The Book Life


April 30, 2010
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I am tired of backwards. I want up,
or sideways, or something. People behind me
are smoking and speaking Italian.
Let’s be friends. Let’s go back to Italy.
See? Backwards. I’ve already been to Italy,
not that I can’t go again, but still –
there are so many places I haven’t been.

I learned the other day that “metaphor”
comes from the Greek for “to travel”
and “to carry.” I liked that it was both,
because when you travel, you’re always
carrying something. Even if you don’t bring luggage,
you carry yourself.

I found myself while traveling,
and this is what I’m talking about,
about tired of backwards. I traveled
to learn to move forward.
And while I was out there, traveling,
not in Italy, but out there, there was this moment
I could never quite fit into a poem.
A moment where I knew I had caught it –
the person I was in that moment.

I’ve spent so much time reliving that moment,
telling the story but just never writing it down,
that I feel like I’ve already written this.
So maybe if I actually write it,
I can stop reliving it,
and try to actually re-find it.

The moment itself was the poem.
This is nothing more than record:

once, everything aligned.

[PROMPT: Intuition. Free write on an a-ha moment in your life, then poem it.]



April 30, 2010
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Maybe if I frame it right
Allow appropriate space around the edges
Refocus on something less distant
Coming home without you will be better than
Harmless – will be hopeful.


Maybe motionlessness will
Allow insight
Refocus energy on exactly how to
Home whole.


Midnight has never been my hour.
As much as I love its
Romance; dawn is much more my time.
Close by the window, watching
How the sun just never stays down.


Maybe March will
Allow me to open another year
Renewed, and with feeling,
Calling all former years
Harmless and ended.

[PROMPT: Acrostic day! Thank goodness, too, because I’m running on empty. Though I wrote a bunch, based on “March,” my birth month, because it was short.]


April 30, 2010
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Shamelessly Self-Involved Poem that I Can’t Help but Write

I went and bought a coffee
I didn’t even want
so that I could talk to someone,
and have something to work with
for the “first thing someone says to you”
writing prompt today. How sad is this lack
of communication? It is finals time.
Finals are lonely, because other people
are distracting, and finals need focus.
So I orchestrate a conversation
that I know will begin with
“Can I get a drink started for you?”
and end with my “thank you.”

“Not easier, just faster,” he says, of my drink choice,
after I try to take the drink
belonging to the buy behind me.
Mine is not ready yet; I am overeager
and feel almost unable to function out here,
with the world, after so many hours alone,
studying in my apartment. So I smile at him.

He has an accent from somewhere.
I want to be friends with him,
with both of the baristas behind the counter.
They are cute, and I bet they aren’t in law school.

[PROMPT: Write a poem based around the first thing someone says to you today.]


April 30, 2010
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Hand over fist I’ve held onto you
as you ran out your line to the sea.
I’m not sure I’ll be able to follow you,
but I wish I could watch you
swim away from me. I hate that I find
you beautiful. You hate
that the line even exists,
but are not bold enough to break it.

I cannot use my hands for this,
this kind of holding, and cannot break the line myself;
it will tear the skin,
leave great circles of bright red,
unprepared for even air.
I do not need to live for weeks
with bandaged hands; I do not need
those scars. So I let go.

I’ll try to use my hands
for another kind of holding.
One hand just holding the other.

[PROMPT: Use The Phrase Finder to find a phrase, then write a poem. I didn’t go much beyond the phrase itself, ’cause I just ran with “hand over fist.”]


April 30, 2010
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The grass at my funeral
will want to tell its story,
so don’t forget to let it speak.
I don’t know what it will want to say,
though I can’t help but hope it will issue some complaint
about being trampled. I hope it feels
some hundred feet bending its blades,
heedless in grief. I do. I do also hope it recovers quickly,
when they leave, because after that,
it’s just me and the earth and the worms,
and I will need the grass will tell me sweet things.
Its green is so much comforting
than the dark brown earth, all crumbling and cold.

The grass will want to speak,
I’m sure, so later, after I’m under the ground,
please find someone who can sit,
listen to its song, maybe hear it talking
to me. Find someone who will understand.
The grass will have stories to tell, and requires an interpreter.

If you can’t find someone with the necessary skill,
please come yourself.
Acquaint yourself with the morning dew,
sit down in the dawn, feel the damp creep into your pants,
and be still. Listen. Maybe you will hear the grass,
maybe you will understand,
maybe you will write it down. Maybe
you will hear the grass giving me my daily
weather report.
Maybe you will hear
me answer.

[PROMPT: Combine a speaker and an event that don’t usually go together. This is very late – I’m posting this on the last day of NaPoWriMo, and I admit, I have been slacking. Not having internet at home is quite painful, and it’s also exam time. I have been writing about every other day, and I will power through the rest today!]


April 23, 2010
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Tomorrow I will be fierce.
Pushing back the curling tendrils
that hang in my face like tears,
tomorrow I will not flinch.

My hair is the color of rust
and all this time it’s been fading
toward a nonchalant version of brown
while I sit here in the near dark
and night never seems to fall,
dizzy with the scent of imagined saffron
golden in my nose. Tomorrow,
I will be fierce, will not flinch,
will stand up to spite the squall
and cut my hair off.

I have been waiting for a reason,
to a hear a rooster crow and wake me,
for a cock to crow and shame me;
I need no more signs. I will be fierce,
will leave this room, its sadness,
and I will leave my rust-colored hair
on its floor, walk clean
into the emporium of tomorrow.

Tomorrow. I will do it

[PROMPT: A wordle? I have no idea what means, but there were some words in a crossword-type shape, and I used some of them in a poem.]


April 22, 2010
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I won’t lie, I’m aiming
for perfection. If the sky
fell or the earth
I know it wouldn’t matter, the matching up,
but I want all of the pieces
to fit together
like they were manufactured
for nothing else.

I was made for this.
But you were made for that.

I was made for this and you were made for that, and the fit,
it is not perfect; the fit is not
even close. But I’m still sitting here
across the table, maybe waiting
for the sky to fall, for the earth to
open, for the lack of perfection
to not matter.

[PROMPT: Write about perfection, flaws in yourself or in nature, how you feel about being imperfect or perfect.]


April 21, 2010
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I’m not so big on heroes,
unless they’re the degenerate type, it seems.
A boy in my high school poetry class,
for example. He wore a black Rancid sweatshirt
every day, and his black hair was never clean.
He liked to say he was going to corrupt me,
and I was too naive
to even guess what that might mean.
Then in college there was Erin
of the dyed red hair.
She was beautiful, also adorable,
covered in freckles. Again, in my poetry class,
though her writing was much better
than Rancid’s. Her hair wasn’t always clean,
either, one of that town’s adopted pseudo hippies,
suburban kids who show up and stop shaving,
start smoking pot and buy a bike.
The first time I ever smoked
was with this girl,
in a basement of a college house
late on some weekend night
and while I didn’t get anywhere even close to high,
I remember mostly how delighted she was to watch me try,
like how Rancid used to grin when he said he’d corrupt me.
So now mostly I just wonder where that delight came from,
and why these people come to mind when I think about heroes.
Did I look up to them? Down? I’m certain
I envied their freedom, but also,
they were so easy to please –
no achievement necessary,
just a little inhale,
try not to cough,
and release.

[PROMPT: Write about your hero, a hero, whatever. I didn’t notice until this very moment, putting the date in the title line, that this was a poem with pot in it. How appropriate.]


April 20, 2010
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There was a lightbulb,
once. I made it float
over my head while I wore sunglasses,
for weeks. Not that I couldn’t see,
but that I wouldn’t, you see.
I did not want the light. So this lightbulb
floats over my head for a month.
Sometimes, if I moved too quickly,
I hit it with my forehead. It never shattered,
just shone on and on and on.
And I wore sunglasses constantly,
to avoid the illumination
happening all around me. Everyone else
could see this, by the way. For minutes,
sometimes hours, I would forget it was there,
but never for longer. It refused to leave.
I had some trouble sleeping,
so I bought a funny purple eye cover
to block out the light. You probably know
how the rest of this story goes.
One day I just took off the glasses.
One day I just took a good look.

[PROMPT: Write about a light bulb moment. Your poem should express the emotions that grip you as you experience your “shock” moment. I decided to take a more literal, and at the same time, less concrete, route.]


April 18, 2010

I can’t write a poem about cats.
I don’t go to the zoo to see the tigers. I get bored at the zoo,
and tigers don’t enter my life in any other situations;
I have never been to Africa. If I went to Africa,
I would like to see the tigers, could maybe write about them then.

Once a cat slept on my face, woke me before dawn
after clawing my legs all night. The smell from its litter box
drove me from the room.

Once a cat made friends with me,
but I submitted only under duress,
undue influence from my boyfriend at the time,
to whom this cat belonged. It was more of a treaty
than a friendship, really – she twined around my ankles,
unfortunately adorable, until I consented to pet her,
awkwardly, because I’m uncomfortable with insincere emotional displays,
and I just don’t like cats.

[PROMPT: Write a poem featuring a member of the cat family, big or small.]

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