Standing Inside Myself

"Breathe-in experience, breathe-out poetry" Muriel Rukeyser “For an impenetrable shield,stand inside yourself” Henry David Thoreau

Category: Poems

The Lune




Coyote appears again and again

Runs along-side my bike near the arroyo

Crosses in front of my car in the mountains

Howls in the orange groves

Less a warning, more an invitation.

“Come join me coyote girl,” he whispers

And despite the ancestral push and pull

Our history of seduction and betrayal

A growl bubbles in the pit of my stomach;

The fur stands up on the back of my neck

After the Daddy Daughter Dance

16NP-247I went to sleep
In my ninja clothes
A plurality of eyes
And an impressive
Number of swift arms

Flush with triple tornadoes—
A mouth full of crumbling teeth
While a serious allergy to oil
Seeps from mango’s green skin
A snaky cure for what ails me

“Do you see those hands?”
Yes, I have read those lines
In the breadth of her shoulder—
The span of her heart,
I create an inner mother

I name her Grace
In your absence


I am not much of a writer lately. I am reminded of a conversation I had with Junior Burke about writers and writing. He said to be a writer, you have to write. I chuffed at this idea. Then. But maybe he was right. I don’t know. Maybe my objection was all in the semantics. I think so. I think when he said “writing” I heard “poet-ing.” Yes. This feels better. Because while  writing may require the  act of putting words on a page, an act that requires time teaching and mommy-ing and wife-ing steal from me, poet-ing only requires sight. To be a poet is a way of seeing, with or without the action of actually placing words on a page.  Truett said this week: “Miss, I love how you see poetry in everything.”He was more or less laughing at me. And that’s okay. It’s true. I do. I remember Richard Froude predicted that few of us would remain “writers.” Life intercedes. My guess is; regardless, we are all still poets.

For what it’s worth here is a poem I wrote from the prompt I gave my students this week. It is the first I’ve been able to compose in some time. While they struggled to understand how disparate parts can bump into each other and become something unexpected-something altogether lovelier, there were some beautiful accidents, a slight  refocusing, and some poet-ing happened. And while they worked, I managed to “write” some words on a page; to be a “writer” for a moment.

Thank you Cho for the “scratching” and Ben for “the washed up bottle” and Mike for “chuffed” and Jim for the prompt.

Current Research on Patterns of Ocean Currents

 The breeze presses the low hum of morning traffic from Highway 27 against my skin. Like brown fingers cupping my face ocean tastes all fresh brewed and smells like waking up in crumpled linens. I imagine Marilyn Monroe hanging her bed-sheets on a clothes line in Uzbekistan. Marilyn Monroe would not be caught dead in Uzbekistan.

 He tells me you can’t eat or drink for an entire day before getting scratched. Only then do scars manifest—(the opposite of) shadow, an absence of pigment, lines his arm. Still, blood rarely if ever has your best interest at heart; measures nothing of badness and forget about saturation. Patience was something the mountain taught me: kill two stones with one bird.

 An April bottle from 1906 washed up on the island of Amrum. It was quite a stir when we opened that envelope. His wife stopped struggling. After all, if you don’t like it, you can always go back. Baby is getting tired, determined to fulfill the vow.  When the sky is blue winter is coming. Para bens filha. The moon listens to your every wish, forget about the bruised plate glass and grandmother’s lost tongue. Bed-sheets swirl into ocean currents.







Poet’s Lament

All this searching for truth

Do you think it’s easy to expose

So many inconsistencies within

Do you think I don’t recognize

The disdain; how you roll

Your eyes and shrug it off

Another crazy stunt to get

Attention or how you question

Motive and intention relieved

That you don’t feel the need

To bleed in front of everyone

Your dirty laundry:  nobody’s

Business; your secrets:  safe

All this searching for truth

Do you think it’s easy to expose

I know it makes you nervous

And when it resonates, you

Wonder can anybody tell

Is it explicit in your stride

As you walk across a kitchen

Floor clean enough to eat off

Sheets starched and pressed

To hide evidence of unrest

Text messages sent just to feel

A connection to a world that

No longer wants to be hooked up

Except in the literal sense

All this searching for truth

Do you think it’s easy to expose

All my human flaws and faults

My greedy, needy, wanton lust

My selfish, catty, left brain bitch

All this searching for truth

Do you think it’s easy to expose

Every lie, abuse and infidelity

So you don’t have to

I’m Not Sure I can Throw it Away

ten years ago my children’s kite got caught in the chinaberry tree

the body of the kite broke free almost immediately leaving behind

it’s black plastic tail, which remained tangled just out of arm’s reach

until this morning when some time before I woke the branch broke

a breast biopsy

turn your chin slightly to the left

please turn inward

to madness

spine stretched to its limit

the vulnerability

of breast tissue

like tiny locust wings

with no fixed points

after the procedure

is complete

a rose bubbles

to the surface

she tries to imagine

soft grass

behavior of snails

or snowy egret

in bleached meadows

butterfly shadows

on the office wall

but she isn’t expecting

blood, or swallow tailed stitch,

or crow chatter,

or the slant of

the old barn incline

how her grandiose skin

garden slipped

how the doctor’s hands held

shoulders clasped like dirt

sifted through fingers

she heard him say

this would be easier

if we had a cot

as if she could recline

sudden and flush

by physiology

already escaping

the thinking of

the questioning of

what is taken away

the grounding

of swelling hand

marks her one descent

go ahead try to catch her

with smelling salts and sweat

or an old scrap of rope

stirred and pillow scooped

as blood pressure plummets

she falls free

into skinny black water

and wonders

what will replace

Happy Easter

I was at the beach. It was evening. A long haired, bare foot man was making a sand sculpture of Christ face down in the sand. In the morning, Easter morning, I walked back to the beach and found the sculpture resurrected, Christ facing the sky. True story.


The sand sculpture of Christ has been transformed.
Yesterday, chest down upon his burden,
Today, rolled over and facing heaven:
Crucified with driftwood, crowned by saw grass.
His exposed ribs and slightly down-turned smile
Offer profane companionship to now
Consecrated billowing dunes of light.
I witness this confidential moment,
Alone and barefoot on the beach, wrapped in
An oversized khaki winter jacket
With pockets big enough to hold the sun.

How does this landscape read me?

Does it place me in a frame?
Does it diagnose my habits?
Does it mind my presence?

Is a landscape awake?
Does my language stick to it?
Is it curious about my contour?
Am I an expression of its desire?

Is landscape an intentional community?
Does this community include me?
Is it learning from me?
Is it growing a me?

Did it send the black and yellow wasp to sit near my foot?
Is this how language happens?
A slight connective tissue?
An imprint in the sand?

Did it direct my sight to the discarded plastic vodka bottle?
To show me how language can languish?
Unhurried by thirst or outcome?
Yet still dissecting it all?

Is it knowable?
How language separates landscape?
Creates the words between us:
Lettered boundaries with intention to connect—
All the best intentions

discarded plastic vodka bottle
tiny black and yellow wasp
foot and imprint in the sand
tree line and sky line and the curve of hip

Birthday Poem

I was outside of myself,
And then I was inside of my self:
An attempt to un-speak incarceration

I was outside of myself, and then I was
In side of my self in my self-side of
That shower after hours

I was out side of myself,
And then I was in side of myself
Where thin sound fills

In shower after hours where thin sound fills
To un-speak unspeakable incarceration
That fills and fills and fills

I was outside of myself, and then I went inside of myself
Where tin sound hollow sound damp sound un-sound fills
Skin sound fills

I was outside of myself,
And then I went inside of myself
As one shook free

As we entwined
As confirmation;
Un-collared like birds

I began outside of myself;
Was goaded inside of myself
Goaded into red un-buttoning

An island ina ared blouse
To un-burden or un-leash

As one slipped under the door
As we entwined
As confirmation;

Like birds
—That is, inside of her outside self:

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