Giant Pinkie Ring, for Open Link Night

Giant Pinkie Ring

All the answers are in
lemon quartz,
a square pool of sun

dwarfing my finger,
turning it into a supernova
at the end of the line.

This is not subtle beauty.
This is no time to be refined.
It is summer now; I need
all the light I can get.




For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.


Beach Glass, for Open Link Night

Beach Glass

Not very tumbled.
Not yet opaque, milky.
Still retaining the clarity
of what they are, or were.

Holding the laughter
or anger, hot romance
of a beach night on the rocks
before bottles smashed.

A fight, or an errant toss;
someone too young, too urgent
to attempt to find a trash can
(to say nothing of recycling).

What words passed between,
among the sweet evening air
as swifts replaced seagulls
and bottle rockets flew?

Drop the bottles where you are.
There are more important things.
Maybe someday, someone will
collect the broken shards,

tossed just enough to no longer
cut. See? She tests each one
on her finger; blunted edges
make treasure out of trash.




For Open Link Night at dVerse Poets.


Two Chapbooks out the Door, Please Don’t Let Me Enter More

I just hit send on my entry for the Dream Horse Press Poetry Chapbook Prize. It wasn’t due until June 30, but it was not good for me to have it hanging around any longer. I needed to clear my plate, and now it’s sparkling clear (of my own work, anyway), and it’s going to stay that way for a while so I can focus on some editing projects.

The other one I entered, just a few days ago, was a chapbook contest from Blue Light Press. If you want to do that one, hurry! The deadline is June 15. I wondered whether my work is their cup of tea, but nothing ventured, nothing gained — and a poem in that manuscript references San Francisco, where they’re based. Meant to be, right?

Good luck if you enter these, or any other chapbook contests … wishing beautiful, tiny books for all!


In Which the Poet Takes a Zumba Class

In recent months, as I added freelance editing work to an already crowded roster of daily activities, I realized that much of what I do is very, very sedentary.

I have two children, no car, and a garden — all of which provides a nice base level of everyday activity. But what’s more of a challenge is incorporating regular bouts of high-intensity, intentional physical activity. There’s a free gym at work, but given that I work part-time and have a family and other commitments to get home to, it’s very hard for me to convince myself it’s a good idea to interrupt my very focused workday and then stay late to make up for it.

One neat solution I’ve found has been a weekly Zumba class. Let me be clear: I am a back row dweller. I am rhythm-challenged (you will not typically see me at poetry readings or hear recordings of my poems — sound and rhythm are just not the aspects of poetry that come most naturally to me) and also seem to have trouble telling my left from my right. I feel totally ridiculous while in class, and I also tend to sneer at myself that Zumba is just like Jazzercise, only mas picante — for the ladies who want to believe they are all Latin hotsy-totsy as they work out.

But … It’s good for my heart. I can tell. It wakes up my muscles and gets the blood flowing. Most of the work I’m doing and the things I am pursuing for “fun” (serious poets might identify with the air quotes here) involve my mind. But here’s the thing: My mind is also my brain, which is a physical organ, which needs me to keep those arteries nice and clear. There may be some great poetry written as a result of stroke-induced aphasia, but I’d rather not contribute to that body of work.

I think my neighborhood is just about the best place to take a class like Zumba. We are very near the University of Chicago, and the class is actually in a building belonging to a big Lutheran seminary. While there are indeed some very fit people in the class, I get the sense that many are also quite brainy — and all are compassionate. These are not bouncing hard bodies who sneer if and when you make a misstep.

Fellow poets, what do you do to get yourself up and moving? How do you feel about it? Do you find it to be a challenge, as I do? How do you keep the life of the mind from being an utterly sedentary life?


A Probably Blasphemous but Well-Intended Persona Poem for Open Link Night


I am a park ranger for the Lord;
I arrange His trees in concentric circles
so His children can wind embroidery floss
around, under, and through, sing a song

that is just enough about Him
that He’ll know it’s about Him; He
likes to hear His own name as much
as any of the rest of us do, I guess

(maybe more). He likes puns,
as long as they’re good ones;

lambs and trees go over well,
but He’s kind of tired of loaves
and fishes. No one knows how
exhausting that miracle was,

how few people thanked Him,
and He had to rest afterwards
and wondered why it is He
even bothers sometimes.

By His hand, we are fed, so
it seems like the least I can do,

to set up His crafts, and to pour
tiny cups of juice (apple—
goes with the week’s theme:
Gifts from His Trees) so He can
rest a while longer, and wonder.




I wrote this because it’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another Open Link Night at dVerse Poets. The first line came to me out of nowhere, and then a persona and scenario built themselves around it. Oh, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood …


From Not Entering any Chapbook Contests, to Two in One Month …

… in zero easy steps.

A funny thing happened today while contemplating sealing the deal on a travel-themed chapbook (entries are due June 15 — yikes, I just rediscovered that fact yesterday). Well, the first funny thing is that I don’t at all consider myself to be a writer of travel poetry … but when I sifted through the 60-some poems I wrote in April, I found that many of my favorites were about travel in general or about specific locations.

But what happened today is that I found myself reaching back to a previous idea, which was a chapbook of persona poems. I entered it in one contest last fall, it didn’t win, and I promptly shelved it. But I love persona poems and the energy of writing as someone else for a while. By now, a lot of those poems feel a little stale, and I’ve since written other persona poems that I like better — and that I was sorry to cut because they didn’t fit my travel theme.

Sooooo … now I’m planning to do the one that’s due June 15 and another that’s due June 30. Two things: 1) I believe this gives me a handy carte blanche not to write anything new for a while, other than for Open Link Night, which I enjoy each Tuesday, and 2) I am going to have to speed up my usual process considerably.

What’s my usual process? 1) Print everything — everything — out. 2) Sift through it many, many times to choose the best ones. 3) Look for a theme and regretfully pull out any that don’t fit. 4) Find an order that makes sense. 5) Put the pages together in “spread” fashion — facing each other, that is — so I can see how they might pair in book form. 6) Carry the pages around with me for days on end, rereading, making tiny changes, reprinting, rereading — until I’m so sick of the whole thing that I have to get it out of my house … now.

For my travel-themed one, I added a little something extra to step 6, which was to set aside the whole thing for a few days, only to come back to it and find that my order was all messed up and I had a mixed pile of drafts from various stages. And … this was right before I’d planned to consolidate the whole thing from many files into one. So the order only existed in that hard copy. The good news is, I’m quite sure I didn’t duplicate the previous order — but I actually like the new one better.

What remains for the travel chapbook, which (blessedly) seems to fit the June 15 contest better than the June 30 one, is to pull out two poems that I don’t think work very well and put back in a two-pager that I think is very strong but also very personal and perhaps dangerously honest. I *mostly* think that’s a good decision — and it’s a type of decision I find myself making more and more often.

As for the persona poem one, I suspect I might be surprised by how much work remains. I think there’s a lot that will need to come out — and a lot of new ones to put in. 

So, the travel one is tooth-wigglingly close (my daughter turned 7 yesterday, so this metaphor is very relevant these days), and I have to get it out of my house … if not now, then pretty close to now.

There goes my June … What are you up to?