To Keep Breathing

I know the human heart,
how inside it’s lined with stars.
I say never trust anyone,
but then I always do.

Who is the one who has to
drag me down? And what is this
about? Everything falls apart;
I wish I knew the trick,

the one that helps you face
the truth. I’m making up my mind
to fight against the tide; maybe
I’ll get what I want this time,

learn how to read my own
breathing. Maybe this time, I’ll
get it: the trick of how I feel—
how to be that kind of girl.



And so we’ve come to the end (of this month-long musical exercise, anyway). I will spare you the lengthy fan-girl explanation of why I absolutely had to close with a Garbage song, and will just say that this band has been hugely important to me for the past decade-and-a-half. Their music has carried me through countless phases in life, and now lead singer Shirley Manson is my role model when it comes to Fierceness Past Forty (to put it in obnoxious women’s magazine-like terms). I aspire only to be myself, but I would love to borrow a little of her take-no-prisoners approach to everything she does, her willingness to let her guard down and say what she thinks, and — yep yep yep — her style, too,

The Trick is to Keep Breathing” seemed like a fitting song to close this month and this series. I have thought of this phrase often over the years. At one point when I was working out a lot, this was always the song that came on just as the treadmill was slowing to a stop. It felt like Shirley Manson was right there with me as some kind of rock goddess/personal trainer/spirit guide. The trick is to keep breathing, so I will — and I hope you will, too.


Rip Tides

So, July came to an end, and I had fulfilled my self-imposed commitment to write three poems a day. (I skipped one day and then made myself write six to catch up. I’m a taskmaster.) And now it’s August, and I’m poking along aimlessly — or, more accurately, being pulled in a million directions at once.

Big event at work. Third anniversary of my mom’s death. Concert by my favorite band ever, ever. The slow, yet hurtling wind-down of summer. Impending start of school (after Labor Day — we go late around here) for both kids. Lots of loose threads; lots of things in transition. Also, I’ve discovered that watching a couple-three hours of TV every single night for multiple weeks is not conducive to writing great poetry (though maybe I’m storing away great moments of human drama to write about later?).

I’m tired. I’m getting tossed around a lot. I was not at all surprised to read that it’s rip tide season for our portion of my beloved Lake Michigan. That’s how August feels to me. It always does — and maybe that’s OK.

I’m going to ride it out and not make any huge commitments … and know that September will come. (Do you ever lose that back-to-school feeling?)

If you’re feeling like I am, here’s to a restful close to summer and renewed energy in the fall!


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.