Tag Archives: Emily Dickinson

Regular Poem: emily dickinson taught me

30 Apr

emily dickinson taught me
a lot of things
but raymond chandler did too

am i dashes and metaphors and birds
or am i stockings and pistols and
birds meaning ladies
of course
and so many metaphors besides

does contemporary fiction promise
the same promises?

i wish i’d taken a course
i wish i were

i read a book recently
film criticism
ten years out of date
distended in a yawning void of new
ideas i sometimes stumble upon

if only i were present
instead of this
of half-formed ideologies
peppered with arcane phrases
in my own circumscribed shit
pretending and avoiding

if only i were connecting and changing
but what
connections might i make
would they be progressive
or regressive
what neurons would be fired
what fires would be kindled

i stick
to my own house
my own life
my own feelings

i stick to
the side steets the diners
the birds and the birds

Regular Poem: The Downside to Faking Your Own Death

27 Apr

But really,
how much work does it take to
fake one’s own

Like what kind
of connections do you need,
and how
do you start planning it?

And, most importantly,
how long into it
before you go mad
quoting Emily Dickinson poetry
to yourself
as an inside joke
you can share with
only yourself
the fly buzzing when you
in the house
where you
the carriage ride you took
with Death
to get there?

And then when
you have your new identity,
every new person you meet
is like, “Who are you?”
And you’re like,
“I’m nobody! Who are you?”
And they’re like,
“Wow. Nerd alert.”
And you’re like–
internally, of course–
“Lol. No, but really, I’m dead
in real life.”

How much of this
could you stand?
Would it be worth it
to live
in your own death
with Emily Dickinson
and all your
guilt and paranoia?
Looking over your shoulder
for cops and ex-flames,
always half an ear hearing
the dialogue between
the spirit and the dust?

Like sometimes
I think I could do it,
and sometimes
the nights in my brain would just be
too wild.

Regular Poem: Memory has feathers, too

27 Sep

hope is
the thing with feathers,
is memory?

has feathers, too,
it’s not a bird,
it doesn’t sing tunes.

It’s a cheap boa
from a novelty store,
and at one time it was a complete entity,
but since that one moment–
when it was complete–
it has lost its feathers
all over
the house,
and you find them in the most
unusual places.

And you can string them together again
and hot glue them–
if that’s a thing anyone would ever try to do–
but it’s never whole again.

And it has that weird powdery smell to it
that you would recognize anywhere but
can’t really describe.

Found Poem: Even when

14 Jul

This time the dashes are actually by Spambot!

Even when
your relationship isn’t
don’t expect your
other healthy diet menu
to be any

19 To be empty
we are not seeing,
valuing, acknowledging, or understanding

and when
that happens — when
their plight remains
invisible —

they have
no chemistry.

National Poetry Writing Month Retrospective

4 May

In which I reflect upon my (successful) April endeavor.

I wrote a poem every day during the month of April.  For realsies.  (Except some of them were found poems made out of my spam comments, which doesn’t feel that real, but I count it anyway.)

Of course, because of the time frame, and my sometimes rather limited abilities, some of those poems were less than stellar.  I’d like to use this post to reflect on my better achievements and some of my disappointments, as well.

Let’s start with the bad and move up from there.

Least Favorite:  my favorite thing to lose

Why I Don’t Like It:  I was trying to go for some kind of weighty metaphor yet keep the tone kind of light instead of dropping into melancholic melodrama (as is my way sometimes), but it ended up being kind of stupid and reaching.

Worst Part: The final four stanzas.

and maybe next week it’ll just end up back again

and maybe next month you can make a deposit again

and maybe next year you can start making direct deposits again

and maybe next century you can have enough credit built up to lose it again

I thought this was going to be clever, but the more I look at it, the more cloying, idiotic, and nonsensical it is.

2nd Least Favorite:  Let me call myself

Why I Don’t Like It:  I love found poems of all kinds, and I tried to write one with a literature base, but the thing about them is that they should say something different from the source material.  The parts of this that aren’t nonsense basically just summarize “William Wilson.”

Worst Part: The part where I use the word dismal twice.  If I had used it at least three times, it may have been poetic repetition.  As it is, it’s just sloppy.

The One That Didn’t Turn Out How I Had Intended:  I took Emily Dickinson

What I Had Intended:  A several-stanza poem that’s sorta silly, sorta serious (à la Dickinson) with inventive use of meter and slant rhyme (à la Dickinson) with several Dickinson references thrown in.  Each stanza would be about taking Dickinson to different places (the bar was going to be one, the library another).  The final stanza would be a Dickinsonian rumination on death/the nature of life, in which the narrator takes Dickinson to “the house where I died.”  You know, Dickinson stuff.

Why It’s Not What I Had Intended:  I started writing it pretty early on in the month, but then discarded it for a while.  I picked it up again and wrote a few stanzas and then thought about it all night at work and then came home and wrote (not exactly) what I had been thinking about.  It got to being close to midnight, and my section about the beach had grown too big to fit with the rest of what I was doing, but I decided to roll with it because I didn’t hate it, and it was too late to write another poem before the day ended.

Overall, I’m happy with the poem, but I kind of wonder what it would look like if I could’ve written it the way I’d intended it.

The Ones That Didn’t End Up Being Written

Mirror Universe Poem:  The Daily Prompt one day had to do with meeting an alternate universe version of yourself.  So I wrote half a really crappy poem about meeting my Mirror Universe me, who was a vegan exercise nut who was wearing the Mirror Kira shiny headband.  It was dumb.  Be glad I didn’t finish it.

Jane Eyre/Painting Poem:  I’ve been listening to Jane Eyre, and I was really struck by how she painted a portrait of herself and another of that other chick Rochester was pretending to like just so she could remind herself she was plain, poor, etc.  I loled so much when she puts the two portraits side by side and says:

Whenever, in future, you should chance to fancy Mr. Rochester thinks well of you, take out these two picture and compare them: say, “Mr. Rochester might probably win that noble lady’s love, if he chose to strive for it; is it likely he would waste a serious thought on this indigent and insignificant plebeian?”

Lol!  Jane Eyre is obviously part Borg and part straight up love sick fool.  Efficient and masochistic.

So I was going to write a poem about how if I could paint/draw/whatever, I would use it only as a tool for self-instruction, like Jane Eyre.  It was going to be so maudlin and so flowery.  Be sad I didn’t finish it.

Follow Up to Just Another Song That Nonsensically Quantifies Teardrops:  I got to thinking about how the exponential model of teardrops is true only supposing one does not see one’s lost love ever again; however, when one sees one’s lost love, the tear drops show a sharp incline.  And sometimes hormones or whatever cause tear drops to increase, as well.  Therefore, some kind of waveform graph would more accurately portray a tear drop situation.  I never found the time/energy to research this and write my country-western song.  Be really sad I didn’t write this one.

2nd Favorite: The Eye Witness

Why I Like It:  I find noir fun both to write and to read, so I think this an enjoyable piece from both ends.  I also like the idea of it:  how useless a noir narrator would be as an eyewitness–always waxing gritty and poetic but never really pointing out details that could make an accurate sketch.

Best Part:  The last section, in which I crack myself up every time imagining some five-o-clock-shadowed grubby detective getting super impatient with a disenchanted dame with a long cigarette holder:

–Ma’am. Thank you, but–

I’ve got one more.

He was a man who may have wanted
to be good once,
but a life of neon lovers and gun-metal friends
had persuaded him otherwise
in the dark of some wet, murderous night.

–Are you finished?


Favorite:  The Ice Box of My Heart

Why I Like It:  Oh hi, extended metaphor that doesn’t even seem that forced!  This could’ve turned out a lot worse than it did, and I am so pleasantly surprised by it.  I wrote it in like five minutes, and I still like it very much.

Best Part:  The simple stanza in the middle that sums up the whole thing (and was the inspiration for the entire poem):

It’s mostly leftovers,
to be honest.


And with that, I’ve concluded my self-indulgent analysis of my own writing.  I will probably be back to talking about Captain Janeway and/or classic country any minute now.


Also, to prove I’m not completely self-centered, I also wanted to share these favorite-other-people’s poems (presented in alphabetical order):

Bonsai by grapeling

Why I Like it:  It chronicles an incident in the life of a sassy WAF lieutenant!  And it uses plant imagery!  Also, sassy WWII ladies!!!!

Best Part:  Although the sassy WWII lady stuff happens at the end, the beginning really hooked me.  I know exactly what a bonsai knuckle is (my grandmother has them), and they absolutely are strong and good at cleaning and totally worthy of poetry.

Mom held up bonsai knuckles, each hand
grown gnarled, as we sat sipping red wine
in tumblers perfectly sparkled where she’d gleamed them
with those fingers. Stains have no chance
versus them, index finger angled 30 degrees
permanently crooked the better to clean.

Green-Fingers by Carol J. Forrester

Why I Like it:  I love the house plant/farming dichotomy: how house plants are somehow instinctual and farming is scientific.

Best Part:  Again, we’ve got a great opening with great line breaks.  It also resonates with me because I’ve killed many, many orchids.

My mother and I,

killed the first orchid we were given.

We are not a houseplant

sort of family.

A High of Twenty-Two by TheBookyBunhead

Why I Like It:  I’m a sucker for weather poems and for poems with repeated lines.  This one does both beautifully.

Best Part:  I love this middle stanza that perfectly shows the exhilaration/anticipation/fear in a warm day when you’re used to cold ones.

At day’s end hoped it’d still be a dry, high of twenty-two,
Sigh of relief stepping out into fresh air
Body had been programmed to seize up for winter’s chill.

PS 22 Celsius = 72 Fahrenheit

Regular Poem: I took Emily Dickinson

29 Apr

I took Emily Dickinson
to the movies.

A fly buzzed–blue and benign–
close to her nose
for the duration,
and she looked at it with
such a large, yellow eye
big and open and wondering and glistening
that I suspected
she wasn’t paying attention
to the show.
For my part,
I was absorbed in watching her
watch that fly.
it was not unenjoyable,

So, the next week,
I took Emily Dickinson
to the beach.

We drove there in my convertible,
and she kept calling it
an open carriage,
and she smiled with her eyes closed
and her hair flying out of her prim bun
and into her face.

We passed a cemetery, and I
held my breath–
she did not understand this ritual,
but she complied–
and when we had finished,
and our faces were red,
she murmured something about the
sepulchers laughing at our folly.

When we arrived at the sea,
the salt air melted into our respective skin,
and I felt my pH change,
and she was quiet
for a long time
until she decided to tell a long
story about mermaids
that made her giggle so incessantly
that I understood it only partially.

We got sunburned.
Somehow, she ended up 
more burned than I was.
And we repaired to her house,
but we should have gone to mine:
I always keep aloe vera gel in the fridge.

She does not even have a fridge.

She made a fire
in the cooling night
that had just an hour since been
a stifling day,
and we played games with the leaping
shadows until
all that was left
were embers
and the shadows were too small.

She asked for advice on 
what all-white spinster outfit she should wear

And I said she didn’t have to wear all white
if she didn’t want to.

She did want to.

And she’d prefer not to leave the house again
if that was all right with me.

And I said that it was,
but didn’t she have fun?

Oh yes, but she had a lot of thinking to do
and writing to do
and being a shut-in spinster to do.

And I understood
a little too perfectly.



Found Poem: I would like to express

21 Mar

Might as well put me in your phone as your ICE because my blog SAVES LIVES.  

I would like to express–
my thanks–
to the writer just for

rescuing me

from this type of setting. As a result of checking
throughout the search engines and
coming across suggestions–
which are not beneficial–
I was thinking my

was well over.

minus the approaches to the
problems you’ve solve–
as a result of your entire short article

is a serious case,

as well as ones that could have negatively damaged my
if I had not discovered your blog.

Your good expertise–
and kindness–
in controlling the whole thing
was very helpful.

I am not sure
I would have done
I hadn’t come upon such a point like–

I’m able to
at this point
look ahead to my

Thanks a lot very much

for this expert and amazing guide. I won’t hesitate
to refer your web site to any person
who should get guidance on this
subject matter.

Found Poem: I loved as much

30 Jan

Another Dickonsonian spam comment found poem.  As usual, poem by Spambot, dashes by me.

I loved as much–
as you will receive

carried out right–

The sketch is tasteful,–
your authored subject matter–
stylish. nonetheless,
you command

get got–
an impatience–
over that you wish be
delivering the following.

unwell unquestionably–
come more formerly

again as exactly the same

nearly very often
case you shield this increase.

Found Poem: I must express

6 Dec

Another Dickinson-esque spam found poem.  Dashes by me, poetry by Spambot.

I must express–
my admiration

for your generosity
for individuals–
who should have help
on your content.

Your special commitment–
to getting the message all-around–
appears to be
rather significant

and has–all the time–
helped individuals–
much like me–

to achieve their desired goals.

Your entire–insightful–facts
implies a

to me and extremely more–
to my office colleagues.

Thanks–a lot;

from each one of us.

Found Poem: I intended to write you

6 Nov

Spam comments found poetry strikes again!  I’ve added some dashes this time because the opening reminded me of Dickinson.

I intended to write you–
that little remark–
so as to thank you once again–
for your amazing solutions you have

in this article.  It’s so–

remarkably open-handed–
with people like you
to allow
what a lot of folks would’ve sold–
as an ebook

to help make some dough–
for their own end–
specifically considering that you could have done it–
if you ever considered necessary.

Those tactics–additionally–worked
to become fantastic

way to understand that the rest have a similar dreams
really like my very own–

to know the truth–

many more when considering this issue.
I am sure
there are some more fun occasions
ahead for individuals that find out–

your blog.

Book 'Em, Jan O

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