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When I was young, perhaps eleven or twelve, I read the poem “Silence” by Marianne Moore. It was right around the time that I had started to explore my own poetry and craft my own metaphors. I remember the phrase “the glass flowers at Harvard” sticking out to me in a beautiful way.

At the time, it was a lovely phrase in the midst of a mixture of words that didn’t make sense to me. Now, on rereading it as an adult, I see how beautiful and eloquent Moore’s entire poem was. It speaks to me on a level that it did not when I was a child.


My father used to say,
"Superior people never make long visits,
have to be shown Longfellow's grave
or the glass flowers at Harvard.
Self-reliant like the cat-
that takes its prey to privacy,
the mouse's limp tail hanging like a shoelace from its mouth-
they sometimes enjoy solitude,
and can be robbed of speech,
by speech which has delighted them.
The deepest feeling always shows itself in silence;
not in silence, but restraint."
Nor was he insincere in saying, "Make my house your inn."
Inns are not residences.



Given my childhood, it’s funny what pierces my heart and stabs my soul. It’s not the beauty of the phrase “the glass flowers at Harvard” (though, to Moore’s credit, that is a wonderful turn of phrase). It’s the last two lines of the poem.

Without getting too autobiographical, my childhood home felt as though it was curated for an interior design magazine. It did not feel like a home. I felt like I was walking into a stranger’s house every time I came home.

Home is such an interesting concept to me. I would love to explore the idea of it more in my writing.

PS: Anyone interested in reading an excerpt of a short story I’m working on?

Publishing News

Hey, y’all!

Because I’m a giant silly-head, I’m not sure how many of you saw my very exciting news, but I just received a publishing contract with a small charity press.

I am in the process of organizing some of my poems into a chapbook as our initial release.

So, if you’re a fan of my poetry, keep checking this blog because I’ll make an announcement when and where it’s available.

(If you already saw this announcement, please feel free to ignore it. I’m just so thrilled I couldn’t help but mention it again, in case you missed it.)

Devils: a Poem

My eyes burn dully–
twin lanterns that have been flickering
for decades.
(Every time I swallow, I taste kerosene.)

Looking out,
nothing but darkness on the horizon.
A storm churns clouds in the haunted sky,
& I shudder
from the bitter chill.
(It’s this cold that makes my spine jerk and spasm.)

In the distance,
I no longer smell the burning leaves of autumn-
instead,
I smell smoldering corpses.

Mouth clamped shut,
this taste is the copper of blood.
(I had been biting my tongue so long,
I have forgotten the taste of my own words.)

Ear tilted toward the skies,
thunder roars a warning cry,
and I am yet to heed its warning.

A thousand men lie dying at my feet,
and it is my heart that is the battleground.
(Do they not realize this is a metaphor,
and I would rather taste bile than my own bitter heartbreak?)

I feel like I belong in an Edvard Munch painting or something by Magritte,
but do you see me in a gilded frame hanging in the Museum of Modern Art?
My own heartbreak is taste familiar to me,
and I would rather linger with the devil I do know
than the devil I do not.

The devil resides in a land
where the damned smell burning corpses all day,
and though the odor rouses a certain sense of familiarity,
I would rather run than fight the inevitable.

Former friends and lovers, those I once knew,
are now nothing but ghosts.
(Perhaps they are ghosts because my memory falters,
maybe they exist on another plane of consciousness
and wait
for me to wake out of my fog and think me the ghost.)

A dense fog of sadness spreads its misty fingers over me
in that lonesome field.
(Clutching at my heart, that chill that spoke to me.
My spine jerks and spasms.)

This frostbite burns everything it consumes-
a conflagration of icicles going up in flame,
like stalagmites crafted of ice & fire.
The mere sight of it is enough
to drive a sane person to lunacy.

As I take my first step plunging forward,
I shuffle through the fire and ice
and emerge-
unscathed.

Little bo Peep trembles under a parasol,
tears cascading down her cheeks,
crying out,
“Where have my sheep gone?
Why do my eyes burn so dully?
Where has my happiness gone?”

A bleak day to discover paradise-
the muddy sky will lose all its meaning.
We have lost what we are searching for.

Loneliness is our only path to salvation.
It is in our suffering that we find bliss.
(Amantes sunt amuntes-
lovers are lunatics
as this barren landscape is all we know now.)

These twin lanterns
that were once my eyes
have lost all light.
We must trudge forward
& hope someday,
this suffering shall guide us
(toward our bliss).

Impasto Passions: a Poem

My heart has been wallpapered in love letters,
and its hinge that was once rusty and worn
now gleams like new.
(When we exchanged glances that evening,
you provided me with a heart transplant–
trading in the antiquated
for something fresh
still in its packaging.)

The peppermint scent of you inflates my lungs.
(The inhalation is so much sweeter
for having known you.)

Your breath curls around my ear, warming the core of me.
I taste your passion as my lips lock onto yours
like a zipper catching.
Your whispers blade through me,
sending shivers crumbling down my back.

Romance is a beautiful death
(one in which I don’t mind dying daily).
Your eyes are as turquoise blue as the seas
& I never thought that I would feel at home
in a sailboat.
My quarters have been wallpapered in love letters.
When my stomach quivers,
I don’t know if it’s anticipation or nerves.

I used to fear intimacy-the dark corners
and hushed voices.
The taste of nightfall & midnight always suited me
before you came around.
(It is the glow of constellations that I see spark
from your own starry, starry glances.)

You are like a painting by van Gogh,
and I am not one to roam the Saint Louis Art Museum,
searching for love
(yet I would wander every corridor
if it meant seeing your face at the end of the hall).

-painting “Cafe Terrace at Night”, 1888, Vincent van Gogh-

Magic Mushroom Road: a Poem

Write a poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead. Not a famous person, necessarily-perhaps a remembered acquaintance from your childhood.
(Prompt by Maureen Thorson)

You take life too seriously.
It’d be much more fun
if you remember to laugh.
(There’s so much to cry about,
what if we laughed instead?)

Chase the white rabbit.
This isn’t Wonderland,
but we can still wonder.
Try to hold onto that feeling
when the Christmas lights twinkle
as you breathe in deep,

as you speed past,
time speeds up
(when you don’t have much of it left).

Try to hold the magic inside of your lungs,
inhale as though it were a Turkish Gold.

None of us get out alive.
We might as well sing off-key
and laugh like tonight’s the last night
we breathe.

Take my guitar and strum a melody
to tell you the things that I could never say.

(I believe she’ll explain it to you
one day.
One day when I’m gone.)
You’ll remember my name, my laugh,
but don’t think me a fool
because I’ve proven myself to be much more
than that.

Laugh like tonight’s the last night
and tell the girl you love her
(because I forgot to say it
before it was too late)
.

-inspired by Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology

Requiescat in Pace

Grandmother: a Poem

Pretend a person or a moment in your life is a moving box you’re unpacking as you move into a new home. What do you unpack? How tenderly? Where do you place it? What do you realize you no longer need? What do you realize you have lost?
(Prompt by Todd Dillard)

Gingerly, I pull the packing tape back
and tug the cardboard flaps apart.
(Like wings, they spread.)
The scent of White Diamonds,
floral and sweet,
wafts over me, reminding me
of a grandmother’s embrace.

I remember burying myself into her
as she felt like unconditional love.
The way a grandmother’s hazel eyes are soft.
I unpack birthday cards
with whisper-thin penmanship
vowing “love always” and prayers.
Gently, I pull out the nail lacquer
she always used to paint my fingernails.

My grandmother was a home to me when I felt adrift.
I remember the way she always turned on a light
for me
when I was reading in her den.
She’d marvel at my stories, even when
my words were bland.

I take out the prayer books and the holy medals.
I unfold the comforter from her bed,
the thick one that buried us like snow.

I remove her vinyl of the soundtrack to Sound of Music
(and in my mind, I hear her trilling arias with Julie Andrews,
her warble beautiful and pure)
.
I smell her hand lotion and recall the blue eyeshadow
applied every day
(until even the dementia taking that away).

Her memories have been packed away
eleven years.
It has been eleven years since I heard her voice last-
I remember that night in the memory care ward,
that last night,
she turned to me, her hazel eyes watery,
underweight, and leaning on a walker,
and she said to me,

“Izzy, you look so pretty tonight.”

I lost someone who cared for me
and loved me unconditionally.
Like a leaf blowing away in autumn
(delicate and fragile).
Remember the afternoon we picked you up
from that foul hospital with the smell of shit and piss
and I sang to you a jazz lullaby,
thinking you were dying.

I hope someday to be your princess
(again).

Chasing Stars: a Poem

If the stars fade and the ink from my hipbone vanishes,
will I still see you home?
You’re no stranger to constellations,
and just when I thought moods were mercurial,
you shock me
with your steadfastness.

the star on my skin is a map to guide you home…

Every breath began with you,
I wonder if they will terminate with you as well.

Renovations: a Poem

Poetry often takes us to strange places-to feelings and actions that are hard to express except through the medium of a poem. To the “liminal”, in other words-a place or sensation that exists at or on both sides of a boundary or threshold, neither one thing or the other, but something betwixt and between.
(Prompt by Maureen Thorson)

Abandoned and neglected
(in decay from misuse),
you swear changes underway.

Making promises you can’t keep.

-image courtesy of @SpaceLiminalBot on Twitter.