Friday, April 29, 2011

Audio: Better Feed the Ghost

Happy almost-May and Multimedia Friday! How was your week?

This week, I wanted to choose a poem from last year (just because I couldn't remember what I was working on then). I landed on "Better Feed the Ghost," from last August, mostly because I like imagining myself plating a beautiful meal for a ghost, as if for a pet (much like a Fancy Feast commercial). You can listen to the poem here.

The artwork is from William Christenberry--I was very inspired by his portraits of buildings and houses that are weathered and somewhat decrepit. What I liked so much about these photos was that the even though the structures were old and sometimes falling apart, there is the heartening sense that these places are hanging on, persisting.

Thursday, April 28, 2011



Choosing shampoo is difficult.
It involves locating an appealing
bottle, plucking it from the shelf

and squeezing the flexible plastic
just enough to push the scent
toward my nose. Cherry blossom,

one bottle says, orange ginger,
citrus honey bergamot. God,
I’m so predictable, for so long

I keep trying to smell like oranges
or flowers, only certain ones,
magnolias, roses. Never vanilla

or apple or raspberry. Another woman
stands beside me in the aisle,
lifts a bottle to her nose, grimaces.

In junior high, us girls would stand
like this before our lockers, spraying
CK1 and Vanilla Fields onto our throats

and brushes, brushing it through
our hair that the kid behind us in
social studies would catch a hint

of sugar in the air, would breathe in
deeply behind us as if in a bakery.
Mostly, we smelled ourselves, traded

bottles, tried out being the girl
who smelled like sandalwood
or coconut or pink grapefruit.

Labels talk to us of sensations,
of bliss. Bottles promise volume
or shine or rejuvenation, and I

hear myself thinking, What kind
of hair do I have, do I need this
conditioner for dry and damaged

hair, have I been washing my hair
wrong my whole life, I actually need
oomph or control or everyday balance.

Who has not been immobilized
by choice. Buying products forces us
to consider who we are, what we lack.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


To cars left on the side of the road

Some with a bum tire, a puddle
where there should be a wheel.
Some with hazards blinking,
a metronome speaking with light
instead of sound. Some look fine,
beautiful, even. Some cannot share
what is wrong without being driven.
Some that will never be driven again.
Some that need only one new part.
Some with windows down, defenseless
against the rain, like this convertible,
rain pouring straight into the seats,
the dash. Some couple went for a drive,
took the convertible along this road,
radio loud, so happy to be the owners
of a car that can change to meet their needs,
that can come apart so gracefully
like a lady sawed in half onstage
then smiling and reassembled after.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011



Human have fingernails. This means
that those of us with claws survived,
and the clawless others faded out.

We used our claws. To cut with,
to carve, to puncture. Blades
were inspired by the sharpness

at the edge of each finger and toe.
Claws on our toes helped us to stand
when the ground shook or softened.

Those whose claws kept growing
outlived those whose claws did not
grow back, once damaged or taken.

We locate our angst in them, and so
we pick at them and file them and gnaw
at them. Scour them to smooth them out

and paint them red or glue artificial nails
over the real, ragged ones, resurfacing
this proof of our continual creaturedom.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Video: Paging Columbus footage

For Multimedia Friday (it's slowly becoming an international holiday, I tell you), I wanted to share some video from a recent poetry reading. One of my most enjoyable new projects is a monthly literary arts series called "Paging Columbus" that I'm hosting/curating here at the wonderful OSU Urban Arts Space.

For the first event, I read poems with three other OSU alumni poets (that I admire so much---Jason Gray, Jen Town, and Maggie Smith). The venue was perfect, and I loved talking with everyone who attended.

The sound on the video is fairly good (though with a noticeable echo). I did want to share it with you, though, since all of the poems I read were first shared on The Storialist. Watching it back, I sound most at ease in the last couple of poems; I didn't feel nervous, but it took me a bit to adjust to the acoustics, I think.

I hope to show video from the next Paging Columbus event, too--an arts and culture blogging panel (pardon me while I jump up and down with glee). The panelists are brilliant artists and bloggers from around Columbus (one is the artist Matt Kish--I actually wrote a poem, "Ships Set Out," on one of his pieces in December of 2009--such a cool thing to have him take part in this panel now!).

Hope you enjoy the video, and have a great weekend. What readings, events, or performances have you been attending or participating in? What projects are keeping you busy?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Life of the Party

Life of the Party

A loud party, ten feet to your left,
through your wall. Stock-still cars
quadruple-parked, overflowing
the driveway, spilling into the street.

The host has his guitar out, they
are singing, they all know the song,
even you’ve heard it. The floor
roils with bass, grabs your feet.

They’ve got a gong over there,
it bellows like a grandfather clock
at 2:00 AM, twice. A drum set
and a drummer from a band

and in all 14,400 square inches
of that place, which you know
because it’s the same as yours,
people. Sitting on the floor

and piled onto chairs and sofas
and leaning against the fridge
in the kitchen, on the edge
of the bed on top of the coats.

It is officially the best party
in the world, in the galaxy,
there has never been another
party during which the guests

loved the host more, or wanted
so much to exist together.
This is it, it is happening now,
this is the party that every party

dreams of becoming when it grows up,
you can live alone in an empty field
and even then you will hear the party,
its life charging on without you.

Monday, April 18, 2011



All along the curb, people in pajamas
peering into parked cars,
the front passenger windows of ten cars

smashed in. What tool did they choose
to shatter the glass, a hammer,
a baseball bat. What kept us all from

hearing it, pane after pane breaking
into pebble-sized pieces,
destruction retreating from the street

like an echo. In every action, restraint.
Only one window bashed in
per vehicle, this car but not that one,

only on one side of the street, only
this street. The police collect
our names and dates of birth, catalog

the few items taken. We eye what’s left
warily. Two hours later, I vacuum
the front seat, pick glass from the doors,

run a damp cloth over the console.
In the sun, the dust glitters.
To turn a car window into glass confetti,

give it a good tap. It was designed
to break in just this way,
to fall away elegantly, in smithereens.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Audio: Real Time

It's an Audio Friday today. I have a recording of "Real Time" for you (full text available here--audio link below).

While writing this poem, I was thinking about how art is one method we have of controlling the experience of time (well, at least it provides us this illusion). For the artist, writing a poem or creating art is an experience outside of time; our minds are synthesizing all of this information while our bodies move very little. I write most poems in 1-2 hours, but I am not aware of how long it is taking while writing (is it the same for you?). It feels like meditation or hypnosis. Also, anytime we write we are talking to people in the future--that totally blows my mind.

Something I especially love about poetry is that words, line breaks, and punctuation allow me to control pacing for the reader. A poems happens every time a reader looks at it--there is this interesting relationship between the reader and the words. I love imagining that I am reaching through the page and directly talking to my reader. (I'd say, "Hi there. I made this for you because you are wonderful.")

Hope you enjoy listening to it here. How does time work for you when you create or experience art?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Real Time

Real Time

On the count of three,
let’s synchronize our heartbeats,

match up the pace
of our blood and breath. One,

two, two
and a half, three. There,

that’s done. Now
for our eyes, I’ll blink when you blink.

The only drawback:
I’ll never see your eyelids

since our vision cuts out
and returns together. The room

you are in is here,
ducks out, and is back for us both.

Next. Posture.
You tilt your head to the right

whenever you read.
Me too, I’m already leaning.

What’s mine is yours
in this moment, the same air

held in our lungs
and released, we sit together,

and time pours down
around and between us like rain.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Things Mean More

Things Mean More

Things mean more than what they are,
a round bit of metal we know as a coin,
which we trade for an item or service,
or which we store in a box for the luck
it once brought us. Garments fit us
with varying messages. This is the dress
she chooses when time is scarce,
this shirt she wears to ward off
negativity. We call on our stuff
to help us manage the intangible,
waving around a watch or shoe
or stone or book as if conducting
traffic. All good luck charms fail
to conjure obedience at some point.
I am so grateful that we cannot
orchestrate every shift in energy.

Monday, April 11, 2011



Your voice is meaningful already.
I write on the words you’ve typed

because I want to hear you.
Your phrasing is awkward here

because speaking about your own
observations is uncomfortable.

What is it you want to say about
this topic. Why is it significant

to you. Here is your own language,
you can compress it and craft

small castles, or you can kick it
apart into shrapnel, crumbs.

Language has its claws in how
we feel. We try so hard not

to say something, not to feel it,
and train it to grow stronger.

A student said to me, accidentally,
I mean, I’m so angry all the time.

I understand him. There was a good
old days we can never be a part of,

no one can because it did not happen.
Nowadays, in today’s fast-paced

world, this is how students begin
essays, trying to slow experience down,

grabbing at anything around them
and feeding it into Microsoft Word.

What is in you that this life needs.
Untangle your anger to find it. Respond.

Special Offer

Special Offer

My message to you is urgent.
I know that awful feeling when your body
remains indifferent to women.
Oh Beloved. Can I trust you with this,
with these funds I will send you.
Hello, gorgeous, are you listening to me,
hurry. My offer for you is special.
If there is no order in your intimate life,
it may be difficult to stay
with a whole skin, to maintain wholeness.
You can understand my proposal.
Do not mistake this message for junk or spam.
No one else can see this, it stays
between us. Click here now, I’m talking
to you, I need your cooperation
so I can offer you riches and beauty
and benevolent enhancement.
Act now. You were selected to receive
this from billions of others.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Video: Your Oyster

I'm happy to share with you my video for "Your Oyster." I filmed this at the delightful Mad 4 Mod Vintage shop in Columbus, Ohio. Thanks so much, ladies, for allowing me to film in your store (and being kind about this strange request)!

Hope you like the music, too.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Your Oyster

Your Oyster

The 405 opens up beneath you,
the veins of God. Just hopped on the freeway,
you say later, to others who ask
how you got here. It was easy, you jumped
into it and it led you along.
Traffic is what we use to refer to civilization’s
movement, with us or against
us. Traffic was bad means A plethora of cars
filled with a plethora of humans
all decided to go somewhere at the same time.
We can go anywhere now,
but we don’t. The cities we miss get superimposed
onto the one in which we reside.
I wake up intending to visit a sushi restaurant
or ocean that’s been left behind,
and is now 2600 miles away. They seem so close,
the memories we clamp down on.
Our grip makes them glisten.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Something Every Day that Scares You

Something Every Day that Scares You

Do something every day that scares you.
Be your own boogeyman. Imagine

that someone is in your basement
right now, that they rummage through

your boxes and clamber over pipes.
Pursue your terrors, let them cater

to you. Walk toward snakes, alligators,
grizzly bears. Catalog every type

of spider that makes you shudder,
find them. Deliberately generate fear.

Your phobias will begin to disappear
with such frequent use, one after another.

Test your growing tolerance. Move
to the fifty-third floor of a skyscraper.

Approach clowns. Gather your papers
and important files, burn them. Prove

you are still trying to be afraid
daily, let your vulnerability turn

you on. Savor your thrilling return
to the powerlessness you have made.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Audio: How to Classify an Experience as Holy

It's interesting how blogging offers us a clear delineation of when and what we've been writing. Blogs are chronological and time-stamped. We can access analytics, which quantify and track the writer/reader relationship. When I log in to create a post, I can instantly see how many posts I've made.

My blog has been helpful to me in that it is a recording device. I can look back through the last 700 posts (yesterday was officially my 700th!), and see when I was writing, and what my obsessions were at that time. It has helped me gain some distance from my work--I do see quite a difference between my earlier poems and more recent ones.

For Multimedia Friday, I thought I'd revisit a poem from last April (obsessions of April 2010: the concept of rooms/houses, endings/beginnings, the way experience and time overlaps). I chose "How to Classify an Experience as Holy," a poem I had forgotten about a little (I just love that artwork, WHEW!). I wanted to experiment with reading a list poem (it's actually tricky, poets---how do you handle intonation when reading these types of poems?).

Have a listen here.
I wonder about your own experiences with tracking your writing over the years--do you ever feel detached from certain writing? Do you use your blog (or the blogs of others) as a historical document? As always, I welcome all your comments and questions--though I don't comment back here, I read all of the comments, and appreciate them so much. Thank you for visiting and listening today.
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