Monday, April 14, 2014

Day 14


Today I walked outside
to find three blooms
puckered like lips 
in a kiss and lounging
on the pomegranate
tree. What have I done
to usher this growth?
I, who am so busy
my thoughts are oil-
slicks that never stay 
in one place but leave 
vague stains in my mind,
one of which is what 
this poem was to become -
something about beauty
and disfigurement,
but it’s shadowed now,
shrouded by the day.
A full moon rises,
and now the flowers 
have come to visit 
the tree, and I am hopeful. 
I live the fortunate days
of a busy, first-world 
life: the watering can sits 
rain-soaked and unspent. 
I wonder what have 
done to care for the tree, 
what have I done 
but notice?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Day 13



Reaction 
or redirection, 
this heart. Notes
sown like seeds,
music ecstatic.
And this is the best part,
you find your voice 
is one of many, 
you find your voice 
is one.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Day 12

Saw Krishna Das yesterday, seeing him again tonight.  Warning: the next few poems will be kirtan-inspired.


*

Yogis know how
to dive into 
song, and how 
it takes more 
than a handful
of minutes for 
one to enter 
your bones.
How songs 
carry many 
beats: high 
and low, quick 
and slow, each 
one a door 
to enter,
as in to access 
that central 
part of you 
which they say 
is pure
happiness
and love. 
Those doors,
I picture them
flapping
like tongues,
strumming
and folding 
but never 
closing, and you, 
your little song-
bird voice, 
at first 
stumbling
over the thresholds,
then soaring.



Friday, April 11, 2014

Day 11


I had to check the oracle
twice because I thought auto-
correct changed the word dire 
to dice, and I wasn’t sure 
if I was in trouble or about to be,
so I asked her: What will
I be when I grow up?,
and she said, Something dire
unless you throw the dice.
It’s not the act of throwing 
that bothers me, that part is fun, 
but all the hope that trails
each toss.  It sits in my hands
like a mighty magnet 
pulling deep into my toughest
tissue, twisting and distorting,
the energy doctor might say 
blocking my channels, 
whatever they may be, 
but it’s nothing in the dice
that matters I know.  It’s me 
I must throw into the world, the whole 
aging body of me. 



Thursday, April 10, 2014

How I Write: An International Blog Tour


The wickedly talented, generous and smart poet, Catherine Staples, invited me to participate in this blog tour which reveals the writing process.  Please click on the link above to read more about Catherine, her process and her work.  Catherine asked me, M.B. McLatchey and Dean Rader, friends as well as striking and inspiring writers and thinkers, to participate.  Please visit them, too.  Without further ado, here's a glimpse into my process.    


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What are you working on? 

Like many writers, I have a few projects on my stove.  My poems tend to come in groups - or more like wild gangs.  Oftentimes, subjects choose me rather than the other way around.  These stories beg to be told not because they’re fun to tell, but because they need voicing.  Now I’m at work on what a manuscript of poems about the natural world - influenced by flora and fauna around my subtropical home.  Next is a group of poems about moms with cancer - a difficult reality for more than a handful of women I know.  Last are poems on beauty.  I live in a vain city.  If it’s not the plastic surgery capital of the world, it’s close.  I’m beginning to examine the connections between beauty and image, authenticity and fabrication, and the psychological ramifications of it all. 


How does your work differ from others of its genre? 

I should probably plead the Fifth here, but I won't.  My work is unironic.  Sometime after I had kids, I dropped my sharp New York irony - and all-black dress code - and started to write from an essential, true and naked place.  My influences are motherhood, nature, art and beauty and a curiosity about all things spiritual.  


Why do you write what you do? 

I write about what I love and what worries me.  I also write about things I don’t understand and may never, but sometimes through writing I can come to peace or to another question that shifts my thinking.  I’m also - for maybe the first time in my life - very aware of audience.  After starting the blog, which a few kind people read, I noticed a more immediate response to my work - and I felt a responsibility to those two or three readers.  I want to write work that’s interesting, readable and unobscure.  As much as I cherish the poets in my life, most of the people I know aren't poets.  I write for them as much as for the poets - as much as because I can’t help myself.  Many times I wish I could stop, but I can’t.  I wonder if scientists will one day find a poet gene?  


How does your writing process work?

Whenever I have time - which is most mornings now that the kids are in school - I make a coffee (double espresso latte), grab a pencil (old school, Ticonderoga #2) and open my empty book (kraft, Moleskine, unlined, large).  I almost always draft poems in pencil before moving onto a computer.  Most of my raw material manifests during National Poetry Month when I commit to writing a poem every day.  My summers are fallow (when the kids are home).  I edit in the fall (when the kids are back in school) and submit in the winter (also in school).  Generally, it takes many months for my poems to move from drafts to publishable poems.  A sociologist may say my work habits are a product of my environment - one with three young kids and all their effluvia (doctor appointments, school projects, sports, music lessons, etc.).  I’d have to agree.

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Up next are two incredible Miami-based poets: Jen Karetnik and Michael Hettich.  Their posts will be up by 4/17.  Please click on their links to learn more about them and their work.  

Jen Karetnik is the author, co-author and/or editor of eleven lifestyle and poetry books with three forthcoming in 2014: Prayer of Confession (Finishing Line Press, poetry), Brie Season (White Violet Press, poetry), and Mango (University Press of Florida, cookbook).  She holds an MFA in poetry from University of California (Irvine) and an MFA in fiction from the University of Miami.  Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, Black River Review, The Greensboro Review, The Nebraska Review, North American Review, River Styx, The Spoon River Poetry Review, Sou'wester, Seneca Review, Valparaiso Poetry Review and elsewhere.  The recipient of two Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prizes for a lyric poem, she won the 2008 Portlandia Chapbook Award.  Jen is the the Creative Writing Director at Miami Arts Charter School, and she’s a food and lifestyle columnist for many local and national publications.  Jen lives in Miami Shores, FL on the last remaining acre of a historic mango plantation with her husband, their two children, three dogs, three cats and fourteen mango trees.


Michael Hettich was born in Brooklyn, NY, and grew up in the city and its suburbs. He has lived in upstate NY, Colorado, northern Florida, Vermont, and Miami, where he currently lives. He has published over a dozen books and chapbooks of poetry, including LIKE HAPPINESS (Anhinga, 2010), THE ANIMALS BEYOND US (New Rivers, 2011) and the chapbook THE MEASURED BREATHING (Swan Scythe Press, 2011). His most recent manuscript, SYSTEMS OF VANISHING, won the 2013 Tampa Review Prize and was published in April, 2014, by University of Tampa Press. His other awards include three Fellowships from the Florida Arts Council and The Tales Prize (for SWIMMER DREAMS, 2005).  He teaches at Miami Dade College.



Day 10


Beyond the heat,
which rests like a lead 
blanket smothering
sand, silencing waves, 
and pressing the ocean 
into an ironed sheet,
there’s a calm.  Under 
the two-step sweat,
under the shedding,
under the slick layers, 
under pink faces, hot
feet and vacant beach,
there’s a quiet which could 
be mistaken for 
an ominous storm’s 
start, for the delay 
like the pause before 
a riot.  Some days 
your body gives its water 
to the sun, and she puts 
your head in a daze, 
burns down muscle 
and bone.  Other days 
you dance for storms,
for the ones that come quick 
and hold nothing back,
for the baptismal rains,
the ones that transform 
you from the person 
you were two seconds ago 
into a new skin, a new body 
which you swear you will 
treat this time as sacred.
No, these days are not 
for the weakhearted, not
for tourists or for comfort 
seekers. They’re for 
the workers, the ones 
who labor, who grow 
and pick the fruit they eat.  
These days are for those 
who will sit in thick 
discomfort, for the ones 
who dare to change.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Day 9


Strange are 
the moments
after all the calls
are made, emails
returned and 
letters stamped. 
And stranger
still the silence
that follows, 
even if a gnat 
cuts the quiet
like a buzz saw
or a truck
rumbles past.
Your life then
is a sea wall 
which will soon 
be bathed in 
information 
and braced 
by matters
to attend to, 
but for this
gentle moment
it’s a grace 
note, a pause 
almost 
unnoticeable, 
a breath 
almost never 
taken, almost 
not to be believed.