Category Archives: Poetry

Thief

Her identity has been stolen

by the shadow of death—

that oily cloud of slithering suffocation

loitering nearby Final Breaths,

Pathetic parasite desperate for the demise of some poor soul

so it can prey not on death’s victim, but its own,

Melancholy mucus that suffocates the mourner

overtaking her like a cloak of phlegm,

a lecherous, filmy sadness that she cannot medicate away

(try as she might)

Tainting her spirit forever, a warning stench creating fear in her acquaintances

for it makes them face their immortality and

their awkward inadequacies as they blurt out trite comforts,

Normalcy killer

Grief goggles she can never remove, dooming her to view life

through death—

It has seeped into her skin slowly,

it’s who she is.

My mind

My mind is a half-empty glass of whiskey about to be drained to the rocks.

My mind is a fulcrum for sappy sentiments of lace, satin, and paper hearts.

My mind breathes upon his breath, the breath that heats my face in the night and reminds me I’m alive.

My mind is survived by words on paper.

My mind likes to sleep and dream that death and crushing guilt don’t exist.

My mind relishes the sights of narrow Yorkshire streets and the sounds of the Minster.

My mind is saved by confession and the promise of redemption.

My mind is motion for memories that keep mothers alive.

My mind quivers like Aunt Imogene’s jello from the mold, full of banana pieces and cottage cheese.

My mind needs respite from chatter and traffic and plaid pants.

My mind is harmony and swiss cheese and throbbing Irish punches.

My mind squeezes images of my wedding day

and sings trite love songs.

My mind leaves academia in pursuit of the truth of beauty.

I found a new poet

He’s not new, but he’s new to me. Here is a taste of his work. Enjoy!

poem I wrote sitting across the table from you
by Kevin Varrone

if I had two nickels to rub together
I would rub them together

like a kid rubs sticks together
until friction made combustion

and they burned
a hole in my pocket

into which I would put my hand
and then my arm

and eventually my whole self–
I would fold myself

into the hole in my pocket and disappear
into the pocket of myself, or at least my pants

but before I did
like some ancient star

I’d grab your hand

Mark Strand interview

I have mentioned that I am a feminist critic when it comes to literature; that is the school of criticism that most resonated with me as an undergrad. I did an independent study with my favorite professor in which we researched early children’s lit and approached it from a feminist perspective for a class she taught the next semester. In graduate school, I continued my research; however, for my English elective courses, I took creative writing classes. And instead of doing a research paper for my graduate thesis, I did a creative thesis instead, at the encouragement of my poetry professor.

Poetry has a special place in my heart, and while I consider myself a poet, I do not consider myself a profound poet or even a good one. But I can steer you in the direction of good, profound poets, one of my favorites being Mark Strand. Here is an old interview of his in which he explains the purpose of poetry and what he considers good poetry.

“…you have to be willing to read poetry; you have to be willing to meet it halfway—because it won’t go any further than that if it’s any good. A poem has its dignity, after all. I mean, a poem shouldn’t beg you to read it; it’s pathetic, if that’s the case. Some poets fear that they won’t be heard unless they flatter the reader, go ninety percent of the way, do it all for the reader. But that’s pathetic.”

Richard Nixon

was long out

of office

by the time

I was born

and yet I

begged every

Halloween

for a mask

of his face.

Alluring—

his face was

to me, my

fingers held

up in peace

signs, although

I didn’t

know what that

really meant.

So I saved

my money—

since my mom

refused my

pleas—and bought

the rubber

likeness of

President

Nixon whom

I never

really knew.

Only that

he was in-

famously

bad. With his

face on mine

stealing my

innocence,

masking my

identi-

ty, I felt

raging shame

of being

R. Nixon.

I couldn’t

take the heat

of the man.

Or rubber.

What relief

to peel his

face off mine

and breathe air

unfiltered

by his mis-

matched nostrils

pretentious-

ly trying

to pass as

the real deal.

How sweet to

realize

that I am

not Richard

and never

will/can be.

 

When I was a little girl, I was intrigued by presidential masks, especially the one of Richard Nixon. This poem is a metaphor of the masks we choose to wear instead of risking being known for who we really are. It is a celebration of God convincing me I don’t need a mask–that I am lovable to him just as I am.

The Mundane

I wrote this while contemplating how shocking it is in the midst of grief to realize the world continues spinning even though it feels like it should stop with the passing of someone you love so much. The first time I experienced this was when my parents died and I stopped to get gas on my drive home–I almost couldn’t believe that the gas attendant didn’t know what had happened.

 

The mundane continues despite death,

like having to get gas at three o’clock in the morning after

your rotary phone rings to deliver

the message that your parents have died. You wonder

what the gas attendant thinks about you

and your puffy eyes. You wonder

if you should tell him: I have reason for crying—

my parents are dead. DEAD. But you realize

the wonder of the world continuing—phones

still ringing, gas still pumping, money

still exchanging—distracts you as you inhale

second-hand smoke, wishing you were high

and this were all a dream.