Saturday, April 30, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 30 {A Shameful Event}

The final day of National Poetry Month has arrived. Thank you all for reading my poems, even if they aren't easily understood or if they seem melodramatic. (Some of them are. Oh well.) While I enjoy sharing my poems with others the process is really an internal, reflective one. It gives me a perspective on myself and the person I have been, the writer I have been, over the last 12 months. Sharing that process with you, whoever you are, takes a great deal of vulnerability. Perhaps in years to come I will explain more. I will describe the context of the poem. I'll tell you who I was then and who I've become and how writing said poem changed me. We'll see.

For now, enjoy the final poem.

A Shameful Event
April 30, 2016

It doesn't matter
that it's happened before,
a perpetual frustration
of artistic endeavor,
a shameful event
that we all somehow
succumb to
in unfocused moments.
But I am resolved.
I have arranged
this sacred space
and settled myself
in the middle
of the chaos,
and no matter what
happened before,
and no matter what
happens next,
I will not
under any circumstance
dip my paintbrush in my tea.

Friday, April 29, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 29 {disappointment}

March 14, 2016 

rusted and singed
unshackled, unhinged
forged then forgotten
embraced then forsaken
they bear your true name
but these are old chains
and they will break away
if you let them

Thursday, April 28, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 28 {Tell Me}

Tell Me
April 25, 2016

Don't tell me I can do it.
Don't tell me
that you believe in me.
Don't tell me
I am capable,
I am worthy,
I am worth it.
Don't tell me
because when you do
I'm reminded
of all the voices
that ever said I can't,
that ever said I'm not,
that ever said
anything less
--even if the voice
was mine--
and I weep
in the recollection
and fall down inside myself
and whatever it is
I'm doing,
I could do,
I'm capable of
and worthy of
I will stop.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 27 {The Reward}

The Reward
April 25, 2016

Resist the temptation
to satisfy your desire
with fires that die
and colors that fade
and stones
which will not gleam
as time marches.

Prepare your body
to suffer
and your soul
to lay down in the road
because it may be
or it may be
but you don't know what's coming.

And there may be daylight
when you feel it in your bones
or a final dusk
in the moment you arrive
but there is an end.

So prepare the inside
like an empty vessel
to be filled
and prepare the outside
like a door to welcome in
that calling night
or beckoning day
whichever mercy gives
as the reward.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 26 {Deliverance}

April 24, 2016

Thoughts have no direction.
One cannot send them
east, or west, or downstream.
They are not passed between bodies
like ethereal heartsicknesses,
because they possess no compasses
or internal maps for guidance
and will never reach the soul
for which you so deeply think.
But somehow, despite my wandering,
ages of prayers are filtered through
my stumbling, selfish mind
and find their way to the one
who inspires my human questions
and gives me divine answers.
To what benefit could I mail thoughts,
when nothing waits
on the other side
to even receive them?

Monday, April 25, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 25 {Crooked Doll}

Crooked Doll
March 5, 2016 

born under and
living inside the shadow
of a crooked doll

I shrunk.

she was so beautiful
with silky hair
and brown eyes

dismissing me.

her secret broken heart
tucked deep inside
cotton and porcelain

I sought.

wanting to hold it
I tried just to hold her
but would have to break her


Sunday, April 24, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 24 {Dedication}

April 19, 2016

fresh loss
salted tongue
every day

endless words
stirred pot

distant heart
taking advantage
ending the struggle

stinging reminders
suddenly numb


Saturday, April 23, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 23 {Siren}

April 17, 2016

Some storms, they say,
come without thunder,
without lightning to brighten the sky.
They are dimmed rage,
quieted fury,
cresting in the clouds passing by.

You are woken before daylight
to witness the angry heavens
and instantly feel the urge to move.
And in a moment every failure
is revived within your body
like a disturbed beast with something to prove.

You feel the waking animal
beating like a drum,
roaring like a song inside your chest.
It is electric,
it is fire,
it is a siren that will not rest.

Outside the window
the storm is drawing closer
from a long-neglected horizon.
You wonder where to run to,
which path might set you free,
or if it's the one you've already chosen.

If you must shift
between here or there
will you break or will you bend?
If you must move,
to find life outside the storm,
will that motion contract or expand?
If you survive
beyond the storm
will you be silent or find the will to speak?
Will you find your freedom
by fighting off this darkness
or just escape it by being too weak?

There is an answer
waiting like a shadow
to be discovered on the other side.
You can run for what's waiting,
or turn away from its meaning,
but such a storm will not let you hide.

Friday, April 22, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 22 {The Second Dream}

The Second Dream
June 2, 2015

How countless are the nights
I made wishes without words
in distant, cloudless skies
on dying, clueless stars.
How deep the longing
I carry, on my own,
toward such a destination
with harbored hopes,
with heart-filled hatred,
with a final
hesitant hallelujah.
They say you care
for the weary traveler
and the motherless child,
but see my barren feet
on this broken path
and consider caring for
the childless mother.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 21 {Carried Away}

Carried Away
March 30, 2016

This is freshwater on old sand,
lake waves on somber driftwood,
windswept sunshine on winter skin
and it will smooth out all your rough edges.
You are not too sharp for secrets,
you are not too dull to be carried away,
and so the water calls out to you
and asks you to be brave
in spite of the dusky, cold, depths
soaking you to the bone.
Where the water once was blue
so were you, too dark to touch,
and now all the sand is unsettled
like these thoughts, and out tumble
words in the shapes of sea shells,
small but strong, rugged and beautiful.
Everything here was once something else.
Once a tree, once a bottle, once a brick--
all fragments of former wonders,
casting shadows on who you used to be.
Don't be afraid of the waves.
They will not swallow you,
only carry you to another shore.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 20 {Notes on not being set free}

Notes on not being set free
January 26, 2016 

I am given grace
You pass over me
with white smiles
but black thoughts
hover near,
It seems
you extend mercy
only when
I am within reach.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 19 {The Sound (Just)}

The Sound (Just)
September 30, 2015

We passed 300 midnights
just awake within the sound.
I can barely remember it anymore–
the chilling alertness I felt
as that serendipitous chime
resonated among books and silence.
I just don’t have the energy.
What was a hopeful melody
has become a foreign dissonance,
a flawed note in a forgotten voice,
or perhaps above all things
just a noise.

Monday, April 18, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 18 {An excerpt}

Excerpt from Dancing Elves & Elephants
December 1, 2015

I used to lie awake and wonder
if I would ever forgive her.
Now I like awake and wonder
if she’ll forgive me, even though
all I did was try
to let her go.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 17 {Unrelenting}

January 24, 2016

We are aligned
but not alike.
Our bones
are our bonds
and our flesh
meets with finesse
like unrelenting atoms
of the same molecule.
And so we are one.

But where he sees danger
I envision bliss
and when his hand falters
mine makes a fist.

So if you scorn him
you scorn me.
If he falls
under your judgement
I feel it more deeply.

And in the moment
you believe
you can walk away
I will find you
on a coward’s path
and you’ll find
no hesitation
in my wrath.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 16 {Alki}

Another favorite. A little vulnerability, here, but I feel like it might be worth it.

October 24, 2015
Edited March 31, 2016

Summers, two decades past, we came here
as children, we fought on the rocks,
and it was here my sense of belonging
disappeared among miles of salted sand.
The loss is still fresh on my tongue,
the sting of sharp boulders on scabby knees
lingering in photographs where we squint
upwards, away from the water, towards
some freedom we never quite possess.

Now at other precipices we trundle to the shore,
gathering our wits, worries and regrets around
seven smoke clouds, fistfuls of chai and Pike Place brew.
Now there is no condemnation here under
the seductively gray skies, cloudy and still.
I am tired of resenting you for your immense guilt,
the things you feel so deeply and do not say.

Comprehension came at the cement steps where
you smiled as I collected fragmented shells,
white and smoothed by a life made at sea.
You said this was not the ocean but I said
this is my ocean, the first part I ever knew.
Such is the current and wave of my life,
that I can never get back to the real thing,
and so I will take what I can get from
the sky, the horizon, this conversation.

Friday, April 15, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 15 {If You Ask Me}

If You Ask Me
February 7, 2016 

Boulders make the rocks feel small
but just a stone made a giant fall
and in our recent years you’ve fallen
quite hard.

Never altered my largest love
or tossed curses at you from above
’cause I always knew the change
would be your heart.

I am the best of what
you need me to be.
I will promise to stay
if you ask me.

My arrival was in perfect time
to take your world and make it mine
like a queen who needs a kingdom
to reign.

Until you realized, counting battle scars,
the throne and crown were always ours,
to pass around until the other was
strong again.

I am the best of what
you need me to be.
I will promise to stay
if you ask me.

So ask me in confidence on your own
if I’ll wear the crown while you take the throne,
after all these years at war with
each other.

And ask me in silence when all is right
and tell me in the middle of every fight
after all I can’t be replaced by

I am the best of what
you need me to be.
I will promise to stay
if you ask me.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

NPm 2016: Day 14 {Leap Year}

Leap Year
February 29, 2016

how fortunate to dismiss the wailing memory
of that first broken promise presented to me

how fortunate not to linger every single year
on the thing that nearly kept us from reaching here

how fortunate to forget the most painful of days
when innocence was crushed and faith unmade

how fortunate not to ruminate on such death
and finally find, in the wake, love takes another breath

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 13 {The Unbound}

The Unbound
January 26, 2016 

You meet me on the page.
You tuck in my rage,
kept in trembling knuckles
and gasping breath that buckles
in seconds of silence
between composure
and when all raptures

I’ve never been subdued like this.
I break myself inside each kiss,
hoping beyond measure
for divinity’s given treasure
like a lost love
with thoughts blurred
among these foreign words

We forge the unwritten whole.
We are wild on the unbound scroll,
as foxes in the forest’s song
fleeing some chance gone wrong
yet still holding
a heart strong as stone
beside the truth of a known

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 12 {Personal Effects}

A slightly comical reflection from my first week taking antidepressants. Not meant to be idolizing antidepressants. I wrote it while laughing (and feeling dizzy, among other things.)

Personal Effects
December 15, 2015

This is an ode
to vertigo
and no appetite
and sleeping
with no blankets.
We bow to thee
no appetite,
no blankets.
We place you on the pedestal
above the altar
where you slew
the ravenous,
and we would lift our hands in praise
if only the world
would stop spinning.
Maybe we should
eat something or
go back to bed.

Monday, April 11, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 11 {You & You & You & Me}

This is one of my favorite poems from the last several years. Just an FYI.

You & You & You & Me
August 24, 2015

The fondest memory collected
whistled among blades of grass
and whispered to shooting stars,
it sailed along slanted pulse-points
and swooned under the moon,
and from a life of savored moments,
this one so
solitary and fragmented
goes on uncaptured,
except in these words.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 10 {Advent}

December 12, 2015

In this season we should be hoping,
waiting for your arrival,
singing bright into the long nights,
lighting candles in anticipation
of our hearts’ greatest longing.
But my heart is cold as ice
and it knows you’ve already come,
it knows that you are here and so
as the walls press in around me
and the darkness lowers into me
like a corpse into the grave
I am already in mourning.
I am not asking you to come
but begging you
from the shadows.
Don’t leave me,
and don’t let me go.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 9 {I Know}

I Know
September 30, 2015
Edited March 31, 2016

This is an excavation
of broken soul splinters
which rise daily from a grave
of ghosted words and lost meanings.
A lifetime ago
you knew
that I didn’t need your light
and I didn’t need your fire
for pneumatic revival
or survival beyond 3 a.m.
despite my panicked whispers
into that welcoming darkness–
that darkness which affirmed
my suffocating cries of bewilderment.
How could I not need light?
How could I not need fire?
Was it yours, monumentally,
which you could not relinquish
or were all the brilliant beacons of the world
somehow exclusive and untouchable?
When we reached 4 a.m.,
belief was tantamount to sorrow,
my grief peaking with such severity
you expressed quiet understanding.
“I know,” you said, and told me
to make paintings. You told me
to burn bridges and move mountains
and a dusty arsenal of other tasks
that all require
or fire.

Friday, April 8, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 8 {Santa Barbara County Area Code}

Santa Barbara County Area Code
September 7, 2015

In that year
between the lights
between two fires
I kept a notebook in my car
next to my camera
so I could write
and drive
and take pictures
of the sunset.
It used to carry directions
to a friend’s wedding
in Missouri
and several lists
of gifts to buy
for people who no longer
speak to me.
And now the first page
holds only the parts of a poem
where I scrawled
“trees the color of
trees the color of
over and over, until I said
“sky smells like snow”
“leaves like shadows”
and then a scribble
and a phone number
which must be yours
because it was probably
that desolate January
when we had the ice storm
and you let me call
because I thought
I would die
without fire.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 7 {That Thing We Thought We Wanted}

That Thing We Thought We Wanted 
[Original Title: Cincinnati]
August 30, 2015

Turned tables, upturned boxes
of a dream, maudlin and dusty,
are all just shadows of younger runners
with longer springs in their steps.
What will I do when you’re gone?
Every hour will while and wander
if you go and I stay; it’s not the same.
Goodbying embraces and curbside waves
were my skillset, my neurotic niche.
But left behind, perhaps not helplessly,
yet so stationary and solitary
as plates climb like mountaineers,
as dust sweeps over my world
and every space you touched,
will leave me scattered, scarce.
Mirrored memories and reactions
flit over unfilled calendars with
events unwritten and trips unplanned
but their possibilities float like ghosts,
hovering and haunting each day
that might find me lost without you.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 6 {Etcetera}

August 21, 2015

I have started with myself
working from the ground up
where the blistered feet,
these weakened ankles you say,
won’t carry me.
And I know I keep saying
I can carry so much
I can hold so much.

It’s because you’ve never carried
anything so desperately needing
to be held onto.

And I know I’ll keep carrying
all the things I am holding
-burdens or otherwise-
even if
you say I can’t.

Because it’s this, or
I’ll just wear them
as perpetual bruises
or open wounds
or ragged scars
in this flesh you call
weak and unused.

Because it’s this, or
I’ll become them,
closer than a mask
and tighter than a cape,
more like a second skin of
all the otherness of myself
I have refused to possess.

I am beautiful and strong
not because I am not scarred
but because I choose to hold
the etcetera of my life
and carry it with me
until I know what I’ve been
carrying it for.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 5 {Unrelinquishing}

August 19, 2015

Favored seasons are flavored yet
by these unrelinquishing regrets,
where the cider cups
and the appled stuff
trip us on the post-summer steps.

Each prematurely fallen leaf
and misplaced ad for Halloween
wither within
my chest like a bin
full of discarded flowers, forever unseen.

And the wilted petals blossom out
from silent shivers to shaking shouts,
where a bright affection
replaced by winter’s inflection,
redeemed only when the wind is out.

I’ll never be ready for the fall.
I long to go back and absorb it all
before sorrow unlocked
like an autumnal clock
making my large joys small.

Monday, April 4, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 4 {Darkness and flesh}

Darkness and flesh
July 31, 2015
For a friend.

This is the thing you would have understood.
The whole world howls against me,
it has a mouth full of malice and its fangs
destroy my body, limb by limb.
You understood darkness and flesh.
You felt the shadows of death upon you
and rose up to meet them like a warrior.
How did I not learn these things from you
until now? Without knowing, without you,
for one year, one month, and thirteen days.
In your absence I have been ravaged
by claws of doubt, by whispers of fear;
I have faced the edge of the world
and hoped only to know
what you say waits on the other side.
And I could tell myself what you would say,
I could hold myself as you would, calmly.
I could love myself as you would love me
but all I have left
are the echoes of reminders,
the ghosts of sacred memories,
the lingering spark of a flame
which you gave to me
to light the world.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 3 {Little Red Boat, Pt. 2}

Reaching the Other Side (Little Red Boat, Pt. 2)
July 30, 2015

When she reached the other side
she climbed grassy hills in the rain,
she touched time and scaled towers
but the other side
seemed to be nowhere.
And when she came out of nowhere
on the underside of the other side
like a flower growing backwards
to see the earth it came from
she still got stuck
trying to find her way.
And she asked me,
which is better.
To stay, or to try?
Stay, try, stay, try.
I got her into the boat,
the boat into the water,
and when I got her to cross
she conquered every fear.
But a life of finality
has led her to believe that
even when nothing is wrong
the choice she makes
must be right.
Even when nothing is divided
she tries to choose a side.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

NPM 2016: Day 2 {Firebreath}

Written April 2, 2016 - based on an original piece of writing from July 11, 2015

No story can prepare
or song divulge the truth
of the creatures we admire
in naivety or youth.
Whether naturally sweet
or sinister by choice
they can silence a life
and stifle a voice.
I have nurtured the eggs
and tendered my soul
toward their disposition
whether gentle or cruel.
But it will not matter
when they finally crack
if love is their birthright
or if that's what they lack.
I can claim this hope
but I would be a liar
because this life is a dragon
and all dragons breathe fire.

Friday, April 1, 2016

National Poetry Month 2016: Day 1,and an Introduction

Happy National Poetry Month! This is, by far, one of my most beloved times of the year. It's a burst of joy and inspiration between Christmastime and my anniversary. (Yes, I use my anniversary for artistic adventures. Deal with it.) As usual I will be posting on each day of April, using a combination of poems I've written during the last year (May 2015 - March 2016) and some written the day-of or perhaps just more recently. I will include the poem's original date and explain if it has been edited since then--or not. I may occasionally include personal art with the poems.


March 31, 2016

her soul was a tapestry
woven by the twilight and
embroidered with fire.
when the world split
it was as if
blackened smoke lifted
from a tear in the fabric.
all the stars shifted
to watch her unfolding,
to understand
how creases fade
and edges fray
so beautiful and slow.
and once more they turned
with old and brilliant light
to see his weathered hands
take her corner by corner,
gathering her in,
healing thread by thread
with enough colors
to cover the sky.