Tuesday, March 31, 2015


The earth has music for those who listen. 
 -William Shakespeare 

Need is not quite belief.
-Anne Sexton

Ten years later
and here we are. 

I drive over the bridge and back again.

I can picture the house I will build,
and live in, and the gardens below it.
There will be goats, chickens, a couple of horses,
happy panting dogs. Barn cats stretched out in sunshine.

I am a writer there,
a teacher, a farmer

All I've wanted to be and already am.

Do you remember the West Manchester Mall?
All the goth girls and teenagers smoking cigarettes
and the middle-school kids dancing for the revolution.

I want you to know that I care.
I am in need of a new pair of hiking boots.

I feel lapis lazuli,
hand-knit gnomes and colorful scarves.
I feel twine, and twine, and twine, and twine.

There's a dead skunk in the nest or maybe a mink, or a cat, or
another angry internet commenter.
I combed the trolls' hair.
I used the brush for the porcelain horses' manes.

If you don't see me again it's because I ran away.
I miss singing and do it best when I'm alone.

With one exception in the shower of my D.C. home, or my little closet bedroom
with green table-nose drawings on the walls.

In Guatemala the walls of my room were concrete.
I pushed pins into the grout and begged the sun to hold on.

I'm a weird woman
Odd bird me

Speaking of sunsets
Do you remember Iowa? 
Love Ridge in Kentucky?
Tobacco fields lining Sheep Lane?

That night in Columbia I knew with absolute certainty that everything is happening all of the time. 

"The birthday of the world" by Marge Piercy

On the birthday of the world
I begin to contemplate
what I have done and left
undone, but this year
not so much rebuilding
of my perennially damaged
psyche, shoring up eroding
friendships, digging out
stumps of old resentments
that refuse to rot on their own.
No, this year I want to call
myself to task for what
I have done and not done
for peace. How much have
I dared in opposition?
How much have I put
on the line for freedom?
For mine and others?
As these freedoms are pared,
sliced and diced, where
have I spoken out? Who
have I tried to move? In
this holy season, I stand
self-convicted of sloth
in a time when lies choke
the mind and rhetoric
bends reason to slithering
choking pythons. Here
I stand before the gates
opening, the fire dazzling
my eyes, and as I approach
what judges me, I judge
myself. Give me weapons
of minute destruction. Let
my words turn into sparks.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

the poem i will read at my funeral*

Death, whoever and whatever you are, tallest king of tall kings, grant me these wishes: unstring my bones; let me be not one thing but all things


Goodbye to the swaying trees. 
Goodbye to the black triangles of the winter sea. 
Goodbye to oranges, the prick of their fragrance. 
Goodbye to the fox sparrow, 
goodbye to the blue-winged teal. 
Goodbye to lettuce, and the pale turnip,
and the gatherings of the rice fields. 
Goodbye to the wavering light. 
Goodbye to the goldfinches
                 and their wavering songs. 


Listen, I don't think we're going to rise
in gauze and halos. 
Maybe as grass, and slowly. 
Maybe as the long-leaved, beautiful grass

I have known, and you have known--
or the pine trees--
or the dark rocks of the zigzag creek
     hastening along--

or the silver rain-- 

or the hummingbird. 


I look up
into the faces of the stars, 
into their deep silence. 


This is the poem of goodbye. 
And this is the poem of don't know. 

My hands touch the lilies
then withdraw;

my hands touch the blue iris
then withdraw;

and I say, not easily but carefully--
the words round in the mouth, crisp on the tongue-- 

dirt, mud, stars, water--
I know you as if you were myself. 

How could I be afraid? 


What is it I need to know? 

What is it I don't know that I need to know? 


Think of me
when you see the evening star. 
Think of me when you see the wren
    the flowing root of the creek beneath him, 
    dark,       silver        and cold

Remember me I am the one who told you
he sings for happiness. 
I am the one who told you 
that the grass is also alive, and listening. 

allelujah allelujah
sighs the pale green moth
on the screen door, 

alleluja allelujah
the red tongues of the white swans
shine out of their black beaks
as they shout
as their wings rise and fall

rise and fall

oh rise and fall

*All excerpted from "the leaf and the cloud" by Mary Oliver

Sunday, March 15, 2015

north-bound train

I eat the banana methodically.

The drier hedgehog sits under the coffee table.

This is my life, deliriously.

At my funeral, please play "I Know You Rider" by the Grateful Dead.


This is so hard. I am trying to trust you.

Or if not you, in something. 

In the meantime I listen to him play guitar,
Big headphones buffering me from everything outside of
This music and this brain that I am living in.

Reality is for me much more difficult than metaphor.
I'm not writing this well, in other words.
At the same time I think it's important not to draw too fine a line between
Metaphors, or reality. 

I want to look at a picture of you and ache like I do when looking at him.
That said I've ached in the past and look where it got me.
Still there's a difference between that and this.
Love is a verb. 

This isn't getting me anywhere.
Wilson pushes off of my chest when I start singing and goes to lie with Mr. Fish on the living room rug.
Wilson needs love, and he doesn't.

Let's put a pin in this. Let's pull out all the stops.
There must be more than polarization.
I mean just looking at that picture of a river and leaves falling made me cry. 
I mean remember the crows flying in.

My favorite birds are mallards,
Followed by sparrows. The first floats and the second is so hungry.

Friday, March 13, 2015

"Blackberrying" by Sylvia Plath

Nobody in the lane, and nothing, nothing but blackberries,   
Blackberries on either side, though on the right mainly,
A blackberry alley, going down in hooks, and a sea
Somewhere at the end of it, heaving. Blackberries
Big as the ball of my thumb, and dumb as eyes
Ebon in the hedges, fat
With blue-red juices. These they squander on my fingers.
I had not asked for such a blood sisterhood; they must love me.
They accommodate themselves to my milkbottle, flattening their sides.

Overhead go the choughs in black, cacophonous flocks—
Bits of burnt paper wheeling in a blown sky.
Theirs is the only voice, protesting, protesting.
I do not think the sea will appear at all.
The high, green meadows are glowing, as if lit from within.
I come to one bush of berries so ripe it is a bush of flies,
Hanging their bluegreen bellies and their wing panes in a Chinese screen.
The honey-feast of the berries has stunned them; they believe in heaven.   
One more hook, and the berries and bushes end.

The only thing to come now is the sea.
From between two hills a sudden wind funnels at me,   
Slapping its phantom laundry in my face.
These hills are too green and sweet to have tasted salt.
I follow the sheep path between them. A last hook brings me   
To the hills' northern face, and the face is orange rock   
That looks out on nothing, nothing but a great space   
Of white and pewter lights, and a din like silversmiths   
Beating and beating at an intractable metal.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Ahoy matey big things are afoot.

Wilson sleeps on my chest with his head up and eyes pressed tightly closed. My fingers type so quickly in time with the music.

He sleeps with a scarf around his neck and slippers where his shoes would go. Earlier tonight I thought I was a snake. I do not want to come from Slytherin. I am grateful to know that I am already loved.

Lemon slices in a Nalgene bottle. Music fast and faster. Cat ears tickling my nose.

Additionally I went skiing today. Down the middle of the streets and people stared and one young woman went holy shit! but she meant it in a kind of excited way, like holy shit man that's way cool, and I smiled so maybe they wouldn't realize that I was slipping out of control. I made it to the bottom of the hill knees wobbling and skied on.

Run, run, run, run, run, run, run. run. run.

The bear roars over the ridge.

Nearly ten inches of snow today between the skiing and the shoveling let me tell you I am tired, I mean a deep kind of tired that goes beyond aching, it's not weary for once because I'm not sad, it's just that my body whimpers for a bath. Catch: I am too tired to run the bath.

I vividly remember stopping at that Wawa the rest feels distant and already slightly dubitable.

Wilson's head droops lower and lower. As I type these words he splays his chin across my shoulder. Earlier today I held him up to the window and we watched the crows fly in, one by one by the end there were nearly twenty of them, perched and looping round the trees out back. Wilson's little body stiffened, tail snapping, and he did that chirp that he reserves only for those times when he is hunting a squirrel or a bird or twenty of them. The birds kept swooping in from over our heads and looping the trees and landing black-beaked in the diamond snow on the neighbors' rooftop and I started crying because I was grateful, and I couldn't stop.