12.30.2017

A Prayer for the New Year

Photo by Matthew Smith on Unsplash


Mysteries, Yes
by Mary Oliver
Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood.
How grass can be nourishing in the
mouths of the lambs.
How rivers and stones are forever
in allegiance with gravity
while we ourselves dream of rising.
How two hands touch and the bonds
will never be broken.
How people come, from delight or the
scars of damage,
to the comfort of a poem.
Let me keep my distance, always, from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads.



12.17.2017

Rerun Two: Right Then

Photo by Jessica Lucia // CC BY-ND 2.0

Right Then

Ransacking the grass
at the edge of the parking lot,
the loveliest jay I’ve ever seen. 


His features, 
so fine. His blues, 
so bright. 

He cocks his crest 
at my idling car 


I sigh behind the wheel. 

He screams. 
Another bird flutters down. 

She is smaller than her mate, 
her neck feathers 
mute and iridescent 
as shade-grown violets. 

Two hops and he is gone 
into the brambles. She follows 


Right then. 
That’s when I miss you.



Originally published in Passionfruit #5

Rerun One: The Death of the Lobster




The Death of the Lobster

To know the future
there must be a death.
Hand me the axe.

Margaret Atwood, from "Circe/Mud Poems"


I. 
The death of the lobster will commence quietly.
One night, she will awake
and find her shell slightly too snug.
Her shell has stopped growing.
She has not.
Tomorrow, her shell will be tighter,
the next day, tighter still.

Her shell is everything
that holds her, inside and out. It is
the legs that click her across her cave.
It is the teeth in her stomach
that grind fish into food.

The constriction will continue.
She will lose
her appetite.

She, then, will waste away,
a diminishing prisoner
within a shrinking cell. 


II. 
The time will come. Her time. 
She will pump her shell
with sea water, more, more,
until it cracks.

She will wrench 
the lining from her guts
and pull it from her mouth,
a conjurer's string of scarves.

She will withdraw
withered arms from rigid sleeves.
She is too weary
to be doing this. Still, it needs
to be done.

She will thrash her body
through the rupture in her armor.

The world will go black.

It will feel like dying,
and it is.

But it is not the end.


III.
Beneath her split shell
she has grown another,
flimsy and mica-thin.

When she wakes,
she will flood this young covering
with water, filling
until it inflates, solidifying
by the moment.

Before long, she will have claws
that will hold. Legs to stand on.
Teeth to feed her.

She will rise
on new feet. She will raise the broken shell
to her mouth
and start eating.

The old house will never be home again.
Yet from this calcium-rich rubble
she will pick good bricks
and build another.



Originally published in Public Pool

11.11.2017

Ten Years Later

photo: Dan Whale via Unsplash


The first-ever Thing Written Down appeared on this blog ten years ago today.

Yeah, I know.

The intervening decade feels more like a lifetime. The world is changed.

I am changed, too. Very little of my life now resembles my life then. But I'm still writing things down, and I'm still glad you're here.

10.19.2017

Two Recent Features

detail from Renoir's Luncheon of the Boating Party



Thanks very much to Maudlin House for including me as a featured writer this month. 

Thanks, too, to the Phillips Collection, for highlighting my poem on The Luncheon of the Boating Party.

I wish the poem's themes of gaslighting and harassment were less relevant right now. But they're not, and so I'll add my voice to the chorus:

me too.

10.08.2017

Interlude: Other People's Poetry

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Telescope
by Louise Glück

There is a moment after you move your eye away
when you forget where you are
because you are living, it seems,
somewhere else, in the silence of the night sky.

You've stopped being here in the world.
You're in a different place,
a place where human life has no meaning.

You're not a creature in a body.
You exist as the stars exist,
participating in their stillness, their immensity.

Then you're in the world again.
At night, on a cold hill,
taking the telescope apart.

You realize afterward
not that the image is false
but the relation is false.

You see again how far away
every thing is from every other thing.


8.10.2017

Another Bird Poem, If You Can Believe That




I'm honored to be a part of Monstering magazine's inaugural issue.

You can read my poem "Ketoconazole" here. It even comes with its own soundtrack.

5.28.2017

Performance of a Lifetime

Dr. Moran tapped his heavy silver pen against a sheaf of test results. “Well,” he said, “I’ve found the problem.”
I’d arrived enervated in his office a few weeks ago, drifting through the door in a fog of weakness and fatigue. Headaches hammered me all day. I was 23 years old and my bones ached. I couldn’t feel my feet. My guts felt oily and torqued. Once a month or so I slipped into a hot, dizzy spell that made the floor slant and my eyes blur. None of this was new.

Want to read the rest? Click here or, better yet, go to your local bookstore and buy the summer issue of Bitch magazine.

Buy a few copies, actually. It's good.

1.11.2017

One Poem in Qu

"Luncheon of the Boating Party" by Pierre-Auguste Renoir

I went on some pretty bad dates last year. The worst one turned into a poem.

(I recommend taking a very close look at the action in the upper-right corner of the Renoir above.)

"Blind Date, Phillips Collection" is out now in Qu Literary Magazine


1.10.2017

Goodbye, James.

"Jellyfish on a Stick," by James C. Christensen



James C. Christensen (1942 - 2017) was an exuberant collaborator, a generous teacher, and a friend. The world is a stranger and more beautiful place because he was in it.




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