Behind closed doors

March 24 2017

A political win today. And I finished my taxes. Finally.

On my run today some things flew through my head, but clearly they didn’t root, so here’s a prompt (from this page again): “Write a poem that has the word “love” hidden in it somewhere. You cannot use the word “love” by itself, it must be hidden (such as in the word “glove” or in two words like “halo venom”).”

Behind closed doors

You probably think this poem is about you. But there’s no room
here for your gray architecture and buttoned-up diction.
Here the tomatillo verde and jalapeño splash into salsa.

Don’t bother to scour inside its closets
or cash registers. Your willful, overdrawn checks
have left the wells dry. The backyard blooms jacaranda, just for me.

A Garden Triptych

March 23 2017

A Garden Triptych


The Garden of Eden is inherently exclusionary, you know.
God is an anxious landlord, concerned about land value;
For heaven’s sake, it was only an apple.
Once you’ve been kicked out of Eden, what kinds of gardens do you grow?

I heard through the grapevine that Adam and Eve
started a community garden, areas measured out,
each plot with its own tiny shed.
It’s amazing how many people you can feed when you work together.


But listen. The story that broke my heart this week is of the black mother whose son was killed by a cop car, plowed into him it did, pinned him under where his blood drained into an early spring garden redolent of onions. Look. Some gardens are watered with blood.


My son joked today that Hieronymus Bosch’s paintings
are too focused, too simple, too black-and-white.
I laughed, The Garden of Earthly Delights in my mind,
The panels’ shift from morning to night drawing
too many temptations, too many delights and colors, all turning sinister:
the joys of nudity and people-sized berries turning to volcanic horizons and
impaled by what once brought dancing.

In my backyard, the green onions shoot through the earth hardened by a long
What do we do when what nurtures us kills? When my spring is your death?

I refuse to let my tears water the earth.

Instead I will measure plots.

Ode to onions

March 22, 2017.

This morning I was running in the woods and listening to Radiolab. You should listen to the episode too.

Ode to onions

there are too many feelings that escape my words, like the way i feel when i run through the woods, like a person with super powers of speed and senses, startling the deer and pheasants as I zip through their feeding zone. like the way i feel when i listen to a mother’s grief like a voyeur; she can’t cut onions without remembering her son’s death, left as he was pinned under a cop’s car bleeding into a garden full of onion shoots waving green.

Day 21 of Lenten poetry, i.e. why

why why am I still doing this?

3/21/2017 The world is turning springly here at home, while in D.C. it sounds like everything is going bonkers. Rumors of impeachment and/or resignation of 45 abound.

I couldn’t wrap my head around poetry today, so I found a prompt online: “Grab the closest book. Go to page 29. Write down 10 words that catch your eye. Use 7 of the words in a poem. For extra credit, have 4 of them appear at the end of a line.” Closest book to me is Living a Feminist Life by Sara Ahmed. I love this book and this woman so much. She’s brilliant. Page 29 is in the section called “feminism is sensational.” Here are 10 words that catch my eye: feminist, location, smooth, clicking, audible, blink, reappears, version, world, body.

The hairs of my feminist arms stand up

That version of me did not see the world
the same way that this version does now.
I blinked away the cobwebs at the sleepy corners of my eye
and rubbed them with fists for good measure.

My location did not change and yet the world
around me did; this version of me blinks
to see how feminist sense makes audible
the clicks and cracks all around me.

lent day 20

(published a day late b/c wordpress was down or something.)

almost seventeen
his head nestles
between my cheek and shoulder

like when he was five.
Now each time he leans into me I know
I might be saying good
bye to these moments

which makes each time
he seeks out my embrace
a minor miracle of sorts.

Anticipating future drought, every
time it happens I make the maternal
version of the sign of the cross:
a kiss on the crown of his head.

Two poems, no context

… Because busy and travel, but still Lent. This is the post for days 18 and 19.

Day 18, “Götesborg”

parallel lines never meet.
woman in a fur coat strides by.
huddled figure under coat hugs the pavement.
she, head covered, begs at bridgeside.
this one time i offered half my bread, and we looked at each other.

Day 19: at the airport

Sometimes you get in a line simply because it is there.

you don’t want to miss anything

after all, anything good demands a line.



Today I visited the Abbey of Lund. The building itself is lovely, but I was more struck by the plaque outside which described the history of this abbey as one stopping place along the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. And so they write of their place: “this is not a museum–it is a living space for live meetings. Every day people wander persistently up to the abbey to rest in the beauty of its sanctuary for a while, to listen to the silence and to the Other. And to consider again how every person is a gift to be appreciated.”

Also: RIP Derek Walcott.
“The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.”
—-from “Love After Love”


This is not just a throughway or a stepping stone,
it is also a place of peace,
a place to consider the gift of you and the gift of we,
a rest for the soul and the feet,
a silence that feeds you joy
and that cradles you close.
Before you move onward into the forward,
sit here within these  walls that exhale
the sighs of countless pilgrims
and breathe in deep.