Saturday, February 25, 2006


Song to Suburbia
J.B. Rowell

Don't just throw them open,
unhinge, flatten walls
to make way
for pink and orange
sunset, tell the birds: Go!
The mountains are to the west
the ocean just east,
you can fly anywhere, even
roost in trees hooked
into faces of rock
in mist of waterfall.
Why are you here?
on my disposable house,
unknowing to unnatural

Thursday, February 23, 2006


American Life in Poetry: Column 048


Every parent can tell a score of tales about the difficulties of
raising children, and then of the difficulties in letting go of them. Here
the Texas poet, Walt McDonald, shares just such a story.

Some Boys are Born to Wander

From Michigan our son writes, How many elk?
How many big horn sheep? It's spring,
and soon they'll be gone above timberline,
climbing to tundra by summer. Some boys
are born to wander, my wife says, but rocky slopes
with spruce and Douglas fir are home.

He tried the navy, the marines, but even the army
wouldn't take him, not with a foot like that.
Maybe it's in the genes. I think of wild-eyed years

till I was twenty, and cringe. I loved motorcycles,
too dumb to say no to our son--too many switchbacks
in mountains, too many icy spots in spring.

Doctors stitched back his scalp, hoisted him in traction
like a twisted frame. I sold the motorbike to a junkyard,
but half his foot was gone. Last month, he cashed

his paycheck at the Harley house, roared off
with nothing but a backpack, waving his headband,
leaning into a downhill curve and gone.

First published in "New Letters," Vol. 69, 2002, and reprinted from "A Thousand Miles of Stars," 2004, by permission of the author and Texas Tech University Press. Copyright (c) 2002 by Walt McDonald. This weekly column is supported by The Poetry Foundation, The Library of Congress, and the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. This column does not accept unsolicited poetry.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


I Want To

be the breadwinner
win bread I want to
bread the win and start
again I want to dust
the counter with flour
knead with knuckles
wait for rising.

stay-at-home and write
write the home win
the bread with writing
clean the counter
for the dusting
flip the pan
gold dome in hand.

Monday, February 20, 2006


Today marks the 100th and final post by Irene Latham at her blog daytips for writers. I have definately benefited from her daily tips and inspiration. The greatest gift Irene shares is the confidence that everyone is a writer, it's just a matter of writing. Daytips will be missed, but keep an eye out for Irene posting here, and for her next book of poetry forthcoming from Mercy Seat Press.

Saturday, February 18, 2006


Better Day
J.B. Rowell

you think it can't get any worse
or better and then
you go for a walk
and your daughter
asks why there's one mommy
and two daddy ducks
swimming together
your son points and
throws a rock

you buy really big paper
and chunky paint brushes
and primary colors
and white paper plates
and you watch them
paint their hands
mix colors
and do a dance
their so happy

you think it can get any worse
then you have
a better day

Thursday, February 16, 2006


I loved Julia's Domestication of Geese, a reversal of Mary Oliver's Wild Geese, so I decided to take a stab at one of my faves, Jane Kenyon's Let Evening Come. Fun!

Don’t Let Evening Come
- after Jane Kenyon’s Let Evening Come

Don’t let the darkness of late afternoon
slither through the street alley, stealing
up the garden windows as the sun moves down.

Don’t let the subway trains sweep the city
as a man sweeps across the wooden floor
and closes the shop door. Don’t let evening come.

Don’t let shadows collect on the bench abandoned
in the park. Don’t let the street lamps buzz
and the moths singe their wings and fall to death.

Don’t let the commuters go back to their cookie-cutter homes.
Don’t let the televisions flicker. Don’t call the children
in for their supper. Don’t let evening come.

To the dog eager for its walk, to the garage door
dropping down, to hunger in the belly
don’t let evening come.

Don’t let it come, as it will, and don’t forget
to be afraid. God leaves us
too comfortable, so don’t let evening come.

- Irene Latham

Let Evening Come

Let the light of late afternoon
shine through chinks in the barn, moving
up the bales as the sun moves down.

Let the cricket take up chafing
as a woman takes up her needles
and her yarn. Let evening come.

Let dew collect on the hoe abandoned
in long grass. Let the stars appear
and the moon disclose her silver horn.

Let the fox go back to its sandy den.
Let the wind die down. Let the shed
go black inside. Let evening come.

To the bottle in the ditch, to the scoop
in the oats, to air in the lung
let evening come.

Let it come, as it will, and don't
be afraid. God does not leave us
comfortless, so let evening come.

-- Jane Kenyon

Wednesday, February 15, 2006


An lovely poem by Rae Pater originally published on her blog:

white noise

Looking down at her daughter
she thought: In that soft mesh
of cells rests the magic seed,

kernal of concentrated evolution.
Unaware how the highways
of her life will speed by

she will lose herself
in the opening horizon,
beneath a honeydew sky,
amidst the white noise
that is heaven.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


Julia asked me to post the poem "True Love" by Sharon Olds. What better time than Valentine's Day?

True Love

In the middle of the night, when we get up
after making love, we look at each other in
complete friendship, we know so fully
what the other has been doing. Bound to each other
like mountaineers coming down from a mountain,
bound with the tie of the delivery-room,
we wander down the hall to the bathroom, I can
hardly walk, I wobble through the granular
shadowless air, I know where you are
with my eyes closed, we are bound to each other
with huge invisible threads, our sexes
muted, exhausted, crushed, the whole
body a sex -- surely this
is the most blessed time of my life,
our children asleep in their beds, each fate
like a vein of abiding mineral
not discovered yet. I sit
on the toilet in the night, you are somewhere in the room,
I open the window and snow has fallen in a
steep drift, against the pane, I
look up, into it,
a wall of cold crystals, silent
and glistening, I quietly call to you
and you come and hold my hand and I say
I cannot see beyond it. I cannot see beyond it.

- Sharon Olds

Monday, February 13, 2006


The Promise of Old Poets
J.B. Rowell

If I wake early,
just a couple of hours
to take a walk and sit,
it will come
like a fox hungry to be tamed.

If I carry tools,
in an wood amber box
with a thin, dry handle,
it will oblige
invisible forms of the past.

If only I was a morning person
and good with my hands.

Sunday, February 12, 2006


Yesterday in the mail, I received a plain, white printed postcard with a small red heart. I had forgotten. I am among over 1,200 women who receive a Valentine from Ted Kooser, U.S. Poet Laureate. The poem is deceptively simple, but really it is like all his poems, a perfect watercolor. Sad and hopeful.

Oh, Mariachi Me

All my life I have wanted nothing so much
as the love of women. For then I have fashioned
the myth of myself, the singing troubador
with the flashing eyes. Always for them
my black sombrero with its swinging tassels,
this vest embroidered with hearts, these trousers
with silver studs down the seams. Oh, I am
Mariachi me, as I had intended. I am success
and the price of success, now old and dusty
at the edge of the dance floor, still smiling,
heavy with hope, clutching my dead guitar.

Ted Kooser, Valentine's Day 2006

He inspires me. Now if only I could get up at 4:00 each morning, write for two hours, then go to work.

More on Kooser . . .

Saturday, February 11, 2006


People Who Take Care
by Nancy Henry from Hard (Musclehead Press)

People who take care of people
get paid less than anybody
people who take care of people
are not worth much
except to people who are
sick, old, helpless, and poor
people who take care of people
are not important to most other people
are not respected by many other people
come and go without much fuss
unless they don’t show up
when needed
people who make more money
tell them what to do
never get shit on their hands
never mop vomit or wipe tears
don’t stand in danger
of having plates thrown at them
sharing every cold
observing agonies
they cannot tell at home
people who take care of people
have a secret
that sees them through the double shift
that moves with them from room to room
that keeps them on the floor
sometimes they fill a hollow
no one else can fill
sometimes through the shit
and blood and tears
they go to a beautiful place, somewhere
those clean important people
have never been.


J.B. Rowell

Grandparent visit warrants
      black, pencil
skirt suit at school.
      Students gawk.
You look attractive
      they say surprised
then more third-grade truth,

You look like a secretary.

Later I ask,
      Why not the CEO?

What is a CEO?


you have to be ready for the inevitable
      and farfetched
in earnest or just to throw
      off the day.

A CEO runs the company,

      I say.

Into the ground,
      I think.

Making millions in the plume
      of failure,
while I run precious
      minds, lives.
I am there when the questions come
      that matter,
that can possibly nudge their lives one way
      or another,
and sometimes I say the right thing
      by asking
what they think.

Friday, February 10, 2006


A few weeks back, Julia and I featured amazing poet Suzanne Coker. Today Suzanne is back with two more poems. We love Suzanne's work in part because she is not afraid to show us the dark side of the universe. AND, she never fails to inspire us to be more brave in our own writing.


Everything I could take from her
would smell like smoke. That
was the bargain. I could have
beautiful linens, dresses to diet
my way into, coats and sweaters,
but they all must be washed
and washed and still retain
the stamp of her need. Every
curtain, chair, and tablecloth
stained with exhausted menthol.
Fifty years of gasping habit, static air
brown with inhaled fear, exhaled rage.
Every lesson, every useful truth
crusted with the scent that burned
and defined her, a charring that
defies all perfume.

- Suzanne Coker

Out of Line

This glimpse turns the world to a bruise,
a child dragged by hands
that terrify her because
they are her father’s.

She had grabbed for candy
it’s true, wanted
to show mommy

not Daddy. How he hit
first, no hesitation, the red rising
behind his two days of beard,
how he pulled her arm
and bent to her, whispered
god knows what straight
into her ear, shame
collapsing her little strength,
screams gone to whimpers
as he led her away

her mother added two boxes
of candy to the checkout,
hesitated, then piled up
two of every candy from the rack
and asked for a separate ticket.

She would not
meet the cashier’s eyes,
and I would not meet hers.

- Suzanne Coker

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


I was just talking with Julia about how MAAP has included lots about national politics lately, which is great, but it has made me want to rein back in and address the more personal politics that happen each day in our own homes. I offer you one of my favorite poems by Birmingham poet Barry Marks, another one of our Big Table Poets. I love the father's voice in this poem and am struck by the poet's honesty. Enjoy!


The monster under your bed
is named Bobby or Chris.
He parked his Camaro down the block.

The witch with the gingerbread house
is teaching you not to eat,
or perhaps to puke on command.
You have come to think of secrecy as the art of survival,
the way to live happier ever after, which explains
why you lied about calling me last night
and everything else.

I know that you and Bobby/Chris
will probably sneak out later
on the Harley your mother bought you
and ride into the blood-red sunset,
where the clouds heroically smash into the sky.
You think this is the way dreams
and people die and come true.

When you were born, I didn't care if
you were boy or girl, blonde or red-topped,
as long as you had "10 of each" and your organs
were in the proper configuration.
When you started school, I didn't look for
A's so long as you came home each day
and woke up the next morning.

Now, ADD worries me, but not at all
compared with HIV and DOA.
I screen your friends, not so much for
good breeding as crack pipes, razor-
cuts and concealed weapons.

Time to wake up, Honey.
Time to tell your Daddy
that everything is going to be OK.
The full moon is smirking at the window.
There is something in my closet.
It looks like Britney, Beyonce or Christina,
someone I wanted to meet
before I met you.

- Barry S. Marks

Tuesday, February 07, 2006






$2.77 trillion

Monday, February 06, 2006


I have been tagged by Michelle to list 5 weird things about myself:

1~I can touch my tongue to my nose.

2~I like to watch sappy teen movies—Bring It ON!

3~I can't stand watching people brush their teeth—not even on TV—makes me gag.

4~I stayed up all night watching Cary Grant movies the night he died. :(

5~I don't like answering the phone.

Chris, Laurie, Malaika, Irene, and Tim, "YOU are all tagged. What you need to do now is write five weird things about yourself then post them on your blog with a link back here somewhere in your post. Then you need to find five other bloggers to tag. And so the weirdness continues."


I'm included in an amazing and oh so funny graphic by Pris - look for the red shirt and smokin' head! Thanks Pris . . . go here to see for yourself.


A poem of mine titled "Red Look" is going up on the NC Poet Laureate web site on Friday along side a poem by Laurie Capps. Chris Vierck will also be appearing this week and I'm honored to be included with these fellow members of Bare Rock Poets, as well as other great NC poets.

It's official - I'm a North Carolinian now!

Sunday, February 05, 2006


Tale of Two T-Shirts

Anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan wore a shirt with the message "2,245 Dead. How many more?" -- a reference to the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq.

Beverly Young, the wife of 18-term Republican U.S. Rep. Bill Young of Florida, wore a shirt that read "Support the Troops."

Both shirts resulted in their owners being ejected from the House chamber before President Bush's State of the Union address on Tuesday night.

Sheehan, an invited guest of Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a California Democrat, was arrested around 8:30 p.m. ET on charges of unlawful conduct. Young was asked to leave but not arrested.

Read more of this article from CNN . . .

"What Really Happened"
by Cindy Sheehan

Saturday, February 04, 2006


Each a.m., I receive and automatic e-mail from Writer's Almanac (sponsored by my non-blogging friends the Poetry Foundation) with a poem to listen to and/or read. Much like the Good Poems anthologies, I find that they are good poems overall, and some are great. The poem I received this morning has a particularly strong ending. And of course, I like the message.

Poem: "Airport Security" by David Ray from The Death of Sardanapalus: and Other Poems of the Iraq Wars.

Airport Security

In the airport I got wanded,
though not by a fairy princess.

I had to remove my shoes,
prove they were not twin bombs.

But the strangest scene I saw
that day was where random checks

delayed the suspicious—
the grey lady in her wheelchair

and the toddler boy tugged
from his mother's hand, pulled

through the metal detector's arch.
She tried to follow but was

restrained by two guards who grasped
her arms as she yelled, "But I told

him not to talk to strangers!"
The child wailed bloody murder.

A female guard patted the boy
all over, although he did not giggle.

I myself went on profiling terrorists.
They were so obvious.

Friday, February 03, 2006


Why don't all pubs accept e-mail submissions? Don't e-submissions save time, paper, postage? Can't computer viruses be avoided by asking that poems be pasted into the body of the e-mail? Or better yet - online submission programs like the Kenyon Review. Nice.

To Pubs Stubbornly Sticking With Snail Mail

Like a ticket:

slide in
with toner
SASE and time

who has that kind of time?

Envelope shopping

red flag up, a plea

too small offices
with teetering
stacks of

inbox stuffed
with e-mail ads
to make body parts
bigger more

poems wait

Am I missing something?

Thursday, February 02, 2006


The Poetry Foundation has a new "journal" - not a blog - because they are apparantly "very very very tired of the word blog." (Hasn't the word journal been around for much longer than blog?) Each week, I guest poet takes over the "live journal" and this week Olena Davis talks about poetry, her kids, a poem on her kids, aging, and actually I'm not sure of all she talks about because I haven't made it through her dense ramblings. I ramble too, I know, but her ramblings have marathon stamina. I'll return to it when I am less tired.

She did pose this question in all caps like so:


The answer of course is - yes and no.

Nothing is sacred.

Everything is blogable.

Even in a JOURNAL.


Reb Livingston has seen the light. She has been baptized in the waters of her own breaking water and baby spit up and has published in an all-mommy pub, mem, what she describes as her, "first all girl affair."

Reb says:

"The obvious truth is having a child has dramatically changed my life."


"Two years ago I wouldn't have bothered flipping through this publication -- but now I find it extremely vital and necessary."

Check out Reb's blog and the pub mem - here.



In the bloggy blog
of blogitude
a blog went blogging
and met a blogger
who bloggingly

blog you!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006


In the spirit of Michelle e o's blog Headlines & Poetry (which is always a good read - check it out), I am writing a spontaneous (and silly) poem in response to this headline:

Bush Urges Confidence in His Leadership

Confidence is not granted
when simply asked for
it's earned.

How long should we keep
our hand in the fire
pretending it doesn't burn?

How long can we tip our heads
at the sound of a silent

No more. No More.

P.S. In the photo with the article, what do you think Bush is showing the size of?

The economy?