That cliché quote from Anna Karenina

You know all the boring stuff you read as a teenager about how “every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”? One day I grew up and I was boring like that too.

Birth Control


The levy passed today
I called my mom and told her
All about it
How sad I was that it passed by
Such a slim margin

I texted my husband
Said that the elementary school
Just two blocks from our house
Will be standing proud and ready
When our children come tumbling in

I saw myself walking with a younger
Amber-haired bull-headed
Better version of us
Showing them how to use the crosswalk

I always thought they would have his optimism
And my steady hand
His laugh
And my strong jaw

When I found out
My eyes didn't bother to sting

I've known since before I met him
Before I tried to pour anyone
Into that wound in my life
That I would inherit my mother's
Watchful grief

I stood, autumn-still
In front of the school
And wondered why I didn't learn
To look both ways for liars.

A draft

We said for better or for worse
So stop yelling
I never wanted to be a woman who flinched.

I came up with that much, but then what? Another cliche, maybe something about “’till death do us part”? Yeah, didn’t figure. Another for the boneyard.

Get Well Soon

I'm waiting
With the downy heart
Of someone who's never had
To say goodbye to a friend

I want to know
If I was kind enough
If I was there, if I listened
The way I should have

I'll wear the watch
He told me not to give back
When mine ran out of batteries
And wound down

Another Postcard from Greece

I’ve really been enjoying the museums I’ve visited on this trip, especially those in Crete. I particularly enjoy staring into the eyes of the statues and wondering what they’re thinking. Here’s a haiku from one of those experiences. I found it in the bottom of a bottle of Rose, so cut it some slack.

I lived, didn't I?
In a way I did not die
Being seen sustains

More Found Poetry

I set up reminders on my phone to remind me to blog, not that I really heed them. Why? Maybe because I’m lazy. Maybe because they get lost in a sea of other notifications. Maybe – hell, probably – both. Here’s a found poem I constructed out of the notifications from WordPress, the Calm app, and more that I’m ignoring on my phone’s drop-down menu just now.

Storage Space Running Out

Mindfulness reminder
Tap to learn more
Take a few calm deep breaths

Update available
Memory for you
New voicemail

Clear the clutter
This is your reminder to create something today

Don't miss out

Don’t Reach for Me

I feel like lately, with offices and bars and theaters reopening, people are out, but they’re out with giant wounds – the kind of wounds that show sinew and bone. Some people have emerged with an extra thirty pounds, a stack of unemployment checks, a mental health diagnosis or two… Some people have emerged alone. I have emerged awkward. The lack of chit-chat in the aisles of the grocery store, and the fact that I didn’t have to flash a perfunctory smile at a dozen or more people a day have left me wooden and stammering. Here’s a poem about how I fit into this new scene… Or don’t.

How Can I Help You

So far I’ve gotten by 
On good wine
And ignorance

I thought that divorce was
One of those things,
You know it’s out there
But you don’t bump into it
In the checkout aisle

You don’t worry about it hurting you or yours.
It’s for real housewives of various cities
And that aunt you avoid at Thanksgiving

You don’t rehearse what you’ll say
If divorce breezes in the door at a house party
Or if it tells you that your blouse looks nice. 

You don’t know how to put someone’s divorce
Into the box with the other forbidden dinner table topics
Like hemorrhoids and that football player
Who either does or does not disrespect our country. 

I cannot give out advice about divorce
Because I cannot even write a good poem about it

Emergence

I have a rash on my face, my laptop is perhaps-hopelessly broken, and (more importantly) the world is still being ravaged by a pandemic. That said, there’s no real excuse for not writing. Anyways, here’s this:

Dark nights and fireflies
The sun's rays peeking through my blinds
When there's light
I think of you

Sweet Saturday

Does this poem need a trite little backstory? No. It’s specific – that’s the one piece of advice I’ve gotten, over and over: “be more specific”. Billy Collins told me in my Masterclass, an editor at Ghost City Review let me know when I asked for feedback following a rejection, and my mother told me after wrinkling her nose at one of my more half-assed attempts at being deep. Here’s a poem – don’t guess what it’s about.

 
 

An Evening Alone with a Question 

 I don’t need plans tonight
 Actually
 I have a recipe I’ve been dying to try
 And a candle to keep me company
 I’ve got a record that I turned on
 To rumble and purr
 Like you do
  
 If you came home, though 
 Paid your tab and got back in the car
 You could spin me in lazy circles around the living room
 Make me forget about the record and the Pino
  
 When you come in, late
 I’ll let you try the apple crumble
 And tell you how relaxing it was
 To wonder where you were
 What you were doing
 Why you didn’t want to bring me
 All while sipping on a mostly-empty glass.
 Here it is: try it 

Ten Days

I’m sure all two of you who read this blog have noticed my absence. I have run myself so ragged that even my sister has squawked at me to “slow down!!!” I’ve been doing a poor job, but I did stay in on Friday. I watched Super Troopers with my dog. It was a totally unremarkable evening, and I would like to have more just like it. Anyways, here’s a poem I started about this whole thing.

I'm supposed to be getting better
Resting
Rebuilding my strength
But what is vitality
If not a volatile currency
A fickle, use-it-or-lose-it force?

Hold on
I need to sit down for a moment

E. Jean, Oh Dear

A week or so ago, I sent my husband a link to my two personal essays published by Sleet Magazine. His response was merely that the first one, “Bodies,” made him sad. My self-absorbed ass wanted to hear about what a great writer I am, how my husband understands some critical, previously-unobserved part of me, how I am an old soul or some other corny shit. But no, all he said was that he was sad. This, of course, propelled me to new levels of wallowing and self-absorption. I emailed E. Jean Carroll, one of very few people I can confidently call a role model. She congratulated me on getting published and told me that she makes a point to never show her writing to family or husbands. Damn! I grew up reading E. Jean’s column in Elle, so I really would trust her with my life. For several years, her advice column was the closest thing I had to guidance, while my mother was busy working 60 hours per week and doing what mothers do – “seeing about things.” Anyways, here’s a poem for my mom. I’ll never let her read it.

The writer, her mother (who will always bear a striking resemblance to the Columbia Pictures lady), and her sister.
 For My Mother, For Father’s Day
  
 I am not half the woman my mother was
 Though she never wanted me to be. 
 Mom fled across the old South
 From slick men and robberies
 Tenements and community college
 To a burnt-out Camaro and a basset hound
 Who bayed at my young sister and I 
 Unable to express his love otherwise
  
 I never knew an eviction notice
 Or a too-tight school uniform
 Although my mother’s thin-soled sensible shoes
 Whispered about budgets and bounced checks
 Store-brand food and impending mattress springs
  
 Mom’s eerie foresight and vicious budgeting
 Did not account for grit
 I would sleep on a thousand floors
 To inherit her ramrod spine