NaPoWriMo

This is an accountability post for the bad poems I’ve written for National Poetry Writing Month, so far. They’ve been terrible, and mean. But I saw meaner words exchanged today, and had better writing rejected in large swathes while I slept, so… fuck it? I guess?

how long did specialists not-know
oil crawled under our canal
to flood the maws of baby birds—garden hoses grass roots tree
roots granite arteries track as vapor—we gasp—a new
notice: ‘drilling monitoring wells’ under our vehicles

Schrodinger’s Poet Does Whitman

One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript.
One of my writing brothers ghosts me for seven months and I stop calling.
One of my writing brothers sits across from me in a coffeeshop while I dismantle myself audibly.
One of my writing brothers climbs out of the woodworks.
One of my writing brothers reads me an explicit poem about his ex-girlfriend.
One of my writing brothers calls me in the night and tells me he almost drowned.
One of my writing brothers takes me under his wing.
One of my writing brothers shows me the ropes.
One of my writing brothers has ropes.

*

One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript.
One of my writing brothers has a wife who is too vanilla.
One of my writing brothers tells me that I should not make science personal.
One of my writing brothers tells me that persona poems are too vanilla.
One of my writing brothers turns in a poem by a woman I know in a workshop I was waitlisted for.
One of my writing brothers gets defensive when I say Wordsworth stole all his work from Dotty.
One of my writing brothers has notes.
One of my writing brothers is drunk enough to make a pass at a married woman.
One of my writing brothers makes a pass at me.
One of my writing brothers passes on me, though I never asked.
One of my writing brothers passes.

*

One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript.
One of my writing brothers confides that he maybe saw someone die at a party once.
One of my writing brothers ghosts me for seven months and I am beside myself when he reappears.
One of my writing brothers screams sea chanteys at the roof of a beer house.
One of my writing brothers steals the alignment from one of my poems without understanding it.
One of my writing brothers fights a tree in the street.
One of my writing brothers stares up at the moon, intoxicated.

*

One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript.
One of my writing brothers asks if I have read Hemingway.
One of my writing brothers asks if I have read Bukowski.
One of my writing brothers tells me he is in love with a sun.
One of my writing brothers tells me he is in love with the woman who tags along to the party.
One of my writing brothers clarifies that he is not actually in love.
One of my writing brothers is not actually.

*

One of my writing brothers asks me to look at his manuscript.
One of my writing brothers writes a book about me.
One of my writing brothers says I should move the first stanza to the last stanza.
One of my writing brothers harasses half the women on twitter.
One of my writing brothers shares a video of the ocean.
One of my writing brothers shares the ocean.
One of my writing brothers grows visibly excited as he talks about suicidal women.
One of my writing brothers researches the seasons by stalking them over several years.
One of my writing brothers cannot stop staring into the waves, and dives to his neck.

*

One of my writing brothers grows visibly excited as he talks about suicidal women.
One of my writing brothers ghosts me for seven months, then sends a text message to ask where to buy my book.
One of my writing brothers is both the panorama, and the virus.
One of my writing brothers poisons me.
One of my writing brothers is me poisoned.
One of my writing brothers is both me and not me.
One of my writing, brothers.

*

One of my writing brothers asks me
to look
at his manuscript
and I feel like a joke.
One of my writing brothers walks

through the underworld in one of his poems.
One of my writing brothers is in a radiated box.
One of my writing brothers holds a mutual vial.

It is only a matter of time.
Inanna hisses
get out of my damn underworld.

One of my writing brothers walks around

down here.
It is a mutual layer
one of my writing brothers assures.

We run with open arms.
We never have to look down.

One of my writing brothers is the most astounding writer.

What good could I do? Illuminate
with some misread sense of order?
Some false sense of self?

There are no animals here. No wings.
No fruit.

One of my writing brothers says it is getting hotter every day.
I correct one of my writing brothers when he tells me, hell is other people.

I don’t know what this was, but I sure as hell know what it was not

Following the site measurements
after being functionally unemployed
for over a year, in isolation, I use
half of my first paycheck on a dress
that I courted for months—the rest
lowers credit cards—following
the site measurements, I find
that I am a 5X.

I browse news articles (sir algorithm
knows me. He KNOWS me.)
Knows I want to get out.
Airlines are offering new snacks
to stay afloat, tips on
how to dress for your new
isolation form, fair

corndogs from home, drive-thru fair
outside of the home, this summer
these ten tricks, fair date, which
pubs have opened their doors
for the diet that makes you
-r swimsuit fall off is the
reduction of your dreams, less
body, hair, skin, eyes, even
less body than
that, models

of exercises you can jump
rope yourself to less, a home sells
for a million over asking and I am
tens of thousands in the hole, easter
celebration, pop-out, how positive
my mother texts, I am today, when

I tell her I might re-pot a lemon
cypress, knowing what a cypress
stands for, not cupcakes, pastel
in the home, pastel on the walls, pastel
in the mouth, in the dress that falls
off the body during international travel

some isolation forms are buying homes
in international places, wearing
clothes that fall off the body
in international places, outdoors

some dine in soft light, move
solid in campers, camp near a fire
light, spin tales near their articulated
wish for more pastel, less self
to tell around

bon
-fires, clamping hard, a little camp
in your makeup routine, new
hikes, the new hiking boots that will
fall off your calves
as if you didn’t ever even have calves

or hype bourbon until it’s your new
man, April
tastes like less self, to drink
every calorie, to even
taste thinner—
when he finally gets there.

Miss Havisham Moonlights on the Next Episode of Marriage or Mortgage?

The water is out again
and I am

on my knees I beg you—
you snap back—

I snap, too. I have started
snapping faster. I have entered

the conversation of where
will we be

at any given moment. I am almost
thirty-eight and all of my hair

is self-hacked.
I am so fat now, patches
of stark colorless fur over
-take my skull and my gentle
wedding hat is sitting in a box
in a garage

somewhere, the delicate wedding
dress adorned with strange snakes
and giraffes

is filling with mold—wadded
into a ball—it’s too late
to invite anyone I would have.
At the very least

we could still
get the hell out of here before
we’re both dead.

WRITE SOMETHING

how lonely it would seem
when the way turned the light

out. looks
sing day. flowers
were a pain

to get delivered—that weird concession
from place—several tiny flying bugs

are taking over. or maybe
a lemon cypress. a bunny made
out of burlap

twigs. how
I was writing some.
and now tired of trying to fit. this

where

I am sequestered. this is where
art.

making life or beauty. or this wasn’t anything.

Cupcake Returns Me to the Cosmos

During the pandemic I have gained
mass. Extreme mass. I have lost
density in my bones and replaced
muscle tissue with adipose. I am
rolling into the densest object in
your far-cast skies. The far-off
dream of heat-death. I am forging
my body into a malleable magnet
that will pull my light from my
corporeal heft, I hope. I hope to
evaporate into a pulse of dust
every day. To fine-tune myself into
blink and lust. When I go, I will
go so fast that everything will be
illuminated for a fracture of a second
the only remainder, a depression.

GREEN (A Found Poem)

ALL
We are monitoring, well, to the end.

Starting, WELL, DRILLING.
Begin, begin.
DRILLING WILL CONTINUE.
DAY. DAY.
These wells will monitor the ground water and the gas line
that runs along the canal.
Section. Rive. Be slow.
time stopped.
BE MOST AFFECTED.

AND ALL THE FREE AT THE TURN OF BUILDING
WILL BE SIGNIFICANT NOISE.

Everything on the page is bad, everything hand-written is bad. Everything sitting up in my head is bad.

I told him the other day that it feels like there’s holes up in my head. Like everything is wildly trying to connect around these sudden holes. And it’s all whirring so fast because the connections can’t figure out what’s missing. They don’t know there’s holes up there, only that there used to be pathways, and those pathways dropped out.

I ama morning bird.

Rrrrrawk.

This Silence is Measured, My Love

This silence is measured, my love.

She places her palms out—the air
of this collective gasp

transfigures them. Fear is salt thick;
hope—paramount but hard to come by.

Cat eyes a squirrel as he shimmies
up the tree—even he reserves

his hunting cackles—as the grey fur
dips into desiccated tomato vine

ash-burned basil. When time
shifts—this time we watch

the plates drift
apart—dissolve—

we dream a new mantle might
marry our outlook.

Take heed—All
women are watching in a halt now.

Lips sewn in wide stitches—we wait
in our masks. Cut us from

the virus at the helm.
The candle flickers in her eyes

in this night before the fall or finale.
And she had hoped for sharper implements

or maybe just the lone woodwind
to braise the whole symphony into resolve.

But what do words hold
when we cannot hold one another?

I Took a Day to Myself from Sky to Throat : Poem

Listen to a musical collaboration of this poem with musiconceptime : https://musiconceptime.bandcamp.com/track/i-took-a-day

I Took a Day to Myself from Sky to Throat

I took a day to myself                         got into the car            and just

bought coffee and a donut                                                      and just drove

around for hours                     screaming in the dust

-filled air                                                                                 you can hear

it in my voice now. Above                                         Contra Costa, the settled

smoke

looked like the “Swamp of Sadness”

from the Never-Ending Story—minus           any dragons

or luck                                                             (these are things not to be found here.)

The round brown hill, a resting                                  turtle shell; do not disturb.

I went up to Lawrence Hall and looked                                 for my city

but that had been rendered                                                      by a nothing

a swift blanket of grey climbing

higher than the sun

and I was the only one there

and that had never happened before

the flowers      be        low                  a          back

roads.

There was an old man standing                      outside his car as I

took a swift turn. I think, for a second, he saw                                               me

and I saw                                                                                 him and maybe

he heard

the cacophony of noise                                                           noise

happening

outside of my car,                                                                  maybe he saw

the round O of my mouth.

At some point, as I circled

back

home, I thought

about another poem I wrote                                                                about

the smoke-ash

as people that we have loved.             I breathed

in harder, trying

to take in this loss

like

if I could taste                         them, then

they were not gone                                          and the trees

the hillsides.                The immensity                                    of everyone’s grief

could be breathed.                                                                   It could be breathed

in and held

and I could hold it

with these unearthly opera                                                                  lungs.

I don’t sing anymore but maybe

this instead could be my gift

registering                                                                               the sound of loss

and where it falls from sky to throat.

We Sift through the Smoke in our Apartment and You Ask, “Are We in Hell?”

We Sift through the Smoke in our Apartment and You Ask, “Are We in Hell?”

The air has changed. Lightning fires
in the bay. My lungs are still

sliced through from February’s illness.
I watch handkerchiefs-to-lips flee—wonder

where to set what little we can
all lift without a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Pack a small suitcase, a backpack. Just
be ready, Cal-Fire advises every corner of the state.

The smoke inflames my legs, hips, arms. Brings
an uncontrolled eye-twitch. Music fades

with my left ear, in and out. Again, the sky
is dyed unearthly orange. The oranges

enveloped ash. The tomato plants
(I have finally kept alive) wither. Vines

are sputtering husks. Filament collects
in my eyes each morning, thickly

whispers, these particles were once
pillows, mugs, photos, lovers.

On Reading

I’ve been reading submissions for several different places & projects & workshops & friends & life. This poem is a stilted map of my process for reading poetry if anybody finds themselves wanting to traipse through process with me.

“On Reading”

Read for impression. Lines
that pop. A floating quotation, a question, or what has been
spoken, and in what tense?
How touchable?                    A you. An I.

The Title (Any author)
And context of a situation in time. A date. Then, look

to the form. Does she bleed into the creases of the page, or resolve
after six iambs? Does she finish after fourteen lines or given time, does she digress?

Would she repeat herself for your love? A pantoum; a ghazal
or a spell?

Look right. Each phrase. Each word. Each syllable.
Make a new poem along the edge. Look left.

Does each phrase start with the same careful plea? Make
another new poem from the words living along the spine.

Look inside. What do you see? Organs are repeated things. Displace the bones.
Dig between rhyme and reason. Put this stanza with that. Pair line three

with line seven. Touch line thirteen and remove
five words with your finger. Read

around the words you have removed. Fit
new words inside her mouth. Avoid all

theme until you have investigated soft folds
clearly. Join and destroy. Highlight

the unknown. Excavate. Each
lover is hidden in blank spaces. Find them

from the last word up. Look to this aperture. How
open has this illumination been?

What darkness does she hide from you? What beginning
is set in motion and who is resolved by a last, pleading and pointed phrase?

Cassandra Opens the Jar of Peanut Butter and Drops in the Only Clean Spoon

Here’s a newish poem which you can listen to me read here!

Cassandra Opens the Jar of Peanut Butter and Drops in the Only Clean Spoon

Shaking today. I stood up
too long. There are so many objects
in the way when I move. I can
barely move. Even writing is upturning
the centripetal. Hands
shouldn’t. I worry
this will never go away
when it returns. Everything
undoes itself. Trembles. Roars.

But, if I died right now, I could
die near some soup
looking out at trees
with my cat and that seems like the best
way to go.

I could die near some soup. The canned kind.
Minestrone. Low
sodium. Glaring
out the small window. at the giant
light that looks
like a head. Or a moon in orbit. The taller
taller.
taller leaves. climb
ing the tree. the kind tree
that reaches down. to my wind
ow. the cat. staring out
at the squirrel. and chittering.
ch ch ch ch ch ch. this
seems like the best way.

If I died right now, I could
die here in this quiet
kitchen. No video
games. No one to badger me
with their determination
for my life or their track
for how I should have seen
signs, symbols
the setting, or steps
for what
they think
are earned amends.

The moon.
The moon out staring
glare at night. a pot of tea.
the carrots i route from the soup.
the cat, fluttering mildly
near his window top of the
tree this is the way I go