NaPoWriMo Day…Oh, who am I kidding?

So instead of writing poems the last few days, I’ve been working on a lyric essay project. I started it back in January, with the goal of building up a book-length body of poemy prose on the topic of adoption. As part of that project, I wrote some material about horses. Now, I’m shaping and adding to that material in order to fulfill a related goal, of having an excerpt ready to send out to journals by May 1. Here’s a little excerpt of that excerpt:


The places Stormy and Poco carried me to—the places on the edge of Reno where a person could ride a horse—were mostly broken places. Broken trail, or trails leading to places broken from having trails leading to them. The trails were power line roads, maintenance roads along irrigation ditches, dirt access tracks leading to small reservoirs or cattle-trampled springs that fed the irrigation ditches. Burned-out rangeland and fire breaks. They were rutted and rocky off-road roads, roads leading to the shot-up shooting ranges out in the sage. Always lots of rocks, always shattered glass. Sometimes, snakes.

NaPoWriMo Day 7.4 (Day 18 for Everyone Else)

Northern Harrier. Photo credit: National Wildlife Federation

Northern Harrier. Photo credit: National Wildlife Federation

Today, the fourth of my poems is published in the online journal Cascadia Review. All four poems (titled “Went Hiking,” “Strange Bird,” “One Way,” and “Day After Thanksgiving”) are now presented on the home page, along with my “Statement of Place” in the Cascadia bioregion.

These four poems are also included in my chapbook, Impossible Lessons, which will be ready to meet the world in about four more weeks.

(Coming some time soon: NaPoWriMo, Day 8! I think!)

I Feel Like the Luckiest Poet on the Planet

You guys! Amazing presents are falling out of the sky and bonking me on the head! Here are three of them:

1) Remember when I mentioned that MoonPath Press had accepted my chapbook manuscript to publish this spring? Well, it’s almost time. Editor and publisher Lana Hechtman Ayers, who is magic, tells me that by early next month, the chapbook, titled Impossible Lessons, will be ready. I’m going over the final proofs this week, and soon I hope to have the cover image to show you.

2) Four of my poems from that chapbook are being published this week by the online journal Cascadia Review, one each day, today through Thursday.  My thanks to Dana Guthrie Martin, editor, and Joannie Stangeland, poetry editor, for selecting my work and curating it so beautifully.

3) Last year, the monthly online journal Conversations Across Borders published two of my poems (here and here). In a couple of weeks I get to be part of a reading of Bellingham CAB authors, including Rebecca Mabanglo-Mayor and Paul Piper. It’ll be Saturday, April 27,  4:00 p.m., at Village Books in Fairhaven. Part of CAB‘s mission is to support educational and writing-related charities worldwide; currently, the editors are donating CAB proceeds to Cura Secondary School, which provides education to children orphaned by AIDS in Cura, Kenya. You can help support CAB and its work by subscribing or by purchasing selected pieces individually.

Further details, and poems, to follow.


NaPoWriMo, Day … oh, dear.

Moving right along.

Today’s poem is prompted by Danielle Mitchell at Litnivorous (motto: “You Are What You Read”). In addition to offering brief prompts this month, she also has a full menu of very detailed writing exercises (see the menu bar at the top of the Home page) that fascinate me. My poem below responds to Prompt #7, Exercise #1. Thank you, Danielle, for this enjoyable workout of my “brain’s weirdness muscles.” And also, for the word “vodka.”



This was the last time you would tell them
the water of their core aquarium did not meet
your requirement for prismatic frequencies.
Though they wooed you in Catalán, in Cantonese,
and Klingon, you inflected them back to themselves
in images of fizz and fenestration.

For a while, you tried your weirdest
to parlay their assertions into factual acres.
Your curiosity percolated like verdure.
Fluffed, it met with temporary merit.
But—peekaboo!—you found it impossible
to combobulate the spacious into something capable.

They wanted you to believe belief was everything
(the u-turns in the hairpins, the whirl of repentance).
At length, tremblingly, they offered you
a majestic ceramic and its liquid aphrodisiac.
But they weren’t prepared for the convergence
of your fineries. Or for the way you shouldered
that stoneware—so demure, so periodic.

When their methods uncornered the dribble
of their trial, you triumphed by splintering
the vodka of their maroon. Shhh… They want
you to believe your professed beliefs
are really true. Just because you’re pronoid
doesn’t mean they’re not favoring you.

NaPoWriMo, Day 5 (Whoa! Day 12 for everyone else)

A week late, but still in the game.



The French call it
nature morte, tartly
not living. Sordid, maybe,
but worthy of the eye’s
marveling at the last
glimmer of loveliness,
captured. The ovoid
kumquat, a curve
of driftwood, fished
from the tide, a billow
of yellow dillweed flowers:
a flight stilled, still live

NaPoWriMo Day 4 (Day 9 for Everyone Else)

Inspired by Maureen Thorson’s Day 9 prompt: “Noir” (but with a sort of non-urban twist) and by Doug’s flashback to clip-on earrings.



The next one waits, polishing its incisors.
What willing thing would venture near, barefoot?
Some days, it doesn’t know itself
whether it preys or punishes. Or both.

Meanwhile, another clips earrings to her lobes.
She uses the pain to remind herself
of her worthiness. Please watch,
her ministrations seem to say.

Lifted to the level of her smile, each pearl ignites.
She draws the fur onto her shoulders
and against her neck. Outside, the moon
shows paw prints circling in the snow.

NaPoWriMo, Day 3 (Day 8 in other time zones)

Just to keep things confusing, I’m using Maureen Thorson’s Day 4 prompt–spaceship names from Iain M. Banks–as inspiration for this poem.



Ordinarily, I suffer from an onslaught of abundance.

We need milk. We need postage stamps.

We need sandwich bread, bananas, and jam.

I refuse to fall victim to ambient distraction.

We need more frozen burritos,
the ones with not too much rice and just
the right amount of cheese.

Principally, each interruption is an apocalypse
of meaning.

Will you put your laundry in the basket?

Will you pick up those Legos from the floor, please?

Fortunately, some conflicts of interest
are grist for good thought.

We need sliced turkey and more applesauce.

Tissues. Peanut butter.

Did Tiresias have a family?
Would his wife have been a prophet, too,
or is one oracle per generation enough?

We need yogurt and a little more culture.

We could use beer and a little less fizz.

NaPoWriMo, Day 1 (Day 2 for Everyone Else)

Happy National Poetry Month! This April, I’m getting a bit of a late start with NaPoWriMo (though not as late a start as I did last year). I hope to write and post a new poem here every few days. In between, I plan to enjoy and comment on the poems posted by writer-friends who are also participating in this poem-a-day challenge.

My first poem is inspired by yesterday’s prompt from NaPoWriMo founder Maureen Thorson, to “write a poem that has the same first line as another poem,” and by David J. Bauman’s (a.k.a. The Dad Poet’s) lovely reading of Frank O’Hara’s poem “For Grace, After a Party.”  (Instead of following the instructions, however, I borrowed O’Hara’s title, not his first line.) Here we go:


For Grace, after a party is the best time
for getting back into dancing.

For Grace, after a party is never as sweet
as that span of time just as the second drink
is kicking in and everyone is beginning
to feel hopeful.

For Grace, after a party means she can stop
apologizing about her hair.

For Grace, after a party is a time to uncorral her feelings
and watch them buck and snort across the pasture.

For Grace, after a party is an interlude
for considering which loved one to forgive.

For Grace, after a party is the perfect time
to practice scrambling eggs and holding
the weather, warm and calm, in her spoon.