1
ThursdayApril 2010

Thursday, April 1

We decided to kick off this event with one of our all-time favorite poems, written by Ypsilanti High graduate Keenan Wilson. This poem was featured in our in-school publication How to Rise or, I Put My Heart into the Close and the 826michigan OMNIBUS, Volume 2. Enjoy!

Grateful by Keenan Wilson

I haven’t even begun to spill my life story onto these pages.
And people tell me, “I know how hard it must’ve been.”
And I’m asking myself,
How?
Because you heard a couple of my poems?

My mother always told me:
“Be grateful for what you got,
some people got it rougher than you.”

And I couldn’t see how when the lights
and heat didn’t work.
We had to walk to the dinner table with a candle,
and two blankets on just to keep warm.
We ate peanut butter some nights so we wouldn’t go to bed
hungry.
We even learned to time the gunshots ’cause they happened
so much
9:17, 11:23, 8:06, 1:45 in the morning every night,
ducking below window sills.

I live between danger and a stop sign,
learned the streets backward I was outside so much,
better yet,
learned the streets better than the back of my own hand,
better yet,
learned the streets better than the back of my father’s head
’cause that’s all I ever saw.

Once, when I was nine,
I went with my cousin C.J.
to go jump this kid ’cause he stole my bike,
and a stray drive-by bullet missed my chest by six inches.
I saw that gunshot every time I batted my eyes,
during the weeks my mother kept me in the house after my
Divine Intervention.

And as I lie in my room,
and listen to the stories rotate around the neighborhood
blocks like squad cars:
Li’l Jerry, two brothers, one younger sister
had to sleep on cardboard boxes in the garage at the end of
my alley
’cause their mother was a crack fiend.
Ms. Lane around the corner had three sons,
all of them sold drugs,
none of them ever saw age nineteen.
The youngest was killed two months before his nineteenth
birthday.

And you wonder why I say, “It’s a curse to be stuck here
forever.”
School never meant nothing to me,
’cause everybody from Finkel to PA was on welfare.
And property tax was so low,
teachers, fresh from college,
would come work at my school for three months,
then go get a job somewhere in the suburbs
so that they could put on their resumés
that: “I worked in the inner city.” Like they were in the
trenches of war.
And you’d think we didn’t know what was happening,
when we had four different third-grade teachers.

Analyze my life,
and tell me how many opportunities I had to break down
stereotypes.
My hood was filled with kings and queens,
who evolved into some peasants,
over a time span of five hundred years.
My ancestry has been stripped away from me,
replaced with guns and drugs,
thugs and crack heads,
misdemeanors, felonies, and jail bars.

But my mother always told me:
“Be grateful for what you got,
some people got it rougher than you.”

***

 

Friday, April 2

Our own workshops intern, Catherine Calabro, wrote this poem in one of our poetry workshops last semester. The prompt was to take the famous William Carlos Williams poem, “This is Just to Say,” and make each word in that poem the first word in each line of a new one. After you read Catherine’s poem, which we ADORE, you can read the WCW poem as well by reading the first word of each line.

JUST TO SAY by Catherine Calabro

For Rachel Feder and her students

I wanted to be in bed by nine last night.
Have you ever wanted something small like that, or have you ever
eaten more, even though you were full, just to keep moving?
The trees with bark like parchment shed across the lawn.
Plums at the market this season, the ones
that cling to the wicker basket,
were clustered near you
in my dream. I’m sorry. The dream poem, right?
The first rule is to break all rules,
icebox and all, throw them out the window
and watch them splinter up the earth
which is a slick of ice this time of year.
You know everything’s the same in Michigan.
Were you ever as sure of anything as you were about November?
Probably as sure as I’ve been these days,
saving heat in my cupped hands
for a few hours each morning until the sun comes around for
breakfast time.
Forgive the sun and me, we’re working odd hours,
me at my desk, the sun shoveling sun.
They always wondered how we
were going to change in each
delicious season, with the moon
so minted and cool. We stay still,
sweet and molding to the basket
and remain unafraid of the sky’s patterns. It’s
so predictable and, not to mention,
cold.

Saturday, April 3

826michigan student Gavin LaHousse shows us that short can indeed be sweet, that your own name can inspire your work, and that a poem can have a post script. This poem came from our Zingo Poetry workshop, led by poet Scott Beal (stay tuned for one of his poems).

House-Train by Gavin LaHousse

A House-Train is
something that is
a house that runs
on train tracks.

PS An engineer
would live
in a House-Train.

***

 

Sunday, April 4

This poem is an oldie but a goodie. Written by Stacia Wallace as part of our girls’ writing group at Hikone Community Center, this poem spent some time traveling around on AATA buses in the summer of 2008, and, indeed, was written on a bus. It is one of our all-time favorites.

Bus Poem by Stacia Wallace

Look at yellow, follow these rules
Two red-faced people kissing on the sidewalk
Orange babies crying

Blue shoes walk magically
Birds-white. I wonder if they fly
On a bus where people play

***

 

Monday, April 5

Long-time 826michigan student Susan LaMoreaux, 14, (we can’t even remember a time when she wasn’t around!) continues to be prolific in many genres. While we know her best as a fantasy writer, she is also adept at short stories, comedy, mystery, and more. Here’s a haiku.

Macy’s Visit by Susan LaMoreaux

On a sunny day,
With her folks going away,
Macy came to stay.

***

 

Tuesday, April 6

826michigan student Noah Luntzlara has been around since the PRE-826michigan OMNIBUS days. In fact, he was published in Vacansopapurosophobia: The Fear of a Blank Page, our first effort at a student journal. He’s in sixth grade, but wrote this when he was in fifth.

Tiger Sharks by Noah W. Luntzlara

Tiger sharks eat everything
License plates and coal
They’ll eat a grand piano
And they’ll swallow tires whole

Tiger sharks eat everything
They’ll swallow jeeps and vans
And old guitars, and bumper cars
And rusted ceiling fans

They’ll even munch on Captain Crunch
That’s soaking in the brine
And they’ll tear apart a barrel
Of the finest Belgian wine.

***

 

Wednesday, April 7

826michigan volunteer and workshop leader Onna Solomon takes us on a trip to the zoo. This poem was first published in Fourteen Hills.

At the San Diego Zoo by Onna Solomon

Beside the display of monkeys, their faithful human gestures,
the hippo moved alone in the transparent tank,
nodding as if to reassure us of some secret understanding;
as a parent deftly slides a bandage on a wound, he grazed
his flanks along the glass, then lingered, facing us,
rubbed his unfathomable rump against a rock and raised
his snout just high enough to sniffle. I nearly cried:
his whiskers and yellow teeth, his small wet eyes
reminded me of an old midwestern widower
sitting alone with his paper Sunday morning—
hasn’t gone to church, not since she passed—
won’t touch the bible but leaves it by the bed.

***

 

Thursday, April 8

826michigan volunteer, workshopper, ELLer, robotier, Volunteer of the Month two consecutive months, the one and only Sarah Dawn Johnson. She’s doing the full challenge. You can check her progress herehere.

American Farmer; or Kurt by Sarah Dawn Johnson

To keep him a man, take your coffee with the newly born sun.
Buy new Levis every winter. Re-lace your boots in the spring.

Keep the old truck running.
Leave the Michigan summer dust in the seat cushions.

Earn the dirt beneath your fingernails.
Earn the warmth of the sun on your withered shoulders.

Don’t keep the old souls in mason jars, line your cabinets with them.
There is no date of expiration, not on homemade preserves.

Lay them on the old oak table to love.
Place them in the field to feed this morning’s new born son.

***

 

Friday, April 9

826michigan tutoring intern, workshopper, ELLer, robotier, former Volunteer of the Month, our good friend Eric Canosa.

Youngstown by Eric Canosa

Alisha:
I wish you were here.
This bus is filled with strangers
and outside, snow is falling.
I could swear Demeter’s crying,
the sky is trying to make us feel her pain.
You are on a boat, I hope,
far away from all of this,
tying knots or
loading guns or
keeping watch for other boats.
Remember Vail?
You put my hand on your belly
and when I felt that tiny thing
swelling up inside of you
I could tell it was a miracle.
That was not like this.
We were a family,
you, me, and the other travelers.
I felt your baby kick
and I thought that she was strong.
I hoped she would be strong
enough for both for you.
You were right,
it would have been unfair to name her.
I never told you
that I would have named her Cora,
but I thought it.
I felt her kick again
and you smiled
then you cried.
Alisha,
allwethought
was real and good and true.
But Youngstown is a boring town,
and it’s not the same without you.

***

 

Saturday, April 10

Written in our Poetry Passport workshop by Kolbe, Maggie, and Susan. Renga is an ancient Japanese form of poem and it’s a collaborative way of writing. Traditionally, the stanzas alternate between two and three lines; each can stand alone but they connect thematically to each other.

Renga I

I like sushi very much
They are one of my favorite foods
They are from Japan

Salmon on my tongue seems like
it would feel foreign, unhappy

Tampura is not
sushi but is made in the
same places; it’s good.

Sea food is very popular
Chinese food is not as good.

Maybe fish think
China is a better place
to live without fear.

In China they float unharmed
under lantern light at night.

Want to be a fish.
All fish would love each other
in all the oceans

They bump into each other
all scales and wet and slapping

Jumping above the
water and waves and catching
glimpses of the moon

and the sun up in the sky
swimming in its gleaming light

Must watch the fish, too
might be jealous sometimes, think
it’s unfair. Sometimes

the fish under the water
might become sushi one day.

***

 

Sunday, April 11

Here’s a poem from 826michigan volunteer and workshop helper Julie Babcock!

The Changeling by Julie Babcock

Her parents are out bowling
and the babysitter didn’t read
a bedtime story. The forlorn child
waits under the covers remembering.

Perhaps someone will come
and save her. A handsome prince
or her real parents, the ones
she didn’t know about until now.
They are better than her bowling parents.
They drink orange pop
and rollerskate on rollercoasters back
to their home in the clouds
with giant oyster shells that never close.

Or when they do
the blankets are dandelions and the crickets
rub sleep dust on their bows
and raise their violins. All
for you
, those parents say as their willow fingers
rub her back. This basket of stars. This life
which never leaves.

***

 

Monday, April 12

826michigan robotier, first-ever-orientation-attender, and Ann Arbor second-grade teacher Natalie DePasquale brings us: 0110110.

0110110 by Natalie DePasquale

001
110010
1100010
001011000
010
1
001
10
1001
01010
110
10110
0110
000
11
010100
01
1001
01011
0
1101
00011
100
10010

***

 

Wednesday, April 14

Pretty much one of our all-time favorite people and poets joins us today on 30/30. Scott Beal teaches many of our very best workshops, and managed to get through the now-infamous Harry Potter Workshop Debacle. This poem was borne out of an exercise wherein poets had to include a long list of odd words that needed to be worked into the poem.

Sudden Thudding by Scott Beal

for the poets of Leslie Lawther’s fifth and sixth grade class at Ann Arbor Open, Dec. 2007

Sometimes frogs rain from the sky. I’m not making this up.
Cats and dogs, never. But sometimes frogs, or fish, and once
jellyfish in England, and once turtles in Nicaragua, and this July
worms fell in southern Louisiana. But mostly frogs.
It could happen to you. It could happen today. Just as the cows
are lying down beneath a billboard pushing “chicken fries”
in ginormous red capitals, a thousand wet green bodies drum
the field they lie in – you jam the brakes as frogs thud and slide
down the windshield. Or you’re a rodeo clown saddling
a buck-tooth bronco in Paris, Texas when a cloudburst
discombobulates the arena into a soup of live green baseballs,
and whatever antics you were planning feel like a new kind
of stupid. Frogs rain from the sky, and it’s not the devil,
you’re not hallucinating after a bad apple, it’s not
a malfunction after researchers nodded through their jobs
at some cheesy military meteorology lab. It’s this world
you shuffle through in boots, it’s this sky that hurls all it’s got
down on the turf, as it once dropped you, to stand in the garden
variety rain and time thunder with your deadly accurate heart.

***

 

Thursday, April 15

Sofi St. John has long been one of our sweetest and most talented workshop students. She’s multi-talented, too: She just won the library’s Peeps Photo Contest!

From the workshop Free the Verse, written by Sofi St. John

My mind is a forest,
my heart just went still,
but I feel it thumping,
I feel the butterfly wings,
see the stirring air,
I taste disrupted wind,
I hear its wings flap,
and see the image of you.
It always tastes like roses, Jane always tells me,
but of course I’ve never heard her.
Everything makes me think of you.
The forest blinks at us,
the brush stirred because we never moved.
He always murmurs but I don’t know
what he means when I do.
The past glanced at me, but I don’t notice with him.
The mute, grounded bird whispered silence.
She will believe what I never will say.
The old trees just smiled at us,
while the even older forest weeped.

***

 

Friday, April 16

Rachel Feder teaches our famous poetry workshops. She is, indeed, the leader of our Poetry Clique. And, indeed, it was the Poetry Clique that wrote this poem in Rachel’s Poetry Passport workshop.

Incomplete Group Sestina

I watched the dryer spinning
the dryer spinned around
the cord of the dyer curled and twisted like an old branch
I watched til a state of exhaustion
the soup of soap and water froth.
Its hum serenades me like a lyre.

The dryer accuses the washer of being a liar.
The washer replied with fists spinning
its lips parting around teeth of froth
the washer says, “Around
my head hurts from exhaustion.
Someone thought I aught to wash a branch.”

The dryer did not reply, for its cord was so like a branch.
Upon which sits the bird called lyre.
The sweet sound called exhaustion
and the grass started spinning
it spun around, and said “Around
ten o’clock the world just sagged into froth

and I couldn’t see anything past this creamy froth
not even a floating branch
and I spun around and around
while the socks turned on me, calling me a liar,
when my head started spinning.
I am in a state of exhaustion.”

Can we get to the exhaustion?
Can we ever climb over this froth?
Yes, but we must keep spinning,
fueled by energy brought through cords like a branch.

***

 

Saturday, April 17 & Sunday, April 18

Because it is the weekend, and because we love weekends, we are sharing a SLEW of poems from Scott Beal’s Someone’s in the Worm workshop. For this exercise, workshop participants wrote poems from the point of view of a tree.

Trees by Daanish

It’s painful when I spread my arms.
Boring.
I felt I was in my backyard.
I felt like I had squirrels in the tree.
I was in a tropical rain forest.
I eat sunshine.
I felt kids climbing on my branches.

What Does Being a Tree Feel Like? by Eleanor

My leaves are green and red,
I live in the woods, I blow in the wind
I wish I was alive, I wish I could walk
and I visit my brother. I’m cold in the winter,
I’m warm in the summer.

I live in the Desert by Gabe

I live in the desert;
and I’m the only tree;
and not many leaves;
oh! there’s a vulture on one of my limbs;
and he won’t leave;
“GO AWAY!!!” I say;
and he flaps away;
then a desert eagle swoops down onto one of
my limbs;
“GO AWAY!!!” I said again;
days past, weeks past, months past, then

It Feels Weird by Marisa

It feels weird to be
a tree. Like you have babies
every year with sour
fruits growing on you
in a beautiful meadow
in Disney world with
butterflies all around you.

I’m a Tree by Ellie

I’m a tree.
I hear the wolf’s howling,
I smell the sour chill in my branches.
I have many friends to be with,
in the summer I blossom with life
my friends play hide and seek in me
I am a home to many,
may I say it again,
I am a tree.

What is it like to Be a Tree? by Sampoorna

In this backyard where i live it is always cold
and rainy. I always have to bare the cold
rain and snow on my branches. I always have
the back of a house to look at.
My body half underground and
half over. Those few days when the
sun shines on me are the best days
of my life. In the fall, I get all
my leaves to fall off with only
my body left. And as I am I
am a tree.

What it’s Like to Be a Tree by Joey

I feel the weight of the snow
on my branches. I feel
the heat of the sun in
summer. In fall I feel the wind
blow through my branches. In spring
I hear the rain go tap tap
at my door. I feel
the squirrels jump, jump
on my branches I feel
someone spread new dirt
around my roots. I feel
my leaves fall to the ground
in fall. I am a tree.
I say it again: I am a tree.

***

 

Monday, April 19

Today, something a bit mysterious. TWO poems by one of our all-time favorite people AND volunteers, and also someone who requested anonymity.

Wanting More and More

If I were 2,
I’d want to be 3,
and on and on like that.
So I’m glad I’m
1.

Untitled

Words come out my mouth,
smooth like a stripe of toothpaste.
What did I squeeze to do that?
Where did all those words go anyhow?

***

 

Tuesday, April 20

Today, we are excited to present a poem written by one of our students, a senior at Huron High School. She’s also a member of the Ann Arbor Youth Poetry Team, and after reading this poem, we’re pretty sure you’ll understand why she’s going to Nationals in LA in July. You can see Haley, and a slew of other students taking the 30/30 challenge, read from their work on Friday, April 30 at 7pm, right here at 826.

Revisited by Haley Patail

“It’s impossible to believe how gone she is. She is the only one who doesn’t have to know what it’s like here on earth without her.” -Julie Orringer

it’s been a year, Anna.
Every day moves my feet back from the faultline,
some days it seems like enough and others
all I do is walk the hallway I was in when you left,
I am jettisoned like a paper boat in a storm drain,
I am having a hard time breathing,
I rattle like a box of nails.
I don’t go to your memorial service because I wouldn’t have anything right to say,
it takes months to find my feet again,
to find the words to grieve for watching you be lost-
Anna, if you are a ghost then meet often,
if you are a ghost then you must have been in the lamplight
when I wrote your name instead of sleeping,
and under that tent when I read for you at a vigil
where names were spoken to the lighting of candles.
I met your father there. You had his eyes,
of course it was him,
of course he shouldn’t have had to tell me but he did
and he thanked me.
I have never felt more integral to the earth, Anna. Is it like that?
It was raining and I couldn’t move, I sunk in and grew roots,
I didn’t want him to see me cry.
I didn’t want him to hear the thousand ways I could apologize
for not knowing he was there when I touched the microphone,
and for hurting so loudly for you without knowing you,
for a poem too many people have seen.
I wanted to tell him I never meant to be the one
to put a voice to you.
It was all I could do to stand under his gaze.
He walked away, I thawed enough to cover my mouth.
I shook all the way home.
Anna, I’m not the only one who still says your name quietly,
releasing you gently into the air where you hover and fade,
where we conjure you up like a good, late secret.
I’m not the only one, but I felt very loud, catching my breath on the way home,
as drops hit the windshield and spread.
Maybe everything is sorry for your place in the ground,
for your collapse into pieces of everything,
with your face just one drop in an ocean of mournings.
Some days our swift tides devour the shore, Anna,
ironing out footprints.
On your anniversary the weight of it didn’t hit me for hours.
It is terrifying to think of the path the sun made before I remembered,
to think I could be tragic and swollen enough in my own skin
to lose track of you. Anna.
But what can I say that you didn’t hear
as you left that hospital bed and rose,
leaving something heavy behind for us?
Anna, what’s left is what won’t last.
Every day there is less of you.
What can I say that will echo louder than the place where
a year ago your name knocked against my ribs,
and up,
and gone?

***

 

Wednesday, April 21

Apparently it runs in the family. Scott Beal, poet and teacher extraordinaire, has a nine-year-old daughter named Zoe who’s also doing the challenge. Today we are please to present one of her poems.

The Artist and the Armadillo

The moon glinted off the armadillo’s back as he flew over a desert.
The artist on his back said, “Stop over by that peach tree.”
When the armadillo landed he said, “I’m going to see if they have resert.”
The artist looked at the sky and said, “I hope it doesn’t snow. A bee!”
The armadillo looked at the peaches. “What in the sesert!”

***

 

Thursday, April 22

826 30/30 is thrilled to present a poem by the amazing Jeff Kass today. Jeff Kass–teacher, poet, community organizer–is pretty much one of the best things that has EVER happened to young-through-old writers in Ann Arbor.

Sleeping on the floor by Jeff Kass

presents a number of advantages. One can
only curl into oneself. The floor does not
envelop like a bed can. One must develop
self-reliance. One must learn to un-roll
and roll bedding. One’s sleeping place
can only be temporary. The floor is hard.
Life is hard. Making the hard soft enough
to sleep on is a triumph of mind over
everything that matters.

I sleep on the floor by choice. That, of course,
makes all the difference. I can leave the floor
behind if my neck rebels, my hip. The floor
spreads out, a continent of flat. I can’t roll off
it. I can’t drop a book behind it. The floor spreads
out. I am small on it. A small creature in a large land.

***

 

Friday, April 23

Scott Beal again? Boy howdy, YES! Today, a poem that Scott wrote for the brother of our first-ever intern, the illustrious Diana “DK” Kimball. Spencer passed away last fall. The Neutral Zone carries on his love of writing with the newly launched Red Beard Press.

Elegy in Six Limericks by Scott Beal

-for S.K.

There was an old man of Ann Arbor
who was notably shy of the barber.
While he’d calibrate phrases
and navigate mazes
his bright beard grew to cover the harbor.

I say harbor implying a coastline,
though our town’s in a midwestern ghost clime.
We have water and air,
frozen yogurt, despair,
but few sheltering shores where the boats line.

There were some old nerves who chimed off-key.
I can’t say if he slurped or spurned coffee.
In so few ways I knew him
but meant something to him.
When he harbored delights, he spoke softly.

There was an old man with a weapon
no substance or cease-fire could threaten.
If you’d beg him, or scold him,
if you loved him and told him,
it rose up inside him, against him.

We have stood by the earth where his flesh is.
We have studied his words and made guesses.
Each few weeks I’m amazed
at his dead Facebook page
with its offer: Send Spencer a Message.

I say harbor implying a boat.
I say earth where his flesh is a coat.
Send Spencer a Message
Send Spencer a Message
His beard grew to cover his throat.

***

 

Saturday, April 24

More poems from Rachel Feder’s astounding Poetry Clique. This is a group sestina, written by the young poets in her Poetry Passport workshop. Today, Rachel leads the Multi-generational Poetess Collective at 826 from 12-4pm. Are you a lady poet of any age? Stop by!

Incomplete Group Sestina II

Today we went outside to play
Do you like art?
I can hear
the laping of the waves from the lake.
So fall, and catch the dark light as you do,
so my book said.

“The world can really change you,” she said
and with that, she stepped into the play
open to the stage light, what we do
you do all kinds of creative things in art.
I never thought I would miss the lake.
It is what I hear.

I am here.
I see you and what you said.
I ran down the sand dunes to the lake.
The stage opened up and the real was the play.
Making clay sculptures are fun in art.
And spilled, and calling forward as the dew

sparks the wick, as flame is want to do —
what do I hear?
Have you many clay sculptures?
That’s what “they” said.
I looked around, ready to find them to play.
I thought I heard them down by the lake.

As I ran down the beach, the sun lit up the lake
and glittered like the fireflies, the dew
sparkled ahead, lighting the ground for play.
Why is it that I am here.
“Just because, ” he said.
I am the only person who likes art?

You also paint and draw in art.
I like to watch the tide come in, come out, I’m at the lake.

***

 

Sunday, April 25

Sarah Dawn Johnson again? Boy howdy, YES! We fell super-in-love with this one, so we had NO CHOICE but to post it!

What it takes to write a poem to the Grandmother who never much liked you.

Song Lyrics by Gladys Johnson at age 12

Her eyes squint, cautious to engage
In the car she reads the words on billboards
Spells them out loud

The leaves are falling off the trees
And that means that you’re leaving me
Oh why can’t the summer stay on?

She sings us songs made in her youth
(I realize I don’t know where she grew up)
Teaches my sister to play cribbage
Curses the winter, and the dogs.

It’s hard to be a child around someone so lonely

The birds have left
They’ve all flown south
And that means that I’m left to myself
Oh why can’t the summer stay on?

They wrote it on a walk home, she tells us.
Her hands are cold,
she wears gloves in the air conditioning.
Fidgets with her glasses.
Doesn’t say my grandfather’s name.

Things crack,
I think,
when someone dies.

When I’m with you,
I feel so gay,
How could you be thinking
Of going away
Away

(Two aways)

She calls my father “Bobby”
Can’t tell if she’s full
Or filled

Sometimes she forgets she’s sad.
I want to tell her;
Poems are good places to hide your prayers.
But I don’t think she knows who I am,
and I wonder if it’s a relief
when you’ve always been that lonely,
to forget what feeling is,
to forget what time the train would come,
or the color you wore on your tenth anniversary.

***

 

Monday, April 26

Madeline Bradford is, without question, one of our all-time favorite students and poets. She’s as sweet as can be, AND she’s talented, AND she’s smart, AND, well, we feel like we’ve pretty much watched her grow up. When she sent some poems for our 30/30, we couldn’t choose, so a special treat today: a BUNCH of poems from Madeline.

Poems by Madeline Bradford

Poem #1.62

Curl into the tremulous hum of edge-
Remove by ethereal degree
This silence of forgotten breath
and cold chimera sea-
Ensorcel those who in these caves
in droves are wont to dwell-
Trap breath between the silent bars
of Bright abysmal swell-
Freeze courtesy with courtesy-
Let never shadeling tame
The humming wing of light within
The cadence of the flame-
And close the clock within it’s hours
Beckoning a tide of flowers
Out of crippled bud-
Remove that silence may accede
with evanescent beat agreed
And lambent pall of blood-
The bleeding wax, it’s angry eye
in wavering, o’erbears
allowing brief respite from this
cacophony of tears-
fold glass in lacuna, and still
the hovering smoke, in rise-
a clearer smelting of the ore
suspended in the skies.

 

Poem 2.759

The wishes of the air are dust
The tonguetip of the moon
The stars and clouds and angry space
Ellipsis in a turn-

Nebula of edges torn,
and frayed eclipse of sight
a cold caress of freckled sky
and sputtering
Of light-

Oh, firefly of silent heart
How does the starlight fade?
And everlasting, fill the mist
with catch of sun on spade-

Bright sun, reflect eternity, and still
the jagged line
with steady beats of emphasis
to keep the broken time.

The fluttering of fingertips,
the drowning of a name
among the choir, raw and red
but fingertips
remain-

The soft release of grasp between
the petal and the thorn-
to close the curtains to the world
restitching what is torn-

Below, above- and in between
With heart, beat out of joint,
and still the steady emphasis
with space enclosed in point.

 

Poem 3.241

There’s hardly a word for the strange sort of pain
In blank- a cold, a breaking, a spent removal-
A negative of stars imploding-
Lightning in the air, a silent given
That light remains unmoved-
A taskless work- A thankless thanks-
Bitter, unmet- before the eyes of the angels, impassive
Before the eyes of the devils, alone-
Gone.

In between- the cold and barren in between-
A horror of silence- ghost town, ghost house, ghost girl
Living in ghost hours.

I am dead, now. Hardly a bone
Is left for the living to find-
Fingerprints of scar and still-
echoing in beats of mute-
and increments of rest,
Pause-

Let me see your face, inside of winter’s face-
Let me see the breath, that hangs in dream remote-
Let me touch the hesitant hand of brightness, and explode.

 

Poem 4.026

I don’t believe in ghosts.

A clock at midnight, as a clock at dawn-
Extra strikes from need, not fear or fever drawn
No more the import of the creaking floor,
Than of the radio static.

An eye, though dead and dull
Is ever twice as full
As stones in water, or the shape of air
as the stone leaves the hand-
Not the echoes, fond though poets are
Of ripple connotations-
But the movement, swift and like
The way light hits an eggshell
A rounding, an emptying, reassuring of a whole
That once was there, now be gone, but
Existence as a whole remains
This, is comforting
Indeed.

Something scrapes the window- are trees afraid as we, of
Shadows in the dark? They must be numb from fear, then-
Not only of shadows in the dark, but also
Shadows in the day-
An axe can strike without a match to guide it,
Regardless, moon makes treachery,
And trembling forests attest
To the cruelty inadvertent of the stars.

A face in the mirror has a kind of fragility, but set
As though an image in resin, a wing
Suspended forever below the neck
Of some aristocrat-

Diamonds, how they must hate light!
Warmth of the earth, they have known, all of life
An pressure of stone, and depth of fire, the way
It moves to the undercurrents, catching
The glancing light from off the eye reflected, at the edges of the stormclouds
First lightning, ever unseen,

Sudden-
They have known this. To step, the docile air then!
How cold is patience to the hot-blooded. To dormant lie,
As dormant they have lain, a greater price must feel
A gravity less biting, more to bide
Than waking moments edged in spark and steel.

The edge of a blade can split the air
with the sound between waking and sleeping, the sound
Of muffled voices, of silence,
That dulls the mind and pricks the ears,
And senseless fear so grips, such that
You find yourself a clumsy deliberate more than any grace
fearing so much quiet, it almost hurts
The pulsing of blood, blood, blood, in the ears, a frightening thing
A seashell sound, a sullen ache.

Round the pebble into the lake, then
Hang the whispers on the wind, like fragments
Of a spiderweb half-swept and half
Forgotten
Spilling out of a hearth
Thick with ash- that all was flame
And so the fragments spread, the cracks
Like gossip, out and out
static clings, and taps
The grace of sky, the edgeline
diamonds weep-
And stars explode.

Why do you ask?

I don’t believe in ghosts.

 

Poem 5.813

Mere mortality is endless-
Immortal, in ability to die-
fresh beyond the grasp of landscape
far removed from glass of eye-
stand erect! And resurrection-
pour like sunlight through my heart-
and set leafs down, and mottled shade
to tear my broken soul apart
in rendering me gone, be there-
more present even than the air
more sudden, sudden,
and more still-
Broken by
the strength of will,
will
is abandoned-
this the cost
of cost, and winning
leaves them lost-
remove it not, and be removed-
by only what the earth behoved itself
to say, and lack
is more efficiently
maintained, in solemn emphasis
than is immortal death by cold degrees
or burnt periphrasis.

 

Poem 6.373

It’s odd, but now I see
What sculptors mean, when saying they
can feel the heart beat of the clay
or actors, play their part in such
bright character, that character, remains-

How scientists, with numbers tune to tune,
chart out the stately passage of the moon
and tumble stars across the parchment- then,
The sudden leap of mind to pen-
and inspiration, is.

And odd- how those who speak-
In latin or in greek
can find-
among the tones and heady drones
of scrolls and long forgotten polls
of those whose gold, now dust-
might have incited blood to spill
and these the inky pages fill
in face on frozen face-

that scholars thus engaged might find
in everlasting peace of mind
a marble grace, replace
the age in which they ever dwell
like echoes frozen in a shell
to them, the language lives-

and odd, how they who creep the dark
In search of some small lightless spark
of knowledge, walk the even caves
like robber men in ancient graves, and creep
as though trespassers’ are-
for yet ‘it breaths, it breaths, I swear.’

And odd, that I can see these things
who never dreamt of having wings,
who never walked the caves of night
or calculated by the light
of stars-
Who never read a word
that centuries remained unheard
or knew forgotten wars-

How is it, then? I think I know;
Like sun on rain, like
rain on snow-
Like wind on skin, like silk through air-
like the only sort of prayer
there is-

when all’s accepted
and apart-
the pieces of a
broken heart
within a broken soul-

and dark-winged shadows
on the sun-
and who has lost
and who has won-
when both have lost?
And when begun
turns into gone and done-

It is, I think, in drying ink-
Not in the bone, but in the stone-
not in the hand that grasped the blade-
but every furrow that it made
recorded in the air-

and how retreating founds retreat-
and how the fleeting isn’t fleet-
but never truly there-

And how the warmth is in the mind-
and by the light of ashes, bind, the coal
to air, to flame-

and what’s the measure of a lie,
and what’s the difference, to die-
with or without a name-

and How possessed of ether’s note
the dust of ether’s ashes float
upon the severed sky-

and how the sea reclaims it’s own
from bone to bone to bone to bone
while in these turning tides alone
the rock is worn to dust-

and how the record of the eye
has grace enough to let you cry
but none enough to leave
the parchment blots, or aching thoughts
which wilt upon the sleeve-

Whither, whither, whither, whither?

Air may ask, and hither- thither-
thrown be light, and thrown be deep-
allow the life, the grace of sleep-
allow the sleep the grace of dream-
is never odd, stitched seem to seem
along the broken, ragged line
of heart to soul
of soul to mind.

 

Poem 7.201

Footprints are brought here and left by the road
like errands forgotten in careless estate-
Reminding the brilliance of sunlight to spate
Through these clouds of gold-
call them angels- those messengers, mute-

And all through the forests of castaway breaths
allowing the heartbeat of pacing to still
The starlight is fading, as spill upon spill
is caged into bottles with castaway deaths
We leave them but cold, and a cold absolute-

Return to the path- the message was lost-
another dark bottle in seas bobbing green
A gentle reminder of all that was ever
and all that was never
but once could have been.

Ink, then run- and pour in solace
found in silence, let that sand
repeat it’s endless broken song
were never hell as ‘grand’, as this-
or heaven, were as empty.

 

Poem 8.291

There is a numbness to the soul
Or hurried in the ear
A fragment of a mirror, and
A skin of clot and clear-
A tick, too swift to catch the tock
A gear wound too tight, to cry
A hole too small to hold the dust
Too large to hold the sky,
Invisible blood that seeps from wounds
Too deep, too soon to glare
That ever be the empty lie
Of all and ‘unaware’-
The simplest comfort none remains
For all reminders shone
Like knives of ether, cut the skin
of fragile, to the bone.
The soul cries out, but silence ekes
From lonelier reply-
A question scarred onto the heart
Too large to hold the sky.

 

Poem 8.291

There is a numbness to the soul
Or hurried in the ear
A fragment of a mirror, and
A skin of clot and clear-
A tick, too swift to catch the tock
A gear wound too tight, to cry
A hole too small to hold the dust
Too large to hold the sky,
Invisible blood that seeps from wounds
Too deep, too soon to glare
That ever be the empty lie
Of all and ‘unaware’-
The simplest comfort none remains
For all reminders shone
Like knives of ether, cut the skin
of fragile, to the bone.
The soul cries out, but silence ekes
From lonelier reply-
A question scarred onto the heart
Too large to hold the sky.

 

Poem 9.8200

I have seen the vultures paint the shallow, finger-nail filamint fragments out
Touching black into the white of our bones, it is a tedious task
A rigourous undertaking, and you can’t always see
When a black becomes white, or white
Becomes black, but grey
Is not an option- it is the process carried on by air, just above the water
Like a second skin- it is the job of the ground, to darken when
The rain hits it-
It is the blue of arm veins and foot veins and face veins
It is the red of eye veins and heart veins, it is the violet
Of music veins, it is the periwinkle
Of sea glass blood, the violent magenta
Of wind-chime tears.

 

Poem 12.450

The voice inside a voice, that speaks so quietly
That no one ever hears it- you must see
Sometimes, in a stranger’s eyes,
Inside a smile
Sharp edges, brittle lines
Carved into the porcelain planes of the face-
And surely you must feel
The heat that is pricking and tapping
It’s tongue on the soles of his feet,
dipping it’s fingers into her hair, and saying
pain, pain, pain
Peace, peace, peace-

The way a comb divides a feather
Into a million hands, and they wave-
the slightest current stirring them- we look
Like feathers that are whole, so very whole
And yet-
I think we must be made
Of a thousand smaller feathers
So small
Not even the voice
Divides the difference-
Cold and broken
Eggshell fragments in sunlight-
Flashes as snow presses
It’s feet into the sky-
That is the curve of the voice inside the voice
That speaks so quietly-

That steps like a wish onto a dandelion seed-
That vanishes like footprints of snow from the air.

***

 

Tuesday, April 27

Remember last weekend when Catherine Calabro and Rachel Feder hosted our first (and likely not to be our last) Multigenerational Poetess Collective? Well, it went about as well as it could have possibly gone. There was laughter, and there were tears. One of the exercises was a conversation poem, wherein two poets had to talk to each other, and then write poems. Today, we’ll feature Ishani’s for Suzanne. Tomorrow, Suzanne’s for Ishani.

For Suzanne, by Ishani, age 8

Roses are red, violets are blue
We have something in common
and so do you!
You have your ears pierced
and so am I, I’m telling you
it’s not a lie!
We were across the ocean
one day and I bet we will
be there someday.
We both have black hair
which I think is kind of sassy,
but your hair and my hair is not glassy.
We have a lot in common you can see,
we’re both girls and not boys
so that’s how we’ll be.
We were is second grade
and I’m in Ann Arbor,
but sometimes we don’t go
to the barber.
We were in grade K and one
which I think was kind of fun.
Well, you see I can’t write no more
but I’m not going out the door.

***

 

Wednesday, April 28

As promised, the “companion poem” to yesterday’s. From the Multigenerational Poetess Collective, Suzanne’s poem for Ishani.

For Ishani, by Suzanne

My twin, Ishani and I are almost identical
I remember when we got our ears pierced
She was three years old and I was fourteen
I was scared, but Ishani said don’t worry
Someday we’ll wear fancy gold earrings from India.

We both had to move to a new town when we were in elementary school
I had trouble making friends
but Ishani jumped right in and introduced herself.
We like to play the piano,
sometimes we play duets.
Ishani plays the melody
because I’m more of a follower.
We went to the airport in Frankfurt, Germany once.
I took the train to Austria
while Ishani flew on to India.
I remember looking out the window as the train headed east:
there was Ishani in the clouds, flying along.

Her name means Goddess, my name means Lily
She is divine, I have a nice smell.
Ishani and I are nearly identical.
We are dark-haired pianist poets.
We honor the sisterhood of the pierced ears
and we dream of where we’ll travel next
when we meet again in Frankfurt, Germany.
Someday, she’s going to teach me to fly.

***

 

Thursday, April 29

One last one from the Poetry Clique.

Renga V

Space is objective
as absence, in existance
becomes actual

It is really weird and cool
and has a lot of weird thing

I like to play games
My brother is eighteen.
He is eighteen for real.

eighteen: what an absent age
spacey in your existence

When paper cups of
coffee and essays open
blank mentality

space is like a dark window
and is really different

***

 

Friday, April 30

In honor of our National Poetry Month reading tonight, we are proud to present a poem from Sarah Andrew-Vaughn. Sarah, a teacher at Huron, has encouraged her students to write a poem a day all month long, and has done so herself. She’s also one of the biggest supporters of writing we’ve ever known, no big deal. Please join us tonight at 826 at 7:30pm as Sarah’s students share their work! The public is welcome at this free event.

Big Plans by Sarah Andrew-Vaughn

Tomorrow, I’ll get up at the first alarm, set it early.
I’ll pack lunches every day next week.
Those papers won’t sit, untouched, another day.
I’m not going to buy any more candy.
The garden needs weeding.
I’ll make bread of those over-ripe bananas before they’re too far gone.
I’ll check on that for you.
Let’s get the kids together for a play date.
I’ll brush the dog tomorrow.
I’m going to the grocery store tonight.
And then I need to fold laundry.
I’m going to start buying for Christmas in January.
I’ll work on those thank-yous over break.
I’ll get to the dishes in the morning.
Let’s make sure you practice piano every day this week.
I’m going to leave the TV off this month.
I’ve got to make something for the bake sale.
We need to find that other shoe.
I’m not going to tell you again.
Let’s have a date next weekend.
I’ll bring snacks, something healthy and homemade.
I need to hem these pants.
I’ll write your recommendation this weekend.
Let’s take the kids on a bike ride.
I’m not going to buy plants this year unless I’m sure I’ll get them in the ground.
We’re going to be on time this week.
I’m going to just sit here, with the sun on my face.
This will just take a minute.
I’m going to be in bed by 10.
I’ll call you when the kids settle in.

Bonus Poem!

Last night, I received this email, from Catherine Calabro, our most magnificent workshops intern: “Maybe you already have the final poem selected for tomorrow, the final day of national poetry month, but if not I have the MOST INCREDIBLE POEM for you. I was so moved just typing this up. Then I called my bf and read it to him, and he was so moved over the phone. I love this poem. It’s from the Poetess Workshop!” She’s right, it’s great! Enjoy! We hope to see you tonight at 7:30pm for our National Poetry Month Wrap-up Celebration, featuring poetry by Huron High students!

Dance by Elena, age 11

I love to dance.
I love to feel like I’m
shining, because I know I’m awesome.
When I dance, I always feel awesome.
When I got a first place in the jig
last fall, on that memorable day
in Muskegon, Michigan, I think I was floating
through the cute little ice cream shop, in that
cute little town. It was wonderful to be there
although I knew we had to leave.
I remember sitting on our porch in the lovely fall day.
Twelve hours ago, we were driving in the dead of night.
Now, we’re sitting on our porch.
Well, not our porch. We don’t have a porch.
We just have a stoop and a patio in the back.
I touched my lips, which were still sticky and glossy
from the lip gloss that tasted like Cherry Coke.
It was clear. Not pink or red. It wasn’t blue.
Blue lip gloss is weird. I swore to myself once,
sitting at my desk, that I would never use it again.
That was back in first grade.
In first grade, we studied China.
That was when I wanted to wear blue lip gloss.
That feeling lasted for two minutes.
As in, all the time, before I put it on.
I was looking out at our quiet street,
still sitting on our not-porch, I saw cars, I saw people.
Not very many people.
If we lived in NYC or LA, we would see people.
But that has to wait until I’m a pop star.
Sitting there, I saw a person that reminded me
of an elephant–big, gray. Something about him said,
Don’t mess with me. I’m a big elephant.
I smiled and looked at our yard.
As I took it in, I noticed birds and flowers.
It made me happy, and it meant that spring was still here.
At least for a while. Even September has its warm days.
I thought back. If it seamed long ago that I was smiling,
holding a gold first place medal, it seemed even longer
when I thought about yesterday. I remember the prospect,
not quite in the back of my mind, of dancing the jig
while my friend said For the tenth time, pay attention!
Back on my porch, I am smiling with the glow
of the medal still in my eyes.

Liberty Street Robot
Supply & Repair
115 East Liberty Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
(734) 761-3463
Detroit Robot Factory
1351 Winder
Detroit, MI 48207
(313) 818-0255