Thursday, March 31, 2011



The gardens are black
with new mulch. What does
this stench have to do with leaves
and blossoms.

Just as bleach and vinegar
alert us to what is clean
through their odor,
we anticipate petals
from the reeking mulch,
flowers and trees
cradling great armfuls of leaves.
The sunlight cultivates shade,
becomes shade.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not a Raccoon but the Shadow of a Raccoon

Not a Raccoon but the Shadow of a Raccoon

How many things in existence cast a shadow.
Ninety percent, or forty. Or eleven percent.
Four. Four out of every one hundred items
get noticed. How many times do we look
for a thing that is there, we know we left it
on the table or in a pocket, and it is gone.
We perceive only so much. It becomes night.
Suddenly, though it has been happening all day.

What is the purpose for our ability to overlook.
Who was at that party, I ask you after, and we list
different names, only a few overlapping. We see people
who aren’t there. Our eyes graze the ones who are
and fit them with alternate profiles.

The dead raccoon at the side of the highway
exit ramp, cheek against pavement.
I stared at him every day last week, wincing
at his small, calm face on the blacktop.
I invent the story of how he came here,
to the shock of his own ending,
how the cars and the noise withdrew from him.
This week, he's still there, but I stop seeing him,
not a raccoon but the shadow of a raccoon.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Video: Sign-Off

The debut of the Flipcam!

I have to say---I am very happy that I purchased it last week. It is exceedingly simple to use and I'm quite satisfied with the quality.

Last weekend, I attended "Domestic Matters," a dance performance set against an art installation at the OSU Urban Arts Space. It was such a gorgeous experience--sensitively and articulately danced within and around extremely evocative art (Converse was inspired by one set of dances that took place on a floral-wallpapered climbing wall).

Mair Culbreth is responsible for the choreography, and Nicole Bauguss created the art pieces (both have kindly given me permission to post the video). Before the performance started, I wandered around the space, and shot some video of the different vignettes that stand around the gallery. All clips shown here come from that exhibit.

This week's video poem is "Sign-Off," a fairly recent one. I've also added some music that I played this time, as an experiment. What are your thoughts about video poems and sound? Do you prefer to hear the poem and watch it in video poems, or to have silence, or to have sound and/or music? Really curious to hear your opinions.

I do love playing with technology to make new things from my has been so much fun to create this video, layer by layer (image, then text, then transitions, then creating the music and recording all of its layers).

Hope you enjoy the video, and that all is well in your world.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sedation Dentistry

Sedation Dentistry

Allow me to force you to relax.
How’s that sound. I am pleased to offer
you sedation while I poke around your mouth.

Who likes a stranger’s fingers
sliding along their gums. Well, I’m still
going in there, but wouldn’t you rather not

remember it. What I am offering
to you is dulled sensation, watered-down
consciousness and an unpleasant experience

made palatable. You’ll hear the ping
of the floss freeing itself from between
your teeth, the squeak of my gloves on enamel.

Whose teeth. Whose blood and spit.
Yours, but you won’t know it. So many
discomforts can be avoided with sedation.

Lie back in your body as if it were
a hammock. Accept this gift on behalf
of dentists for the terror we’ve caused you.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pressing Ghosts

Pressing Ghosts

One morning, my mind woke up
but my body did not go anywhere.
I summoned my extremities, but
they remained slack against
the mattress. It soon wore off,
like drunkenness. Sleep paralysis,
science explains. Muscle lagging
behind consciousness a bit
more than usual. In folklore’s
jurisdiction, this is known as
a pressing ghost, kanashibari.
The condition of being fastened
with unseen metal, of being held
down by shadow. Don’t get up,
the pressing ghost murmurs above us,
and we don’t. Eventually, they release
us, wheel away into the air like bats.
Your hesitation before unlatching
your guitar, the way you cringe before
bringing your fingers to its strings
if anyone else is with you. Each fear
dripping within you, as water droplets
form at the end of icicles and fall.
This, too, is a pressing ghost. You will
look stupid, one says. Or You can
never finish this. I’ll show you mine:
They will think you are selfish.
The things you make are unremarkable.
How to deal with the spirits of paralysis.
Let us form a strategy. When doubt
presses itself across my chest,
issuing its fine mist of deprecation,
selfishhhh, dullnessss, I will not move
because I cannot, but I will look at it
and answer with this thought:
Even so, I keep creating, I am capable.
I will calmly allow its heaviness
and stand when it goes. It will.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bread Machine

Bread Machine

Because you got married,
I brought you this bread machine.

While I bought it, I thought
of the two of you. I held the image

of your kitchen in my heart
while comparing the boxed appliances.

There were four options, but
this one was meant for you, the others

stepped back into the shadow
of toasters and blenders, of these robots

that embrace or shred our food.
Your bread maker calls itself a home bakery,

its baking cycle can be delayed
for 12 hours, which means you can use

it as an alarm clock if you are
able to stir from sleep by fragrance only.

Do not read allegory into this
gift. Marriage is not like a bread machine.

But these wedding gifts will
tell you what we all want for you: rooms.

The room is the realm
of marriage, the pillowcase, the curtain,

the vase and coffee grinder.
We can help you process your food, do not

touch the ingredients, newlyweds.
No one is an appliance, I think we mean to say,

and no relationship a machine.
I want so much for you both to knead this.

Monday, March 21, 2011



Converse All-Stars are engaged
in saintly work. They cradle feet.
They take up our unwieldiness
and plant us flat on the pavement,
paint us with plainness, help us
notice our feet less so that we
can walk more naturally. Age
does the same thing for us,
the longer we navigate our bodies,
the less likely we are to crash
into others without leaving
a note, an apology, the formula
for antimatter. Converse is the brand
of youthful resistance to
behaving. Behave, we have all
been scolded, as if there is only one
way to act appropriately.
Converse, the brand
of willfully not committing
to a singular purpose. Shoes are
purpose converted into textile,
canvas, rubber, leather, metal.
How do we plan to get anywhere.
We talk our bodies into acting
how we’d like them to
in the language of clothing.
How beautifully we converse.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Audio: Comfy

I have another audio post for you today. This time, I've read "Comfy", which I posted fairly recently.

When I wrote this poem, I had noticed several people saying the word, "comfy." What struck me was the similarity in their intonation and body language while speaking, and my own, when I've said it. While saying this word, almost everyone shrugs their shoulders and pulls their arms closer to their bodies, like we are hugging ourselves. It's funny how we comfort ourselves with certain words and ideas, and how we invoke comfort through childlike language.

To listen to "Comfy," click here.

I also wanted to mention that I'm looking forward to creating more videos here. I did get an exciting toy today--a shiny new Flip cam--yippee! I can't wait to experiment with it.

Hope your weekend is fun. Or at least comfy....

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Beyond the Shadow

Beyond the Shadow

Beyond the shadow of a doubt,
this is the brand of certainty we long for,

a room resonating with clarity.
All dimness or cloudiness expelled, expunged.

Even the carpet is luminously
truthful. Footprints cross the vacuum-streaked

velvet plush boldly, as the owner
of a home would walk through the level dirt

in which she intends to cultivate
flowers. The table is empty, the walls without

hole or nail or any adornment.
No shade, no noise that you do not create,

just you in the room, confusion
vaporizing from you. Sit placidly here for

any length of time and yawn
in place of stimulation and fear. Who would

want to see every secret exposed,
no shadows, even below one’s own restless body.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Rabbit Hole

The Rabbit Hole

Rabbits are quick and soft. They live
underground, but near enough to us
to burrow into our minds. Rabbit holes
invite us to scurry into darkness. That
is the human mind: we see a hole,
wonder where could that take me?
The colonizing impulse, we cannot
help it, hardly. Rabbits can predict
what we do not know. Their feet
run along the earth, so fast and sleek,
and we want a part of it. We take
a rabbit’s foot, tie it to our keys
and clasp it while making decisions.
It comforts us. Upon waking into
a new month, we say rabbit, rabbit,
rabbit, and we leap into the stream
of good luck. Beneath this earth,
a current of rabbits running, seeking
safety, fortune, home. They are helpless
but clever. Rabbits do not want to be
caught, they escape our traps, our hands.
We follow them, we track them.
Pursuit is our specialty. Especially
the pursuit of that which is reluctant
to be caught. When women wear ears
and a powder-puff tail, they are bunnies
that do not run, that we can look at
as long as we like. And hundreds
of years ago, we spoke of coney-catching,
wink, wink, of country matters.
Coney birthed the word we should
not say, not to a woman or in public.
Our most vulnerable parts are always
being likened to some creature, there is
both safety and danger in euphemism,
how it covers. We could have done worse
than the rabbit. This is its year, the year
of the rabbit. Let us be reminded of how
we are weak, of our desire to see below
the surface, where we have never been.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories

Because fire coaxes the carbon from wood
and releases it back to the atmosphere,
we gather around it and watch.

It is our favorite kind of destruction, contained,
intentional. We made it, and it makes
itself, burns whatever we feed it.

Fireside talk turns to ghosts. It is inevitable.
A spirit speaking through the stereo,
sparking light bulbs, blown fuses.

A familiar presence but no body, hovering.
The scent of this person we loved,
it overwhelms us and evaporates.

Above, the trees press against the dark sky,
the world’s shattered windshield.
Smoke lifts toward it, a ghost.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Audio: Saturn

It's Friday again. You know what that means....multimedia time!

Some of you know that I also write songs. For a while, I've been wanting to share songs here, but I wasn't sure if this was the right space for it (would readers of my poems really feel like listening to songs?).

I decided that I was over-thinking this, and that I would just go for it. This week, I've had several conversations with other writers and artists about giving ourselves permission to experiment and to explore; it reminded me to loosen up and be decisive about what I make. So I'm pleased to offer my song, "Saturn," to your ears. Click anywhere in this sentence to listen to "Saturn" on my SoundCloud (click the orange, circular "Play" button).

It's not a new song--I wrote it six or seven months ago. But it is indeed a new recording and arrangement; I'd been wanting to redo it for a while, now that I feel a bit more comfortable with GarageBand (I seriously cannot say enough good things about this recording program). I added several layers in re-recording this song (including some hand drum--aka me smacking my guitar).

Hope you like it, and that your weekend is lovely.

Thursday, March 10, 2011



Onward. Forward. Foe-word.
Toward, toe by toe,
word by word.

In spite of. Because of. Creep,
amoeba-like, stretch
that pseudopod,

you will follow your own body,
eating ground you cross.
Grind it up,

rinds of exit signs, greener than
the grass is now or ever
will be.

Hunger tells you where to go,
what to take in. What you
are taken

with, who you took away
and are taking with
you, even now,

hauled up beside you, at your
bedside. We slide onward,
on words inside

our limbs that clamber over
land, prodding at clods
of earth

as we move. A fleshed out
cloud, a flash of mouth
full, talking.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011



Where is the first place on your body
to show weight loss,
a woman selling gym memberships once asked me.
Because that will help us determine
your body type.

So what goes away first is the way in,
the structure’s cipher.

After years of ice storms and temporary thaws,
the brick in the basement is crumbling,
though it seems dry enough.
There is a logic to this spalling.
Buried somewhere in the walls:
a leak, the weakest part
of the house letting in water.

An ankle trembles
long after the ligament remodels itself.
Because it belongs to a runner
who tends to turn her left foot in slightly.

That thing which is ready to be offered up
under pressure,
it is lifted with wavering hands.

Every form can be toppled,
is inherently unsound.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011



Walking through a cloud of gnats,
I cough, shield my face from the bugs
as if blocking the sun.

I breathe one in, maybe two,
swat them from my mind
while swallowing.

It is awful how they die in my mouth.
To them, I am a natural disaster.

When we need to unmake experience,
we try to revise it.
Inadvertently, we return
to all small shames.
Our destructions come fluttering back
as soon as we call them,
they are that obedient to us.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Strange

The Strange

As ivy slithers across brick,
so do we cling to the patterns
we establish with our lives.

Then, strangeness interjects.
An anomaly. It does not belong
to the days we have cultivated.

A dead traffic light swaying above
you, color emptied from its body.
From the back of a blue pick-up truck,

an airbrushed skeleton extending
a finger, orange and yellow flames
tumbling out as it points.

The strange. The bus, full of people,
parked on the side of the street,
no driver. A person greeting you

by the wrong name, the password
that will not grant you access,
not even on the fourth or fifth attempt.

The strange tugs on our sleeves,
stretches an ankle beneath our step
to make us stumble. That is odd,

we think, about these reminders of
how impossible routine is once
we decide to look at it.

Would you look at that, we think,
when interrupted by the strange.
Has that always been there.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Audio: Thataway

Happy Multimedia Friday (and while we weren't looking, it somehow became March...)!

Today I have some audio for you. Last week, both Annie and Tracey mentioned that they liked listening to my poems. I was very happy to hear that, and decided to read and record Thataway (to view the text of the poem, click on the link).

I enjoyed revisiting this poem, and it was a fun one to read aloud...I like the weird pacing implied in the words. I wrote and posted the poem in December (hard to believe that is over two months ago), and had been thinking about how we give directions to one another---how we steer each other verbally through landmark and landscape. This poem is also about struggling to find the right language to encourage/to be encouraged.

I was also inspired by Frederik Heyman's photography here, especially "The Weather Project." These images are like choreographed, frozen performances; all photographs pause time, but these photos especially imply movement that is impossible, and simulated through hanging objects and people in the air and at exaggerated angles. I love how Heyman wants us to notice the strings.

To listen to "Thataway," click here. You'll be taken to my Soundcloud account (I also have songs posted there--this is my first poem posted there); simply click the orange "Play" button. If you are looking for a place to store/share audio, I absolutely recommend Soundcloud to you.

Thursday, March 3, 2011



What part of your day delighted you,
the gasoline lunging into the tank
and how it stops itself before spilling,
its restraint. Pale headlights streaming
down the freeway like white blood cells.
The small cemetery you pass each day
but have never wandered through.

What gave you trouble. The universe
speaking to you through a song
on the radio. The stuffy room.
The geese. Dates flicking their tails
as you chase them for their significance.

Can you close your eyes to this.
Can you ease the day away from you.
Withdraw your hands from these tangles,
good night, good night, you will be ready
to return sooner than you think.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Expansive Taste

Expansive Taste

Thunder and lightening.
We have expansive taste.

We want to open up as if
to the doctor, say awe

and let some corked-up
light unfurl. How to get

less dark, less dense,
how to unswallow rocks

when they are real
and worth the weight.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.