Instructions for Proper Lightning Pose

Today we had our first lightning evacuation in the field. Here is a quick poem.
PS did you know that ice cream stores in Sedona don’t have the world’s best wifi? Did you know it’s hard to upload pictures without internet? Anyway, sorry for no “featured image.”

Instructions 4.PNG

Canned Peaches

A quick poem I wrote this afternoon while trying not to get peach juice on my computer.

My cupboard is stocked with canned fruit
waiting to fall forward
into lids peels back,
fork tongs stuck in
uncondensing sweetness out.

in this battle against
Hunger stalking
the unrequited Love at the heart
of this chore called living.

I have never been hunting
or planted an orchard.
Never warmed my hand beneath
the feathers of a hen nestled
against her eggs to take
what I need, or
sewed myself to water
by the stitch of fishing lure.

these hands have always eaten
the legs propping them up, fingers gnashing
around the curved edges of cans piled high
as me, bringing cheeks to the knife-sharp
corners of metal ripped open,
praying that the edging caresses won’t rip
back, and get iron-rich blood as sticky as juice—
but not quite as sweet—

Big Muddy

In light of discovering Frank Lima (who is brilliant beyond words) and resistance.

Always remember that you were formed on top of those mountains
you see spindling up from the once flat earth in want
of open air’s weathered
like infant fingers learning to reach up towards a clasp,
or tiny lungs learning to grip
air into hungry screams.

That sky, who answers want with
the cold beauty of snow, will watch
you wear your days away, my dear,

under the tender heat of a risen sun — touch:
a verb meant to melt.
Think lover melting skin smooth
underneath a goosebump’s forgotten breath —
in order to fall down and run with the river
eager to fill the shape of its given banks,

the banks that will dump dirt into your soft arms
until you are plump and heavy and called something like
“Big Muddy.”

Rivers do not run back upstream, Big Muddy,
but down
the length of the vein
(or scar)
running across the country’s face all
the way to the once flat ocean, where you will remember
those mountains where you were once snow
and climb up into a wave
reaching for the storming sky heaving with water
to take back what you need in order to feel


Happy New Year from the Hangover

I got to have New Year’s Eve with some lovely Americans running through the streets of Paris in the snow, and here’s a poem that just wants to say happy new year to everybody.

The last time I had a hang
over this bad must have been six months ago in Portland.
When the summer camp counselors gathered together
in that beautiful craftsman home to hang
socks on each other
like wintertime Christmas trees under the blanket
of a slow summer’s night in the thick of the year, and I
woke up under the dining table with a stack of poetry
journals for a pillow, face
to face with a couple spooning against the china.

But poetry is more column than cuddle, a stack of sentences
divided, apart, one atop the other instead
of hooked up side by side.
A book is but a stack of pages bound together for strength.
A year is just a pile of days.
A tree a collection of rings
chasing renewal’s possibilities one year at a time.
Forests an anthology of trunks dizzying themselves with
growing fat round and round and around again the past
until man presses them skinny again
to stamp their faces with his poetry.

and all I see on Paris’s face are circles,
an agglomeration of arrondissements pirouetting around
each other to make a city in Spirograph,
one that is perfect for stumbling through, overjoyed
by the lightest of snows while the minute and second hand
circle around the watch’s face toward midnight to divide
one day from the next
in this business of making new, to say then
and there. Here
and now.

Those were socks
and this is snow.


A Letter from the Pig

Pigs are my all-time favorite animal, and I get frustrated when dirty politicians that resemble oranges more than anything else get compared to them.

they call me a pig
with my snout married to marred mud made of
the corn that midwestern soil toiled over
to turn dirt to gold to turn over the fattening act
of making pigs.
like you, like the others, like we all
squeal about the shit found in the mud called home,
the shit which leaked into this mire from
the corn that made the feed that fed
the fattening that made ourselves:
it is all but a cycle;
i have seen your likes before,
like an archetype,
like a cliché,
like a history,
like a present,
like the chicken-coop mesh walls you build around men
when calling them animals
to watch from the other side, using your two legs as a tower
above that snout called other,
this is not me,
this is an animal farm,
this is a poetry,
let the parables swath you  up in the white veil of the bride
who wears her virginity brilliantly on the color of her sleeve
edging on the cliff that begs for falling.
i have never seen beyond a pig pen,
i have never picked an ear of corn from a field
or an apple from an orchard,
i suckle whatever falls from any human hand
that forgets that its purpose is to hold
until i can take my rest from eating
and lay down on your table,
next to the corn,
my dried snout holding, itself,
the curved edges
of some crisply-picked apple.

*It must, of course, be acknowledged that this ended up as basically a copy cat of Margaret Atwood’s Pig Song.

Today I was Clumsy, so a Poem Happened

For whatever reason, I could not seem to stop spilling things today, and I hope my Venezuelan roommate enjoyed his English lesson for the day on how to swear (loudly, thoroughly, consistently). For whatever reason, after my dinner ended up on the floor, I sat down to write a poem about it instead of the lesson plan that I should have been working on. I haven’t been very good about keeping in practice with poetry since my band is (I think) no more, so it was nice to start to get back into it.

The first thing to spill today was the morning’s coffee:
unraveled from the sheets that fill the nooks and crannies
of this new double bed,
it fell from the mold of a mug’s grasp
to the flatness
pressed between gravity and open space.

To sleep on your stomach is healthier, I hear,
to lift your spine to cold night air on the offering
of your lungs’ insistence that they are alive.
A lifelong side-sleeper,
I am letting my limbs crawl into the corners
that this square mattress offers.
Twin rectangle dimensions
have always asked me to fill them
with the lumps of my flesh;
I find myself falling flat into this new life now where

I spilled the milk from my cereal onto the floor
quickly after the coffee incident.
This goddamn breakfast is in my bed,
it is on the floor,
in the grout,
in the pores of a sponge,
(later) kissing the cold spoon against my lips,
it is in my stomach.

To French kiss is to fill
to let the heavy muscle of your speech crawl outside
of its own cave into
the stalactites and mites of waiting teeth. This French bed
has but one visitor, small and lost in its space.
Why, I wonder, have I crawled away from America
into these jaws of abroad,
but to fill air
with the bragging undertones of past experience
(perhaps while pressing spine into the warmth of a stomach,
my lungs keeping tempo with life
stacked one on top of the other, like always)?

I bookended today with a dinner of spilled rice
all across the kitchen floor,
newly cleaned. Packed so close together just a moment ago,
they look so small when they are unraveled
as a collection of ones
across the nooks and crannies of this space.

A Rainy Poem

Today, for pre-planned, futures-not-lining-up reasons, my lovely boyfriend and I broke up. It was raining while I drove back to Phoenix.

“Controlled burn: do not report” glows in safety orange
emblazoned among a sopping sky’s fall to earth
(the asphalt is soaked in the smell you call “wet” instead of “rain”)
as I tumble downhill into desert sand,
where I might hang these feelings to dry on clotheslines
strewn above the oneness of suburban riviera
along the disconnect of an empty swimming pool.

“Break up” carries the violence of ripping apart
these parts of a whole, my dear, or smashing to pieces
collections of the familiar,
a child new to limbs lost in the space of things:
what sort of holes do spaces within the atom
leave wounded in this universe?
How does the heart of the atom yearn for the distant linger of the electron?

And what power high does that electron get from pulling light
into the gray scheme of cloud’s fall from heaven,
bucking up the sadness of scene with the violence of
(parting lips was an exercise of muscle and magnetism, love.
I don’t know how I let go of your hand at all.)

This sign, blinking in its orange bulbs, though, tells the story
of a controlled burn;
the accident of lightning does not always beg for
man’s smother.

I cannot help but notice
how the gray smoke rises halfway up
to the falling sky
in order to kiss in the middle.

Art and Literature in the American Southwest

I had the lovely opportunity to spend this past weekend with my honors class Art and Literature in the American Southwest camping, painting, and writing at Lee’s Ferry, Marble Canyon, and Horseshoe Bend with local Flagstaff artist Bruce Aiken and honors professor and writer Robyn Martin. All of my previous painting experience has consisted of getting drunk with my friends and painting “Fuck Off” on stuff, but, this weekend, I also learned to watercolor southwestern landscapes to a somewhat-acceptable degree. Additionally, I took on the task of fitting all of my creative writing prompts into my well-loved form of the letter:

Prompt: At Lonely Dell, the homestead of Emma Lee near Lee’s Ferry, we were told to write a letter to Emma Lee. She was one of the Mormon martyr John D. Lee’s nineteen wives (each with their own, separate homestead which only saw John D. Lee himself from time to time), a mother of nine, and later a midwife in Winslow, AZ.

Dear Emma Lee,
There is something to your name that was built to slide off of the tongue. I have not known you, nor am I familiar with you story past a cursory glance at an hour of new-found oral history. But your name was meant to fit into mouths, Emma Lee, those of natives,


Lonely Dell

those of Mormons, children, husbands, laboring mothers, decedents, visitors. How did his name, Lee, tack  onto the end of the other wives’ names, I wonder? How did you share the love of a man, his seed, your God with women planted across the red rock of this place you call “Lonely Dell,” Emma Lee? What did this loneliness feel like in the knowledge of his social abundance scattered, planted, and growing despite the dryness of this landscape?


Emma Lee, your name is reminiscent of my gentile Eve, a trapdoor of consonant sandwiched between open vowel. I admire the garden you have here, dear Emma Lee, sown in the dust of the original sin which shaped the world in which you must toil. Please, warn me, your tourists, the daughters you have ushered into this world of any snakes, Emma. In the southwest, I hear, lost innocence is not chosen, but stolen with a rattle.
Love, Lizzy

Prompt: After reading Terry Tempest Williams‘s “Why I Write”, answer the question “Why do you write?”

A Love Letter from the Pen to Thoughts


Dear Thoughts,
How are you? How have you been since your last letter, the one where you smeared my ink on the word


The Colorado River

“and” with the side of your hand and said a bit of vocabulary at me, even though we both know it wasn’t my fault? I’m sorry that our relationship has taken on this rapport of ours, even though we both know that it isn’t my fault. You, with your untamed violence, thrashing out from the boned confines of your prison skull, and me, sitting placid in the relative freedom of being outside the human body, but dang it if we don’t both need that body to move. I’m sorry that our affair is one of dependence like this.

Sometimes, thoughts, I imagine what it must be like to exist in such vastness only to have me reduce yourself to my thin stream of ink, to pass on to others to expand again. I’m glad you choose me over voice, though, for my permanence scratched out with time over his quickness and ease. In this way, thoughts, I find our intimacy. I rejoice in my ability to give you the timely space to create a similacrum of yourself in my minute form.
Love, The Pen

Prompt: Write two haikus about how you have changed over the course of this trip.

A letter to me:
briefly, leave word for image
in watercolors.

Discover color
outside of typed black and white.
Like rocks, bleed in red.


Horseshoe Bend