Thursday, December 19, 2019

Page Match

Last Friday (right before I lost my voice), I participated in Page Match as Volta, my alter ego. She's all about delivering turns, gut punches of meaning ... you know, you think you might laugh, but then you cry, that sort of thing. She has to wear many sweatbands and a fanny pack full of melting chocolates to do this important work.

Everyone who took the stage that night and rose to the challenge of writing on-the-spot in ten minutes was fierce fire, and I was humbled and energized by sharing the writing table and stage with each one of them, and then relieved to take my wig off at the end of the night and eat a pancake at a local diner.

What can you write under pressure in ten minutes with a random prompt? I urge you to give it a try. It generates some wonderfully wild writing if you are willing to let go.

Congratulations to Monica Prince who took first place, to Carla Christopher for her second place win, and to all for their character, charisma, and diamonds-from-pressure writing.
Photography by the poetic lens of Michelle Johnsen. Modern Art space for creative encouragement provided by Libby Modern (Go! Go and find your creative self there!). Event from the fearless literary minds of Tyler Gof Barton and Erin Dorney of Fear No Lit

For the full album of Michelle's photos, go here.

And here are the two pieces I wrote that night. The prompt we were given for the first round was "Astroturf," and the second round prompt was "About a mountain." After my Prepositional Yawp, I was out of the game, left to enjoy the rest of the match with my husband and daughter.


The summer there was too much Astroturf, was the summer of tube socks. Tennis, lobbing balls over fences past the pool -- chasing the damned tiny moons everywhere. Ten, Love, whatever.  I couldn’t feel my hands. I was beyond frayed to falling until I leaned against the fence of my own body, my boundary, myself. Nothing but sky around me, I fell into it, forgot all I was but my outline, a cutout of summer at ten years old, in tube socks and shorts. I waited for anything other than the false ground, fakery, forgery of grass beneath my feet. Green, green youth, not mine, but a volley in a valley of forever. We all go through this madness of finding ourselves in the grass, looking up after a fall. The body suddenly awake, aware, a starfish.

Prepositional Yawp

About a mountain, above a garage, across the year, after the drink, against my life, below, below, below the ground, between the months when we were apart by, bye, goodbye, for all of the incantatory bell ringing of my body against the world, from the other side of the night, from the other side of your spleen, in the distant between of cemetery headstone where you left a tiny rock pressed into the dirt, into the ever after god-awful belief of the everafter, of, of, of, what is all fo this for, from one body to another, stuff and nonsense -- to you this is all to you, I miss you, you up there where no one can say or see or reach -- with that look in your face, with the way that you laughed, oh, oh, oh there are no more ways to say how or what direction other than GONE.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Since Your Death

A found poem from signage read on the PA Turnpike between the Quakertown and Wilkes-Barre exits

Fallen rocks
Falling rocks
Fallen rocks
Falling rocks

Wednesday, October 02, 2019

How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything.

If that's the truth, then I am a total wreck, and apologies are in order. Maybe. No. Take it or leave it, baby!

I'm not a list maker like everyone else in my family. My nose doesn't match. But every single time I catch myself in the mirror these days, I see my mother, and I miss her. Why didn't I see her in how I look when she was alive? It is just about breaking me. I avoid the mirror as much as possible.

Everything I do is pleached with grief. I'm not myself. I do not know what to do with my time, now that I have time. I can travel, and I've gone nowhere. I can audition, and I'm not showing up. I can sit and write sheafs of poems, and all I have are torn out pages from a steno notebook scattered all over my desk. I practice, and don't care about it, really. I started a crochet project just to stay up later at night.

Introspection is needed, rather than putting everything I do out there all the time, although as an Aries I'm not really good at being quiet.

I'm having interesting, symbolic dreams. I'm doing my best to just be. To be slow and be alright with that.

Yesterday I identified 73 different varieties of trees and plants on our property. I ate a yoghurt, and smeared some of that miracle serum on the "wrinkle of concern" between my eyes. I crocheted at a good clip. I didn't smile much. That is my way of "just being."

Wych Elm
Today I picked up five bales of hay for the goats, whacked my head on a beam in the barn (I'm fine), and spent a long time sweeping the seeds and hay out of the back of the car. I always feel like an amateur homesteader when buying hay or straw from a real farmer. Why, oh why did I get a manicure? What is the point? Purple fingernails? 

Five bale limit for our car!
I made a large mask in the art stall, testing out an idea.

One eye is a clock.
The other a sere heart.
It felt good to create. I have some ideas for it that I may or may not follow through with, given my current state. I made a mess of the space, I cried and yelled and wished I had a friend to play with, I was happy I was alone, I got covered in oil pastels and paint, and there were little bits of corrugated cardboard stuck to the bottoms of my feet. How I do anything is how I do everything.

My nose.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


You can lose your life here
or let go of it.

Take off the costume
of your over-amplified voice
squeezed through a funhouse mirror
for so many years even you
can't translate it anymore.

How is this yammer-hammer
of anxiety's bungee cord
holding your skeleton together?
Those winds of unknowing--
that blue grey paradise
in your fingertips,
surf of sorrow
like a slouched sock,
a lazed flamboyance you allow.

This is the scrumhum of sand
as it passes through the body,
your physical world.

Your whole life
you never heard
the sound of pages
turning in the background.

How impatient you always were
to just fill a page with words.
How exasperated your partial
circle of a heartbeat was.

No one is surprised
when you take off one mask
to put a different one on.
No one is surprised
by the sound of their two syllable
footsteps that say:
I am.