Monday, October 28, 2013

Lessons in Sea Glass

This week, I gave our group the assignment of writing a poem in tweets.  I read Jennifer Egan's incredible story she wrote for the New Yorker awhile back where she wrote in segements of 140 characters or less and the whole thing was published via tweets that were posted a few minutes apart.  I've been haunted by the form eversince.  Last week, I went to a reading at Sonoma State Univeristy where I got to hear Lyn Hejinian and Paul Hoover discuss their concepts of Postmodern poetry.  It was an incredible talk, but one idea I walked away with was Paul Hoover's suggestion to write a poem via tweets much like the Jennifer Egan story.  Here is my attempt of a draft of a poem written in this form.

Lessons in Sea Glass

The field I stood next to was unsteady.  Covered in dirt and a patchwork of grass.  The man in a track suit kept spray painting lines to find order. 

Mornings were fogged in.  I couldn’t smell the salt in the air but knew the cool sea churned the cliffs nearby.

The town was mappable as if it had just arisen from the very sea still dripping.  I talked the pavement down into a path.

On the second day, the fog held its breath and we found a sea cliff and beneath it the carnage of tumbled sea glass.

It was too fogged to see through.  Signs were posted up and down the beach:  Collecting Sea Glass Prohibited.

I taught a lesson on the word Prohibited before I let go of his small hand.  Before he wove his body between every rock and crevice the sea had left.

Hours later, when we returned to the field we could no longer see the field, or the streets.  It was as if the city had once again disappeared into the sea.

I felt the weight of his hand but couldn’t be sure he was the same boy.  His hand was covered in callouses and scars.

We sat at the edge of what we perceived to be the field.  The man in the track suit had given up on lines the color of clouds (no one could see the difference).

The boy tumbling like sea glass.

When the fogged cleared, we were in another place.  The man with the tracksuit threw up his hands, so we left the field again to find what had emerged.

And we walked it down.  Foot by unsteady foot.  Salt and peppered pavement freckled with gum, sparkling like sea glass.

Until the hand I held became his hand again.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013


Today we were to write from a Jean Valentine poem called "Once".  It's a haunting poem for it's quiet, enigmatic ideas that get under your skin and seep in.  So, I had a hard time writing from it.  But, here's what I dredged up from the deep as a draft.  It's for my son, Max who is eight years old.


Once there was a shadow –
like a dark basket—

where our fears rested like moths.

Then the light shifted, got close, and they swarmed.
Pulse becoming a rhythm, predictable as a heart.

When the men encircled us
their arms, thick as ropes,
wove together like a basket

and we became
the yolk to the thin eggshell
of perimeter,

wishing for the nets of swallows
to swoop from sky,
fish us out.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Seismic Shift

This week, we were to write off of the poem"Carpe Demon" by Lucie Brock-Broido.  Brock-Broido's poem offers a muscular knife into the perspective of childhood.  My draft I've written in reponse explore the idea of a bridge between the life before and after childhood.  It plays with the idea of time being rewritable, but that when it is rewritten (unlike code) it's source is utterly changed. 

Seismic Shift
In the dark car, the radio fuzz flaps its tongue over the slack blue bay.  Thu-thunk-
thu-thunk of tires on pavement carefully broken then threaded to contain rupture

then loss.  The dumb sea spackled in spun clouds. Bridge between before and after—on one
side is a dirtied kneed childhood carved tunnels in high grass, the whisper of creek.

On the other is after—several cities, so many hours sitting in
cubicles coding, rewriting the day like a wiki.  That is until the jump:

until feet leave the metal ledge of now; until the bodies falls and twists alphabets
of desire until ice cold water baptizes you back to where you began.

This time awake.  This time watching and listening.  Small bodies spelling the tall grass into new worlds.
The creek ruptured, but rewriteable, threaded to contain its new banks.

Monday, October 07, 2013

Their Bodies Are too Much With Us

This week, we were to write in reponse to Wordsworth's famous sonnet "The World is too Much With Us" For some reason Wordsworth's poem brought me back to motherhood.  To all of our confidence and studied knowledge that we bring into it and then to the reality of how raising human beings is such an amazing and difficult task.  How it is something you can't possibly know how to do, no matter how many times you try because every child is different.  And how, especially in the case of raising a child who is different.  One always doubts oneself and worries about whether one is doing it right.  Here is my draft:

Their Bodies Are too Much With Us
After William Wordsworth
Their bodies are too much with us—
flesh from water to air to light—
They linger in the mind like a hive of bees;
butterfly kisses on cheeks, sticky hands, the shadow of dirty knees.

At birth the path out is direct and known—
it’s the after, this unlacing of what’s perceived and built up   [like a hive]       
where we become Herodotus: note moods, growth rates, amount of joy perceived.
When the Behaviorist asked me, what do you most want to give your children?
I said, happiness.  No, she said.  You are only here to contain.
Since then the hive has split open.  Honey dripping down arms and legs.
I have a sheaf of parchment, and write note on top of note, a palimpsest.
Their tiny bodies buzzing in my mind, like a jar of bees.


Tuesday, October 01, 2013

If/Then in Autumn

This week we were assigned to write something humurous.  What I realized about myself is that I am awful at writing humor.  So, I wrote something lyric instead.  I've been haunted all week by the beautiful bark of the eucalyptus trees I pass on my drive to work.  Here is my draft:

If/Then Autumn

If the bark scrolls, no pulls away, no whirls away toward an unexplored infinity on every eucalyptus tree.  If your car, driving past, pulls from the movement a velocity toward awe.  If the leaves scent and litter your dreams.  Wonder what is written beneath that bark.

If the alligator skinned bark of the willow pulls toward sky and its long-armed limps weave in the wind. If you sit in the grass beneath its shade and think only of the miles of roots that spell it’s (keeps ship afloat).   Wonder if they spell escape or the language of knowing a place from the ground up.

If the single oak on the bare hill side speaks of solitude.  If you can’t pass without finding it crowning the hillside.  If the fog holds its breath over your sight.  Lift the tree in your mind toward the horizon.

If the air is grenadine with dawn and swollen with the dawn song.  If the hummingbird finds you high up on the porch away from the nectar.  Lift your eyes to that whir and thunder of wing.  Let that movement take you to flight.