In 2009 I Will...

...spit it out,

all of it,

and know that
the world will not end.

What about you?


The Ballad of Fruitcake Sinclair

In a small town, the mayor Sinclair
Had made a great mess of affairs;
Cried the people, "Impeach!
He's mad, and we each
Can see he's already impeared!"

Mayor Adam West as Mayor Fruitcake Sinclair


Shiva's Granddaughter in Late-Night Meditation

"Barn's burnt down--
now I can see the moon."
-Mizuta Masahide

With every sunset her appetite grew.
She prayed for the pipes to burst,
for a fire in an electrical storm,
an unlikely New England earthquake. She dreamt
of her bookshelves embedded
in beating hearts of flame,
the good white china crunching in fragments
beneath the smoldering rubble.
And, miles away in the dark,
a secret hand to wipe the soot
from her tear-damp cheeks.

photograph by Mark Allanson


The Glorious Weekend

We walked across the Charles in the prickling rain,
three grocery bags, one umbrella
between us. Two bottles of wine stuck
to my t-shirt through
their soaked paper bag. You showed me
the Smoots, the lines
of this city and swore
you were not making it up.

photograph by Back Bay's Tom
you can read more about Smoots here


A Connecticut Christmas

They are graduates all
of the Saint Michael's choirs,
these Cooks and Waterhouses
and Smiths. The carols
swing fast from timid waking -
a musical slumber
these twelve thick months - to Baroque
descants, four-part harmony.
Behind a man I have just met
I am propped on the bathroom door.

This is the year's one day
the glossy piano knows contact.
Dessert has been laid
on the gleaming buffet,
but the choir soldiers on.
Once in a while a neighbor
mouths, "Come, sing," to me
from a rosy couch. "Come, sing."
The voices are careless, sincere.

Weary husbands rock
on the balls of their feet, arms full
of fur coats. Their wives are full too.
The first glass to remember,
the second pretending, the third
to soak up the mess of the others.
I have climbed the stairs
for my notebook. Down in the library
a young tenor has won
the piano bench. The notes

float up, not Christmas at all,
but Journey. The tenor downstairs
looks for me and my flushed cheeks
at the borders,
and I am not there.

photograph by the indomitable Rachel K


Two Steps

Two steps led
in a fast-erasing path
from the snowy car parked
in front of mine.

The night quiet fell
in soft molecules
as I tried to guess (
with creaking boots
) where the other shoes
had gone.

photograph by flickr user khazeth


Well, braid my hair and call me Betsy!

Remember Cassandra Barney? Hero of the last entry? Well it turns out the feelings are mutual. She has presented me with a Kreativ Blogger award, this website's first official recognition. Well, "official". In any case, thanks, Cass! I'm so excited!

Here's how the award works:
1. The winner may put the logo on their blog.
2. Put a link to the person who sent you the award.
3. Nominate 4-5 blogs.
4. Put links to their blogs and
5. Leave a message for your nominees.

P at What Possessed Me
Purveyor of both fine fashion photography and fuzzy pandas. Who could ask for anything more? Oh, and also well-directed rants on everything from city life to Christmas decorating.

Lolo at Vegan Yum Yum
Fresh out of college, Lolo bought a camera and some dishes and started cooking. Three and a half years later, the girl is a cooking and food-photography superhero. I've de-veganized a number of her recipes for my cheesophile family to marvelous effect.

Sarah at Saipua
Heart-stopping floral arrangements, the best tips on where to eat in the city, and a healthy dose of good, old-fashioned swearing.

Sarah at The Tomb of the Unknown Fangirl
Before it's an Internet sensation, before all your friends have e-mailed it to you and you're sick of hearing about it at work, Sarah has smacked it and sent it to bed.

And I know they won't appreciate this, but the boys over at The Closet Moderate are just too cute not to mention. And by "too cute" I mean "always prepared with thoughtful, incisive commentary about...deep stuff."


Interlude: Happy Birthday, Cassandra Barney

Today is the anniversary of the birth of one miss Cassandra Barney, my inspiration, collaborator and friend. Take a minute today, if you will, to cruise over to her blog and send her birthday wishes, or just think glittery thoughts in her general direction. She works hard, plays hard, dreams hard, and loves hard, and I only hope today is all that it can be for her, that she is inundated with affection and children's drawings and good wishes.

Hard work, love that endures hardship, defiance, protection

I never saw my mama’s feet sleeping.
Mornings they trod a triangular path:
garden, fire, table.
Mid-day she walked in circles sewing,
mending our dresses as we read our lessons.
As the sun set she strode stripes through the fields,
barefoot among the thistles to bring the cows in.
When the stars pricked holes
in the black paper above, her heels creaked
a half-moon of floorboards around the big bed.
I dreamt every night of fragrant weeds and grasses,
and knew that when I woke
the footsteps below would always be hers.


Catching Up with An Ex Over Coffee

Tell me, he says, about one time
you've been drunk. He doesn't say,
I dare you. He doesn't say, don't lie.
He doesn't say, how much do you think
you've really changed? I set my jaw
against the blows. In Brooklyn, once,
I say. My TA's apartment.
Across the too-small table I know
the gears are turning.
I don't say, After you, of course.
I say that it was February. Post-
theatre, back through the carving night
to his cold rooms. I say he showed me
cyanotypes, the skeletons of flowers,
pictures from Poland I'd already seen.
I say he brought out pepper vodka, that
his lanky frame had got a taste for it, but I,
tiny I, sputtered as his roommate laughed.
I tell how the dim bathroom
was slanted when I got there, how
the cold water sizzled on my flushed cheeks.
I do not say, I would have slept on the floor
but he did not have blankets enough. I do not say,
The next morning he talked to me
like a stranger. I say
he left me in Central Park,
an angel in the snow, beneath the 6am silence
of Jeanne-Claude and Christo's spectacle.
I say it was just breathtaking.

pinhole photograph by Tom Karlo

Through Windows, Early Darkness

The train crawls toward the city.
Nothing has ever been maddening slow
as this swerving car, yet the toy houses smear
like a jellied lens. Each lighted window
demands my intrusion. On the top floor
of a building like the one
where you used to live, a young woman sits
at the table, jars of spices spread before her
like chess pieces. Her dark hair
sweeps the dried-basil bishops. Her tears drop
on the tablecloth. The train
lurches on, passes over an unlit road
where just one car is traveling.

image by flickr user magnasoma



The car, the cab, the train, the subway, shoes, escalator, hallway.
Two hours later, the whole thing in reverse,
making her way home across the electric night.

A shower brought her back
from where she had been going.
She stepped onto the faded mat,
squeezed her hair into the sink,
entered the dark bedroom.

The socket installed by a dying man
years before she was born,
the ragged cord, the brass lamp,
her damp fingers: Bare arms
(skeleton shrieking blue gray yellow white),
down the dripping leg to wet ankle,
the cold alloy bedframe.

She screamed, a choking sound
she could hardly hear, and fell
like a burning tree to the bed.

photograph by the divine Rachel K.


The Wayside Sacrament

Never lose an opportunity to see anything that is beautiful. It is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, every fair sky, every fair flower.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

long-exposure conjunction photograph by Glynn Lavender


Well, Jiminy Cricket!

Ever been to a face-melting-ly wonderful poetry reading? Now's your chance. Come join me at The Torch Club at Waverly Place in Greenwich Village, this Friday, December 5 at 6pm. I'll be reading a few of my more recent works, as will six other students in NYU's SCPS writing program.


The Ending Reconsidered*

The plan was always to be dead
Before I even hit sixty:
If bad luck and illness did not
Put me down, I’d do it myself.
This young heart is already scarred,
Every lover knew that. They knew
Not to believe that forever
Actually meant forever. Then—

You. I cannot say which moment
It was when I realized I could
Be old; one of those days, maybe,
When you spoke of a dark cabin,
Large dogs, used books. In this forest
You have unkilled me. Just know that.

*Some of my more emotionally invested readers (Hi, Mom!) have asked that I specify when what I'm writing is an assignment for my poetry workshop, and what the assignment is, so that you don't actually think I have, I don't know, witnessed a car crash after doing it in the back seat or divorced my husband, who happens to be a Greek god. So: this poem is an assignment. The assignment was to write a sonnet about death. Okay? Everyone? We clear? Good.


Waiting, Grand Central Ceiling

Aries, clamber from the sky.
My cold soil aches to break with
A stamp of your hoof, a toss
Of your horns. Frost is strong; your
Star-fur thicker. Dig until
The hole can hold you, love: rest
In the nest of my body.

photograph by Arvin Rolly Antipolo


Interlude: Other People's Poetry

No one spoke,
The host, the guest,
The white chrysanthemums.

Ryota, translated by Kenneth Rexroth
photograph by flickr user
cas lad.


Amphitrite's Divorce

Off Athens, the men drown horses for you.
The waters churn with fickle devotion
Of dolphin daughters, of sweet seal sons too.

The first night we danced you watched my feet. I knew
My sandy bed would not find me alone.
Off Athens, the men drown horses for you.

And now they fear you, earth shaker, for who
Will discipline the dark, wild ones below
(mad dolphin daughters, wicked seal sons too)?

The wreath of pearls was the first blood you drew;
I shed nets and jewels from each bright wound.
Off Athens, the men drown horses for you.

I am stripped bare, my bones all showing through.
I leave you to look after my womb’s work,
The dolphin daughters, shy seal sons too.

In return I take with me the gold light
From your young eyes, your hands before they cracked.
Off Athens, the men drown horses for you,
Goodbye to my daughters, my sweet sons too.

NOTE: the form is a villanelle, which may just be the worst thing ever concocted by man. It is very difficult to write, so please excuse this bloodbath of a first attempt.

photograph by Alix Malka


The View from the Passenger's Side

Down the long driveway: cotton mist.
Across the leaf-stamped street, a gully,
an avalanche of red and yellow,
a rotted canoe on the damp creek bed.

Traffic in upstate New York. The rain
comes quietly, but for miles before them
cars have stopped, in shock, like chickens.
Every radio station spews static. In the driver's seat
he bites his cracked lips, harder
with every braking moment. She wants him
to stop. Off the side of the highway
a mallard sails through slick weeds. He says
he will not stop. The white pill is stuck
in her throat.
The sandy shoulder of the road has flooded.
They get where they are going.

The drive home is blind, the roads reflective,
the stereo silent. She thinks of the hopeful,
abandoned canoe, that by now
it must be drowned.

photograph by flickr user mysimplesundaymorning


Our Father in Heaven

We told the baby that Queenie was with you.
His head was too large, his knees unsteady,
But you must have seen him curl carefully
In her corner of the yard.

We called him in. He would not budge.
He did not know who you were
Or when you would return, but
Til her black body took his place in the dust
He was going nowhere.

Four years went by. The baby grew
Into his head, gray eyes flashing
With unstoppable laughter. He was so young
When she died he cannot pronounce
Her name. Yours he knows,
But does not mention.


You Can't Be a Ghost, I Never Proved You Were Alive

Jesus, James. Twice in one week, sunset
has found me driving past the bookstore.
It is nowhere near where I live now,
but from time to time I need a smiling face,
a wave from the cash register.

Two times, James, two times. You
do not believe in coincidence and
your paranoia is contagious. Those trees
--manicured saplings in winter coats
of white sparks--

awaken as I watch. The light
is red at the corner of the parking lot.
I have the dreary length of this shuffling traffic
to shake my head and stare, to say,
Jesus, James, why now?


Two Deaths

The dead moth’s eyes see only silver mist.
Her body is a tiny paper heart in my hand,
A valentine in white fur and sickly green silk.
She curls on the dashboard of my Honda,
The one real thing I have touched today.
Motor oil singed one spot.
Her arms bend to grasp but nothing fills
Her stiff embrace. I have no glass casket
Worthy of these cold wings, and she stays
Overnight in the car.

Where the bedroom wall meets the ceiling a fly flails wildly.
Sometimes in silence, more often with the buzz I only hear
When the lights are off.
I do not see the spider who will stun him,
The siren who will suck his black life out into thin air.
I hope she is nearby, that this inelegant,
Crude death is not for a host long-gone,
But the sheer nests near the ceiling have been
Empty for some time, their contents fading
All for nothing.

photograph by flickr user pinkpoppy

A Public Service Announcement, for You Specifically

To the angels of the anonymous confession, to the benefactors
of jagged burdens, to the stars that fade
upon inspection, to you for what you said:

photographs by flickr users jillalyn and glass_doorknob

Got something to get off your chest? Tell me.


Wish You Were Here

'Here' is this overpriced coffee shop,
where the pumpkin-apple soup is better
than expected. Here I look
out the gray window and want to tell you things.
The trio of gruff men exchanging embraces
before climbing into their trucks. The green
fire hydrant in the middle of the sidewalk,
raised rusting letters spelling out AMERICAN DARLING.

The way the steam swirls upward
into my cold nostrils. You would track it there,
and, laughing, poke my cheek.
At the horizon, how bare branches sweep the sky
like wire brushes. The dear little white church
and its disjointed Gothic roof, parapets pointed
like punishments, visible only to God, and us,
if you were here.


33: Coming Clean

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;

I copied but did not send it.
I thought a phone call, maybe, but knew
The whirlpool words in my own mouth
Would give it all away.

There is no pressure I have not imagined:
Your teeth on my throat,
Your hair in my hand,
Your eyes on my salted lips. All these

Tide to and from my sleeping shores like trains.
And, too, the gravity
Of my own crumbling, wet face, the heft
Of your apology.

(Once you wrote me a confession, a treatise on starry unknowns.
Wrote it out in one long night,
Found it too true and threw
The whole thing away.
I know this because you told me.)

Original poem by W. H. Auden
Photograph by flickr user tomo.1981
Inspiration by you


An Experiment, or, Trolling for Fodder

An Experiment.

Leave me an anonymous comment pouring your heart out. Say anything. Tell me your stories, your secrets, those things no one ever asks but you're dying to tell. Tell me about your love, your hate, your indifference, your joy. Tell me about what's inside of you when you read these poems, and tell me why you continue to come back here. Tell me anything. Anything.

Post anonymously. Speak honestly. Post as many times as you like.

CAVEAT: Your confession may become a poem. Nobody, including me, will ever know it's yours, but please beware that poem-ization is a distinct possibility.


Interlude: Other People's Poetry, or, 29. You're a Genius all the time


1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for your own joy
2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
3. Try never get drunk outside your own house
4. Be in love with your life
5. Something that you feel will find its own form
6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
14. Like Proust be an old teahead of time
15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monolog
16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
17. Write in recollection and amazement for yrself
18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
19. Accept loss forever
20. Believe in the holy contour of life
21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
22. Don't think of words when you stop but to see picture better
23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
29. You're a Genius all the time
30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

-Jack Kerouac, d. October 21, 1969

Small Epistle
You were no angel, Jack but neither
am I and our kisses, writ on dusty paper, will shatter
the very firmament. We seal the envelope
with tongues of young love. Will you come back
when you get this? Not for me.
Not this time.


Night in the Garden

There are monsters in the garden,
gnawing tomatoes into pulpy lace,
pea pods into twigs. Their pincers
arc, little crescents in the light
of the harvest moon.

The earwigs shy
from the divine fire of my flashlight.
They cling to the stakes as I shake them down
like walnuts.

At the fence I slow my sword of judgment.
The ripe sunflowers hold the day's heat still,
and snug in the heart of the widest lion face,
the bumblebee hums in his sleep.

The night is suddenly so loud, alive
with cries for love and hunger.
The flashlight clicks off beneath my heavy thumb.
I back slowly from the nursery.

photograph by Cassandra Barney


The Blessing of the Animals

The congregants were mostly dogs, but
a perforated box here, a glass bowl there hinted
at smaller souls.
We arrived at the close of the second hymn. The little black dog
wrapped her leash around my legs
and ate the dew-anointed grass of the wide church lawn.

With the patient priest's approach the spaniel offered
her neglected, itchy back, expecting relief
and receiving something different
altogether. Her stub tail stalled,
her whiskered brows shot aloft
with the strange new love of this Saturday morning.

photograph by Sarah Gilbert


October 25th: Tree of Life/Men and Angels

To those of you in the New York City and Connecticut area*:

Come say hello! There will be art, and book signing, and Cass, and Emily, and James, and me! It's sure to be a fantastic show.

*The gallery is about an hour outside of the city, convenient to train stations, and you really have no excuse.


Sunset in the Orange Groves

I know that birds have a sound;
I know that "sound" has meaning.
In the weeks before the silence, summer
flushed the blackbird city every time I passed beneath.
The fickle tree may do this yet, may stain the sky
with rocketing bodies,
but if their shadows do not flicker
on the windless dust before me,
they might as well be nested.

Gone is the whispered warning
of the wet plates fleeing the dish rack;
gone the good purpose of rain, radios.
In this new world of useless names,
only the dark feels the same.

photograph by Gero


Airport Run, Friday Night

I drove through clouds to get to you.
They whirled from the sky, clinging to my mirrors,
and I could not discern how to wipe them away. This love
was a long time coming. Against the arch
of a rain-blurred rock near the highway
someone has painted two names,
a plump, resistant heart between them.

photograph by Eliza


6pm Reading, St. Anthony Hall

There is no curtain for the heart
In a room full of poets. Each face maps
Its suffering, its lust with lines
As subtle as mountain ranges.

The sign language translator exaggerates
For his single subject. He rolls his eyes,
Fans his fingers, captures the nerves
As well as the words.

The day draws to a close. Light
Is blue, green, white. Shadows dissolve
And reform with every dusted moment. The speaker
Dabs at his eyes, clutches his throat.

His voice says roller skates, chaperon
But nobody’s father.
Whether he is overcome or near to,
The hot currents of emotion
Will not leave him dry.

He is washed again and again against
The rocks of sorrow, and the hollow shell
Of his voice calls back.

photograph by Manish Desai


The Anniversary

Bombs don’t break the sky on foggy days.
Only from sherbet sunrises, azure lakes will this
Growing death emerge,
Screaming with the air it swallows.

We are nearly dressed for dinner
When the words smash through the cement
Of your lips. The sweet summer grass
Is its own shadow, black and crumbling

As your clammy hand gropes
for my voice.

photograph by Alisa Resnik


Margaret in Medical School

"We took out the heart today," she writes.
"It was so much bigger than I thought it would be,
and those veins in all directions...so beautiful." She tells me
how she fainted, how the generous cadaver seemed to rise as she fell.

Ship in a Bottle

He carried the clay pitcher with him always,
visible like a chip on his shoulder,
but it was only on the shipwrecks
as the old men drowned around him
that he filled his jug and drank.

She watched hawk-eyed from the shore as the sun rose,
watched him paddle the dying survivors home
with one arm,
not letting go his watery love.

In their driftwood hut he'd set the jar on the table
and collapse,
And as the moon floated take it up again,
to sign his name beneath the old men
of another night's ship.

photograph by Ragnhildur Ýr Pétursdóttir


Your Quiet House

I don’t think I ever saw you
In the sunlight. It seems somehow
It rained, was night the whole weekend.

The soft strains of your record collection
Stir in me still ghost-breezed curtains,
Cold legs. The hum of your voice
Against the floorboards in the dark, two rooms away
and properly occupied.

I left one burgundy hair in your bed and an umbrella
Shaking off in the bathtub. Did you hear
The music, the folk songs spinning
Without you? Did you wonder
How I lay, if I dreamt
On one ragdoll arm, or pressed against your pillow,
Or not at all?

At three the house was silent.
At four my veiled eyes caught your fingers' melt
Around the crack in the door, and then I slept.

photograph by Elizabeth Robinson


Mnemiopsis leidyi

Four inches of glass, smoked with a combination
of your breath and mine. On the other side
only darkness, and the thumb-sized, pounding hearts
of the walnut jellies.
No tangle of tentacles here, just bodies
sheer as veils, twinkling like Vegas
against the black water.

photograph by Kalie


Forwarding Address

after Lady Brett Ashley

I do not write you enough
Love letters. You must have
A new hiding place for them by now;
That cigar box beneath the bed was three bare flats
And two cities ago. Times have changed,
My sky-eyed darling, but the raw hole still remains
Right where you left it,
In my breast.

photograph by RedheadRaye


Walking in September

And just when I was sure that I
would never live again the autumn comes.

The earth is round and will never stop spinning.

photograph by Andreas Wolkerstorfer

The First Act

Just before handing over the paperback
you reconsidered, gathered it to your chest
and tore out the title page.
Broad curtains of rain swept the gutter.
The words for your destruction were lost
to the theatre of the night,
the applause of wet windowpanes.
I wonder what shade it was you saw in my eyes then,
when you wadded up the inscription
and shoved it way down in the trash.

photograph by Lina Scheynius


Toward the Bus Shelter

You walked fast across the empty courtyard,
and I followed brisk behind. It would have looked
like I was chasing you. The tails of the scarf I bought you
were trapped beneath your backpack straps,
and you stopped to unstrangle yourself.

The lavender sky was cloudless, or all clouds.
My eyes streamed with the wind.

photograph by Alisa Resnik

Love Letter to the Sea Walnuts

What purpose can this pulsing serve?
My own heart rises to meet you. There are strands
within this cloud, cells that flash
with the cold regularity
of the MGM Grand. I cannot believe you,
little ones, and you will never know
that the hot fog smearing your sky
has passed across my parted lips.

Jellies may have been invisible, but they were never unimportant.
Exhibit wall, The New England Aquarium

photo by Rachel Blumenthal


The Death of the Hummingbird

Suddenly the sky (Yes, always yes, since you
were bold enough to ask) is too fast.
The ground too, the twigs and grasses
that reached like children yesterday today
are mad and waving.

You do not close your eyes,
but fall and feel the slowing
of a blurred heart,
and the busy little priests of your parasites
all chant the same last rites.

Uria by Audrey Kawasaki
Hummingbird body from Cassandra Barney


The Chorus

There is so much we
do not know.

photograph by flickr user bocvana


Ghost Day

Today, August 15, is the Festival of Ghosts in China. Families burn incense and prepare elaborate meals, leaving empty seats at the table for their ancestors. Paper boats and lanterns are dropped in the water and set on fire, that they may illuminate the waterways for the lonely souls at sea and bring them safely home.

You can read more about Ghost Day here.

photograph by Vincent Chung


Out is Good

Thursday now, and clearly I have
done something wrong. You, little hydrangeas ("So blue," do you
remember?), are now the color
of a damp grocery-store circular.

I want a new cart. I want fresh flowers,
a perfect bouquet of wildflowers and a new apartment and a chance
to notice the kitchen is carpeted before
I sign the lease.

It is not your fault, sallow petals, but why
not let go of the stem?
I could cup you in one hand
and we could go out.
Out is good; you want out,
don't you?

Instead we will stare sadly
at the diffuse decay that surrounds us:
the murky water you sleep in,
the ragged skin around my fingernails;
and pray that on Friday
someone comes along
to take us out.


Not Lost

There are cold moments
in this march when the sun's broad fingers
do not part the clouds, the leaves, the lashes.
We lie to one another with closed eyes
and curled fists. We rub our arms,
try to quiet the hairs on end,
and journey on.

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