quarterlife crisis decisions

August 4, 2007  |  poetry  |  2 Comments

“It is our decisions
who make make us who we are,”
she used to say to me. Sometimes
that is all we have. The ability
to decide. To choose.

Even with all the social
inequities, we all still
get the same basic things,
in this life here on this planet:
our brains,
our bodies,
and time.

It is what we decide to do
that makes all the difference.

So what am I doing here?
What am I going to decide
to do with my time? What
are the particular ways
that I would like my mind
to grow and change
and evolve and work?
I do have some ideas,
but it seems like – that
age-old cliche – life
gets in the way.

I need focus. Laser-beam
steady focus, pointed precise
direction, precision. I’m not sure
how to gain or maintain that when
everything seems related to what
I want to do, where I want to go.
I’m not sure how to cut things out
when I so enjoy every aspect, the
book group, the writing group, the
drinks with friends, the parties,
the concerts – then of course there’s
the practical parts, the health,
exercise, eating right, taking care
of my body, then there’s money,
there’s my “career” -

all of this hanging in the balance
and I have to decide
decide
decide
what to cancel, what to prioritze
what to celebrate, what to remove
from this delicate balance

This I believe

August 4, 2007  |  poetry  |  No Comments

My poem “Me in a Nutshell” was recently published through NPR’s website This I Believe. The poem idea was inspired by a few other poets, namely Alix Olsen and Staceyann Chin, both of whom have poems where they use the repetition of “I believe” as a way to discuss their own values, personality, and approach to life & the world. I started collecting little snippets of sayings and philosophies and writing them all down in one place, and after a few years of letting these ideas stew, this poem came out.

Me in a Nutshell

I believe love is the closest we get to divinity
I believe in waiting patiently on the corner for the light to change
I believe in being kind

I believe that as birds fly, and fish swim, humans create;
it is our ‘natural’ mode of operation
I believe the opposite of war is not peace, it’s creation
I believe creative expression is a way to get to know
what we don’t know
that we already know

I believe in finding common ground and elevating the discussion
in wanting what I have and giving what I need
I believe in asking myself how it is that I will come alive
because that is what the world needs

Read the rest of the poem over at This I Believe. (Thanks to Louise Crawford, who saw me read this poem & encouraged me to submit it!)

a tiny revelation

July 26, 2007  |  poetry  |  7 Comments

I want this to be special
I want this to be totally unique
and meaningful
and singular.
But really,
it was only love.

And this is only a broken heart.

hemlock

July 19, 2007  |  poetry  |  No Comments

I am delicate. This tough guise
comes along with the collared shirts -
briefs – jackets in mud puddles -
but it is only a performance.

Do not mistake it for the same gauge
of pressure it takes to bruise
the skin of my heart. Purple

gives way to red gives way to pink.
Even the strong language I take in
too deep because I have no wall up
between me and you. I have no wall

up but you can’t tell how transparent
I am when I have cried, when I have
asked a question, turned a door handle

so you did not have to. I want to take
care of you. I want to take care of
myself, so invisibly that you won’t notice,
then take care of you. But that is not

realistic. I know. I am sensitive,
affected by all the madness marching
around me. I cannot get away from it

some days. Some days I am eaten alive
by the bees in the hive, some days I am
the hive through which everything flows.
I carry around words like brutal and

punished in a notebook and touch the
letters when I need a reminder of
the damage that can be done, can not

be undone. Phrases yielded like
knives. I refuse to use my words
as weapons, though I could, I could
cause hurt, could leave scars. Instead

I choose to swallow, don’t let it out,
don’t let things go, there is no way
to know what the words will become

once they leave my tongue. Possibly
dandelions, possibly stinging nettles,
possibly a poisonous cup of hemlock.
I drink it all down myself instead:

then there can be no misinterpretation.

four chambered heart

July 19, 2007  |  poetry  |  2 Comments

I have said you give me
wings

I have said
though I have been collecting
feathers, downy
and sweet, flight and contour
and semiplume feathers,
bristle and filoplume
feathers, it was you
who gave me the map,
the blueprint, for the verb
to soar, to take off
and land, to catch a ray
of wind
and float.

I have said
you take me to such peaks,
take me to the apex
of mountains,
looking earthward
toward valleys
where everything
is exact,
organized,
acquiescent
I could continue

with hollow bones and unfolding
migration flying, nesting,
cracking open, a four-chambered
heart, ruby breasted flocks,
hovering
perching
But I was raised not
to believe

in pride. I don’t know
what it’s like for others
to take credit
for my efforts,
no matter how much
my triumph was aided
by your maps, your
supple caresses, your
careful slices of leather
cut around the outlines
of my feet
for my landing.

This flight is my
victory

And while you are calling
to me from the clifftop, yelling
claims to my own ascending
moments, the air is so clear
and still
all I can hear
is the pulsing
cadence
of my
own
wings.

what happens when a friendship ends

July 19, 2007  |  poetry  |  No Comments

You tell me, look in the mirror
all you’ll see is betrayal
but the words
aren’t yours to give. The reflection
shows no bones labeled betrayal

nothing close – the only label
with B is beauty and that comes
straight from the sternum. I once
dreamed a horse, a dappled grey

on the beach in early morning golden
light, luminous, galloping, look , I say,
look a horse, coming like a click-clack
echo in a subway tunnel, that’s not a horse

you say, that’s a bird, see the wings?
The mandible, the crown, the
coverts of the wings – I thought I
knew you. Thought our realities were

concentric overlapping circles the way
we had inside jokes in the first
hour. Once you have sucked the silver
threaded foundations of me up and out

through the trepanned hole I allowed
you to drill into my forehead, where
will that leave me? Where will that
leave you? You told me we were circles,

but you are not – in fact, I am not
either, I am a sphere, an opaque crystal
ball, I can tell your fortune, read
your palm, your tea leaves, your

seven years of bad luck from that mirror
you smashed and said I did it. The betrayal
wasn’t mine. The horse will prove that,
when it is not a bird after all, it’s long

long legs leaping over sand dunes
like it’s avoiding puddles in the Village,
the tangled mess you left behind.
Unimportant, no time for that now,

here is the dappled grey, ready
and saddled, and I will
get on that high horse,
get on that wingéd high horse,

and ride.

based on this piece of art, and a recent complicated situation.

the trowel

July 11, 2007  |  poetry  |  No Comments

we spent all weekend
digging clams at ocean shores
on the oregon coast
sand between our toes

you forgot to get dressed

I watched you belly-down
on the bed
staring at the TV so
unselfconscious
I wanted to feel
the full fist of you again

staring out at the open ocean
so flat
so seamless
I’m hiding from you in here
in this chair
this lampshade
hotel grade
I haven’t forgotten

the things you promised
to desire when the fire
went out, the beach
went dry, the waves
stopped coming and
coming

I laid my open palms
on the table
took the metal pail
from the porch
and began
with a trowel
prying open
the clamshells
one
by one

Ginkgo Biloba

June 25, 2007  |  poetry  |  1 Comment

The first time I kiss her, it is
June. Under a hazy lazy sky
the sun is yawning its descent.
Under the ginko tree that grows,

has been growing, outside her
apartment for decades, a hundred
years, more. How many lovers’
first kisses has she seen,
how many breakups, how many babies

pappoosed, welcomed to the world?
Green paper leaves the shape
of fans tossing the wild to the wind,
winding strings of silkworms around

tree trunks, slick bark the shade of
the sky before it rains. And her eyes
are the sky after. The pavement after.
My heart is red construction paper
that could blow away with another

exhale, if only her lips would come
close enough. Closer.

PvC was a blast!

June 22, 2007  |  poetry  |  No Comments

The Poetry vs Comedy show was such a fabulous time. I performed two of my favorite (and gayest) pieces, and made it to the final round against Kelli Dunham where we both had to improv on “clam(s).” Um, what?

So I wrote this:

THE TROWEL

we spent all weekend
digging clams at ocean shores
on the oregon coast
sand between our toes

you forgot to get dressed

I watched you belly-down
on the bed
staring at the TV so
unselfconscious
I wanted to feel
the full fist of you again

staring out at the open ocean
so flat
so seamless
I’m hiding from you in here
in this chair
this lampshade
hotel grade
I haven’t forgotten

the things you promised
to desire when the fire
went out, the beach
went dry, the waves
stopped coming and
coming

I laid my open palms
on the table
took the metal pail
from the porch
and began
with a trowel
prying open
the clamshells
one
by one

… and I actually kinda like it. Apparently the judges did too, ’cause I won! Thanks judges, and thanks Carolyn (the fabulous MC) and Cheryl, the producer. But like Carolyn says, remember, it doesn’t matter who the winner is, ’cause we’re all losers here.

Check the PvC blog for more tidbits.

the very idea of a bird

June 13, 2007  |  poetry  |  No Comments

quote from a poet friend who is also very into birds …

The very idea of a bird is a symbol and a suggestion to the poet. A bird seems to be at the top of the scale, so vehement and intense his life. . . . The beautiful vagabonds, endowed with every grace, masters of all climes, and knowing no bounds — how many human aspirations are realised in their free, holiday-lives — and how many suggestions to the poet in their flight and song!

John Burroughs (1837 – 1921), Birds and Poets, 1887