Feb. 23rd, 2011 12:25 pm
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)

I eat like a clumsy snake
angling my head, unhinging my jaw

clunk, crack

sinking my teeth into my dinner
and my lower lip

tasting steak and my own blood
pain shooting through my bones

clenching my jaw, tensing my neck
pulsing in my head like a venom


cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
learning to live on the moon

we believed we needed to breathe
even after all our other needs
receded when they weren't met.

even after the sun stopped rising
and our feet stopped reaching the ground,

we thought: surely there must be something constant -
something solid, like air - something sound.

we thought: as long as we have our helmets;
we thought: as long as we hold our breath,

right up to the moment we stepped outside
queasy and weightless, and realized
we hadn't yet smothered to death.


Nov. 25th, 2010 11:32 pm
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)

fiona says you know     some people are afraid
of heights     cliffs     tall buildings     those places
not because they think they'll fall     but because
they think they'll jump

i saw some photographs of sylvia plath     in every one
she's smiling     soft face     quick bright eyes     ted
with his arm around her     and her long dark braid
like a snake down her back

all you can think when you see her     is why
did she do it     but then why did virginia do it
why did frida do it

plath     woolf     kahlo     clever women
with five letter names are cursed     with men
husbands     brothers     doctors     editors
who want to tell them what they can and can't do
with their bodies     and don't want to listen
to their minds

worse     cursed with bodies     that don't listen
bodies they can't control     the bodies decide
when they bleed     when they breed     when they don't
when they die

of course they plunge into ovens     and rivers     and sleep
what else can you do

tall buildings     bridges     train stations     those places
are safe     that stone in your stomach     that knot
in your throat     is your body admitting
you might be in control

yes fiona i know
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
Cryptococcus neoformans

Chernobyl is full of deer
who don't know of radiation
but who know of humans
and who know a haven when they find it.

They drink tainted water
and eat tainted greens
and the only men they see
come in 20-minute rotations

dressed in hazard suits
and drunk on vodka
to help fight off the poison
or at least the knowledge of it.

The men wave clicking machines,
make marks in their notebooks
and make human noises of surprise
as they near the reactor

and find hundreds of mushrooms
which they've never seen before
which eat not decaying matter
but the radiation itself -

and the deer knows
and the fungus knows
and the ghost of the fermented potato knows:
when the humans push the button

they won't wipe out the whole planet,
just themselves.


Nov. 5th, 2010 05:51 am
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
In case anyone was wondering (ha), I haven't dropped off the face off the earth, or stopped writing poetry. Well, kind of. I've abandoned the one-poem-every-day strategy for the sake of my sanity, and decided to replace it with a more modest and reasonable one-poem-every-week goal. This week, however, I've been working on revising some works for possible submission to publications, which means

1) no new poetry

2) no revisions posted here (just on the off chance that anyone should consider this to count as "previous publication"). I might also lock up any posts with first drafts of poems I'm revising, just to be on the safe side (thus far, only "Learning to live on the island").

If anyone is crazy/generous enough to want to see my revisions and provide critical feedback, it'd be much appreciated. Shoot me an email/comment/facebook message/whatever and let me know.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
After the fall

He is not particularly surprised to wake up
in the hospital ward, nor to hear the nurse cry,
"Lord almighty! It must be some kind of miracle,
a man falling from a fifth floor window,
breaking near every bone in his body,
and waking up again!"

He closes his eyes. Is this a hospital
or a church? He would laugh
if his ribs weren't snapped. He growls
through his wired jaw, "What kind of miracle
makes a man learn to walk for the third time?"

Now he's done it. When the nurse interprets
his slurred words, he gets a whole sermon
on grace and gratitude. He half-sleeps
until the nurse says, "There's someone to see you."
He opens his eyes

and Paula walks in. He grins,
then grimaces, then flattens his features
and tries to stay very still. "Hello, beautiful."
Her smile is unsteady. "I can't believe you're alive."
And then: "No more window washing.
Any other job you want, but no more window washing."

Then he does laugh, broken ribs be damned.
She raises an eyebrow. "I was thinking,"
he murmurs, "when I get out of here, you and I,
we could open a dance studio."
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
My great-grandfather

who cannot say I love you
is standing in the doorway
he has stood in for six months
staring at his son
slumped in the corner, contorted
from polio and pain,
squeezing his eyes shut and crying
like he did on the day he was born:
hot tears, red cheeks, swollen eyelids,
face scrunched up and ugly and more beautiful
than anything else that ever existed
and my great-grandfather opens his mouth
and says: get up, boy,
no son of mine is going to be a cripple.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
So I've been doing this for three weeks now, and this last week things have gotten markedly more difficult. Why?

Part of it is probably that my brain wants a break after a few weeks of poetry writing, a little bit of time to think of some new ideas.

Part of it is just that my schedule is really grueling and fitting poetry in is next to impossible (see how there was no poem yesterday? That's because I woke up at eight a.m., went directly to work, went directly from work to a family dinner, and then went directly home because and immediately fell asleep because I was exhausted. Unless I'd happened to come up with a poem in the 20 minutes I spent on the train to work at 8:30, there just wasn't any time to sit and think about poetry. And that kind of sucks, but having days where you just have a social life aren't really something to complain about either).

Part of it is probably that my brain has two modes: art mode and writing mode. I've noticed, over 24 years of regularly doing both, that when I'm thinking in one mode I have a lot of trouble switching to the other. I go through phases where I concentrate on one and ignore the other, then I switch. Right now, I think I'm really in art mode but I keep trying to write anyway, which is frustrating me, because what I really want to be doing is working on my next thing to sell on etsy (it's about 1/4 finished right now).

So: I'm taking the weekend off. Weekends are the time I've found it hardest to stick to this schedule anyway, for whatever reason. I'm going to play some games, listen to some Margaret Atwood lectures on debt, solve some puzzles, make some more art, and not kick myself for not writing poetry. Then on monday I'll come back and try again.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
dream poem no. 3: the innocuous warning

The phosphorescent mouse you gave to me
(May 05, 2005) while I was sleeping
remained when I awakened

and remains still: minute fugitive
of the university genetics lab, tiny reminder

of the dark things people do in search of light.
Little green ghost twitching his whiskers,
quivering on my palm.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)

Sometimes they're deep, sometimes they're not.
Sometimes they keep you lost in thought.

Sometimes they're rubbish, sometimes they get awards.
Sometimes they're like similies, sometimes they're metaphors.

Sometimes they'll repeat, and sometimes they won't;
sometimes they repeat, sometimes they just don't.

Sometimes they're in form, sometimes they aren't.
Sometimes they rhyme, sometimes not so much.

Sometimes they're in meter and reading them's fun;
sometimes they ramble on a bit and leave you wondering where exactly they meant to go with that one.

Sometimes they end and you think that they're clever;
sometimes they seem to continue forever.

And sometimes they suddenly stop altoge--
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)

The lie is that I am lying.
All the rest of it is truth.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)

It's not a disease she can treat on her own,
though she's tried: tied her feet together,
pinched her skin in clothespins,
bitten down on her forearms until she bled.
She's been her own leeches.
When the only thing for it was to breathe less freely,
she tied her corset cords to the doorknob
and took several paces, hands on her tightening sides.

She is looking for a man
in a big bird mask: nightmare beak and black bag,
and hard, cold facial features.
Any other will not do.
Men can sense sickness on her breath like drink,
like dogs smell fear.
She can see it when they look at her: they know
there is a black spot in her breast,
and it is growing.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
Going places

No matter which way
I point my feet,
every step I take
is a step closer to New Jersey.
I am just treading water.
I fought with both fists
to be allowed to take control
of my life, and here I am:

still too small
to reach the light switch.

The world is round;
the faster you run away from a place
the sooner you'll end up there again.

My world is the size of an elevator
stuck between floors
in a building that is closed for the night.
There is nothing to do now
but sit in a corner
on the dirty tile floor
and feel the fluorescent bulbs overhead
grow hotter.

Either they find me in the morning
or they don't.
There is no hurry to reach the ending.
There is no hurry
to pry open the steel doors and step out
into the open mouth of the empty shaft.

Technically, I did not write this poem today. I know this is kind of cheating; however, I did write it, and nobody else has ever read it until now. It was written when I was 22.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)

Paionios could not have known,
massaging his Nike into being
like a lover, like a mother giving birth.
The paint must have come off first,
golds and greens peeling away
like a hand being degloved,
Then her wings, crumbling
in an earthquake, her triumphant hand
severed as a spoil of war.
Her other arm went in pieces,
a series of small accidents
taking it away over time,
and her face was defaced by - who?
Some faceless, angry enemy of the Greeks.

In the Olympia Museum she stands
with a dozen other fallen gods,
held together by wire and glue.
She resembles a giant child's push puppet:
press up on the base of her pedestal
and she will collapse.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
April 15, 2:27 a.m.

It started as a struggle.
When the ship sank, Collapsible Lifeboat B
was set to sail, but not yet boarded;
when the last ghastly sound ended
and the ship was sucked under, she floated free.

Two dozen men each saw her first.
Some had been trying to board the nearest lifeboats,
ladies be damned, but were beaten back
by officers with oars. But Collapsible B had no officers,
or at least none already aboard.

She overturned quickly, with fifty arms
tugging her in different directions.
Her sloping underside was slick, slippery,
water turning to ice in the cold air.
A mad king-of-the-hill scramble ensued.

As the water slowly stopped feeling cold, the men knew
they were dying. Jack Thayer was atop the boat then,
and instead of pushing the men off, he began
to help them all on. They all stood, front to back -
they had to, to fit. Then they waited,

soaked and shaking, holding their collective breath
as the water around them got quieter
and the darkness got dimmer, struggling not to shift
their weight, waiting and looking toward the horizon,
waiting for the next bright thing to cross it.

I've just realized I should have been doing all of these completely differently.
Revision is going to be extensive.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
This monument

serves to commemorate the sixty-fourth anniversary
of the beginning of the Great Birth

It has been erected in honor of those
who gave their lives
(literally or figuratively)

for the benefit of the future.
We remember their sacrifice.
It means as much as any war

and creation should never be eclipsed
by destruction (in our memory
or otherwise.)

("poetry" tag used loosely)
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)

Doctors have a list of words for pain,
all of them violent. Is it stabbing?
Pounding? Shooting? Does it chase you down
and jump you in the dark?

I am waiting for the fourth fifth sixth time
with a magazine and a pain in my belly
no one can name. This man on page fifteen:
his yellow hair, his smile - all teeth.

Bet you when his lover says no,
he asks her again. Men. They can't see anything
'til they're through, can't see you
curled on the quilt clutching your gut.

Nurse calls; thirty minutes naked in a cold room.
Paper makes it feel less safe. Then the doctor
enters, asks again as always: Are you allergic
to any medicines? Are you in an abusive relationship?
How much does it hurt, from one to ten?

Ten? Is ten a sharp slap to the face? A fall
down the stairs? Is one a paper cut, ten an amputation?
How can you number pain? It does not count,
does not have units. It does not stab,

shoot, burn, throb, sear, pound, or ache.
My pain is acrid and yellow, tart
like bad lemonade. Measure that.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)

She is the pretty twin -
the faithful rhapsodise about her beauty -
and yet the less beloved.
Rarely does she know a man's embrace.

As cold as she may be,
her sister Justice has lovers in droves.
She goes out every night. She cannot see,
so Mercy helps her to put on her dress
and do her hair, more like a lady's maid
than like a sister.

She doesn't mind, much,
or at least she can forgive -
she does it out of love. She almost understands:
maybe it's the blindfold. Even the ugly know
they won't be turned away.

Maybe it's the sword
and the scales: something to hold
and something to believe in;
something to offer beyond open hands
and a willing flank.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
I am not Portia

Mercy is the pretty twin, but I always said
justice was smarter and more important.
The wicked should be punished, left in the midday sun
to wither, crumble, blow away on the wind.

Maybe it was envy, the private knowledge
when I go to throw a punch
it will slow and hang in the air like an unanswered question,
a bubble about to burst.
Time will stop and it will never connect.

Maybe it was the blindfold,
the sword and the scales;
something to hold and something to believe in,
something to offer beyond open hands
and a willing flank.
cedarmyna: illustrated image of a white bird on a branch at night (Default)
April 15, 01:05

Lead violinist William Hartley gazes at his left hand,
watching his fingers tap across the strings
as he has for the past four days, not looking
for the right placements, but at his ring finger;
not thinking of the next note but of the next time
he will see Maria - and of the last time he saw her

on the dock at Southampton, wringing her hands,
the way he kissed her fingers and promised
this would be the last trip.
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