Monday, December 28, 2015

Are you a real writer?

One of the most common thing I hear my friends say: "I'm just waiting for somebody to figure out that I have no idea what I'm doing."

I mean, we can all relate to that, right? Especially writers and poets. We struggle to make ourselves heard, we seek legitimacy in fields that are often not recognized for their importance or ingenuity because the quantifiable components that can yield a good piece of art or writing are constantly shifting and always debatable. You can't nail down a rubric to excellence; you have to be able to recognize the fundamentals but see how they create new and different things. And then sometimes the old standard is new again or at least it's a nice break from experimental work. We feel like frauds for so many reasons.

So why do we continue? Why do I continue? I ask myself this all of the time. All of the time. You probably do, too. I've written poetry and stories since I can remember writing. When I was a kid, I would write short stories and roll them up and put them in a little toy metal safe. When I was a teenager, I wrote on a hand-me-down IBM computer that consistently lost my data. I have more notebooks and sketchbooks then cookbooks. It's a compulsion. I don't have an answer. I justify art, writing, music with a lot of high art BS, but when it comes down to it, I do it because I like it. I read it or listen to it because it brings me joy. People don't write because they'll make money; too few of us end up paying the bills with our words.

So, are you a real writer? Do you write?

Then yes. You are a real writer.

Pursue your passion and fuck the rest.

Thoughts on a rainy Monday

There are many invisible paths of writers. When we're not writing, we're cultivating the earth; building experience, emotion, language. When we're not writing or editing, we're thinking, reading, exploring. When I'm not writing, I'm in hibernation, in the fat of winter thoughts.

Today, I read on P&W:

Meanwhile, after nearly a decade of decreasing print books sales in the United States, it appears that print may be making a comeback. A recent report from Nielsen BookScan reveals that sales of physical books in the United States have increased from 559 million in 2014 to 571 million in 2015. (Quartz)
That's so exciting! Books are rad. People are finding their way back to the printed (or e-printed?) page. Totally rocks my Monday socks, which were feeling a little boggy-soggy.

I've been thinking a lot about how and why I published my first chapbook through Amazon and how I feel about having only an electric copy available. With prose, the electronic format is fairly satisfying, but I don't think I care for it as a format for poetry. It is too cold. I think the tactile nature of books is an integral part of the experience. Am I being too stodgy? Perhaps. This is an emotional reaction, not a logical one- but what's more pertinent to poetry than emotion besides craft?

I had a dream of you

I had a dream of you

The way you were 
when we were

Sometimes I still
find the remnants

Movie tickets
tucked in my clutch

Stray sketches of
your sad eyes

Lost in notebooks
Wrinkled by coffee rings

The way we were
When you were

a fish beneath
the Winter mirror

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Pain clustered and bloomed
like spring buds on an oak tree,
in the old way, the ancient trial
of every human who bleeds
but does not die, does not
need a funeral, but forces an
imitation of death, the throes
of winter that ravish no
real tree, but freezes root
systems in the most intimate
way, the only way I can
find my way home to sleep.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Morning skirmish

The clouds
This morning
Fight gravity

Maggie patrols
The perimeter
Of her fence

They can't
All be
Good ones

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

A poem from the morning

Alone with my coffee
and the rustle of 5 chickens

They transition from breakfast
Into dirt baths with a lazy coo

Late summer cicadas usher in
A morning that almost tastes like fall

The importance of a tree

There is a tree in McBaine that is locally famous. It's about 20 minutes outside of my hometown and one of the oldest Burr Oaks in the region. It is old, so old. I can't tell you how many poems I've written about the Burr Oak tree, or how many memories are tied to it. And soon this will have to find it's way into a poem or 10.

Because I visited it a couple weekends ago and it was dying. I wanted to show this tree that lived in my heart to my new brother in-law. The leaves were browning. They looked stiff and crisp, like they were stuck in Fall, but it was mid-summer. Did she get enough water? Is it just the end of her life? Is it strange to mourn them?

In a way, it almost feels like Pam's death, all over again. This was our poet tree, the poetry. I based my first good poem on this tree, for Pam and Kyle. This Burr Oak embodies the warmth and magic of my 20s, of working with other poets, of my mentor. Now there are cigarette butts around her roots. There are bottle caps. Crushed beer cans. A teenager spray painted a plea for somebody to go to the prom with them across the roots in hideous orange. The leaves are dying. I feel so broken.