My Daughter Picks Wild Onions Outside Abraham Lincoln’s House: April 2015 PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 11

Is it fun,
watching death come in
week by week,
ice crystals melting
by afternoon,
turning the last zinnias
to mush?
Who imagines this as
caramel apple time,
wool stadium blankets
and bonfires?
Well, I think they have
a screw loose.
I think they’re stuck
in another time, or
an advertising world
that never really existed.
Now, spring, that’s another
story — there’s a real season
for you. My daughter
picks wild onions outside
Abraham Lincoln’s house,
eats them in the car
on the drive back to Chicago,
where my son sees the first
painted lady of the year.


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.


A True Story

But this didn’t have to happen today.
You could set it in any time, and it
would still work just fine. No one
would know that it had been lifted
and set back down, the screaming
squirrel in the tree. When did
squirrels first appear? And trees?
When did yellow leaves and green
first appear together, hanging in
the gray sky that has seen it all,
and then seen it all again? How long
have there been mothers with two
children, older girl and younger boy,
and the boy suddenly wants to know
why only mothers have babies? And
how long have those mothers heard
themselves saying that same stupid
thing about the special seed that
helps the baby get started
? And how
many little boys have seemed to feel
better then, knowing their bodies
aren’t totally fruitless, without
life-giving magic? This could happen
any time when there’s been a scooter
and some Halloween candy, a day off
from school, a season just on the edge
of turning into something else completely.

For the PAD Chapbook Challenge, Day 11. Prompt: a timely poem or a timeless one.


November First

And then when I lost my last ball
down the rabbit hole, and no amount
of flippering could ever bring it back,

when the lights came on in the hotel bar and
suddenly, we all knew exactly who we were
with–no more magic, no more mystery–

when November first brought empty candy wrappers in
piles of leaves, the porch decorations already coming
down, everyone raking up the zombie hands, Silly String,

when I felt the world slide toward a little less light
in every cup of day, nothing but dead bees, dead flowers,
a retreat toward the tired and the empty, the passionless,

what could I do but bring in the geraniums and then
invite the ladybug to stay, the one that hitched a ride
on my hand to come in out of the hail and the snow?

I don’t believe in “game over”
until the game is over, and it’s
not over yet. No, it’s not over just



So … I’m doing the November PAD Chapbook Challenge for the first time in at least a couple of years. Today’s prompt was “game over.”

You can expect a poem here every day this month (except for a few days when I’ll be out of town, which I will then make up later). I’m trying something new, too–doing it all here rather than writing in Word and then copying and pasting. My intention is to show you things this month that are a little less edited than usual, maybe a little more jagged. I hope you’ll come back tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. Spend November with me, won’t you?



Death is a preventable fiction. I am blooming now
like never before, standing tall and so healthy that
surely I will be passed over. Only someone truly
cruel would look at my orange petals, the mosaic
I have made out of sun, to represent the sun,
and say I should not live to see December, then
another spring, another summer. I will be the first
of my kind, in our portion of earth, to make it
through to the other side—because I have
made myself beautiful. I have been useful.
The bee came again yesterday, but she was
slower, less hungry. Still, she whispered her plan
to me, how she will fly so fast, up into the cold sky,
that no one can catch her. I told her I will be here
when it’s safe to come back. I will feed her then.



Check out Open Link Night at dVerse Poets every Tuesday p.m.


Dear Sir or Madam:

I would like to complain to you about so many things,
like the sunlight that still butters the edges of leaves,
some of which are still green. It’s November; if
everything is going to die, I would rather it be soon.
For weeks, I’ve braced myself for it, and yet, I still
see a flower here and there, hanging in, and its
unwinnable fight hurts me more than if it would
just die already, so I could mourn a little, move on,
make myself ready for ho ho ho’s and the exchange
of good cheer. It takes me a while to make myself
feel that, you know, though eventually I do, at least
a little, even in the worst of years. I am not unmoved
by public sentiment, no matter how frothed it is by
advertisers, manufacturers of things. I like things
as much as the next person, maybe more, and I can’t
lie: I especially like things that are not necessary, ones
that are apple-heavy in my palm and make their own
starlight. I would like the world to turn a little, all of us
to suffer now in darkness and cold, because winter
can’t end before it begins. This anticipation, it’s like
waiting for a blood test, sitting there in an awful room
with a TV you can’t turn off (there’s a handwritten
card that says so, in Sharpie, no less—it’s permanent,
you know), and you can’t imagine that your name will
ever be called, the test ever be done, your blood
remaking itself before you even get up to go home.
You can’t imagine home, not when all of you is
wrapped up in dread, suspended animation.
It’s like that, dear sir or madam.
That’s just what it’s like.


For NaBloPoMo, Open Link Night at dVerse Poets, and PAD Challenge, Day 13 (prompt: write a letter poem).