Sometimes I’ve Heard the Door Shut

It is inevitable that one month comes to an end
so another can start, whether you’re ready for this to happen
or not.

An artificial division–28 days, 29, 30, or 31, so what?–
comes to feel natural, like the ribs that mark off
a single stalk of celery, or

those blasted sunflower seeds or cells in the honeycomb
(they’re trending now, Fibonacci numbers and, in general,
heavy breathing over the beauty of math).

How many plums are in your bag?
How many years
does each of us have?

One month slides into another, melting, indistinguishable,
at least for the last few days of one and first few days
the next.

But I can’t deny that sometimes I’ve heard the door shut,
the sun meeting the earth as softly, as undeniably as
eyelid touches cheek.

For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 30. Prompt: an inevitable poem.


They Met for Coffee, the Two Women Everyone Said Would Love Each Other and Should Be Friends

We should do this again!
they said, knowing full well
that this would never happen.

Who knows why some things catch fire?
Who knows why some things don’t?

Or worse, the little flare between
two people that sparks and then dies,
leaving someone inevitably embarrassed
over what was said, what it all seemed
to mean, but–as it turns out–didn’t.

Or maybe the meaning still hangs there,
the words still spoken, unable to be
called back, not as simple as

throwing away the paper cup
and walking out the door.

For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 29. Prompt: Do it again.


Local News

The news about the little tree outside my window
is that its leaves don’t so much change as shrivel
and die in place. This is not picturesque, but
it seems fitting, and cardinal pairs seem to like
little shrivel trees up against power lines
as well as any other trees. Maybe more than some.

I don’t have a favorite tree, but this one comes close.

The news about this plastic bowl of snack mix
is that I really shouldn’t be eating it. This is
the season of constant eating. In theory, I bought it
to support my daughter’s Girl Scout troop, but really,
it was so she could earn a patch shaped like an otter,
with a message about the benefits of physical activity.

I agree with this message. In theory.

The news about this tablecloth is that it’s beginning
to crack and will probably need to be replaced. It is
oilcloth, from Mexico, I think — though we bought it
at the fancy kitchen store on 53rd. This was the day
that I almost mandoline-sliced my fingertip into the
salad; we patched my finger and served the salad.

We had company. What could we do?

The news about this Betty Crocker cookbook is that
I’m a little disappointed in its selection of pies. I’m
on a mission to become a better pie baker over the course
of the next year. The problem is, I’m not sure what I want
in a pie, exactly, or why I want pie to become easy.
My mother made pie like it was almost nothing.

My mother, deftly paring apples and smoking.

For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 28. Prompt: “_____ News.”



I appreciate that you told me
I could use a touch of glow.
I like to glow everywhere,

just like a Christmas tree,
the biggest and brightest
you ever saw — that’s me.

I like to bring a little sparkle.
I like to illuminate the darkest
reaches of the furthest human mind,
or the furthest of the darkest.

Something like that.
Someone called me Sparkles
once — it’s the name
I’ve answered to ever since.

I think people appreciate
a shot in the dark, a shot
of Sparkles, like ice-cold
vodka on a starless night.

For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 27. Prompt: An appreciative poem.



If I could address you vaguely for a moment,
I would heal all the cracks in your broken world
as I hope you would do for mine. But neither of us
can do that for each other if we can’t admit
that our worlds are, in fact, broken
or that there are, indeed, two of them
or that yes, it is our job to patch things up
because somebody has to, because somebody should
and because here we are, still, with our two
broken worlds, living together, still,
on our one broken world.

For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 26. Prompt: a “same” poem.


I Can’t Write the Poem if I Don’t Know the Prompt

Hello, friends. It is very unusual for me to try to reach you this way, but my husband is the deposed king of a land that is rich with gold and I … Wait, that’s not it.

OK, I was all set to write today’s poem and then go make stuffing, but the Writer’s Digest website seems to be down, so I can’t get my daily prompt. And I’m sure as heck not going to write a promptless poem. Are you kidding me? That’s what all the months besides November and April are for.

I’ve tried finding out through other means, so I thought I’d ask here, too. If you’re also doing the PAD Chapbook Challenge from Poetic Asides at WD, could you please tell me today’s prompt?

I’ll let this simmer a bit and go make stuffing, in hopes that I can write my poem after that.

Thank you, thank you …


Evening, November

I don’t love conflict
of any kind, or

crying while I do the dishes
Look how the despair is softening my hands!

or how my inner gray is twinned
by the gray outside

until the sun goes down, mercifully —
it’s like the old dirty joke says:

They all look the same
in the dark.

For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 25. Prompt: A love poem or an anti-love poem.


I’ll Be Honest with You

I don’t think those foxes are ever coming back
with that baby.

They had that look about them, you know?
Like a couple of foxes that have always wanted

a baby and couldn’t have one of their own

for whatever reason. I’m not an expert
on fox fertility and other mysteries in the night.

We all couple and uncouple in various ways,
and wish for things.

I imagine it’s the same for foxes.
They are, after all, mammals.

Even now, that baby could be tucked up safe,
drinking fox milk,

wondering what it’s all about,
or how this life began.

For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 24. Prompt: “I’ll Be _______”


Between Things

Alone is the moment when
you lie diagonally across
your queen-sized bed,
the first big purchase
in your adult life.

You sleep behind a shoji screen
in a makeshift bedroom carved from
a living room in a graystone apartment
that you share with two housemates.

Your internship ended, and you
didn’t go home. Now, you’re temping,
and then comes your very shitty
first real job.

You have bought yourself
a box turtle, a lizard,
and two tree frogs so

you’ll have someone to take care of.
Everything else dies, but the turtle
is a survivor. A year from now, your
boyfriend will move here, you’ll both
move to the other side of town.

Two years from now, you’ll get married.
He’ll love your turtle, too, make ramps
for him all around the room while
you’re at work, at your second,
and much less shitty job.

But for now, you are alone.
You are with people (and a turtle),
but you are alone. You are 24 years old,
and really, you slept better on
your friend’s couch, when you were

still between things, trying to make a plan.

For the PAD Challenge, Day 23. Prompt: an alone poem.


Release the Hounds

from their eternal

Who wants to
slink around junkyards
and into the woods

if there are other ways
to be a good boy or good girl?

Who loves the scent of blood,
shoe leather, fingernails?

Release the hounds,
and they will laze on couches,
chase rabbits — not men,
not dead women and children —
while they sleep. Forever?
For dog years?

At least until
a scent drifts in,
like ringing a doorbell,
or a call on the red phone:
Hello, hound.

You are a hound forever;
you can never be released.

For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 22. Prompt: a release poem.