Category Archives: poetry

Good Things #15

I decided to write “Good Things Mondays” back when Monday morning was spent with my writing and reading and catching-up. This year, my schedule has shifted, and Wednesday is now the day for creativity.

So, are things just as Good on Wednesdays as they are on Mondays?

I like to think so.

Thought-provoking. I have recently become re-addicted to TED Talks. I posted one last week on being a twenty-something, and this week’s favorite is on body language. We’ve heard this idea before – that information is conveyed through non-verbal cues – but Amy Cuddy asks if perhaps our body language can change our thinking. It left me thinking: How do I portray myself just by the way I stand? Do I adopt a posture of powerlessness? Or the other way around?

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Music. I can’t remember how I found this song. Probably Pandora. And for once I was smart and wrote down the name. It’s called “Way Over Yonder in a Minor Key”, and the version I like the best isn’t on Youtube. This one’s pretty good though, and when I heard his speaking voice, I was surprised he sang such folksy music.

Books. Right now I’m reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer. I bought it from an independent used book store right before they were unceremoniously kicked out of their space of twenty-plus years by outrageously-raised rent (can you tell what I think about that?). It’s written as letters back and forth so that was an adjustment at first. It’s set post WWII, and I really like that time period these days. It’s also Shaffer’s first novel, and I like reading author’s firsts.

guernsey

Fall walks, bike rides, etc. Is there any other season that begs to be walked in? The leaves are changing here in New England, the air is crisp, and I revel in the particular way the sun looks in autumn.

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Fall foods. Crunchy apples. Warm cider. Pumpkins (uneaten on the steps). Cider doughnuts. Apple pie (as soon as I get to apple picking).

Woo-hoo! So, I submitted a poem to a competition a few months ago (okay, more like a lot of months ago), and while it didn’t win, it was one of 17 finalists. It’s called “Almost Family” and it comes out in the September issue of Ruminate. A step in the right direction. Now if only I could write more…and more… If you click on the link, you’ll see my name, fourth from the top in the poetry section as proof!

Words. Autumnal. Puerile. Euphoric.

[On Going Back]

We all say the same thing: It’s a flash

and slug.

 

You can’t wrap up time in a pink box

and raise it high in definition. You can’t seal

an envelope with a slow, deliberate lick –

explain the work and love, hate and despair

of four years.

 

What do you say to two shining faces

that’s honest, loving, real?

 

Sometimes, I would forsake all the settledness

I’ve uncovered in these two stretched years

for one day surrounded by the me and yous

of that place.

 

Ponds are dark even when they’re shallow.

The paths around them hold every word

whispered, shouted, proclaimed

until you wonder if the very gravel

has ears.

 

So I tell them: Sometimes, I would forsake

all the settledness I’ve uncovered.

 

Mostly, though, I look with gentleness

at those long-tough times, and I praise God

for not giving me the choice.

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Pure Poetry

Dylan was the word-maddest of word-mad young poets.

Often the best poems happen when lines cross; when poets write in pursuit of the spirit while their words still roar with years of obsession and love.

Dylan never put his poetry in service to anything but poetry. He served the Muse; he wrote pure poetry. But what is pure poetry pure of? It is pure of thought and pure of feeling, pure of vision; its largest emotion is love for itself.

So goes Donald Hall’s essay on Dylan Thomas in Their Ancient Glittering Eyes. I am simultaneously awed and disgusted; what is it about those who reach the edge of acceptable and choose to jump that will always get my admiration? I cannot respect because I cannot agree, but these lines are still there, the beautiful creation of a life despicably lived:

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs

About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,

  The night above the dingle starry,

               Time let me hail and climb

      Golden in the heydays of his eyes

I am attempting the impossible: to live well and create well. To write poetry that serves more than itself but that refuses to be merely therapy.

[A friend asked me my senior year of college, “What is the fault of bad poetry?”, and I said as I hurried across the grassy quad, “Sentimentality.” I know some of the answers.]

Words as words and words as art – to use them well but not join the ranks of Plath and Sexton and all the rest. To learn poetry as another way, but maybe not the only way.

[“Fern Hill”]

[Cafe Sleep]

I could fall asleep with my head on this table, press

my hot cheek to the cool varnished wood splattered

with other people’s coffee.

 

I still like my idea of beds suspended from the walls,

folded out to catch your tired bones – who

wouldn’t like a comfy mattress for a few

minutes of rest?

 

The busy city wears out your feet and sores

your muscles; the least it can give is a café with beds.

 

But that would be so dirty, they remind me.

The logical ones. The ones who cannot

let go of fact to see perfection.

 

Yes, I admit, it would be hard to keep clean.

But oh how luxurious to sleep

to the muffled voices and toned-down laughs

of a Chicago coffee shop.

The End of the Hiatus

So I’ve taken a break.

It was unintentional, but deep down, I know I needed it. A lot has changed since my last post, and I needed some time to think. Even my trusty journal was left untouched for almost a month. Thank goodness it (she/he, I don’t know) is patient.

Part of the reason I took a break from writing is because of the title of this blog: “Broke on my Birthday.” When I chose it, I thought it was humorous, a little stab at myself and all my recent-college-graduate friends who found ourselves, indeed, thrust into life and not entirely prepared.

But something’s changed. For me, at least. I was never actually broke to begin with, and now, through unbelievable blessing and good-timing, I find myself with a job. A JOB. Yes. I am a

bonafide

Latin

teacher.

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Latin teacher by morning, administrator by afternoon

The thing about blessings is, sometimes you don’t know quite what to do with them. When people ask what I do now, I feel this huge grin explode on my face. I’m embarrassed, actually, by my joy. Well, I’m teaching grammar school Latin. Oh, and High School Latin I. Yeah, I know, who would’ve thought?!

But as I told my cousin yesterday, over a cup of coffee at my new teacher-hang-out Barnes and Noble, I go into class every day, and I am excited. All these little faces looking at me, eager to learn. Eager to show me what they already know. All the joys I’ve encountered so far will have to wait for another post, but I can’t tell you how beautiful it is to hear a third-grader read, “Roma in Italia est”, and then tell me with shining eyes, “Rome is in Italy!”

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and thank you for supplying my coffee

So that is how I’ve been spending my days: frantically getting together enough material for seven Latin classes. There is too much information, too much new, and I CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF IT.

So, welcome back to my blog. I’ve missed you.

Oh, and check it out. I may have taken a break from blogging, but I haven’t been entirely lazy…

[Valentine’s Day]

I danced and spun and twirled

and you watched, laughing. Balanced

a glass of pale pink wine 
in my hand –

not spilling a drop – while I danced

alone in the living room.

 

But I stopped and looked at you,

shocked suddenly. This is it, I said,

we are women. And I couldn’t believe

that I was dancing with wine, still

waiting to grow up.

[rainy thoughts]

to miss the sameness of days

is something I never thought to acquire

 

in grayness and greenness I feel a longing

both embarrassing and languid

 

you held my bloody hand softly

and I couldn’t look at your face

 

sometimes tenderness is too much

and instead of seeing it I’d rather just

 

turn my face away