To see the announcement for my poetry book, Sparrow, selected by poet Dorianne Laux for the Kenneth and Geraldine Gell Poetry Prize at Writers & Books, go to

You can find a review by Kathleen Kirk at EIL:

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggety Jig


She comes back again after thirty years,
feeling as though she's returning
to the scene of a crime. Beach strewn
with oiled sunbathers, seductive waves,
air mattresses, mopeds, sun block,
scent of plumeria and Coppertone, hibiscus,
bright prints, rows of kitschy shops.
At evening, tourists line the streets
dressed to kill (she remembers discos,
a party boat, a boy with such soft lips).
Her reflection in a window, children
trailing behind. Where did she bury
the body, she'd like to know, meaning herself--
sunburnt, chapped--that naive girl.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Grace Paley

Dec. 12, 1922 - Aug. 22, 2007

Today is the second anniversary of the world's loss of Grace Paley, one of my all-time favorite authors. She is best known for her short stories, but I thought I'd share a line of her poetry. This is from "Education" in her last book, Fidelity.

it's good in one ordinary life
to have witnessed the hard labor
of a long death the way one
high branch can still advance alone pale green
and greener into the sun's
nutritious light

Friday, August 21, 2009


I scribbled this poem at my friend Madelon's house where I've been invited to write two mornings a week. Having two sixteen-year-olds, I find that I can't attend as often as I'd like, but whenever I do, it's magic.


She begins the sentence
imagining she already knows
where it will go, imagining
that its beginning possesses a kernel
of knowingness to carry her
to its end, imagining (at least)
that the sentence knows what it's
about, imagining that like
a caterpillar becoming a butterfly
the sentence will progress
from beginning to middle to end neatly,
predictably, never imagining
that she will have to end
her sentence without knowing
what may have been meant by it,
never imagining anything
so abrupt, murky, and final
as the ending she finds.

Monday, August 17, 2009

In the City of Books

I found a Powell's Book Store postcard and wrote my 8.15.09 poem on it.

In the city of books
the lampposts never flicker.
Lights lean over shoulders,
illuminate crisp pages
where taut words crawl
like lines of tidy insects.
In the city of books a moth
might be an open book.
See how he holds his wings wide
as if to be read.

Friday, August 14, 2009

That Summer

I read on the open mike at Esther Helfgott's "It's About Time" reading (Ballard Public Library) last night. It was truly a wonderful reading with a visit from a Knockout literary magazine editor Jeremy Halinen plus poets Joanie Kervran Strangeland and Joan Swift (who read an amazing essay about a recent eye injury).

Here's a small poem from me, a marker for an essay I would like to write (I need a picture of daisies, but can't find one; instead, my neighbor's abundant roses):

I wanted a baby. That summer
I dug up fern and bleeding heart, transplanting
them to our shadeless yard. The plum tree
bore fruit that was mostly pit.
The rose my mother gave us
bloomed blood-red. Only the oxeye daisies
understood ours was a yard dreaming of fields.
They spread and multiplied. I brought home
a borrowed crib. Anything was possible.

This looks like fun.

Shared via AddThis

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

As my students know, I have about a gazillion books on writing (great tool for procrastinating on writing -- buy and read another book about writing!). Here's a quote from one of them, Writing Your Way:

the human imagination contains a kind of wisdom, a vision of wholeness, which we ignore at our peril. Indeed, in these impoverished times when the indwelling of imagination is needed as never before, the concept of art as an integrating force, an entrance into the spiritual, and a path (rather than a distraction or entertainment) which anyone can tread, while not new, is pre-eminently valuable, even essential, to the process of becoming whole -- wholly human..." (Manjusvara, xi-xii)

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Dreaming of fences
I wake weary
of holding in, of keeping out.
How to be like the deer--

or like the sparrow,
to believe that a fence
is only a platform for song.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Divine Miss Em

My daughter Emma (10 years old) saw my blog and wanted to read the Melina poem. I read it aloud to her, and she said, "That's not a very good poem." She then asked me to write one for her (assuming, I guess, that she would make an inspiring topic). So here's my one-bad-poem from a couple days ago.


For Emma

I put my daughter on the passenger ferry
with seventy-nine other intrepid souls.
She's wearing a sky-blue sweatshirt,
though the sky, this morning,
is an unrelieved gray, a foggy ceiling so damp
it pulls her hair into ringlets.
The ferry sails. Her sweatshirt has a hole
in the wrist. She pokes her hand through
to wave goodbye.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Summit Creek

...or Crick...a very old poem that has never been published (until now). The picture is of Elk Creek, where I grew up, but the poem is about me falling into the creek at my grandparents' house when I was three years old. I'm told that my older cousins (all boys) watched me with great interest. My dad leapt out a window of the house and ran down to rescue me. (It wasn't deep.)


Aged three she makes her first murky foray,
toes nubile as minnows,
tease of the moss, come deeper, deeper.

She rides the creek's body
under the handhewn bridge, under
Tom Sawyer lines of brother and cousins, sober faces
at a curious fish.
Clouds, white feathers tickling
a sky seeping summer's deep colors,

blue going magenta, purple, silver
at the wings of its horizons.
Green leaves dapple
the water, shadows on stones.

Some days, still,
it's all water--blue
or cloud's milky gray. She moves
that slowly, upstream in memory,
a homing salmon, instinct

ticking inside her like a second heart.

Monday, August 3, 2009


My cousin Patrick has been after me to get some poetry linked into Facebook...and this is one way to do that. I'm also interested in blogging this year as part of my new writers community here at Everett Community College. (More on that later.) So jump in, and hang on!

August is Poetry Postcard Month and here's my August 2 postcard, written for my friend Melina (a good friend of my teenaged daughters):

She's home from Wolf Camp
where there were, unfortunately,
no wolves, though the squirrels
talked much more there
than they talk here.
What did they say? I ask her
and she says, I'm not sure
what they were saying during the day
but at 5 a.m. they were saying
Wake up, Melina. Wake up!