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, April 29, 2010


"Learn to listen when you're talking to people. Listen to how people say things, to what they really mean, because people frequently say one thing and mean another. Learn to separate the wheat from the chaff and look at your own poetry the same way." --Nikki Giovanni

What this has to do with lemons, I'm not sure. But I liked the picture.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


I am thinking of an old friend today, so I'll share an old poem.


Today I chronicle the pleasures
of the body. Each ache, the headache
I woke with last night, I now
recite. Its throb in my socket,
the hand across my eyes as I pressed
myself back into sleep. I accept
the cramp, the bruised knuckle,
every toe ever stubbed.
For all of these, I give thanks.
For crow's feet, for cellulite,
for the belly and thigh, for split ends.
For the child whose bicycle tire
slammed into my shin then ran
over my foot, for the slammed shin
and crushed foot. For the child herself
I give thanks. For the traffic light.
For the rain. For my car heater
which blows only cold air. For the boy
on the black and chrome motorcycle
who swerves into my lane. For the
stitch in my back, for the hitch
in my knee, for the gut's rumble,
for the flare of a rash. The rushed heart,
irregular periods, fading eye.
The mammogram. The hangnail.
Each new freckle I scratch across
the register of my years. I turn
none of it back. Even what I forget
and the curse because I forgot
I welcome as evidence of breath.
I write it down. Because you are dead,
I chronicle the body and call it
pleasure. I don't forget you.

This poem appeared in Pontoon 7 (2004)

Monday, April 19, 2010


"...what you heard wasn't 'No'; it was 'Know.'" Karen Wright

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Guest Poet

The best thing about working at my college -- the amazing and creative people who surround me. Here's a poem from my friend Paul Marshall. It erupted from an exercise in Teaching Lab last week, something I called "the poetry bank," where we generated lists of questions, colors, overheard bits of conversation, animals, etc.


Will you kiss me one last time?
Will you kiss me one last time?
Tit for Tat
my Mother tells my Alzheimers addled Father.
Filled with despair,
his sloth like, sad-eyed,
slow moving response hangs red in the air.

Looking at his little rocking chair
the boy says,
"I want to make a sail boat. Where is the axe?"
I'm going to paint it pink and name it chartreuse.

"Of course I would say good bye to you before I leave,"
his wife said.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


"If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly." G. K. Chesterton

A conversation with my friend Phebe made me think, today, of this quote. A couple of quarters ago, I read the essay from which it originates. In essence, Chesterton says that there are some things in life that require experts -- think of astronauts or dentists. But then there are those tasks that we really want a man to do for himself -- blowing his own nose, for instance, but also writing a poem, or raising a child.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Did I do what I was sent here to do?
Was that color crayon chartreuse
or only plain-jane green?
Should I have worn peacock feathers,
painted my eyes cerulean?
I think peacocks and peahens
make better children
than children, running to me
and screaming as I carry
my bucket of corn.
A doll's teacup and saucer --
Who ever had so much to starve on?
(A chipped saucer, chartreuse lip
peeking beneath the enamel.)
What happened to the doll,
to her turquoise eyes that fluttered open
whenever I picked her up
If I leave now, who will gather
my children at nightfall?
Who will collect all these feathers
floating like snow from the floors above?
Who will call colors by their right names?

Thursday, April 1, 2010


(An experiment with P's)

For Louise, who said, "I expect a poem"

On the first day of spring
my daughter's appendix
decides to put itself out.
Oh, prodding appendage,
aptly, ineptly applied,
apparently paroled,
appled and dappled (I suppose),
poor plicated appendix,
ponderous, up-ended compendium.
My daughter gives it up
without a protest.
Goodbye dear part,
dear prosaicly archaic appliance,
dear appropos of what aptitude,
of what appropriation
we can only propose.