Friday, October 29, 2010

And The Fever Left


Take off your mask
take off your jeans
let go of that kitten
and put your soft hands on me

Time spun you away one year
took me down
and then brought you back here

You are a Stranger to me
because of your sincerity
-- which I know because of where you don't look --
your words are a crown
for the weariest eyes:
(I'm covered in mud
compost skull
a head full of shit
familiar with fungus, I am close
to damp-death)

Your flickering, fading-full
your light, your life as a miracle and your absence of hate
was my last-second
unexpected grace.

You're not the color I was looking

Friend, you wrapped my wounds
in caution tape
and carried my broken body back to bed, where I just slept
still, safely.

I knew you were meant to be like that silver stallion
just a touch of sadness in his fingers
and with my weak breath
I breathed a prayer over you:
a thank-you so silent
I hope it heals you: still.

I hope your skin will absorb the truth, slowly,
like water and like blood
we can dissolve into the blessing
of a perfectly timed friendship.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Hannah Veak

I think that somewhere along the way we turned into good women.

It has been more than a pleasure to experience the last 4 years with you.

You are my best friend, and I love you, Hannah Veak.

Chin up.
Chest out.

The not careful one

-- Photo by Rachel Jonas

Monday, September 27, 2010

Milk and Moon

A woman is one kind of creature
in the coolness of the porch
another species in the kettle steam
the brown heat of the kitchen
and a third in the dimly lit bedroom
You have many names for these changes
still she thrusts
her chin up
for the many layers, peels, phases,
cocentric circles, lunar cycles, spheres, spaces,
dirty sinew, ripped laces, mixed metals, bloody rags, cut bread,
old snow, rusty leaves, powdered shadows, wide ranges.

--Dedicated to Stacey Cope

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Potato Grace

Poetry comes to me through the potatoes.
My head grows sane with each stroke
of the knife
through the rough, pulling skin,
translucent white tuber.

I pour the salt and think of God,
asking him to close every door
and let me be alone
at the cutting board:

A place
where there is no insecurity
no fear
no jealousy

Just a small task,
and peace in that.

Marge Piercy

Now I get coarse when abstract nouns start flashing.
I go out to the kitchen to talk cabbages and habits.
I try hard to remember to watch what people do.

-- "In the Men's Room(s)"

Pregnancy Test

You loved him as his mother always told him
he deserved to be loved.
Now love yourself.

Her round belly withers, whittled
dry down to the roots,
and less than a life
lies beneath cold mud.

She smears cold butter on sourdough.
As his truck pulls away,
she is comforted by the absence of a stranger
and eats breakfast alone.

Words can steal dreams
from underneath the moon.
She will curse the day
his fingers opened wide
the sweetness, like a snow-cone,
left to melt,
now - polluted, salty as the sea.

After pulling on thin jeans
and washing her face in the dirty sink,
she leaves guilt -small, plastic, and negative-
on the table
and is gone forever.

Until the periods
between death
and resurrection
she will dream
- slowly -
of growing back
as sleek and fat,
an aloe plant.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Recipe: for sisters

Sister: You have two claws
and a beak where there used to be a mouth
-- black beady eyes and a red nose.
You want to slit open his guts
with the sharp edge
of each word.

Sister: You have a popped
blood vessel in your right eye
and your head in a ceramic bowl.
You're far away from us
and drowsy, head drooping
like a small child sitting
too long in the sun.

Sister: You are stuck in the middle
of someone else's crusted-black lung,
your problems like flies
around your glorious crown.

Sister: You have a bare brown arm in the moonlight,
and you hear a soft echo--
Do you miss it?
Creeping slowly into your bed
is a memory of bird noises made in the kitchen.
Closed eyes block out the silence
and a confession that was stuck, I'm sure, on the tip of a tongue --
but you left that love on the porch.

By the pure power of our imagination we:
dreamed all evil men good
thought bad things about our bodies
and supposed we could save lost souls.

We were trapped
in the seedy under-belly
of the bible belt.

But now, quietly waging a war to be free,
we slip out of town
one by one,
and our soft, scarred arms
as we put down the weights.

This is the grit that grinds the pearl.
This is the wind that waxes the world.
This is the worm that undoes the fact.

[dedicated to Cassidy Sickmen]


My brother and I found the edge of the world.

The wind was blowing hot that day and sand flecks were getting stuck on my lips. I pushed my sunglasses close to my face because the sun was glaring, and I felt a sensation that told me my cheeks were beginning to burn. I looked over at my brother and saw that his shoulders were red and sweat was dripping out of his hairline. The white fluffy beach was tough to walk through, so we moved down to the water line and let our feet track in the waves. I stepped on seashells and felt them crack beneath the arch of my feet; I was scared they would cut through my skin.

My mind was trying to take in the atmosphere around me. The round searing orange and white sun, the crispy blue sky, the salty taste, it was too much at once. The farther we walked along the beach the less people were around. The wind began to blow so hard against us we had to lean into it to keep walking forward. The water was not rolling. The waves came up into very triangular, crashing waves onto the beach. Each torrent of water that pushed itself onto the shore looked like a glass wall, and then it shattered across the grainy flecks of sand with a roar that filled the whole coastline.

We came upon a sign that commanded us to walk no further. I was tired and a little bit scared. We sat down in the sand, right next to the sign that said stop. We were on the very tip of the beach and the shoreline, no matter how hard it tried, could reach no further. The waves came from the left side of the sky and the right side of the sky, colliding right in front of us, they knocked each other down. The edges of the sea came right up and underneath our toes. On the other side of the sign we saw wild horses galloping hard across the sand. Their hooves pounded so hard that the sound almost drowned out the growling of the waves.

I asked my brother “Where are we?” He laughed and said he didn’t really know. I laughed too, and then I began to cry. I told my brother I was sorry about how he almost lost his first son. I told him I was sorry about the pain I knew he would have to carry for the rest of his life. He was quiet for a minute and then very quietly he said “Wouldn’t it be funny if I lassoed one of those wild horses and rode it down the beach with a white oxford shirt, unbuttoned?” He knew that would make me laugh. I turned my eyes back to the water and let the wind dry out my face. I saw muddy clouds in the distance; they were on the way to give Florida its four o’clock rain shower. My brother stood up. Quietly, we walked back to the car, the warm thick air pressed into us and the hot wind was to our backs.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Aiming For the Feast

During communion I wonder:

How would the man without any arms
hold the bread?

You have to feel it tear.

How would the lady with shut-blinded eyes
see the wine?

You have to know that it is red.

To drop off salvation's shelf --
just wasn't in their plans.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Too Alone

A poem by Rilke, Translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy:

I'm too alone in the world, yet not alone enough
to make each hour holy.
I'm too small in the world, yet not small enough
to be simply in your presence, like a thing -
just as it is.

I want to know my own will
and to move with it.
And I want, in the hushed moments
when the nameless draws near,
to be among the wise ones -
or alone.

I want to mirror your immensity.
I want never to be too weak or too old
to bear the heavy, lurching image of you.

I want to unfold.
Let no place in me hold itself closed,
for where I am closed, I am false.
I want to stay clear in your sight.

I would describe myself
like a landscape I've studied
at length, in detail;
like a word I'm coming to understand;
like a pitcher I pour from at mealtime;
like my mother's face;
like a ship that carried me
when the waters raged.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Finding Your Place

Unexpected Home

Addicts, alcoholics, cockroaches, broken refrigerators everywhere, a half-finished fire pit, and PBR cans in the parking lot, I never wanted to move here. I certainly didn’t plan on staying. Somehow, though, this crumbling brick building has become the sweetest home I’ve ever had.

During the worst three months of my life, this small kitchen has held me tightly in her arms. The porch has rested faithfully beneath my broken body, my broken mind, and my cigarette butts. Here I took my final blows from God, others, and myself before I finally fell, face sobbing into the bathroom floor. August ended sweetly, and in her last moments, she woke me up at 4:43 a.m. and told me “That’s enough.”

[Healing] Even though I had lost everything, the next morning still came, and there were eggs. Salted eggs and coffee. And later that day there were beautiful people in the chairs next to me. [Quiet]

You will find your place when you sit still enough to see, when you sit so still the moon can’t find you, when you notice the sweetness of the sidewalk and the stupid cat, when you see the people around you so closely you hear their hearts breaking and the words that they are saying, when you pause to hold their hands, to wash their feet, and pass one minute at a time.

You will find your place when you let go just long enough to let the place you’re in hold you. Let it cultivate your heart. Even if it’s just one small plant. The Virginian has sowed a small cherry tomato plant in my heart, I think.

The first fruit, it came at summer’s end.

I know this won’t be my place forever, but I will always believe that I belonged to these bricks, for a time. In her dying days, I hope The Virginian will remember me.

The days here were drenched with significance, and they will be until I close the patio door, pack my coffee pot, and leave to find another kitchen.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

"This poem has a nice turn" -- A. Lockard

I'd marry you if
I inherited a million dollars
and I knew I was going to die tomorrow
I'd marry you
so that I could leave you all the money
and so that you could know you are loved
but I wouldn't have to spend my life
putting up with all your shit.

Your Desire Shall Be.

I had to sweat you out like a fever,
glistening on a pale yellow bed sheet,
with my back arched to the sky.

Glistening like an empty field of
clotted clay scraped into neat rows of violent red.
Glistening like the steaming earth
under night-time dew and
the coolness
of the moon's sweet palm
pressed against my forehead
telling me to hush.

Autumn is on her way
with her mists and
her grace --
letting me dissolve into her arms
with a heart prepared for winter.

Keeping conscious and carefully placing,
I take bed-head, squinted eyes, and a red nose
to the kitchen window.
The steam from my breath leaves
me unsure of the light
that crawls across this town.

I wash my black feet before I sleep,
and each night
I wait for the day.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

To Be a Woman

Sarah Veak sent me this quote; I love the definition of woman that it gives:

"A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving. Yet separation from the wildish nature causes a woman's personality to become meager, thin, ghosty, spectral. We are not meant to be puny with frail hair and inability to leap up, inability to give chase, to birth, to create a life. When women's lives are in stasis, ennui, it is always time for the wildish woman to emerge; it is time for the creating function of the psyche to flood the delta...It means to establish territory, to find one's pack, to be in one's body with certainty and pride regardless of the body's gifts and limitations, to speak and act in one's behalf, to be aware, alert, to draw on the innate feminine powers of intuition and sensing, to... come into one's cycles, to find what one belongs to, to rise with dignity, to retain as much consciousness as we can."

--Clarissa Pinkola Estes

Wednesday, July 28, 2010



What can I really say? I saved the best for last. Or is it only because you are the oldest that I have so many thoughts about your life? The first time we met was in the hospital, sure. But the first time we really met was when you were enamored by a giant gold pin I was wearing. You grabbed it with your baby hand and wouldn't let it go, and then you just looked up at me smiling this huge smile. I think you knew that we were going to be friends.

Hoarder of jewels and keeper of the boys
you scare me because of
that (almost fearless) defiant look
you remind me so much of myself

I do not love that you are already

I will never forget when I lived across the hall and
you would wake up in the mornings and jump on my bed
We would dance to
O Celia, you're breaking my heart
you're shaking my confidence baby

singing the words with all of our breath

Now, when I come over
you are busy
you are the talk of the town
your friends are much older than you are
and you have very important birthday parties

But sometimes I still get to have you all to myself
I tell you special secrets
just so you make that little face you do:
your mouth gets small, your cheeks red, and your eyes squint
I tell you
so that you know I love you and
so that you will keep giving me the best hugs

and I think that
although you plan on giving
everyone else in this world trouble

I'm not on the list.

You lost your top and bottom teeth at the same time
and you look the prettiest when the sea washes all the sparkles out
of your hair

Yesterday, at the beach,
you cut your finger on a seashell.
I carried you and your sunburnt freckled nose
to shore and
you kissed my cheek with your
salty mouth.

Friday, July 23, 2010

"Do I Dare?"

I'm in Cleveland for a couple weeks right now, and I've been going to some of the thrift stores I used to raid back in high school. Today I saw an old man in a white and blue pinstripe suit at the checkout counter of Unique Thrift with his wife, who was wearing all pink with a huge straw hat. They were having so much fun together, and they were buying more ridiculous clothes. I believe that how you dress matters, but I also believe that it should be fun. If you are stressed, anxious and self-concious about what you are wearing, or you are dressing to please others, it takes the joy out of putting on clothes. The old man in the pinstripe suit was clearly liberated from self-conciousness, and he was the biggest fan of his own outfit. Ok maybe his wife was, and then him. I told the couple they were my fashion heroes, and then decided I needed to make a post about it.

Whether it is the person who is wearing the outfit, or the outfit who is wearing the person, here are some of my favorites:

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sounds of Summer

I have been listening to some musak this fine summer-break. Here is a random sampling of some lovely tunes. Maybe you will like it, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll dance, maybe you can't. Mad props to my lovely sister Bean for helping me find some of this schnazzle.

Re-loving Band of Horses:

... and here is a remix of the oriJ. that I really like (PG-13, kids):

Loving Florence and her remake of Beirut (also a great band):

Dancing to Edward, always:

Also dancing to MIA (I wanted to post Tell Me Why, but I can't find it):

Sometimes I sing this in the car:

Kid Cudi's new album may have been one of the best purchases I made this summer:

Album Leaf for chill rainy nights in Cleveland, like tonight:

Lykke Li for little dance parties in the solitude of your very own apartment in the ghetto:

Still not sick of this song by Stateless:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Maeleigh Joy

How dare we call you unplanned
(yet sometimes I wonder if you're really here)
You are lighter than a small brown feather, the fluffy kind
When you open wide your gunmetal eyes
they feel as sharp as a knifepoint
which draws back quickly upon being discovered
Your lips are like a little bird
I see your mind hopping through the grass as
You so inquisitively
so carefully
take the smallest bite
of pink frosting
from the tip of my spoon
in the morning sunshine.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Female Support Continued...

In my last post about this topic, I mentioned several ways that females harm themselves. I had a male friend ask, almost as if he was offended, if I thought those errors were limited to "just women." My answer: in the case of the bra advice, yes, this is (hopefully) an error limited to females. All the other errors could be made by men too. I just notice that, as a woman, I make these mistakes, and I see my female friends, coworkers and family members doing the same. I could write about errors that men make, but that would be a different blog :)

Here are a few more things from the list:

  • Women hurt themselves when they don't develop relationships with other women. This one is huge and it probably deserves a post of its own. In fact, my friend Bri and I are going to write a book called You Need Your Bitches. Having healthy relationships with other women can be extremely difficult, but it is essential to be a healthy, happy woman with a sense of humor and a good perspective. I lived in a house with six ladies for two years. Living my life so close to them, day after day, was challenging in so many ways. Before I lived at Westover house, most of my friends were dudes. The ladies were a whole new world. We were able to call eachother out in ways that our guys friends probably wouldn't think about or want to confront us about. Having strong friendships with eachother was easy for the first few months, and then when the party died and the shit hit the fan, we had to make the choice to stay committed or bail. We stayed committed, and I can say that we pulled eachother up out of or through big piles of poo. I know I wouldn't be successful in the ways I am today without their annoying questioning, their tough love, their advice I didn't want to hear, their laughter, and the food they brought to our giant wooden table.

  • Now this one might be controversial, but I think women hurt themselves when they deny their period affects them. This happens, alot, and I don't understand why. We have hormones, and they change regularly. Don't deny it. The moon goes through phases, the ocean tide swells, and so do we. Some of my friends seem ashamed of their menstruation cycle. One lady I know said something this past week that made me want to add this to the list. She had just started her period at work. I asked her if she was ok and she informed me that her period "didn't effect her." It was almost as if her period was something embarassing to her and that it should be kept a secret. She mentioned that it "wasn't an excuse to act differently." I disagree. I don't think that having your period means you get a free license to act like a sensitive crazy. However, your menstruation cycle does effect you and cause you to behave and feel differently. The sooner you accept and understand that, the more you can handle yourself in a postive way during that time of the month. One tip my mom gave me a few years ago has proven to be helpful. She told me to try and avoid making important/big decisions during my most sensitive days. I laughed at her when she told me that, but I secretly followed her advice and it has saved me some troubles.

  • Indoor tanning: don't do it.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Life in the Plants


One calloused finger placed carefully
gives significance to the small spot
at the base of the spine.

Five of my fingers found you.
Five of my fingers enclosed
yarrow: the stem, leaf, and flower.
I was trying to divine the weather
untangle your thoughts
tell your fortune
and induce your dreams: love.

Achilles cured the wounds of the Trojan war
with the small golden leaves.
If he staunched torn flesh
and arrested internal bleeding,
won't you crush these ancient petals in your palm?
Stain it yellow
and believe.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Female Support

There are quite a few things women can do to hurt themselves. I started collecting a list in my head. These are dangerous things I have done, seen friends struggle with, or observed as common pitfalls amongst the female population. I want to take my time and explain these errors with clarity, so I will only post a handful at a time.

Handful #1:

  • Women hurt themselves when they walk in offense. Seriously, either say something about it (this involves discernment and learning how to communicate effectively) or let it go. Holding it in only stresses you out and then makes you gain stress fat. The other person is probably at Starbucks enjoying an anxiety-free afternoon.

  • Women hurt themselves when they exercise too much. If you plan your day around all your own personal exercise routines, you miss out on real life. Don't cancel plans to meet up with friends or family because they don't fit into your cardio schedule. Fitness should be a part of your life not all of it.

  • Women hurt themselves when they don't know how to say no. A good friend looked me in the eye the other day and told me, with years of experience behind her words, "You don't have to do what you don't want to do." This was not a license for me to go ahead and do whatever I wanted, but it was a warning not to let people manipulate my actions or emotions. You will have to fight false guilt and shame all of your life. What matters is that you are following God's path, not trying to please other people.

  • Women hurt themselves when they buy the wrong bra size. Seriously lady, help yourself up and out.

  • Women hurt themselves when they don't know how to be alone (and at peace). Develop your ability to be on your own. Whether it is for a few minutes, hours, or days, solitude is good. Resist the urge to panic, pick up your cell phone and call your boyfriend or your mom. Just take a deep breath, find the nearest patio, and chill down. I have found that spending time alone has really helped develop my character. I use the time to read what I want to, pray, write letters, or even just sit. Alone-time is rare; just enjoy it.

More to come....

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


"But enough is enough. One turns at last even from glory itself with a sigh of relief. From the depths of mystery, and even from the heights of splendor, we bounce back and hurry for the latitudes of home."

-- Annie Dillard

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Dying For Beauty

what can be salvaged
from inexplicable grief --
my writing, dressed in the

vapors of the moon -- ancient,

--Gail Wronsky

The Trees

I sit inside, doors open to the veranda
writing long letters
in which I scarcely mention the departure
of the forest from the house.
The night is fresh, the whole moon shines
in a sky still open
The smell of leaves and lichen
still reaches like a voice into the rooms.
My head is full of whispers which tomorrow will be silent.

Listen. The glass is breaking.
The trees are stumbling foward
into the night. Winds rush to meet them.
The moon is broken like a mirror,
its pieces flash now in the crown
of the tallest oak.

--Adrienne Rich

Between These Pieces

The searching eye enveloped in
thick battered skin, folded
around clouded white cornea,
sought to look at the stars
as it was told.

What constellations delighted,
what did he see that
caused a covenant
a pledge, a plight,
a promise.

And when birds of prey came down
on the carcasses,
Abram drove them away.

as the sun goes down
and deep sleeps fall
on every tired eye

that will possess it.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


No one has ever told us we had to study our lives,

make of our lives a study, as if learning natural history

or music, that we should begin

with the simple exercises first

and slowly go on trying

the hard ones, practicing till strength

and accuracy became one with the daring.

--Adrienne Rich

Our thin house

walls were a papery-white membrane

that held the cloves a bulb.

In rich sand and sun

we thrive

(sleek, white and full)

without moist soil, parched,

(flakes crack and fall).

We cry out together:

protection from evil spirits

Reduce, prevent, strengthen.

[for Westover]