I Bear Fruit, for Open Link Night

For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets … In other news, I got a contributor’s copy in the mail today, which is always a happy time. But then my husband is reading my poem and says, “Umm, did you mean to spell yeast roll r-o-l-e?” No. No, I didn’t. For the record — since I’m billing myself as a poetry editor and all — the gremlin was at the other end. Oh, well. I know these things happen, and it’s still exciting to have the copy in hand, and it looks great other than that. I think I’ll let it go.


I Bear Fruit

Then I discovered that
everything I was carrying
was useless and heavy,

and I’d dropped all the
right, light things along
the way somewhere.

I didn’t know where
I was going, so I decided
to stand still for a while,

but then I became a
pear tree, one of those
stunted little pear trees

that grows around a
fence, as if the wound
has become integral,

the fence a new heart,
xylem and phloem
beating in chain link.


Houses, for Open Link Night

I’m later than usual for Open Link Night at dVerse. Among other reasons, I got caught up in listening to the brand-new Garbage album — their first in 7 years, and I’m a big fan. My daughter was actually all done with her bathroom prep, in bed, and ready for me to read to her, and there I was, still rocking out. Darkly. Anyway, here’s the poem:



Never fall in love
with houses;
they’re not as solid
as you think.

They collapse
around you even as
you live in them,
every day, another
small change,
another step closer
to a change
in your address.

You will not die
in your house,
quietly in
your sleep,
or at least,
few people do;

for most, there is
a staggered slide,
here a loss and there,
until, really, it’s time
to find a place for
mom or dad.

(By the way, that’s you.)

Maybe it’s worse
to leave a house
while you’re young;
then it seems as if
you should be able to
go back and visit.

The new people have
vinyl siding, or a giant pool,
and no one cares that you
used to have a hiding place
by the downspout, where
you pretended to sew clothes
with thorns from the trees,
which may not even
be there anymore.

If you are let inside,
what will you see?
Other people’s stuff.
No evidence of you.
You will awaken, too,
a small beast inside,
a young one that

you silenced,
papered over;

now it beats against
the wall of your chest,
believes it’s finally home.


A Slimy Poem for Open Link Night


Under the raspberries
under the mint
under the leaves,

a kingdom is growing,
moving, crossing
slick trails like swords
of wet dominion.

Under the tent tarp
under our heads
under our dreams,

a whole world
is sleeping with us,
unseen in the cool
and the damp,

mouthparts always
chewing on something,
be it memory or plan.





A word about Open Link Night: This takes place each Tuesday afternoon/evening/night at dVerse, a website by and for poets. You post a poem on your blog, and then you add a link on the dVerse site, and then you get lots and lots of new visitors (and of course, you visit other poets, too). Thanks again, Anna, for letting me know about it!


Everything I Say I Won’t Do, I End up Doing

I talked a good game about not entering the APR Stanley Kunitz contest (poets under 40, you have until May 15 — and they do take electronic submissions). Entered it. Twice.

And now, after I’ve done all this waffling and carping about how I want to do a chapbook but don’t want to enter a contest, here I am trying to choose from among three different ones, all with June deadlines.

Could you help me, please? If you are familiar with any of the following publishers and can share a thought or two in the comments, I’d appreciate it. Criticism is fine, as long as it’s constructive — not looking to slam any publishers here. I will also order a chapbook or two as a sample, but time and money being short, I’d love to narrow it down to two before I start hitting that PayPal button. Anyway, here are the three I’m considering:

Anabiosis Press

Dream Horse Press (scroll down for the chapbook contest)

Blue Light Press

Thank you, thank you …



Something Good in My Mailbox Today

Came home to find a SASE of mine, stuffed full. Never a good thing … unless it is. (Which it was, this time.) Very excited to have a poem accepted for Pearl, in an issue to come out at the end of this year.

To make it that much better, the acceptance letter came from an editor who shares my first name. “Dear Marilyn … We’re pleased to accept … Sincerely, Marilyn.” Fun!

And I just checked my cover letter and confirmed that I did divulge that a draft of the poem they want to publish appeared at Poetic Asides during the November PAD challenge. So, it’s all legit, and I can breathe easy and be happy …


Calling All Poets under 40

Which I am, juuuust barely …

I’m going to enter this contest from The American Poetry Review, in part because, well, this is the last year in which I’ll be eligible. I wish I hadn’t seen the thing about how you can enter more than once, though, because now I’m all boggled over whether to enter twice — and thus, have six poems embargoed for a while — or just choose the three that I think are the best fit. The double chance is tempting, but then, given my track record with contests, it also sounds good to send just one $15 check, not two. 

What do you think? And have any of you entered this one, or plan to? The clock is ticking … The postmark deadline is May 15 (next Tuesday — yikes).


Hey, Man … Have You Ever *Really* Looked at Your Hands?


Look at
your open palm,
how the branches
fork off into
so many rivers,
so many cracks
in the earth
of your life,
the map of
your world,
how it looked
just before
you took flight.

P.S. — How could I have forgotten to link to dVerse Open Link Night, which I’ve been enjoying these past few Tuesdays? Lots of great poets there — please go enjoy!


Some Questions about Chapbooks

So, a few things are pointing me toward the idea that how I ought to spend May is in putting together a chapbook. First, as great as it is to get individual poems published here and there, I feel a bit scattered and would like to gather together a few things all in one spot. Second, since I did both NaPoWriMo and PAD, I’m looking down the barrel of 61 poems that many will now consider to be “previously published.” Non, je ne regrette rien, but still … 

In the past, I’ve entered a couple-few chapbook contests but have never won — and then I put that potential chapbook aside and move on to something else. I’ve never seen one through to the finish line before, and maybe this is the time to do it.

There are a couple of ways I don’t want to do this: 1) I don’t want to self-publish (because, as you might recall, I’m someone who really needs the stamp of approval that comes from acceptance letters), and 2) I don’t want to enter a contest (because I’ve found that’s a very expensive way to get a rejection letter — and I already get plenty of those, just for the cost of a SASE).

If someone could point me toward favorite publishers who do more of an “open call” deal where they choose a small handful of people to publish, that would be much appreciated! Also, if you read a lot of chapbooks and/or have opinions about how they should be put together, how unified do you think they should be? Might I be able to pull something together from what I’ve written in the past month, if I gather the ones that seem to have similar themes? Or must I write a couple dozen poems all on the same general subject?

(If the latter, you know it will be evil garden vegetables.)

Again, many thanks to anyone who wishes to weigh in with big thoughts on tiny books …


No More NaPoWriMo, But Here’s a Persona Poem

The Carrot Says

I am the vegetable
you most want to see,
but honey, I won’t
make you well.

Come with me
and I will take you
back down to where
it all began, when I

waited in the dark
for someone like
you; I sent up my
leafy top like a

flag, a signal for
you to pull me.
Now, I’ll pull you
down to the dirt;

I still remember
where I used to
live. Don’t worry.
You’ll put down

roots soon enough.
After a while, you’ll
forget you ever
had eyes.