here first. until we are there.


we shall be a mighty kindness.

Be helpless, dumbfounded,
Unable to say yes or no.
Then a stretcher will come from grace
To gather us up.

We are too dull-eyed to see that beauty
If we say we can, we’re lying.
If we say No, we don’t see it,
That No will behead us
And shut tight our window onto spirit.

So let us rather not be sure of anything,
Besides ourselves, and only that, so
Miraculous beings come running to help.
Crazed, lying in a zero circle, mute,
We shall be saying finally,
With tremendous eloquence, Lead us.
When we have totally surrendered to that beauty,
We shall be a mighty kindness.


just a tiny reminder. apart from always listening to your own body.


I don’t know anything

for sure unless I look it up,
but sometimes I can figure
things out if I write them 
down. So it’s up and down
all day long. It’s a good life.
Better than back and forth
or in and out which I find
constraining. I have up
and down in balance and
with my mother’s death
have discovered the true
meaning of before and after.

“Up and Down” by Beverly Rollwagen, from Flying. © Nodin Press, 2009. 

from The Writer’s Almanac


it’s been 8 years. wow.

but these are just things.

What happened is, we grew lonely
living among the things,
so we gave the clock a face,
the chair a back,
the table four stout legs
which will never suffer fatigue.

We fitted our shoes with tongues
as smooth as our own
and hung tongues inside bells
so we could listen
to their emotional language,

and because we loved graceful profiles
the pitcher received a lip,
the bottle a long, slender neck.

Even what was beyond us
was recast in our image;
we gave the country a heart,
the storm an eye,
the cave a mouth
so we could pass into safety.

Lisel Mueller

like life, like tears, like taste.

It lies in our hands in crystals
too intricate to decipher

It goes into the skillet
without being given a second thought

It spills on the floor so fine
we step all over it

We carry a pinch behind each eyeball

It breaks out on our foreheads

We store it inside our bodies
in secret wineskins

At supper, we pass it around the table
talking of holidays and the sea.

Lisel Mueller

the melodramatic stance.

The tulips at that perfect place

crane their necks with liquid grace

like swans who circling, collide

within the lake this vase provides.

They stood like soldiers, stiff, before

as if they had been called to war.

In two days more, when petals fall,

I will entomb them in the hall

with trash; the morning’s coffee grinds,

old newspapers, and lemon rinds.

It’s bitter that such loveliness

should come to this,

could come to this.

But now their purpleness ignites

the room with incandescent lights.

Their stamens reach their yellow tongues

to lick the air into their lungs

through stems attached to whitish manes.

The pistil stains.

And even though there are no bees

about the room for them to please,

I take them in like honey dew-

and buzzing now,

I think of you…

I think of you who bought me these,

at least,

I wish you had,

as that might ease the ache

of passing hours.

A love is dying, like these flowers.

“The Tulips” by Ricky Ian Gordon.

the rhyme just heightens the melodrama. this is for larry. for some reason.

who love to toil over an intricate boil of language

God Bless the Experimental Writers

            for David Markson

            “One beginning and one ending for a book was a
            thing I did not agree with.”

                Flann O’Brien from At Swim-Two-Birds

God bless the experimental writers.
The ones whose work is a little
difficult, built of tinkertoys
and dada, or portmanteau and
Reich. God help them as they
type away, knowing their readers
are few, only those who love to toil
over an intricate boil of language,
who think books are secret codes.
These writers will never see their names
in Publisher’s Weekly. They will
never be on the talk shows. Yet,
every day they disappear into their
rooms atop their mother’s houses,
or their guest houses behind some
lawyer’s estate. Every day they
tack improbable word onto im-
probable word, out of love, children,
out of a desire to emend the world.

“God Bless the Experimental Writers” by Corey Mesler, from Some Identity Problems.

found to be incurable!

By the time I was six months old, she knew something
was wrong with me. I got looks on my face
she had not seen on any child
in the family, or the extended family,
or the neighborhood. My mother took me in
to the pediatrician with the kind hands,
a doctor with a name like a suit size for a wheel:
Hub Long. My mom did not tell him
what she thought in truth, that I was Possessed.
It was just these strange looks on my face—
he held me, and conversed with me,
chatting as one does with a baby, and my mother
said, She’s doing it now! Look!
She’s doing it now! and the doctor said,
What your daughter has
is called a sense
of humor. Ohhh, she said, and took me
back to the house where that sense would be tested
and found to be incurable.
“Diagnosis” by Sharon Olds, from One Secret Thing.