Friday, August 31, 2012

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

Currently reading and enjoying:

"Thirteen Ways of Looking at Genealogy, Ancestry, and the (Re)making of Selves," at Michigan Quarterly Review (by various authors, assembled by Virginia Konchan). Thoughts and words from brilliant writers like Elisa Gabbert, Rebecca Hazelton, and Mary Biddinger.

“Bird-Understander” by Craig Arnold. I keep revisiting this poem...

“Is Consumerism Killing Our Creativity?” by Jocelyn K. Glei on Glei writes that when we pursue ideas or stuff, we stimulate a similar part of the brain. Very fascinating.

Museum: Behind the Scenes at the Metropolitan Museum of Art by Danny Danziger. This one’s for all you people-watchers and museum-goers. Each (very brief) chapter is a profile on a different person working in the museum (from extremely varied departments---including an Information Services Associate, a waitress, a trustee, multiple curators, Chief Security Officer, and a florist), and how he/she came to work in the Museum.

“Fan Art: An Explosion of Creativity,” a video by PBS’s Off Book, a web series exploring topics in contemporary art and design. The whole channel is fantastic, but this specific video has really stuck with me.

What are you reading/watching/thinking about this week? I'd love to hear your recommendations.

A happy weekend to you!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

One Day

One Day

One day you’ll be big enough
to go where your heart asks.

When your eyelids lift,
you’ll see you are there already,

one parking garage-sized foot
stepping on the hem of a

country, the other piercing
the ocean, clamping into sand.

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Offcut

The Offcut

In every gingerbread man,
the implied offcut, leftover dough

we knead into itself and roll out
again and cut into to people

the kitchen table, just as the
cookie cutters were cut from

metal by a stronger metal blade,
and somehow, that unyielding

blade got made. You have been
selected to appear here, but one

increment of a millimeter to the
left, and you’d be toast, you’d be

toast before it got toasted, before
it got sliced and baked into bread.

Friday, August 24, 2012

On Creativity: Jessica Bell

Multiplication 2, 2012

I adored working creatively with Jessica Bell a while back--you may remember this piece she created in response to my poem, “Apparent Magnitude.”  I love following her work, and hearing her thoughts about making.

What continues to amaze me about Jessica’s artwork is the certainty within her pieces. When I look at her collages, paintings, and photos, I feel, “Yes, everything is in its place. Everything is where it should be. Including me.” In her collages and paintings, we can see houses, neighborhoods, skies, oceans, landscapes, horizons, fields. I often see reflections of Vancouver, a city I love and miss. She puts us, the viewer, in a safe, specific place for looking. Though she is always working with fragments and layers, there is nothing disorienting about her art. Here it is, and here we are, witnessing it. Her art impacts the way I see....often, I am walking around town, and grabbed by a specific image (usually a building or interesting set of textures)....I think, “Here’s a Jessica Bell photo op.”


Q: Many of your pieces rely on layers (of paint, fabric, or paper) or edges (the edges of a cutout or the seams between colors and textures in your photos). How do you decide what to cover up and what to reveal? What do the concepts of borders, layers, and being exposed mean to you?

A: Well, the truth is, the way I decide what to hide and what to reveal isn't always the same. On rare occasions, I have a clear vision for what I want a piece to be about; I am very intentional in building the layers and history from the materials before I edit it into completion by committing to a set form. A successful piece of work for me needs to have the right balance of design and idea. For me, the one always proceeds the other. When I am layering on paint, or collage, or drawing media, or cutting up fabric, I work mostly on instinct: if a fabric piece is not quite right, I cut it up. If a painting is awkward in one area, (often for reasons I can't articulate, but just know in my gut), I will take my painters tape, mask off that section and lay down a new layer. What is always interesting to me in deliberately removing elements from my work is that while it appears I am taking something away, I am always, in fact, creating something new. What was done before is always there, percolating below or reincarnated as a fragment. When I am working on my layers, I am very conscious of creating material history; this has become really important to me.

Thursday, August 23, 2012



If you water the plant
and put it in the sun,
it will live, unless
it dies. Because

why. Because it does,
because biology
is not allegorical
until we speak

of it. In high school
Bio, we’d lower
our faces to

one eye pressed into
the lens, its eye
socket. Xylem,
we were supposed

to say, or phloem.
Xylem is dead,
our teacher said,
so the plant drinks

with parts that are
dead. I’m no good
in the garden. My
one tomato plant

produced only one
flower. One tomato
grew from it, like
a balloon with its

mouth wrapped
round a running
tap, but when I
went to pick it,

no tomato. Squirrels,
everyone said, and I
pictured one squirrel
holding the tomato

in its tiny arms,
another peering out
from a pine, holding
the needles open

like a curtain, and
waving to his friend,
hurry, hurry. It is
ridiculous, all of it,

the squirrels and hoses
and watering cans,
and Miracle-Gro
and biology, the logy

of life. Don’t die, we
command our plants,
and they laugh and
laugh at us after they do.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012



Blood nudging the skin
from the inside,
as the cat pushes the top
of his head into
your palm, asking for
love. What did
the two fingers say
to the neck,
searching, as we say,
for the pulse:
what kind of alive
are you, let
me count the ways.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Deciduous Bouquet

Deciduous Bouquet

Not a petal,
not thirty petals,
a leaf, and a stem,
damp at the end
where it was

not the shrub
that housed
the flower,

not the unflowered
that grows down
under it in the dirt,

not a bedful of petals
and mud and twigs,

not the clods
of soil my shoes

not a green wad
of floral tape,

not a vase,

not scissors or shears
or a knife,

only the knowledge
that, standing before
the hydrangea,
I think of you.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

The bookmarks list is the new bedside table (I’ll take one of each, please).

A little list of literary links to love:

“A Guide to Anti-Taxidermy,” by Scott Provence (in the new issue of The Journal). I devoured it in print, and came back for internet seconds and thirds.

“‘That One Was the Oddest One’: Weirdness in Contemporary American Poetry,” by Jason Koo (in The Missouri Review, issue 34.4). Koo (an excellent poet himself!) praises strange poet brains, and reviews works by Dorothea Lasky, Arda Collins, and Jason Bredle. The author celebrates those poets who “think and write in weird ways.” Koo, I’m with you.

The new Fragments issue of Qarrtsiluni. It contains gems like Peter Newton’s “7 Fragments.”

“The Risky Business of Reproduction,” over at writer Heather Kirn Lanier’s blog, Star in Her Eye. In her beautiful posts at this blog, Heather writes about parenting her adorable daughter, Fiona, and learning about Fiona’s genetic deletion. All of her posts here are excellent (full of honesty, love, and wonder). Make sure to read “The Partial Glossary of Words Not to Use With a New Mom of a Special Needs Baby.”

“To the 12 Mug Shots of Ted Williams,” written and read by poet Scott Woods at the last edition of Paging Columbus (the literary event series that I organize and host). Watch the video below (so good!). In addition to Scott, the August event featured stellar readings from Amanda Page and Silas Hansen. There are now almost six hours of readings from this series on YouTube....I feel lucky to live in this city, with its thriving, supportive community of writers and readers!

Have a good weekend! What are you reading these days?

Thursday, August 16, 2012



In a forty-house town
sheltered by two mountains,
the children age
and make more children,
and all down the line
the children are made
to promise the elders:
keep this land.

When you pass
through the valley,
a visitor,
you look down
at the glowing houses,
thinking, here, I could be free.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012



White seems to be an absence
of color, but really, it is all colors.

The people behind the cafe window
live at the back of the mirror it becomes,

for you, as you smooth your hair
and for them, you are a moving image

to watch, as a cat stares at shapes.
The water-splotched MISSING poster

for Misty, a white and grey cat,
is every fluffy cat you have loved,

any small animal you have lost
or touched. Waiting on the corner

for the light to change, you are on
every corner, everyone who has ever

looked at you is looking at you now.
This coffee is all coffee, your pockets,

all pockets, these clouds, all clouds.
You think of the family without Misty,

how the parents see their own anguish
when the little boy cries because

he left the screen door open, but in
your mind, they are played by

your family, you. Your own lips
pressed together, please, please,

I want her to come home, let her
be here when I wake up tomorrow.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Time Capsule

Time Capsule

Do not unearth until 2065

the brass plaque told us

when we approached,
brandishing shovels.

We dug it up anyway,
again, the second time

this month. The ground
is still soft. Soon, we’ll be stuck

all winter with no time
capsule to dig through,

no objects to hold and turn
slowly in our hands,

memorizing them in case
this is the last time before

our children’s children’s
family dogs chew them and

carry them through doggy doors
leading to the future

and the mud under the house
where all things end up.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Some Exciting News!

I have some exciting news to share with you, dearest readers...

Gold Wake Press will be publishing my first collection of poems in October of 2013! I am so thrilled to be working with them. I have found their books to be wonderful in both content and form (things of beauty, truly). I'll be excited to have my title (it'll be In the Kettle, the Shriek) join the ones below (from some amazing authors):

Photo via Gold Wake Press

I'm so grateful to be able to share this with you. Thank you for your support, through reading, commenting, and collaborating.

There will be readings, signings, dance-offs, and miniature fireworks along the way--I'll keep you posted throughout the process. Please continue to share your own projects and adventures! I'll be the one holding up the sign that says, "You rule."

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Flock of Germs

Flock of Germs

If I could paint the germs in the air blue
for you, so you could see how they
scatter and fall, migrating,

trust me, you would beg me
to stop, or at least to lie and say
the blue mist is a visualization of belief.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Talking to the Dog

Talking to the Dog
Come on, Quincy, let’s get some pluots,
the man announces at the corner grocery,
his words dripping down like a just-watered
hanging flower basket, falling toward
the grey, moppy dog near his feet.

Let’s get our fruit and wander home
together, my little adored one.

Monday, August 6, 2012



Can a tree feel
unfulfilled. Is life

enough for it, meals
of light, carbon dioxide,

and rain. Don’t people
in love eat like this,

fluttery light of a candle,
small tabletop. A kiss

must be at least 2%
CO2. As trees grow up,

is there disappointment
or pride in how they adjust

to the land, how they reach
or how they handle fire.

Does each White Ash seek
the same stature as some admired,

perfect White Ash, the model
Ash for every Ash in the park.

Energy, and what else is bottled
in the trunk, buried under bark.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Text Art: One Day

I don't mean it in a depressing way....more like this. (Shooby dooby dooby dooby do wah wah.) And who wants a parking garage, anyway? Except to scribble words onto, of course!

Have a wonderful weekend. Thanks for reading this week! 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Seal Legs

Seal Legs

Wobbly, wobbly world,
the water is being called up
into the air, bees walk away
from all that used to bring
them joy, and any wildness
we learn of, we leash.

If your house was burning,
what would you take to the lawn.
If your world was backing away
from you, still holding everything
you own or know, what would you
say as you waved, as if to a ship.

The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.