One day, I will solidify like butter;
it will be, at last, too late to change.
I will be kept in a refrigerated room,
behind glass. Tour groups will come
to look at me; I will be an example of
poor diet, inactivity. The wages of sin.
Children who beg for corn dogs will be

asked, Do you want to be like the
Butter Lady? No one will know that
my ears still work, and my brain,
which will strain through creamy
sludge to instruct rigid limbs
to punch, kick, smash the glass,
let the warm, kind air come in.




For PAD Challenge, Day 3 (prompt: Write a poem that scares you.) Also for NaBloPoMo.


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?