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:

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Song of the train, three notes repeated.
Song of the refrigerator's faulty motor.
Song of the furnace clicking on.
Tires of a car crossing wet pavement on 143rd street.
Pages of a book turning.
Coffee, or the song of my lips and tongue and throat, drinking coffee.
A cat leaping from a bed upstairs and padding across the floor.
Nib of this pen across the paper and my wrist across the paper after it.

These songs.

Friday, November 20, 2009


How did Emily do it? Sit alone
in a room for hours. No i-pod,
television or computer, e-mail
and on-line classes. Just a choice
of bed or chair - standing or sitting.
Awakening to the rustle
of tree leaves, chirp of birds,
clatter of milk wagon wheels,
the clop of horse hooves, maybe
the squeak of a pump handle. Two
questions -- Shall I write? Shall I read?

A postcard poem by my friend Carla Shafer / 7.25.09

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Mark Twain's Cat

My students began reading Huckleberry Finn this week, and I stumbled across this quote, which for some reason I find irresistable.

"A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way." Mark Twain

Monday, November 16, 2009


Some mornings when the words won't come,
I go to the laundry room
and fold clothes warm from the dryer.
I fold towels and underwear, denim jeans
and brightly colored skirts. I fold
shirts into neat rectangles, folding back
the sleeves and tucking under
the lower half. When I'm finished, each shirt
is about the size of a sheet of paper,
bulkier of course. And I don't write on them,
but the necklines are so vulnerable,
so inviting, I almost feel as though I had written.
What I write would be a song to laundry,
to the feel of clean cotton and terry cloth and denim
under my hands. I might take a moment then
to feel sorry for the poets who had laundresses,
the poets who stayed at their desks
while their mothers or wives or servants
coaxed ink-stains from cuffs,
and separated darks from lights.
These folded shirts won't last so long
as the poem I might have written.
But bearing the stacks of clean, folded clothes
up the stairs to our daughters' bedrooms
is, for now, enough.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

"the rich topsoil of our imagination"

I love this quote -- it's from Bill Kenower's Daily Blog which you can find at

"Despite the wealth of solid things all about us, our worlds are constantly being invented, as malleable and fluid as any river. It doesn’t matter whether we are writing books or starting families, our futures are planted in the rich topsoil of our imagination, vague and similar as seedlings, but accumulating specificity over time. We fill in all the colors and shapes and sounds to build from what could be what some day is, and the experience we call living is actually us being propelled forward by the creative need to meet the world we are every day imagining."

Friday, November 6, 2009


Having 45 student papers sitting on my desk and traveling everywhere with me in my trusty bookbag -- puts a real damper on the creativity. Why is that? Is there a different way to be?

Here's a poem inspired by Rilke's line, "I want to unfold."

Today I would like nothing better
than to be folded,
folded like a note slipped into a book
to mark a page you don't want to forget,
or folded like a sheet tugged from the clothesline,
in half and in half again, and again.
I want to be folded the way egg whites
are folded into a meringue,
like sheep into a fold,
like an origami bird.
I'd like to be folded like a dollar bill
into a coin purse, and later taken out and unfolded,
my edges smoothed. You can spend me then
on something unexpected and delicious
like a peach or a packet of art paper
or a bar of dark chocolate
folded into its envelope of foil.