Monday, February 23, 2015

I Made This Heart For You Out of Sweater Fuzz

I assembled this poem from thank you notes written to me by third graders in 2003. I spent several weeks as a poet-in-residence in an elementary school in Scranton, PA, and at the time I won an award for a poem through Poets & Writers Magazine. I told the classes about the award, which was a trip to New York City to read my poem among some pretty esteemed company (Joan Murray, Molly Peacock, Sapphire, Timothy Liu, Regie Cabico). I told the kids I was nervous. They gave me some of the best advice ever: New York has big stages, but no reason to not go on them!" And the hilarious send-off: "I want to wish you good luck for going up against fancy poets."

On the Bus from Wilkes-Barre to New York City

To Miss Jennapher:
You have brighten up my day
and I will give you a poem.
Thank you for making me smarter.
Have a happy poem life!
Poetry is like planting
a seedling in your mouth.
Good luck in New York.
You shouldn't be afraid.
I wish you all the luck in the world.
It must be hard to talk
to hundreds of people.
Hopefully you won't mess up.
Just look at Jack.
I want to wish you good luck
for going up against fancy poets.
Be courageous.
It's probley going to be a blast.
Pretend you are talking to us.
You are a great pome teacher.
Remember to read on the bus.
New York has big stages,
but no reason to not go on them.
Flowers, flowers, everywhere!
Do you want to go?
I would want to.
What is your favorite poem?
Please mail it to me.
I'll mise you.
Come bake soon.
Just become famous, ok?
Poetry flies away
like a butterfly.
You run and run
but it goes higher and higher.
Will you try these mazes?
Try not to studder.
Miss Hill is like a rainbow
over a pot of gold.
Proly at this time
there is a tear
running down your cheek
because you won't see us.
Don't panic.
I made this heart for you
out of sweater fuzz.
It was all that I had.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Self Portrait As An Insecure Know-It-All Exposed For The Fraud She Is

Your opening credits are about to start
and you don't have a BFA, an MFA,
or how dare you, a PhD. You are
stubbornly unanagrammable
between academia and the rest of the world
where all the talent hangs out backstage
to toss a frisbee and chug champagne.

Monkey in the middle.

It is not enough to make a list.
You need to check the goals off
as successes, thrones where you dust
off your trophies. Been there, did that.
Done. Done. Done.

The way those two trees on the horizon
are forever apart, well, you imagined
them as parted lovers. It could have been a
story, a play, or a poem if you wrote it down,
even a dance if you stopped the car
and took off your shoes to fling
them into the snow.

You didn’t, and you forgot.

It’s ok to just make the list.
It’s a start, you darling of laze,
spectacle with eyes everywhere,
a weirdo for the exact moment
the light transforms you
from Ramona Quimby into Judi Dench.

Cue up your soundtrack, hurling and riotous,
inappropriate and alarming. Why didn’t you follow up
on that memo? You trashed the email about it.
The digital logo for this film is an armature you decided
wasn’t worth finishing.

Cut to the scene where you begged the universe
to shake out its purse full of ballerinas and hardball
and it did, and God or whoever answered all your prayers
with darts of laughter.

Yes, you can! Yes, you can!
You’re not good enough.

Oh, here, this part!
Watch, this part is the best.
Close on to when you learned to be happy
mid-life as he carried you piggyback
over the crumbling sidewalk.

What a klutz you still are
over your know-it-all confidence
as you leap onto any stage
that will have you.

You’ll always be alone in the force field
of a spotlight, your Eden of anxiety,
finally. Right there where you belong,
where you hear your father laughing.
Don’t move. Freeze. Happy, at last.

Let’s leave it at that.