Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Here is one of the three poems I brought to the Advanced Poetry Workshop. This is the second draft and I really like how this poem has shaped out. I am not final with this one, so please comment and let me know what you think.


Our third grade class was watching the silk cotton candy
cocoon. At first no one noticed. But Mrs. Roberts

began to ask questions. And we were all so
expectant, hungry to see the unveiling.

Someone broke the branch. Pilfering
the prize from the class terrarium. We looked

in desks and cubbies. In all of the trash cans.
Even in the art and music rooms. Everyone

was upset and busy. All but Joey Watkins. Who
stood solitary by the monkey bars at recess.

We tried to include him in our somber
games. But he said to leave him alone.

Clouds banked in and upon our return to the classroom;
Joey Watkins had a glitter of scales upon his lips,

a dismembered angel thorax in his pocket,
and a look of fulfillment in his eye.

Friday, June 19, 2009

This Morning

I woke up with the following lines in my head. It was as if I had been thinking about these lines while asleep and was able to remember them when I woke - surprisingly. Maybe they are part of a larger poem?

you have read
enough to ask
who I am.

I am going to play with them today. We shall see what comes of it.

Charles Simic's The Melon

I have been reading the July/August issue of Poetry and I keep coming back to one of Charles Simic's poem - The Melon. Here it is.

The Melon

There was a melon fresh from the garden
So ripe the knife slurped
As it cut it into six slices.
The children were going back to school.
Their mother, passing our paper plates,
Would not like to see the leaves fall.

I remember a hornet, too, that flew in
Through the open window
Mad to taste the sweet fruit
While we ducked and screamed,
Covered our heads and faces,
And sat laughing after it was gone.

I love the last line in that first stanza - it is such a great turn when we realize that the mother will not live. But this moment, one of fear and happiness, is remembered. I also like the description of the cutting of the melon. Slurped is such a wonderful word.


Friday, June 12, 2009

Heavy metal during a thunderstorm

The best part isn’t
the rain, nor
the way it latches onto my windshield
in big luscious drops.
The best part is not
the lightning.
Striking like a cultist group
around me – ready for sacrifice.
And not the size of this storm:
Most certainly is
not my hands
slapping the steering wheel,
in my usual fashion.
Not the waves of splash
back from oncoming trucks.
The best part
is when the thunder
and the band
hit the bridge
in unison.

As always people, comments are welcome. Fire away.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reclaim and New Follower

I know I said I would be better. And I know I haven't. I have been teaching this summer program, where students who are not proficient in writing come and we teach them for two weeks. The goal of the program being to get these students to write a proficient paragraph. So far so good, but classes have been starting and I wanted to have a little fun before it was back to the grind stone and so most of my time has been filled with reading and video games. Not much writing has been happening. I see that changing beginning now.

Yesterday one of my summer courses started up at DU. Natural Science and Literature. While I am not thrilled about science, I do feel it will be an opportunity to strengthen my writing skills. We specifically are writing essays, memoirs, or narrative journalism pieces that have to do with science or nature in some way. I'm not quite sure what I am going to do, but hopefully soon I will - I would really like to get started on it soon. I do see many poems coming out of this class. For some reason when I look at or talk about nature poems just issue forth. We shall see.

Tonight my Advance Poetry Workshop begins. Joe Hutchison is teaching it and I am super excited. It looks like a small class, which should be fun. And I am hoping to really crank out some good writing.

Here is a poem - it didn't start as one, last night in class we were asked to write something after looking at a picture in a Natural Geographic. I came up with something a little more obtuse, but here is the revised prose poem edition. And as always comments are welcomed.

She (good old mother earth) is reclaiming. Taking back what is hers. Serpentine grasses: brown & yellow. Those shrubs, spiked with angst; snake their way through the broken down, fielded car. The rust pits his skin, cancerous. He screams in fright. A remorseful water tower, like a lonely water god; silently watches the valley. Does nothing to stop the mother’s onslaught.

YES! A new follower. My apocalyptic twelve is complete. All other followers must participate in a rigorous application and interview process.

Welcome to Kevin - one of my former students from Pomona high school and a wonderful writer. Check him out here.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Finally, a new poem

As always I am still working on this poem - any comments would be helpful

Corner of Ralston and Wadsworth

A heavy black woman
foxtrots; shaking to the beat.
Earbud detonation.

A trained dolphin
backflips through crystal

Monday, March 16, 2009

Summer Leaves by J.E. Jacobson

I finally had a chance to sit down and read "Summer Leaves an original collection of Haiku and Senryu" by J.E. Jacobson.

As Jacobson states in his forward - the poems do not follow traditional Haiku/Senryu format in most cases. "...please don't waste your time counting syllables." Jacobson states - but the poems in this collection do feel like Haiku/Senryu. With short, bursts of images and emotions. The reader is forced to bring more to these poems than that author is.

The collection is sprinkled with poems that give a belly laugh reaction - some of the potty humor is a welcomed break from the more serious, thought provoking poems in the collection.

Initially I read through the entire collection in roughly seven minutes - but then had a chance to go back and re-read some of the selections, it was upon this second reading that powerful favorites jumped out at me. A few examples...

tree falls
in a deserted wood
quiet morning

of all the daisies
growing in the flower pot
I plucked only one

old journals
only half filled
with metaphors

And there are many more. "Summer Leaves" is definitely worth picking up. More info on J.E. Jacobson HERE. Pick up the book either bound or downloaded HERE. And for a buck and some change who can beat 44 pages of entertainment.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Class Over and Recent Acquisitions

My masters class - Fiction Fundamentals is over! That is a so good. 1. I was quickly getting tired of the work load - tons of reading. 2. I was really sad that I was forced to spend less time on poetry and more time on fiction. What I got out of it? Well two chapters of a book - not decided whether I will continue on it or not. Maybe one day I will upload a chapter somewhere and provide a link.

Recently acquired March's Poetry Magazine and April's Wizard Magazine. I have begun reading Poetry - haven't even flipped through Wizard. I am sure I will have more comments on Poetry Magazine later - but I read this poem today and I loved it. Thought I would share.

Here I am Lord
by Michael Chitwood

The ribbed black of the umbrella
is an argument for the existence of God,

that little shelter
we carry with us

and may forget
beside a chair

in a committee meeting
we did not especially want to attend.

What a beautiful word, umbrella.
A shade to be opened.

Like a bat's wing, scalloped.
It shivers.

A drum head
beaten by the silver sticks

of rain
and I do not have mine

and so the rain showers me.

Uggghhh - why can I write like this. I read it before going to class tonight and was just smitten. It is so simple, but so poignant and beautiful at the same time.

I also saw Seth Abramson featured in this months Poetry. He has a rip roaring blog going on HERE

On a totally different note - Poetry Boot Camp starts tomorrow. I will give a report as to how the kids react.

And the Renga is continuing. Slower than previously. But still being handed off to other authors. Maybe another week and it will be posted here.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Awake Dream and Amazon Kindle Killing Comic Books

Awake Dream

I am tired.
Eyelids fall off;
now I'm awake,
lucid in the midst
of dream.
You are there,
but not yourself.
I am there,
but I have no eyelids.
We are in love
with words,
and earthworms.
Shooting targets, large
Russian novels,
and icy lemonade.
We can't wake up.
Because you are yourself
and I am not.
I have no eyelids.

I'm not thrilled with the title - comments are always welcome

On Newsarama.com they had an interesting article about the new Amazon Kindle 2 and its effect on the comic book market. Check out the article here.

As an avid comic book reading, anything regarding the comic book market is of interest to me. Vaneta Rogers provides some interesting facts towards the effect that comic books, very soon, will mostly be digital and readers will access them on some sort of device, like the Kindle. Here are my thoughts -

1. Has anyone actually seen someone with a Kindle? I have seen people - famous people, like Neil Gaiman, with them in online videos. But I have never seen someone with a kindle in real life. I do agree that comic book readers on an I-Phone or an I-Pod Touch is not that far off, but on a kindle?

2. Comic books have become a small niche market and most fans I know collect comic books because they like the stories. But those same fans also state the fact that they like having a physical copy of the book - something tangible that they can hold in their hands while they are reading. For many the collecting aspect of the hobby is even more important than the reading/good stories aspect of the hobby. This comes up in floppies (monthlies) versus trade paper back (collected editions) debates all the time. Many comic book fans like buying/collecting the floppies.

3. The kindle is in black and white. While some comic books are in black and white, and some black and white comics are very good (Echo by Terry Moore; Bone and RASL by Jeff Smith); most comics are in color.

I wouldn't worry too much about the kindle and its ruining the comic book market

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Underside of Leaves

Yesterday, my sophomores were in the computer lab working on a debate project and so I haphazardly grabbed a poetry book from my desk - one that I hadn't read yet. I grabbed The Underside of Leaves by Joseph Hutchison (he recently came to Pomona to do a poetry reading and the school library purchased a few of his books - they are right now sitting in my classroom so I can sift through them). I started it in the computer lab and then finished it after I took it home last night. I was completely floored. It was wonderful. Rarely do I ever start a book and then finish it the same day. I could not put it down.

Hutchison has a powerful command over language. I would go so far as to say he is an expert. His poetry speaks not only to literary experts and MFA Graduates, but to the common reader; the reader who may not know all that much about poetry. His poems are simple, but deep.

My favorite from the collection is "Demosthenes, Dying, Addresses His Dead Lover." I also enjoyed "Artichoke" - a short, simple poem from the collection. It is definitely worth a read - pick it up, you won't be sorry.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Last night I finished reading my copy of the February 2009 issue of Poetry. This was an in the middle issue - not bad, but not terribly wonderful - for me. I did enjoy some of the poems in issue. Even a poem from Kim Addonizio (I am seeing her everywhere these days). I did not get the manifesto section. I tried to read them, and understand why we were doing this - but I guess it was not for me to know. I never read the comment or letter sections - most often I find that the people who comment, or send letters in are talking about poems that I don't know and thus can't connect to their comments. There was also a section of strange artwork - also probably not for me to understand.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What constitutes good poetry?

I just finished my Jan/Feb issue of Poets and Writers and I came across another great article. "First Thought, Worst Thought" by Kim Addonizio. She specifically was writing an article about poetry exercises that inspire - and her main concept is that our first draft is not the best one. Revision as necessary. Now I know that there are some who would disagree, but that is not really what I wanted to comment about. She goes into a short dialog in the article and lists what she feels makes poetry good. I agreed on many of her items and thought it would be good stuff to incorporate in my poetry unit with my Juniors. I think the ideas Addonizio has are simple enough that my students would be able to use this list as a template to help them determine what they feel makes poetry good. Maybe that even becomes the topic of an essay later in the year.

Here is Kim Addonizio's list...
Sufficient thought
The parts contribute to the whole

Some of my comments on the list...
Surprise - Absolutely. I tire of reading poetry that is the same over and over and over.

Music - I would agree, but when the music takes over the poem then it brings me out of it as a reader.

Sufficient thought - I would hope so. I struggle with this when I am writing my poetry. I get a glimmer of an idea and then the poem doesn't follow that idea and goes off on a tangent. I need to work on putting forth the sufficient thought needed to make a poem good.

Syntax - This is another thing I need to work on. Addonizio says, "A good poet is a 'language master.'" And I certainly am not. I have problems with punctuation/grammar especially.

The parts contribute to the whole - I agree

Mystery - as she describes it the poem needs to come to life. So yeah, I like poems coming to life for me. I will agree.

So now...


Friday, February 20, 2009



Walk into your bathroom.
(Just do it.)
Sit down on the sweating floor,
take a towel - still
damp from this morning's
shower - and stuff
it under the door.
Turn off the light,
close your eyes,
and listen.
The train will pass soon,
but will you hear it?
And will you hear
when that asshole neighbor
downstairs starts
banging his hip hop?
Will you hear the drip
or rush of
water in your own bathroom?
because you are the only
human alive
in the world.

As always comments are welcome

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Haven't Lived

Haven't Lived

you haven't lived until
you've seen
the northern lights
on your back
the snow & rocks
digging in

I've never lived.
Who am I?

As always comments are more than welcome.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

On Not Writing and POETRY BOOT CAMP

I recently read the article by Gabriel Cohen in the Jan/Feb issue of Poets and Writers entitled "On Not Writing."

I really enjoyed it. Cohen has good insight and I felt a connection to what he was saying.

We all have those times when writing is just SO hard and it is the last thing we possible want to do. And those times are probably the most important times to be writing. There is no magical equation to follow to make writing easier - other than just writing I think. I have never had a time when I sat down, either at my keyboard or at my notebook, and couldn't write something. The trick is getting sat down. I find that it is most difficult when my life is really busy. Which makes sense. But then I also feel that my life has become increasingly busy since I moved from Las Vegas. In Nevada it seemed I had all the time in the world to just sit and write and I wasted that time away playing endless hours of video games. And now I am without the hours I would like and spend my evenings staying up way later than I intended to get some writing in.

Ahhhh what a life.



I am really excited about the poetry unit I am preparing for my students. POETRY BOOT CAMP I am calling it. I really can't take credit for the name, a colleague has used it in the past. But essentially I am going to focus on helping the students enjoy poetry - Like they used to enjoy poetry when they were young. Here are some of my ideas in list form.
1. Students will receive a list of around 25 poems - grouped in fives - and they will be asked to read those five or so poems for a specifc day. We will discuss the poems round-robin style in that class period. They will also write a short response to one of the poems they read - these responses will be very emotion/reader response driven

2. Students will be taught the tools of explication and will be asked to explicate three poems of their choice over the course of the unit.

3. During class periods, when we aren't discussing the response poems mentioned in 1 - we will be looking at poets craft. So one lesson on poetic forms/open form, one lesson on figurative language, one lesson on images...etc.

4. The unit will culminate in two projects - The first will be a power point, where the students will pick a particularly poignant poem to them (one that we read for class preferably) and find pictures/images to go with each line and then organize it into some sort of presentation. Second students will be asked to create a "Favorite Poem Project" presentation AL A Robert Pinsky's website. We won't be video taping them - but it should prove to be interesting.

My main goal is to get students to enjoy poetry. Even if it is just for one poem. If I can get them to enjoy and understand one poem then I will feel like the unit was a success.

For a creative touch I will be dressing up in camo gear on the introduction day of the unit and marching my students around the school chanting LEFT LEFT LEFT RIGHT LEFT - POETRY IS REALLY COOL, IT IS THE BEST PART OF SCHOOL. POETRY IS REALLY NEAT, IT WILL GET YOU OUT OF YOUR SEAT. SOUND OFF... ah it should be fun.


One last thing. I just noticed a new follower.
A big welcome to Ben

Monday, February 16, 2009

I love this poster

Ha - the previous post was about hate, this one is about love. I found this poster on another wonderful blog The Scrapper Poet check it out here. But this really is an awesome poster.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Late Night Poetry

Late Night Poetry

Writing poetry
late into
the evening -
is watching dew
along a window pane
down to the sill.
Like discovering
woman -
in all her glorious
beauty for the first
Learning about her,
and a spinning,
plunging universe.

As always comments are welcome.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Joe Hutchison: Poetry reading at Pomona High School 1/27/09

Maybe I'm just lucky, but I seem to be blessed recently with a couple of really cool events happening at school - all of which I had a hand in.

On Tuesday, Joseph Hutchison came to Pomona to do a poetry reading. What started as a small reading/question answer session for my creative writing club, soon became a full blown poetry reading - with roughly around fifty to sixty kids.

Joe answered some questions. Which I was really impressed with the levels of questions these students were asking. And then he finished by reading about four poems.

In asking the children after - most commented that they really enjoyed the reading. Many did make the comment that they had never been to something like that before, but would probably consider going again in the future - if another event like this arose.

I really think it was a great event. And we encouraged poetry in school - which unfortunately gets pushed to the side all to often.

Joe read one poem, that was just wonderful - he has it linked on his blog, but I will post it here as well.

City Limits
by Joseph Hutchison

for Melody

You’re like wildwood at the edge of a city.
And I’m the city: steam, sirens, a jumble
of lit and unlit windows in the night.

You’re the land as it must have been
and will be—before me, after me.
It’s your natural openness
I want to enfold me. But then
you’d become city; or you’d hide
away your wildness to save it.

So I stay within limits—city limits,
heart limits. Although, under everything,
I have felt unlimited earth. Unlimited you.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Graveyard Bed and other stuff

I went to the hospital today. Well not because I needed to - my Grandfather was in, poor fella. Anyway, it was an odd experience and I kinda felt as I was leaving that I hated it. I think it is the smell - it is hard for me to describe, but I just really don't like hospitals. Maybe I will write a poem about that.

I didn't post yesterday because I felt like if I did I would have to mention Obama and it felt cliche at that point to do so. But I am glad there is a change, lets hope it is for the better.

John Gallaher had an interesting post on his blog today - a lecture on writing and a writing exercise. I didn't think it was awesome, but it was an ok read. Check it out HERE

I am missing LOST this evening. Which is killing me that I can't see it right now. I just got back from visiting my Grandpa late and I didn't want to jump into it in the middle. So I will probably take the time to watch it tomorrow and I will most likely comment on it tomorrow as well.

And here is a poem I wrote this morning while eating breakfast. I had started thinking about this one as I was falling asleep last night (which is really dangerous because I usually forget what I was writing in my head)(I should keep a pad by my bed) and miraculously I remembered what I wanted to say this morning.

Graveyard Bed

There is a graveyard
in my bed.
Complete with two bodies.
Husband and Wife,
Side by side.
Tucked into
the blanket brown earth.
No headstones.
only heads
sawing off
open and rotten.
A willow hangs
over the communal
Gently caressing
the backs
of the face
down carcasses
with it's tender touch.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Deaf and Dead

Deaf and Dead

Step out of your
and join me
at the banks
of the Nile
We'll cast our
eyes 'bout
the Sahara
counting the sands
three four
the pounding sands
to say farewell
to the deaf
and dead

As always please comment

Friday, January 9, 2009

Is this a dagger which I see before me

I have been struggling to post. I want to - I really do, but starting the new semester at school has been brutal, I haven't been writing as much and when I do write I figure I should be writing pieces of fiction since I am taking a fiction class this semester at DU - assignment deadlines and all that. So I feel somewhat guilty when I write poetry. "You should be writing fiction!" I say.

I have figured that I really am more of a poet. Or maybe I have just been writing too much poetry. I struggle writing fiction. I guess I don't want things to be long and drawn out and I usually start pieces of fiction because of an image that I see in my head, but then the image becomes drawn out, or obscured by my attempting to create a story around it. I am hoping that I will learn a lot out of this fiction class, but right now I feel stuck.

At school I am steeped in Macbeth. Prepping the play to teach my juniors. They are in for a treat. I have some cool stuff planned for this one. It has been a long time since I read Macbeth and I had forgotten how cool this play really is. It is a very timely play as well.

And at last a poem - wrote this one while my students were doing a timed writing exercise.

Untitled - extra credit for help with a title

I descended into the earth
and found a chasm.
A hand, withered
and rotting,
reached forth.
It handed
me a book.
The title was obscured.
I read it.
It was good.
I would have returned
to you
to relate the tale,
but it was already
dark and
the boatman
kept waving me

As always comments are welcomed

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Strike Sparks by Sharon Olds

I recently re-discovered Sharon Olds. I had read some of her work in a poetry class at BYU-Idaho and then promptly forgot about her. It was my Poetry class this last fall that reminded me of her. She really is wonderful.

I just finished Strike Sparks - one of her collections of selected poetry and I must say it was good stuff... for the most part. Some of the poems seemed to be repetitive. The same ideas over and over. But then some were just awe inspiring, beautiful, poignant, powerful. This is one of my favorite from the collection.

The Language of the Brag
Sharon Olds

I have wanted excellence in the knife-throw,
I have wanted to use my exceptionally strong and accurate arms
and my straight posture and quick electric muscles
to achieve something at the centre of a crowd,
the blade piercing the bark deep,
the haft slowly and heavily vibrating like the cock.

I have wanted some epic use for my excellent body,
some heroism, some American achievement
beyond the ordinary for my extraordinary self,
magnetic and tensile, I have stood by the sandlot
and watched the boys play.

I have wanted courage, I have thought about fire
and the crossing of waterfalls, I have dragged around

my belly big with cowardice and safely,
my stool black with iron pills,
my huge breasts oozing mucus,
my legs swelling, my hands swelling,
my face swelling and darkening, my hair
falling out, my inner sex
stabbed again and again with terrible pain like a knife.
I have lain down.

I have lain down and sweated and shaken
and passed blood and feces and water and
slowly alone in the centre of a circle I have
passed the new person out
and they have lifted the new person free of the act
and wiped the new person free of that
language of blood like praise all over the body.

I have done what you wanted to do, Walt Whitman,
Allen Ginsberg, I have done this thing,

I and the other women this exceptional
act with the exceptional heroic body,
this giving birth, this glistening verb,
and I am putting my proud American boast
right here with the others.

I love that third to last stanza. "I have lain down and sweated and shaken/and passed blood and feces and water and/slowly alone in the centre of a circle I have/passed the new person out/and they have lifted the new person free of the act/and wiped the new person free of that/language of blood like praise all over the body./" Such a wonderful way of describing child birth.