Tuesday, September 14, 2010


I didn't know who you were. What you looked like or where or when we would meet. I certainly didn't know why life makes us jump through the hoops of who what where when why before we finally land on some peace.

And I won't ever profess to understand how we do it.

And none of it fits into all these bags I've picked up along the way. I've tried to stuff you in the smallest of pouches and I've sat, swimming, in the biggest black dark of an entirely too large sack.

So I guess I'll just lay them down here, next to you. All these bags. I'm tired of holding them. So I'm going to put them here, next to your feet.

And for some reason, when I said I'd pick them up again soon, you said you'd help me.

And for some reason, I believed you.

So then I let you peek inside one of them and you didn't recoil from the snakes. And you pretended not to notice the small glimmer of gold I had hidden in a tiny, well protected pocket. Maybe you didn't even believe me when I said I stole it. That I was a dangerous, wanted woman with poisonous snakes. But you let me believe you did.

I try to look at all this objectively sometimes. Like a journalist, I wonder about who what where when why we are. I am no thief. You are no hero. We've barely a plot, but when it comes down to it, you're the first one who makes me unafraid to burn my notebooks and throw out all my pens.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


I once stood atop a mountain in the middle of an earthquake. I grasped at loose gravel as it cascaded by, looking for anything that could hold weight. I grabbed at roots, rolled out of the way of boulders, and finally just threw up my hands and went for a ride. Bruised and bloody at the bottom, I learned.

Always bet on gravity in a fight.

I climbed to the top of another mountain not too long ago and paid $16.00 to see the view. I was surprised to find that landslides fade over time but still leave their scars. The trees at the top were dwarfed and gnarled, resiliency in the wake of strong winds. I went as high as I could and squinted my eyes. I could see my best friend's house, I could see the ends of the earth. But I don't know why they ever called it flat.

I picked up a tiny pebble, swallowed it whole and made my way down from the mountain.

So now I have a touchstone. A hard piece of gravel in my gut. Tough enough to survive the quake. Soft enough to withstand the winds.

Friday, May 14, 2010

For Maddie Sue

I accidentally sent you this tear my dear.
I found it while looking for words to make clear
How much I am with you even when I'm not near.

I was bent over thinking when that one sneaky drop
Danced down my face, twirled twice and then hopped
Right onto the page, staining that ribbon up top.

I'd like you to keep it, and know now and again
That in times of trouble you have many friends
Who will have you and hold your heart 'till the end.

And please Maddie Sue, know this too,
This is one of my many gifts to you:

You will see, in time and awhile
it's not only sadness but sometimes smiles
Who bring tears,

Ferrying love across miles.

Sunday, March 7, 2010


Your stitches are all out but the scars are healing wrong. -Regina Spektor

She sits at the top of a cliff, pen in hand, an empty stretch of paper and seascape as far as she can see. She didn't want to start writing the letter because what is there to do with a finished letter but send it? And all those words would be just be more things to own. Tired of owning things, she was ready to rent--to try things on and discard them when need be, without the mortgaged permanence or weighty decisions.

But she owns a little piece of safety and she's not quite ready to sell low when she bought high. There is value in comfortable sweetness and there is terror in throwing it all off the cliff when she'd still be left with her two empty hands, and then what? Throw herself after the thing she threw away? Or worse, walk back to her car and go back to the way it will always be. She'd rather be broken and bloody at the bottom of the cliff.

Instead, maybe she should take stock of what's left in her tattered portfolio. Holding it tightly, her sweaty palms leave stains and soften the manila cardstock. Maybe she should open it and have a real good look around. How many years does it really span? They say the young can weather the peaks and valleys of the long haul. Invest aggressively because in the long run, it will even out. She's not convinced that these aren't platitudes meant to keep us all shopping at the same market, deluded and kept. She's not convinced you shouldn't run away from a looming storm.

And she's not convinced her face is pretty enough or her eyes bright enough. She's not convinced she has enough talent or soul to do it on her own.

She's not convinced that there's an alternative to doing it on your own. We're born and die that way. Now there's a platitude she can get behind.

Clutching it all to her chest, she makes her way down from the cliff. She takes stock in the wind and the sand. She wipes off her feet before returning to her car and admires the sight of the sun setting over the valley. She trusts very little, but she will always trust the broker of light.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Bricks are hard. You could punch a brick and your knuckles would hurt a lot more than the brick would. You could accidentally crash your bike into a wall of them and the bike would be worse for the wear. You could scrape up against the edge of a brick and draw blood.

They’re not so big, but try moving a lot of them at one time. All together, bricks are heavy. By itself, you could pick one up and easily heft it about - play toss with a brick. Or you could take that one light brick and heave it as hard as you might through someone’s soft skull. Because bricks are hard.

But have you ever tried wearing away at a brick? It doesn’t actually take much. Something harder and a little time will make it give way. I could write your name in a brick with a sharp enough implement. Bricks are no match for water and air, given enough years of rain and wind.

Bricks are why we love fireplaces. It’s not the heat from the flames we feel so much as a brick’s capacity to take in all that energy and give it back to us one little bit at a time. I dare you to lay your cheek against a brick building on the hottest day of the year in the middle of a steamy teeming city. I promise you it will feel cool.

When you met me, I had carefully arranged a bunch of bricks around me to guard against the eventual onslaught of whatever you might bring. I had picked out my best ones and configured a convoluted maze of protection. I sized up your shiny skull and calculated how easy it would be to crush it.

But like rain, like water, you got in. Like wind, like air, you swept some of it away. And the feeling of you seeping in around my cracks leaves me wet and warm and this might be the softest I’ve ever felt.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Thoughts on Getting Published

For VMI and the rest of the writers in my life:

I read the words you wrote and thought, "more people need to read this." It's the highest compliment and the most cliched conundrum. If poetry is written and only two people hear it fall on the page, is it still important?

When I spoke of you tonight, you weren't there so you couldn't hear me. Some of you are miles and miles away, and some of you live around the corner. Some of you are dead. But were my words about you untrue or unreal? Didn't they exist, like fireworks, alive for those few vibrant seconds before they faded into the night sky?

I know that when I decided to be better I didn't even hear myself. Doesn't mean I wasn't exploding in big reds and greens against the big black backdrop. It doesn't mean it wasn't loud or didn't happen.

Maybe Heaven for us will be one big script reading. Perhaps then we'll get the feedback and validation that all these rockets require. Or maybe we'll just be dead and someone will stumble upon our words and nod knowingly. Or at least use them as kindling to light some fuse or maybe just wipe their ass.

Either way, I'm happy we're all matching up these thoughts with words and grateful for the moments we take it a step further and make art. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's what keeps this big hot ball going.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Standing on my friends' deck, late at night and out in the country, I could hear the wind before I felt it whipping around my body. The noise in the distance, not quite distinguishable, but foreboding, on its way. I wrapped my long sweater around my short body and cocked my head to hear what was in store for us all.

When the wind came, it was loud. I heard it come up through the untouched woods, breathing hard. As if wind could be a team and they were rounding the corner of tonight. So strong and low, I braced myself for the inevitable.

And before I knew it, it was gone. It just roared by me, not stopping for answers or peace or even a cup of tea. It took some leaves and scared a few small animals and then it was gone. I guess it was then when I realized that I was not even a rest stop in its quest.

I don't know what scared me more--the ferocity of a force blown by or the indifference it showed when it was blowing through. Ultimately I guess I find comfort in strong winds that blow by without blowing me over.

I guess.

It was a race, I think. It was collective and scary and whole. It sweated and groaned and bent branches. Its exertion and determination were inspiring and I clapped when it blew by.

But I was not the finish line and maybe that's what made it so disconcerting. It was going everywhere and would finish nowhere. But I happily applauded when it crossed my path, matching its intensity with a hearty "Bravo," as I thanked it for kissing my cheek on its way through. Because this is no mad dash.

This is a marathon.