napowrimo poem 30: for her, in amsterdam

prompt: write a farewell poem.

for her, in amsterdam

what is more precious than these
salt stained kisses
frantic lovers’ bruises
the look in our liberated eyes
our scent, now muddled and everywhere

who else could comprehend
beloved comrade healer friend
i know the delight in you
let me touch you there
with the weight of time

is there something holier than this
presencing, this being in it
we need not interpret yesterday
we cannot structure tomorrow
and today is full of wonder

what is freer than this
mutual ritual release
to our own canals and galaxies
our stunning darknesses
to wander, yes, but with awe

what is more tender than this
to have known the sorrows of children
faced the terror of transition
and somehow tasted the ripe again
love in this way is a miracle

let all the light loose inside you
let the bell tone in your marrow
seek a quiet
that can handle your silence
feel the gods praying in your fingers’ tips

gather those brilliant fears into a small soft blackness
welcome all selfless pleasures to know your magnificent frame
construct a place for yourself which cannot be taken
sing out your multitude blessings
remember yourself

what is sweeter than this
to wish you everything good
to watch your love transform the pattern
to open every door to joy
by closing the one we cannot enter

napowrimo poem 29: it is our time to turn

prompt: use “Twenty Little Poetry Projects” all in one poem.

chameleon in my garden
i watch your skin go soft
as you change again
the world around you shifts

your scent to me
is that released sunlight
of an eastern forest at equinox

let us go out in the world
there’s rain out there
drumming new rhythms into that space
between our lips

and windows blur
and concrete slicks beneath us
and at the door
i notice
this spring smells
exactly like a place i have recently kissed
let us not go
give me your mouth again

some say in Detroit
a blade of grass is a weapon
you came through a hard winter
armed with awe and heat
til her weapons were quiet
in the gorgeous hush of transition

you were a storm cloud
magicked to life inside these doors
i was a million dust motes

you bring a message from the divine
i am learning to comprehend
sacred text

you are a state of unknowable bliss
the goddess has kissed
all of your flesh

wherever you rest, the trees whisper
coucher avec la déesse
mon petit djéli, embrasses-moi

you will be
the blush of dawn
after the brick is gone
you will be
the liberated zone
my heart retreats to


now. against this golden world
go verdant
the sun is standing still
it is our time to turn

napowrimo poem 28: woman problem

prompt: find a news article, and write a poem using (mostly, if not only) words from the article.

i chose this article on gender disparity shared by my good friend and nation blogger dani mcclain.

to a man, men
all were white
and intimidating

later i would realize
they looked nothing alike
not one indistinguishable blur

who among them was named,
who was not?
do you need to ask?

a new report found
men’s dominance
in more subtle ways

the report doesn’t answer
why this disparity
sobering as numbers are

grueling coax and feat
women are choosing soft beats
women gravitate

plum women dominate
like people
vestiges remain evoked

about the sex…
the toughest places
were prestigious

it’s all too easy to imagine
it can’t be a coincidence:
women are far less likely.

napowrimo poem 27: mairead in spring

prompt: write an ekphrastic poem.  (specifically, a poem written from a photograph.)


(photo credit: lynnee denise)

there is a difference between
the dogwood and the cherry blossom
i couldn’t prove it
the same season brings them both
to flower.

in this wilding moment
a small perfect creature is discovering
her edges
her laughter and ferocity.
her love is brash, is a brawl

spring is an explosion
seed shells bursting wide open,
the flower
seeking the absent crevice.
she, too, screams to delight
in her own lungs

and in the next moment
she gathers her dignity about her,
a buddha
reaching for, needing for
nothing the mind could name.
of existence.

napowrimo poem 26: when they chose forever

prompt: write a curtal sonnet.

today’s poem is for my beautiful brilliant sweet sister april, my dear friend and comrade and protector and teacher. today she married her beloved brad in a beautiful simple ceremony, and i wanted to honor the total adoration and commitment they share here.

they met in warring mountains with armored bows
they’d both known that pale life of loss, but now
in a tiny room all filled up with their laughter
they found their mouths full of the ever, the after
they conjured together one new whispered life
they grew up together: her husband, his wife

when they chose forever it was the only sure path
they converged all memory, a sweet sacred math
she is the fire and he is the earth
they know exactly what their love is worth

it is everything.

napowrimo poem 24: or lean (mason’s love poem)

prompt: write a poem that features walls, bricks, stones, arches, or the like – the work of a mason.

after i had placed
one brick, and another
day after day
and year, and years
made of dust and glitter
small nightmares
quiet tears
always thinking
i was reaching for the sky
a fellow mason
passed me by
building with only ribs
even skeletal dreams
such a stunning wall
all space and seams

i began it
the slow edging out
of my own heavy corners
to place myself into that space
with all the reach i could endure
breathing a suspended arch between
where we could only collapse
or relinquish
or lean

napowrimo poem 23: xhosa sounds

prompt: find a poem in a language you don’t know, and translate it into english based on the look of the words and their sounds.

i am writing a story about south africa right now so i let that guide my choices. i played off of the sound/words from an excerpt of “show me the mountain that packed up and left” by nontsizi mgqwetho, “the first and only female poet to produce a substantial body of work in Xhosa”. she came in and out of view quickly and dynamically, challenging traditional gender norms for who gets to create art and criticize leaders with her politicized poetry.

the actual translation of the excerpt from the poem is:

Where is this God that we worship?
The one we worship’s foreign:
we kindled a fire and sparks swirled up,
swirled up a European mountain.

This is the wisdom of their God:
“Black man, prepare for the treasures of heaven
while we prepare for the treasures of Africa!”

i wanted to capture this energy, to honor the roots and land of the writer.

i was also touched today by this horoscope from rob brezny which introduced me to the created word “trumspringa”: “the temptation to step off your career track and become a shepherd in the mountains, following your flock between pastures with a sheepdog and a rifle, watching storms at dusk from the doorway of a small cabin.” something around mountains and freedom…

i upend all yin and lo:
there it is, the soft tissue.
the asymptomatic daze of no longing
then symptoms (tears) days of
singular waiting

see? there is an ancestral wound
even when they love
the intense uneasy (ugly) undertow
swamps their hiding places
floods the root

europe never could understand
the love below this soil
what it is to be born in tune
what is beneath the (rich) quarries
in the dark below
beyond the zoo and even the wild,
out on the wind

here is how we trump spring
in this feeling free

forget tin, gold, steel
the sigel we carry
is in all the eyes of afrika

napowrimo poem 22: the little seeds learn why things go

write a poem for children.

i imagine this as a little book for my minnesota babies, earth day themed. where there’s an image i see on the page, i’ve shared it before the words that would be written out under the image. the locations are all places around their minnesota that they know and love.

(the pond view in summer – blooms, gardens, dragonflies)
you are the little seeds
you must know why things go
because you will go everywhere

(the babies, hands spread in question)
but why do things go?

(geese taking off from pond)
because bran thinks the geese would be tasty, they go

(bran the dog running with all feet off the ground)
because the world smells so delicious, he goes

(mairead with a crayon in her mouth and mud in her other hand)
because little bunny is learning the world with her mouth, she goes

(siobhan running towards the tree down the yard)
because the princess must climb a higher tree now, she goes

(finn entering the brush)
because there are dinosaurs to seek and name, he goes

(mama waving from the garden with her coworkers and daddy)
because she has to build a garden everywhere, she goes

(daddy with a circle of meditating youth on the lawn)
because all the babies need a calm place to sit, he goes

(papa roger laughing in the sunroom, in viking hat)
because he was very tired after such a good life, he went

(papa on his horse, with finn in front of him)
because he’d saved as many as he could, he went

(the pond view in fall, leaves falling, deer across the way)
everything goes because it cannot stay
the whole world is set up this way
once you know which game to play
you must go on, you can’t delay

(the pond view in winter, with ice skaters and ice fishing)
everything goes because there’s something more
waiting out just beyond the door
once you know what vessels are for
you must push off from the closest shore

(the pond view in spring, muddy and green)
everything goes because the world is wide
finite though, there is no room to hide
cycle, pattern, spiral, tide
the most beautiful seasons unfold inside

(the babies splashing in the mud at sunset)
you are the little seeds
you know why things go
you might just see everything

napowrimo poem 21: new york school poem

write a new york school poem.

i can’t remember and you can’t forget.
Marta – it was an accident!
whatever heat we shared was injurious
for all parties, trust me, trust trust…
so…what did you see with your perfect gaze –
my mouth on his? on him in so many ways?
on that steaming roof off 10th and first avenue?
it was the sort of touching turkish bathers do!
of nakedness, rich, swinging and stiff,
of being so young and awakened! if
we did these things you claimed to see
forgive us, at least…at least forgive me.
what was it, april seventh? was it april at all?
i was overstudied, certainly too high to recall

(that was the year i failed everything)

oh it wasn’t a crisis of life and death my dear
it wasn’t tupac flatlining our freshman year
that virgin night when i first swallowed down
three distinct things that burn faster than sound
blur the holy world to fringes and fright
carmen hall nearly went up in flames that night
no, i embellish, it was just the ninth floor
james had sworn he had only white neighbors
so yes, i yelled, ‘white people – fire!! get out
white people, fire, a fire! get out!!’
burning bush, i found a burning trash lit
i saved us all with that ignorant shit

but this lesser crisis i’m sure you dreamed
fueled by that common purple haze, which seemed
so exotic in handsome David’s nimble glow
if offered, i am pretty sure we said no
to everything Roger spread out before us
the granules and lines of his bright yellow bus
or was it hot pink? was he into the pills yet?
i shouldn’t speak on it, i know, i know…but

Marta i didn’t love him, i’ve loved no one but you!
but love never knows what the body must do
not with my breasts filling his eager mouth
not with his strong fingers spreading me out
i swear if it happened, if your suspicion grows
it was to embody Bartok’s empty concertos
it was to blossom nightshades in lowly concrete
it was as temporary as any lucid dream state

think about the children we were that night really
hitting high Cs, stumbling, shouting out Biggie
‘he’s a slut, he’s a ho, he’s a freak!’ on our tongues
at the top of our nubile Camel infused lungs
back when Big Poppa was newly forsaken
in those days, march ninth was just barely sacred.
we gifted each other every single thing in sight
even crusts off our slices, so massive in lamplight.
and he was a simple gift, from and unto himself
you ask me why him, why share our sweet wealth
he was ripe, demanded nothing close to my heart
i was only this honest those days in my art
he was a lost puppy, remember those eyes?
i promise, i only pet his thick roman thighs
if i pet him at all
which i can’t recall…