Friday, January 06, 2017

Cognitive Assessment

Remember these words in this order:
red velvet daisy church face. Got it?

Here, let’s say them first together.
Remember these words in this order.
A color? Good. A fabric? Great! Flower?
You can do it, take your time. Commit.
Remember these words in this order:
red velvet daisy church face. Got it?

Now tell me how to draw a clock —
After the circle, what shows the time?

The curtains pulled at noon, it’s dark —
Now tell me how to draw a clock.
After the hands, what are the marks?
Verbal, you don’t need a pen, you’re fine.
Now tell me how to draw a clock —
After the circle, what shows the time?


A triolet, doubled. I think each stanza can work on its own with the same title, but I had more to write than one octave.

Sunday, September 18, 2016


My father has work to do,
needs to play his cards face up, not
block in case there’s a king to move
into this or that open space. The cards

of his last days, in descending order. Unless
God pops up from the foundation pile, you
can expect only the continuous snap, see
him shuffle from recliner to the immediate

safety of bathroom. There is no gain
in his decision to let go of his heart. It’s a shitty deal.
We may never know what is hidden in one
tableau or another, a gem or a regret. At

best we learn to expose the cards we cannot see, a
joker of preparation, the illusion of a suit that tricks time.

A Bref Double a la Echo (sans rhyme) this morning. The end words of each line read: Do not move cards unless you see immediate gain. Deal one at a time.

Thursday, August 04, 2016


I'm off Facebook indefinitely, which has over the course of a couple of days given me more time to think for myself. This morning I woke up and wondered what day it was and my answer was "seven." Then I realized it was Thursday, but that Thursday is seven. And Saturday is ten. And Friday has always been eight, but I'm not sure what Monday or Tuesday or Sunday are. Wednesday is five. I'm not sure if this is clarity or some other vision, but I'll take it over what is shared on social media.

In dance, I don't think. I move. When given the time to reflect on it the other night, I recognized that in all angular movements (robot, signal), my eyes know exactly where to go. Exclusive. It is a singularity of vision. When my body is in fluid movement (bubble, ooze, clouds), my gaze is everywhere, a plurality of vision. Inclusive. There's no judgement in these observations. They are just observations, and subject to change as I explore more the spaces between movement and language.

My handwriting over the past few mornings has produced a couple of visual poems. Today I took some time to re-create them. I'm not sure if they are improvements over the original "mistakes" or just new ideas entirely.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Why I Collect Spent Matchsticks

Not ten of them
but hundreds.

Not for the firework
of their blockbuster blossoming.
Not the lick ticking clock
or the lipstick worn down
to a curve of lip.
Not for a curl of smoke
or wisp of hair.
Not for the closed eye
or ear.

Never in a stack, not glued.

Each phosphorus blast
is a brocade of sun at my fingers.
Not trees with their shade of clouds.

A series of ones, stuttering duds.
My drenched bonfire society!

Singular candles of complaint
I strike, hiss, hiss, miss.
Wooden snakes with dead heads.

No. Not death.

A fever of peonies,
my inferno of pinwheels.
Sparklers that saluted
one difficult and glorious day
after another.

An recording of me reading this poem is available here.

Friday, July 08, 2016

Departures and Arrivals

Gypsy moth caterpillars parade by our tentative feet
in the short term parking lot, a long walk
from your international flight. Oh how I love
and have loved the sky that was television blue
that day in September when you were in second grade
and unaware. Fear painted us all bright as a game.

Parts of fire ladders and stairwell remain. Today the game
is departure. Let’s go, let’s go, say your ticking feet,
steps ahead of mine, ready for a fresh grade
of landscape, centuries old and embryonic, a walk
through operatic pastures, a kiss under blue
club lights in Spain. I let you go to love

the world and all its stories of love —
slurred, deferred, the ones we made into a game
to conquer, look how old they are, how blue
the bruises are, still. I hope that your feet
only have to handle the glamour of dancing, a walk
through mountains with windy arms. I grade

what I haven’t seen by what I’ve read. You’ll grade
nothing, live in corners without banners, love
and remember streamers and lamplight, a walk
far from the sea, from me, your mother’s game,
a showcase full of worried birds. Their dusty feet
a bunch of pitiful rakes that gain no flight, no blue.

This is just how it is, it’s how far I can go with you, the blue
is yours. For now. Take it. The panoramic view is a grade
of empire without a ruler, no one ever owns it. Clamorous feet
have tried. Our country always marches in the name of love
while chanting inside a courtyard of dead bodies. The game
is not to look too American. To understand our walk

has the look of daggers and nostalgia. I’ll wait to recognize your walk
at the arrival gate, your stride thistled by growth. So much blue,
red and white in this open space, round crimson seats like game
pieces, drops of blood. Come home! Stay there! Grade
the fancy aching pain of experience against the love
of your unequal family, exchange your money, wash your feet

in the happiness of those walks that blotted all grade,
laundered everything to blue. Here you are, yes, the love
I made, game spirit, who won’t even crush a caterpillar under her feet.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Body of Memory

Every day your body of memory,
string art of neurons, the center pulled taut.
Here you are again, a chain reaction

of catastrophic perfectionism,
trying, trying, trying as you drive the car home.
Every day your body of memory

dances the stories you thought you forgot --
the time a wren thwacked against the windshield.
Here you are again, a chain reaction,

nerve bundles at the side of the road,
feathers and wires of feet in your hands.
Every day your body of memory.

The car is a symbol for the body
in dreams, but this death is yours for real,
here you are! Again, a chain reaction,

your hands pulled the strings, stopped flight,
wrung out song. Your own fire of fingers,
every day. Your body of memory --
here you are again. A chain reaction.

A somewhat villanelle, written after taking a dance class.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

How Many Poems Have You Sold, If Any At All?

Well, don’t be shy. Let me check the tally here,
under this stack of poems that I spilled tea on the other night.
The stain spread across lines about a bird that notices
the loose string of a clip-on tie. It’s not even my poem. A girl
about your age wrote it. She said, “I am not the whole.”

I am not the whole either. I am parts, many parts, a cobweb
that someone tried to relocate from an oak to a porch.

The girl leapt metaphorically from herself
to a bird in a class I taught. There’s that triumph.
Pay for that work covered the water, sewer,
and trash bills this month.

But you asked how many poems I’ve sold.
A specific question.

A boy in the sixth grade classes I’m teaching now
scrunches up his forehead at me and asks,
“When you’re not here, what do you do?” I tell him
I wait outside all night until I hear the door unlock.
Not too much of a lie.

“No, what do you REALLY do?” Hungry for the precise
answer too, that kid.

Are you supposed to sell poems? After 30 or so years
of writing them, I’m pretty sure no one wants
to pay for my truths. They prefer the news,
or reality television, the steady  thrum and throng
of here’s-what-you-should-think,
and ads that promise there’s a medication
for the way you’ve been staring out the window all this time,
instead of making money.

My truth is free.
So here it is.
I’ve sold no poems.

At least I don’t think so. Books of them, in a way,
but people always want to barter, or I end up
paying to ship them overseas. My poems
are better traveled than I am.

I’ve written as many as there were moths
on my bedroom ceiling at night when I was your age
and I couldn’t get to sleep in the black hole
that was the end of every single day.

I’m not sure what they are for in our world today.
Moths, or poems. They disappear.
A moth’s body —
have you seen it?
It is feathered dust.

If at all. You’re ruthless enough
to be the next one
to wait outside until you hear
the door unlock,
reverse your fame,
become the richest poor
woman alive
in her own