Friday, November 29, 2013

Reading Notes

If you can read my terrible handwriting (it's just not good--I've definitely come to terms with this!), you can see that I've started reading A Lover's Discourse: Fragments (by Barthes). It is pretty magical so far.

I love writing down lines that strike me (as do most writers, I think!). This one says, "I perform, discreetly, lunatic chores; I am the sole witness of my lunacy. What love lays bare in me is energy."

Grateful this week for writers, readers, artists, friends, family, and you!

Thursday, November 28, 2013



That time a part of the local woods
was stricken invisible

That time the weeping willow became
a harp

Once a man cast himself down onto the ground
between two trees

The time a woodsman walked up to a tree
and could not raise his axe

When the river rose
and rushed through the pines
long hair through a comb

That acorn you slid on
bringing you to the cliff’s edge

That night it snowed and snowed
and you stood in the dim snowlight
where the woods felt warm

When, in the darkness, you felt
yourself being watched
by the beloved

The time you learned how to
participate in stillness

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Good Job You Now Know the World’s Secrets

Good Job You Now Know the World’s Secrets

If snow were a message
and it is

it would mean

is the source
of all repair

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

There Is Only Mystery

There Is Only Mystery

The flowers are singing to you
There is only mystery

The next day they are sprawled
headfirst in the dirt
under the weight of the frost

The manhole covers take up the song
a million mouths in the road

There is no end to all you will never know
This is one kind of wealth

Monday, November 25, 2013



All of those places
traveling within you

release one at a time
a magician’s dove

you encourage into the air
So this town square

becomes another place
because of how you see it

The brick streets
rebricking themselves according

to your memory and desire
The eggshell sky

Whatever feeling fills you now
it rushes over

the rocks of your years ago bliss
or longing

You have built up a shore
called your heart

You can cast your wide waters
when you need to see

a familiar place You get used
to the clack of plastic

block on plastic block You
can make them fit

almost and hold it all together
for entire seconds

Friday, November 22, 2013

Waiting on My Bookshelf

It’s hard to believe that the semester is almost over, and with it, this term of teaching! I get rather sentimental about it.

But what I’m very excited about is READING BOOKS over break. I’m sure other English and writing teachers feel this way, right? I have started requesting some fun books from the library. So far, waiting for me are:

  • The Attentive Heart: Conversations with Trees by Stephanie Kaza 
  • Species of Spaces and Other Pieces by Georges Perec 
  • A Lover’s Discourse by Roland Barthes

What else should I read over break? Any recommendations? What are you looking forward to reading?

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Magic Markers

Magic Markers

Make a thing

a snow globe

a chart with names of humans
who didn’t know
they would be related to you

a quiche

a drawing with Magic Markers
magical because of how each stem
keeps its own color
a bud vase in bloom

a bad birdhouse
that birds won’t touch

a plain birdhouse
that is dry inside
well-visited by every bird

Each thing a vision

a doll-sized sarcophagus
a wooden box
clay pinch pot

a way to make the world small
a way to ask
isn’t this what we both know

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Recipe

A Recipe

A leaf rises
from the street
to slap me across the face
with its palm.

The wind is so strong
we have to lean into it.

The wind makes us
into friends when we walk past
one another. We say,
and I know, right.

This is not a tornado.
All day, not one dangerous thing.

Tonight, as I prepare dinner
while the red-leaved tree thrashes
against the bricks,

I find a recipe comprised of only one word:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Soap and Hot Water

Soap and Hot Water

Behold: the bitterness of the left-in-the-glass lemon.
Behold it.
Do not drink, beloved.

Why would I want such bitterness
along your tongue.

Tell me.

Today I sliced a jalapeno.
Hours later, rubbing my closed eye,
a gritty sting.

I had used soap and hot water.

Why does the body insist
on hanging on.
Why is contact
a door.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

This week, reading and enjoying:

This essay at Salon, “What a Tragic Death Taught Me About Organized Religion,” by Deborah Jackson Taffa. Extremely powerful and beautiful.

Another stunner of an essay, “Boy Next Door,” by Stacey May Fowles, in The Walrus. Intense and complex and emotional.

Jody Bates’s Tomorrowland (more on this later).

This post  on The Reel Foto about sports photographer Neil Leifer’s incredible photo of a Muhammed Ali Victory. It’s an amazing image. Leifer says, “Ali, Williams, the referee, the reporters, the symmetry, the drama--it’s the one photograph I’ve taken where, looking back, I’d change nothing.” Fascinating.

Photo by Neil Leifer, via The Reel Foto

Thursday, November 14, 2013



Electricity in the veins of the cornfield
Kernels lighting up within their cocooned ears

The world’s power lives in its vignettes
and how quickly a thing is over

Just plain dirt
Plain cornfield
Plain breeze carried here
and passing through

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Surf and Turf

Surf and Turf

The moss is out of control.
The rocks under the moss are out of control.
The ocean is also out of control.

Come to think of it
there is not one thing
growing based on your preferences.

Lob a rock at the water.
It plops in somewhere,
you assume.

You weren’t trying to skip it.
It can be calming to picture
the stone falling

down through the water, eventually
stopping on a surface
no one will ever touch.

It can also be calming
just to hold a rock
at the edge of some big-bodied water.

Friday, November 8, 2013

On Creativity: Tessa Mellas

Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tessa Mellas for the Columbus Alive (the local arts paper). We talked about her new book, Lungs Full of Noise, which is a gorgeous and grotesque collection of magical realist short stories. While we were chatting, I was struck by her insightful comments on process, the female characters who dominate her stories, and her thoughts on silence, snow, skating, and surprises in writing.

The profile is a short one (you can read it here), but there were so many great thoughts she shared during our conversation. Here are some that didn’t make it in the piece!

NOTE: Read Tessa’s stories, “So Much Rain,” (click here) and “Mariposa Girls” (click here) online.


[The title of the book] is from a line in the story “Beanstalk,” where the main character is remembering how a beanstalk grew outside her window....she imagines birds circling her, their “lungs full of noise.” I’ve got a lot of imagery of birds and winged things throughout the collection, which, for me, is a metaphor for women who are fragile, but also strong. They can support themselves. But like birds with their hollow bones, they can be knocked around.

“Quiet Camp” is about a group of noisy girls who are sent to a camp to be silenced. And this represents a huge struggle of women....the girls in school who are obedient and quiet get rewarded, and are seen as good and feminine. And the girls who are noisy, and speak without thinking and are opinionated get criticized and attacked. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure on girls to be quiet and silent, and yet there’s all this noise going on inside of them.

Thursday, November 7, 2013



Leaves start off on the tree

and end up in the air

and along the street

Actually the leaves begin
somewhere inside the tree

Inside the seedling

from sunlight and air

Another curious fact is
the voice is only hosted
by the body

Say it exits
not as speech
but as song

That song began

Wednesday, November 6, 2013



I’ve always been responsible
for that darkness.

It’s the Sylvester to my Tweety bird,
only harmless.

You know what’s in there.
Nope, not spiders.

Not teeth. You can hide in it.
All the hider’s

got to do is trust it. It’s an if-you-

will-come. It’s an all-things-changed-

Tuesday, November 5, 2013



I have set myself adrift on a river.
I have built the river.

Because I have not slept
I think it is raining
from the upper sky to the middle sky

but never reaching me.

If the self were

an inner tube inflated,

where is the mouth
that let the rubber nozzle
drink from its breath.

I wrench something from the ground
but say
look what the world is bringing to me.

Monday, November 4, 2013

There’s Always a Stump

There’s Always a Stump

Cut away a tree,
saw at its torso
and haul it off.

But it is still not gone.

There’s a stump
to deal with.

Underneath, roots reaching
down and away.

All this time
the tree was always
walking away from us

There are birds that remember
the bark of the tree
under their toes.

There are descendants
of the birds.

There is the repositioned earth
that never lays quite right.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Fruitful and Multiplying

(a fragment from an essay-in-progress)

“Strange fruit.” A teenage boy looked out the window of the full bus, and announced this, as you might point out landmarks that we pass (“My sister took a guitar lesson there once,” or “Best pancakes in the city”). A few of the bus passengers looked over, and then noticed the earbuds trailing out from under his hood, leading into his pocket. Plugged in.

In this order, I thought:
  • He is listening to Kanye West’s “Blood on the Leaves,” which samples Billie Holiday’s song.
  • He is singing along with Kanye West but really he is singing along with Billie Holiday,
  • Billie Holliday’s song borrows its lyrics from a poem.
  • In the bus it is 1930 and 2013.

Fun to share something completely unfinished with you today--happy Friday! What projects are you starting/working on (or abandoning for the weekend)?
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