There is a street full of poetry near my piso.

This is about the “pale princess of Aitana.” (Aitana is a mountain near here, and the name of a few of my students.)

I like the last line. She goes looking for scissors to cut her skirt short.


Rough Draft

We lost it,
the road trickling away into the trees,
across from your old apartment.
Watching it over the rims of coffeecups, we wanted to follow it.
Our eyelids ached for new worlds.

I got lost, and was lost, and I lost.
I was paper-snowflake-full of loss.

I got on buses just to forget my stop.
I wanted to follow roads past their last logical destination,
as though their ends would be
new languages in new mouths,
or a time machine
or the sea.

Oh deliver me from stale circles,
the cul-de-sac scars of suburbia.
Oh deliver me from hallways of
doors slammed shut,
oh deliver me
from intricate mechanics of locks.

I opened my own window, climbed right into
the sky, and the omniscience of satellites.
I saw that road in winter;
saw it fade out fast in the small patch of woods
next to the drab rectangles of strip malls.

I was too young to remember when I first saw the ocean,
but know how to wait for it,
pushing small feet through sand,
handfuls of grass scraping through fingers.

We wanted the most when we had the least,
climbing across the inches,
eyes closed and throats dry.
At the top, the horizon unfolded itself,
and our bodies disappeared.
Our thirst faded, emptying out our eyes.

Misplaced Irrelevance.

Driving Conditions

As for me I am little more than a fire hazard:
sleep alongside wires, dream dry kindling dreams,
fields crisp at the edges, heat lightning in summer,
and in winter almost-daylight where cold air
leaches all the moisture out my eyes.

On Michigan roads I am Michigan weather,
sleet sky dark too early. Crying torrents on the interstate
until the salt films up the windshield,
storms pass, red in the eyes.
All I wanted was to be the passenger,
in no kind of dark,
sunburnt, sky-full,
one foot out of the window –

(Never could make it through those doorways,
never could wait long enough for
keys untangling locks)

And I have been writing the same poem
for several years running.

Imaginary pieces and all–
red earrings, blue stockings,
light unbuttoning itself across collarbones.

Still certain sensory slants
make me want to brush my teeth,
cut my hair,
book transatlantic flights.
Peel myself out of one more skin.

Poem Tartle

I used to have this book which is a longer version of this web page. Other language nerds will enjoy.

I’ve been thinking all day about this poem I read years and years ago, that I really want to find again. The only detail I can recall – outside of the overall visceral feeling of the poem – is that it included a vacuum salesman, demonstrating how to vacuum a mattress.

Apparently this is not enough identifying information for google to find me the name of the poem or anything other than a surreal trip through some search engine innards.

Some days my sole source of self-knowledge are in the words and images that I find myself craving.

I have paint & canvasses & charcoal pencils & pads of paper blank with opportunity, sitting in my dining room. But I am in front of a computer screen trying to write website reviews, and getting lost on a fruitless wild-poem-chase.

My throat hurts. It is gorgeous outside. I need to be productive. I want to go stand next to water, I want to cut my hair, I want to write little pointy words on blank paper with the perfect ballpoint pen.

Magritte is Ma-great

A place of palaces

When I was younger – beginning in high school – I papered my walls with poems that I found. Rediscovering them years later is fun.

And while more recent recollections are easily dredged up, certain flavors of nostalgia make me want to go wander through the old, old ruins that are found across oceans.

I Have Been Through The Gates
Charlotte Mew (1869 – 1928)

His heart to me, was a place of palaces
And pinnacles and shining towers;
I saw it then as we see things in dreams,
I do not remember how long I slept;
I remember the tress, and the high, white walls,
And how the sun was always on the towers;
The walls are standing to-day, and the gates;
I have been through the gates, I have groped,
I have crept back, back.
There is dust in the streets, and blood;
They are empty; darkness is over them;
His heart is a place with the lights gone out,
Forsaken by great winds and the heavenly rain,
Unclean and unswept,
Like the heart of the holy city,
Old blind, beautiful Jerusalem;
Over which Christ wept.

Ruins of a nearly thousand-year-old monastery in Santiago.

Old words I stumbled upon


(August 2006)

Somewhere else there are still the arched ceilings and toppled columns,
the forms of gold, the smooth silver tongues, those emerald eyes.
The coming of age, the enlightenment, the huge vast shifts, the stars that fell
and what surprised me was the easy eggshell sound of all those heavy idols shattering.

I expected the sky to split, or at least to wake up tangled in my sheets
gasping from nightmares of loss, instead of slow quiet dreams
of the small simple things that will never be.
Vague recollections become entirely visceral—
all we have is skeletons and all this flesh to fill in the spaces and
the old telephone cords are gone, with their kinks and tangles
wrapped around your waist as you stitch the distances closer.
All this flesh and our communications that are words

are words are words are words
are empty words, the semantics and the inflection of familiar syllables with
insufficient undertones of
the crackle of nerve endings and synapses
the romances and tragicomedies orchestrated behind eyelids
the rush of breath held in or let out because
the bodies we used to reminisce with
got lost along the way
underneath all our conveniences,

and if we had something more than words perhaps I could tell you
just what I mean.

(holy things behind rusty locks)

Odes to common things

I called off work today because I have been spending 12+ hour days at work, with conferences and setting up schedules and trying to make my lessons relevant and effective for these new classes. Also because I need to do my homework for graduate class tonight. Also because I just need to sit in daylight and watch the snow and drink coffee and chip through the anxiety bubble I have been floating around in.

I saw this book at John King and fell in love with it. I didn’t buy it, because I was Being Responsible, but someday I will.

Odes to common things

I caved and bought a new camera – to be fair, it was an upgrade that was even cheaper than my old one. A month without a camera was rough for me. I feel ashamed that I am that attached to the ability to look at things around me through a little screen. I am justifying this with Neruda: photos are my Odes to Common Things. Sometimes the big picture – 3-D & realtime – is too much. (Sometimes I just play with the macro setting on my camera.)

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Always the champion of
grand gestures, galloping back and forth
across a painfully bright horizon,
just out of reach.
My knight in shining hyperbole.

I ached with the same expansive proportions,
made a habit of aching,
tried to obscure it with other pursuits
(page-turn, flight-path, knit-purl, orange-peel,
snow-fall, love-fall)

Tactless grief,
this time around at least-
frame it up in some new sensory textures:

I am older now
(she says, tiptoe with all her twenty-some years)

I can still inch through nailbitten nights, just
get spread so thin onto the expanse of
asphalt ice-scrape radio

push through the morning
garnish level tones with reprimands
until almost unexpectedly the

papers have been shuffled into stacks by small hands, the
room is in lopsided order at best, and
the tears finally have a space here in
eraser-dust crayon-smell

blue mitten abandoned
under a desk.

Speechless at the shape of small voices and new ideas
dawning with minuscule explosions, here before me every day,
yet all the more speech-full
of things I should have
emptied out.


I just want to turn off the classroom light and sit on the floor with the kids and watch the rain-light. Or see the big bright windows full of noise and light from outside, with all the color and warmth falling out onto the wet grass.

Rainy days are good for poetry. I’m finding a few of the things I wrote last year, during my first year of teaching. Here’s a few. You know, if that’s your thing.

(Also, I’m thinking about another non-public blog in which to accumulate poetry. If that is indeed your thing, let me know and I’ll pass on the address.)

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la mañana

Wake up as though surfacing in deep water,
seaweed in my eyelashes, saltwater in papercuts,
dreams’ slow smolder, or
little points needling in around the seams.

I like my mornings how I like my coffee.

Watch 40 miles of pavement glide by beneath my headlights,
get to work early to listen to the coffeemaker’s gurgle, shuffle papers around, put my forehead against my desk.

Wait for the light to sneak across the tile,
wait for voices to fill up the empty space.

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