Monday, July 31, 2006


Poetry challenge:

Watch this video about starlings, then write a poem in response.

Sunday, July 30, 2006


Poetry Daily and Verse Daily both featured translated poems with a theme yesterday:

Just as This Island Belongs to the Gulls . . .

Just as this island belongs to the gulls,
and the gulls to their cry
and their cry to the wind
and the wind to no one,

so is this island the gulls,
and the gulls are their cry
and their cry is the wind
and the wind no one's.

Poetry Daily
Herman de Coninck
Translated by Laure-Anne Bosselaar and Kurt Brown

To Who Comes Near

Simply, a sea gull's step
will cross the rooms of your sea.
A sphere shines, moon-like; the drawers
are empty: inside the pendulum clock
you've shut corals
and wet postcards. There is one key
too many in the ring. Like water
that overflows, a key white and without a place
will let one who comes near know
the playing will last long along the shore.

Verse Daily
Isacco Turina
translated by Emmanuel Di Pasqaule

I think I'm partial to the first poem, how about you?


Milestones and life changes motivate me. Starting on my birthday, I sent out poetry submissions - a mad flurry. Currently, I have about 40 poems out there awaiting rejections. These are not simultaeous submissions - 40 different poems. I am also completing my first manuscript.

I know I'm supposed to think positively, but expecting rejection is protection. In less than 4 years, I have published 9 poems. Momentum does not appear to be behind this process. It creeps along.


I am a seagull. I search the shore. I am among hundreds, thousands. All crying for the same bread.

Saturday, July 29, 2006


Today we took MH's training wheels of her bike and gave it a go. Her inclination to GO has always been so powerful, but her confidence can't quite keep up.

Chaos Theory

I knew you first
in a swirl of cosmos
inside churn of life
brewing soul in a grain
of rice

it doesn't happen
just like that

your father said
I smiled
hand on the ceiling
of your sky

I dreamt you
your dark hair
played with you
on the floor until told
to put you back
startled awake
by the thought
of logistics

you took a pacifier
like a piece of love
couldn't wait
to get out of my arms
off of my lap
and go



The pet saga continues.

Turtles are illegal to sell in North Carolina, which threw a wrench in our Pet Plan B. We almost ordered a turtle online, which is shipped overnight, but the whole thing seemed a bit sketchy. Plus, turtles can live for half a century. That's a big commitment.

Pet Plan C involved going to the giant local pet store and getting a Teddy Bear hamster (a white and tan Syrian) for MH, and two Molly fish (one black, one white) for Liam. Fish are the perfect pet for him since he doesn't have to touch them and they don't lick him.

MH's hamster's name is Elephant, named after Little Bill's hamster. (Little Bill is probably my all time favorite cartoon, created by Bill Cosby.)

Elephant bit her last night. Love hurts.

Liam named his fish Tim and Tom. When he woke up this morning, Tom was floating in the fake plant. It was difficult to explain that he was not sleeping, and, no, the plant didn't kill him. Liam decided to not get another fish, so we are left with Tim, the lone Molly fish.

On our way home with the bag of fish in Liam's lap, we almost ran over a large turtle crossing four lanes. We U-turned and relocated him to our neighborhood pond. Hopefully, this turtle karma will send us some pet good luck our way. We need it.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Ok, the puppy adopting is being put off until next summer. Our kids will be a year older; we'll have more time. I wish we could save all the dogs that need homes right now. Like Liam says - "bring them all home and have a big dog party."

Go to - it is overwhelmingly sad.

My husband is taking MH to the pet store this evening for a small turtle instead. She is a turtle "expert" - she researched them for a school project, and had an Eastern Box Turtle as a class pet.

This is more manageable for us right now. I am relieved. I am sad.


I submitted the following poem to Poets Against the War. Puts my dog adopting woes into some perspective.

bumper sticker: god is too big for one religion

I had trouble telling my daughter
about what happens to dogs
if they don't get adopted
at the kennel.

What do you think happens?

They grow up there.

I point out that there are
new unwanted puppies
and abandoned dogs
arriving every day.
There's just not enough room
so they put them down
to sleep.

Like Sleeping Beauty?

No baby, they don't get
kissed and live
ever after, they die.

This was too much for her.

Oh, the tears.

Oh, the still, pale belly
of reality.

Meanwhile, a girl is going down
into her safe room
for the fourth time today
to the familiar song
of sirens
because the god
she inherited
and the god across the border
don't get along.

But the safe room
is nothing like a womb.
She is raped and killed
her family dies too.


Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Kinda purty, eh?

While I was cooking this dinner last night - Sauteed Chicken with Rosemary, Olive, and Roasted Pepper Sauce over Orange Rice - my children did their own cooking in the other room. They were busy tossing a salad with french fries, bacon, and lettuce (i.e. torn construction paper of various colors in new stainless steel dog bowls).

The most fulfilling part of cooking a Rachael Ray meal "for the not too tired" is having both of your children "accidentally" spill their drinks on their dinner. Hmmmmm, are they trying to tell me something?

I try to be as true to the orginal recipe as I can, but have learned to use less zest, garlic, and red pepper flakes for my kids' bland tastes. Another variation was due to the fact that I couldn't find plain golden raisens at the store, so I used golden raisens with dried cherries instead. The cherries added extra color and kick.

This dish turned out well for the grown ups with an interesting combo of flavors, and the kids were coaxed into eating at least the chicken and rice, eventough the rice tasted like "tea" and had "stuff in it".

I have figured out that the secret to many RR recipes (in addition the flood of EVOO) is bits o' bacon.


Today is Craig and my 9 year wedding anniversary, to celebrate, we are looking at another puppy this evening for MH: a golden/collie mix.

How romantic!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


For my daughter's upcoming birthday, we are getting a puppy from a shelter. We have had difficulty finding a dog that is small and cute enough for her, but family-friendly enough. Yesterday, she fell in love with a Golden/Chow mix, then we learned more about how horrible a Chow's temperament can be, even as a mix breed. They can be more like cats: aloof, independent, anti-cuddly.

So, today we are off to find a puppy that is a better match for our family. My parents and friends are acting like we are crazy. OK, we are. But what's wrong with having two dogs and two kids? My daughter is turning 7 and has wanted a dog of her own for over a year. She is choosing to get this dog instead of having a birthday party. We understand that we will be doing most of the care for the dog, but we hope to teach her some responsibility as well.

We will be purchasing the traning DVDs from the Monk's of New Skete, watching them together, and training the puppy together. The 9-year-old dog we already have, Hannah, could use a few refresher courses as well. She is also a "pound pup" who is a bit neurotic, but as sweet as can be.

We Are Dog People

When we get a dog,
it is for life.
A dog is not a lamp.
You don't replace it
when it is old,
broken, or out of style.

Even if the lamp
eats off the counter
or barks at people
of different races
and any movement
she finds unnatural,
like bikes.

People who abandon
or abuse dogs will
come back as a dog
in their next life.
They will be
at the mercy
of a human being.


Monday, July 24, 2006


For my birthday I received a double-layer chocolate cake made by my kids and husband, my favorite dinner, stemless wine glasses, a wine carafe, a zester, and kitchen towels. With a gift certificate, I bought a couple of birthday outfits before we left for the family reunion. I also received this poem from Writer's Almanac - wasn't it nice that they remembered me on my birthday? ;)

Poem: "Creed" by Meg Kearney from An Unkindness of Ravens. © BOA Editions, Rochester, New York, 2001.


I believe the chicken before the egg
though I believe in the egg. I believe
eating is a form of touch carried
to the bitter end; I believe chocolate
is good for you; I believe I'm a lefty
in a right-handed world, which does not
make me gauche, or abnormal, or sinister.
I believe "normal" is just a cycle on
the washing machine; I believe the touch
of hands has the power to heal, though
nothing will ever fill this immeasurable
hole in the center of my chest. I believe
in kissing; I believe in mail; I believe
in salt over the shoulder, a watched
pot never boils, and if I sit by my
mailbox waiting for the letter I want
it will never arrive—not because of
superstition, but because that's not
how life works. I believe in work:
phone calls, typing, multiplying,
black coffee, write write write, dig
dig dig, sweep sweep. I believe in
a slow, tortuous sweep of tongue
down the lover's belly; I believe I've
been swept off my feet more than once
and it's a good idea not to name names.
Digging for names is part of my work,
but that's a different poem. I believe
there's a difference between men and
women and I thank God for it. I believe
in God, and if you hold the door
and carry my books, I'll be sure to ask
for your name. What is your name? Do
you believe in ghosts? I believe
the morning my father died I heard him
whistling "Danny Boy" in the bathroom,
and a week later saw him standing in
the living room with a suitcase in his
hand. We never got to say good-bye, he
said, and I said I don't believe in
good-byes. I believe that's why I have
this hole in my chest; sometimes it's
rabid; sometimes it's incoherent. I
believe I'll survive. I believe that
"early to bed and early to rise" is
a boring way to live. I believe good
poets borrow, great poets steal, and
if only we'd stop trying to be happy
we could have a pretty good time. I
believe time doesn't heal all wounds;
I believe in getting flowers for no
reason; I believe "Give a Hoot, Don't
Pollute," "Reading is Fundamental,"
Yankee Stadium belongs in the Bronx,
and the best bagels in New York are
boiled and baked on the corner of First
and 21st. I believe in Santa
Claus, Jimmy Stewart, ZuZu's petals,
Arbor Day, and that ugly baby I keep
dreaming about—she lives inside me
opening and closing her wide mouth.
I believe she will never taste her
mother's milk; she will never be
beautiful; she will always wonder what
it's like to be born; and if you hold
your hand right here—touch me right
here, as if this is all that matters,
this is all you ever wanted, I believe
something might move inside me,
and it would be more than I could stand.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


lawn overdue

weeds have reclaimed
planting areas
roses gangly reach

papery comb in corner
of front door
wasp mother can't be far

air inside stale
appliances unplugged
well rested

mailbox empty except
for one flyer
have you seen me?

I always look closely

I'm 34 today
spent most of the day
driving home


Saturday, July 15, 2006


Here's the same poem with a new title (still not sure about it) and a few tweaks based on responses I got from my Friday Poem Swap group. Each Friday on a rotation, one of us e-mails a poem and in the next week we all respond to it with what was effective and then suggestions. We always seem to temper our responses with reminders that this is our own subjective perspective on a poem. I take these responses to heart because they are honest (yet kind) critiques. Nothing worse than a critique that is only trying to show one's own poetic prowess, or one that falsely praises.

forced relocation

can't keep grass down
pushes up
through seams
of concrete driveway
through cracks
of ever buckling
tectonic plates

can't hear conversation
above din
of night insect
and creature protest
throbs in wall
of trees encircling mall
pressing in

can't help but wonder
when we will be shaken
off her back
cement scabs
and all


I am always open to anyone's responses to my poems on this blog that our offered up with honesty and kindness (two attributes this world is short on).

Thursday, July 13, 2006


can't keep grass down

pushes up
through seams
of concrete driveway
through cracks
of ever buckling
tectonic plates

can't keep
conversation above
din of night insects
throb in wall
of trees encircling mall
pressing in

can't help
but wonder when
we will be shaken
off her back
cement scabs
and all


Tuesday, July 11, 2006


We just finished reading Charlotte's Web as a family last night, and this morning the Writer's Almanac daily e-mail informs me that it is E.B. White's birthday:

It's the birthday of E.B. (Elwyn Brooks) White, born in Mount Vernon, New York (1899). In addition to writing children's books, he was also a great essayist, and he wrote many of his essays about taking care of a small farm. He especially liked writing about the personalities and goings-on of his farm animals. In his essay, "The Geese," he wrote, "I have had geese ... for a number of years and they have been my friends. 'Companions' would be a better word; geese are friends with no one, they badmouth everybody and everything. But they are companionable once you get use to their ingratitude and their false accusations."

White was a young advertising copywriter in 1925, when he happened to purchase the first issue of The New Yorker magazine at a newsstand in Grand Central Station. He bought it and eventually joined the staff in 1926.

In 1929, he took a vacation to Ontario, working at a summer camp that he had gone to as a kid, and he seriously considered quitting his job at The New Yorker to become a camp director. He had just turned thirty, and he was disappointed that he hadn't written anything other than a lot of humorous magazine pieces. He wrote in a letter to Katherine Angell that he considered himself a failure as a writer, a mere hack, and he wasn't sure what the point was in continuing. She wrote back to say that there was no question in her mind that he was a great writer, even if he hadn't produced a masterpiece yet. When White returned to New York, he married her.

They eventually moved to a farmhouse in Maine, where White kept animals. He was particularly fond of his pigs and felt guilty about turning them into ham and bacon. One day, while he was walking through his orchard, carrying a pail of slop to his pig, he got an idea for a story about how a pig's life could be saved. He said, "I had been watching a large spider in the backhouse, and what with one thing and another, the idea came to me."

That was Charlotte's Web, which came out in 1952. It's the story of Wilbur, a runt pig saved from slaughter when a spider named Charlotte begins to weave words about him into a web above his pen. After saving his life, she lays her eggs and dies. White's publishers tried to get him to change the unhappy ending, but he refused.

Charlotte's Web became the masterpiece E.B. White had been trying to write his whole life.

E. B. White wrote, "All I hope to say in books, all that I ever hope to say, is that I love the world."

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Making breakfast for dinner

by Tammy Trendle

broken eggs in a bowl
red spots in the yolk
I scoop them out with a hollow shell
brown, made without the use of

hormones replaced with a pill
age 33, her friends from law school
were having kids and she wanted one too
pre-menopause, the doctor said

fertilized egg, she explained
during lunch in the office break room
this is why she stopped buying organic - -
too many times she’d find
drops of blood

thick and yellow
small quick circles with a fork
metal taps against ceramic
a rhythmic sound

of coiled springs
my dad and stepmother
only a thin wall between us
she lost her first breast
at the age of 32
soon after the house became quiet

a small voice behind me
mommy, where’s your penis?
my two-and-a-half year old son asks
and I tell him that mommy doesn’t have one
because mommy is a girl

nowadays a girl can be anything she wants
my grandfather said to me - -
go to college, get an education, be successful

a dash of Tabasco
a splash of milk

breasts leak beneath my blouse
no place to pump at work
except the storage room
cardboard boxes, paper towels spread out
on a dusty table and a picture
of my smiling baby boy

small talk about organic eggs in the break room
plastic bottles of my breast
milk in the fridge next to her
leftover lasagna

No one ever taught me how to make it
how to juggle without breaking
all the things I want

little things like
his big blue eyes when he says
mommy, thank you for making me


I met Tammy in MySpace, a place I got overwhelmed by, but I did meet some great poets/friends there.

Tammy's poetry always seems to effortlessly weave scenes and images. Casual conversations, glimpses, passing thoughts, sounds - all these threads come together in a stunning way. Like the poem above peaks with:

"No one ever taught me how to make it
how to juggle without breaking
all the things I want"

I e-mailed Tammy to ask permission to post this poem, and to find out what goes into her work.

For this poem in particular she, " . . . wanted to write a poem about what it feels like to be a woman in today's world - - juggling career, motherhood, being a wife, a friend, etc. And the absurdity of having to pump in the storage room at work and storing bottles of breast milk in the refrigerator at work . . ."

She finds inspiration for most of her poetry during her long Atlanta commute to and from her day job. Poems by Tammy can be found at Her Kind of Blog.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

BACK ON . . .

Returned this evening to a home that smells stuffy.


American Life in Poetry: Column 067


One in a series of elegies by New York City poet Catherine Barnett, this poem describes the first gathering after death has shaken a family to its core. The father tries to help his grown daughter forget for a moment that, a year earlier, her own two daughters were killed, that she is now alone. He's heartsick, realizing that drinking can only momentarily ease her pain, a pain and love that takes hold of the entire family. The children who join her in the field are silent guardians.

Family Reunion

My father scolded us all for refusing his liquor.
He kept buying tequila, and steak for the grill,
until finally we joined him, making margaritas,
cutting the fat off the bone.

When he saw how we drank, my sister
shredding the black labels into her glass
while his remaining grandchildren
dragged their thin bunk bed mattresses

first out to the lawn to play
then farther up the field to sleep next to her,
I think it was then he changed,
something in him died. He's gentler now,

quiet, losing weight though every night
he eats the same ice cream he always ate
only now he's not drinking,
he doesn't fall asleep with the spoon in his hand,

he waits for my mother to come lie down with him.

Reprinted from "Into Perfect Spheres Such Holes Are Pierced," Alice James Books, 2004, by permission of the author. Copyright (c) 2004 by Catherine Barnett. 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.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

OFF . . .

. . . to the mountains for a week.

Have a safe and relaxing 4th of July.