Tuesday, October 29, 2013



These fake ladybugs eat the real ladybugs.

The trees go up in flame unequally.
On this side of the street, by the river, they are red.
The other half are still green. 

The slender trees get slenderer.
The branches stand there in memory of leaves taken away.

What does the beloved smell like.
Smell the air to see if they are in the world.

The sheriff’s black school bus rattles back toward the courthouse, empty.
Outside the courthouse, on the sidewalk: tiny booklet reading

The trees are plunged into their circular grates,
gnomons in sun dials.

Today, the plants must feel stoned.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

Currently reading and enjoying:

•    This short essay,  “Through the Closed Door,” by Lee Martin in Post Road Magazine.
•    David Sedaris’s “Now We Are Five,” a reflection on his family and his youngest sister’s death. I read stuff like this and think, “Oh, that’s what good writing looks like.”
•    This haunting, poignant essay, “Face,” by Tara FitzGerald in Vela Mag. So many overlapping pieces here…it will stay with you long after you read it.
•    Scott Woods’s poetry collection, We Over Here Now (more on this later).

I’m also excited that a new little column of mine, featuring books by Ohio authors and publishers, will be appearing in Columbus Alive (an arts newspaper here in town). It’s called (as if there were any other choice for me) “Bibliohio: Recommended Reading from the Heart-Shaped State,” and here’s my first write-up. I have a theory that something special is happening amongst writers and readers in Ohio.

Thanks for reading this week. And you, friends? What else are you thumbing through?

Thursday, October 24, 2013



The trees darken, and then,
oh, no more light today.

Heavy dictionary heaved shut.
Voice yelping, kitchen’s closed.

You are so tired that you feel the shadows
gnawing your face.

You are so tired that you dream
of being tired.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Oh Boy

Oh Boy

Oh boy, oh dear, oh
Tetris-y tumbling

of joy into removal
of joy, into anxiety,

oh me, oh my, oh
how do I respond

to the undone world,
the gradual unhinging

not set in any jamb
Observe: a resurgence

of interest in canning,
uncanny devotion to

mason jars, Peter Pan
collars and plaid, if

you don the garb
of wonder and work

very hard maybe they
will let you keep this

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Toward a More Elegant Attention

Toward a More Elegant Attention

Oh big branch in the river
who will get you out
who will fetch you

When a dog holds a stick
in his mouth

moves it across the park
and leaves
the memory lives in the dog’s jaw

and in the fallen stick

But when someone burns that stick
and years later, the dog is gone

where can the truth survive

Where did all of these sticks come from
you would think a whole forest
has been released

a passel of arrows

The remembered pets
how a human calls a human
who was a child alongside them

just to say
remember what a good dog she was

The light
doesn’t want to say
anything to anybody

Monday, October 21, 2013

On the First Cold Day, Everyone Makes Chili

On the First Cold Day, Everyone Makes Chili

As you tug a produce bag,
thinner than skin, from the roll

for the red bell pepper,
and pluck a twist tie

from the stand, you see it:
your future, you

in the kitchen tonight,
opening cans of black beans

and kidney beans to empty into the pot,
the chili finished two hours later.

The grocery store sees it, too.
Chili ingredients are stacked near the beer:

tomatoes, beans, round crackers.
Fewer choices than we think,

you know, and this is a gift.
Let the ingredients suggest

the meal, and the season
will suggest the ingredients,

and in this way
we can observe the benevolence

of the universe, the can
of diced tomatoes

that had been grown
last year in soil

you will never stand on,
the pain in the farmer’s

grandfather’s heart prodding him 
to buy some peaceful land.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

Currently reading and enjoying...

-Tessa Mellas’s just-released Lungs Full of Noise. What a beautiful and weird book--just what I love. More on this later. 

-This article/collection of images on io9 showing what the world looks like through a cat’s eyes.
-Tina, such a bizarre and awesome book of poems by Peter Davis (who was just in town for Paging Columbus!). Here’s a video of one of my favorite poems in the book, “Emily Dickinson,” and here’s another poem from the book at Verse Daily, “The Egyptian Revolution of 2011.

-Feeling much gratitude and love for kind words about my book this week. Here’s a recent interview at Vouched Books (as part of their fun Awful Interview series--thanks to Tyler Gobble for his great questions!), and a beautifully-written review by Anne Champion in Rattle. Thanks to everyone who is reading the book (so happy it is finding its way to you!).

Happy weekend, y’all. Who’s doing some pleasure reading this weekend?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Hot Mess

Hot Mess

If you want to set a woman’s mind at ease
and you are a woman
tell her you like her shoes
or her jacket.

She will bat it back at you.

Then you can say
you like the way her hair is cut
especially around her facebones

and then she will say
thank you for not saying
I look like a mess

and by the way
I love your arm.

I was born with it,
my parents made it for me,
thank you! Your aorta, if I could see it,
would be lovely, I feel sure.

But not as lovely as your tonsils
she will say,

and this is where you should be worried.

But I have no tonsils,

you will say, laughing, nervously,
both of you,
as you back away
careful not to startle her.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cumulus, Gone But Not Forgotten

Cumulus, Gone But Not Forgotten

The cumulus had been shedding
for half an hour
when it finally exhales its last bit of self.

The cloud rememberer
lowers her binoculars,
also sighing.

This isn’t easy. But she is a professional.
She pencils the date and time
in her notebook.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Garden Logic

Garden Logic

In the garden you think there are no disgusting things.
These worms squiggling into the mud below
squiggle cleanly.

A spider lives to eat the other bugs.

The other bugs look handsome next to the petals
and bark, dark legs like eyelashes.

The mind you wear into the garden
possesses wisdom not your own.

Shit is great flower food.

The desiccated bird corpse,
tiny cracked cage of bones
in a handful of flung feathers,

the earth will take it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Three Sheep

Three Sheep

There were three sheep.
Well, there were also other sheep. But these three,
they had found themselves
alone before a large pond.

They were scared.
Should we go through it, one asked the others.

No, we have no idea how deep it is!
And there could be LEECHES!

Let’s rest and get some good sleep tonight, that first one said,
have a better idea about things in the morning.
It was unanimous.

In the morning, they found themselves on the edge of that big pond.

Huh, still here, still a pond.
Still deep. Still leeches.

The next months played out in this way,
every morning, one pointing to the pond,
the other two murmuring: deep, leeches.

The air began to get colder.
Fall wandered in and set up camp.
Talk of leeches went up into the red leaves
like sparks from a fire. Mmmhmm, deep.

One day, it was winter.
Two deer stood on the pond, and shouted over,
Morning! It’s frozen now! Clamber over!

Deep, they said, and shrank closer together. Leeches.

What gives, one deer said. The other shrugged.

Instead of good morning, the sheep would talk about the pond.
Pond today! It’s deep and full of leeches, isn’t it?
Sure is. Absolutely leech-ridden.

They lived there for the rest of their lives.
They called themselves a flock.

One day, nine years since they came to live there,
their original flock walked around the other edge of the pond.

Hey! Look who it is, the old flock called across.

How do you like our new spot, they asked their old friends and family.
We are so proud of how it’s turned out.
Just the right amount of leeches.

Friday, October 11, 2013

On Creativity: Muse-ic

This week, I wrote a post over at Spoonful revisiting music and creative ritual. While writing poems in the last couple of weeks, I’ve been obsessed with Volcano Choir’s Repave and Moby’s Innocents.

I was delighted (read: jumping up and down and yelling “EEEEK!”) to see that Damien Jurado is featured on one of Moby’s tracks. “Almost Home” has been helping me with my poems--it is exactly what I want from music that I write to.

What songs/albums/artists have helped you to create?

Thursday, October 10, 2013



Your head is delicate,
your thoughts are delicate,

here is a bag of bird feathers
to lift you into sleep,

never mind about where
the birds are now,

you are in their branches,
blossoms and leaves

between your toes, you will
wake up in the morning

when you wanted to, the self
tonight will be supplanted

by the self of the next day,
you have to know it will all be

there as you left it, you have to
stop thinking about those birds.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

All Ships Struggle

All Ships Struggle

All ships

All ships
will have been mistaken
for icebergs

All icebergs turn
into the water
they are clenching
within their bodies

All preparations
do not include
the actual future

All the stars
that the passengers
of the Titanic saw

All the stars
whose formations
we find

All of the time
that waits
like the next wave

All waves
the breath of water

All waves
the water
they return to

All waves
not even waves
not even
for a hundred years

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Every Day, Less of a Cactus

Every Day, Less of a Cactus

I think I might be going somewhere
I am less flamingo planted in water
less stemmy-bodied cactus

All lightest leaf
the self suggestible
to air

The air
The mist in the air

Others have noticed
You are certainly less and less of a cactus
It’s a compliment

It takes so much work
to be us

Monday, October 7, 2013

Kitty, Don’t Eat Tape

Kitty, Don’t Eat Tape

When lacking a calm place
I have been known to curl
up into a box. I am a cat
person, it is easy for me
to understand the compulsion
to stuff one’s body into
small spaces, to seek what
will let me chew it by
chewing cautiously. The cat’s
love of anything sticky is
understandable but troubling.
I catch her licking the filmy
glue on an envelope’s flap,
teeth puncturing the corner
of the cardboard box, trying
to scrape free the mailing tape
and get it down her throat.
Kitty, don’t eat tape, I say
it at least once a week.
How does this turn into what
she really hears, Eat faster,
do it now.
I worry that the lives
of pets provide no fulfillment.
Take her for a long hike
in the woods
, the dog person
says. The cat behaviorist knows
better. Install a ledge near
the ceiling, so that she can
watch the birds through the
window, feeling the flicker
of power that comes from
knowing that the bird could
be hers, how easily she could
take something from the world.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Bookmarks List/Bedside Table

Currently reading and enjoying:

  • Luisa Igloria’s book of poems, The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House). 
  • James Fallows’s article, “Magical Roundabouts and the Language of Signs,” in The Atlantic. Fun and fascinating...I also love thinking about what the messages/diction in signs suggest. One of my favorites that I saw over the summer said "Please Respect the Growing Grass."
  • “If He Hollers, Let Him Go,” by Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, an in-depth discussion of Dave Chappelle, comedy, race, culture, and Yellow Springs (less than an hour from Columbus! A wonderful little town--my husband and I call it “The Shire”).

And you? I'd love your recommendations.

Have a wonderful weekend, friends!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Everything Talks to Everything Else When We’re Not Looking

Everything Talks to Everything Else When We’re Not Looking

Tree holding up its yellow leaves.
The next week, circle of yellow

on the grass, tree trunk plunged into
the center. Rolled hay standing in

spools in a half-emptied field,
grasses high behind it, ready to

be gathered. Light that returns
when the wind wakes up, and tiny

spider with orange and black striped
legs that crawls out from beneath

the handle of my car door just as
I’m about to get back inside.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Small Fries

Small Fries

Oh the irresponsible decisions made
The tasty carbohydrates

The ungreen gutters
where rainwater gardens could have flourished

The heavy golden frame
around a picture better served by slim nails

The times you do not say
the thing you think

Also oh the irresponsible decisions tempered
with responsibility

Dessert after the dessert
first fruit then chocolate

The evil words
with an apology after

The cruel deed
with an apology after

The times during the day
your brain does not remind you how everyone

is going to be gone
how what we consume just disappears

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

We Have Not Yet Learned

We Have Not Yet Learned

Somewhere a man is shocked
when another person loves the way he looks,
says it.

He had been privately calling himself haggard
and weak for the last year.

The art student draws the dimpled thigh
of the nude model

without looking at the paper.
The more she looks

at the body on the platform,
the better the line.

Our bodies, forgive us.
We have not yet learned

that one year the bone shows more,
and another, the fat.
The Storialist. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.