Volcanoes Waiting


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Everywhere I go there’s a
volcano waiting to greet me.
We bounced out of our seats,
rain pouring down on the drive
to fiery, silent Arenal. We leaned out of
our seats on the flight to San José,
trying to get clearer glimpses of
Concepción and Maderas, floating
in the waters of Nicaragua.

But my favorite volcano and I
prefer just to sit with each other.
The only journey I take is inward.
As I meditate, the clouds break
away from Popocatepetl.
We watch each other, like two
women exchanging a glance,
a knowing look that says, we know
how hard this life can be.
And when the sun sets and my
meditation ends, Popo wraps herself
in a blanket of clouds, disappearing
into the darkness. Another day of
our journey is complete.

(OctPoWriMo 31: Journey. Not a great poem, but I finished OctPo!)

From top to bottom, Arenal in Costa Rica, Concepción y Maderas in Nicaragua, and Popocateptl in Mexico  

drift off


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in bed fully clothed
don’t move don’t move don’t move don’t move
starálfur on repeat
no feeling anything!
maybe smell some cinnamon
but no feeling except nothing
cold and hot at the same time
don’t feel it don’t feel it
these violins are real!
the elf in my room is real!
i am not real
maybe jónsi is real
just rest just rest rest rest rest rest
the icelandic word for sleep
is sofa
time to go to sofa

(OctPoWriMo 30: Senses)

Photograph collage of the poet dork, fully clothed in bed, sleep deprived, listening to Starálfur by Sigur Rós on repeat. This poem was overly influenced by vertigo and reading too much Caketrain. 

The Alabama Line


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It’s not like I never saw you again.
We had that insufferable conference in Austin,
where someone got shot on Saturday night
but it was my heart that was bleeding
as we ran away from 6th Street
and up the hill to the hotel.

But that night in Georgia,
the pines lining Interstate 20
closed in on me as I drove,
every mile taking me away from you.
I was breaking, and I
sobbed suddenly, ugly crying,
some terrible, sentimental song
only making my trouble worse.

I knew it was the end of my safety.
There would be no more rainy southern
nights spent smoking on your porch,
you reading T.S. Eliot and me,
watching your hands as they moved.
No more dreaming of you, running
to you when my real life turned sour.

This is the way the world ends.
My tears stopped. I drove on
toward the Alabama line.

(OctPoWriMo 29: Endings)

Catullus 101


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I’ve fallen behind right here at the end, but I am determined to finish! Here is my Day 28 post, where we were challenged to record ourselves reading a favorite poem. Please click the link to hear me reading Catullus 101 in its original Latin. My translation follows.

Catullus 101

Carried across many nations and many waters
I arrive for these miserable funeral rites, brother,
so that I might give you a final gift in death
and speak in vain to your silent ashes.
Since fortune has taken you from me,
alas, my poor brother, taken from me undeservedly,
now, however, anyway…these things, which have been
handed down as a custom of our ancestors as a sad
funeral offering, receive them, wet with many brotherly tears,
and forever, brother, hail and farewell.

(OctPoWriMo 28: Recording)

For Lindy and My Father


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a perilous childhood
perched precariously
atop the highest point
in Oklahoma
(a plateau)
wearing flip flops
ready to roll down
into the cactus
past the rattlesnakes
all the way to the lake
where a fishing hook
waited for an ear
to latch into


sloping toward the river
a lawn chair throne
for a precocious princess
fishing rod in her hand
mouth full of sunflower seeds
hot dog on the hook
fresh channel catfish
in the cooler
sweet cold sodas
and permission to stay
up late to watch the rain
and catch those
late-night mud cats

(OctPoWriMo 26: Off prompt)

Night Fevers


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Every night my teeth are breaking
The neighbors watch me through the upstairs windows
Sliding around on the white sheets
Running low-grade fevers
Poetry piled high on his side of the bed

But I will not close the shutters
I will not close the single glass pane
There is not enough fresh air in the city
And I need the breezes to caress me
It is the only way for me to sleep
With the nightmares arriving hourly
And the beings at the foot of the bed
Ice cubes and alcohol swabs in their hands
Waiting to be of assistance, without interference

(OctPoWriMo 25: Off prompt)



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Form: Prose

Prostitutes go to heaven. It’s their clients that go to hell. ~David LaChapelle

Thank god, she thinks, this asshole is finally asleep. She sits up, scans the room. Bottles everywhere, leftover cocaine on a side table, clothing on the floor, the television on, but on mute. His fat body lying on the bed, face turned sideways and breathing heavily. She gathers up her clothes and walks over to the bathroom vanity. A young face with eyes you want to be brighter. Dressed, she takes the hundred dollar bills off the nightstand, tucks them into her bra. Another glance around the room, gaze landing on the digital clock. 12:45. There’s no time to be tired while there’s money to be made. Lip gloss reapplied and hair tamed, she steps out into the neon city streets.

(OctPoWriMo 24: Story)



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October nights
I sit down in
the lifeguard chair
at Howland’s Landing
pull up the hood of
my sweatshirt
and watch

the lights of
Los Angeles
twinkle and flash
on the distant horizon
but I am watching
the waves

each wave forms
lingers for a moment
then breaks
out of existence

the sound of the
waves merging back
into the ocean
whispers to me
reminds me of
where I am from
where I am now
and my inevitable
journey home

(OctPoWriMo 23: Ocean. This poem is a day late, but last night I was so sleepy, I decided it was best for myself and this poem to get some rest.)

When I Was Called Jacob


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Once I had my bearings,
I recognized myself in him—
in his sharp features,
the reserved way
he held himself.

Hundreds of years ago
in a sprawling, unswept room
filled with books and melancholy,
I watched him memorizing
paradigms of ancient tongues.
He leaned forward in the dim,
dusty light. Imperceptibly
I stepped toward him,
toward the boy I used to be.

He and I both sensed that
he was running out of time.
Not able to make a long life,
he instead made his life
a paragon of the knowledge of Babel,
the undiscovered patron saint
of invalid but inspired linguists.

Yearning to reach out to him,
I noted his fragile body
and stayed my hand and steps.
Let him have his peace, I thought.
He does not need to know.

The chamber, the cobwebs, the grayness
began to fade before my eyes.
Even his precious face was dissolving
in my vision. Without speech,
I bid him farewell, certain he was
safe in my heart, safe in myself,
safe as myself.

(OctPoWriMo 22: Truth and Lies. This poem is based on a past-life vision I had during a meditation sesssion. Vivid and sad, how much of it (if any) is true, I cannot say.)


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