Let it go, the story still in
the drop of beer in the bottom
of each bottle. Whisper it out

with water; then imagine how
each empty will tell a story
about you: Did you have

a wild party, or did you drink
all twelve by yourself (and,
if so, in what span of time)?

Imperial red. Milk stout.
The names are stories, too.
The labels. The bottle caps.

Your son likes to gather those,
click them together like gears.
What a thing to let him play with,

but there’s no denying that
each one is each one, attractive
to magpies and little boys.

Let him keep them for a while
or a longer while, bordering on
forever, so that a few years

from now, you’ll be surprised
he still has them. How did that
happen? How is it that years pass

and some small things stay with us?
Toss the bottles in the bin in the alley
to be crushed, refilled, made new.


For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 20 (prompt: gathering and/or letting go). Will also be for Open Link Night at dVerse Poets, once that’s up (links can be posted there each Tuesday, starting at 3:00 p.m. Eastern).





I fall apart now.

I drip
onto a plate
underneath me.

I can’t help it.
The fire is warm.
I am so sleepy,

and I lack arms
to get myself
back together.

We are inside,
the things
that used to be


I think I used to be
a cow, or inside a cow,
or some part of a cow.

I don’t know, but there
was grass somewhere
and I seem to remember

its taste. Maybe
sunlight also.
But now

there is this fire.
It unlocks the sun
I have held.

The sheets of something
next to me used to be
cow, too, but different.

They try to talk to me,
but I can only catch
a word or two,

because we are so
different, and so much
has happened since

the time when we were
cows. The potatoes
and gherkins, I don’t

even bother with.
They just say
their own names

over and over again,
and it seems to me that
we should forget

our names, now that
(as I believe) we will soon
become people.


For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 19 (prompt: write a wheel poem).



“After the dandelions had spread like
    marmalade over the lawns, after
the lilacs had come white and purple

    and gone, then it was blueberrying”

—Thomas R. Moore, “Sex, Cousins, and Blueberrying”

In summer that year, we were nine
and ten, composed almost entirely
of mosquito bites and moxie, with
a quiver of sadness somewhere in
the middle, where we were still as
soft as children are. So we’d strike
each other’s biceps to show that
we weren’t soft at all, didn’t care
about broken things, a stolen bike,
after the dandelions had spread like

butter or the blood of all those bugs,
ladybugs, that we squashed, almost
always on accident. We just wanted
to look at them, hold them on blades
of grass that began to dry, shrivel in
the sun, our sweaty hands. Laughter
was almost not allowed; as we ate
fancy sandwiches our mothers made,
we were as silent as roof and rafter.
Marmalade over the lawns, after

we were done, stuck to the grass as
proof that we’d been there. We liked
to leave our mark. When we weren’t
quiet, we made noise, running down
the morning streets, discovering how
something as small as a loud burp will
disturb the great drift of silence behind
every closed window. We would lift our
shirts sometimes, check for a nurple.
The lilacs had come, white and purple;

we loved the word purple, and spent
all summer rhyming it as close as we
could, arriving at nurple also because
we couldn’t say the real word. It was
too much like health class, ridiculous
and scary, when we were tarrying
a while longer as girls, girls never
knowing how few the years were
before we’d both end up marrying
and gone. Then it was blueberrying.


For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 18. The prompt was to write a glosa, which is a completely crazy form. Crazy! You take four consecutive lines from someone else’s poem, then write four 10-line stanzas of your own. The final line of each stanza is from the other poem, in consecutive order — and lines six, nine, and 10 in each stanza have to rhyme. (I did not fully comprehend all of this before I chose a poem that contains the word purple.)

For the epigram (quoted poem), one reason I chose this one is that it is my “neighbor” on a preceding page in the Summer 2012 issue of Naugatuck River Review. Thomas R. Moore is from Brooksville, Maine, and sharp-eyed readers might find one place where I gave a nod to his home state. (Well, blueberries are Maine-ish, too, but it’s not that.)



How to Peel an Egg

Put your thumb in;
make a crazed dent
in a world made of
chalk, white as that

and as dead, because
no rooster was present,
no chick begun like a
wet, unraveling spark.

Think about those
hundred year eggs,
or tea eggs, all the
many ways an egg

can be etched by time
and yet, somehow, too,
preserved. Think what
a shame it is, to break

something so complete;
slide a thumbnail now,
lift off shell and also
membrane, that skin

meant to protect against
predators like you. But
protect what? It’s a dead
letter, a false promise,

something silent that
should not be so inert,
lying there on the plate
naked, without feathers.


For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 17 (prompt: a how-to poem).


What He Made

he made, all his dealing days.
I meant to say, he made
some really bad ones.

excuse, please, if I
leave things out at times,
words, punctuation,

capital letters. those can
be heard, you know. or
you hear when they

are missing. missing.
anyway, jim and all his
dealings, he never made

anything much good
except two children
with Irene who always

said he should stop
making deals because
great as it was to have

a huge fish or a pop-up
camper, there were times,
too, when jim got took,

knew he got took,
banged his head
on the door jamb

it’s a long way down
to where you’re crying
in front of your wife,

those kids. those kids
always wondering
what daddy had

in his pockets. irene
wanting to know
what jim had

to show for himself.
not enough, is it no
never enough


For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 16 (prompt: Use the last line of yesterday’s poem as the first line of today’s).



You will never star in Titus Andronicus,
but on the other hand, your hair will
never be flat, and you will be impervious
to insult, real or perceived. Most of us

will hate you, but how you will deal
with that is to build yourself a hut
out of Styrofoam in the middle of
a major grocery store somewhere

in a town of your choosing, and
hand out cocktail franks on picks
until you are escorted out by
store security, your hut broken

into tiny pellets that someone
will have to sweep up. But that’s
not your deal, the sweeping.
That’s up to the guy with the

broom and the whistle in his heart,
and the hump on his back, stooped
under the weight of all the deals
he’s made, all his days of dealing.

For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 15 (prompt: a poem about trade-offs.)



I live with a turtle,
a box turtle with a
high, domed shell.

At times, during
his daily cruises,
when mounting

shoes, which are
surrogate mates,
or toys, which are

vantage points
from which to
survey his land,

he will flip over.
He holds still,
then, for a time,

does not soon
begin the fight
to gain purchase

on wood floor
with head, limbs,
or stub of tail.

It’s as if he fears,
after fifteen years
with us, that a hawk

might yet appear
in the dining room,
or maybe a raccoon.

Something. It pays,
he knows, to always
keep one eye open,

to keep one’s
orange eyes open
all the time.


For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 14 (prompt: Write a stuck poem).


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).



If I ever made a waffle iron
that could render any image
crisped in golden batter,

I would make sure it had
a battery pack and a strap;
then I’d sling it over my

shoulder and hit the road.
I’d stand on bridges in the
cold, gray morning, call out

to people who seemed to
most need waffle portraits.
This I would do for free,

and I’d turn down offers
from Bisquick, Hungry Jack.
The local media would

get wind; I’d make waffles
of weathermen and anchors,
on-the-scene reporters,

all displayed over the last
notes of the theme song
that brings the morning

news to a close. It would
go downhill from there.
I would be accused of

making someone’s wife
look “too doughy,” and
IHOP would post notices

in all its prefab chalets
saying I was a threat
and possibly insane.

Eventually, I would write
my goodbye in a waffle,
leave it for the pigeons,

melt away just as the sun
slides over the earth’s
heavy, broken edge.



For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 12 (prompt: write about a technology that doesn’t exist yet).


A Veteran

I was a nurse in the Army,
you know, during the war.
World War II. It’s easy
to forget there have been
other wars, because that’s
the one I saw with my own
eyes, the one where I
sewed up wounds with
barely enough anesthetic,
and nothing, nothing at all
to take the real pain away.

At night, sometimes, all
the boys would lie awake,
raving, still hearing bombs
even though all was quiet
then. You don’t know what
quiet is, or noise, until
you’ve been the only one
in her right mind on the ward
at night, all the doctors
off somewhere else,

sleeping, I guess, or else
forgetting in ways I never
could. I was allowed to
give something to help
those broken boys sleep,
and sometimes I did,
when a needle seemed
kindest. More often,
though, I sang lullabies,
asked about mother,
sweetheart at home,
patted the place where
a hand used to be.

Funny thing is, sometimes
I could feel the gone hand
squeezing mine. I still can.

I still do.


For NaBloPoMo and PAD Challenge, Day 11 (prompt: a poem from a veteran’s point of view).