NaPoWriMo, Day 22



unless one stands with one foot on either side of the line, facing true north (or whatever your faith tells you to be true in the absence of a compass) in which case you may feel one foot become distinctly warmer, and you will be faced with a decision to sing Johnny Cash or Footloose.  To hold still is not an option because you’re just realized the ground is separating beneath you like in an action film.  Your heel is teetering on the corner of the round earth.  Dance.

NaPoWriMo, Day 21

(NOT belated!)






Sailors are buried at sea

and it is said

their faces appear in the waves

for days

following the ship

that bore them

from their homes





A day of chilled spring rain

and the worms creep

like question marks

from their earthy homes

but they lose their way,

find themselves underfoot

or out to dry

what keeps them coming?

why is home not enough?






When he was born, I said

look at his chin

a perfect replica of his father’s

they were the only words I could find

after two days of waves crashing

over me, after a red rope seam

was stitched into my belly

that kept me pressed into my bed.





Evening night glints

on a glass frame

that face is gone

though the glass frame

cradles the photo

holds it tight to itself

as if closed eyes

could return what was lost





The faces in the waves

fade eventually

and the ship is free

to choose its own direction.

NaPoWriMo, Day 20 (belated)


Peshtigo, WI – October 8, 1871


When Chicago burned, so did we.

Our bodies froze in the river

where we hid our skin from flame

and held our breath until our lungs

broke open and our mouths chewed ash.

Updraft and fall,

wind solid as locomotive steel

twisted, wound, concentric

and tossing houses in the air

only to drop them to wreckage.

A fire whirl, they called it later–

a name as light as dancing,

as though a dervish had spun through

after a dry season and kindled

the fields, jumping rivers gleefully.

In truth, the heat was a drill

chewing into every surface it could find,

and we closed our eyes against it

as though our eyelids stood a chance.


Note: This summer, while traveling around northern Michigan, I learned about the Peshtigo fire–an event most people outside of the Green Bay area have never heard of, in part because it occurred on the same day as the much more widely publicized Great Chicago Fire.  Communities in Michigan (Manistee and Holland) also experienced fires that day.  However, in truth, the Peshtigo fire destroyed more square acreage, more property, and took more lives than any of those other fires that day, and it remains the deadliest wildfire in American history, with a death toll of at least 1,200 and possibly as many as 2,500.

NaPoWriMo, Day 19 (belated)

Today’s prompt was to write about the Narcissus myth, but since I already did that on my own, I decided to take a different approach and write about Echo, the nymph who loved him but couldn’t speak other than to repeat his words.




Can I see you?

I see you

Are you trying to say something?

say something

I am!

I am

Wait–who is that in the water?

in the water

You’re so beautiful.


I could just climb in

climb in

like wrapping myself in a wish


If only I could be

I could be

steeped in your eyes, so much more


beautiful than the words

than words

my humble mouth could say to you.

to you

NaPoWriMo, Day 18 (belated)

He has scribbled black Crayola all over

his face, a mask he grins through

with a front tooth missing.  He announces

he is now Captain Baby Pants

and that he has no super powers,

but I beg to differ.


He has strength enough to stretch me

into previously unmarked territory:

my personal Antipodes, cluttered

with old luggage, tarnished silver

and staircases leading to parts unknown.

He has a mighty grip as he takes my hand

and navigates a parking lot or a psychiatrist’s office.

He can metamorphose into any beast

or being, and his voice is a sonic boom

felt in other hemispheres.


And at times, he fades into opaqueness

which is even more deceptive than invisibility

because while I can see him clearly,

I lose what’s behind his eyes.


But I scoop him up with my own mom-like strength

because it’s bath time

and I’m still discovering his secret identity.

NaPoWriMo, Day 17 (belated)

Catch-up day!




Mirrors be damned.  You ran

your hands through your untamed hair

without fear of poison.  The wide, slitted eyes,

the teeth, they knew better, knew

they’d be swinging in the wind

without you.  It was good to be needed.

Besides, you knew yourself as a reflection

and had no need of a glass.

Men’s faces twisted into your likeness–

you ran a finger over the granite lines,

smoothed their brows, tested the edge

of their teeth.  They stayed warm

a long time.

NaPoWriMo, Day 16 (belated)

This week has been rough on my writing–both my younger son and I have had a cold, which left me exhausted at the end of each day.  I did write Day 16 on Monday, but was so tired by the end of the day that I couldn’t bring myself to fire up my laptop and post it.  So here it is today, with subsequent catch-up poems to come in future posts!




She is a walking memory

embedded in dust.  A scratch

in a wood floor.  A held breath.

She passes the doorway

in dignified procession, hands folded,

no heavier than a dust mote’s footstep.

What draws her here,

even in daylight

when other wisps have spent themselves

and retired to debris?  What story casts her

to walk this hallway

in only one direction

like a message in a closed bottle?

NaPoWriMo, Day 15

Halfway there!

Today’s official prompt had me thinking about villains…and for some reason, only Narcissus came to mind.  I know he’s not a real villain, but I followed the thought.



Narcissus loved more than himself.

He loved the water for holding

his reflection so tenderly

and the muddy banks for their slope.

He let his fingers sink in as he knelt,

the cool ooze between them and under

his palms, he imagined them to be flesh.

He loved the sun for tousling his hair

and warming his bare shoulders

and the breeze for stroking his back.

He closed his eyes, brows raised

and lips parted, as the world

embraced him as a lover would.

NaPoWriMo, Day 14



They said rain was coming today,

freezing on the way down

into pellets.  We prepared

for heaven’s ammunition,

bundled up at home.  We moaned

about spring in Michigan

and global warming.

We cleaned things

since it’s spring, after all,

and that’s what you do in spring

in Michigan when you’re home

waiting for an ice storm

that never came.  We felt cold

burn our skin when we

investigated, but the pavement

was dry.  Tentative steps

to the mailbox, the way

you can’t just shake off

the memory of being a target.

NaPoWriMo, Day 13

After a looooong day, this one was a bit of a cheat.  I’d started this poem some time ago, but finished it today.  So that counts, right?



Pain is weight.  Anger is weight.  It sinks us daily

sometimes, and I claw for air.

There may only be moments of breath

before he spirals down again.


As a mother, I bear the weight.


First the pediatrician, then the psychologist.

There are theories, medications, occupational therapy

for a beautiful boy with brown eyes and invisible anchors

tied to his body.  He’s too young, they say,

for a solid diagnosis.  We wouldn’t want a label

pulling him down.


As a mother, I bear the weight.


I put my arm around his shoulder.

He rests his head against me and we sink

into the couch together.  He smells like

feet and the Oreos that he ate after dinner

that still linger at the corners of his mouth.


In the recesses of his mind, the one

that wrings him limp from one moment

to the next, that I have to remind myself

is in more control of this than either of us,

I pray he knows

with my tired body

and my dented heart

I will bear the weight.