A poem a day in April from Rutgers English PhD students and friends.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Spell for More Spells

as with
a wish
for more
a spell
for more
may be
in some

depending on

the quality of light
the stage of grief
the medium of magic

Thursday, April 30, 2015


Tonight I walked to the store after dinner,
And I thought of other constitutionals

Especially those evening walks by Ceredigion Bay
Walking along the promenade, catching the sunset

Sometimes earlier, just walking to walk, hear the surf, feel the wind
To think more, feel less, expend agitation, aid digestion.

Often, early and late, I’d see an old man, thin, bent, with a wooden cane
Walking back and forth. He was there much more than I.

Tonight, I played make-believe. The concrete was other concrete.
The sound of the cars was the low roar of waves.

The white headlights surged out of the dusk like foam on the surf
The moon was the moon. I walked back

kick up a storm

sentimental pirouettes dizzying me so—
o how I long to wrap this up
like a gift for all eternity,
like a teacher courteous to the next, erasing his mess from a blackboard,
like the white chalk dust hurrying to the sky, falling into cloudy desperation, settling at our feet—
but I digress and digress,
hope our lesson never ends without you

Spivak; subaltern to subaltern

great woman

who calls it as it is;

insecurities and doubt;

"but pride", arrogance,

what use is brute force

with man's intricate

webs of thought—

the louder voice

from the margins is,

the longer we play this 

game of greatest-softest shout—

no, no, let wash the spiders out

Praise Poem

Tulip,           purchased with anger
planted without care
three years since           stretched its proud neck.

Spell for New York

very spring day
coming down

but there are larger things happening—
sense of cycles & returns

& now I find myself going even further back

Washington Square Park with my mom
I kept my promise to myself

in spite of all it’s cost me
I’ve always had one foot out the door

blossoms blowing down shadowy 
Greenwich Village blocks in big clouds

that kind of day, palimpsestic,
the literary & personal drawn to a point

even all the past possibilities
join me here

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Draft (unsent)

Hey niece
Who lives in Baltimore
Whose school must have been closed today
We don’t talk much
I mean, I have your email, but you’re a teenager
And I’m a young aunt, but not a cool one
More like the nerdy aunt with bad shoes
Your mom hopes and fears you are not too much like

What do you think of the riots? what do you say about Freddie Gray?
What do you and your friends (who I remember, shrieking in the rec room)
Think? What do you say to each other?

When I was your age, we thought it was cool to be “color-blind”
But then, looking at my high school photos, “all your friends are white”
Nothing to see here
We said, gay rights is the civil rights struggle of our day, but even that not till college
Black lives matter is the civil rights struggle of today
Is that what you would say?

What would you say to me, if I sent you this email
Instead of making this poem?
I’m afraid I’m afraid to ask

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I Listen to the Same CD

I listen to the same CD
over & over because my CD player is broken
& my jaw is broken and we click together
and it is a meditation
a process of endurance and then you reach
the other side and you like the CD again
no way out but through
If I had to rate the songs on Taylor Swift's
1989 I would do it gladly, were you asking?

- the ballad about the drought
- the ballad about realizing you're in love (both of these songs are just boring)
- the song about having bad blood, because it has totally unintentional domestic violence imagery
- the song about the New Romantics, which has a Scarlet Letter joke
- the song about how Taylor Swift has a red-lipped, classic thing that you like
- the song she wrote with Jack Antonoff
- the song about being out of the woods (what does it mean? you never are, Taylor. Do you think people ever are? They never are.)
- the song about Wonderland
- the Lana Del Rey ripoff
- Stay
- Welcome to New York
- the foxes song
- the demo of the song she wrote with Jack Antonoff
- the demo of Blank Space
- the demo of the foxes song
- Shake It Off
- Blank Space

I'm sure I forgot some; they probably go in the middle
This is my driving poem for 2015
no way out but through

Spell for Knowing What You Want

Cast the dice repeatedly until you can tell the difference between the numbers. Each one should give you a different feeling, like three is bland, six is a homecoming, two is full of dread. Then try dropping some marbles in and letting them roll around a bit to learn something about where you are. Maybe the place you've been living has been slanted this whole time. Maybe you've been overcompensating. Try leaning differently. Finally, get a mirror and tilt it until you can see the room to step into.

because something else tells the whole story

what is such audacity
in the face of such odds
but the poetry;

something good—
something to come,
like trickling through mountain cracks, all at once; peeking, connecting;

all our hopes
over to their smallest fear—
as though the winged 

envy the opposable,
or the sung the un—
something of faith

young and reckless

I promised myself
I'd get to say all the things I wanted said,
that appears an audience as soon as Ready is the word

only then to find 
that it was the Conversation we all sought,
the validation, reconciliation, the every evil shunned:

the Names go bad
like neglected fruit once picked fresh

but the seed remains—possibility—awaiting it's day

all so speak

poetry began where man was made most eager
to immortalize the heroes of the imagination—

when, the scriptures came to honor men,
then, poets' praises were as good as gold. 

yet soon enough there is no one to laud;
and one does not ever speak of himself

but of transformation—translation-information;
heart to mind into the air into blazing light 

bodies to the brain, spirit to the soul,
oceans to the winds, earth to the sky,

planets as they align, stars as they are born,

moons as they decay, suns as they burn

parts vs wholes vs noise

If the psyche is the externalization

of whatever we think we are,

selfless, self-full, good hearts and minds,

feelings and what we think it means

to bring things together again

and breathe and rise and fall

and give it all up—then what?

who cares what you think

you know if you don't feel it—

the poetry of you

sweet subtle asyncopation, systole/diastole,
allegro, crescendo, fortissimo, sforzando!
īamb, anapest, amphíbrakhys, dáctylus
from the backwash, the undertow speaks
it’s slow murmur at the sky,
just before we crash low,
before we’re swept in by the next gale,
hurried by the western winds,
into the slow wet earth,
kept quiet by a passing whistle,
filled with so much of each other, bursting
with all we can share, praying
for any one good reason why, dreaming,
dreaming of what might come by for a while,
to listen in on your moves and meaning,
your height and depth and scope,
your sight, your might, and right to be seen,
your light, your honesty, your good work and word

Period fiction

I told him I was reading The Group-- classic chick lit, you might say.
He told me he loved that I read period fiction.
Yeah, menstruation comes up, but I don't know if I'd call it-- oh.

What if that were a genre?
It would be coming-of-age
With a subset of menopause novels

Featuring virtuosic descriptions of cramps
Incapacitating the heroine at dramatic moments
Being overcome by sheer force of will, and drugs

Lyrical accounts of stains left on
Sheets, nightshirts, jeans, skirts,
Underwear of course, furniture

YA versions: Sisterhood of the Diva Cup
Farces and romps, but no mere "traumaramas"
Citations of the classics-- Betty Smith, Judy Blume

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spell for Ordinary Benediction

have fun
good luck
safe travels
be well
take care
bless you
feel better
no worries
good night

sore score

ugly :: no nothing more than a scab :: a pain(t) job, applied biology, wound-be-gone, but meanwhile :: black-brown patch :: skin-music, band-aid, home-grown :: stuck :: itching to beat the band, itching to disappear, magic foiled, the urge to peek piqued :: picked :: well not enough let alone :: pink the price to pay :: raw news, read meat, rough cut :: edit

Cooking at night

The whole place reeks of beets
Like being buried in sweet earth
Like summer is here early and already in decay
Opening the windows is no relief
From a miasma that will probably give me gothic dreams

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Spell for Headaches

hot saltwater cut
with baking powder
forced through
the holes in your face
little blue different
water, wine
sometimes you spend
all day setting up
but the ritual is just

let the weather roll thru

Married Garbage

Where you go to be married
Where you hold court covered in candy
and tissues, all sticky.
Your own place, if it's garbage
Thanks for making me part of your garbage
The swine will love this chaplet of pearls

Notes from a Reading

At 15 my tarot readings weren’t very interesting
But they were nice
I got the shining star
It was bright

At 30 my cards tell me more
I’ve done so many rites for the community
Now, I start to stop
Next, the blue robin’s egg has to break

And there’s fire and flames
Not just light but heat
Not just light but burning
Not just light but clearing

Saturday, April 25, 2015

two roses!

two roses! Blooming! 
on two sides of a fence, and,
climbing, the one leans over to the other,
in sweet sleep beneath the cool Spring night, curling up toward the sky:

Read with me tonight, dream with me its story again,
of how our unseen roots forever entangle as the days pass on
and, with the sunlight's pulling, together save that memory
that saturates the air and washes over the fresh red of our naked hearts with dew

(Fear of) The Mom Without Qualities

I went home today and I brought back a book. 
The Man Without Qualities (volume 1).
It’s one of those big European books my mom liked to read.

Recently I read that if you don’t keep remembering a thing—
Remembering like exercise, like practice—
You will forget it.

Its qualities will become vague.
(My mom’s high school yearbook superlative:
Vague… vaguest….)

That can’t possibly happen to my memories of my mother, I think.
Mother: that distancing word. I worry: I am not exercising them enough.
I am wary of photos, as if they will replace memories.

Especially photos of her in her later sicker days
(Why would you put a frame on that?)
I am wary of memories of memories.

My secret resource is her books
So many she read that I have yet to read
Some she wrote in, one she wrote

Skimming, seeing post-its, dog-ears,
Marginalia. Chapter Four: 
"If there is a sense of reality, there must also be a sense of possibility"

Spell for Protection

I walk down dark streets alone all the time

I don't even know if I'm not supposed to

do that anymore / yet, again, still

protection: oft requested

"I bind you, Nancy," etc.

feels like winter again tonight

from my corner window I see armory turrets

it's a men's shelter, my sister says

for murderers and rapists without families

who got out.  still in.  she runs

a clinic on the other side of town.

what are you afraid of and

what does that say about you?

say about yourself:

I'm not afraid

I'm not afraid

I'm not afraid

all the men surprised to learn

how it is for us

where do they live

where do I

the day cracks in two

you float on your piece

I float away on mine

to take whichever way home

without fear

to have home

to own space like that!

for protection I was given

pink crystals

so far I have not gotten

much more