start here with a lifetime and cyclone down to a memory. the thing that crops out of the swirl. no choice can repeat infinitely except for birth. the fog of new eyes, swirling. the way something soft dragged across her skin and puckered it. goose flesh. even now. infinitely. he presses into me: clear is not a verb you will ever understand. she says he stands that way so she can feel him. Why do you hide in memory? why would you ever come out? she chides me for walking in the cold rain. I feel it entirely. I can smell the ocean, but it wasn't there. out there now. feeling it so hard it breaks. coming in drenched and pressed into another.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Here is today's 30/30 Tupelo Press poem. The word of the day, courtesy of the NT Times, is bawdy. I don't really like this word, but I guess that becomes part of the challenge.

I've chosen the  abecedarian form for today, a poem that starts with a word that starts with an "a" and then consecutively uses "b" as the first letter of the next word, then "c" and so on through the entire alphabet. This is a great exercise to throw poets out of their usual language patterns, which I'm horribly guilty of. The poems (and the poets) can get weird, too, which I love.


alkaline biology.
didn't eloquence finally gather heat?
it just keeps leveling.
multiple nuclei open purpose.
quantify ribald secondary tryst.
under violent water, xanthic yearning zygoma.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


It's time for today's 30/30 Tupelo Press Poem of the day, inspired by the NY Times word of the day, which today, is really awesome. Today's word is regicide--the killing of a king--which is just ripe with figurative goodness.

Because I love the series so much, I will look again to the Dusie Tuesday poem, which today is a beautiful Translation today of Erin Moure by Chus Pato. I'm looking to this poem mostly for form/flow inspiration. It's simply riveting. I mean, it has mermaids in it. Rock.

I'm doing a pretty pathetic job of raising money for Tupelo press, so please, if you are enjoying these poems at all, please donate $5, $10, anything you can. Remember to put my name in the comments section. We need to support platforms like Tupelo Press that encourage writers to write and think and grow and question.


the woodgrain
to a body
or claims it

we imagine
it might have happened in a forest
or in a castle
(everyone likes to imagine themselves in a castle)
or on the smallest cellular level 
of their collective

where to go
after killing a king
or a mother
or a part of yourself that reins you in

there will be new kings and mothers

inside of you, there is an infinite number
of ways to go
to launch like blossoming
to catapult like music
like a sphere
and it hurts to love that killing
like it hurts to watch 
a mother almost die
and sort of die
and partially die 
and then come back with infinite patterns
all of them alive     vibrating      astonishingly possible

it hurts to love that killing
but you love it nonetheless
and you do it over and over again
and the music
and the infinity you own
the hard and soft of it
the bitter and sweet of it
the circular woodgrain of it
the bloody cavity of it
will eventually release you

Monday, March 16, 2015


Today's Tupelo Press 30/30 poem is based on the NY Times word of the Day, improvident. I like the mystical feel of the word, but that it is a negative (im-), it turns that mysticism on its head. This is interesting to me.


"a cavity is a large force"
Lyn Hejinian, 
Writing Is an Aid to Memory

she feels like she's been
thinking for a hundred years
like she knows the mighty force
and cozy paradise
and how all things work to make her miserable
even beautiful things
(things that plump your heart
and key new sentiment
on most tired, dark faces)

sadness is your own sadness
it doesn't have bridges, or
it only works to touch what wants to
let it in
it runs faster than birds
she doesn’t even know how to run

we wonder how many times she will walk
by the healing man
watch his molecules 
disassemble and reassemble
observe the fissures and smudges of light 
that erupt through his utterances
         how much easier it is
to just fall deeper
than to rearrange every fiber and microfiber

put it away, she says
it’s all so far away
the time she kissed a boy
in the water
she had never tasted anything
so salty
the harder you work it
the less likely you are
to recognize the hollow

Sunday, March 15, 2015


Today's 30/30 poem. Writing it in a bit of a rush since I almost completely forgot about it today. Yikes!


forget the clock. you wouldn't have followed me here if you didn't know what you were in for. lorries and water closets and all that jazz. it's the ides of march, the glass half full of days and movement and colors. how do you teach your child to stay away from broken glass, the glitter and allure of something sharp destined to destroy you? I barely touched it, he says. you don't know how sharp it could have been, how it could have made a small hole and crawled inside so slowly you don't even recognize the faces after a while. I say this more slowly than I need to. hide and seek. I'm tired from saying it so many times. you can't face the truth. or you've heard it too many times to hear it.

Saturday, March 14, 2015


It's time for the Tupelo Press 30/30 poem of the day! Because it's the weekend, we switch over once again to's word of the day. Today the word is dysphemism, which is a sort of substitution of a harsh or unpleasant word for a more acceptable or neutral one.


Something put on.
Your origami eyes.
Deliver the animal.
Crown the least likely to benefit.
Switch the carving light.
There are animals who hate you.
I am an animal.
When I dreamt of him.
Like cloud.
Like touching me was easy.
He never did.
Then he did.
Where do I go?
Run from the solid, primal animal.

I am an animal.
I hear you from a distance.
The story had no distance, no directions for folding this flap or that corner.
It was by design.

Remove the keystone.
Again, emblem.
Again, butterfly and the inability to measure.
Warm patterns, alternating breadth.

Leaving and going are two very different things.