Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Hello and Welcome!

If you're one of the five people I imagine will visit this site at least once, I'm glad you're here!  A couple of notes:

  • Please bear with me re: any formatting issues.  It's been at least four years since I've messed around with Blogger.  I imagine that my theme and fonts will be less lame in the future.  I just want to get things up and running asap or this will be one of those passing fancies I'm too busy for mid-February.  If you see any obvious problems, let me know!
  • I imagine that I will update at least once a week, probably more to start.
  • Most of these poems were written during weekly meetings of the Schaumburg Poetry Group (hi, guys!) in response to prompts, so much of the content is purely fictional and not about YOU or HIM, per se.
  • I don't care about meter and have never cared about it, even when it was my business as an English major to care about it.
  • I have been writing creatively for about as long as I can write, yet SOMEHOW continue to languish in complete obscurity.  I am proud to say that my work has been rejected by many of the best publications in America, and I look forward to collecting new rejections from poetry magazines and websites in the future. 
  • If you would like me to link to your creative endeavor, leave me a comment!
  • Questions?  Concerns?  I can do almost nothing about the current American political situation.  I will delete spam comments with joyful abandon.  I will obsessively check for comments.  I am already filled with self-doubt.

First, Some Good News!

Hi everyone,

I just thought I'd take a moment to toot my own horn, as it were.

My poem "Home" was selected to be read at the Jersey City Writers' "Genre Night," on April 21, 2018, which kicked off the Jersey City Art Council's Poetry Festival Week. 

My poem "What Gets Left Behind" has been published in the Summer 2020 issue of Kaleidotrope.

My poem "The Last Girl" has been published in Issue 4 of Arsenika.

You can now read my poem "Lethargy" on The Pangolin Review.

Also, my poem "Maida Vale" has been accepted by The Wells Street Journal for their April 2019 issue.

One verse of a haiku series, "The T-12 Chronicles" will be published in Issue 74 of Leading Edge Magazine as an "Honorable Mention" in their "Sci-Faiku" (sci-fi haiku) contest.

My micropoems "Tethered" and "Horsehead Nebula" have been published in Issue 2 of Black Bough Poetry. (page 37!)

My poems "Diagnosis" and "The First of the Plagues" have been published in Issue 4.2 of Mineral Lit Mag.

My poem "Stasis" was recently published at Pendemic. And you should submit your pandemic-related work there too!

"The Xi Movement" has been published at Rejection Letters.

You can find "Zoom" at ang(st)'s Distanced 2.0 project.

"Cotton Candy, 1983" has been posted in the inaugural issue of Perhappened Mag. I'm thrilled to announce that this poem has been nominated by Perhappened for Sundress Publications' "Best of the Net" Award for Poetry!

"bean sí" will be published in Twist in Time Mag.

"External Beam" has been published in the "Heatwave" issue of Perhappened Mag

My poem "Uninhabited" will be included as part of the Tales from the Trail YouTube project.

My micropoem "Momento Mori" has been published in Versification

My poem "A Bit of a Meltdown" recently found a home with Crow and Cross Keys, which was posted on my birthday, November 21, 2020.

My poems "First, the Rules" and "Mastectomy" have been published in Sledgehammer Lit.

My pieces "Sophomore Year" and "Tarot Reading" will appear in the pop-up "coming of age" issue of The Journal of Erato.

I'll be sure to post links to my work as they get published!

Also, if you'd like to follow me on Twitter, here I am.  I am not, in real life, a dog.  I should probably have some kind of professional author Twitter profile, but that's more work than I want to put into that site right now.


Buy me a Ko-Fi?

Hi everyone,

I drink a LOT of tea at the Corner Bakery every week to produce these poems that you (hopefully) enjoy!  If you are interested in sponsoring my tea-drinking/poetry production, please visit my Ko-Fi site at  Please don't feel obligated to do so, even if you know me in real life.  :)


Independence Day

When we selected instruments 
to play for school band,
I unwisely selected the drums.
A fourth-grade feminist breakthrough, sure,
but everything was too heavy for me,
the smallest girl in my grade.
The band teacher was too Whiplash-draconian,
and I had no concept of commitment 
to any kind of extracurricular activity.
For the next three years,
the Fourth of July was a torment,
sweat pouring in rivulets down my back
underneath my uniform shirt
as I struggled to carry the tenor drum 
strapped to my shoulders
down the parade route,
Broad Street in Griffith, Indiana,
lined with proud parents 
and children hunting candy handouts.
We inched down the street,
behind floats and in front of fire engines,
the St. Mary/Our Lady of Grace School Band,
the drummers never getting a break
but playing cadences between songs,
which I can still tap out to this day.
But once the parade ended, I was free!
Free from the oppressive sun and the noise,
free from my teacher’s scrutiny,
free from the harness that bruised my shoulders and hips.

Survivor Naani

Me, a one-breasted woman, 
walking Horus, 
a three-legged dog, 
each day such a gift. 

Crane Fly

Something that looked like a mutant mosquito
was climbing on our ceiling last night
with long, spindly legs and large wings strapped to its back.
You would think it had drunk some super-soldier serum
from a comic book and now had a ridiculous size and strength
for a reedy-looking insect.
“But it’s not going to suck our blood right?” I asked,
eyeing it with trepidation.
“Oh no, no,” my husband assured me,
“it’s not even a mosquito.”
It was a crane fly (he looked it up).
Harmless to humans, its only purpose in this life
is to be,
to reproduce and to be eaten by something else.
I briefly wondered how it had gotten into our living room,
concluded that it must have moved in as I was calling
out to our dog in the front yard,
scolding him for excavating the flower bed.
The crane fly is gone now,
perhaps a feast for the spider that resides in the corners of our ceiling,
perhaps weary of this life, it fell to the ground,
and was swept up with the dust and lint and dog hair 
of my furious cleaning,
or perhaps it made its escape 
and is quietly, invisibly saving the world
from an insect super-villain.


It was unnaturally still in the woods that day,
no fellow hikers crashing along the trail,
no birds chirping love songs and war cries,
no squirrels scurrying up the grey bark of a tree.
The cloud hung low among the trees and the vegetation,
masking the horizon
softening all the edges,
inviting me into the silver mist.
If I had heeded its call,
I would have been drawn deeper and deeper
to the blurred horizon.
I would have vanished along with the haze
when the sun peeked through the canopy of leaves,
warming the tender green plants rising to meet it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021


“Look!” he cries,
eyes wide, finger pointing off into the distance,
words temporarily failing him
as to what exactly I should be regarding,
and I obey his command,
look in the direction his trembling finger is pointing,
and I don’t see anything out of the ordinary,
just green grass in need of a mowing,
large shrubs, a rusty wire fence,
and a mostly empty parking lot just behind it,
and that is all I see.

I wouldn’t say that my eyesight is the best.
Without my thick glasses, my world is blurry and formless,
like the beginning of Genesis, 
before God started separating seas and firmaments and whatnot.
Even with my glasses, 
I can’t read street signs at a great distance.
Coupled with my hearing, 
which must be at least slightly impaired
after years of rock concerts with no thought of ear protection,
I make my way through the world mainly with educated guesses
of what someone has just said to me,
or what has been placed in front of my face for my inspection.

“Do you see it?” he asks.
“Er…yes,” I lie, wanting to change the subject,
“Yes, I do,”
but he doesn’t believe me and says,
with greater urgency now,
After a moment, I shrug helplessly,
and he says, “It was a bird,
But it’s flown off now.”
And now I think I know what he was talking about,
not that I really saw the bird,
just the past tense of a movement,
a flash of brilliant blue.

Kalahari Desert

An impossible tree
stands on its own
behind the tangerine dunes.
The tree stretches its bare, black limbs
to touch the cloudless azure sky.
Its roots run deep in the golden sand,
deep enough where it might be cool and wet
and nourishing.
But the tree has no leaves or blossoms.
It looks like a piece of driftwood,
as though it stands proudly in this desert purely by chance.
The branches cast ominous shadows on the ground,
like the spindly legs of enormous spiders,
and you might not even believe it was really there.

(inspired by the pic found at the top of the page here)

Tankas from Outer Space

The planet looming
before you glows tranquil blue.
Peaceful ocean world
oasis except you would
be breathing pure methane gas.

How many Earths and
moons and Saturns and Neptunes
circle yellow stars
millions of light years away,
out of our sight and our reach?

I have a basic
Star Trek understanding of
outer space. If it
fits my dramatic purpose,
then I assume it exists.

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

Library Lights!

The Schaumburg District Library is currently presenting their Library Lights program, featuring spring-themed artwork and poetry from the community projected onto their exterior wall.  Yours truly contributed three short pieces, scheduled to be displayed through May 2, 2021.  And here they are!


The email you’re waiting for,
it contains a yes or a no,
the yes that could completely change your life,
but it’s most likely, probably, a no.

The final episode of the final season,
of the show you’ve been watching for a decade.
The one where all your questions will be answered
and all the conflicts will be resolved.
Then they announce the spin-off.

A break in bad weather,
the one nice day of the whole week.
Bright sunshine and a gentle kiss of a breeze.
You make plans to have a picnic or go to the beach,
an amusement park or a baseball game.
and so does everyone else.

The guy at the office you have a crush on,
you see him only on Thursdays.
You dress just a little bit nicer,
put on some lipstick,
but you don’t want to go overboard
and make it look obvious.
He decided to take the day off today.
It’s no big deal.

VHS Ghazal

Streaming will never be the same as going to the video store.
Watching a movie at home was still an event when you went to the video store.

First you search the new releases, but the movie you want is checked out.
The scent of salty, buttery unpopped microwave popcorn wafts through the store.

Your mom starts to look at the old movies—Hitchcock thrillers and musicals.
Slowly you drift away from her to the other end of the store.

You peruse the boxes of films you’d never be allowed to see.
Screaming beauties, grinning skulls, dripping blood are what lies in store.

You find a row of ‘80s sex comedies: young men—our heroes!— peeking into a locker
room full of half-dressed teen girls—doesn’t this belong in the “adult” section of the store?

Speaking of which, it’s in front of you now, the little room sealed off with a velvet curtain.
You imagine what your mother would say if she found you in this part of the store.

Here is a comedy, but also a romance, but a nice one. No voyeurism, just John Cusack, who is everyone’s true love. Finally, you have found what you were looking for in this video store.

April into May

The pink and white petals of the blossoming trees
float through the air, dancing on the breeze.
The birds have returned, composing their song.
The sunset can wait; the evenings grow long.
The daffodils are wilting, but the tulips are strong.
Lilacs and peonies will be the next to come along.
I deeply inhale the gentle floral fragrance in the air.
I want to capture it, grasp it in my hand; its brevity is unfair.

Reluctant Aubade

I only see the dawn
if I’ve stayed up all night 
the night before.
Or sometimes I’m forced to greet the new day,
but I can assure you, I haven’t rested well,
my thoughts racing,
What if I oversleep,
sleep right through my alarm,
and I miss my flight, my surgery,
the mandatory meeting?
And I wake up multiple times in the darkness
with a hammering heart
and see that it is still too early to rise.
I make a note of the sunrises I see
because I feel at the end for me it won’t be that many.
Thousands upon thousands of sunsets I have admired.
Sunrises…I don’t know, maybe 15?

The dawn to me is a pink and purple sky in the east,
shoved offstage by a blinding yellow star,
Dear God, that’s bright.
Slow morning traffic on the highway,
the relentless beams sliding just underneath my visor,
I sip my scalding tea,
listen to the morning radio chatter,
and inch forward
toward some kind of delay,
road construction or an accident,
and it makes you wonder if you’ll be late,
even though you got up so goddamn early.
And you think,
there are people who thrive at this time,
who are awake and alert and most themselves at this time,
and what would that be like?
I would be a whole different person.
Probably not a better person, but completely different.
Much better to greet the dawn from your bed, I think.
A gleaming ray of light sneaking behind your curtains.
You lift up your head, scowl and groan,
flip to your side and close your eyes again,
and as you breathe slowly, you sink back 
into the incomprehensible scene of your dreams.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021


I open the fridge for the fifth time,
but nothing has changed.
I survey the leftovers—
several days old—
with a scowl.
I don’t throw them away
because maybe I will want them later,
but when I think of eating them now,
my stomach does a little flip.
Limp and lukewarm,
they would be microwaved sadness.
I would rather never eat again.
I want something new, fresh, hot,
its enticing aroma filling the whole house,
something so good
I want to eat and eat and eat,
and I have to force myself to put it away,
put it away for later,
and the container will sit on top of these leftovers,
and tomorrow I won’t want that either.


The lilies of the valley,
for now just blades of jade,
are inching their way up, up, up
having emerged from the brown earth
and old red mulch
and the crunchy dead leaves of last year.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021


Extraterrestrials in a sleek silver vessel
slowly flew over the town of landlocked Ridgedale, Illinois,
and hovered over the subdivision of Bayside Lakes,
which was built around a small retention pond
next to a clubhouse for homeowners’ association meetings.
All of the streets were named after nautical concepts,
like Anchor, Regatta, Hightide, and Surf,
and all of the townhouses were identical,
with beige vinyl siding and uniform mailboxes at the curb.
It was 3:35 on a Tuesday morning,
and all the residents were asleep,
except for April Jenkins,
who had just let out her corgi, Dennis.
And only Dennis, while relieving his bladder,
was aware of these outsiders,
who floated noiselessly above his home,
their motives unknown.
And so Dennis barked
and barked,
full-throated, deep barks,
punctuated by protective growls.
But Dennis barked like that all the time
for no good reason,
and so April, half-asleep, 
opened the door and shouted,
“Dennis! Be quiet! Come inside!”
Dennis reluctantly retreated into his home,
and the ship vanished,
on its way to its home world,
faster than light,
to report its findings about the lush Planet Earth
and its complex civilization of carbon-based canine life.


I held his heart in my bloody gloved hand,
my face drawn closer to it,
this strange cut of meat you’d get at the butcher shop,
pumping like an obedient machine just outside of his body.
It had an aorta and veins and arteries,
atria and ventricles, all in the right places.
The inner walls of this muscle were, however,
studded with sharp white teeth, hundreds of them.
It was where his soul resided.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

What I Remember from Math Class

Pi is that 3.14 number, and it just goes on and on.

You use pi to find the area of a circle. 
In eighth grade Sister Rose made us memorize the quadratic formula.


(this image is fuzzy like my memory)

I have no idea when one would use the quadratic formula.
In geometry class, we had to write out a bunch of proofs,
to make sure that shit that mathematicians have known
since the days of the ancient Greeks is still true.
Sine and Cosine and Tangent…they are ratios of some sort.
You use them for trigonometry.
You do derivatives in calculus, but I don’t remember why.

In real life I can do basic arithmetic to balance my checkbook
and proportions to figure out how many minutes 
it takes me to jog a mile.
I calculate percentages for tips,
but I zone out when it’s time to split the bill at a restaurant.
Most important of all, I use fractions for baking,
like when I can’t find the 1/4 cup,
so I scoop out 2/8 of a cup of flour instead.

Life Diamante

Power, strength, energy, life
A freedom you don’t appreciate until it’s gone
A divine gift—you don’t get to choose the where, when, or how
Painful separation, inevitable, the unhappy ending
Peaceful rest, the new beginning

Discontinued: A Found Poem of Lost Crayon Colors

Celestial century
Pewter shadow
Polished pine
Sea serpent liberty
Sunken Sahara tumbleweed
Axle grease
Mummy’s tomb
Muscle shell
Freshly squeezed Grandma’s perfume
Hedgehog bubble bath
Atomic tulip jellybean
Ravenous deep space
Cosmic midnight gloom
Ocean floor peace dove
Peacock circuit board
Sunshiny seahorse
Sizzling mercury milky way

Savage Joy

With a savage joy,
he showed me his freshly painted scars,
and I said, whoa, man,
you’ve got problems,
you really should talk to somebody,
it’s not 1998 anymore.
Put some pants on.
Maybe try to get a job.

Work Week

Monday I forgot that project was due
Tuesday I got some negative feedback too
Wednesday was the team meeting where I burst into tears
I went to a TGI Friday’s and had a few beers
Thursday I was hungover and came to work tired
Friday afternoon I was told I was fired
Saturday night, I erased the company’s hard drive
Sunday morning I drank a mimosa and never felt so alive.


The tomb has long since been plundered,
only dusty cavities now 
where gold and jewels once adorned
the statues of discarded gods.
Crunching beneath your boots 
as you slowly, cautiously trod the cool stone floor,
the ground littered with shards of clay jars.
Although the sarcophagus is empty,
the wrapped body having been stolen and sold,
you are not alone here.
On every wall, you are surrounded
by pharaohs and servants,
farmers, sailors, hunters, merchants,
scarabs, ibises and falcons,
the piercing eye of Horus,
Anubis with his black jackal head,
busy with his mortician’s work.
Not far behind you,
something that has been sleeping
for thousands of years
suddenly opens and then narrows its eyes.

Shaky Verb Tenses

My future self will travel to the past,
about three years before now,
so that I could leave myself a note,
that I would only find just today.
It reads,
“It all depends on this.
Leave that Pomeranian alone.”
But my future self will miscalculate
the date when this fatal encounter would occur
and had given it to me two years too early.
At the appropriate time the confusing message
will be disregarded and forgotten.
The disturbed Pomeranian
will exact its revenge upon me,
leading to a domino-effect catastrophe
that will overthrow the U.S. government
and decimate the city of Omaha, Nebraska.
My future self, 
ten years after the apocalypse,
will realize that nothing had changed,
and my plan had failed
and wondered if perhaps 
I had planted the seeds of destruction
in the note I had hastily written to my past self.
I will then decide that the past is inevitable,
(or is it the future that is inevitable?)
and to live more meaningfully 
in the smoldering ruins of the present.
The traffic won’t be so bad then, after all,
and wooly mammoths will have made a real comeback.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020


The disposable facemask
lying forlornly on the ground
in the parking lot,
used, abandoned, perhaps even hated.
Tossed carelessly between cars
like a used condom or fast food wrapper.
It doesn’t look like some kind of torture device.
It looks thin, inexpensive, medical, utilitarian.
So many Facebook posts, written in all caps.
So many viral videos of people screaming at weary store managers.
Such resistance
for such a small thing.
So many lives saved,


I bought a cursed coffee mug
from a small, cluttered store
in New Orleans,
you know, the kind with incense 
and crystals and supposed
voodoo talismans.
It was a simple white coffee cup,
imprinted with various local attractions,
and I don’t normally go for touristy stuff,
but this cup called to me,
and somehow,
though I couldn’t really explain it,
I had to have it.
And it was $4.95,
so it was a pretty good deal.
Its cursed nature manifested itself
not long after I returned home
and started using the cup.
Kitchen cabinets started opening by themselves.
Dishes and utensils suddenly appeared 
in the wrong cabinets and drawers.
Once, I filled the coffee cup with cool water
that immediately started boiling
as the cup sat on the counter.
I had troubling dreams too,
dreams of laughing demons 
telling me I was damned,
visions of an angry elderly woman
with a slit throat,
opening her mouth to scream,
but no sound ever came out.
I’ve tried explaining this to people,
but they don’t really believe me,
not even my psychiatrist,
who prescribes me yet another sleeping pill.
I could try to throw it away, 
but it really is the best coffee cup I have.
The perfect thickness of the lip,
the pleasingly textured finish,
the ample depth.
Plus, you can put it in the dishwasher
or the microwave.


For five days straight,
the thick heavy wet white flakes
tumbled down recklessly,
never letting up even for a minute.
and school was closed,
and offices were closed,
and restaurants and stores,
and everything was closed,
except for that 24-hour pancake place,
but how could you even get there?
And the only way I figured they stayed open
was that the owner who worked in the front,
his kids who ran the kitchen,
and that waitress with the smoker’s cough
just never left the restaurant that whole time.

If I opened my front door,
I faced an eight-foot wall of solid snow,
packed in tight and frozen hard.
I had to chisel out a tunnel
just so my dog could take a shit,
but it was a wasted effort.
She spent her brief time outside
whining, confused,
poking her nose 
into the walls of the snow cavern
around her,
then she got too cold and started crying,
and held up her right front paw helplessly,
so I had to carry her back in,
and she crapped on the floor immediately.

And I knew this storm was coming,
everyone knew this storm was coming,
but I wasn’t sure that I had enough food
because it wasn’t supposed to go on this long
and the snow wasn’t supposed to get this high,
and what if the power goes out?
Then we’d be screwed.
So every day,
I worked for a few hours on my tunnel,
trying to dig out a little farther,
hoping to join someone else’s tunnel,
and my hands were cold and numb,
and my feet, despite my boots,
felt cold and wet.

I heard that Paul,
the idiot who lives down the street,
got out on his roof
and tried to jump down onto the top
of the huge snow bank.
He survived,
wasn’t really hurt at all,
considering he’s usually drunk
and never wearing a shirt.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Reply All

Some of us knowingly snickered
when we saw the email titled “Dress Code” in our inboxes.
One of those “friendly reminders” that Yasmin often sent,
not singling anyone out, but you knew there was but one offender.
“Please no tank tops, flip flops, leggings, or torn jeans,” 
she demanded—gently, no admonitions or threats.
Wendy certainly meant to send her snarky reply to Nancy or Scott,
maybe even Elaine in Marketing.
But instead, she tragically selected “Reply All”
and wrote, “This is what that cow, Jessica,
is wearing Right. Now. She hasn’t worn real pants in six months.
Her shirts never even cover her ass!
Must be nice to be a VP’s niece.”
This was followed by a number of laughing and vomiting emojis.
The normal buzz of the office slowly died,
as everyone, office-wide, read this electronic missive.
A sickly silence, punctuated by some shocked murmurs
and wide-eyed whispers hidden behind hands.
And Wendy, when she realized what she had done,
was so distraught that her body temperature rose uncontrollably,
causing her to flush and sweat.
Dizzy with embarrassment and fever,
she whimpered, “I don’t feel so well,”
then literally melted into a puddle of liquid flesh, blood and viscera
right at her desk, a cloud of steam rising above what had been our coworker.
There were screams and gasps, and someone set off the fire alarm.
We stood outside our building, shedding tears and exchanging hugs.
Steve made sure to get a good look at her remains
and had a small audience gathered around him,
describing what was left of her shoes, her hair.
Jess walked right past us to her car,
drove away and never returned.
Wendy’s whole workstation had to be replaced,
and only the most temporary of interns were assigned that space.
Several days later, we received an email from Yasmin,
entitled, “Wendy Yates Memorial Details and New Email Policy.”


I’ve been falling in my dreams lately.
I don’t know what the context is.
I’m just plummeting, the world a blur,
my stomach somewhere in my throat.
Nothing to grab at to slow my descent.
And I really feel it,
I really feel myself falling,
so I call out in a panic,
And my husband gets annoyed,
because I’ve just woken him up
and terrified him with my cries,
but I’m actually fine,
just lying there on my back.
And when I am about to crash land,
my eyes flutter open,
but I don’t feel safe,
not for the rest of the day.

My Favorite Sweater

I’ve probably had it about twenty years now,
my favorite sweater.
It is the color of cinnamon, chili powder,
tart cherries, the leaves of the Japanese maple.
It’s thick and warm and protects me well from the slicing wind.
But it’s a zip-up hoodie,
so it also can be easily removed
when the afternoon sun streams in 
hot and bright through the window,
and my back starts to sweat.
My first dog, Cleo, chewed up the bottoms of the pockets,
after I had accidentally left dog treats there.
So I can’t carry anything in my favorite sweater,
and I travel light.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020


Having crash-landed on the small blue planet,
full of life but short on intelligence,
Rakmar felt very alone.
He stared up at a light blue sky, 
dotted with white clouds,
so very different from the reddish-orange atmosphere
stretching over his home world.
He knew that no one here could speak his language,
biologically could not speak his language, that is,
due to a lack of speech appendages.
No one here could see this world the way he could,
could perceive the colors he saw,
would know the ancient stories of his tribe and nation,
would understand the mechanisms
that lifted his ship high into the heavens,
traveling faster than starlight.

With no way to communicate with his own kind,
Rakmar focused on survival,
keeping his breathing apparatus functioning
(for he did not know whether he could inhale this alien air
and survive),
rationing his food supplies,
and staying hidden from the dominant ones,
the short bipedal creatures who traveled in wheeled vehicles
with filthy internal combustion engines
and spent most of their time staring at small handheld devices,
the purpose of which Rakmar had not yet discovered.

One evening, as the nearest star set at the western horizon,
his favorite time of day,
when the flaming oranges, pinks, and violets
made the sky appear, briefly, like that on his home planet,
Rakmar realized that his breathing apparatus 
had ceased to function,
and he did not have the appropriate tools and supplies to repair it.
So he removed his helmet,
exposing his face for the first time to this strange new air,
and deeply inhaled.


After years of worrying about global warming and meteor strikes
and pandemics and war and terrorism and wildfires and exploding frogs,
humans forgot to worry about what would occur during an alien invasion,
what would happen when they trounced our pitiful attempts at resistance,
what would happen when they killed billions of us
and put the rest of us in zoos across the galaxy.

I was put in the Morgloch Research and Living Habitat Facility,
somewhere many millions of light years away from Earth,
away from everyone I had ever known in my old life,
and in an exhibit with about twenty other humans
and one misidentified Grodothian.
We were fed well,
had a large living space
with several communal homes,
a rough approximation 
of what humans would want for themselves in a shelter,
but the Keepers didn’t really ask us our opinions.
There were no interior walls in our homes,
not even around what I’ll call the bathroom,
but it’s fine,
we made do with what we got.
We had a park with some lovely oaks and maples and green Earth grass,
but also some pink puffy trees that seemed to be covered in fur.
These trees had eyes, and they breathed loudly through their trunks.
It’s nice that they gave us the spot for recreation,
but they weren’t really fooling anyone.

We were supposed to all be friends in our exhibit, I guess.
They wanted for us to pair off and reproduce.
And I think their experiment was largely a success,
except for me.
I looked at my fellow humans and the one Grodothian,
and I saw greedy, grasping beasts,
fighting every day over our daily rations,
even though there was always more than enough,
and we could probably have asked for more, if we really wanted it.
Like you’d find in a seventh grade classroom,
there was a strict social hierarchy.
Or it’s probably more accurate to say that it was a solar system, 
with Chase Goodwin and Miriam Roskell as twin stars
and the rest of us orbiting them at varying distances.
Surprisingly, the Grodothian was closer to them than anyone else,
but I was Pluto,
icy, distant,
not even considered a planet.

Diana Cho and I kind of paired off for a while, as friends.
We laughed at our fellow captives,
their pitiful attempts at maintaining some kind of control in their lives,
their “house rules,”
their “negotiations” with the Keepers.
Then something happened.
I still don’t know what.
Maybe it was something I said,
or something I did,
or something I didn’t do,
but Diana started avoiding me.
She and Miriam were the ones laughing now,
and if I caught her eye,
she’d give me the same look
you might give to a centipede scurrying in the bathtub
or that container of leftovers in the back of your fridge,
the one you don’t even remember putting in there,
its contents now green and grey and white and furry.
And that was the end of that.

The Keepers removed me from the exhibit one day
and used their invasive methods to communicate with me
and asked me why I “wasn’t integrating.”
“I don’t know,” I told them, honestly.
“We just don’t get along.”
The Keepers didn’t understand.
We were all the same species
(they still hadn’t realized their mistake about the Grodothian),
from the same part of our home planet, even.
We spoke the same language,
weren’t that far apart in age,
and were free to mate in whatever combinations we preferred.
What could possibly be the problem?
“Some people are just better off by themselves,” I said.
“I’ve always been like that.
Even before you all…arrived, 
I wasn’t that good at making friends,
and I never dated anyone for very long.”
The Keepers were unsatisfied with this explanation,
and I was informed I was to be immediately transferred 
to the Ferlanian Living Habitat,
located in a different galaxy.
I didn’t even get to say goodbye to Diana Cho,
but I wasn’t that broken up about it.

When I arrived at my new home,
I realized there had been some mistake.
I was in an exhibit full of Grodothians,
but it wound up being okay, actually.
They were accepting and welcoming,
and we all had a lot in common.
So it was better than I thought it would be,
about as good as anyone could expect.


Everyone had a bad year in 2020,
but Ryan was particularly afflicted.
After being struck by lightning on a golf course,
he died for 42 seconds
before being shocked back to life,
and then it turned out
he could create weather systems
just above his head,
but he couldn’t control this ability very well.
“You’re destroying my home!” 
his young wife shrieked,
fed up with the rain ruining her hardwood floors
in the living room,
the tornado that ripped apart the master bathroom,
sending her prized claw-footed white bathtub
flying into a neighbor’s home,
the blizzard in the bedroom
that buried the carpet under two feet of snow.
They had received nasty letters
from the homeowners’ association
and denials of claims from their insurance company.
“You just can’t live here anymore,”
his wife sadly told him.
“Not until they figure out how to fix…
your problem.”
“But where am I to go?” he cried,
his arms outstretched in a beseeching posture.
But she had no answer for him.
“I told you it was stupid to go golfing.”
She finally said it.
“With the pandemic and everything…”
“It was outside!” he cried.
“Brett and I barely talked to each other,
and we didn’t even use our flasks!”
There was a loud clap of thunder above them both,
and his wife silently pointed at the door.
They say that Ryan spent the rest of that year
living in a tent,
camping out from place to place,
eventually evicted by the police
when he caused flash floods, damaging hail, derechos
and, famously, one particularly violent haboob.
He’d stand defiantly in the middle of his storms,
holding out his arms in a Jesus pose,
hoping that if he could once again be struck by lightning,
this gift could be returned.

Cold Water

The sudden plunge.
Water in your ears and your eyes,
rushing down your throat.
You cough, choke, struggle to rise.
Your clothes, soaked, weigh you down.
Your warmth is defenseless against the icy current,
it carries your breath and your body away.
Your heart is shocked into a new, uneven rhythm.
Panic as you flail your limbs,
search for buoyancy.
Cold water is the look in his eyes,
the sensation of his hand pressed firmly to your back,
the forceful push,
the abrupt end.

Tea Time

The kettle screaming,
the steam perfumed by cardamom and cinnamon.
A splash of cold milk,
a swirling white galaxy.
Warm your hands, fix your soul.

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Blue Tastes Like...

Sky-colored cotton candy, sugar dissolving to nothing in an instant.

Bright blue raspberry snow cone juice, dying your lips and tongue and teeth.

It doesn’t really taste that much like raspberry.

It’s its own flavor.

Blue also tastes like the shaved ice in that snow cone, crunchy and cold.

A sickly sweet alcoholic drink with a paper umbrella resting on the rim of the glass.

A glob of toothpaste, setting your mouth aflame 

with arctic fresh sparkling mint flavor.

Blue tastes like nothing natural on this earth,

except for the pop of juicy blueberries between your molars, sweet and tart.

Two Spice Poems



Cinnamon is the smell of the things

I’ve lately been giving myself permission to do.

Sipping slowly on a cup of chai,

a spicy cloud of steam rising gently from my cup.

A sprinkle of cinnamon over the top of a blueberry cobbler,

baking sticky and bubbling in the oven.

Stirring a small pile of cinnamon to form the arms of a galaxy

in a universe of applesauce.


Chili Powder and Cumin


Weeknight dinner,

two tablespoons of chili powder,

one tablespoon of cumin.

Chop the onion with teary, stinging eyes.

Brown the ground turkey,

mince the garlic.

Add the red bell pepper,

the diced sweet potato.

This one-pot meal,

but still too many dishes to do afterwards.