about bliss

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Forces of Attraction

In the hospital parking lot,
my husband slips off his tungsten
carbide wedding band. I zip it safe
in my wallet change compartment,
where it mingles with pennies, postage
stamps, and a rare dollar coin. Inside
the hospital, I wait, grading, while his
protons spin and align, magnets clanking
dissonance with the Dave Matthews Band
he selects to relax in the enclosed tube.
My students' assignment: reflect on the
relationship between your life, feminism,
and our reading/viewing of The Vagina
Monologues. I read about families, boyfriends,
girlfriends. I write encouraging comments
in their margins, and highlight grading rubrics:
86, 78, 93, the rare 100. This familiar act
steadies my mind from all this spinning,
this picture forming of my husband's cervical
spine, the bulge between the C6 and C7
setting his nerves afire. These bodies,
parts pedestrian and taboo, when do we see
them, when do we really live in them? When
energy aligns? When muscles cramp? When
nerves sing or sting? When cells multiply,
rampant? My highlighter out of ink, imagination
running wild, the center cannot possibly hold.
And then, there he is, woozy, hungry, and I'm
set spinning, body zinging, alive with wanting.
I slip his ring back on his finger, drawn like
iron filings to his magnetic field.

Monday, April 29, 2013


How to Prevent an Anxiety Attack

Sleep well, and deeply. Eat
leafy greens and protein things,
hold off on that extra espresso.
Read, but nothing too alarming
(avoid news, social media,
institutional memos, commentary
on your profession). Listen to music,
laughter, bird song, and your partner
breathing (when you can't fall asleep).
Eat chocolate, devour (and/or write)
poetry. Take long, hot showers, steam
scented with lavender. Drink tea, laced
with milk and natural sweeteners (honey,
maple syrup). Practice yoga, both yin
and yang: listen to your body (but not
too closely, or your racing heart, aching
joints, throbbing sciatica become terminal
illness or impend immediate doom).
Walk, stroll, meander. Clear your mind
(but beware the creep of existential angst).
Prepare for the unprepared. Accept what
you cannot control.
Let go.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


"We live in an old chaos of the sun."
Wallace Stevens

Schoolgirls in glittery tops glide scooters
down cracked sidewalks. A yellow mustang
bumps bass and speeds along the curvy
lakeshore, followed by the rumble of seven
Harleys. Everywhere, there's music—laughter
radios bird-song—and dancing—two-step tango
Harlem Shaking. We move back outdoors, drunk
on sunshine after so much indoor abstinence.

Saturday, April 27, 2013



sparkle strapless bodice
layered tulle princess ball-gown
ladies awaiting

shiny white shoes
jewel-toned satin cumberbund
trying on manhood


Old Grandma's Tales

"Never trust a skinny cook," says a middle-aged woman
in a green windbreaker and cropped yoga pants, as she clangs
pots and pans in the home goods section of TJ Maxx,
searching for bargains. "Why, Grandma?" A small boy scuffs
and stomps his feet, activating blinking lights in the soles
of his dirty sneakers. "Because they're bad cooks, they're so
skinny," she pushes her cart toward the packaged foods:
boxed imported cookies, single origin honeys and oils.
He marches in place, surrounded by cupcake holders, plastic
bowls, and galvanized steel beverage bins. "Grandma, what
about fat cooks?" But she's in the next aisle, rifling through
placemats and napkins, oval table clothes. He asks again,
shoes flashing as he runs from aisle to aisle. "They're good cooks,
because they taste everything they cook," she says, adding
a bright gingham plastic tablecloth to her cart, overflowing with
decorative pillows, rugs, and multi-pack socks. The boy, quiet,
thoughtful, follows her into a future of women who feed him lies.

Friday, April 26, 2013


Chicken Shit

Chickens squawk and squat,
legs splayed and beaks snipped,
flurry of feathers inside
the windowless barn, while we
nosh piccata, parmigiana,
barbecued breasts, spicy wings,
braised thighs.

*written whilst watching Food, Inc. with my class*

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


Today my American Lit students wrote poetry inspired by literary or historical characters, about other writers, or using creative techniques like N+7. While they scribbled and giggled, I wrote two haiku:


I trace your dashes,
emulate your white heat
stitch together worlds.


your words resurrecting
passion and fear

Tuesday, April 23, 2013


Happy Birthday, Bard!

an N+7 rendition of Shakespeare's 75th Sonnet

So are you to my thrash as food pyramid to life-force,
Or as sweet-season'd show-off is to the ground cloth;
And for the peace-officer of you I hold such strike-over
As 'twixt a misfit and his wear-and-tear is found:
Now proud as an enmity, and anon
Doubting the filching agenesis will steal his treatise,
Now courting best to be with you alone
Then better'd that the world power may see my pledge;
Sometime all full with feather star on your sigmodiscope,
And by and by clean starved for a look-out;
Possessing or pursuing no delivery
Save what is had or must from you be took
Thus do I pine and surfeit dayflower by dayflower
Or gluttoning on all, or all away.

Monday, April 22, 2013



Fossilized coral
Sweet water seas
Swaying birches
Swirling creeks

peony dahlia tulip
snapdragon lilac pansy
delphinium hydrangea daisy

Sandstone shores
Echoing sea caves
Alpine tundra
Rhododendron thicket

lavender sage savory
thyme basil lemongrass
cilantro rosemary
spearmint verbena

Riverbed hollow
Niagara escarpment
Glacial ridge
Old-growth forest

maple birch sassafras
elm oak magnolia
cherry walnut tulip
poplar pine balsam

Blackberry bramble
Blueberry fields
Forested dunes
Lake Michigan: Home.



Hurled hurtful words
wound soft places:
heart, belly, soul.
Tripping obscenities,
shoved swear words,
needling negations:
lodge under our rib
cages, and we gulp air,
lungs expanding,
crowding out your bullying
with good good good.


bliss point

puffs of air, coated with cheesy
powder, vanish on my tongue.

Saturday, April 20, 2013


blue skies beckon while winds push me home
but I keep walking, springing forward, toward
the lake, turbulent waters ebbing and flowing.
in the meadow, branches of bushes blush, bend.
I'm immersed in "This American Life," a one act
investigation of lives altered by hidden illness,
drawn forward and inward, the ache of life and
the sting of death.

Friday, April 19, 2013


swirling snowflakes carry
me home, a wisp of wind
pushing me northeast

Thursday, April 18, 2013


We Real SoTL
seven at the Graze Restaurant

We real
We drink
wine. We
write lines.
We laugh
much. We
mess up.
We teach.
We learn.
We stay

*after Gwendolyn Brooks*

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


one last hot cocoa
steaming mug of frothy bliss
winter's last sigh

Monday, April 15, 2013



bombs blast, and runners fall, huddle
under emergency blankets, reflecting
the world's flags, floating in this sky
that unites us, runners and spectators,
here in America. this sky that illuminates
with IEDs and drone strikes in distant cities
and remote villages, senseless bloodshed
and wailing grief, loss, pain, anger—
for our violent world
for our inability to love
for our endless cycles of harm.
i hurl flower bombs, glitter bombs, never-ending
love bombs to Boston, Aleppo, Oklahoma City,
Baghdad, Kandahar, and the interior
of every human heart.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Baking Bread

"You can knead this time," I tell my husband,
and he dips his hands into the bowl, straight
into the sticky mess. The dough refuses a shape,
cakes his palms, fingers, and wedding ring. He
dumps it on the flour-dusted counter, massage it
side to side, up and down, until it leaves traces
of its path everywhere. He moves dough between
his hands, alarmed by its clinging. "Just wait! It will
peel right off," I promise, and he keeps kneading,
waiting for the dough to form a smooth ball, pulling
away from the counter, his hands, ready to rest
after all of this needing.

Saturday, April 13, 2013


Hunting the Sky

We search the Spring night sky
for dreams, signs of life, signs of...Spring.
Orion sneaks away, his sword sheath,
moved on to hunt a different prey,
in a different season.
Svelte gazelles, wooly mammoths,
passenger pigeons, appear, then
disappear, eluding the wrath of the
mighty hunter as he chases them,
racing, leaping, extinguishing
the night sky light. Unable to bag
his trophy and fell the billions of stars
surrounding him, he cries—his tears
dazzle the Milky Way.

**collaborative poem, written Exquisite Corpse style, with my DH Gregg.**


Saturday Night

First dates and girls' night out,
Raucous friends fill booths.
Servers rush the room,
twirling pepper grinders,
brandishing beverage trays.
Behind the counter, pizza makers
tend the wood-fired oven,
shuffling bruschetta like so many
playing cards. Pizzas bubble
and char, while conversation
bubbles over in a Prosecco haze.

Thursday, April 11, 2013


At the English Department Meeting

We quibble about parentheticals (leave them out)
and the connotation of execute.
We applaud tenure, promotion, and excellent
planning, and debate prerequisites for Literary
Studies. Sipping sodas and eating institutional
cookies, we offer to buy each other beers
later tonight (not to be reimbursed by the State,
of course), building goodwill. We multitask,
answering emails, grading blogs, and facebooking
as we barter in words, approving motion after

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


some nights a haiku
will have to do— my muse waves
from tomorrow

Tuesday, April 09, 2013


White Noise

wind howl
thunder crash
rain patter splatter splash

keyboard tap
pencil scratch
bookpages flutter float flash

teakettle whistle
mouse click
poet slurp slump sleep

Monday, April 08, 2013


double chocolate
cupcakes pink sugar sprinkles
delicious Monday

Sunday, April 07, 2013


An Ode to Spring

We've waited all winter,
all day, for the grey to lift,
the snow to melt, the sun
to shine. Late afternoon,
the sun burns away cloud
cover, and brilliant blue
stuns our weary eyes.

I walk around my neighborhood.
Sidewalks, yards, parks
teem with life: the couple
chatting in American Sign
Language. The father and son
casting reels into the turgid
creek water. The family walking
along the lake, dark coats, hats,
except the smallest child: twirling
in a pink and white skirt, casting
blossoms with each turn.

In the next block, I smell charcoal
charring meat. Teens propel scooters
and skateboards up the sidewalk,
and kids brandish holiday decor,
finally out of season: dried wreaths
and plastic candy canes.

At the park, parents push children
higher, soaring into the blue on
the four seat swingset. Toddlers amble,
and two girls race, playing tag or
hide and seek or both, coats cast
aside, cheeks ruddy, skirts billowing,
laughter echoing long after I'm
back home, stirring pots and opening
oven doors, sipping wine to celebrate
spring, spring, Spring.

Saturday, April 06, 2013



I leave base camp early. Stars wink
behind dark trees. I trek up, past craggy
rocks and gnarled trees, moon setting
and sun rising.In the alpine meadow,
scarlet, gold, and amethyst blooms
fill the treeless expanse. Clouds zip
across the sky, snagging mountain tops,
hiding the sun. As I climb, breath ragged
with each mountain-climber step
(step pause step pause),
I catch scattered rays, snatches of blossom,
trail of clouds, until I stand, at the summit,
bathed in color, swimming
in light, touching

Friday, April 05, 2013


sidewalks yards parking lots
snowbergs melt melting

Thursday, April 04, 2013



after Georgia O'Keefe

bold curves
pastel folds
ruffled edges
smoldering center

Wednesday, April 03, 2013



All day I dream: a green leather chair,
tucked in a sunny corner. The Sunday
Times. Steaming Cafe au Lait, a perfectly
ripe pear. Muted Spring bird song. Yoga
pants and wool slippers. One uninterrupted
hour of solitude: bliss.

2/30: latte

Hot sweet elixir
capped with foam
my vice, my salvation.

Monday, April 01, 2013

1/30: modern

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I intend to write one poem each day throughout the month of April.

Today I taught High Modernist poetry, linked to modernist art and music. This poem echoes some of the works we discussed.

Nudes descend staircases
in a discordant rite of Spring,
as blackbirds watch wet
petals unfurl and fill wheel-
barrows with the pure products
of America.